Champion sire Encosta de Lago has been in hot form over the weekend with a Group I winner in South Africa in Delago Deluxe (3c Encosta de Lago x Succeeding by Flying Spur) and now a Group I winner in Hong Kong with progressive four year-old Liberator (4g Encosta de Lago x Miss Helga, by Alzao) capturing the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup HK Gr 1 over 2400 metres.
Liberator scuppered Ambitious Dragon’s bid to become only the second Hong Kong Triple Crown winner when securing victory in the prestigious staying event.
An astute tactical ride from Weichong Marwing saw the David Ferraris-trained gelding see off his illustrious rival with a determined drive to the wire off a steady tempo that produced a winning time of 2m 30.84s.
“He’s improved so much and the race just panned out so well for him because if he sits on the outside of a horse he’s at his best,” said Ferraris.
“If he can sit on its girths and travel comfortably, he’s hard to run down. I knew when he kicked hard like that the rest would have to pick up their feet because he’s an out-and-out stayer. It was a very good move of Weichong’s because if they’d kept going slow they’d have outsprinted us.”
Ferraris now has his sights set on a big prize in December and was particularly delighted to land the final leg of the Triple Crown with a horse purchased at the Hong Kong International Sale.
“Most of these nice horses are bought from overseas trainers but it’s nice to bring one up from scratch,” said the trainer, who previously took the prize in 2005 with Vengeance Of Rain.
“Liberator’s a very quirky horse and he’s dropped his work rider a few times in the morning but he’s settling down into such a lovely horse. He’ll have a well earned rest now and we’ll aim for the (G1) Hong Kong Vase in December.”
Originally a $360,000 purchase from the Curraghmore Stud draft at the 2009 NZB Premier Yearling Sale, Liberator is a brother to stakes-placed Pink Siris and is one of two winners from the stakes-winning Alzao mare Miss Helga (IRE), a sister to Group III winner Alexis.
Coolmore sold a yearling sister to Liberator at the 2012 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale for $125,000 to Dynamic Syndications and Miss Helga has a weanling colt by Fastnet Rock to follow.
Foaled and raised at Coolmore, Liberator is the 91st stakes-winner for champion sire Encosta de Lago, who stands at a fee of $82,500 this year.