France's Junko wins the Longines Group 1 Hong Kong Vase

Despite missing the start, the André Fabre-trained Junko grabbed the honours in the Longines Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.

JUNKO winning the 2023 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin Racecourse.
JUNKO winning the 2023 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin Racecourse. Picture: The Hong Kong Jockey Club

Settling at the back of the field in a slowly run race, jockey Maxime Guyon opted to keep his mount at the rear of the eight runners with plenty of daylight out wide. Local horse La City Blanche lead the field with Irish filly Warm Heart sitting a length off the front runner. The leader was initially claimed by Warm Heart, but all the while Junko, who was positioned widest of all on the track, continued to make ground from the rear of the field and soon swept on past under Maxime Guyon. Japanese horse Zeffiro finished of his race well between the pair to grab the second spot. Both the winner and second were 'smashed' in the betting in the closing minutes both halving their prices. Favourite, Japanese horse Lebensstil disappointed and was never a factor in the race, eventually finishing last.

Junko is raced by the Wertheimer Brothers, a powerhouse breeding and racing family operation in France over three generations dating back to the 1950's with their most famous horse being the outstanding filly Goldikova. Junko's sire, Intello, was also raced by the Wertheimer's and the winner of the Prix du Jockey Club.

France has a good record in this race however, their last winner was nine years ago with Flintshire, also trained by André Fabre and ridden by Maxime Guyon, in 2014. This was Fabre's third success in the race having also won the race in 1999 with Borgia.

Speaking after victory André Fabre said: "I'm really delighted. It was expected because he's improving race after race. He's not had a lot of races, he's only four. He had a setback in Deauville so he couldn't run in the Grand Prix, and he had the race in Germany. He didn't run that much. He will be back in Dubai, we kept him for that and for the international races."

Maxime Guyon added: "I'm really happy because it's time to win this race (again). Nine years ago, it was Flintshire.

"We didn't know before the race if he would like this ground or not because normally, he prefers the soft ground, but today in Hong Kong the ground was good. We had a good race, there weren't many runners, so I wasn't too far back just after the last turn, he has a good turn of foot.

"He's very relaxed and of course the pace is not way fast but the most important thing with the horse is if he's breathing really good and everything is okay. That's why I relaxed with him because he he's very relaxed.

"Everybody knows Andre Fabre. He's the best trainer.

"He has done a really good job with this horse because he has just won a second Group 1 with this horse - he's just won a Group 1 in Germany - and he comes to Hong Kong for a win and it's not easy to do that. I'm really happy for the team."

Racing and Sports

today's racing

Error occured
{{course.CountryName || course.Country}}