'Ex'-clamation Point!


Like a championship-level pugilist deep into the 12th round of a heavyweight bout, Exultant (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) was a spent force entering the final furlong of Sunday's G1 Standard Chartered Champions and Chater Cup (2400m) at Sha Tin. But, calling on the resiliency, determination and toughness that have come to characterise his time in Hong Kong, the 6-year-old willed himself to the wire to win the 12-furlong affair for the second year running. His second Group 1 win of the season–he was exiting a similarly tough victory in the Apr. 26 G1 FWD QE II Cup–puts him squarely in the Horse of the Year discussion, with 4YO Classic series sweeper Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d'Oro) the main opposition.

“He can't really do any more than he's done, he's been great all season, as he has been for the past few seasons,” winning jockey Zac Purton told the HKJC's David Morgan. “He does deserve it–everyone wants to talk about Golden Sixty, but he only did it in the 4-year-old series, he didn't come out and do it against the older horses and I think it's important that is taken into consideration. That might be the telling factor.”

Drawn widest in this field of seven, it was always going to be something of a tricky steer for Purton, but Exultant jumped well and was committed to not allowing stablemate Time Warp (GB) (Archipenko) an easy time of it up front. Similar tactics saw the latter upset Exultant in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) this past February, but there would be no such repeats, as Purton took the race to the pacesetter in upper stretch and raced right past. Exultant had done some work through the middle stages, leaving the needle teetering on 'E' as the end game approached, but even as G3 Queen Mother Memorial H. hero Chefano (SAf) (Silvano {Ger}) and Furore (NZ) (Pierro {Aus}) threatened late, an exhausted Exultant had nevertheless done enough.

“I thought, once again, I was out on my feet at the 200 [metres], but today it was like he was waiting for them a little more, it's like he's become more cunning and I could feel, when they were coming, he started to surge underneath.”

It was a seventh Champions and Chater in the last eight seasons for trainer Tony Cruz, who has also sent out the likes of California Memory (Highest Honor {Fr}, 2013); Blazing Speed (GB) (Dylan Thomas {Ire}, 2014, 2016) and 'TDN Rising Star' Pakistan Star (Ger) (Shamardal, 2018).

“He's the better stayer of all of them–he has no speed but he has a great attitude,” Cruz told Morgan.

Click here for a feature on Exultant, including detailed pedigree comments.

Sunday, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
STANDARD CHARTERED CHAMPIONS AND CHATER CUP-G1, HK$10,000,000 (£1,055,729/€1,177,420/A$1,966,509/ US$1,289,466), Sha Tin, 5-24, 3yo/up, 2400mT, 2:26.01, gd.
1–EXULTANT (IRE), 126, g, 6, by Teofilo (Ire)
1st Dam: Contrary (Ire), by Mark of Esteem (Ire)
2nd Dam: Crystal Gaze (Ire), by Rainbow Quest
3rd Dam: Jumilla, by El Gran Senor
O-Eddie Wong Ming Chak & Wong Leung Sau Hing;
B-Ballygallon Stud Limited; T-Tony Cruz; J-Zac Purton;
HK$5,700,000. Lifetime Record: Ch. Middle Distance Horse &
Ch. Stayer-HK, G1SP-Ire, 29-13-7-4, HK$73,789,410. Click for
the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating: A+++
*Triple Plus*.
2–Chefano (SAf), 126, g, 5, Silvano (Ger)–Valdovino (SAf), by Al
Mufti. (R500,000 Ylg '16 CAPJAN; R300,000 Ylg '16 EMPAPR).
O-Chef's Table Syndicate; B-Maine Chance Farms Pty Ltd;
T-John Moore; J-Matthew Chadwick; HK$2,200,000.
3–Furore (NZ), 126, g, 5, Pierro (Aus)–Stormy Choice (Aus), by
Redoute's Choice (Aus). (NZ$210,000 Ylg '16 NZBJAN). O-Lee
Sheung Chau; B-G S A Bloodstock Pty Ltd; T-Tony Cruz; J-Karis
Teetan; HK$1,000,000.
Also Ran: Savvy Nine (Fr), Helene Charisma (Fr), Eagle Way (Aus), Time Warp (GB). Click for the HKJC.com chart, PPs, sectional timing and VIDEO. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.

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