Dubai up for grabs for HK Champ

Steve Bennett Steve Bennett
  • A trip to Dubai awaits Beauty Generation, if he stands-up

 

Hopes are still high for a trip to Dubai, if Beauty Generation races well in Sunday’s Group One Steward’s Cup (1600m).

Trainer John Moore still believes his reining Horse Of The Year can deliver at Sha Tin on Sunday and book himself passage for a trip to the Dubai World Cup meeting.

Still rated the world’s best miler (on turf), his claim to that title will be on the line on Sunday should he suffer a fourth straight defeat over the 1600m trip in Hong Kong’s first Group One event of the year.

Beauty Generation wins the 2019 Steward’s Cup

Since resuming from a 22-week spell where first-up, he won the Group Three Celebration Cup, he has been beaten in all three races since, the last of those being the Group One Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin in December last year.

Excuses were being sought, however, trainer Moore has come to the conclusion that age has caught up with the (now) seven-year-old and he simply hasn’t quite got the zip he once had.

“He’s sound, OK age has definitely caught up with – because of his three lacklustre runs we had to finally admit that age has caught up with him and is having an impact – but I’m hoping the Beauty Generation of old can turn up on the weekend.” Moore said.

But Moore remains confident that multiple Group One-winning gelding can put in a big effort and be some chance of making that trip overseas in March.

“I’ve got to sit down with Patrick [Kwok Ho-chuen] and his father [Simon] and a lot will depend on this race to whether he travels or not” he said.

“If he puts in a really big run and finishes first or second I think consideration has to be given to travelling.”

“I’d like to put him on the other leg, 1,800m with the gate speed that he’s got and going anticlockwise – just reboot his mind and sharpen him up a bit,” Moore said. “I think the trip would be a positive step at this time of his career.”

Whilst he has just six opponents in Sunday’s big race, Moore will have at least one eye on his champion’s biggest threat in the race, the John Size-trained Waikuku, who has finished ahead of Beauty Generation at their past three encounters.

When Moore was asked how to describe the five-year-old’s threat on Sunday, he simply replied, “Serious”.

“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.”

Waikuku’s win in the Group Two J.C Mile back in November turned plenty of heads after he gave Beauty Generation a start, and a beating that day.

Waikuku with Joao Moreira aboard

He followed that win up with another first class performance where he finished a close-up second behind Admire Mars in the Group One Hong Kong Mile (1600m) with Beauty Generation more than a length further back in third place.

This Harbour Watch five-year-old has come back faster and stronger than he was as a four-year-old where he ended his last preparation finishing second last in Group One QEII Cup.

Last week, Beauty Generation worked well in his first barrier trial since returning to work, finishing third behind Wishful Thinker where rider Zac Purton put no undue pressure on the gelding in the run home.

He then had a track gallop on Thursday morning (16 January) and reports from Zac Purton were excellent according to Moore .

“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.”

One of those changes Moore referred to was seeing the gelding gallop without blinkers and he also confirmed he will race without the famous pink headgear on Sunday, opting to go with the winkers he trialled in.

Moore believes if his champion miler can run well on Sunday, the 1800m at Dubai will be even better for him.

“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.”

A positive outcome on Sunday and the Group One Dubai Turf (1,800m) at Meydan on March 28 could well be his next mission.