Voyage Bubble: Off the Bubble to Victory in Stewards’ Cup

January 21, 2024

James McDonald claims the victory aboard Voyage Bubble.. (HKJC Photo)

By Maribeth Kalinich

With Hong Kong superstar Golden Sixty sidelined with an injury, Sunshine And Moonlight Syndicate’s Voyage Bubble took full advantage of his talents with his sleek journey to victory in the Group 1 Stewards’ Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse. 

Stalking a modest pace set by California Spangle (IRE) Voyage Bubble showed patience under James McDonald as Beauty Eternal (AUS) eyed the rail behind the leader.

As Beauty Eternal let go of the rail Voyage Bubble on his outside scooted three wide still in good position as resilient Straight Arron (AUS) launched a four-wide bid. With Zac Purton aboard Beauty Eternal passed pacesetter California Spangle looking for the victory but Voyage Bubble refuted the challenge by 1-1/4 lengths.

Beauty Joy (AUS) brought a rally for a game third as California Spangle having exerted all settled into fourth.  

“I was in a nice, controlling position where I felt like if the pace slackened–which it did–that I was in a free-rolling position and I had enough room around so that I could go when I wanted to go and it worked out perfectly,” said jockey James McDonald, who was aboard Voyage Bubble for the second time.

The win was a bit of a “rite-of-passage” for the 5-year-old BMW Hong Kong Derby champ as he asserted his prowess among the ranks of the established Hong Kong runners. 

“I’m really happy and really happy with the horse,” trainer Ricky Yiu said. “He’s full of talent and he keeps improving. I’ve been waiting for some years (for a horse like this).”

Yiu has international aspirations for his rising star with entry to the G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan Mar. 30 and consideration for the G1 Doncaster Mile H. at Randwick at The Championships the following week.

Voyage Bubble’s jockey gave his nod of approval on these potential plans. 

“He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with here and a flagbearer for the horses here and I’m just looking forward to seeing where he fits in, obviously being such a young, progressive horse,” McDonald said.

“He’s lightly-raced, he’s five, he’s at the peak of his powers,” McDonald added. “The world’s his oyster, really.”

Bred by Torryburn Stud and out of the Rahy mare Raheights (AUS), Voyage Bubble is sired by Deep Field (AUS), the leading sire in Hong Kong by number of winners and progeny earnings that was removed from stud duties last year for his inability to cover his mares. 

The winner of the previous three editions of the Stewards’ Cup, Golden Sixty, remains under veterinarian’s orders being tended to for an injury to his left fore.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club reported on Jan. 3 that Golden Sixty was to be confined to slow work for a period of approximately four weeks. The champion gelding must undergo repeat diagnostic imaging before returning to fast work. He will be required to pass an official veterinary examination before being entered to race.

@jonathanstettin I for one can still actually feel the pall cast over the crowd and game that day. It was palpable. Kudos 2/2

William G. Gotimer (@WilliamGotimer) View testimonials