Joao Moreira delivered a four-timer on Tuesday and scored another top ride following the meeting. Photo by HKJC.

Michael Cox’s HK Six-up: Young sprinters square off as Moreira jumps on Aethero

Michael Cox




Mark this date down on your calendar, October 12. Aethero versus Voyage Warrior, two rockets launching over 1000m at Sha Tin. Oh, and adding some more spice, Joao Moreira replaces archrival Zac Purton on Aethero, with the Australian already booked to ride Voyage Warrior.

The mouth-watering clash between two of Hong Kong’s best young sprinters comes about after it all went wrong for Aethero last weekend in his Class 2 debut over 1200m.

It was a horror watch for backers of the favourite and the defeat has forced trainer John Moore into a re-think of Aethero’s program. The Hong Kong Sprint is still the aim, but Moore is wary of another deep-end experience at Group 2 level next start and is also aware the 89-rated three-year-old now needs a big win if he is to make the field in December.

“It’s all about getting that rating up,” said Moore, who will also enter 92-rated Thanks Forever in the same race.

“He (Aethero) was still obviously very green. But now he will be fitter for that and comes back to a much simpler task.

“I don’t care Voyage Warrior is there, we can’t avoid one horse, and we need the ratings points.”

Voyage Warrior’s trainer Ricky Yiu had a spring in his step earlier on Thursday morning when talking about his star, due to trial on Friday, but that was before he had been told Aethero would be there.

“That might ruin Ricky’s day when he finds out Aethero is going to be there,” Moore said. “It will be a great race and a measure of where both horses are at.”


Another record

It wasn’t hard to find an excuse for Aethero – he received 15 mentions in the incidents report, which might be a record – and history shows that Class 2 is a big step for young horses on the rise.

Amber Sky (1.2), Pakistan Star (1.4) and Moore’s former star Able Friend (2.5) were recent examples of hot favourites rolled over when stepping out in Class 2 for the first time.

All three went on to win Group 1s and Aethero has Group 1 quality written all over him. To have the torrid run he experienced at just his third start and still finish third was a sign of real quality.


Best chance to beat the champ

Was Tuesday’s Group 3 Celebration Cup the best chance for rivals to beat Beauty Generation this season? That was the view from some, citing the now seven-year-old’s soft condition as he returned from a long lay-off at a record weight of 1161 pounds.

Another opinion is that it will be second up over a mile for the Sha Tin Trophy that Beauty Generation will be most susceptible to having his 10-race winning sequence snapped.


Beauty Generation conceded weight all round and still won well fresh-up on Tuesday. Photo by HKJC.


Beauty Generation wasn’t the only horse underdone on Tuesday; the fast-finishing fourth Southern Legend was nowhere near ready, and he was given a easier time of it and allowed to go past tired horses late with a confidence builder. Next time he gets 15 pounds from Beauty Generation, who ran a track record time and was asked for some serious effort late.

So should those working on a Beauty Generation superannuation scheme fear the second-up bounce less than three weeks after the big first up effort? Moore was having none of it.

“I think he will be even better second up,” he said. “He has pulled up well and he will strip a lot fitter for that run.”


Record caveat 

On times: the phrase “track record time” does need to be treated with caution. It’s tracks that break records, not horses. A quick look in the opening pages of any racebook can tell you that, in most turf jurisdictions it often isn’t champions filling the record categories.

Silent Witness, whose 1000m record of 55.30s for the Class (Group/Premier) had stood for more than 14 years, is an exception, but Full Of Beauty lowered that by 0.34s on Tuesday. The placegetters Jolly Banner and Wishful Thinker both went faster too. The closest any of them will ever get to Silent Witness is when they go past his statue at the 300m mark.

The 1000m Sha Tin Class record (Group/Premier) held by Silent Witness was broken on Tuesday. Photo by HKJC.


Again, behind Beauty Generation in the Celebration Cup, runner-up Ka Ying Star lowered the old mark and Waikuku equalled it on a day when Sha Tin sizzled.

Times were well under standard on the undercard and, not surprisingly on a hot day, the track got faster as the meeting progressed with all but two of the other races more than half a second under standard time for the class.

Beauty Generation now holds three of Sha Tin’s track records, the 1400m mark sitting alongside distance bests at 1600m and 2200m.


Popular South African hating on the champ

The celebratory post-race Tweets of George Moore, son of John, caused some mirth when he claimed Beauty Generation “silenced the haters” with the dominant win.


What haters? The horse was $1.40 and was trending on Twitter.

Moore hinted that the Tweets were aimed at South African-trainer Tony Millard, who has enjoyed a feud with the bloodstock agent for many years now.

Millard has been bullish about the chances of his miler Singapore Sling beating Beauty Generation in the Sha Tin Trophy and is sure to have something entertaining to say in the lead-up.


Cut short

There was no Happy Valley meeting this week and racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday with a 10-race card and we will be watching the clock with interest.

With the track running hot last Tuesday it will be interesting viewing as the maintenance team enter a difficult transitional period.

With the seasons changing, the track shifts from predominantly Bermuda to rye, and the grass needs to be cut shorter to allow the rye to poke through and see some sunlight.

Blue sky and less pollution, something that reached dangerous levels early in the week, is what is required.

The course proper crew cut can mean an even flatter, faster surface through November as the HKJC aim to produce a thick, green carpet for international day in December.




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