Zac Purton remains optimistic Beauty Generation can win next month’s Hong Kong International Mile for the third year running, but trainer John Moore is concerned.
Hong Kong’s champion miler was beaten for the second start in a row when condemned to third position behind Waikuku and Ka Ying Star in Sunday’s Jockey Club Mile at Sha Tin.
The Australia-bred gelding, who won 10 races in a row leading up to his defeat on October 20, led but was under pressure at the 350m before being headed by Waikuku at the 200m.
Purton urged Moore to forget the run and remain optimistic about their Hong Kong Mile defence, but the trainer conceded he does not appear the same horse.
“He stayed off the fence in the back straight and then came back in and Zac (Purton) said he felt comfortable, he was happy with how he got there: he thought on the corner he would let down and really kick hard but he didn’t,” Moore said post-race.
“Zac said don’t worry about that run, he’ll come back. He said we just need to tweak something to make sure on the big day that he’ll kick.
“We just need to find out what because he’s not finding that usual kick. Today was a repeat of what he did when he was beaten in his second start.”
John Size, trainer of Waikuku, remained diplomatic after the victory and declared that Beauty Generation remains the horse everyone has to beat in the Hong Kong Mile.
“Beauty Generation will still have his fans and he’s going to run under different circumstances on the big day so I think he’ll probably hold his place. He’ll be the horse to beat again,” Size said.
Joao Moreira partnered Waikuku to victory and was impressed with the way his charge was overcome being held up.
“When we were turning for home Ka Ying Star wasn’t giving ground, he was holding me in there and I was forced to hold and hope the gap would come inside the leader, Beauty Generation,” Moreira said.
“Once it came, my horse was full-on: he just went for it and didn’t hesitate to go through. Good horses do it, they go through small gaps, and he has proven himself.”
Waikuku and Beauty Generation will meet again in the Hong Kong International Mile on December 8 with Moore and Moreira both against stretching him out to the 2000m of the Hong Kong Cup.
“I would never think about changing the distance, with the way he’s done it today,” Moreira said. “Probably the mile won’t be as strong as the Hong Kong Cup, because Almond Eye is coming for the 2000-metre race and she’s one of the best in the world at the moment. I’m happy to ride my bloke in the mile.”
Size added: “I think there’s no need to stretch him. We’ve never even thought about going 2000 metres (in December), he’s been very good at the 1600 so we’ll stay there. After that race, if we have to change course we will, but I think he’s okay.”