New Zealand-bred galloper Werther trounced what had been billed as the best field ever assembled for the group one Audemars Piguet QEII Cup in Hong Kong on Sunday evening with a performance that left winning trainer John Moore and jockey Hugh Bowman elated.
Formerly trained in New Zealand by Andrew Campbell, Werther won the group two Championship Stakes at Ellerslie this time last year, before an Australian campaign where he finished second in the South Australian and Queensland Derbies, with a win in the group two Eagle Farm Cup in between.
Sold to clients of John Moore, the four-year-old son of boom Cambridge Stud stallion Tavistock proved too strong for his age group when winning the Hong Kong Derby last month.
On Sunday he powered away from world-class open-age rivals to clinch a first international group one triumph in the HK$20 million ($3.76 million) 2000m showcase, stretching four and a half-lengths clear on the rain-softened ground.
"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."
Winning jockey Hugh Bowman was also surprised by the ease of the win.
"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."
Moore is now eyeing further group one 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. 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." The New Zealand breeding industry celebrated a bumper night, with the former Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained galloper Ambitious Champion saluting in the group three Queen Mother Memorial Cup on the undercard at Sha Tin.
The six-year-old is a son of Grangewilliam Stud stallion Zed and showed his staying prowess over 2400m.
Meanwhile in Singapore, New Zealand-bred gallopers filled the first three placings in the group two Singapore 3YO Classic, a race won by Debt Collector, a son of Thorn Park.
- NZ Racing Desk