Beat The Clock faces a Full threat in G1 Centenary Sprint Cup

Beat The Clock has developed into the mainstay of the Group 1 Sprint features in Hong Kong. Can he keep the roll going? Photo by HKJC.

Beat The Clock faces a Full threat in G1 Centenary Sprint Cup

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

By Declan Schuster

17/01/2020

 

Beat The Clock will face select yet stiff competition when he attempts a second consecutive win in Sunday’s (19 January) G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) but jockey Joao Moreira believes the John Size-trained speedster’s biggest threat could be a rival he knows all too well, stablemate Full Of Beauty.

Champion sprinter Beat The Clock has finished top three in all of his 23 career starts and the Brazilian ace has been in the saddle for 21 of those, including three wins at the highest level; but Moreira has also ridden Full Of Beauty on plenty of occasions, winning five times including a first-up score this season in the G3 National Day Cup (1000m), and when subsequently a short-head second to Seasons Bloom in the G2 Premier Bowl (1200m), both in October.

Last month, Moreira was aboard Beat The Clock for a big win in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) but Full Of Beauty’s running-on fifth was noted.

“Full Of Beauty was a bit unlucky last time,” Moreira said. “It looks like something happened in the gate, he’s done that before and he finished very close – so if he’s able to do things a little bit more proper he might be the one to beat.”

However, Beat The Clock is the mount to which Moreira retains an unwavering allegiance. The six-year-old has flourished across three seasons, the pair having combined three times at G1 level, capturing last April’s Chairman’s Sprint Prize too.

The Hinchinbrook gelding has earned connections a whopping HK$46,861,525 in the process.

“He just doesn’t like to run a bad race; he’s such a sound and nice individual,” Moreira said.

“In some of the races he has placed in he could have nearly won – reasons like he was unlucky in the gate or off his splits he was not able to get there – but he is a winner and he likes to keep doing his best every time he steps out.”

Sunday’s test poses an opportunity for Beat The Clock to post his name alongside the likes of Silent Witness (2004 & 2005) and Sacred Kingdom (2010 & 2011) in becoming the sixth back-to-back victor of the Centenary Sprint Cup.

Moreira has been pleased with his galloper’s progression from last month’s International victory, pairing with the gelding in two recent barrier trials on the dirt, the latest alongside Beauty Generation over 1200m only seven days ago.

“His trial was good and I was extremely happy with the way he did it, he’s going into Sunday’s race fully fit,” he said.

Moreira’s fellow three-time champion jockey Zac Purton will take the reins on Full Of Beauty and the Australian shares his great rivals opinion.

“I don’t think Full Of Beauty’s too far off them,” he said. “His runs have been solid; I think he’s just been a victim of bad gates and a bit of a slow start last time. I think with a good gate and the right run he could give them a bit of a fright.”

Purton is striking at 100% aboard Full Of Beauty after a win last February which was part of a dominant Sha Tin six-timer for the rider.

Sunday’s Centenary Sprint Cup field is dominated by Size-trained sprinters; the 11-time champion trainer will saddle four of the seven horse field, his other two charges being Hot King Prawn who returned from colic to finish second under Karis Teetan in December’s Hong Kong Sprint and D B Pin who won this race in 2018.

 

D B Pin wins the 2018 Centenary Sprint Cup.
D B Pin wins the 2018 Centenary Sprint Cup. Photo by HKJC.

 

Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Blake Shinn takes the ride on D B Pin who finished two lengths seventh in the Hong Kong Sprint last time.

“He’s building up nicely, he’s had a solid grounding into the race, his last run in the Hong Kong Sprint was good, albeit a bit luckless, and he finished close to all his rivals he meets in the race on the weekend,” Shinn said.

“It’s going to be a tactical race as it’s a small field so I’m intrigued to see how he goes with the right run.”

The Australian jockey has also picked up the ride on dual SIN G1 Kranji Mile winner, Southern Legend in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m), two races prior.

“I’m taking him on face value – if he runs to his best he’s got good stats at the mile and he’s a proven Group 1 horse,” he said.

The seven-horse field also features Mr Stunning with Hugh Bowman aboard, Wishful Thinker with Christophe Soumillon up and Thanks Forever who gets the services of Grant van Niekerk for the first time.

Sunday’s 10-race card commences at 12.15pm with the Class 4 Helene Paragon Handicap (2000m) and also features the HK$10 million G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) in which Beauty Generation will attempt to defend his crown against the rising threat of Waikuku.

 


Beauty Generation ‘diminished’ but not done

Can Beauty Generation find Group 1 winning form again? Photo by HKJC.

Beauty Generation ‘diminished’ but not done

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

By David Morgan

18/01/2020

 

Beauty Generation faces a pivotal test in Sunday’s (19 January) G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) at Sha Tin with not only the direction of future assignments but also his status as Hong Kong’s best miler in the balance.

Trainer John Moore has his heart set on Beauty Generation enhancing his legacy as a world class galloper in the G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) at the end of March, but he knows that if he is to fulfil that dream the seven-year-old must put in a big run this weekend against the horse threatening to grasp away his crown, the John Size-trained Waikuku.

“Serious,” was how Moore described Waikuku’s threat.

“He’s the younger horse coming through the grades that looks like he might be special, and ‘the special one’ is diminished, he’s not the top horse he was and we put that down to the age factor; it’s nothing to do with soundness, he’s fine, he’s just getting older.”

There was a time, only three months ago in fact, when the champ was anything but diminished; when defeat was seen simply as something Beauty Generation habitually handed out to his routed rivals. As Moore knows though, time’s passage respects neither men nor horses and the seven-time G1 winner heads into the Stewards’ Cup off three deflating losses, latterly when third to Japan’s Admire Mars in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile, one place behind Waikuku.

But after those disappointments, the Beauty Generation camp is displaying renewed hope if not outright confidence.

“He’s definitely going to make a race of it, anyway,” Moore said.

 

Finding positives

A smooth gallop this morning (Thursday, 16 January) – six days after a barrier trial that had his jockey Zac Purton sharing a report verging on the upbeat – suggested a rekindling of at least a flare of the champion’s old spark.

“The feedback is positive,” Moore said. “Purton’s never been that complimentary and this is actually the first time he has been complimentary, so I’m taking that positively. The horse was sweating up a little bit this morning, which is a good sign, so I’m happy with him. If he could just have that easy lead!

“This morning he went down the back on the grass under Romain (Clavreul) and walked back on the dirt track, none of this coming round and trotting back in front of the stands – just to start to get him to think about it all. He pulled up brilliantly.

“He’s jumping out of his skin at the present moment so that’s a good sign,” the trainer continued. “We’ve changed a few things – work patterns and the like – so taking into consideration the barrier trial last week and the feedback after the trial from Zac, we’re pleased.”

Those changes include Beauty Generation trialling without blinkers and he will race without that gear for the first time in Hong Kong with Moore instead opting for the cheekpieces he trialled in, and which he has worn occasionally this season at exercise.

 

Is the spark really there?

 

Zac Purton is hopeful the champ can shine again.
Zac Purton is hopeful the champ can shine again. Photo by HKJC.

 

Beauty Generation is a notorious handful, an aggressive bully even, and the bay showed signs of his cocksure character when refusing to acquiesce before last week’s trial, turning away from the tunnel leading to the track, throwing his head in defiance.

“He does it all the time – you want to see him like that – he’s been like that all the way through when he was winning all those races. You want to see those same characteristics,” Purton said.

“He certainly looks good and seems fresh; it’s just a matter of whether or not that transfers through to race day now.”

Purton will be in the plate on Sunday for the Road To Rock gelding’s attempt at back-to-back Stewards’ Cup wins, a feat that if pulled off would see him join the likes of  Good Ba Ba (2008 & 2009) and Electronic Unicorn (2002 & 2003).

“It’s hard to go in expecting anything now,” the champion jockey said. “We’re going in hopeful that he can bounce back – he hasn’t been getting beaten far and he hasn’t been showing his best but he also hasn’t been showing any enthusiasm. He has to find that spark and the hunger to want to just get the job done – it’s not going to take much.

“I thought his last trial, maybe mentally he was in a bit of a better place and we go to the races hoping he’s going to bounce back.”

 

Dubai decision

 

Moore is keen to go to Dubai if all goes well on Sunday.
Moore is keen to go to Dubai if all goes well on Sunday. Photo HKJC.

 

There was much talk last year about whether or not Beauty Generation would or even should go to Dubai’s World Cup meeting to test his credentials away from Sha Tin. Connections finally came down against the idea but Moore believes the Patrick Kwok-owned galloper would benefit from the experience this time.

“I think it all depends on this Stewards’ Cup run, if he runs a big one, first or second in a fighting finish, Dubai is definitely on the cards because it fits the programme nicely,” he said.

Moore believes the New Zealand-bred, the track record holder for 2200m at Sha Tin, might now be ready for a return to a longer distance.

“The 1800 metres in Dubai is perfect,” he said. “If he runs a big race at the weekend, going 1800 metres on the other leg – counter-clockwise – that would be better. We know he goes over further, he was bought as a Derby horse and that would be the right way to go.”

Six weeks ago a crowd of international media – their cameras clicking and thumbs frantically hitting social media apps – buzzed around Beauty Generation after his final stretch-out before a failed bid for a LONGINES Hong Kong Mile hat-trick. This morning, the big horse galloped to a gallery of a couple of photographers perched on plastic stools.

“The hype around him has diminished now so let the horse do the talking on the weekend,” Moore concluded.

Beauty Generation will break from gate one in the seven-runner contest, which is the first leg of the Hong Kong Triple Crown series.

 


Preciousship prevails but Columbus County charges into Classic reckoning

Preciousship (in pink) lands the finale from a fast-finishing Columbus County (in gold). Photo by HKJC. 

Preciousship prevails but Columbus County charges into Classic reckoning

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

By David Morgan

14/01/2020

 

Preciousship (123lb) continued his rich recent form and kept trainer Ricky Yiu ticking along at the top of the premiership with a game victory in this afternoon’s (Saturday, 11 January) Sha Tin finale, the Class 2 Lung Kong Handicap (1600m).

The five-year-old took the spoils by three quarters of a length and, in doing so, dented a reputation or two, though not that of runner-up Columbus County (119lb) who enhanced his Four-Year-Old Classic Series prospects with an unlucky run to second.

“No doubt about it, he’s very unlucky not to win – if he hadn’t had horses snaking around in front of him, he would have won,” jockey Joao Moreira said of the Caspar Fownes-trained runner-up.

“It’s a promising run for the future,” he added.

The New Zealand import was beginning to hit his stride on a closing run at the 300m mark when fellow four-year-old Private Secretary rolled out and stalled his charge. The Redwood gelding recovered to rattle home at only his second Hong Kong start.

But the spoils belonged to Preciousship, a revelation this season with three wins from five starts, having failed to trouble the judge through eight races last term.

“It’s another impressive win, he’s a gutsy little horse. I said to the owner before I bought him, he could be one of the best milers – he tries very hard and loves his races,” Yiu said.

“Today’s the second time the jockey came in and said that when he hit the front he slowed down, he’s looking for something to come to him.”

The bay raced as Riyazan in Ireland where he won a 1400m Dundalk Listed race and was almost five lengths fifth of five to Saxon Warrior in the G2 Beresford Stakes.

“I kept telling the owner to give him some time to acclimatise, he’s a European import, they need time – you have to wait for the penny to drop and once he’s there, he’ll hold his form for a long time.”

 

Ricky Yiu keeps the winners coming.
Ricky Yiu keeps the winners coming. Photo by HKJC.

 

Yiu’s win took him to 33 for the season, six clear of Francis Lui in the trainers’ title race.

“I’ll keep my position the best I can,” Yiu smiled.

As for the dented Classic Series reputations, Brazilian G1 winner Butterfield boxed on for sixth, but the well-regarded Private Secretary was unable to reproduce his stylish debut win and crossed the line a tame 10th.

 

Whyte’s young prospects shine

 

Farhh Above impresses first-up for the season.
Farhh Above impresses first-up for the season. Photo by HKJC.

 

Douglas Whyte’s success with his young stock continued with wins this afternoon for his smart prospects Farhh Above and Inner Flame.

Farhh Above returned from a lay-off for his belated seasonal debut and charged emphatically from the tail to snare the Class 3 Nga Tsin Wai Handicap (1200m) under Vincent Ho, clocking a swift 21.62s for the final 400m.

“He’s a lovely horse; he’s got a very good turn-of-foot. To let down the way he did, that was a very good effort,” Whyte said.

The four-year-old – trained by Francis Lui previously – was a decent second to the G1-placed sprint star Aethero on debut last term and followed that with a win, suggesting he could turn out to be a viable Four-Year-Old Classic Series prospect. With the first leg of that series, the Hong Kong Classic Mile, set for 27 January, Whyte was reluctant to commit to such a route but did not dismiss altogether the colt’s participation at some stage of the three-race test.

 

Douglas Whyte sits fourth in the premiership with 23 wins.
Douglas Whyte sits fourth in the premiership with 23 wins. Photo by HKJC.

 

“It’s always at the back of your mind on what he did,” Whyte admitted, “but then everything slows down and goes out the window when he’s had that much time off and you’ve got to nurse him back and put him in cotton wool. He’s been out of cotton wool for a while now and he’s answered everything I’ve asked of him in order to be competitive first-up.

“He had to be competitive first-up if he’s to compete in any of the Series,” he continued.

“The problem is he’s just run out of time; time is against him. He’s probably a month behind and I refuse to look at a race and say we’re going for that – it’s all about him. It’s taken that long to get him to the races I’m certainly not going to ruin him by finding a race and putting him in because it’s part of a series, or a big race. I’ve got too much respect for the horse and I think he’s too good a horse to be doing that with.”

Farhh Above was diagnosed with bone stress in his limbs at the end of September and Whyte took a patient approach before placing him in a couple of barrier trials during December, the latest at Happy Valley.

“Fingers crossed he can improve on that run,” the first-season handler said. “Any horse that can come from last to first the way that he did it, on a track like today, it’s got to be a nice horse in the making.

“It’s all about the horse first and he’ll indicate to me when we’re next going to turn up at the races. I think I’d look towards 1400 metres now, he ultimately wants a mile but after that run I’m sure the speed will be out of him and he’ll be crying out for 1400 metres.”

 

Inner Flame maintains a perfect record.
Inner Flame maintains a perfect record. Photo by HKJC.

 

Earlier on the card, Inner Flame overcame top-weight to land section one of the Class 4 Carpenter Handicap (1200m).

The Zoustar four-year-old was raised eight points in the ratings for a debut win last month but shrugged off that and the closing first-time starter Ping Hai Bravo (125lb) to take his career record to two wins from as many runs.

“I wasn’t that concerned about the weight because he’s improved at home and he’s quite a solid unit,” Whyte said. “It was just more about getting the right kind of run – if you’re caught three-wide with 133 on a young horse it’s detrimental and those sorts of circumstances could have cost him the race.

Alexis Badel, on a roll with the 13th win of his winter contract, drove the chestnut a length and a half clear at the line.

“He was given a beautiful ride, he got some lovely cover, he cut the corner and he picked up well; he’s a thorough professional and I was happy to see him come to the races and improve on his effort first-up, which he needed to do to deliver the goods,” Whyte said.

“The way he’s improved and what he’s shown me, how he’s enjoying stepping out, he’s going to handle himself and he’s going to be competitive in the next grade. I’m just happy if they turn up and keep producing runs like him.”

 

Chang’s long-awaited brace

 

Michael Chang had his best day at the races in almost two years.
Michael Chang had his best day at the races in almost two years. Photo by HKJC.

 

Michael Chang saddled his first double since 22 February, 2018 when Winning Together and Golden Four went back-to-back in races six and seven, and he went close to a hat-trick – and first treble since April 2014 – when Righteous Doctrine took second behind Bear Slam in race eight.

“It’s nice to get that double and I think my horse performed well for second – he was beaten by the better horse so no excuse,” Chang said.

Matthew Chadwick urged the willing Winning Together to success in section one of the Class 4 South Wall Handicap (1400m) to give the Chang runner his first win at the ninth ask.

The handler bagged his seventh victory of the campaign thanks to Blake Shinn delivering Golden Four on a well-timed run in section two of the South Wall Handicap (1400m).

 

Ferraris’ fresh Slam

Bear Slam’s (132lb) victory over Righteous Doctrine (122lb) came in the afternoon’s trophy race, the Class 3 Lok Sin Tong 140th Anniversary Cup Handicap (1650m).

The Mizzen Mast five-year-old returned from more than two months without a run and made it two wins on the bounce over the course and distance, cruising off the turn under Joao Moreira and knuckling down for a strong run home.

“He’s not very big and best kept fresh – he has a very good dirt pedigree,” trainer David Ferraris said.

Tony Piccone’s sound start to his first Hong Kong contract continued with a double. The Frenchman drove the Conghua-based Diamond Legend to a make-all win in the Class 5 Hau Wong Handicap (1600m), the second win of his stint and first for Tony Cruz, rewarding the handler’s support at the sixth time of asking.

Piccone followed up with a powerful drive from deep, forging down the centre of the all-weather track’s home straight on the pink-blinkered grey This One’s For You to snare the Class 4 Nam Kok Handicap (1650m).

The latter win sealed a brace for trainer Lui who left the track with 27 wins on the board for the term, having earlier maintained his good form with Brilliant (118lb) in the opener, the Class 4 Carpenter Handicap (1200m). Derek Leung delivered the five-year-old on a strong closing run to edge out the well-regarded debutant Juneau Park (126lb).

Top-weight of 133lb failed to anchor the Tony Millard-trained Super Star, who landed his fifth win at his 10th start under a power-packed Silvestre de Sousa drive. The five-year-old Hong Kong International Sale graduate took the Class 3 Tak Ku Ling Handicap (1400m) by half a length.

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 15 January. Check out Hutchi’s analysis for the nine-race card now!

 


Golden victory signals Hong Kong Classic Mile intent

Golden Sixty wins the Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap. Photo by HKJC.

Golden victory signals Hong Kong Classic Mile intent

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

By David Morgan

01/01/2020

 

Golden Sixty made a big statement with an impressive win in the G3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin this afternoon (Wednesday, 1 January).

The exciting rising star dominated the New Year’s Day feature to cement his status as a chief protagonist for this season’s three-race Four-Year-old Classic Series. The first test, the Hong Kong Classic Mile, is less than four weeks away.

“The mile will definitely be in his scope, he’s ready,” jockey Vincent Ho said after his mount drew two lengths clear of seven smart rivals to take the spoils in a time of 1m 20.70s.

“He travelled beautifully, he wasn’t pulling – he was genuine. When I pulled him out he showed a great turn-of-foot and won easily. He tries extremely hard, it’s been a case of getting his mind right; he’s still a bit hot, a bit toey, but he’s more relaxed in his races now.”

Golden Sixty (116lb) not only took his career haul to seven wins from eight starts – all at 1200m and 1400m – but also became the first horse in Hong Kong to win four races this term.

Trainer Francis Lui has two of the top candidates for Hong Kong Classic Mile glory with Golden Sixty’s stablemate More Than This unbeaten in three runs this campaign.

“Both horses will go to the Classic Mile and More Than this will also go to the Hong Kong Derby,” Lui confirmed. “I have no preference for one over the other; I think they can both go to the Classic Mile without any problem.”

Lui did not rule out a BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) tilt in March for Golden Sixty either, although he was more reserved on that front.

“I’ll have to see how he goes in the Classic Mile. The four-year-olds aim to the Derby but I have to look at the Classic Mile first,” he said of his Medaglia D’Oro gelding.

“Last run he was already relaxed so I think he can handle the mile no problem. I just need the horse relaxed, you can see in his trackwork he already just wants to go but now, in his races, you can see he’s relaxing very well.

“I’m happy to see him run like that. Every time he runs he has a very good fighting heart, he tries his best.”

Golden Sixty defeated the year-older runner-up Fat Turtle (117lb) and fellow four-year-old leading light Champion’s Way (120lb).

The latter, already a G3 winner and rated 108 at the end of last term, improved on two below-par efforts this season with a solid third, conceding 4lb to the winner.

 

Piccone’s perfect start

 

Tony Piccone strikes in the finale
Tony Piccone strikes in the finale. Photo by HKJC.

 

Tony Piccone has only been in Hong Kong three days but he hit the ground running with a win and two third-place returns from four rides.

“It’s very important for me, my first day in Hong Kong, to ride a winner. I’m very happy and I hope to continue,” the Frenchman said.

His victory came in the afternoon’s finale, the Class 3 Flame Tree Handicap (1600m), aboard the Danny Shum-trained Charity Go.

“My trainer told me to wait and finish, if possible, outside. My horse was very easy in the middle and when I went between horses, he was very happy and was very easy at the finish,” Piccone said.

The G1-winning jockey had said beforehand that he would ride with confidence and he was true to his word from the outset.

“I’d never ridden here, I don’t know the jockeys and the horses, but I was confident,” he said. “The trainers have been very sympathetic to me, so today it was easy for me. I had good rides and it’s easy with a good horse.

“Before today, I like (Hong Kong), today I love!”

 

Warrior rediscovers his dash

 

Voyage Warrior regains the winning thread
Voyage Warrior regains the winning thread. Photo by HKJC.

 

Voyage Warrior drew comparisons with one of trainer Ricky Yiu’s past G1-winning speedsters after blazing away from his rivals in the Class 2 Cherry Handicap down the 1000m straight.

“He’s a bullet,” jockey Joao Moreira told the trainer as he returned to unsaddle.

Shortly afterwards, the Brazilian said: “Ricky mentioned to me before the race that he’s got a little bit of Amber Sky in him and he’s probably right, he’s so speedy.”

The four-year-old bounced back from a pair of disappointing defeats to score by an easy three lengths.

“Fortunately, he seems a bit more mature and reliable this time. I was able to manage his energy and he was able to show me what he’s got at the end. He’s a good horse with a bright future,” Moreira added.

Amber Sky’s seven career wins came over 1000m, notably the G1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai, but Yiu believes his current charge will be better over 1200m.

“I said to Joao, ‘just remember Amber Sky and use his gate speed’. When he came back I asked him what percentage he would give him compared to Amber Sky and he said 90%. The other 10% will come over 1200 metres,” Yiu said.

“Amber Sky was 1000 (metres) but I hope Voyage Warrior can cope with 1200 because I want to try him in a big international event.

“He’s been to Conghua – a lot of my horses like going there – we took the cross noseband off, he put on a bit of weight and in general he’s even more relaxed. The change of environment at Conghua has changed him a bit.”

Lucky More is another exciting young talent on the up. The Danny Shum-trained three-year-old colt carried champion jockey Zac Purton to a smooth one-length triumph in section two of the Class 3 Chinese Banyan Handicap (1200m).

Purton earlier teamed up with trainer Frankie Lor for victory in the Class 4 Poplar Handicap (1400m). Joyful Heart (123lb) was all out at the line to hold the late-flying Circuit Three (128lb).

 

Whyte’s New Year double

 

Douglas Whyte has his stable in hot form
Douglas Whyte has his stable in hot form. Photo by HKJC.

 

Douglas Whyte’s rich vein of form straddled the turn-of-the-year. The first-season handler snared the last race of 2019 with Last Kingdom and took the first race in 2020 when Iron Boy dug deep to take the Class 4 Palm Handicap (1400m) by a neck under Karis Teetan.

“You wouldn’t have dreamed for a better start than that. I’ve got a great team behind me; every ship needs a captain and it needs a crew as well – they hold the ship together,” he said.

Whyte made it a double when Super Wealthy opened his account in section one of the Class 3 Chinese Banyan Handicap (1200m) at his second start, and in some style.

“When you work him in the morning, he gives you a real classy feel, he covers ground without you even knowing it and you’re running times: you try and run 25 or 26 (seconds) and you’re running 24s and he’s got his ears pricked. Those sorts of horses have always got a bit of class up their sleeve, but look, he’s only a two-time starter and I’m going to have a bit of fun with him,” the handler said.

Whyte believes the four-year-old will get 1400 metres “and possibly a mile later on” but is happy to stick to 1200m for now as he continues his education. The gelding arrived in Hong Kong with a maiden win from his only start in Australia and made a good impression first-up at Sha Tin when second to the talented Beauty Applause.

“He was very intractable in his first race here in Hong Kong and I thought it was a very good effort because first-timers don’t overcome that and still hit the line,” Whyte said.

“What I’ve had to get instilled in him is that it’s okay to sit behind and not charge – when he hears a noise behind him he thinks he has to go. He’s been a work in progress to just take the chill pill and get some confidence and he’s learning pretty well.”

 

Jack Wong celebrates a long-odds success
Jack Wong celebrates a long-odds success. Photo by HKJC.

 

Jack Wong punched the air as he delivered a 146/1 jolt in the Class 5 Yew Handicap (1800m). The rider snared his third of the season and first since 27 October when the David Hall-trained Mcmunigal – runner-up in the G3 Killavullan Stakes in Ireland pre-import – found his feet at the 15th time of asking in Hong Kong, off a career-low rating of 31.

The Lor stable sealed a double when apprentice Alfred Chan got the better of a blanket finish aboard 40/1 longshot Looking Good in the Class 3 Cotton Tree Handicap (1400m).

Neil Callan gave the Paul O’Sullivan-trained Starship a power-packed ride to win the Class 4 Willow Handicap (1600m), taking the Irishman’s tally for the term to seven.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday, 5 January.

You can get access to Hutchi’s analysis here!


Purton’s hungry for a LONGINES HKIR record

Zac Purton wins his eighth HKIR race on Beauty Generation. Photo by HKJC.

Purton’s hungry for a LONGINES HKIR record

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

By David Morgan

07/12/2019

 

One Group 1 win on Sunday (8 December) will see Zac Purton become the outright most successful rider in the history of the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races.

His victory 12 months ago aboard Beauty Generation in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile drew him level at the head of the pack with Gerald Mosse on eight wins, and with a mount in each of the four feature contests, including associations with two champions, the Australian ace has the all-time record on his radar.

“I always know what the records are and what needs to be done, it drives me and motivates me,” Purton said.

“It gets me going, so it’s something extra for me to think about at the meeting. But, at the end of the day, I concentrate on riding winners and those kinds of things take care of themselves.”

Purton’s HKIR book is the envy of most: he will hold the reins on three of the four winners from last year, two of whom he rode: the hat-trick-seeking Beauty Generation in the Mile, and Exultant in the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase. He has picked up the mount on LONGINES Hong Kong Cup defending champ Glorious Forever, and is pushing himself to a featherweight to partner the most exciting young horse on the Sha Tin stable block, the John Moore-trained Aethero, in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint.

“I’m bang on, right on target where I want to be with my weight and I’ve just got to maintain it now. I’ve only got a day to go, so I’ve just got to hold it together and I’ll be fine. Hopefully it’s worth it,” he said.

 

Purton has been aboard for three of Aethero’s five wins.
Purton has been aboard for three of Aethero’s five wins. Photo by HKJC.

 

Purton, though, is under no illusions as to the task facing his precocious mount, who, as a Southern Hemisphere three-year-old, will benefit from an 8lb weight concession (assuming Purton puts up 1lb over as expected) from seasoned rivals.

“It’s a strong race. I think it’s the strongest Sprint I’ve seen in a while so he’s going to need to do everything right, and if he does, hopefully he’s good enough. He’s been very impressive in everything that he’s done, he’s untapped and I’m looking forward to testing him against the big horses this weekend.”

The biggest Hong Kong horse of recent times, of course, is the Moore-trained Beauty Generation but the world’s top-rated miler and two-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year will need to put behind him two recent defeats if he is to become only the second horse after Good Ba Ba to win the Mile three times.

“We’re all hopeful that John’s been able to work his magic and the spark’s going to be there,” Hong Kong’s champion jockey said.

“John knows what it takes to train these top-line horses for these races on the big days and I’ve got the utmost confidence in him to be able to produce the horse right on this big day. Sure, we’ve been a bit disappointed with his last couple of runs, as everyone has, but he hasn’t been getting beat far and if we can just find that spark again, that’s all it’s going to take.”

 

Exultant will hand Purton the record if he goes back-to-back in the Vase.
Exultant will hand Purton the record if he goes back-to-back in the Vase. Photo by HKJC.

Exultant certainly sparked last time out – an impressive win in the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) that emphasised his standing as the circuit’s best middle-distance/staying galloper. With the Vase the first big one on the card, he could nail the record early on for his rider but will have to overcome gate 14 to do so.

“It’s a shame we drew where we did with him. It makes it a little bit tricky being out that wide. I haven’t had a good look at the race yet but we’ll work that out,” Purton said.

“I know he’s going to give me his best, he always does, and he’s going to fly the flag for Hong Kong, and hopefully do us proud again.”

Silvestre de Sousa drove Glorious Forever to Cup glory in 2018 but Purton has picked up the ride this time on the in-and-out gelding. Frankie Lor’s charge has not won since and heads in off two uninspiring runs this term, but Purton is not ruling out a return to form for the vanguard racer who could vie for the early lead with his full brother Time Warp.

“Glorious Forever was disappointing last time but he’s that kind of horse, he looks good one day and not so good the next day, it’s just a matter of the circumstances in the race. I think the small field will help him, the barrier draw is nice, he’s going to get a nice run, he gets his chance if he’s good enough. He’s going to be in the right spot,” Purton said.

 

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Make sure you buy Hutchi’s analysis to get his assessment of the HKIR meeting number 25 this Sunday at Sha Tin! Get analysis of all races on the card, including his successful Best Selections and Strategies.

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New dad Avdulla hopes In Her Time can deliver in the Hong Kong Sprint

Brenton Avdulla is looking forward to becoming a dad. Photo by HKJC.

New dad Avdulla hopes In Her Time can deliver in the Hong Kong Sprint

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

By Steve Moran

03/12/2019

 

Jockey Brenton Avdulla enjoyed a momentous 2018 – winning the AU$3.5 million G1 Golden Slipper Stakes and both principal jockeys’ premierships in his adopted home New South Wales; securing a riding contract in Japan and marrying Taylor Paine, daughter of former jockey Neil Paine.

However, 2019 is ending on a similar high with the birth of his first child yesterday (Sunday) and the opportunity next Sunday to claim a first International Group 1 win, aboard In Her Time, in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint at his first ride in Hong Kong.

“After a long weekend Taylor and I are proud to welcome our amazing little man Hunter James Avdulla born yesterday at 6.04 pm, weighing 3.5 kg. Both mum and bub are doing well,” reported Avdulla who plans to leave on Saturday, after racing in Sydney, and return on Monday.

This will be the first time Avdulla has ridden in Hong Kong but not the first time he’s been racing at Sha Tin.

“I took advantage, if that’s the right word, of getting suspended in Sydney and came up to see Chautauqua win the Chairman’s Sprint (Prize). He’s a horse I’d ridden a few times and it was fantastic to see what he did that day, producing his big, big finish,” he said.

“So I’ve seen the track first hand and plenty of it, of course, on television. It’s a nice, big, fair course and it’s no issue to ride there for the first time. You tend to know the horses there as well, especially the sprinters, as we see them regularly and that’s a plus as well.”

So, what does he make of In Her Time’s prospects against the Hong Kong sprinters?

“You know there’s a lot of depth among the Hong Kong sprinters. They’re all very decent horses and now we’ve got the up and coming three-year-old Aethero who looks pretty special so maybe we’re up against it.

“However, the Australian sprinters almost always measure up wherever they go and she (In Her Time) is very consistent. You can forgive her run in the Everest when she returned this season and then her second-up run at Flemington was full of merit. She beat home Group 1 winners like Santa Ana Lane and Alizee.

“The draw will be important. I know everyone says that but in her case, I’d want her to get as cosy a run as possible. I don’t know whether she can win but I am really looking forward to riding her and whatever happens, I don’t think she’ll be disgraced,” he said.

 

In Her Time runs third in the Darley Sprint Classic.

 

Avdulla, the Melbourne born and raised son of well-known bookmaker and punter Peter Avdulla whom he regularly accompanied to the races as a teenager, took a “punt” of his own by relocating to Sydney where the riding ranks are regarded as the most intensely competitive – even cutthroat – in Australia.

He went, in 2010, at the invitation of trainer Gai Waterhouse who’d previously lured Nash Rawiller and Blake Shinn from Melbourne and groomed them personally and professionally.

Nonetheless, there were many doubters. Initially that Avdulla would simply become too big and heavy to sustain a career in the saddle and, later, that he simply wouldn’t cut it in Sydney.

But perseverance had its reward. He gradually established that he could compete in his new home and that year rode his first Group 1 winner Secret Admirer, trained by Grahame Begg, who beat the Waterhouse-trained More Strawberries.

If he needed some mark by which he’d be judged as having made it, then it was success in the Sydney metropolitan and statewide New South Wales premierships in 2017/18 after surrendering what looked a winning lead in the 2016/17 city title which he concedes was “very disappointing” at the time.

He was overhauled by Hugh Bowman who, more than graciously, the next season sent this text message to Avdulla – “Good luck with the premiership — it’s yours if you make it happen”.

“Happily I did make it happen and I still have that text on my phone. It was very good of Hughie who I think was in Japan at the time,” said Avdulla who followed Bowman to Tokyo late last year, “I rode more than twenty winners and a couple of Group 1 placings. It was a bit of any eye-opener and a great experience. I love Japan and the racing there but the language barrier makes it a bit difficult and when you’re locked down before a race meeting it is quite a lonely experience.”

That three months stint in Japan was followed by a European holiday this year which largely explains why Avdulla was unable to defend his jockey’s premiership crown.

“That doesn’t bother me. There are those most important things like awaiting your first-born and, to be honest, I needed a bit of a break which is why we headed to Europe. I’d never really given my body a break before and it was a great chance to travel before the baby arrives.

“We went through Italy and Spain and travelled for about six weeks. It’s the first time I’d ever been away that long. In the past, I’d take a week off and miss the racing too much but I really enjoyed this European trip and would love to do it again someday,” he said.

For all that, and his passion for American sports including the NFL and NBA, the likeable 28-year-old now sees himself happily at home as a husband and father.

“Life’s changing now. It’s not just about me anymore,” he says with a smile, “and the more I travel, as great as that is, I’m reminded just how great my own backyard is living near Sydney’s Eastern beaches.”

 

In Her Time is a two-time G1 winner.
In Her Time is a two-time G1 winner.

 

The one-time, self-confessed party boy is settling down it seems and continuing to make his mark in the saddle.

“I always enjoyed having a bit of fun,” he said. Adding later: “I still do, I just have to ask permission now,” said the jockey who has invested in restaurants and bars including, originally, the popular Cubby House close to Randwick racecourse and now Limited – a lounge bar and night club in King’s Cross.

He also admits he “likes to make money” and celebrate a winner. “It’s handy to know you won’t have to queue to get in if you’ve won a big one and you’re heading to a place you part own. I like that,” he said.

He’s on the major wins board this season having won October’s G1 The Metropolitan on Come Play With Me and the AU$1 million Bondi on Kubrick. Typically that was as newsworthy as many of his wins have been including the 2016 G1 VRC Oaks, on 100/1 chance Lasqueti Spirit, with a daring front-running ride which was then described as the jockey being as “bold as he can be”, and the Kubrick win when bravery matched skill as horse and rider literally scraped the running rail to secure the winning path which left the jockey’s right boot shredded to pieces.

So, if there’s a surprise in Sunday’s Hong Kong Sprint he just might be the man to pull it off.

 

____________________________________________

 

Make sure you buy Hutchi’s analysis to get his assessment of Hong Kong International Race week, starting with the International Jockeys’ Championship Night on Wednesday at Happy Valley! Get analysis of all races on the card, including his successful Best Selections and Strategies.

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De Sousa’s feeling the Power ahead of LONGINES IJC defence

Silvestre de Sousa will defend his IJC crown on Wednesday night. Photo by HKJC.

De Sousa’s feeling the Power ahead of LONGINES IJC defence

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

By David Morgan

02/12/2019

 

Hong Kong ‘gets’ Silvestre de Sousa. It has for a good while now. The city’s racing fans, its owners, its trainers, all of them hardheaded judges conditioned to appreciate jockeys endowed with strength, savvy, that all-important ‘fighting heart’, and, above all, an uncanny ability to win – they ‘get’ de Sousa.

The Brazilian, for his part, fits into Hong Kong as well as Mohammad Ali’s right fist in a bound and fastened 8oz Everlast. But in his own mind, that was not always so; despite his first two head-turning short stints in 2015/16 and 2016/17 – for a more than respectable 16 wins each time – De Sousa chose not to apply for a contract in the 2017/18 season.

The overriding reason for skipping that winter was the birth of the second of his three children. Instead, he flew in briefly for the 2017 LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship, but there was a hint of coolness towards Hong Kong at that time, or, at least, certain factors around the racing scene; a sense of mild disgruntlement – like a schoolboy peeved at the master.

“I felt that things weren’t quite working out when I left the second time, so that was a factor in me not coming back the year after, and we didn’t want to bring the baby all the way here. But I also like Dubai, it’s a different style of life there and I had a good offer to go there. At that time, I just wasn’t in love with Hong Kong,” De Sousa says.

That is in the past, though, blown away this time last year in a flurry of Sha Tin success.

“Things changed,” he says. “The baby was older and I thought I’d give it another go and last season was good, I just went from strength to strength and I enjoyed it.”

De Sousa was two weeks off the tarmac at Chek Lap Kok airport in November 2018 when he lifted the G2 Jockey Club Cup for the powerful John Moore stable; a couple of weeks later, he was the triumphant star on a glitzy LONGINES IJC night; from there he powered to his biggest and richest Hong Kong victory of all, a make-all, bicep-pumping win aboard Glorious Forever in the HK$28 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup.

“For the last few seasons I’ve managed to come here and ride a few winners but last year was the top – I touched gold,” he says.

De Sousa packed his kit and departed the city at the end of March with an impressive 44 wins – good enough for fifth in the season’s premiership – and his share of the HK$70 million stakes money accrued. The months since have delivered highs and lows, a dramatic fall and resultant injury, the loss of his champion’s crown, but also an exciting new partnership forged with King Power Racing, another Group 1 bagged and a future with exciting prospects.

 

International assignments

 

De Sousa rode two winners to take the 2018 IJC.
De Sousa rode two winners to take the 2018 IJC. Photo by HKJC.

 

His immediate possibilities lie in Hong Kong. On Wednesday (4 December) he will defend his LONGINES IJC crown at Happy Valley against 11 world class rivals, among them Hong Kong’s dominant pair of Zac Purton and Joao Moreira, as well as familiar faces from home, the incomparable Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore, his fellow three-time British champions.

“It’s a different kind of experience because you draw the rides you draw and you race against the best jockeys in the world. You need the talent – you need to get on the best horses on the night, but you can’t doubt the other jockeys, they are the best in the world,” he says.

His career tally at Happy Valley, Hong Kong’s historic and high-rise ringed downtown venue, stands at 24 wins.

“I do look forward to it. It’s a night when you need a lot of luck, so you need luck with the draw and the horses you ride. I go around there and I know what I’m doing, I know what speed I’m going and I go out there with plenty of confidence that if the horse is good enough he’ll deliver for me. I believe it’s very important for a jockey to ride full of confidence,” he says.

That confidence was brimful last year when he bustled the Frankie Lor-trained Glorious Forever out of the stalls in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin. The front-runner was never headed in the charge for home as De Sousa thrust his right arm with a fighter’s force, lifted and let drop his urging left, all while maintaining a lip-curled, eyes-set focus on the winning line. There was no salute, no thought of an in-saddle celebration.

“It’s my job to win,” he says matter-of-factly.

“He was in front and he got his way in front, the way he likes to do it. It was a big achievement for myself and for Frankie Lor as well. It was a terrific moment.”

 

Glorious Forever wins the Hong Kong Cup under De Sousa.

 

De Sousa will not be aboard Glorious Forever in this Sunday’s (8 December) Cup. “I was waiting for another ride and Frankie has fixed up someone else,” he says, that “someone” being Zac Purton.

In fact, he has only one G1 mount, with rides in the big four not easy for anyone to secure this year.

“I’m not that busy on the day so I hope I can still pick up some rides,” he says. “I’m free in the Cup and free in the Mile, and I don’t have a ride in the Vase either, but I’m riding Regency Legend for Danny Shum in the Sprint.”

Regency Legend was unbeaten in four starts until a disappointing 10th in the Jockey Club Sprint saw Purton defect and open up an opportunity for De Sousa.

“He didn’t run his race last time but Zac rode him, so he must think quite a bit of the horse. It’ll be hard to beat the (probable) favourite, Aethero, and Beat The Clock. I think they’re the two we all have to beat to win. I think Beat The Clock could turn the tables on Aethero this time.”

 

Part of the team

 

De Sousa is all focus as Glorious Forever wins the Hong Kong Cup.
De Sousa is all focus as Glorious Forever wins the Hong Kong Cup. Photo by HKJC.

 

There are times during the Hong Kong season when casual racecourse talk moves to which jockeys might be in line for a full-time contract to ride the circuit. De Sousa’s name will always pop up. So far, he has been happy to make do with short stints during European down-time.

That is unlikely to change anytime soon, not since he sealed a retainer last spring as first jockey to the burgeoning King Power Racing operation, started by the late Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and continued under his family’s direction.

“It went brilliant,” De Sousa says. “We’ve got a lovely number of horses, some very well-bred horses, and Alastair Donald is the King Power racing manager and he’s doing a fantastic job for them. We are keen to win races – big races are our target and I’m very focused on big races.”

De Sousa’s career has taken shape in such a way that although he has three British champion jockey titles on his resumé, his Group 1 haul stands currently at 10, a total many lesser riders would be happy with but which is surely a bare reward for his talents.

After making his name in Britain initially on the northern circuit in the late-2000’s, De Sousa has never been en vogue with the big southern-based stables, despite living for some time now just a short hop outside Newmarket, the ‘home’ of British racing. He did enjoy a successful time as retained rider to Godolphin, for whom he won such majors as the G1 Dubai World Cup (2014 African Story) and G1 Champion Stakes (2013 Farhh), but that was all too short-lived.

Donjuan Triumphant gave De Sousa his latest G1 win.

Being a part of the King Power Racing team, he hopes, will enable him to mesh volume with more quality. The signs so far are good.

“I hadn’t been back in England more than a week or two when I won a Group 3, the Ormonde Stakes, with a lovely horse we have called Morando,” he says.

“We’ve got a lot of three-year-olds coming to four-year-olds and they’re very lightly-raced. We’ve got a big number of horses to go to war with. From being a small team, we’ve now got about 100 horses in training, so we’re just hoping for those horses to come out and deliver on the big days.”

King Power Racing has had 58 wins in 2019, and De Sousa rode 32 of those. His haul for his new retainer included a Royal Ascot win on Cleonte and the G1 British Champions Sprint on Donjuan Triumphant.

“It was a great season,” he says. “We had a great start and had a lot of Group winners. The proper one, the Group 1, only came on the last day of the season for me, on Champions Day. It’s good, you know, that gave me an extra buzz, and it makes everyone excited for next season.”

 

Big-race focus

 

De Sousa is back from injury and in good form.
De Sousa is back from injury and in good form. Photo by HKJC.

 

It was not all plain-sailing though. De Sousa’s momentum stalled when a race fall ended any hope of a fourth champion jockey title.

“I had a bit of a hiccup with injury and was off for a while, which didn’t help, but when I got back I was back in great form,” he says.

De Sousa, like every jockey that ever sat on a thoroughbred, plays down the severity of his spill from Alnadir at Chelmsford on that Friday night in August.

“It was a five horse race,” he recalls when pressed. “The lead horse moved off the fence as the one on the outside moved towards the fence, so they got me in a sandwich. I had no time to take him back because I was pushing to go forward, so everything happened so quickly and I didn’t have time to react.

“It was a pretty nasty fall but I was very lucky to walk out with just very minor injuries,” he adds.

To hear him talk, one might be forgiven for thinking he left the course with a few bruises and a sprain. In fact, with a no-big-deal shrug, the man who first sat on a horse at age six on the family farm in São Francisco do Maranhão says, “I fractured my lower back; I did the ligament in my knee a little bit, and tore my shoulder ligament as well, so it was multiple injuries. I had a collar bone fracture as well.”

At the time, he was chasing eventual champion Oisin Murphy in the title race but he is unwilling to countenance any notion that his six weeks on the sidelines cost him the championship.

“I set up the year with a great start,” he says. “I went back and I was riding winners almost every day for King Power and other trainers around, but I was never ahead because Oisin rode the whole year round, he never took the time off. I was always running behind him even though I’d got a bit close when the injury came.

“I don’t think I would have won though, I wasn’t going for the title, I just wanted to ride as many winners as I could and tried to keep my connections very happy. I just set out to have a good season.”

There’s a hint of ‘been there, done that’ about the jockeys’ championship. At age 38, rising 39, the desire to pull in the major wins is now stronger than ever.

“The title is something that if I’m lined up there with a chance, I might have a go, but I don’t have in the back of my mind to win another title. I want to ride plenty of winners but I want those big winners. When you go out to win the title you have to give up some big races,” he says.

His prospects on that front look bright given King Power’s emergence as a genuine G1 player, and his connection to Hong Kong will always offer the promise of a quality horse in a big race. After all, in this town, De Sousa has only ever really been all the rage.

“It’s great here,” he says. “Hong Kong has been fantastic to me.”

 


Exultant dominates Jockey Club Cup

Exultant stamped his authority over his distance opposition by winning the Jockey Club Cup. Photo by HKJC.

Exultant dominates Jockey Club Cup

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

By Declan Schuster

18/11/2019

 

Exultant was at his dominant best in Sunday’s (17 November) G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin, galloping to victory in a faultless warm-up for his G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) defence next month.

The Teofilo gelding slotted in behind pace-setting siblings Glorious Forever and Time Warp before powering clear to win by a length and a quarter from last season’s BMW Hong Kong Derby winner Furore in a time of 1m 59.77s.

“He ran well first-up so there were no concerns for me about him getting back to his best, he just had to get to a distance that was suitable,” winning rider Zac Purton said.

Trainer Tony Cruz was equally satisfied following the first win of the campaign for Hong Kong’s reigning champion stayer and suggested that his star is on track to perhaps better last season’s haul of three G1’s.

“Everything has gone smoothly this season, I’m very happy with his condition and he seems to be a better horse this year,” Cruz said.

Purton though, hopes today’s win wasn’t too much of a “gut buster” ahead of his main target on 8 December.

“We went very hard through the first half of the race and I was surprised when Joao (Moreira) still tried to take off, but it flushed me out and meant I had to go,” Purton said.

“But I knew my horse was capable of doing that, so it wasn’t the end of the world for me – I just hope this hasn’t been a gut buster prior to his grand final.”

Exultant’s form from an excellent 2018/19 season has continued to stand up around the world.

Last year’s Vase runner-up Lys Gracieux claimed the G1 Cox Plate, while Waldgeist, who was fifth behind Exultant in that Sha Tin feature, lowered Enable’s colours in the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe just last month.

 

Exultant and Zac Purton return following their triumph.

 

It was a good day for last season’s Hong Kong Derby crop with runner-up Waikuku turning over Beauty Generation in the G2 Jockey Club Mile, while Derby hero Furore bounced back for Hugh Bowman to grab second behind Exultant.

“Furore’s a nice horse, he’s probably just been ridden a bit upside down his first two runs and had no luck from a wide barrier last start. A good draw and a nice pace has helped him get in a rhythm and he showed his best today,” Bowman said.

Caspar Fownes’ globetrotting galloper Southern Legend closed off to grab third and jockey Alberto Sanna was pleased with his mount’s effort.

“He ran well – he finished off nicely and in the corner I found a bit of trouble coming up to the straight with Time Warp and Glorious Forever in front of me, so I had to wait, but he ran on ok,” Sanna said.

Aethero posted a brilliant win in the third of the afternoon’s features, the G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m).

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 20 November.

 


Aethero rises to the task in the Jockey Club Sprint

Aethero was sensational again when winning the Jockey Club Sprint. Photo by HKJC.

Aethero rises to the task in the Jockey Club Sprint

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

By David Morgan

18/11/2019

 

Aethero lived up to his billing as Hong Kong’s next big thing with a scintillating front-running victory in the G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin today, Sunday, 17 November.

“Mama Mia!” cried winning rider Karis Teetan as he returned jubilant from a two-length success aboard the precocious chestnut.

“It was unbelievable. The day I trialled him, he gave me the feel of a real champion. I rode Able Friend and this horse reminds me so much of him.”

Trainer John Moore had predicted a track record and he wasn’t far wrong: his rising star stopped the clock at 1m 07.58s, just eight hundredths of a second outside the great Sacred Kingdom’s mark set on this day 12 years ago.

“The sky is the limit. When Karis got off he said ‘he kicked like Able Friend!’” Moore said, referencing his past champion to whom his current big chestnut bears a striking physical resemblance.

Every top sprinter in town went to post for the afternoon’s speed feature, including last season’s champion Beat The Clock, two-time LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint hero Mr Stunning, and last year’s young gun Jockey Club Sprint victor Hot King Prawn.

 

Karis Teetan enjoys the moment on Aethero.
Karis Teetan enjoys the moment on Aethero.

 

As a Southern Hemisphere three-year-old against seasoned campaigners, Aethero carried a feather 113lb, a full 15lb less than the G1 winners in the field and 10lb less than the rest.

“It was impressive and just outside the track record but he was carrying a postage stamp. Hot King Prawn carried 10 pounds more than us and still closed off with no previous run this season,” Moore acknowledged.

“But, saying that, his run was great. He’s still only a three-year-old and he did everything right: he jumped away from the blocks and got across to the lead from gate nine there and he did it under his own steam.

“We’ll go to the Hong Kong Sprint now and it’s an international Group 1 so his work will be cut out but you can’t ask anything more and he’ll still have a nice weight concession as a Southern Hemisphere three-year-old.”

Aethero will shoulder 117lb in the 8 December G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint. His rivals will carry 126lb.

“Hot King Prawn did close and he was carrying 123 pounds, which is a difference of 10 pounds and it’ll be nine pounds next time so Hot King Prawn has to step up and my horse only has to repeat what he’s done today. He’s going to be very close next time.

“If he draws the same sort of gate in the International race, and can go up and dictate, he’s a live chance for Hong Kong and the stable.”

The John Size-trained Hot King Prawn raced for the first time since last December, having had surgery for colic early this year, and closed promisingly under Grant van Niekerk.

“Great run going into the big race; he’ll be a great ride,” the jockey said.

 

John Moore has another potential star on his hands.
John Moore has another potential star on his hands.

 

Beat The Clock, another Size galloper having his first start this season, kept on nicely for third.

“It was a great run and he has maintained his consistency,” said jockey Joao Moreira.

Before the real action, there was drama at the start. Pingwu Spark was withdrawn after refusing to enter the stalls and then came Pakistan Star’s latest misdemeanour.

The enigmatic two-time G1 winner broke from the stalls but quickly pulled himself to a stop despite the efforts of Blake Shinn.

“It’s not a new trick!” trainer Paul O’Sullivan quipped in exasperation. “Blake said from the time he jumped he was never going to complete the course. I can’t see any reason why: he’s not in any pain, I think physically, he’s perfect so it’s in his head.

“I don’t know where we go from here; Beas River might do the trick. I’ll talk to Kerm (Din), the owner, and see what he wants to do.”

In the afternoon’s other two features, Waikuku won the G2 Jockey Club Mile (1600m) to hand Beauty Generation a second straight defeat, while victory for Exultant in the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m) set up a tilt at back-to-back wins in next month’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m).

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 20 November.

 


Waikuku hands another defeat to Beauty Generation

Waikuku beat home Beauty Generation again, this time to win the Jockey Club Mile. Photo by HKJC.

Waikuku hands another defeat to Beauty Generation

HJKC Staff

HJKC Staff

HKJC Staff Member

By David Morgan

18/11/2019

 

Waikuku shifted out of Beauty Generation’s shadow with a decisive rail-side burst that has him vying to be Hong Kong’s number one hope for the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) in three weeks.

“It looks a bit that way,” trainer John Size said after the improving four-year-old had upset the 1.3 favourite in this afternoon’s (Sunday, 17 November) G2 Jockey Club Mile (1600m).

“Beauty Generation will still have his fans and he’s going to run under different circumstances on the big day so I think he’ll probably hold his place. He’ll be the horse to beat again.”

Beauty Generation finished third for the second race on the bounce, having dominated the Sha Tin mile division through 10 straight wins and two Horse of the Year titles. Last month’s turnaround, when conceding hefty weight to his talented rivals, was one thing, going down in a seven-runner field under a lesser 5lb penalty was unexpected.

“It was a surprise but it was a good surprise!” winning jockey Joao Moreira said after Waikuku triumphed in a time of 1m 32.89s.

 

Joao Moreira is delighted with Waikuku’s win.
Joao Moreira is delighted with Waikuku’s win.

 

The Brazilian enjoyed a smooth passage on the Irish import. The front pair of Beauty Generation and Ka Ying Star raced some way off the rail in the early stages before the former settled into his usual position, rolling rhythmically at the head in anticipation of an opponent-demolishing finishing drive.

But that famous Beauty Generation power was missing this time.

“He stayed off the fence in the back straight and then came back in and Zac (Purton) said he felt comfortable, he was happy with how he got there: he thought on the corner he would let down and really kick hard but he didn’t,” a disappointed John Moore said of his stable’s champ.

Waikuku stalked Beauty Generation – with runner-up Ka Ying Star racing on his outer flank – and when the big horse rolled off the rail in the home straight, Moreira took his chance.

“When we were turning for home Ka Ying Star wasn’t giving ground, he was holding me in there and I was forced to hold and hope the gap would come inside the leader, Beauty Generation,” the jockey said.

“Once it came, my horse was full-on: he just went for it and didn’t hesitate to go through. Good horses do it, they go through small gaps, and he has proven himself.”

Moore was deflated but not despondent about Beauty Generation’s defeat as he looked towards the seven-year-old’s attempt at a third straight win in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.

“Zac said don’t worry about that run, he’ll come back,” the handler revealed. “He said we just need to tweak something to make sure on the big day that he’ll kick. We just need to find out what because he’s not finding that usual kick. Today was a repeat of what he did when he was beaten in his second start.”

 

Mile not Cup

 

Beauty Generation (No. 1) and Waikuku (No. 2) will rematch in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.
Beauty Generation (No. 1) and Waikuku (No. 2) will rematch in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.

 

Size and Moreira, meanwhile, were on the same page about Waikuku taking on the champ again in the December feature: the bay had shown his stamina for 2000m when a running-on second to Furore in last season’s BMW Hong Kong Derby, but there was no hint from trainer or jockey of an intention to return to that trip in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup.

“I would never think about changing the distance, with the way he’s done it today,” Moreira said. “Probably the mile won’t be as strong as the Hong Kong Cup, because Almond Eye is coming for the 2000-metre race and she’s one of the best in the world at the moment. I’m happy to ride my bloke in the mile.”

Size added: “I think there’s no need to stretch him. We’ve never even thought about going 2000 metres (in December), he’s been very good at the 1600 so we’ll stay there. After that race, if we have to change course we will, but I think he’s okay.”

Waikuku has come a long way in less than 11 months. After arriving from the John Oxx stable, the gelding stepped out at Sha Tin for a promising second over 1200m on 23 December last year.

He followed that with four wins in a row before an arguably unlucky run in the Hong Kong Derby last March. Two subsequent efforts yielded below-par results but Size’s charge has sparked this term, running third to Beauty Generation first-up and then claiming second, one spot ahead of his rival, when behind Rise High in a 1600m G2 handicap.

“My horse has been consistent, he’s made small improvement every time he’s raced and he’s been the same this preparation and he’s still got some in him. It’ll be a tougher race in December so he’ll have to improve again to win it,” Size said.

“He’s a typical good horse and most good horses they don’t do anything wrong and that’s why they are who they are, I guess. He’s one of those – he doesn’t have to have any special thing done with him, he’s a racehorse.”

Moore enjoyed some compensation for Beauty Generation’s defeat when his rising star Aethero took the G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) in impressive fashion.

Champion stayer Exultant set up a tilt at back-to-back wins in next month’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) with victory in the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000m).

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 20 November.