Exultant Draws First Blood for the Locals on International Day

Mark Smith - Sunday December 9

The locals drew first blood in International Stakes Day at Sha Tin when the Tony Cruz-trained Exultant turned back the challenge of Japan's Lys Gracieux (JPN) in Sunday's Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase.

Ridden by Zac Purton, Exultant tracked the early speed set by Crocosmia (JPN) while Joao Moreira peeled the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth stakes winner Lys Gracieux (JPN) to the centre of the track in the straight and so quickly did she accelerate she seemed certain to go straight pass Exultant.

But Purton lifted the Irish-bred son of Teofilo (IRE) to win by a neck over Lys Gracieux (JPN) (Heart's Cry) with the Irish-bred mare Eziyra, who is also by Teofilo (IRE) two and a half lengths back in third. (photos Grant Courtney)

It was a career high for Exultant who had a pair of Group III's to his credit but he was coming off an excellent second to Eagle Way in the Group II The Bochk Cup at Sha Tin on November 18.

Exultant won two races in Ireland and was third behind Churchill in the Group 1 Irish 2,000 Guineas (1600m) in May 2017 before his sale to Hong Kong.

He was second in the Group 1 Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) and Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) and was third in the Hong Kong Derby (2000m).

He is the best of four winners out of the winning Mark Of Esteem mare Contrary who is a half-sister to Caspian Prince (Dylan Thomas) who was the Champion Older Male Sprinter in Ireland in 2017. His 19 wins came in GB, Ireland, France and U.A.E and included the Group II Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh.

Contrary is also a half-sister to Spirit Quartz (Invincible Spirit) the Champion 3YO Sprinter in Italy in 2011. His 9 wins included the Group II Prix du Gros-Chene at Chantilly and was runner-up in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

Exultant becomes the 16th Group 1 winner for the former Darley shuttler Teofilo (IRE) whose dual Group 1 winning son Kermadec has his first crop of yearlings on sale next year.

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