The final nominees for 2016/17 The Hong Kong Jockey Club Champion Awards have been announced. Winners of the Champion Awards will be announced at The Hong Kong Jockey Club Champion Awards 2016/2017 presentation ceremony to be held on Friday, 14 July, at the Grand Ballroom, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. The Champion Awards Judging Panel has also decided to present Lifetime Achievement Awards to Able Friend and Aerovelocity, in recognition of their great contributions to Hong Kong racing. The finalists are:
At Sha Tin in Hong Kong, reigning Japanese Horse of the Year Maurice (Screen Hero-Mejiro Frances, by Carnegie) confirmed his status as one of the best racehorses in the world when resuming with a breathtakingly arrogant 2-length win for trainer Noriyuki Hori in the HK$14 million Gr1 Champions Mile (1600m) for 3YO+, over 5YO Australian-bred gelding Contentment (Hussonet-Jemison, by Commands) & 5YO New Zealand-bred gelding Packing Pins (Pins-Splashing Out, by O'Reilly). Having his first start in 5.5 months, Maurice was simply awesome in recording his seventh straight victory and his fourth at Gr1 level. He also became just the third horse to win the Hong Kong Mile-Champions Mile double - joining Good Ba Ba (2007-08) and Able Friend (2014-15) - and boosted his record to 9 wins (including the Gr1 Hong Kong Mile, Gr1 Kyoto Mile Championship, Gr1 Yasuda Kinen & Gr3 Lord Derby Challenge Trophy) and 1 placing from 14 starts for ¥628,615759 earnings. Superstar jockey Joao Moreira was full of praise for Maurice following his win. "It couldn't have been easier, it was simply unbelievable to be aboard such an animal," the Brazilian rider told the South China Morning Post. "He was coming off a long break, that was his first run since December and he just made it look so easy. I never had any concerns at any stage. He will be hard to beat wherever he goes, not many horses can match him." Maurice is expected to attempt to defend his title in next month's Gr1 Yasuda Kinen in Japan.
At Sha Tin, former 6-time Chilean Champion Sire Hussonet (Mr Prospector-Sacahuista, by Raja Baba), who relocated from Arrowfield Stud to stand at Cornerstone Stud, celebrated a major Gr1 success when Australian-bred 5YO gelding Contentment (Hussonet-Jemison, by Commands) scored by 1.8-lengths for trainer John Size in the HK$10 million Gr1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m), over fellow 5YO geldings Beauty Flame (Footstepsinthesand-Lucy Diamonds, by Orpen) & Beauty Only (Holy Roman Emperor-Goldendale, by Ali-Royal). Purchased for $65,000 by John Foote Bloodstock at the 2012 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale from the draft of Arrowfield Stud, Contentment took his record to 9 wins (also including the Gr3 Celebration Cup and 14 placings (including the Gr1 Stewards' Cup earlier this month & Gr2 Jockey Club Mile) from 16 starts for HK$18,438,600 earnings.
At Sha Tin in Hong Kong, 5YO US-bred gelding Giant Treasure (Mizzen Mast-Palisade, by Gone West) landed his maiden top-flight victory when scoring by a short head for trainer Richard Gibson in the Gr1 Stewards' Cup (1600m) for 3YO+, over 5YO Australian-bred geldings Luger (Choisir-Miss Conception, by Danzero) & Contentment (Hussonet-Jemison, by Commands). Giant Treasure took his record to 5 wins and 6 placings from 16 starts for £1,434,564 earnings.
Trainer John Moore says he is still confident about Able Friend's prospects in the Gr1 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on 13 December despite his shock defeat in Saturday's Jockey Club Mile, reports the South China Morning Post. After a stunning first-up win over 1200m in the Gr2 Premier Bowl, Able Friend was expected to make light work of his opposition, especially over his preferred distance of a mile, but he was unable to produce his trademark acceleration and had to settle for third behind Beauty Flame and Contentment. "It's disappointing not to win but I think he just put in a flat run," said Moore. "Joao [jockey Joao Moreira] thought there was an advantage to leaders today which didn't help him but I thought he was beaten on his merits. He has still run brilliant sectionals and I think he is still on target for his main goal in three weeks."
At Sha Tin in Hong Kong, Coolmore's Gr1-winning former shuttler Footstepsinthesand (Giant's Causeway-Glatisant, by Rainbow Quest) added a Group success when 6YO Irish-bred gelding Beauty Flame (Footstepsinthesand-Lucy Diamonds, by Orpen) scored an upset 1.25-length win for trainer Tony Cruz in the HK$4 million Gr2 Jockey Club Mile (1600m) for 3YO+, over 5YO Australian-bred gelding Contentment (Hussonet-Jemison, by Commands) & 6YO Australian-bred gelding Able Friend (Shamardal-Ponte Piccolo, by Volksraad). Beauty Flame took his record to 6 wins and 10 placings (including the Gr1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup) from 25 starts for £1.666 million earnings.
At Sha Tin racecourse in Hong Kong overnight, former 6-time Chilean Champion Sire Hussonet (Mr Prospector-Sacahuista, by Raja Baba), who relocated from Arrowfield Stud to stand at Cornerstone Stud, added a Group success when 5YO gelding Contentment (Hussonet-Jemison, by Commands) scored by 0.5-length for trainer John Size in the HK$3 million Gr3 Celebration Cup (1400m) for 100+ rated horses, over 4YO US-bred gelding Giant Treasure (Mizzen Mast-Palisade, by Gone West) & 6YO Australian-bred gelding Super Lifeline (Churchill Downs-Regal Contessa, by King of Kings). This was the first stakes victory for Contentment who took his record to 7 wins and 1 placing from 10 starts for HK$7,474,600 earnings. Contentment was purchased for $65,000 by John Foote Bloodstock at the 2012 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale from the draft of Arrowfield Stud.