John Size believes Beauty Applause has more upside than stablemate Beauty Rush, giving the flashy galloper the edge when the two line up in Saturday’s Class Two Lantau Island Handicap (1,400m) at Sha Tin.
Beauty Applause has shown plenty of promise in his young career, finishing top two in his first four starts this campaign before a flat effort in February prompted the 11-time champion trainer to give him a break.
“He’d done a good job leading up to February and it looked like he needed a break,” Size said.
“He was racing well but last start he was a bit disappointing so we gave him some time off to get his energy back.”
The four-year-old has been building up for his return, winning his two most recent trials, with Joao Moreira, who has been aboard for all 10 of his starts, likely to push forward from barrier nine.
It is just Beauty Applause’s second start over 1,400m – he came 11th in his only other attempt at the trip at the end of last season – but Size thinks it will suit him better up in Class Two.
“In his past two races [over 1,200m] they might have gone a bit too quick for him, hopefully he can be comfortable in a 1,400m race when they might go a tick slower,” he said.
“I think he’ll be all right. He’s been sound all the time, he’s had some trials and he’s done enough work so if he gets a nice run, he’s fit enough to win. If he has to overwork, then he might be lacking.”
Beauty Applause will clash with stablemate Beauty Rush in what looks to be an open contest, but when asked to compare the two, Size was definitive.
“Beauty Applause looks like he has a little bit more potential, so I’m hoping he’ll go a little bit higher,” he said. “He might get into Class One next season.”
But that is not to knock Beauty Rush, who has continued to be competitive since breaking his Hong Kong maiden over this course and distance in February.
Last start he finished fourth, a length-and-a-half behind subsequent Group Three runner-up Perfect Match.
“It was a good run. He had a nice run in the race but still finished off nicely,” Size said.
“He’s a very consistent horse. He seems to be better at 1,400m but at the end of those races he is a little bit one-paced.
“He might develop into a horse who can run 1,600m next season but at the moment he’s little bit limited.”
One of the challengers to the Size duo will be the Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Happy Fun, another horse who relishes the 1,400m circuit at Sha Tin.
The six-year-old is coming off a strong third to Band Of Brothers last month and should be around the mark again.
“He’s a horse that looks after himself in the mornings and he doesn’t do a lot at trackwork, so he needs to race to get fit, to get the best out of him,” jockey Zac Purton said.
“He’s had a long season and we’re at the end of the season now so you’d expect most horses to be fairly fit but because he’s had that little bit of a break, I feel like he might improve off that last effort. He’s had another trial and I thought that trial was good, he’s a solid chance – he always runs well and I’m sure he’ll do that again.”