HONG KONG DERBY (Group 1)
Sha Tin, Turf, 2000m
17 March 2013
Racing in the colors of Jaber Abdullah in Europe under the care of trainer John Oxx, Akeed Mofeed (GB) (Dubawi - Wonder Why) broke his maiden at second asking by five lengths at Leopardstown and was beaten into second as the odds-on favorite in the Group 2 Beresford Stakes over heavy ground at The Curragh and called it a season. He was set a nearly impossible task in his 3-year-old debut when facing Camelot (GB) (Montjeu) in the Group 1 Irish Derby last June, and could do no better than fourth of five, but bounced back with an authoritative victory in the Listed Platinum Stakes at Cork in what would be his final European appearance last August.
Akeed Mofeed was given plenty of time to acclimate and made his Hong Kong debut on a domestic rating of 89, effectively assured of a Derby berth with the expected improvement. But very little went as planned in a Class 2 Handicap over 1400 meters on 12 January, when Olivier Doleuze rolled the dice up the fence and got shut off, but Akeed Mofeed was able to re-rally for third, while Doleuze offered a mea culpa and was reprimanded by stewards.
Connections pressed on to the second leg of the 4-year-old series, the 1800-meter Hong Kong Classic Cup on 17 February, and a meeting with stablemate Gold-Fun, who was exiting a handy win in the Hong Kong Classic Mile on 20 January. Ultimately sent off the second favorite to his barnmate, Akeed Mofeed was well back in a moderately run race and got home very well over the final 400 meters, but finished sixth, beaten just under two lengths.
Enter Douglas Whyte, who had ridden Gold-Fun in the Classic Mile and Classic Cup. The ‘Durban Demon’ took the call for a Class 2 handicap over nine panels on 2 March, one final confidence builder for Akeed Mofeed, and his 2 1/2-length victory at 90 cents on the dollar was accomplished with a minimum of fuss and would earn him a quote even smaller for the Derby.
Ideally drawn in three with a short run to the first turn, Akeed Mofeed tucked in just behind the leading foursome in fifth, as Gold-Fun was a bit wide out of the straight. But things got interesting for the Richard Gibson runners as the race reached its halfway point. Gold-Fun began to toss his head while racing in third, and Akeed Mofeed followed suit, causing Whyte to take a hold of him, resulting in him being shuffled back a few spots. Both Gold-Fun and Akeed Mofeed raced three wide on the turn, one in front of the other, and both appeared loaded as they reached the stretch. Gold-Fun made the first move and took over from the weakening pacesetters a furlong and a half from home, but Whyte made a simultaneous move aboard Akeed Mofeed and had him in the crosshairs, grabbed him with 100 meters to race and edged clear. Endowing enjoyed the run of the race on the fence and was just able to touch Gold-Fun out of second.
“I came out the gates beautiful, but they slowed it right down around the 1300 meters mark and I was in all sorts of bother,” said Whyte, winning his third Hong Kong Derby in four years (Super Satin in 2010 and Fay Fay in 2012). “I had a long rein and I had him galloping beautifully, so when I had to come back on his mouth, I didn’t have a short enough rein to get him back - I had to peel off heels and it got a bit messy.”
Vengeance of Rain (NZ) and Ambitious Dragon (NZ) successfully followed up their Derby wins in the Group 1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup. That April 28 race could beckon for Akeed Mofeed.
“The next stage is to see if he can beat the very best of Hong Kong and that’s a massive challenge, so we’ll see how he takes the race and look at it in a couple of weeks,” Gibson said. “When they’re this good you can have any plan you want in your mind, it’s about forming the right plan at the right time with the owner.”
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News