WERTHER trounced what had been billed as the best field ever assembled for the Gr1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup with a performance at Sha Tin on Sunday that left winning trainer John Moore and jockey Hugh Bowman elated yet surprised at the manner of victory.
Last month’s HKG1 BMW Hong Kong Derby winner powered away from world-class rivals to clinch a first international G1 triumph in the HK$20 million 2000m showcase, stretching four and a half-lengths clear on the rain-softened ground, a margin of success second only to Quicken Away’s seven-length demolition back in the pre-Pattern race days of 1990.
“I was never expecting that,” said a beaming Moore. “We did know he handled the heavy track in New Zealand and that it wouldn’t be a problem today – but that was beyond my expectations.”
Bowman said: “I had a suspicion after the Derby we would see a better horse against better opposition but I certainly didn’t expect him to perform to the level he did this afternoon.”
Moore is now eyeing further G1 targets at home and abroad. “Next we’ll go to the Champions & Chater Cup over a mile and a half here in a month’s time and Hugh will be back to ride him,” he said, adding with a hopeful smile and raised eyebrows, “then we’ll give him a break and I’ll be trying to pull the owner’s leg to go back to Australia for the Cox Plate!”
Mike de Kock’s Ertijaal had progressed into fourth with about 300m to run, but he faded out late after having to “do a ton of work early”, in the words of the race caller. Ertijaal was slow away and was pushed into contention from a wide draw. Besides that, he appeared uncomfortable on the wet track.
“Not much went right for Ertijaal and he didn’t quite handle the going,” reported jockey Douglas Whyte after the race.