O’Brien salutes ‘irreplaceable’ Highland Reel after triumphant Vase finale

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Aidan O’Brien hailed the “irreplaceable” Highland Reel as he delivered a glorious finale to his career by winning the Longines Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.

The five-year-old was seeking his seventh Group One success in the 12-furlong feature after being beaten into third by Talismanic in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on his previous start last month.

Highland Reel more than had that rival’s measure this time though as he dug deep to repel the French challenger’s burst a furlong from home before staying on again to win by a length and three-quarters in the hands of Ryan Moore.

The son of Galileo was winning the race for the second time after triumphing in 2015 and he retires with a total of 10 wins in 27 starts and over £7.5million in prize money.

O’Brien said: “He’s a very special horse and is irreplaceable. It’s very rare that you get a horse that can travel the world like him, it’s incredible really.

“He ran a great race in America and we were very happy coming here. All the lads were really happy with him through the week and Ryan has given him a brilliant ride.”

Moore added: “He’s always been a very straightforward horse with a lot of heart as well as speed and I was always happy and confident on him today.

“When he gets into a fight, the longer it goes on, the more likely it is he will win it. That’s what happened today and he was going away at the finish.

“He’s high class, has a great attitude and his durability has been seen wherever he’s raced. I’m sure he will pass on those attributes in the future.”

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