A group 1 double-header May 7 at Sha Tin was marred by the fatal breakdown of Rapper Dragon, the brightest star on the local horizon.
The 4-year-old was pulled up by jockey Joao Moreira 700 meters from the finish in the Champions Mile (G1).
"Rapper Dragon suffered a severe fracture of his pelvis which, unfortunately, was coupled with serious complications," said Dr. Christopher Riggs, head of veterinary clinical services for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. "Despite our intensive care in the equine hospital, we were unable to save him."
The Street Boss gelding posted the first sweep of the Hong Kong 4-year-old Classic Series this season, culminating with a victory in the BMW Hong Kong Derby. He was expected to take his place at the top of the local pyramid as some of Hong Kong's aging stars retired.
Amid the gloom, Contentment, a 6-year-old Hussonet gelding, took the lead, gave it up to a pair of rivals and was able to regain the lead to get home first by a neck over Beauty Only, with Helene Paragon third. Contentment, trained by John Size, posted his first win in more than 15 months, although he was runner-up behind Maurice in last year's Champions Mile.
"When he got to the front today, he was waiting again and looking, and when Beauty Only came to him he dug deep again," said winning rider Brett Prebble. "He's a quirky horse, but he's definitely got that performance there when he can give it to us. One hundred percent of the credit goes to John. He's a genius."
Size said Contentment may take another swing at the Yasuda Kinen (G1) in Japan, where he finished 12th last year.
The two foreign runners in the Champions Mile, Stormy Antarctic and Convey, finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
In the companion Chairman's Sprint Prize (G1), Lucky Bubbles saved ground behind pacesetting Peniaphobia, found a path 150 meters from the wire and burst through, winning by a neck from late-closing Mr Stunning. Not Listenin'tome came in a close third.
Lucky Bubbles, a 5-year-old Sebring gelding out of the Hussonet mare Bubbles Below, scored his first win at the group 1 level. Last year, he appeared to have the Chairman's Sprint Prize (G1) on his owner's mantelpiece before Australian star Chautauqua arrived in the final jumps to take that honor.
Subsequently, he posted three runner-up finishes, including the Longines Hong Kong Sprint (G1) in December, a short head behind Aerovelocity. Ironically, Aerovelocity was a late scratch from Sunday's race, after he was found to be lame in a front leg.
"It has been a tough year," said winning trainer Francis Lui. "He's tried so hard, but he's been a little bit unlucky. He struck trouble in a couple of his runs and so he should have won one or two more."