It’s been a long, winding road around the world for turf specialist Highland Reel and that journey has now come to a fitting end. The five-year-old stormed the 2017 Hong Kong Vase to claim his tenth victory overall and over $10M in career earnings. This was his second win in the race in three tries as Highland Reel won the 2015 renewal and came second last year.
The field in the 2017 Hong Kong Vase was thick as gravy, featuring star runners from Europe and Japan. Highland Reel asserted top position in the homestretch and was able to successfully fend off Talismanic, who showed bullet speed but didn’t have enough gas to close the gap. “I was always happy and always confident,” jockey Ryan Moore said of Highland Reel. “He’s the sort of horse when he gets into a fight, he’s usually going to win it.”
Trainer Aiden O’Brien lavished his prized trainee with praise. “He’s irreplaceable, really,” O’Brien quipped. “He’s a very special horse. We were lucky to get another year out of him at age 5. And at 2, 3, 4, 5 he’s had winners all the way.” With 27 races under his belt, Highland Reel owns a record of 10-6-3. His most notable victories outside of the 2017 Hong Kong Vase include the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf, 2017 Coronation Cup and 2017 Prince of Wales Stakes. He also scored in the 2015 Hong Kong Vase and 2015 Secretariat Stakes while winning the 2014 Vintage Stakes as well.
This was the type of performance that Highland Reel had become known for. A marquee effort where he stormed to an early lead and upped the pace while dusting any would-be challengers. As is the case with turf racing these days, the strategy does not always work out for the best but today the five-year-old both travelled and raced very well. This is a deserving end to a striking career for a horse who is renowned the world over. His stud career is sure to be profitable, though his reliability will certainly be missed on the track.