Few horses have given Sheikh Mohammed more precious service than Ramonti, who yesterday crowned a campaign of extraordinary achievement in the Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin. Purchased by Godolphin last winter, Ramonti has since won four of his six races, all at Group One level, and finished second in the other two. At a time when the stable seemed culpably lacking in talent, he has flourished in the care of Saeed bin Suroor and amply plugged the gap while the Sheikh invested heavily in renewing its resources.
Full credit is due to all those responsible, not least Frankie Dettori, who again made the most of his partner's generosity, trapping Michael Kinane on the local favourite, Viva Pataca, before gaining first run and holding his late finish. Dettori, crowning the memorable year of his first Derby success, described Ramonti as one of the bravest he has ridden.
Having previously been campaigned over a mile by Godolphin, this success over another two furlongs opens the door to the Dubai World Cup in March. As the Godolphin manager, Simon Crisford, rightly observed: "We missed the Breeders' Cup Mile on purpose to wait for Hong Kong and in hindsight that was a really good call."
Creachadoir nearly won the Mile for the same team, foiled only in a photo by Good Ba Ba, with Darjina third and Excellent Art disappointing. The latter's stablemate, Dylan Thomas, also showed the effects of a long year when running tamely behind the globetrotting Doctor Dino in the Vase.
The Listener meanwhile warmed up for a showdown with Denman at Leopardstown after Christmas by routing his rivals for the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown by 19 lengths. His success was a tonic for his trainer, Robert Alner, still in intensive care after a car accident last month.