Many have been quick to label Beauty Generation a has-been after his disappointing finish to 2019 but Zac Purton is confident the reigning Horse of the Year can still have a big say at the top level after a promising trial at Sha Tin on Friday morning.

John Moore’s seven-year-old moved well ahead of next weekend’s Group One Stewards’ Cup (1,600m), where he will tackle just six rivals.

“I actually thought he was pretty good, he’s nice and fresh, bouncing around and he showed a little bit more enthusiasm,” Purton said.

“In the straight his problem has been that he’s just been putting the flag up, saying he’s had enough and just dwindling out of it a little bit.

“But after they went past him he wanted to grab the bit and work to the line, which was nice to feel and good to see. Hopefully he can take that to the races.”

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After his winning streak was ended at 10 in October, Beauty Generation could only manage third in December’s Hong Kong Mile but Purton knows the champion doesn’t have to improve much to return to the winner’s circle.

“He’s been getting beaten a length and a half or two lengths and he hasn’t been having a crack so he’s just got to want to hit the line, that’s all it’s going to take,” he said.

Zac Purton is all smiles after Beauty Generation’s most recent win in October.

“I’m not going into the race expecting anything, I’m just going to give him his chance to show us he’s still got that will to win. We’ll see what we get on the day.”

Beauty Generation’s main competition in the Stewards’ Cup will come from Waikuku, who has beaten him home in their past three meetings but is still chasing his first Group One success.

The John Size-trained five-year-old also tuned up nicely on Friday and jockey Joao Moreira is bullish about the chances of the son of Harbour Watch after a narrow second to Japanese raider Admire Mars on international day.

“Waikuku is going great, I was extremely happy with how he trialled. It’s going to be a very interesting race and he might be winning,” Moreira said.

“He’s one of those horses that will never step back, he goes forward. I know last season when he was getting tired he was not able to perform in some races but when he was given time to rest and come back, he hasn’t let us down.”

Purton rides another Kwok-owned galloper in next Sunday’s other Group One, the Centenary Sprint Cup (1,200m), picking up the ride on Full Of Beauty.

“He’s been racing well this season, his last couple of runs have been very good,” Purton said. “I think his last couple of runs have shown that he deserves to be in the race, there’s not a lot between the sprinters.”

Beat The Clock headlines that contest as he looks to string together his fourth consecutive 1,200m Group One victory and looked good when finishing alongside Beauty Generation on Friday morning.

“He felt healthy and he felt ready to go and do what he’s been doing, which is run good races. Winning is a different story because the competition is catching up,” Moreira said.