Japanese-trained favorites bookended Sunday’s Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) at Sha Tin. Before Loves Only You brought the curtain down in the Hong Kong Cup (G1), her compatriot – and fellow Deep Impact offspring – Glory Vase kicked off the Group 1 proceedings by hoisting the $2.5 million Hong Kong Vase (G1) for the second time.
The 2019 Vase winner with Joao Moreira aboard, Glory Vase did not defend his title last year. But reuniting with Moreira here, the odds-on choice recaptured his throne under confident handling.
Glory Vase was anchored at the back as the other Japanese contender, Stay Foolish, advanced to press front-running Reliable Team. That backstretch gambit helped to lift the pace. British shipper Pyledriver appeared to be working out the garden trip in third, observing the top two duke it out, and he rolled past them swinging into the stretch. French filly Ebaiyra, hitherto traveling well in fourth, followed Pyledriver.
Moreira timed his move with precision. Having saved ground on the rail much of the way, he angled out for the drive, and Glory Vase gained relentlessly. While Pyledriver kept pounding, and drew further clear of third-placer Ebaiyra, he could not stave off Glory Vase. The former champ won going away by a length, negotiating about 1 1/2 miles in 2:27.07.
Silk Racing Co.’s Glory Vase thus became the fourth horse to win the Vase twice. The Tomohito Ozeki veteran joins Luso (1996-97), Doctor Dino (2007-08), and Highland Reel (2015, 2017).
Defending Vase champion Mogul didn’t come close to etching his name on that honor roll. Settled off the pace, he got passed by fourth-placer Columbus County, couldn’t catch up to fifth Stay Foolish, and checked in a well-beaten sixth. Mogul had only two behind him, the hard-pulling Butterfield and tailed-off Reliable Team.
Glory Vase, who was second to Loves Only You in his last visit to Sha Tin in the Apr. 25 QEII Cup (G1), improved his record to 17-6-4-1. His marquee wins at home have come in the 2020 Kyoto Daishoten (G2) and 2019 Nikkei Shinsun Hai (G2), the race prior to his near-miss in the Tenno Sho Spring (G1). The dark bay was fifth in the 2018 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) (G1) as well as last fall’s epic Japan Cup (G1) behind Almond Eye, Contrail, and Daring Tact.
Pyledriver’s jockey, Martin Dwyer, tipped his cap to Glory Vase.
“Really pleased, good run, but I think the winner is very good,” Dwyer said.
Moreira had the same idea, having tabbed Glory Vase beforehand as his top chance at Sunday’s HKIR.
“No doubts about it, I did enjoy it so much,“ Moreira said.
“This win and everything in my life is to the honor of Jesus Christ, Who has been in my life always, and today has been a very good example.
“I felt Him with me and everything went as I expected. I had a smooth run, going to the fence and saving ground. I just made sure I got into the clear and I know he’s a very strong horse at the finish and there was not a fight.
“He has proven to be the best horse today.”
Out of the Swept Overboard mare Mejiro Tsubone, Glory Vase counts as his third dam champion Mejiro Ramonu, the inaugural winner of Japan’s Triple Crown for fillies in 1986.