While there was a certain irony about John Moore declaring to an empty Sha Tin that the “public have got their champ back”, there was no doubt Beauty Generation gave the people what they wanted on Sunday.
While the coronavirus lockout ensured fans were forced to watch from home as the dual Horse of the Year snared his eighth Group One victory in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1,400m), the ageing champion’s followers made their presence felt in others ways.
Social media was abuzz after the seven-year-old’s third straight win in the race and his starting price of $1.65 proved he has lost few admirers despite being below his all-conquering best this season.
“It’s good to have the champ back and the public have got their champ back, at least for a while,” Moore said.
“We’ve got him back on song again and the racing public out there are going to say ‘our champ is back’ – there’s huge public admiration for him.”
It wasn’t Beauty Generation’s most emphatic performance but he capitalised on a rare off day from Beat The Clock to see off Ka Ying Star by half a length, with the John Size-trained sprinter labouring into fifth.
“He got to the front and I thought he was going to cruise away and win easy, but being a little bit older and knowing what the game is about more these days, he just floated a little bit when he was in front,” jockey Zac Purton said.
“I don’t think we’re going to see him as good as he was last season but he’s very close to that and that’s good enough to be able to win some races.
“He’s sort of lost that real aggression just to put them away, he’s happy to win now but he doesn’t need to win by as far as he was before, in his mind.”
It was a welcome victory for Purton – his first Group One success of the season after five placings, four of those as favourite – and he didn’t hide his love for Beauty Generation, repeatedly hugging the gelding during their 14th trip to the winner’s circle together.
“The stable said they’ve got him back to where we need him to be and as always, John is right,” Purton smiled.
Moore sat emotionless as Beauty Generation crossed the line, preferring quiet satisfaction rather than the lavish praise he heaped on the horse so often during his 10-strong winning streak.
“I knew he still had it in him, we just had to change a few things in the way I trained him,” he said. “The defeats have been disappointing but they haven’t been by any great margin.
“I said to the staff that we just have to try a few things a little bit differently to tweak his mind and get him back thinking that he can win races.
“And we managed to do that by taking the blinkers off, putting the winkers on, the [cheek pieces] back on and I jumped him out of the gates on Thursday morning. I did a lot of different things with him, it was quite a different prep.”
Talk of an overseas raid has accompanied Beauty Generation since his breakout 2017-18 season and the Group One Dubai Turf (1,800m) next month – and a potential clash with star Japanese mare Almond Eye – looms as the one of the final chances to showcase the champion miler’s talents abroad.
“I’m confident of seeing him in Dubai, I’ve just got to put it to [owner Patrick Kwok Ho-chuen], I hope he will give me the green light because I think he will be very, very competitive,” Moore said.
“Of course there is Almond Eye, whether she will be there is still to be seen but I think he could do a great job in Dubai.
“I don’t think [the 1,800m] will be a problem, he would be up in the leading bunch and I think he will be really competitive.”
Moore also hopes to press on towards Dubai with Thanks Forever, who finished two lengths behind Beauty Generation in fourth and is entered for the Group One Al Quoz Sprint (1,200m).
“This horse has really come into himself and I just hope he will get the invite to Dubai. That was a good run today, he’s now a confident horse and that’s a big plus for the future,” Moore said.
A four-time Group One winner at 1,200m, Beat The Clock was sent out a $3.10 second elect at a distance he has failed to crack at the top level.
After jumping a fraction slowly, the six-year-old travelled fifth of seven in running before failing to produce his customary finish, missing a place for the first time in his 25-start career in what Size labelled a “disappointing” effort.