Beauty Generation’s consistency won Horse of the Year but the resurrection of Pakistan Star was the story of the year during a season where John Size seemed to have every good sprinter in town in a term and a new era of Hong Kong horses stood up.
Ageing superstars and the racetrack death of last season’s Horse of the Year Rapper Dragon left a huge hole in the top ranks but it was the horses who had finished behind him soon stepped into the void.
Beauty Generation may lack the wow factor of some of the previous milers to win Horse of the Year like Good Ba Ba, Ambitious Dragon or Able Friend, but his record of five wins from eight starts and three Group Ones certainly stacks up in comparison.
In fact, Beauty Generation joined Good Ba Ba, Able Friend and the Japanese monster Maurice as the only horses to win the Hong Kong Mile and the Champions Mile in the same season.
Pakistan Star and Beauty Generation were second and third in the 2017 Hong Kong Derby but they weren’t the only horses from their generation to stand up.
Derby fourth-placegetter Seasons Bloom won a Group One, another four have won Group races since and stayer Gold Mount finished the season with three straight placings at Group level.
Then there were the sprinters and milers like Mr Stunning, California Whip and Winner’s Way that won stakes races.
Five-year-old front-runner Time Warp didn’t make it to the 2017 Derby but made up for it by breaking his rivals with a breathtaking display in the Hong Kong Cup and then breaking the clock in the Hong Kong Gold Cup.
Time Warp became the first horse in history to run a sub-two minute 2,000m around Sha Tin, a mark that was lowered later in the season by his younger brother Glorious Forever.
But it was Time Warp’s stablemate Pakistan Star that stole the show the show – and hearts of race fans the world over – when he finally delivered on his true promise in the Group One QE II Cup.
Pakistan Star had stopped in a race in June last year and entered this term needing to prove to stewards he had recovered from his recalcitrant ways.
Yet Pakistan Star stopped again, in a trial this time, and so began a soap opera played out in the mornings at Sha Tin.
Even famous horse whisperer Monty Roberts was called in to consult but eventually trainer Tony Cruz “got the horse’s mind right” and he followed that with another Group One success in the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup.
John Size produced yet another amazing training performance with Ping Hai Star in the BMW Hong Kong Derby, but his greatest achievement was producing all three Group One sprint winners with Mr Stunning, D B Pin and Ivictory.
It was a relatively quiet season for Hong Kong horses abroad, the brave sprinter Blizzard ran two typically honest runs in Japan, before Southern Legend welcomed Singapore back to the world stage in the Kranji Mile and Werther went within a neck of winning the Takarazuka Kinen.