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Anticlimactic Derby voyage but triumph for Badel and Yiu
It will go down as a great triumph for trainer Ricky Yiu and an unlikely, daring ride from Alexis Badel, but ultimately the 2023 HK Derby win by Voyage Bubble was an anticlimax.
What promised coming potential stars became a muddled, uncompetitive race where pace and position were not just important things, they were the only things.
It became almost impossible in the sprint home to make up ground so, although Voyage Bubble's circumnavigation of the field looked sub-optimal, Badel put him in striking range of the lead, which proved critical in a finish where the winner's heart was the difference and it could be argued that nothing stayed.
For Yiu, who has won many of feature races with the likes of Sacred Kingdom, Fairy King Prawn, Amber Sky and Ultra Fantasy, it was a first Derby and that was hardly a surprise for a yard that specialises in sprinter-milers. Of Yiu's 442 winners since 2012, Voyage Bubble was only the 11th at a distance beyond 1800m.
On our scale, it was the lowest-rating Derby of the last 20 years (the only ones we've looked at) and even lower than the terrbly messy 2012 win of Fay Fay.
But the Fay Fay Derby also provides some hope for the 2023 edition - emerging from the beaten runners were future G1 stars Military Attack, Dan Excel, Dominant and Liberator, all of them hampered by the way that race was conducted but their talent remained. This year's Derby looked equally inconclusive and it won't surprise if beaten runners later make a lie of the result and confirm themselves as the best of their age group.
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