There’s nothing like a Group One win with their first horse to get an owner more interested in racing – at least that was the case for Patrick Kwok Ho-chuen – who has two of the leading chances wearing the family’s famous colours in the Group One Hong Kong Mile.
Kwok is the son of Hong Kong’s most prominent owner Simon Kwok Siu-ming, so had been around racing throughout his teenage years, but it wasn’t until his first foray into ownership that the 25-year-old really caught the bug.
When Beauty Only – who his owns in partnership with mother Eleanor Kwok Law-kwai – won three of his first five starts including the 2015 Hong Kong Classic Mile, the new owner was transformed from interested observer to racing fanatic overnight.
“I grew up going to the races but I didn’t really like it,” Kwok said. “But my first horse, Beauty Only changed that, I really started studying it and helping my dad select horses, watching the Australian and English Group races for horses we could buy. I like watching horses develop and grow, how they progress step-by-step through their preparations.”
Beauty Only’s progression was capped when he stormed home from near the tail to win last year’s Mile but this season’s find has been Kwok’s second horse, Beauty Generation.
The expensive Australian import was third in this year’s Derby behind Rapper Dragon and Pakistan Star, but a change of tactics and focusing on shorter trips has resulted in a Group Three and Group Two win this term.
“He has definitely surprised me this season,” Kwok said of a horse he compared to his father’s 2010 Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Flash. “We really thought he would be a Group Three horse, or Group Two at best, he doesn’t really have the sprint or kick as the top horses. But John Moore and Derek Leung Ka-chun changed the tactics and just let him roll a little in races. He has found a different way to win and he kinds of reminds me of Beauty Flash – he can lead or sit close and give a slight kick.”
Beauty Only hasn’t been as convincing in three starts this time in but Kwok explained the Tony Cruz-trained six-year-old was still shaking off the effects from a trip to Tokyo in June and tough run in the Yasuda Kinen.
“He lost about 40 pounds in Japan and Tony wanted his weight back, but we didn’t expect him to go up 100 pounds, so it took quite a while for him to come back to form,” Kwok said. “The way Tony trains though, I’m sure he has him right for this race. He wasn’t fully fit last start and was still fourth.”