03/05/2007 12:00AM

Vengeance of Rain wins in Hong Kong


Vengeance of Rain's return to winning ways in the Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday may have earned him a ticket to Nad Al Sheba for the Dubai Sheema Classic on March 31.

His nose decision over Viva Pataca was a replication of his last two victories: the Hong Kong Cup in December 2005 and in the International Cup Trial a month earlier. Victory in the 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Gold Cup, worth $1.03 million, was the fifth Group 1 success for Vengeance of Rain, a 6-year-old New Zealand-bred son of Sir Tristram.

Under Anthony Delpech, Vengeance of Rain tracked a slow pace set by eventual fourth Syllabus, led approaching the quarter pole, was soon clear, and held off the late challenges of Viva Pataca and third-place Bullish Luck. The winning time on good to firm ground was just 2:04.40. Trainer David Ferraris said that a decision about Vengeance of Rain's participation in the 1 1/2-mile Sheema Classic was to be made by Tuesday. Viva Pataca is also under consideration for that race, while Bullish Luck is a candidate for the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free.

Earlier, Absolute Champion barely confirmed his status as Asia's leading sprinter with a short-head victory in the Group 1, $580,000 Chairman's Sprint Prize. The Hong Kong Sprint winner, Absolute Champion rallied from seventh to lead at the eighth pole, then narrowly held off the late rush of Planet Ruler, getting the one-turn six furlongs in a swift 1:08.20.