'Fantastic start to 2016 as Doug Whyte fires Secret Weapon to Centenary Vase triumph (HKG3) and Anjaal retires to stand at Rathasker Stud'
Secret Weapon fired a warning shot at Hong Kong’s established Pattern race stars with an impressive victory in the HKG3 Centenary Vase on 6th February, that belied its half-length margin and justified the faith of jockey Douglas Whyte and trainer Dennis Yip.
Whyte settled the talented six-year-old mid pack, holding an inside line, and all went smoothly until the turn for home. From that point on the South African found himself checking, shifting, stalling and switching as he looked outside and in for a clear route home.
“Derek Leung (Flame Hero) didn’t know if he wanted to go left or right and I’d originally planned for a run between him and Bubble Chic, but he drifted out so I’ve eased and gone in and he’s taken me right across to the rail,” said Whyte.
Romantic Touch set the pace from the off, jockey Neil Callan repelling would-be challengers for the lead and setting quick fractions in the process. Callan was still at the fore with the home stretch rapidly diminishing, arms pumping to hold off closing assailants - first Packing Llaregyb and then Flame Hero – but Secret Weapon’s late thrust was too much.
Whyte’s mount overcame a stop-start stretch run to shoot down the rail through the final half-furlong and head Romantic Touch close home. It was an easy half-length at the finish.
“He’s won well - he’s won with a bit in hand. I haven’t really let him down and tested him and he’s still finished two to their one,” said Whyte, after the Choisir gelding had stopped the clock at 1m 47.21s for his fifth win in 11 Hong Kong starts and his first in Pattern company. “I really do see him as a horse that can continue to go up and up. He’s given me too good a feel too many times.”
The winning trainer echoed that sentiment: “He is a lightly-raced six-year-old and I hope he can improve further. If he keeps progressing well, hopefully he can run in Group 2 or even Group 1 races in future. Distance-wise, today he won over 1800m and I will also try him over 2000m,” said Yip. “It all depends on his new rating after winning this race and the programme before I make a decision about the next target, it was a breathtaking win.”
Secret Weapon is out of the Montjeu mare 'Just Devine' and is a half brother to Code Red who won Listed races at 2 and 3 and will be targeted at Group races in 2016. Code Red is in training with William Muir and is currently rated 110
Meanwhile, Rathasker Stud have announced the purchase of Anjaal, a son of the ever popular Bahamian Bounty. "We feel that Anjaal will give our clients a fantastic speed outcross for their mares being free of Danehill / Danzig blood. A good looker, a precocious juvenile and a pedigree packed with black type performers, we believe that he will sire the sprinter / miler type that is so popular in commercial market.” Maurice Burns.
Anjaal easily won a Beverley 5f Maiden in early June, starting hot favourite he tracked the leaders and then quickened clear in the final furlong. He then won the 6f Gr.2 July Stakes at Newmarket, again coming from behind the field to quicken up in the final furlong to beat the likes of subsequent Gr.1 Middle Park winner Astaire. He rounded off his two year old campaign with a placing in the Gr.1 7f Dewhurst Stakes just behind Gr.2 Coventry winner War Command, Gr.2 Challenge Stakes winner Cable Bay and Gr.1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Outstrip.
Bred by Carmel Stud, out of the Peintre Celebre mare Ballymore Celebre, he realised £105,000 as a yearling when sold to the Richard Hannon / Peter and Ross Doyle / Shadwell team. Ross Doyle remarked, "Anjaal was a lovely yearling. He was a medium sized, strong, correct colt, a good walker with good bone and a nice length of rein. He was a proper two year old type which he showed when winning the Gr.2 July Stakes at Newmarket." In 2015, Anjaal’s yearling half brother by Exceed and Excel realised 600,000gns in Book 1 (Lot 76) when bought by Angus Gold on behalf of Shadwell, and is now in training with John Gosden. Ballymore Celebre produced a full sister to Anjaal in 2015, is in foal to Lope De Vega and visits Muhaarar in 2016.