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Teofilo does it again — big HK winner his latest staying star

J A McGrath

Only months after Cross Counter’s scintillating win in the G1 Melbourne Cup, Darley stallion Teofilo has come up with another, who is soaring to the top of the staying ranks.

This time, Hong Kong provided the venue for a performance that reinforced opinions formed at their recent international meeting that Exultant is a rising star of great potential.

In December, he won the G1 Hong Kong Vase, at Sha Tin over 2,400m, in determined style, but on Sunday, 27 January, the five-year-old son of Teofilo was asked to take a dramatic drop back in distance, to 1,800m, against a strong field in the G3 Centenary Vase.

Despite suffering interference at the start, Exultant came from the rear to overwhelm his rivals in the home straight, a clear sign he has hit peak form.

In the end, he did it easily, registering another significant triumph, and giving Tony Cruz his 1,200th winner as a trainer.

Cruz is a racing icon in Hong Kong, his career as a jockey and trainer spanning four successful decades. He currently has a stable capable of adding many more winners to that total in coming months.

Zac Purton, who turned down other rides to partner Exultant, was glowing in his praise of the gelding.

“He’s a stayer with class, and he’s continued to get better,” Purton said.

Exultant ran the distance in 1m 45.68secs, only 0.27sec outside the track record, and was emulating past champions Akeed Mofeed and Designs On Rome by winning the Vase as a follow-up to success at the international fixture in December.

Cruz is now looking at the G1 Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday, 17 February, for Exultant, who also holds an entry in the G1 Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup night, Saturday, 30 March, at Meydan.

Exultant was formerly trained by Michael Halford in Ireland, where he showed promise, racing under the name Irishcorrespondent.

One of his best runs was to finish third in the 2017 G1 Irish 2,000 Guineas, behind Churchill and Thunder Snow. He is now realising his full potential.

The richest race in America, the G1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational, was dominated by City Of Light, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner, who stormed home to defeat Seeking The Soul and Accelerate a fading third.

City Of Light now goes to stud off the back of this impressive win, as too does Accelerate.

In South Africa, Anton Marcus rode Rainbow Bridge to victory in the 2019 Sun Met, at Kenilworth, defeating public choice Do It Again, with Head Honcho back in third.