Wagga Wagga maiden winner Mr Lumieres (Zakynthos Regrets) recorded a victory in his Sha Tin debut overnight with a 0.5L win in the 1000m Good Fortune Handicap, clocking a speedy 0:56.83. Previously trained by George Dimitropoulos, the 4-year-old by Congrats won races at Wagga Wagga and Leeton, as well as finishing runner up in a TAB Highway handicap at Rosehill before being sold to Hong Kong last year.
Famously trained by Melbourne Cup winner David Hall, Mr Lumieres joins a long list of Australian bred or raced runners who have excelled in Asia, including Mr Stunning, Lucky Bubbles, Not listenin’tome, Thewizardofoz, Rapper Dragon and Ping Hai Star, who earlier in the year recorded a miracle win.
Ping Hai Star raced under the name Ted in Australia where he was placed at Doomben and the Sunshine Coast prior to standing out in runs at Sha Tin. The ex Stuart Kendrick galloper was earmarked as a potential runner in the Hong Kong Classic Mile however looks more suited as a sprinter at this point in time.
As Ping Hai Star looks poised to go onto bigger and better things, he may find himself in the same company as superstars Mr Stunning and Rapper Dragon. Trained by 9-time Hong Kong Champion trainer and Australian John Size, Mr Stunning has won 10 races in Hong Kong, most notably the 2017 Group 1 Longine’s Hong Kong Sprint. The 5-year-old by Exceed and Excel was sold for $110,000 at the 2013 Inglis Great Southern Weanling Sale.
Ex Gai Waterhouse trained Rapper Dragon won a maiden at Wyong in 2015 before finshing runner up in the well-known Champagne Stakes at Randwick in what would be his last run in Australia. Developing into arguably the best miler in Hong Kong, the Street Boss galloper won the Champions trophy as well as the BMW Hong Kong Derby, The Hong Kong Classic Cup and the Hong Kong Classic Mile. Unfortunately for connections, Rapper Dragon fatally suffered a fractured pelvis during the Champions mile and passed away as a superstar 4-year-old.
With Australia producing a seemingly bottomless pit of talent, 2017 Group 3 Hong Kong Premier Cup winner Thewizardofoz is also a recognisable inclusion in the category of Australian’s performing overseas. The 6-year-old Redoute’s Choice gelding trialled 3 times at Randwick in 2014 before making his mark on the HK scene. Also trained by John Size, Thewizardofoz has scored 6 victories in a 17-race career to date.
Not listenin’tome should also ring a bell for plenty of punters here, with the ex Hawkes stable galloper finshing runner up in the 2013 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes, runner up in the 2014 Group 1 Canterbury Stakes and 1.6L off Lankan Rupee in the 2014 Manikato Stakes before starting a career in Hong Kong under Gary Moore. Not Listenin’tome was sold at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale for $270,000.
Other group-race winners in Hong Kong out of Australia include Season’s Bloom, who was sold for $26,000 at the 2013 Magic Millions Weanling Sale, Dashing Fellow, sold for $160,000 at 2013 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, Encosta de Lago gelding Supreme Profit who went for $320,000 at the 2012 Gold Coast Magic Millions Sale and also Group 3 Hong Kong Chinese Club Challenge Cup winner Blizzard, sold for $75,000 at the 2013 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, the same sale in which Lucky Bubbles went for $90,000.
Obviously it would be quite a spectacle too see how these runners would fare coming home against the current best in Australia, nonetheless the success of these horses overseas does not at all undermine the current strength of Australian breeding, particularly for sprinters. Australian horses have typically been successful overseas, namely Chautauqua who took on the best of Hong Kong sprinters and won.
The future looks bright for Ping Hai Star and Mr Lumieres in particular, who have a brilliant opportunity of emulating current champions from Australia in Hong Kong, especially under the guidance of Makybe Diva’s trainer David Hall and legendary boss John Size. If past results of success at Sha Tin is anything to go by, both of these runners are a big chance of winning a group race in the future.