Mr Stunning wins the Hong Kong Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (Ramos Chow)
It proved to be another remarkable day at Hong Kong’s Sha Tin racecourse with Australian-breds winning nine of the 10 races, including the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize with Mr Stunning and Group One Champions Mile via Southern Legend.
And just to cap it all off, 2016 Group One Queensland Derby winner, Eagle Way, produced a blinder for third behind Irish horse, Exultant, in the Group One QEII Cup.
Australian sprinters have long dominated Hong Kong racing, but Mr Stunning’s victory was, well, simply stunning.
Becoming only the third 7YO in the 41 year history of the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, Mr Stunning – a 20/1 shot – well and truly wound back time to notch up his third Group One success.
Named Champion Griffin in 2015-16, this was a sweet reward for Mr Stunning who finished second to Australian-bred Lucky Bubbles in 2017’s Chairman’s Sprint and second again to Ivictory (yes, another Australian-bred) in the 2018 chapter.
Unfortunately, Mr Stunning missed the race last year due to a hairline fracture of his shoulder, which speaks volumes for his grit and determination to come back and win the ‘Prize’ this time around.
A son of Exceed And Excel (167 stakes winners) from the well-related Dayjur mare, With Fervour, Mr Stunning was bred by Victoria’s Makybe Racing and Breeding and sold for $110,000 at the 2013 Inglis Great Southern Weanling Sale.
Makybe’s manager, Joe Murray, remembers Mr Stunning as a foal and, while perhaps not exactly stunning early on, a lovely type regardless.
“He (Mr Stunning) was foaled down at Yallambee Stud and was a bit light boned, but very correct,” Murray recalls. “He wasn’t forward enough for the Magic Millions and wouldn’t have got into Easter, so it was decided to sell him as a weanling. (Makybe’s owner) Tony Santic wasn’t going to give him away though and set a reserve of $90,000. He really has turned into something special.”
Special indeed with Sunday’s victory taking Mr Stunning’s earnings to HK$60,843,100 … roughly A$12.3 million.
Southern Legend, meanwhile, was a $280,000 purchase by Carmel Size and Neville Begg at the 2014 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, purchasing the Not A Single Doubt galloper from breeder, Corumbene Stud.
Southern Legend winning the Goup One Champions Mile (Ramos Chow)
Prior to Sunday, Southern Legend had won stakes races in Hong Kong, Sydney and Singapore, but despite four Group One placings, had never cracked the ceiling at the elite level.
But what a way to end the ‘drought’. Despite facing Hong Kong Horse of the Year, Beauty Generation, Southern Legend refused to give an inch, staging a ding dong battle over the concluding stages of the Mile.
In the end only a lip separated the pair but Southern Legend now takes his earnings to over A$7.6 million.
Purchasing on behalf of ‘Legend’ owner, Boniface Ho – who also races Everest contender, Classique Legend – an ecstatic Carmel Size said: “I remember going to Easter with a budget of $300,000 and buying one horse for Hong Kong … and that’s a lot easier said than done.
“He was the first ‘Legend’ horse we ever bought and Mr Ho wanted to have the word ‘Southern’ in all of his horse names so this horse, being the first, became Southern Legend.
“We had him here in Australia with Les Bridge at the start and the horse won four races before he went to Hong Kong … he always had that ability.”
Clearly a fan of what is bred in this ‘southern’ land, Ho purchased nine yearlings at this month’s Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, including a So You Think colt for $1.1 million.
And while a Group One victory in Hong Kong still eludes Eagle Way, his third in the QEII Cup takes his earnings to over A$4 million – a great return for breeder, Segenhoe Stud, which sold the More Than Ready performer for $200,000 at the 2014 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale.
Ultimately, the nine Australian-bred winners at Sha Tin on Sunday sold at Australian sales between $42,000 for Chairman Lo (now winner of approximately A$400,000) and $800,000 for Computer Patch – also by Exceed And Excel – who has won three races since arriving in Hong Kong this season and over A$1 million in prizemoney.