Private purchase Massive Sovereign brilliant in Hong Kong Derby

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Massive Sovereign, a private purchase in conjunction with Andy Lo on behalf of Chan Kam Hung, turned in a performance out of the top drawer to win the Group 1 Hong Kong Derby at Sha Tin on only his second local start on Sunday

Trained by Dennis Yip, the son of No Nay Never had previously turned heads with an impressive winning Sha Tin debut in the Somerset Handicap. He stepped up again on Sunday to maintain his meteoric rise, overcoming traffic from the back of the field to run down the wide-margin leader Ka Ying Generation and win under a powerful Zac Purton drive.

In the process, Massive Sovereign clocked the fastest time in Derby history – 1m 59.85s – since the race distance was changed to 2000m in 2000, bettering champion Golden Sixty’s time of 2m 00.15s, set in 2020.

“When the leader was that far in front, and that horse [Ka Ying Generation] keeps galloping – he doesn’t stop or give up – he might have tired a little bit but he didn’t capitulate, so he made me earn it,” said Zac Purton. “I always thought I was going to get close, but how close you can’t be sure.

“Once I got to the 200m, I could feel I had his measure.

“I feel extremely honoured and privileged to have found such a horse to win this race. To win the race itself, it’s the most prestigious race in Hong Kong

“He’s shown us so far that he’s the ideal horse here in Hong Kong and he’s got such a good attitude. He just takes everything in his stride since he got here. I loved him in the mornings, you love a lot of horses in the morning but they don’t turn up on race days – this guy has turned up on race day so far.

“I’m not sure how good he’s going to be, only time will tell but he’s done a good job so far.

His win provided trainer Dennis Yip with his first triumph in the Classic.

“It’s very exciting. I think the Derby for me is more important than the championship…but this one for my life is the big one,” he said. “He’s a very special horse with a very good mind. The last 200m I was very nervous but I rely on Zac. He is the champion jockey in Hong Kong and everything was good with the horse.

“This horse, the first day he arrived in Hong Kong, he [Purton] sent me the video [of Massive Sovereign winning at Leopardstown] and told me he thought he was a nice horse and asked me if he could ride him.

“I’ve already entered him for the FWD QEII Cup at the end of April. I will see how the horse pulls up. If he’s good and he improves, I will go this way.

“I’m very happy, it’s amazing for my life. What a memory.”

Formerly known as Broadhurst in Ireland, the four-year-old won at Dundalk and Naas for the Coolmore partners and Aidan O’Brien. He becomes the eighth Group 1 winner for No Nay Never and was bred by Lynch Bages and Summerhill Bloodstock out of Sweet Charity, a Listed-winning daughter of Myboycharlie.

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