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One-time Epsom Derby hope Berlin Tango now chasing Hong Kong Derby glory

He has form around leading Epsom Derby chances Russian Emperor and Pyledriver, but instead of competing in Saturday’s iconic race, Berlin Tango is on a path to the Hong Kong Derby, having been bought by one of the biggest owners in the city, the Siu family.

Bloodstock agent Alastair Donald confirmed the move on Monday, the latest in a line of European imports who will sport the famous red and black striped silks as the family strives for its first Hong Kong Derby win.

Berlin Tango’s career for his former owner-breeder George Strawbridge got off to a good, if not exceptional, start in 2019, with an impressive victory on good to firm ground at the end of July.

But it was the performance of the Andrew Balding-trained three-year-old in the Group Three Classic Trial at Kempton Park in early June of this year that really piqued interest.

Having taken a keen hold in the early stages, Berlin Tango travelled powerfully into the race to pull clear of the field, which included Epsom-bound pair Pyledriver (second) and Max Vega (fifth).

“I knew his form from last year and knew he was a horse that would probably be buyable at some point,” Donald said. “He was super impressive on the all-weather [at Kempton Park], showed a really good turn of foot, and obviously the form of that race has worked out very well.”

Indeed, runner-up Pyledriver went on to land the Group Two King Edward VII Stakes over 2,400m at Royal Ascot on his next start, beating a field that included two further Derby contenders in Mohican Heights and jockey Ryan Moore’s choice of ride in the race, Mogul,

who cost about HK$35 million at the prestigious Tattersalls Book 1 yearling sale.

By contrast, Pyledriver went unsold for a mere HK$100,000 as a foal.

Russian Emperor joins Pyledriver, Mogul, Mohican Heights and Max Vega in Saturday’s Classic at Epsom.

The Sius will have cause to be increasingly hopeful about their latest European acquisition should any of those five hopefuls land the spoils.

“I think the Hampton Court was a very strong race,” said Donald, who plucked 2009 Derby winner Collection from the event – one of three victories in Hong Kong’s most prestigious race for the agent.

In Berlin Tango, Donald is optimistic he has found another solid candidate for next year’s renewal.

“He had good form on firm ground last year and he’s by Dansili – Dansilis usually like the quick ground,” he said. “He’s got a very good pedigree and he’s a mile and a quarter horse with a turn of foot who’s got speed and travels well, so it’s all the requirements you want for a Hong Kong Derby type.”

While Prince Khalid Abdullah’s long-serving and now retired stallion Dansili has not had many representatives in Hong Kong, those that have taken to the Sha Tin track have done their sire proud.

His son Champions Gallery, who switched to Hong Kong to contest the 2007 Hong Kong Derby Trial (what is now the Classic Cup) and Hong Kong Derby, finished a close-up third in the latter.

Dansili has also been represented by several classy performers at the Hong Kong International Races.

Notably, he is the sire of 2014 Hong Kong Vase champion Flintshire, whose illustrious career on firm going earned him a spot on the roster at Hill ‘N Dale Farms in Kentucky, while daughters Giofra and The Fugue both claimed second place honours in the 2012 Hong Kong Cup and 2013 Hong Kong Vase, respectively.

The Jockey Club is simulcasting all seven races from Epsom on Saturday with the first getting under way at 8.50pm.

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