Hong Kong’s champion horse, Beauty Generation, had veteran trainer John Moore reminiscing about his legendary galloper, Able Friend, after he smashed a long-standing track record at Sha Tin on Sunday.
It did not go to script for champion jockey Zac Purton in the Group Two BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Mile (1,600m), but cool heads prevailed in the end with the Australian happy to go back on his mount early in the race, allowing the tearaway leaders to set a hot early tempo.
Purton then made his move just before the turn, rounding up the Tony Cruz-trained The Golden Age and John Size’s Thewizardofoz before blitzing the rest of the field up the Sha Tin straight despite Beauty Generation wanting to lay out towards the outside rail.
The unexpected start to the race drew a gasp from crowd, with the hot $1.50 favourite sitting wide through the back straight before Purton’s eventual move.
The accolades keep piling up for Beauty Generation: HK's Horse of the Year - and the world's highest rated specialist turf miler - overcomes a troubled trip in a fiercely-run race to break the track record in the BOCHK Jockey Club Mile. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/WzdRTIHIuT— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) November 18, 2018
“There wasn’t much I could do, they were going that fast. They really tried to make it a race to the 1,000m mark, the first half-mile was just ridiculous and I wasn’t going to burn my horse just to stay with them,” Purton said.
“I let them burn themselves out, then when they backed off I just rolled around to where I was comfortable. By then they had run their race so it was just a matter of keeping it rolling.”
With the scorching 1:32.64 time breaking the 10-year-old record held by Good Ba Ba, Beauty Generation firmly placed his stake in the ground for the Longines Hong Kong International Mile – he is clearly the horse to beat.
Moore said the performance would put his horse on the map globally, forcing people to stand up and take notice.
“From a trainer’s point of view, you worry about if he can make two runs, but he proved that he is a champion. He did make two runs and for that reason people not only in Hong Kong but around the world are going to stand up and say there is a very good miler in Hong Kong,” he said.
“Zac’s ride was exemplary. What he didn’t do was go four or five deep, he waited for them to sort themselves out, because it was the charge of the light brigade early and Zac did the right thing coming back.
“Breaking a track record and doing it like he did, that was like Able Friend. It reminded me of Able Friend making the big run and scooting clear at the corner.
“He’s a changed horse this season. Every run he has got better and he’s run the track record today with the silly speed early.”
Rival trainer Caspar Fownes summed up the thoughts of many other competitors after Southern Legend finished second, asking “how can we compete with that?”.
Moore is now faced with the challenge of maintaining the form of his star six-year-old with HKIR just three weeks away.