Three-time Hong Kong Derby-winning trainer John Size says Beauty Eternal will answer questions about his suitability for next month’s HK$24 million 2,000m race as the dark horse’s twice-disrupted four-year-old campaign, which continues with his first run beyond 1,200m at Sha Tin on Sunday, goes along.

Prominent in ante-post Hong Kong Derby betting markets with overseas bookmakers, Beauty Eternal is one of eight Classic Series eligible entries in the field for the Class Three Des Voeux Handicap (1,400m) that is this weekend’s most fascinating contest.

Last-start winner Majestic Colour, who took out the Group Three Winx Guineas (1,600m) in Australia, and a couple of Hong Kong debutants – Chilean Group One champion Alacrity and Australian Group Three victor Chiu Chow Spirit – are just three of Beauty Eternal’s opponents as he tackles 1,400m for the first time.

To describe Beauty Eternal’s career as eventful would be an understatement. He overcame the disadvantage of the outside barrier to win by two lengths on his bow.

Four weeks later, he was a tragedy beaten when he suffered inference on entering the straight and traffic problems inside the final 200m. Lameness in his right fore forced his race-day scratching on November 27, and Jockey Club stewards withdrew him minutes before a January 1 contest after he dislodged Zac Purton as he made his way onto the track.

Three weeks ago, Beauty Eternal behaved better for Purton – plus the champion jockey was ready for his cheeky mount’s pre-race shenanigans – and such was the manner of his Class Three triumph in which he raced wide and without cover from gate 12, Jockey Club handicappers raised his rating by nine points.

Beauty Eternal has demonstrated he is very effective over 1,200m, and he has given every indication he will be equally impressive over 1,400m. The question to which Hong Kong Derby punters want to know the answer is whether the son of star sprinter-miler Starspangledbanner can excel over 2,000m on March 19?

Size, who has experienced Hong Kong Derby successes with Fay Fay (2012), Luger (2015) and Ping Hai Star (2018), says he is going to let Beauty Eternal tell him through his actions, not through his genetics.

“I think you’ve got to take it one run at a time – step by step,” Size said. “We’re just going to run him, and he’ll answer those questions as we go.”

Size knows what it takes to win Hong Kong’s most prestigious race with a galloper whose family tree did not point to 2,000m being his optimal distance. He has accomplished the feat twice.

For whereas Ping Hai Star – the son of stoutly bred 2008 Group One Australian Derby (2,400m) hero Nom Du Jeu and unraced Encosta De Lago mare Vicky, who has thrown multiple winners over extended trips – had the pedigree of a Hong Kong Derby winner, neither Fay Fay nor Luger was bred to win a top-class 2,000m event.

John Size is a Star – Ping Hai times his Derby run to perfection

Fay Fay is the son of Group Two-winning speedster Falkirk, who did not triumph beyond 1,300m, and Centaine mare Glamine, a maiden who finished last in five of her seven starts over 1,300m to 2,150m.

Luger is the son of a two-time Group One-winning sprinter, Starspangledbanner’s sire Choisir, and unraced Danzero mare Miss Conception. Luger’s two full siblings, What A Concept and Psychologist, did not compete beyond 1,400m. Psychologist is a mare who raced in Hong Kong from September 2012 to June 2014.

The stamina in the genetic make-up of Beauty Eternal, whom Purton will partner from the inside barrier in Sha Tin’s 10th and final contest on Sunday, comes from Savabeel mare Ithacan Queen, although she did not win any of her three starts in Australia.