Joao Moreira believes Beauty Live can enhance belated claims to inclusion in the HKD$24 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) later this month with victory in the Class 3 Jonquil Handicap (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (6 March).
Already committed to Caspar Fownes-trained Senor Toba in the 20 March Classic, Moreira has revealing confidence in Frankie Lor’s emerging galloper, who has risen from a mark of 52 to 69 with two victories from his past three starts.
Asked if Beauty Live was a genuine Derby contender after the talented Shamus Award gelding had not participated in the first two legs of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, Moreira said the Derby was “certainly coming too soon to him but he deserves being given a chance.”
“I know he’s been entered in the Derby and if he wins (on Sunday), he’s going to be buying his ticket to run in the Derby. He needs to win this race and he needs to win by a big margin, so then I could tell you he’s going to go into the Derby with a good winning chance.
“At this stage, it’s hard to predict, but I can tell you he’s a progressive type of a horse which gets everyone involved very excited.”
Moreira, who is bidding for successive BMW Hong Kong Derbies after partnering Sky Darci last season, will reunite with Beauty Live after the four-year-old won last start under Matthew Poon.
“He (Beauty Live) has given me a good feel both times that I have been on board. Unfortunately, I wasn’t on him last time when he won but just watching the race, it was eye-catching. I was very impressed with his last win,” the Brazilian said.
“Every time that I have been sitting on him, he’s been giving me the impression that he’s improving. Initially, when I rode him for the first time at the races, he indicated that he was extremely green. He wasn’t really aware of what his job is.
“But, after his first run, he’s progressed big-time in his trackwork and he’s reproduced that at the races, winning by a big margin and giving me a really good feel.
“It is a very winnable race (on Sunday) from my point of view. The form of the horses around him is not bad, but not outstanding, so that puts him as the hot favourite.”
Trailing Zac Purton 80-76 in the jockeys’ championship, Moreira will also partner another talented galloper when Caspar Fownes-trained Galaxy Witness tackles Class 3 Hyacinth Handicap (1400m).
Unbeaten in two starts, the Star Witness gelding has quickly created a big impression for Fownes.
“He looks to be quite an exciting prospect for the stable and, since he’s only three-years-old, we’re going to have quite some fun with him going forward,” the reigning champion trainer said, referring to the youngster’s powerful last-start victory over 1200m.
“The last part of his race is the best and even the other day when he finished off the last 100 (metres) very strongly, it looks like he’s crying out for an extra furlong already. We’re going to give him that opportunity – up in class, down in weight – and see how we go.
“He’s a big, strong horse but he’s a very laidback customer. He does everything in his own way, he’s just a beautiful horse to train and he gives you the feeling that he’s going to eat up a mile later in his preparation.”
Bidding to continue a bountiful recent run at Sha Tin, Blake Shinn labelled Will Power as Hong Kong’s premier dirt track performer ahead of the Class 1 Cornflower Handicap (1650m, dirt).
“In my opinion, he’s the best Hong Kong dirt horse around. He’s basically faultless on the dirt and it was great to see him win two runs back on the dirt over 1650m,” said Shinn, referencing the fact that all of the gelding’s seven Hong Kong victories have come on the all-weather surface.
“We’re back here again on Sunday against a similar line-up and I think it presents well for him to win another race. We know what we’re going to get from Will Power and I expect him to run another great race at the weekend.”
Lyle Hewitson, fresh from mid-week success at Happy Valley aboard Valiant Elegance, will attempt to build on the breakthrough win when he partners Cheval Valiant in the Class 4 Kalanchoe Handicap (1000m) for Douglas Whyte.
“He’s a consistent horse but he makes it tough for himself because he’s pretty much one-dimensional – he’s got a lot of speed and sort of hangs on until the last few strides, but he’s been collared the last few starts,” the South African said.
“Nonetheless, he’s in good form, he’s been running well and I’ll think that once again he’ll put up a good performance in albeit in what looks to be a competitive race.”