On Sunday at Sha Tin Race Course in Hong Kong, a huge crowd of over 66,000 were on hand to witness the 2003 edition of the Hong Kong International Races, highlighted by the Hong Kong Cup, a 2000-meter (1 1/4 mile) event for older horses for a purse of just over $2.3 million (all purses converted to U.S. and all races are Group 1 on turf).
In the main event, Breeders' Cup Turf third-place finisher Falbrav came on strong down the lane after being further back than jockey Frankie Dettori had intended him to be, to pass his chief rival Rakti to win by 2 widening lengths in a final time of 2:00.90 over the good course. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to Australian invader Elegant Fashion. American hope Denon disappointed back in eleventh in the field of fourteen. Falbrav will now retire to stud in Japan as a true champion with eight Group 1 victories to his name.
Winning jockey Frankie Dettori said, "I was 100 per cent confident, even when we were so far back. When I pressed the button he exploded. I nearly peed myself! It took my breath away, the way he accelerated. Without a doubt, he is the best 2000-meter horse in the world. He's up there with the very best I have ridden. His performance was electric." Trainer Luca Cumani added "It was almost like watching Seabiscuit. He won this like he is the best horse in the world and I am so pleased that he goes out on a winning note. This is one of the very best moments for me, to travel the horse so far and have him in top class form is fantastic."
Michael Jarvis, trainer of runner-up Elegant Fashion, said: "He just missed the break and there was a lot of traffic in front. He and the winner went for the same gap and got a little bump but there were no excuses. We will try to come back next year."