Trainer Tony Cruz was proven right, jockey Matthew Chadwick wrong but it was the hoop who deserves the sling after California Memory won the $2.5m Group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2400m) at Sha Tintoday.
Cruz believed barrier one was the place to be but Chadwick wasn’t too sure.
But Chadwick used the barrier to his advantage as instructed and settled the Hong Kong-trained gelding third on the fence.
If differed to its usual backmarker position and when Gerard Mosse set a slow pace in front on Pure Champion, it was the place to be.
The Cup was supposed to be a two horse war between French galloper Cirrus des Aigles and local star Ambitious Dragon.
They dominated betting with the local starting favourite.
Ambitious Dragon settled second last with Cirrus des Aigles just ahead of him.
Mosse got away with his tactics until the 400m before speeding for home.
His horse found nothing as Zazou (settled second) took over.
Ambitious Dragon quickly moved up into the race with Byword who had settled fourth outside of California Memory.
California Memory was locked away but Chadwick didn’t panic, he waited.
At the 200m, Ambitious Dragon’s run levelled out as Irian, who followed from the tail, was hooked around to be the widest runner.
Those two horses had made runs from before the turn but California Memory only started its burst at the 200m.
He went to the line better than anything and defeated Irian by a length with Byword heading out Ambitious Dragon for third.
Cirrus des Aigles was unlucky not to have been in the finish.
In the straight he was blocked between runners and only gained some room in the final 100m.
He finished well to get fifth near the fence.