AEROVELOCITY leads home Hong Kong one-two in LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint

Aerovelocity made just about every yard of the running to land the HK$18.5 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) under a confident ride from Zac Purton for trainer Paul O’Sullivan. He was chased home by the three-year-old Peniaphobia under Douglas Whyte, but the Tony Cruz-trained rising star in the Hong Kong sprinting ranks could not reel in the wire to wire winner.

The tale of the race was a simple one. Purton broke Aerovelocity alertly from gate seven and took an early lead from the Australian hope, Buffering, who was never able to get to the lead as had been anticipated ahead of the race. Meanwhile Whyte had a good position on Peniaphobia in third, just behind the two leaders. Hong Kong’s other main hope, Lucky Nine, the winner of the race in 2011 raced handy early on but never looked comfortable in the race and faded out of contention to finish 11th.

Purton controlled the race from the front, setting early fractions of 23.36s and 22.31, before setting sail for home and completing the final 400 metres in 22.90s, stopping the clock in 1m 08.57s. Douglas Whyte chased him hard all the way down the stretch, but was a neck adrift at the line.

Afterwards a delighted Zac Purton said: “At the furlong marker he wanted to hang in and get up on the fence, which is a trait of his, but he wanted to do it more so today than he had done previously, so I was a bit worried that he was going to take the fence on, rather than go forward. I managed to keep him off it enough and keep him going forward. It was a tough effort.

“It wasn’t the plan to go and lead,” he went on, “but when you jump that well and the opportunity is there, you have to take it. I have led on him previously and he can be ridden like that, so I wasn’t worried about it. It took him about a year to settle in here, and as you can see he can be a bit of a head case. Once he started to enjoy it, his racing began to improve.”

Trainer Paul O’Sullivan said: “He got a nice run, he got left alone in front, it was a good ride on a good horse. It has been a long time since the last big one, so hopefully we won’t have to wait so long for the next one. You get one good horse and it can turn it all around.”

Douglas Whyte was full of praise for the runner-up: “He ran a terrific race and we have no excuse once again. It was still a great performance from my horse.”

Japan’s Straight Girl ran a tremendous race from gate 13 to get up for third having raced in mid-division, while Gordon Lord Byron ran on for a another fourth place finish, having twice finished in the same spot in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile in 2012 and 2013.

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