Darci prevails in
low-rating HK Derby
Caspar Fownes-trained Sky Darci has held the top of our 4yo ratings for most of the last few months and finally found his way back to the winner's stall in the 2021 HK Derby.
He had some good fortune along the road as well as some flawed rides on some rivals but, as they say, that's racing.
Sky Darci posted a 93 on our scale late in 2020 and didn't get anywhere near that on Sunday, when his winning rating in a glorified Class 2 was our lowest for a HK Derby winner since Fay Fay won an interference-riddled walking race in 2012.
Part of that rating will be down to the bizarre race shape due to sectionals set by Alexis Badel on Healthy Happy early - his second 400m section was 5 lengths faster than might have been expected, while his third 400m was almost the same amount slow - but part of the poor rating might also reflect that many of the established form horses in it might ultimately find their niche as milers rather than 2000m horses.
So, a low-rating Derby is not ideal but it doesn't mean they won't perform in good races in the future.
Of the more likely stayers, Russian Emperor may have won with a more aggressive ride but rated 88, as in the Classic Cup, which is still well short of his UK best. Panfield also wanted for a more proactive ride and rated 87, which is getting close to his best from Chile.
Russian Emperor, in particular, may become a better horse next season when he becomes more fully acclimatised.
Yet, for the millions spent around the world buying performed animals for the Derby, the winner was the only runner who arrived unraced in Hong Kong, just as Golden Sixty had been one of only two PPGs in the race in 2020.