Super duo John Size and Joao Moreira will return to the races on Sunday with the enigmatic Beauty Legacy in a last-ditch attempt to teach him a Derby lesson.
The four-year-old displayed his unquestionable ability with a devastating victory in Class Two company on debut before misfiring in both the Classic Mile and Classic Cup.
Regarded as a on-speed galloper in Australia where he raced as Hawkshot, Size and Moreira have had their hands full attempting to teach Beauty Legacy to settle in his races, as he has raced keenly in his last two starts.
“He has been a little bit unreliable, he can do things wrong,” Moreira said ahead of Sunday’s Class Two Mui Wo Handicap (1,800m).
“We have been trying our very best to teach him lessons.
“We are going to this race to make him understand why we ask him to do these things.”
Having never raced over further than 1,600m in Australia, Moreira said they were trying to encourage Beauty Legacy to use his energy at the “right” end of the race to have him see out the 2,000m Derby trip in two weeks.
While fellow Derby rivals Golden Sixty, More Than This, Champion’s Way and Enjoying are cooling their heels after the Classic Cup, Moreira said there was unfinished business with his charge heading into the race.
“The Derby has a hot favourite who no doubt is going to be hard to beat, but at the same time I have to have some faith in my bloke because I have decided to stick with him from the time he had his first start in Hong Kong,” he said.
“That is when he indicated to us that he is quite a good horse, he just hasn’t been able to put it together.
“When I say he is doing things wrong, he is wanting to charge, even being behind horses, he fights me a little bit.
“When he has company right next to him, he wants to challenge them. He is probably not understanding where he should be using his energy.
“In doing so, he leaves some energy in my hands which I do not want, that is what we have been trying to teach him, to switch off and use his energy at the right part of the race – the finish.”
Sunday’s contest shot to prominence in 2009 when John Moore lobbied the Jockey Club to put on an extra race for his Derby hopeful Collection.
Collection went on to bolt in by more than four lengths in the race before winning the Derby two weeks later – leaving many to dub it the “Collection Stakes” ever since.
While Moreira is looking for an improved performance from Beauty Legacy, it is not a do-or-die situation. With a rating of 100, Beauty Legacy is guaranteed a start in the Derby on March 22.
“He doesn’t have to win this race to keep me satisfied to stick with him in the Derby but he has to run a good race,” he said.
“He is a very nice horse who I do believe does have a very bright future in him.
“We have been trying to teach him [to settle], once he does that, I am convinced his finish is going to be eye-catching.”
Size and Moreira combined in the Derby last year with Waikuku, who was narrowly beaten as an odds-on favourite after drawing the dreaded barrier 14.
Beauty Legacy lines up against fellow Derby hopefuls in Reliable Team and Winning Delight who are looking for a last-minute entry into the HK$20 million feature.
Trainer Caspar Fownes has indicated they will pay the late entry fee with Winning Delight if he performs well on Sunday.