Exultant and Lys Gracieux served up a finish to the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (Sunday, 9 December) of such gripping drama that it raised the Sha Tin faithful to their feet and lifted their roars to a thunderous cacophony.
The Joao Moreira-ridden Japanese filly headed Exultant with 150 metres to go, only for Hong Kong’s newest hero to fight back under Zac Purton, scoring by a neck in 2m 26.56s.
“I thought at that point Joao had the better of me,” Purton said.
The Japanese raider’s trainer, Yoshito Yahagi, said: “I thought she won.”
Elation greeted the sight of Exultant’s head flashing past the post, a neck to the good over Lys Gracieux. The Irish import became only the third Hong Kong-trained galloper to claim the mile and a half feature following Indigenous (1998) and Dominant (2013).
And the crowd was still abuzz with whoops and applause when Purton returned to unsaddle – fist-pumping, finger pointing, greeting trainer Tony Cruz with a grinning “Come on, Tony! Get in!”