Beat The Clock edges past Rattan to take the Chairman’s Sprint Prize today. Photo by HKJC.


Beat The Clock’s not for beating in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize


By Steve Moran, at Sha Tin for the HKJC.



The home team was one down, with Mr Stunning’s late enforced absence, but it mattered not as the ever competitive Beat The Clock led home a Hong Kong one-two-three in today’s (28 April) HK$16 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin.

The John Size-trained sprinter, third last year and remarkably never outside the first three in 21 career starts, beat fellow locals Rattan and Little Giant in a Hong Kong trifecta which relegated the world’s highest-rated sprinter, Australian visitor Santa Ana Lane, into fourth place.

It was a first Chairman’s Sprint Prize win for jockey Joao Moreira (who had been placed the two previous years) and a second straight for Size who not only won last year’s edition with Ivictory but saddled the first three home as Mr Stunning, whom he then trained, split the winner and Beat The Clock.

The race unfolded perfectly for the Merrick Chung Wai-lik-owned Beat The Clock, whose task was aided by Mr Stunning’s withdrawal on veterinary advice and Santa Ana Lane’s inability to stay in touch with the leaders in the early stages.

“I was extremely happy,” Moreira said, “I would say the race actually went perfect for him. Rattan wasn’t giving up, he was dashing home and made it very hard but fortunately we have a very brave horse. He tries his best and once again he’s done it.”


Joao Moreira salutes the crowd after the victory.
Joao Moreira salutes the crowd after the victory.


It was Beat The Clock’s eighth win and his second at Group 1 level, having taken the Centenary Sprint Cup in January but this was certainly his finest moment after minor placings this day last year and in the G1 Hong Kong Sprint last December.

Trainer Size spoke of the willingness of the winner.

“He is a joy to take to the races, that’s for sure, because he’s so consistent and such a willing participant. He’s come strong at five years of age and it should be his best season and he’s done that, he’s delivered with his two Group Ones.”

However, he is unlikely to run again this season according to the trainer but rather be prepared for next season and a likely crack at December glory. “That’ll be enough for him. He’s done a good job and I don’t think he’ll have another run. The warm weather will come now and I think he’s better off not working at that time,” Size said.

The Richard Gibson-trained Rattan, who’d beaten Beat The Clock in the lead-up G2 Sprint Cup, was five pounds worse off at the weights on this occasion and brave while beaten a half-length into second place.

His rider Chad Schofield said:

“We were in front which was a first for him but he travelled sweetly and controlled the race. He showed an extremely good turn-of-foot but a better horse won on the day.”

The visiting Santa Ana Lane, who went off a 1.8 favourite, ran the quickest last 800 metres and last 400 metres of the race but after settling at the tail had too much to do and finished two and a quarter lengths from the winner but well clear of the rest headed by Pingwu Spark and Japan’s Nac Venus who finished together, 5th and 6th.

“He was probably off his game a little bit today so we’ll get home and regroup,” said Santa Ana Lane’s trainer Anthony Freedman before noting the race didn’t unfold well for him, “They didn’t go a really good gallop, which didn’t suit us – he was a little disappointing.”

Jockey Hugh Bowman said of Santa Ana Lane:

“Well I don’t think we saw the best of him but take nothing away from the winner, he was too good today.”

Moreira shows his appreciation to Beat The Clock after they combined for another G1 success.
Moreira shows his appreciation to Beat The Clock after they combined for another G1 success.