William Buick celebrated one of his biggest overseas career wins as Pakistan Star turned on his A-game to plunder the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin.
Buick, whose original mission was to ride Blue Point for Godolphin in the big sprint on the card, discovered when his plane landed at Chep Lap Kok airport that he had additionally been booked for Tony Cruz’s mercurial performer, who could now have Royal Ascot on his agenda.
The ride became available because Pakistan Star’s intended rider Kerrin McEvoy was signed off with an ear problem.
Buick had discussed at length the idiosyncrasies in Pakistan Star’s make up that had caused him to pull himself up and show reluctance to race on occasions.
He explained: “Tony went through his previous races with me. He’s infamous for his antics and what he can decide to do, but to be honest he never gave me any indication of that.
“It’s very unfortunate for Kerrin and lucky for me and I felt it was important to ride him with a fresh mind. He felt beautiful, just like a world-class mile-and-a-quarter horse, and in fairness he was competing against several multiple Group One winners. Tony said he’s not a horse you can bully and to treat him with kid gloves.”
Cruz was so pleased with the way Pakistan Star picked up to take a narrowing gap between rivals when making his run that he will consider a shot at the Prince of Wales’s Stakes or Queen Anne Stakes in June.
He said: “He should have won it last year when there was no pace and today showed his true ability.
“There’s only one race left for him here which is the Champions and Chater Cup, so I will speak to the owner and maybe take him to Royal Ascot.”
Hong Kong hailed a new champion when Ivictory successfully made the jump from Class Two to Group One with a dazzling display of all-round pace in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, in which Blue Point disappointed for Europe.
The Zac Purton-ridden four-year-old came out best from a five-horse team saddled by John Size as he tracked Peniaphobia and Blue Point into the straight before swooping to conquer 600 metres out. The gelding galloped on strongly to hold Mr Stunning and Beat The Clock to make it a one-two-three for Size.
Size enthused: “It’s both a thrill and a relief to see the first three favourites fill the first three places.
“He gave us all the signs this season and his win rate is very good. Normally he would have had another race before trying a Group One, but I thought he might well be up to it. He was able to get the run of the race and then to stave them off.”
Buick confessed to being disappointed with the Charlie Appleby-trained Blue Point, who broke smartly to contest the lead but weakened disappointingly in the final 600 metres to finish last of the nine.
The jockey said: “I had to work to get around the outside a little bit in the run to the turn to get where I wanted to be, but turning into the straight he fell away very quickly. Overall I was disappointed with him. I was expecting better.”
Beauty Generation proved an authoritative pillar to post winner of the Champions Mile, the first leg of a Purton double.