Hong Kong-stabled Designs On Rome edged to victory at the city’s annual Audemars Piguet QE II Cup on Sunday in a thrilling race which gave trainer John Moore back-to-back wins of the trophy.
The four-year-old bookie’s favourite nosed ahead of last year’s victor, stablemate Military Attack also trained by Moore, to take the cup at a packed Sha Tin Racecourse.
South African Vercingetorix came in third on the 2,000-metre turf track.
Moore described the win as “absolutely marvellous”.
“What he’s done so far is showing he is very talented,” he said of Designs On Rome, also winner of the Hong Kong Derby in March.
The Hong Kong horse nudged the QE II Cup win after trailing for a large part of the race.
Afterwards triumphant jockey Tommy Berry put his hands together in a prayer gesture.
“It’s been a pretty tough month,” said Berry, whose identical twin brother Nathan, also a jockey, died earlier in April.
“It’s very special,” the Australian said of his win.
“There was a little bit of a scare when Military Attack got up on the inside, but you always know I’ve got a little bit more left in the tank,” he said.
“He loves a dogfight this horse. I’ll be surprised the day he gets beat because he never gives up.”
Commenting on Military Attack, which was crowned Horse of the Year last year in Hong Kong, rider Joao Moreira said: “Military Attack again showed what a good horse he is… I look forward to the next time he runs.”
Following Vercingetorix was Epiphaneia from the stable of Japan’s legendary trainer Katsuhiko Sumii, whose Rulership took the QE II Cup in 2012.
Hong Kong-stabled Dibayani came fifth.
The HK$14 million ($1.81 million) race was first run in 1975 at the Happy Valley Racecourse during a visit by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to Hong Kong.
In 1995 it became an international event with overseas runners invited to participate and was promoted to Group 1 status in 2001.
Since then Hong Kong runners have matched overseas competitors, with both camps taking seven victories from the last 14 meets.