Good-bye Good Ba Ba

Hong Kong said good-bye to local hero Viva Pataca a fortnight ago and this Sunday’s final meeting of the season will see Good Ba Ba farewelled at Sha Tin.

Good Ba Ba rates as the best miler to ever race in Hong Kong and he will receive a fitting send-off before Race 1 on Sunday.

Along with Silent Witness and Sacred Kingdom, he is one of the select band of Hong Kong-trained horses to have reached the pinnacle of world racing by being officially rated the best on earth at his distance.

In fact, he became the internationally highest-ranked Hong Kong horse of all time with an IFHA rating of 124 following his second G1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile triumph.

His other titles in 2008 were Hong Kong Champion Miler and Hong Kong Horse of the Year.  He was voted Most Popular Horse in Hong Kong that year and if he never quite reached those heights again, he was still good enough to add an unprecedented third consecutive G1 HK Mile to his record in 2009.

Good Ba Ba (Lear Fan) has been racing since 2004-05, and for sheer longevity at the top few, if any, have been able to match him.  

Good Ba Ba first stepped out for Alex Wong as a three-year-old.  “We knew as soon as he trialled that he was exceptional,” Wong recalled.  “I never put anyone on him but Douglas Whyte or Christophe Soumillon.  He won first up, then second up, then fourth up and was named Champion Griffin.”

Good Ba Ba’s next trainer was Andreas Schutz and he won 10 of the 18 races he contested for the German conditioner who remembers the gelding with real affection.  “On his day, he was just one of the best horses in the world.   I knew him better than any other horse I’ve trained.  I’d love to see him have a nice long retirement, maybe in Australia or New Zealand because he certainly deserves it.”

Good Ba Ba’s next move was to Derek Cruz who prepared him for an unparalleled third G1 HK Mile in 2009.  “There was a bit of pressure on me but it worked out fine in the end because he was such a terrific horse,” Cruz said.  “He’s one of the greatest champions we’ve had in Hong Kong.”

Good Ba Ba leaves the Hong Kong racing scene with the magnificent haul of 16 victories and career earnings of HK$59.02 million for owner John Yuen Se-kit.