Hong Kong racing has wrapped for another season and very few can celebrate a finale like Chinese fans.
Apart from hugely attended ‘sign offs’ at Happy Valley and Sha Tin, the annual Hong Kong Champion Awards night is always a big affair and the 2016 gala last Friday featured two Australian-breds – Sun Jewellery and Mr Stunning – who captured major gongs.
Both trained by expat, John Size, Sun Jewellery was named Champion Miler, while Mr Stunning took home Champion Griffin.
It was certainly a memorable season for the pair.
Sun Jewellery, in particular, has made a real name for himself in the racing mad centre with seven wins from nine outings since arriving on the Hong Kong scene.
Bred in Victoria by Tung Moon Fai, who retained ownership of the now 4YO, Sun Jewellery originally raced in Australia as Tan Tat Sun where he won two from four.
Heading to Hong Kong in February 2015 and renamed Sun Jewellery, he has hardly missed a beat, but really came into his own this season with four wins from six outings.
After a second last November and a win in December, Sun Jewellery put in a career defining performance in January by taking out the $10 million Group One Hong Kong Classic Mile, beating eventual Hong Kong Horse of the Year, Werther in the process.
Sun Jewellery would relegate Werther into second place again at his following start by winning the $HK10 million Group One Hong Kong Classic Cup in February.
Sun Jewellery then finished out of a place for the only time in his career when seventh to Werther in the Hong Kong Derby, but farewelled the season with another emphatic victory in the $HK3 million Group Three Premier Cup in mid June.
Size is now likely to attempt to go back-to-back in the Hong Kong Mile with Sun Jewellery, who has become, unsurprisingly, a pin up boy for Hong Kong fans.
He’s undoubtedly popular with Tung Moon Fai too given that the horse has now won over $HK18 million, which converts to around $A3.2 million.
Sun Jewellery’s success has also shone the spotlight on his sire, Snitzel, who has produced five stakes winners of $8 million on home turf this season, while Sun Jewellery is one of four winners for the Redoute’s Choice stallion in Hong Kong.
Mr Stunning, meanwhile, arrived later on the scene but has definitely lived up to his name since winning at his first start in February.
The Exceed And Excel 3YO followed up his classy debut by clearing out by three lengths at his next outing in February … was beaten a lip in March … and then capped off a terrific season with a victory over 1200m in April.
Three wins and a second were enough to get Mr Stunning across the line as Champion Griffin and he is clearly a star of the future in Hong Kong with his praises sung by both Size and jockey, Joao Moreira who have each predicted “there are many more wins in store”.
A ‘Griffin’ is a horse that is imported to Hong Kong unraced and there is little question that Mr Stunning made plenty of impact when he eventually did make an appearance!
Also bred in Victoria, courtesy of Makybe Racing and Breeding, Mr Stunning is among nearly 1000 winners by Exceed And Excel globally and one of 36 to fly the flag for the Darley-based sire in Hong Kong.
Mr Stunning is out of the Dayjur mare, With Fervour, who can now claim five winners in four countries: Mr Stunning (Hong Kong), With Diktat (Japan), Commissar and Contrive (Australia) and Vigeo (Holland).
A grandson of Hollywood Oaks and Kentucky Oaks winner, Fran’s Valentine, Mr Stunning’s other family members include Group winners in France, England and Canada.