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Ryan Moore was full of praise for Highland Reel and Aidan O’Brien after winning the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.
Highland finished third at Australia’s Cox Plate at Moonee Valley after triumphing in the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park and coming home fifth in the Irish Champion Stakes.
The three-year-old was back on top form in Hong Kong, starting well before being overtaken by both Harbour Master and Cirrus Des Aigles on the back straight.
Andre Fabre’s Flintshire went on to grab the lead but Highland Reel powered home to secure what was ultimately a relatively comfortable victory.
“If I’d been left alone, he’d have won very easy,” said jockey Moore after the triumph. “He’s turned into a very good horse.
“He’s had a hard schedule but he keeps getting better. He’s improved immensely since the start of the year.
“He saw the trip out extremely well. When Flintshire came by him I thought I was in trouble, but this lad really dug in.
“He’s plenty of class, and the way he’s improved through the year is quite something.
Moving on to trainer O’Brien, Moore continued: “I think he’s the first three-year-old to win this, and full marks to Aidan. With him it doesn’t matter if the race is on the Moon – if it’s right for the horse, he will make sure he gets them there.
“When they went slow, I had to change my game plan. He got away well and I was happy to let him roll along at our own pace.
“He’s a hardened three-year-old who knows what’s required and has had plenty of experience. When he gets into a battle, he really wants it.”