Beauty Generation has drawn his share of unwarranted knocks from the naysayers but at Sha Tin this afternoon (Sunday, 21 October) even the most ardent doubters had to hold their tongues and applaud.
“That was exciting!” trainer John Moore said as the appreciative crowd’s cheers washed over Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year following a brilliant victory in the Group 2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m).
“He’s carried 133lb there so what more has he got to do to silence the detractors that say, ‘Well, he just gets his own way’ – what more?” asked Moore.
The trainer, animated in raising memories of the debate that simmered around whether the crack miler or Pakistan Star should receive last season’s Horse of the Year accolade, poured praise on his triple Group 1 winner.
The six-year-old was rated the equal best active miler in the world in the most recent LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings and Moore believes there is more success to be had.
“He’s excelled at the mile,” he said. “We’ve got one of the best milers in the world! This looks like it’s going to be his year when he’s going to be at his very best – he’s really peaking at the moment. He’s enjoying his racing and he knows exactly what he’s got to do – be a miler!”
Beauty Generation delivered a masterclass this afternoon. As the sun dipped and the grandstand shadow crept to the lip of the turf track’s famous home straight, the one-time stayer did what he has done so brilliantly for a year now.
Faced with the best rivals on the local circuit – Pakistan Star (128lb), Time Warp (128lb), Werther (127lb), Seasons Bloom (127lb), Singapore Sling (117lb) et al – and conceding weight to all, Beauty Generation made all – again – raced clear down the straight, saw off Pakistan Star and held Singapore Sling’s late drive by half a length.
The 2.1 favourite’s winning time was 1m 33.07s.
“He couldn’t do any more with that weight on his back and the second carrying only 117(lb),” Moore said.
Victory meant that the Patrick Kwok-owned galloper became the first horse to win the race back-to-back since it attained Pattern status in 1991. And today’s success followed a similarly impressive weight-carrying effort first-up on 1 October, when the bay achieved consecutive wins in the Group 3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m).
“The fact that he conceded more weight here means that I feel there was more merit in the win today,” Purton said. “It was a stronger field as well, so he just needs to hold his form through to December now.”
Purton had feared his rivals might attempt to “put me in a pocket” when Time Warp drew upsides in the early stages but then did not go on and press for the lead under Alvin Ng.
“I had that in my mind, so I got my bloke in a rhythm and kept him happy, but because Time Warp was there, he never really relaxed during the run – he was working a little bit more today. Singapore Sling had a light weight on his back and he made a race of it late but I always felt I had the race.”
Moore confirmed that Beauty Generation will race next in the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile on 18 November before attempting to repeat last season’s victory in the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile on 9 December.
“He’s tough, he’ll take no harm from that race today; he just does so well in the stable. He’s a big, sound boy and he looked so powerful again today, he looked so well in the coat, a real sheen, so we press on now and see if he can do it again,” the handler said.
Should the Road To Rock gelding maintain his increasingly dominant form, Moore is keen to test Beauty Generation overseas.
“We’d probably have to go overseas to get the credibility to claim that he’s the best miler in the world,” Moore said.
“It’s all up to Mr. Kwok, though, it’s the family’s decision but I’ll go to them and say that I’d love to take one chance to prove him offshore and then he’ll get the high mark. But we’ll wait and see – Dubai would be the 1800 (metres) race in March (the Group 1 Dubai Turf).”
Singapore Sling in second showed last season’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series form to be up to par. The Tony Millard-trained Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) winner rattled through the final 400m in 22.85s under Chad Schofield.
“That was a very good return,” Schofield said.
“He travelled well and was strong to the line.” And Moore was thrilled with the run of LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) candidate Eagle Way after the six-year-old’s storming 22.82s final split carried him to third place under Matthew Chadwick.
“The run of the race was my other one, Eagle Way. What a run!” the handler said. “I’ve asked Silvestre de Sousa to ride him in the Ladies’ Purse because I don’t think Werther will go there.”
The Tony Cruz-trained Pakistan Star attempted to take it to Beauty Generation early in the final straight but capitulated to finish fourth on his first start this term.
“He ran good,” jockey Karis Teetan said. “He was full of beans and a bit keen but I’m sure he’ll improve.”
Last year’s Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) winner Time Warp faded to last of the 14 runners.
Hot King Prawn won the afternoon’s other Group 2 feature, the Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m), in stunning style under Sam Clipperton. John Size’s rising star scored by a length and a quarter from Fifty Fifty with 2017 Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint hero Mr Stunning third.
Apprentice Matthew Poon rode a treble to leave him with one win before he loses his 5lb claim. Purton also completed a treble, while Teetan, his closest pursuer in the premiership, notched two wins.