Beauty Eternal will equal Keen Winner as the least experienced BMW Hong Kong Derby champion since the race increased in distance from 1,800m to 2,000m in 2000 if he triumphs at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Keen Winner took out the 2000 Derby for Tony Millard and Robbie Fradd on his sixth start, the city’s most prestigious contest completing his hat-trick of victories in that year’s first three months.
Beauty Eternal has won four of his five races, and like John Size’s past two Derby heroes, Luger and Ping Hai Star, he heads to his date with destiny following a last-start success in a Class Two event.
Luger won a 1,600m handicap four weeks before his 2014 Derby triumph and Ping Hai Star won a 1,400m handicap 15 days prior to his 2018 Derby victory. Beauty Eternal won a mile handicap three weeks ago, his army of fans backing him into $1.15 and collecting following his two-length romp.
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
Bon’s A Pearla is the first mare to run in the Derby since another David Hayes-trained female galloper, Elegant Fashion, beat the boys in 2003.
However, whereas punters sent off Elegant Fashion as the 2003 Derby favourite at $2.5, Hong Kong gamblers have not warmed to Bon’s A Pearla since she arrived in the city from Australia, her four starting prices being $9.2, $33, $44 and $52.
One of Bon’s A Pearla’s 11 pre-import performances was a fifth placing in last year’s Angus Armanasco Stakes (1,400m), a Group Two contest for three-year-old fillies that Elegant Fashion won in 2002.
Three girls have won a Derby in the professional era – Vivacious in 1972, Corvette in 1976 and Elegant Fashion in 2003 – with the latter scoring by one and a half lengths under French rider Gerald Mosse.
Super Sunny Sing is seeking to become the latest galloper to parlay Classic Cup success into Derby glory.
Since the Jockey Club reinstated the lead-up event in 2006 – first as the Derby Trial, then as the Classic Cup – Ambitious Dragon (2011), Designs On Rome (2014), Rapper Dragon (2017) and Golden Sixty (2020) have completed the Classic Cup-Derby double.
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Finally, this year’s Derby is the first ever without at least one runner rated in triple figures.
Keefy, who attained a rating of 100 before his past three runs produced third-, seventh- and 13th-placed results, carries the number one saddlecloth with his active mark of 99, which is five points higher than the ratings of Beauty Eternal and Super Sunny Sing.