Talented stayer Liberator denied Ambitious Dragon a clean-sweep of the Hong Kong Triple Crown at Sha Tin on Sunday. The NZ bred gelding recorded a convincing victory in the G1 Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) after taking control at the half-mile.
Liberator (4g Encosta De Lago – Miss Helga by Alzao) kicked clear in the straight and held off the fast finishing Ambitious Dragon (Pins) to score by over a length. “He has improved so much and at his best sitting outside the leader,” trainer David Ferraris said. “I knew when he kicked hard the others would have to pick up their feet because he’s an out and out stayer.”
Ambitious Dragon (NZ) had won the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) and G1 Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) and was looking to become just the second horse to claim the Triple Crown. River Verdon (Be My Native) accomplished the feat in 1994.
His wins in the first two legs were outstanding performances and his second placing on Sunday, in a race marred by a farcical tempo, will see him fancied to be awarded a second Horse of the Year title.
Liberator was purchased by the Hong Kong Jockey Club from Gordon Cunningham’s Curraghmore Stud at NZ Bloodstock’s 2009 Karaka Premier Sale for $360,000. He was then offered at the 2009 Hong Kong International Sale where he was purchased by Siu Kim Sun Martin for HK$5 million.
Liberator gave Coolmore sire Encosta de Lago his second Group 1 within 24 hours after Delago Deluxe won the Golden Horse Casino Sprint in South Africa on Saturday. Ferraris indicated Liberator will be spelled and be set for the G1 Hong Kong Vase in December.