01/23/2009 12:00AM

Good Ba Ba, Viva Pataca clash


Hong Kong's two best horses, Good Ba Ba and Viva Pataca, will clash at Sha Tin on Sunday in the $1 million Stewards Cup, a Group 1 race at a mile that should ostensibly be very much in favor of Good Ba Ba.

The two-time winner of the Hong Kong Mile, Good Ba Ba won the Stewards Cup race last year, beating Viva Pataca three lengths into third. Trainer Andreas Schutz has Good Ba Ba - a Kentucky-bred son of Lear Fan - in peak form, but the last time he met Viva Pataca, he finished sixth behind him at equal weights in a Group 3 handicap at Good Ba Ba's favorite distance of a mile. Egyptian Ra was second that day and then followed with a victory in the Group 2 International Mile Trial in which Good Ba Ba was only third. Good Ba Ba proceeded to give Egyptian Ra a similar thumping when winning his second Hong Kong Mile on Dec. 14 and should prevail once again on Sunday.

Viva Pataca has since won the Group 2 International Cup Trial and finished fourth behind Eagle Mountain in the Hong Kong Cup, both of those races at 1 1/4 miles. The cut back to a mile may be more than Viva Pataca - a British-bred son of Marju - can handle, even with big=race specialist Michael Kinane flying in from Dubai expressly for the ride. French-based Belgian rider Christophe Soumillon, riding in Hong Kong this winter, will be aboard Good Ba Ba.