While the transfer of dual Horse of the Year Beauty Generation from the retiring John Moore to the arriving David Hayes has been widely publicised, the ageing superstar is just one of over 100 gallopers to change hands since July 1.
Moore’s departure accounts for 43 of those and while Hayes has been the main beneficiary of his compatriot’s retirement, Tony Cruz and Douglas Whyte have also picked up some nice types from the legendary trainer.
And a couple of big names are yet to run after switching stables earlier last season, headlined by star sprinter Aethero and another speedster in Wishful Thinker, who has his first start for Dennis Yip Chor-hong in Sunday’s Class One HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup (1,200m).
Here are the highest-rated gallopers to change hands in recent months, and what punters can expect from them in season 2020-21:
Beauty Generation (rated 130) – from John Moore to David Hayes
Does the champ have anything left in the tank for Hayes to work his magic with? A big second half to last season that included wins at Group One and Group Two level would suggest the eight-year-old is far from out of steam, but the jury is very much out on whether he can reach the summit again. His only Group One victory last term came at 1,400m and the son of Road To Rock looks poised to collide with rising star Golden Sixty in the Hong Kong Mile on international day. You’d think Beauty Generation would still be more than competitive at the seven furlongs of the Group One Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup in February, but a HKIR swansong looks a real possibility so he might not make it that far.
Thanks Forever (123) – Moore to Tony Cruz
After soundness issues as a youngster, Thanks Forever has emerged as one of Hong Kong’s top sprinters and has done everything but win a Group One, finishing within a length of the winner in the Centenary Sprint Cup and the Chairman’s Sprint Prize last season. The sprinting ranks looks wide open, with questions over Beat The Clock and Aethero and how quickly young guns such as Winning Dreamer and Joyful Fortune can graduate to elite company. Cruz hasn’t won a Group One sprint since Peniaphobia’s victory in the 2015 Hong Kong Sprint – Thanks Forever could well change that this season.
Aethero (119) – Moore to Caspar Fownes
It’s been a roller coaster for this son of Sebring, who rode a wave of hype into last year’s Hong Kong Sprint before going under as the $1.50 favourite and suffering from a fever in the aftermath. Aethero was again favourite for the Chairman’s Sprint Prize in April but was pulled up after bleeding badly. That was the last time punters saw the four-year-old and Fownes has his work cut out to return the Group Two winner to his brilliant best.
Wishful Thinker (115) – Richard Gibson to Dennis Yip Chor-hong
One of the few Hong Kong horses to compete at Group One level abroad in recent years, Wishful Thinker produced a swag of midfield finishes at the top level last season. The seven-year-old becomes Yip’s best galloper – by 33 rating points, no less – and has the potential to be the handler’s first Group One runner since Secret Weapon’s appearance in the 2018 Hong Kong Gold Cup. The gelding chases his first win in 18 months on Sunday.
Chefano (109) – Moore to Hayes
A horse that can boast of being second in a Group One at their last start would be a welcome addition for anyone, however there is a ceiling to what Champions & Chater Cup runner-up Chefano can offer Hayes. Hong Kong’s dearth of stayers seems just as crucial to Chefano’s success as the six-year-old’s actual ability, but that’s not ruling out the possibility of him again having a say at the top level. There’s something there for Hayes to work with – whether he’s got another Group One placing in him this season is probably entirely dependent on which internationals grace Hong Kong’s shores.
Dark Dream (108) – Frankie Lor Fu-chuen to Hayes
Another galloper joining Hayes’ stable after placing at Group One level in Hong Kong, Dark Dream’s best looks to be behind him. The arrival of the six-year-old – and Decrypt (96) – could still prove profitable for the Australian trainer in the long run, however – owner Albert Hung Chao-hong swept the 2017 Classic Series with Rapper Dragon and it would appear Hayes is in the box seat to receive any future stars Hung brings to Hong Kong.
Computer Patch (99) – Moore to Cruz
Another impressive sprinter heading Cruz’s way and this four-year-old son of Exceed And Excel could well have as much upside as any top-end stable transfer this season. After two wins and a second from his final three starts last season, Computer Patch graduates to Class One company in Sunday’s HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup and could lay down a marker for a big season ahead. Cruz has also inherited the versatile Buddies (96) from Moore.
Glorious Dragon (99) – Tony Millard to Francis Lui Kin-wai
Has looked out of his depth in his two appearances at Group One level but a shift to Lui – who is coming off a career-best season of 63 wins and appears to be feeding off the buzz created by Golden Sixty – could be just the tonic.
Savvy Nine (97), Enjoying (95) and Stronger (94) – Moore to Douglas Whyte
Whyte inherits three gallopers with plenty of potential from Moore and the trio slot in at the top end of his second-season stable, occupying three of the top four spots from a ratings perspective. Savvy Nine should be an honest competitor for years to come after finishing fourth in the Derby and the Champions & Chater Cup, while Enjoying has not be seen on a racetrack since February and is somewhat of an unknown after missing the Derby with a heart irregularity. Stronger is yet to win in Class Two but has been competitive and should come back better as a four-year-old.
Looking to Sunday, it’s not only Wishful Thinker and Computer Patch debuting for their new yards at Sha Tin, with Prince Of Gems and Interstellar having their first runs for Tony Millard, who is renowned for improving incoming horses.
Another to keep an eye on is Metro Warrior, who has gone full circle ahead of his first run for Hayes in the Class Three Lantau Peak Handicap (1,000m).
Metro Warrior won twice from six starts under Hayes’ tutelage in Australia before being sold to Hong Kong and joining Moore’s yard, where he was unable to salute from four attempts.
The four-year-old looks well-placed to break his Hong Kong duck on Sunday, however, and could well give his new handler the perfect start to his second Sha Tin stint.