John Size can’t split Champion’s Way and Beauty Legacy, but Joao Moreira hopes he doesn’t regret his decision to side with the latter in Monday’s HK$10 million Classic Mile.
While the 11-time champion trainer has the luxury of taking two horses into the first leg of the four-year-old series, that is not an option for the Magic Man, who was forced to choose between two of the leading hopes.
“It was definitely a very difficult decision, but I can’t ride two horses,” said Moreira, who is a three-time winner of the race. “It could be the wrong one because Champion’s Way is a horse that has been running well in the strong races and there is no doubt he needed a couple of runs to bring his best.”
International fixed-odds bookmakers have also put Beauty Legacy ahead of his stablemate, marking him a $3.50 second favourite behind Francis Lui Kin-wai’s rising star Golden Sixty ($1.90), with More Than This ($6.50) and Champion’s Way ($8) the only other runners in single figures.
Beauty Legacy comes into the Classic Mile off the back of a sensational Hong Kong debut earlier this month, coming from the tail of the field to win a Class Two over 1,400m.
“His win last time was quite impressive – I think very few horses could do what he’s done. First-up in Hong Kong, at the rating he was – he proved he was able to do it,” Moreira said.
“He’s been working very well, he seems a very healthy horse. It kind of surprised me how quickly he has learned things. He’s not perfect yet, he still does things wrong, we’re still learning about him, but he’s a very talented horse.
“My only concern is about the pace of the race, which might not be that fast. But we’ve been trying to get him to relax lately and he’s been responding. If he settles in a slow-run race, then I’m quite confident about him.”
Despite there only being a field of nine, Size confirmed neither of his horses will change their pattern to settle closer to the speed.
“I think Beauty Legacy will go back in the field because he needs to be ridden quietly in the first half of the race,” said the trainer, who has won two of the past four editions of Classic Mile with Nothingilikemore (2018) and Sun Jewellery (2016). “Champion’s Way, I don’t think he’ll go forward, he’ll probably be midfield.”
Champion’s Way was stunning last season, winning six of his seven starts (and finishing second in the other), culminating with a victory in the Group Three Lion Rock Trophy (1,600m).
But he hasn’t enjoyed the same success this term, going unplaced his first two starts before coming third in the Group Three Chinese Club Challenge Cup (1,400m) on New Year’s Day.
Despite the slow beginning to this campaign, Size is pleased with how he has performed, booking Karis Teetan for the ride.
“His record is pretty good, I don’t think he’s done much wrong – I’m not disappointed with him,” he said. “He’s been racing and performing on his mark of 108, which in this environment that we’re in is not a bad thing.”
While Golden Sixty, who has won seven of his eight starts, is all the rage pre-race, Size is looking forward to seeing it all unfold as a host of form lines come together for one of the few restricted races in Hong Kong.
“It certainly looks like an interesting contest,” he said. “There’s no dominating horse just yet.”