Windsor Park-bred gelding Aerovelocity (Pins) gave trainer Paul O’Sullivan a day to remember in Japan yesterday when defeating a top-class field of Japanese sprinters to become the first foreign horse to win the Gr.1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) at Chukyo, the third leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.
Successful in the Gr.1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin in December before running second behind Gold-Fun (Le Vie Dei Colori) in the HK-1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) in February, Aerovelocity’s campaign had been geared around a crack at the Takamatsunomiya Kinen and the plan paid off as the Hong Kong trained raider dug deep under Zac Purton to narrowly deny Hakusan Moon (Admire Moon).
Aerovelocity broke well under Purton and was content in the early stages to take a lead from Am Ball Bleiben (Rule Of Law). Aerovelocity was under pressure rounding the home turn as Hakusan Moon went clear in what appeared to be a winning move, but he responded to strong riding to run down that rival and get up to score by half a length. Mikki Isle (Deep Impact) also turned in a strong outside run to finish just a nose off Hakusan Moon in third. The trio pulled three and a half lengths clear of the fourth Sudden Storm (Storming Home).
“There was steady rain all day and he was struggling on the ground,” Paul O’Sullivan told ANZ Bloodstock News following the race. “At one stage I thought he was going to drop out as he seemed to be going nowhere and Zac thought the same. But the ground was that little bit firmer from the 200 metres and once he hit that he was ok.
“He’s the ultimate Hong Kong warrior - he’s very tenacious and stuck his head out.”
Zac Purton who was riding his first Group One winner in Japan was pleased with his mounts efforts. “Obviously I was a bit concerned about the rain but the track was not that bad. It was a new experience for him,” Purton said.
“As we entered the home straight he appeared to have lost his footing losing a bit of his momentum. I thought the race was all over. I continued to ride and he started to regain his balance. The gallop was a little bit better. We moved to the better part of the track and he was comfortable with it again and able to bounce back.”
Victory brought Aerovelocity’s record to nine wins from 17 starts with prize money in excess of $4,200,000.
“To get a Japanese Group One is great,” said O’Sullivan, himself the winner of multiple New Zealand training championship titles. “Together with my dad [Dave], we won a Japanese Group One [the 1989 Japan Cup with Horlicks (Three Legs)] and to win one again is fantastic. It’s been a great day”.
“He’s owned by a very nice guy in Daniel Yeung Ngai - at first I struggled to sell this horse but we had coffee together one day and he decided to buy him. He’s his first horse and he’s been a superstar.”
The next leg of the Global Sprint Challenge is the Gr.1 KrisFlyer International Sprint (1200m) at Kranji in Singapore on 17 May. However, a future plan for Aerovelocity has yet to be finalised.
“I’m not too sure where he’ll go now,” said O’Sullivan. “There are a lot of options including the KrisFlyer Sprint in Singapore. We purposely missed a couple of races with him in Hong Kong this year with the idea of travelling him later on. So he travelled to Japan on the top of his game and may well travel again this year.”
Bred at Windsor Park Stud by Nelson Schick and Steve Till, Aerovelocity (6 g Pins - Exodus by Kaapstad) is one of eight Gr.1winners by Pins (Snippets), who stands at Waikato Stud in New Zealand.
Aerovelocity, who made one start in New Zealand under the name Naisoso Warrior, is out of Exodus and is a half-brother to metropolitan winner Our Billy Blue (High Chaparral). Exodus is a sister to Gr.2 winner Kapitain Kash (Kaapstad) and a half-sister to Listed winner Dante’s Paradiso (Danske). It is the further family of New Zealand champion filly Nimue (Star Way), trained by Paul O’Sullivan’s father Dave to win the Gr.1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas. Exodus died in 2010.