Running the rule over the HK Derby class of 2018
The HK Derby is done and dusted for another year and John Size has worked the oracle with Ping Hai Star, getting him to relax and booking the right jockey to carry that through to winning the race in brilliant style.
All around, this 2018 Derby was a triumph for Hong Kong's best trainer and Ping Hai Star won with authority and in the style of horse with plenty more to give in the open company Group One scene.
So, how does the race stack up? In the table below, here are the past 10 Derbys and our rating on the winning performance that day. That is an important definition because some of these horses carried better ratings into the race and rated higher at other times in their subsequent careers too.
Fay Fay, for example, had a peak of 96 but his Derby was so slowly-run and messy with interference and a very bunched finish that it rated more like a Class 3 with us than a Derby. There was also Akeed Mofeed, who took a superior 95 rating into his Derby but it was also run in a messy, stop-start fashion and he wasn't able to reproduce that figure but did get the result.
So the manner of the race, times and spead of margins will play a part in determining the quality of the Derby contest on the day, just as it does with bread and butter races every meeting.
In the other table below, we've listed the runners in 2018 and the performance rating they generated on the day.
The first thing to note is Nothingilikemore's 82 - easily the worst run of his career after taking a career top of 98 into the race, and we won't be judging him on this in the future but he raced like he didn't stay or was tired.
Ping Hai Star improved on the 94 he took into the race, while Singapore Sling is looking extremely reliable, posting 93 to follow similar figures in the Classic Mile and Cup.
Although he finished behind Singapore Sling, Exultant rated higher with us due to how much ground he was able to take off Singapore Sling. This was in line with Exultant's best overseas.
Both the minor placegetters are just about in the ball park for competing in open Group One races while the winner should certainly be capable in that grade but the remainder need something easier or, in the case of Nothingilikemore, shorter.
Ruthven ran his best number in HK although he is still short of his Queensland Derby win and with connections talking about gelding him now, he might yet get back to that 95 from Australia.
The Golden Age, despite missing the start, also improved on his exposed HK form here and that mistake at the start suggests that he might have another point or two of improvement in him.