Beauty Generation, Ivictory and Ping Hai Star are three superstars of Hong Kong racing and they showed they are right on target for the Longines Hong Kong International Races with eye-catching efforts at Sha Tin on National Day.
The reigning Horse of the Year Beauty Generation – carrying the top weight – dominated the best field seen this season in the Group Three Celebration Cup (1,400m), perhaps proving to any remaining doubters he is more than worthy of the title.
The buzz his victory created was only matched by the run of the Hong Kong Derby hero Ping Hai Star, who was eating up the ground late as he barrelled into second place. He has come back in terrific shape and looks a genuine winning hope in the Hong Kong Cup.
In the Group Three National Day Cup (1,000m), Ivictory was upstaged by stablemate Hot King Prawn, but given the 16-pound weight difference, there is little doubt which horse you want to be on heading towards the 1,200m of the Hong Kong Sprint.
There is still plenty of water to go under the bridge, but it appears as though champion jockey Zac Purton has pulled the right rein by sticking with both Beauty Generation and Ivictory.
However at this stage, neither Purton, nor 10-time champion trainer John Size are getting carried away.
Hot King Prawn scores at his first attempt at stakes company, taking the first pattern race of the year, the G3 National Day Cup (1000m), for jockey @KarisTeetan and trainer John Size. Stablemate Ivictory was second for @zpurton #HKRacing pic.twitter.com/ZjQFGjqj1r— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) October 1, 2018
“There is still a long way to go of course, but I’m happy with how they both ran and I’m comfortable with where they’re at going forward,” Purton, who collected a four-timer, said.
Size thought Hot King Prawn, Ivictory and Ping Hai Star performed to the required standard.
“That’s about what you would expect from them, I’m happy with where they are at the moment,” he said.
Of the other key HKIR hopes in the Celebration Cup, Chad Schofield gave Seasons Bloom a “pass mark” after his seventh, Grant van Niekerk thought Fifty Fifty didn’t have the race run to suit, while Size felt race favourite Nothingilikemore worked too hard early.
It might only be early, but having the big boys of Hong Kong racing back is a cause for celebration.