By Andrew Hawkins
Trainer John Moore believes that Eagle Way is the pick of his four runners in the Group 3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (30 April), but jockey Zac Purton remains confident that Beauty Generation can once again conquer his stablemate in the staying feature.
Beauty Generation won the main lead-up, the Class 2 Jinbao Street Handicap (2200m) on 9 April, scoring a gritty short-head victory over Eagle Way. This was after both horses ran behind Rapper Dragon in the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m), finishing third and sixth respectively.
Purton, who has ridden Beauty Generation at each of his six starts since his arrival from Australia, says that the four-year-old is dour, but that he is in good condition ahead of Sunday’s race.
“He’s going well, I worked him this morning, he’s going through his paces like he normally does,” Purton said at trackwork on Friday morning (28 April). “He’s never a flash worker but he just gets his work done. It’s like his races – it’s been a characteristic of his that where he is at the furlong is what he does at the finish. He doesn’t seem to attack the line, but he just seems to keep grinding away. The way the race was run last time, it turned into a grind at the end and he just kept whacking away.”
Beauty Generation ran fourth as a three-year-old against the older horses in last year’s G1 The BMW at his only test at 2400m, when named Montaigne and trained by Anthony Cummings. However, Purton feels that the step up in trip is only a positive for the Road To Rock gelding, with his main concern being the top weight of 133 pounds.
“I’m sure the extra distance is going to be no problem, we’ll just see how the race is being run,” he said. “He’s going to be in the right spot anyway so whether they go fast or slow, he’s going to give himself every chance. It’s never easy in these Group 3 races when you have to carry 133 pounds, we’ve seen it time and time again, but over the 2400m, I think the horses that can run the trip should be able to stand out from the ones that can’t. We know that he can run it. So even though he’s got top weight and it’s going to be a very difficult task, I still think he’s going to be a very competitive runner.”
Moore, however, believes that Eagle Way (127lb) should have won the clash of stablemates three weeks ago and thinks that the 2016 G1 Queensland Derby winner over this trip can prevail this time around.
“Last start, Joao had to make use of Eagle Way from the wide gate and that probably cost him the race,” Moore said. “Take nothing away from Beauty Generation, he did everything he had to, but I think Eagle Way can turn the tables. He worked the place down this morning. Joao was very positive in respect to his gallop, he said he had trouble pulling him up, I think he nearly got around to the half-mile before he stopped.
“We all know that he will run two miles without a problem, so the step up to a mile and a half appears suitable. I think with the difference in the handicaps from last start, he’s the one to beat. I’m looking forward to the race.”
Moore also saddles up Derby fifth Helene Charisma (124lb), a G1 winner over the trip in last year’s Grand Prix de Paris, and Basic Trilogy (130lb).
“Helene Charisma has done everything right, but he’s still finding the tracks in Hong Kong a little on the firm side,” he said. “It doesn’t really allow him to let down as I’d like. However, there’s been a bit of rain around this week, if there’s more in the lead-up to the race, you might see an improved effort from him with a bit of cushion in the track. Basic Trilogy has a lot of weight but there aren’t many races for him, so it’s worth a shot.”
Two other beaten Derby runners lining up in Hong Kong’s only 2400m handicap are Prawn Baba (seventh) and Dinozzo (11th). Both John Size trainees ran in the Class 2 lead-up last time out behind Beauty Generation, too, but with form reversed – Dinozzo (118lb) finishing third, with Prawn Baba (121lb) a disappointing 11th.
However, Prawn Baba’s raceday rider Karis Teetan, who partners the four-year-old for the first time since a ninth in the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), believes he is capable of bouncing back to form here.
“I asked John for the ride and was thrilled to get on him,” Teetan said. “I trialled him the other day, he’s definitely a horse that is changing. I rode him before and he was still not mature, but I was surprised in the trial by the way he felt and the way he moved. I was impressed. I think his last run, he had to work too hard from the beginning, but his run in the Derby was pretty solid behind some good horses.
“If you can take that last run out, he’s a chance, and I think John will want me to ride him quieter so I think he’ll see out the mile and a half strongly.”
Chad Schofield rides Dinozzo, having had his first feel for the Lilbourne Lad gelding last time out.
“Dinozzo is a lovely stayer,” Schofield said. “We should get a nice run from gate six, we should be able to follow the right horses and he should be very strong to the line. He trialled on Tuesday on the dirt, it was a very good effort – he showed a lot of dash and he was quite sharp, so I was pleased to feel that. I think he’s well-handicapped and I hope he will be right in the finish.”
Trainer Tony Cruz also saddles up four runners, with beaten Derby runners Gold Mount (122lb) and Circuit Hassler (113lb) joined by 2015 Champions & Chater Cup winner Helene Super Star (115lb) and Anticipation (120lb). Other runners include Danny Shum’s G3 Centenary Vase (1800m) winner Supreme Profit (127lb), his stablemate Happilababy (115lb) and David Hall-trained Andoyas (113lb), coming off three straight Class 3 wins at Happy Valley.
The G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) is the sixth of 10 races on the card and will jump at 3:30pm, with the feature, the G1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m), set for 4:35pm.
Beauty Generation (No. 3) gets the better of Eagle Way to win a Class Two event over 2200m at Sha Tin last start.