Beauty Joy ignited Sha Tin with a booming finish to land the Group Three Premier Cup (1,400m) as Zac Purton landed a much-needed blow in the title race on Sunday afternoon.
Backers who had sent off the Tony Cruz-trained Beauty Joy at odds of $2 could have been forgiven for tearing up their tickets after a couple of hundred metres, with the five-year-old detached from the field by at least five lengths and Purton taking a third look down at his mount’s action.
But in a finish reminiscent of some of those produced by Cruz’s multiple Group One winner Pakistan Star, Beauty Joy circled the field after turning into the straight a long last and showed a scintillating turn of foot to win by a length.
“He was a beaten horse,” said a blunt Cruz. “Zac told me right after the race, he said ‘Tony, the horse seemed very short in his stride, he wasn’t stretching out, but on the turn when I gave him a smack it literally ignited him and he came home 100 miles an hour’.”
After throwing his head around on his way to victory in another Group Three on his last start, Beauty Joy’s quirks means Purton can never lose concentration but even the top rider was left scratching his head as to what had just transpired.
“Every race is something different with him, isn’t it?” Purton said. “He was quite chilled behind the gates today and I thought ‘oh, this is going to be nice’. Maybe, at the end of the season, he’s going to give me a nice ride.
“But he jumped out and he just didn’t want to go. He was really stiff in his action, he couldn’t stretch out properly and he wasn’t comfortable.
“I was looking down and was a little bit 50-50 on him, so I thought I would just keep on urging him along, keep him going for a little bit and see if he could warm into it.
“Once he got to the 1,000m he was OK but I was that far off them, I thought the race was over. But he swept into it really nicely, he got there in plenty of time and then he had to fight for the win at the end.
“He’s obviously talented but he can’t keep producing performances like today and [also] in his previous starts and getting away with it. He’s got to start getting it right from here on in.”
With back-to-back wins at Group Three level and a fifth win in seven starts this season, Beauty Joy’s rating will now be around 115 and Cruz could well aim him at a clash with Golden Sixty next term.
“I think the horse hasn’t got the early speed any more and we will even think about 2,000m next season,” Cruz said.
Too good! @zpurton strikes early at Sha Tin as California Vanes breaks through. 💥 #HKracing pic.twitter.com/RUVuO8sbW0— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) June 19, 2022
“But first I will plan for the [Group Two Jockey Club Mile in November] and then go for the [Hong Kong Mile], but nothing is confirmed yet. To me I think he is a good miler but I also think he can go further than that. I’m sure he can improve.”
Beauty Joy’s victory was the highlight of a sparkling four-timer for Zac Purton, who closed the gap on Joao Moreira at the top of the jockeys’ championship to two.
The Australian beat the Magic Man into second when saluting aboard California Vanes in the second section of the Class Four Spessartine Garnet Handicap (1,200m) and he again got the better of his title rival as the improving Tuchel followed up his last-start success with another good performance to take out the Class Four Lapis Lazuli Handicap (1,400m).
After having his nose realigned, Purton turns focus to straightening out Beauty
The John Size-trained runner will again be given a hike in the ratings but looks more than capable of holding his own at Class Three level.
Purton’s fourth winner came aboard Sauvestre, who landed the Class Three Sapphire Handicap (1,400m) for Frankie Lor Fu-chuen.