After an impressive first-up run, superior fitness gives Beauty Generation the edge over stablemate Rodrico as the John Moore-trained pair clash 14 days out from the HK$10 million Group One Hong Kong Classic Mile.
Sunday’s Class Two Violet Handicap over 1,600m contains five horses eligible for the four-year-old series, with Moore’s duo joined by the Tony Cruz-trained Winner’s Way (Matthew Chadwick), Dennis Yip Chor-hong’s Dukedom (Chad Schofield) and Western Express (Joao Moreira) for John Size.
It is Beauty Generation (Zac Purton) that seems the one to beat after the Australian import put the writing on the wall with a terrific first-up second behind fellow Classic Mile contender My Darling over 1,400m on December 27.
Without ever really looking the winner, Beauty Generation still clocked the fastest final 400m of the race as he worked home strongly despite being crowded for room in the closing stages.
When racing as Montaigne for Anthony Cummings, Beauty Generation placed at Group Two level over 1,400m but there is no doubt the first-up assignment was on the short side for a horse that ended up finishing fourth over 2,400m against all comers in the 2016 Group One BMW at Rosehill.
Not only will the step up to 1,600m be a boost to Beauty Generation’s chances, but the run will have the solidly built gelding that little bit closer to peak fitness.
It could be seen is a strong sign of how well Beauty Generation has settled in that Moore has looked to give the Derby-hopeful another start before the Classic Mile, given that a 94 rating gets the horse into the field with room to spare.
The same could be said for Rodrico (Sam Clipperton), he will make the field off a mark of 89, but he is going around purely for fitness having not raced since a thrilling second to now-stablemate Eagle Way seven months ago in the Queensland Derby.
Rodrico’s two trials have been adequate but there has been nothing to suggest he could replicate the type of first-up effort that Eagle Way produced to win on international day.
Perhaps it is the four-year-olds with more to prove, down in the weights, that represent more of a threat to Moore’s horses.
Off a mark of 82, and carrying just 118 pounds, Western Express may need to win to make the Classic Mile field, but could just be the “forgotten horse” here after an unplaced effort behind Eagle Way.
Western Express was an impressive first-up winner over 1,200m, but was stuck wide without cover when stepping up to a mile and an eighth-placed finish, beaten just a two-and-a-half lengths, was much better than it looks on paper.
Since then Western Express trialled very well and given the market had the stylish mover a 4.6 second pick behind Pakistan Star last start, it will be interesting to see what price the chestnut is on Sunday.
Winner’s Way has won two from three, and a step up to a mile doesn’t look to be a problem for a race-fit horse – although barrier 11 presents some difficulties.
Chadwick maintained a prominent spot from an inside gate last start but rode defensively from wide barriers at the horse’s first two starts.
The key to pace in the race will be what Kei Chiong Ka-kei does on Top Act from barrier two, and specifically, whether or not she can get a clean jump and keep a forward position in a race containing only one other obvious pace influence in Cruz’s California Disegno (Silvestre de Sousa).