Rough ride in cup takes off the gloss

WHAT threatened to be one of the best days of champion jockey Darren Beadman’s career turned into disaster at Sha Tin when hot favourite Viva Pataca was beaten out of a place in the $HK20 million ($3.93m) Hong Kong Cup.

Beadman was shooting for a treble for Australian trainer John Moore having had earlier wins on stablemates Inspiration in the $HK12m Hong Kong Sprint and Craig’s Dragon (Paris Handicap). Viva Pataca started at $1.30 on the Hong Kong tote but failed to get any clear running until late in the straight, being continually checked from before turning for home, and finishing fourth. "I got absolutely smashed," Beadman said. "But what can you do, you can’t go over the top of them."

Leading jockey Douglas Whyte, who rode Sight Winner in the event, said it was "the dirtiest race I’ve ever ridden in" while Australian Brett Prebble, who was on Hawkes Bay, was also scathing in his comments.

"It was the worst race I’ve ever ridden in," said Prebble, referring to the interference. "It made the Golden Slipper [which has been known to be rough] look like a picnic race."

Beadman attempted to track eventual winner Eagle Mountain into the race approaching the turn and when that manoeuvre failed to come off Viva Pataca’s chances were dashed. HKJC stewards opened an inquiry into the interference, with visiting jockey Christophe Soumillon questioned over his ride on Bullish Luck, which was racing outside Viva Pataca when Beadman initially attempted to track Eagle Mountain. Eagle Mountain has a South African combination of trainer Mike De Kock and jockey Kevin Shea while it is owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.

Shea said he was aware it was "a rough race", adding: "There was interference in front of me and behind me. I could hear the other jockeys screaming out. I just made sure I stayed out of trouble and then I set him alight with 300m to go and he found another gear. He is a special horse."

De Kock won the Sheema Classic in Dubai earlier this year with Sun Classique, while he also brought Archipenko to Hong Kong in April to win the QEII Cup in which Viva Pataca ran third. "We thought Eagle Mountain was going even better than Sun Classique and Archipenko were before they won their big races so we were confident," De Kock said.

Beadman and Moore also combined for a second with Able One in the Hong Kong Mile, won for the second year running by Good Ba Ba. The jockey also rode the Danny O’Brien-trained Victorian Douro Valley into ninth in the Hong Kong Vase, in which Doctor Dino edged out 2007 Melbourne Cup runner-up Purple Moon.