John Size has the aces for Premier Cup and Premier Plate

Beauty Eternal continues to impress in Hong Kong.

Trainer John Size holds a strong hand at Sunday’s Sha Tin Group 3 double-header with a trio of talented four-year-olds: Beauty Eternal, Tuchel and Red Lion.

Beauty Eternal and Red Lion contest the HK$3.9 million Group 3 Premier Cup Handicap (1400m), with the former aiming to further rise and collect a second successive win in the grade after claiming the Group 3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m) earlier this month.

Beauty Eternal – rated 112 – boasts six wins from nine starts and has continued to raise the bar each time he steps out after commencing his career rated 52 last October.

“He’s done everything probably expected of him from the beginning. He’s always shown plenty of potential and good ability, and he hasn’t disappointed us yet.

“I think that he’s probably going to run well again. He had a couple of interruptions in his programme throughout the year, so I don’t think it has been too taxing for him and hopefully he can run well again,” Size said.

The Starspangledbanner chestnut missed two starts earlier this term, firstly he was found to be lame before misbehaving pre-race in January – only to be withdrawn both times.

Third in the 2023 Hong Kong Derby (2000m), Beauty Eternal was beaten home by stablemate Tuchel – second in the blue riband – who lines up in the HK$3.9 million Group 3 Premier Plate Handicap (1800m).

The Redwood gelding has five wins from 14 starts in Hong Kong, including twice at Class 2 level. He finished third in his most recent start over Sunday’s course and distance.

“Rain affected tracks are always a bit tricky to assess horses on but I thought it was a sound effort (last start). He finished in the money and he seemed to run a normal race but with the weight that he had and the conditions that he had, maybe he could be forgiven for not winning but I thought he still raced very well,” Size said.

Jockey Zac Purton rides both Beauty Eternal and Tuchel this weekend. Tuchel (122lb) faces seven rivals including Senor Toba (135lb), Panfield (132lb), Tourbillon Diamond (132lb), Spirited Express (115lb) and The Best Peach (115lb).

“His (Tuchel) form suggests he has a little bit more in him. So we’ll trust him to do that and when he comes back as a five-year-old he might find a bit more strength.

“He looks well placed and it just depends on the circumstances in the race and on the day as to whether he’s disadvantaged on the day. On paper it looks suitable,” Size said.

Another significant improver, Red Lion is chasing a hat-trick of wins for Size when he steps up to Group 3 level this weekend for the Premier Cup under jockey Alexis Badel.

“The first day we raced him he ran really well at Happy Valley, he came from an outside gate and showed good speed. He stuck on, so he looked like a racehorse really from the first day and he’s developed and gone on with that.

“He’s been quite workmanlike but he still keeps stepping and going up in class – he’s done a lot of good things, he’s handled the wet tracks and firm tracks, so overall he’s been a very good horse for us,” Size said.

Red Lion (120lb) faces five rivals including stablemate Beauty Eternal (128lb) as well as Beauty Joy (135lb), Healthy Happy (124lb), Kurpany (119lb) and Circuit Stellar (118lb).

Chasing a record-setting 12th trainers’ championship in Hong Kong, Size has entered 11 runners for Sunday’s fixture as he looks to repel the charge of Frankie Lor, who is currently positioned second just six wins behind his former mentor (68-62).

Golden Express – another swiftly emerging four-year-old – takes his place for Size in a red-hot Class 2 Topaz Handicap (1200m), bidding for a fourth consecutive win.

“He’s been good, it was a fairly wet track the last time he raced and he obviously handled the conditions very well, so it could be a little bit flattering.

“He’s done nothing wrong and in his last three starts he’s been perfect in every way. It was a long time between races to here but his couple of trials have been good. Hopefully he can keep improving,” Size said.

Purton also rides Golden Express and takes a full book of mounts across the 10-race fixture at Sha Tin this Sunday.

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