Time Warp beats Exultant in HK Gold Cup
Time Warp delivered a blast from the past to outrun hot favourite Exultant in a rip-roaring Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup over 2,000m at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Two years ago, in this very race, the Tony Cruz-trained chestnut became the first horse to dip below two minutes for the course and distance.
He was the exciting new star on the scene, as that Gold Cup win rolled off a similar front-running demolition of international rivals in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup over 2,000m.
Circumstances were much different on Sunday.
A veteran of 32 Hong Kong starts, the seven-year-old lined up as a 25-1 shot against his short-priced stablemate Exultant, having posted just one win in 16 runs since his 2018 Gold Cup success - and that had come in November of that same year.
"That was a big surprise. I was expecting Exultant to win the race," said Cruz.
That sentiment was shared by all. Exultant, Hong Kong's standout champion at distances from 1,800m to 2,400m, was supposed to step up and claim a second successive Hong Kong Gold Cup, a win that would hopefully set up a tilt at the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic over 2,410m in Dubai next month.
But, when Joao Moreira was handed an easy lead on the strong-galloping Time Warp, Exultant's task became a more difficult one, his rider Zac Purton saying Gate 9 " was his undoing".
Moreira was back aboard the British import for the first time since November 2017 and was delighted to bag a fifth Group 1 win this term. - HKJC