'Bubble' Pops At Giant Price In Hong Kong Derby

Alexis Badel throws Voyage Bubble (4) across the line in the BMW Hong Kong Derby | HKJC

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An all-the-way winner of January's Hong Kong Classic Mile under a perfectly rationed ride from the visiting Jamie Kah, Voyage Bubble (Aus) (Deep Field {Aus}) capitulated without much of a fight after leading through the opening mile of the Hong Kong Classic Cup, fading into sixth behind Super Sunny Sing (Aus) (Nicconi {Aus}).

When connections landed gate 14 at Thursday's barrier draw, the already difficult task at hand seemed that much more daunting, as valuable energy would need to be burned to get across to lead, assuming–of course–that was the plan. But trainer Ricky Yiu and jockey Alexis Badel tore the script for Sunday's HK$24-million BMW Hong Kong Derby into bits, settling the gelding last and sustaining a long and wide ride to cause a 45-1 boilover. Classic Mile runner-up Tuchel (NZ) (Redwood {GB}), the mount of Ryan Moore, was outfinished at the fence, while favoured stablemate Beauty Eternal (Aus) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) was third.

“Of course, this is the most prestigious race in Hong Kong racing and I'm very, very happy and grateful to win this Derby race,” said trainer Ricky Yiu, best known for training the top sprinters Sacred Kingdom (Aus) and Fairy King Prawn (Aus). “Over the trip, 2000 metres, I was a little bit doubtful, and then again with the wide draw. We needed to try something different. We even looked at the previous Derby races, horses drawn from the outside and where they finished and where they made a move,” he explained.

Keefy (Aus) (All Too Hard {Aus}) was kicked into the early lead from his low gate by Derek Leung and set a dawdling tempo from Encountered (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}). Tuchel landed in the box seat with Beauty Eternal and Zac Purton following his every move, while Voyage Bubble caboosed them into the first bend. Sensing the lack of speed and knowing the Derby was bound to turn into a sit-sprint, Badel slipped Voyage Bubble some rein with better than six furlongs to go and by the time the field had reached the second turn and with a half-mile to race, he was three wide and only about five lengths off the leader.

Continuing to improve, but having not yet been asked for his best, Voyage Bubble was poised to pounce outside of Beauty Eternal as Keefy turned them in. The favourite was given a dig by Purton a furlong and a half from home, but he wasn't able to put any sort of a gap on the stubborn Voyage Bubble to his outside or the rail-skimming Tuchel. Four across the course at the 150m, Voyage Bubble managed to conjure up one final surge and was home narrowly over Tuchel.

It made for a fairy-tale ending to a tumultuous week for Badel, who was unceremoniously booted from defending champion Wellington (Aus) (All Too Hard {Aus}) in the G1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (see below).

“Being a jockey, you go through ups and downs and this season has been very difficult for me,” said Badel, who became the first Frenchman to win the Derby since Maxime Guyon on Ambitious Dragon (NZ) (Pins {Aus}) in 2011. “I came back from injury and suspensions and it means everything to win such a big race in Hong Kong as a jockey. [Voyage Bubble] was brilliant and I'm very happy for the connections, the owners and myself. I still can't believe it, actually. It's like the race isn't finished yet. It's very special.”

Pedigree Notes:

While officially recognised as a listed restricted stakes, Voyage Bubble is one of two-big race winners in Hong Kong for the increasingly popular Deep Field, whose son Sky Field (Aus) took out the 2021 G1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint. Winning breeder Torryburn Stud is also responsible for the popular Hong Kong Group 1-winning sprinter Hot King Prawn (Aus) (Denman {Aus}).

Voyage Bubble is one of six winners from seven to race from his dam, whose other produce include Group 3 P J Bell S. winner Diddums and the listed-placed Brettan. Raheights is a half-sister to Bannock (Ire) (Bertolini), winner of the Listed Rockingham S. and placed in the G2 Richmond S. and G2 July S. for Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed al Maktoum and Mark Johnston as well as Australian listed winner Moulin Lady (Aus) (Reset {Aus}). The stakes-placed third dam counts Canadian Horse of the Year Never Retreat (Smart Strike) as one of her 10 winners from 14 to the races. The last-listed produce out of Raheights is the 3-year-old gelding Seventies Hit (Aus), second in a Wagga Wagga maiden in two starts.

 

 

Sunday, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
BMW HONG KONG DERBY 2023-LR, HK$24,000,000, Sha Tin, 3-19, NH/SH4yo, 2000mT, 2:02.78, gd.
1–VOYAGE BUBBLE (AUS), 126, g, 4, by Deep Field (Aus)
1st Dam: Raheights (Aus), by Rahy
2nd Dam: Laoub, by Red Ransom
3rd Dam: Lisieux, by Steady Growth
(A$380,000 Ylg '20 INGFEB). O-Sunshine and Moonlight Syndicate; B-Torryburn Stud (NSW); T-Ricky Yiu; J-Alexis Badel; HK$13,680,000. Lifetime Record: 11-5-3-1, HK$25,597,725. *1/2 to Diddums (Aus) (Snitzel {Aus}), GSW-Aus, $164,688.
2–Tuchel (NZ), 126, g, 4, Redwood (GB)–Trista Rossa (Aus), by Testa Rossa (Aus). (NZ$130,000 Ylg '20 NZBJAN). O-Philip Chan Kwok Chung; B-G Harvey; T-John Size; J-Ryan Moore; HK$5,280,000.
3–Beauty Eternal (Aus), 126, g, 4, Starspangledbanner (Aus)–Ithacan Queen (NZ), by Savabeel (Aus). (A$90,000 Ylg '20 INGFEB). O-Patrick Kwok Ho Chuen; B-P Raftopolous (Vic); T-John Size; J-Zac Purton; HK$2,400,000.
Margins: SHD, NO, HD. Odds: 45-1, 10-1, 13-10.
Also Ran: Keefy (Aus), Straight Arron (Aus), Sword Point (Aus), Sweet Encounter (NZ), Super Sunny Sing (Aus), Encountered (Ire), Galaxy Witness (Aus), Bon's A Pearla (Aus), Beautyverse (NZ), Atullibigeal (Aus), Flagship Warrior (Aus). Click for the HKJC.com chart, PPs and sectional timing.

Lucky Sweynesse Too Strong in QSJC

Desperately unlucky when sixth as the odds-on favourite behind Wellington in December's Hong Kong Sprint, Lucky Sweynesse (NZ) (Sweynesse {Aus}) won his third straight since Sunday, posting a relatively comfortable 1 1/4-length victory over G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile hero California Spangle (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) in the G1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup.

California Spangle, off at 3-5 and cutting back in trip after finishing third to Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d'Oro) in the G1 Stewards' Cup over a mile Jan. 29, jumped alertly from the rail and looked to hold all the aces, as he galloped them along at nothing more than a hack canter in sectional times well outside standard. But James McDonald, fresh off his victory about the outstanding Anamoe (Aus) (Street Boss) in Saturday's G1 George Ryder S. at Rosehill, kept Lucky Sweynesse within striking distance at all times, and even though California Spangle sprinted home in :21.99, the 4-year-old quickened even more impressively in :21.74 en route to the victory. Defending champion Wellington was well-beaten in third.

“What makes him so talented is that he's not only a very fast horse, but he can sustain the speed over seven furlongs, which not many sprinters can do,” said McDonald, who aslsso teamed with Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) to win the G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup in December. “So he's got a great attribute of conserving energy and building into a race like a pretty good horse.”

Winning trainer Manfred Man said Lucky Sweynesse will go for a sweep of the Hong Kong Speed Series in the G1 Chairman's Sprint Prize back over 1200 metres Apr. 30, with a trip overseas for the G1 Yasuda Kinen not out of the question.

Pedigree Notes:

The lone Group 1 scorer for his sire (by Lonhro {Aus}), Lucky Sweynesse is a full-brother to G1 Queensland Oaks placegetter Signora Nera (NZ). From the extended family of champion Rose of Danehill (Aus) (Danehill) and Group 1 winner Wrap Around (Aus) (Bletchingly {Aus}), Lucky Sweynesse has a 3-year-old half-brother by Per Incanto and a yearling half-brother by Contributer (Ire). Madonna Mia was most recently served by Sweynesse.

 

 

Sunday, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
QUEEN'S SILVER JUBILEE CUP-G1, HK$12,000,000, Sha Tin, 3-19, 3yo/up, 1400mT, 1:21.12, gd.
1–LUCKY SWEYNESSE (NZ), 126, g, 4, by Sweynesse (Aus)
1st Dam: Madonna Mia (NZ) (SW-NZ, $134,764), by Red Clubs (Ire)
2nd Dam: Hill of Hope (Aus), by Danehill
3rd Dam: Macozie (Aus), by Marscay (Aus)
(NZ$90,000 2yo '20 NZBRTR). O-Cheng Ming Leung, Cheng Yu Tung, Cheng Mei Mei & Cheng Yu Wai; B-P L Dombrowski, Explosive Breeding Ltd & S A Sharrock; T-Manfred Man; J-James McDonald; HK$6,840,000. Lifetime Record: 14-10-2-1, HK$29,475,200. *Full to Signora Nera (NZ), G1SP-Aus, GSP-NZ, $145,027. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalog-style pedigree.
2–California Spangle (Ire), 126, g, 5, Starspangledbanner (Aus)–Pearlitas Passion (Ire), by High Chaparral (Ire). (€150,000 Ylg '19 GOFORB). O-Howard Liang Yum Shing; B-M Enright; T-Tony Cruz; J-Zac Purton; HK$2,640,000.
3–Wellington (Aus), 126, g, 6, All Too Hard (Aus)–Mihiri (Aus), by More Than Ready. (A$70,000 Ylg '18 MMGCYS). O-Mr & Mrs Michael Cheng Wing On & Jeffrey Cheng Man Cheong; B-Kia Ora Stud Pty Ltd, David Paradise, Steve McCann; T-Richard Gibson; J-Ryan Moore; HK$1,200,000.
Margins: 1 1/4, 3, NK. Odds: 8-5, 3-5, 31-5.
Also Ran: Courier Wonder (NZ), Waikuku (Ire). Click for the HKJC.com chart, PPs and sectional timing.

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