Overseas bookmakers almost halved Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) favourite Beauty Eternal’s odds within minutes of his Class Two Citigold Handicap (1,600m) romp at Sha Tin on Sunday, a race he won by two lengths in a time nearly one second faster than the class standard without Zac Purton moving a muscle.
One offshore betting agency slashed Beauty Eternal’s Derby price from $4 to $2.25 before Purton weighed in after his exciting four-year-old mount’s fourth win from five starts in his incident-packed career.
Despite covering the first section 0.46 seconds slower than the Class Two standard, Beauty Eternal smashed the clock in the final 1,200m of his first 1,600m race, his middle two sections of particular merit – John Size’s galloper went 0.57 of a second and 0.81 of a second faster than the benchmark from the 1,200m to the 800m and from the 800m to the 400m, respectively.
“It was good. It was what I expected, and I just let him have a nice bit of exercise on the way through,” Purton said. “He got into a lovely spot. He did it easy. He enjoyed it, and he pulled up good.”
He is a STAR! 💫 Beauty Eternal hardly breaks sweat under @zpurton to win his Class 2 debut with ease... @BMW Hong Kong Derby favourite!? | #4YOSeries pic.twitter.com/zzQ6zTHb4A— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 26, 2023
Asked if he had any concerns about Beauty Eternal staying the 2,000m distance of next month’s Derby, which is set for March 19, Purton said: “I think he’ll be fine, especially against his own age.”
Purton’s share of Beauty Eternal’s Citigold Handicap prize money went a long way to paying not only the HK$150,000 fine he received from Jockey Club stewards on Friday for what he said about chief stipe Marc van Gestel but also the HK$50,000 penalty with which they served him on Sunday for his improper comments towards Derek Leung Ka-chun last weekend.
Purton, whose treble moved him to 99 wins this season, had pleaded not guilty to the misconduct charge.
Bowman suspended in Sydney
Australian jockey Hugh Bowman will miss Wednesday’s meeting at Happy Valley through suspension after his flying visit home to ride on Chipping Norton Stakes Day at Randwick on Saturday went from good to bad to very bad in consecutive races.
Bowman, who requires one more Australian Group One victory to reach triple figures at the top level on home soil, won the Group Two Sweet Embrace Stakes (1,200m) aboard Chris Waller-prepared filly Lazzago in the sixth of the 10 races on the Randwick card.
Group 1 win number EIGHT for Anamoe!— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) February 25, 2023
The @godolphin star makes the @tabcomau Chipping Norton Stakes his own as @mcacajamez brings him down the middle of Royal Randwick clear of Fangirl with Mo'unga a brave third. What did you take out of the race? pic.twitter.com/Py6gYJfkwf
However, Bowman was beaten on James Cummings-trained $2.3 favourite In Secret in the seventh race, the Group One Surround Stakes (1,400m), as the filly finished a close-up third and outside the top two for the first time in her eight-start career.
In the eighth race, the Group One Chipping Norton Stakes (1,600m), Bowman helped Annabel Neasham-conditioned entire Mo’unga exceed expectations – the $11 fourth favourite was the third galloper past the winning post – but, in doing so, he incurred the wrath of stewards.
Bowman pleaded guilty to a charge of careless riding in that, near the 250m, he permitted Mo’Unga to shift out under pressure, which resulted in Hinged losing her rightful running and being checked.
Straight to winner’s circle for Fownes
Caspar Fownes proved a point when Straight Arron won the Class Three Citi Insurance Services Handicap (1,800m) on his first start since leaving David Hayes to link up with the King of the Valley.
Straight Arron, who weighed 40 pounds less on his first outing for Fownes than on his last outing for Hayes, broke his Hong Kong duck under visiting jockey Blake Shinn after finishing ninth, 11th and 13th in his first three races in the city.
Straight Arron's impressive as! 🔥— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 26, 2023
The Australian import keeps his @BMW Hong Kong Derby hopes alive under @blake_shinn for Caspar Fownes. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/aujOeoGEVk
“Some of these horses, they need a little bit of time,” Fownes said. “The horse was originally going to come to me. He had three runs and didn’t do much, then the owner decided to come back [to me]. I’m very happy. I’m glad to get the winning result.
“He’s going to get, probably, eight points for the win. That’ll get him well into the Derby reckoning. His overseas form tells you he’s a Derby horse. That form tells you he’s a Derby horse. He was held up the whole straight. If he’d got out earlier, he would’ve won by a bigger margin.”
Ho times things to perfection as Golden Sixty prevails in thrilling Gold Cup
In the same race, Jockey Club stewards suspended Lyle Hewitson for two meetings – March 29 and April 2 – and fined him $60,000 for his careless riding of Nicholson Returns.
Tsui ends bleak streak at 105
Seven days after Tony Millard snapped his three-digit losing run, Me Tsui Yu-sak ended his bleak streak of 105 consecutive defeats when Fortune President got up to win the Class Five Citi Global Wealth Handicap (1,650m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Fortune President at odds of 51/1! 🤯— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 26, 2023
Me Tsui snaps his runs of outs as Keith Yeung gets the More Than Ready gelding home in the opener at Sha Tin. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/lFwEGlYvps
Beaten a combined 46.4 lengths in his penniless first six starts, Fortune President won a recent trial on the all-weather track under Karis Teetan before Keith Yeung Ming-lun piloted him to victory as a $52 chance on his first competitive appearance on dirt.
Fortune President provided Tsui with his fifth win this season and his first success since Zac Purton steered Superb Daddy to take out a Class Five race over 1,650m at Sha Tin on November 12 by a space.