Never Bouchon finishes strong for fourth in Hong Kong QEII as Viva Pataca claims victory
Japan's Never Bouchon put up a thrilling fight in Hong Kong's Audemars Piguet QEII Cup Sunday at Sha Tin Racecourse but was overtaken in the final moments to finish a strong fourth, off the winner by one and half lengths.
The race ended in one of the most exciting finishes in its history, if not THE most exciting as Hong Kong's Viva Pataca dug down deep in the final 50 meters to drive to the front, catching and overtaking the front-running Never Bouchon. Dubai World Cup runnerup Lizard's Desire and the Hong Kong Derby winner Super Satin followed Viva Pataca hot on his heels to wrap up the race a neck apart in second and third place.
Never Bouchon, who had held the lead on the rail from the first turn, was still able to best what was a near triple-heat for fourth place, as last year's champion Presvis and heavily backed local favorite Collection roared up but failed to catch the Japan runner.
The 8-year-old Viva Pataca, under Weichong Marwing, held a fourth position for most of the race, staying in touch with Never Bouchon, who had taken the lead from the first turn and kept the pace down to 1 minute, 18.2 seconds over the first 1,200 meters of the 2,000-meter turf race. Viva Pataca was followed by eventual Lizard's Desire and Super Satin until the stretch, when the trio stormed to the forefront, overtaking the second and third position runners Super Pistachio and Mr Medici, who faded rapidly.
Viva Pataca's acceleration took him over the last 400 meters in a mere 22.19 seconds as he left the field in the dust. With the victory, Viva Pataca, with over HK$80 million amassed, became the highest money earner in the history of Hong Kong racing.
Marwing claimed his second QEII after his win aboard Irridescence in 2006.
Jockey Hiroki Goto expressed his satisfaction with Never Bouchon's run, saying "He was able to take the lead with ease at a good pace. The ground on the inside was a bit slow, which made it difficult for a frontrunner, but he gave it his all and ran what was for him a perfect race."
Trainer Masanori Ito was also full of praise for the 7-year-old Never Bouchon. "Everything was the first time for him and he really put in a fine performance. He came from the cold temperatures of Japan to the Hong Kong heat and the new environment, but was still able to adapt well.
“He had lost some weight and wasn't able to hold his ground in the end, but the fact that it was not a bad loss is proof of how much he has improved. If we have the chance, we'd like to take on another overseas' race in the future."
Never Bouchon, by Marvelous Sunday out of the Mill Reef mare Pearl Necklace, is owned by Toshihiro Hirosaki and was bred at Hayata Farm in Niikappu, Hokkaido.
* Please visit the following websites for more information.
Hong Kong Jockey Club website: http://www.hkjc.com/english/
Audemars Piguet QEII Cup website: http://www.hkjc.com/english/special/apqe/apqeii_index.asp
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