Will this drop back in trip find out Beauty Generation?

Beauty Generation: Sunday’s seven-furlongs is “a fraction on the short side for him”, says trainer John Moore. Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

Beauty Generation - officially the joint fourth best racehorse in the world - was all muscle tone and brash attitude on Thursday morning after galloping along the Sha Tin turf under work rider Romain Clavreul in preparation for Sunday’s HK$10 million (US$1.27m) G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m). He was strong-framed, free-moving and with that cock-sure, head-tossing bounce to his gait that has so often augured a masterful race-day exhibition.

“Romain just came back in and said he’s not showing any sign of going over the top, we’re keeping him fresh – in fact, he said that, when he was coming back in, Beauty Generation wanted to kick a few horses. He’s full of himself: he was sizing them up to have a go!” said trainer John Moore (world #8 in the TRC Global Rankings).

That aggressive bravado came as the 6-year-old returned at a steady walk down the dirt track’s backside after working leisurely along the grass back straight. Beauty Generation clocked an easy 58.4s (30.9, 27.5) for 800m.

Hong Kong’s champion was rated fourth in the world (and joint best miler) in the Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings for 2018, although he is arguably actually better than that. He is seeking a repeat win in the weekend feature, having held Beat The Clock by a head in last year’s edition. That rival earned a well-deserved first G1 win in the Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) last month and Moore views the bay and Conte as the big dangers. Both are trained by world #10 John Size, who is just two ranking points behind Moore at the top of the Hong Kong trainer standings.

“Beat The Clock looks like he’s improved but so has Beauty Generation,” Moore observed.  “Beat The Clock will make a run at him, I have no doubt, we’ll see which horse endures. I know Zac Purton will have to get to work on our fella this time.”

Beauty Generation heads in with six straight victories under his belt, five this season. When an athlete is as dominant as the Patrick Kwok-owned gelding has become, it is natural to start looking for a chink. This time, it is the step back to 1400m from a mile.

“It’s a fraction on the short side for him when you’re going in against Beat The Clock and Conte – this is probably their most preferable distance. But this horse, he is who he is, and I don’t think John Size will be wanting his two to take him on, they’ll sit and sprint,” Moore said.

The Road To Rock gelding is a three-time winner at the distance around Sha Tin. But he is also the track record holder at 2200m and Moore confirmed that “strong consideration” had been given to contesting this Sunday’s G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup over 2000m instead.

“There is that question as to whether or not he’s lost some of his early speed,” the trainer said. “Over the longer distance, he’d just travel along in front, wind it up and kick and I don’t think they’d catch him. But we’ve gone this way and he’s ready for it.

“Everything has gone right to plan since his last race; there hasn’t been any setback whatsoever. We shod him on Monday without any problems and we’ve just freshened him up this morning.”

Big-race rider Purton (world-ranked 9 in the TRC standings) felt Beauty Generation was perhaps not at his absolute peak when defeating runner-up Conte by three comfortable lengths in the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) last month. Moore put that down to a minor ailment.

“He had a little cut before his last run and was on some antibiotics for a few days, which was nothing at all, but that might have been why Zac Purton said he felt a little bit flat,” he said.

Beauty Generation’s major late-season target is the G1 Champions Mile on 28 April, the hope being that the New Zealand-bred might get through the entire campaign unbeaten as he closes on Viva Pataca’s all-time Hong Kong prize money record. He is currently HK$16,810,000 shy of Moore’s past champion.

“You’ve got to have the right horse otherwise you’d get four or five, maybe six, runs in Group 1 company and then they’re over the top,” Moore said.

“If we were in Australia, he’d be put in a paddock: he’d have gone to Muskoka for three weeks to a month and then gone back into work. But here, it’s all about what the horse can take and he fits into where his races fall as set by the [Hong Kong Jockey] Club, so he only has a run every five or six weeks, which is a big plus.

“If he was a leaner horse and he couldn’t take a lot of racing, he’d have problems getting to the Champions Mile [on April 28] in peak shape. He’s well, though. He’s holding that weight just perfectly.”

Beauty Generation faces nine rivals in all. Beauty Only, the Kwok family’s former Champion Miler will take his chance, as will the 2018 G1 Stewards’ Cup winner and runner-up Seasons Bloom and Fifty Fifty; Rattan, Pingwu Spark, Winner’s Way and Little Giant complete the line-up.

The Sha Tin card also features the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) and the second leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), the betting for which is likely to be dominated by Furore, winner of the first leg, last month’s Hong Kong Classic Mile, and Dark Dream, a G1 winner in Australia before re-locating. Both horses are in the hands of the rising star of Hong Kong racing, Frankie Lor (currently world-ranked 133).

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