O’Sullivan the toast of three countries after big win with Aerovelocity in Japan

THE INFORMANT’s Dennis Ryan writes Paul O’Sullivan is the toast of three racing jurisdictions after he produced Aerovelocity for a stunning victory in the Gr. 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Japan’s Chukyo racecourse.

The Sha Tin-based expat is being lauded by Hong Kong racing authorities for crediting his adopted country with its first victory in the $2.5 million sprint; Japan racing has praised his unique double after adding yesterday’s international race to the Japan Cup win by Horlicks in 1989, while he has brought further accolades to the New Zealand breeding industry by completing a second Global Sprint Challenge victory with the son of Pins.

O’Sullivan, who has trained for more than a decade in Hong Kong after winning 11 New Zealand premierships, achieved a career highlight with Aerovelocity’s win in the Hong Kong International Sprint in December. After considering his options, which included the Dubai World Cup meeting, he settled on the Takamatsunomiya Kinen as his preferred target.

With the skill and efficiency that has made his family’s name famous throughout the racing world, he overcame the challenges to become the first foreign trainer to win the early season feature.

“It’s a great result, especially to do it with a New Zealand-bred,” O’Sullivan told www.theinformant last night as he, jockey Zac Purton, owner Daniel Yeung and a group of 30 supporters made their way by bus back to nearby Nagoya city.

“Everything had gone to plans with the trip up here, but I was a bit worried when it started raining. The track was nothing like he had raced on before but he’s tough as teak.

“He was in trouble at the top of the straight but he pulled himself out of a hole and just wouldn’t be beaten. They should have changed his name back to Naisoso Warrior for the trip up here. That’s what he is, a real warrior.”

The six-year-old Windsor Park Stud-bred gelding began his career under that name when he scored an impressive debut win at Awapuni as an autumn three-year-old. He had been selected by O’Sullivan and his brother Lance from the Karaka Premier catalogue in 2010 at $120,000.

“At the time we thought we might have paid overs for him, but he was a magnificent individual that I was determined to get my hands on,” O’Sullivan recalled.

“When he arrived up here he took a bit of time to hit form but he’s just kept raising the bar. Even when he was coming through the grades he was only ever winning by a head or a neck, but he’s that sort of horse, he just finds as much as he has to.”

In his usual style Aerovelocity made a good start from his inside draw and raced on the speed, but with the rails section of the track badly chopped up, other runners began to improve around him nearing the home turn.

“Zac said he was gone on the turn, he was going nowhere,” said O’Sullivan. “Then he got him out wider to the top of the rise where the track was firmer and he picked himself up.

“Every stride got better and he wore them down. It was a great result.”

At the line Aerovelocity had half a length over Hakusan Moon, who just held second from the local favourite Mikki Isle. Despite the damp conditions, the time for the 1200 metres was still a remarkable 1:08.5.

“At the press conference afterwards I felt pretty proud as the only Kiwi there to hear them say that DJ and I are the only father and son trainers to win Group One races in Japan,” O’Sullivan added. “That was special.”

O’Sullivan will wait for the dust to settle before confirming his next move. “There’s a $1million bonus for the Global Sprint Challenge winner, so we would probably like to get him to Singapore for the KrisFlyer Sprint.

“That’s in early May and by the time he’s done his quarantine back in Hong Kong he’ll need every day of what’s left to get there.

“As it stands he’s already done a huge job. With this win on top of the Hong Kong Sprint I imagine he’s the world’s highest rated sprinter and there’s any number of options for him coming up.

“Right now we’ll just enjoy this one.”

Source: The Informan

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