Hong Kong Diary

Champions Day is just over two weeks away and Hong Kong’s heavyweights have been limbering up ahead of the spring showpiece events. Beauty Generation cemented his place among the world’s elite with another smooth success and the HK action continues this Wednesday with an eight-race Happy Valley card covered live on Sky Sports Racing.

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Hail the king as beauty makes it eight straight

The king of the milers dominated again; the two top sprinters were turned over in strange circumstances; and an Aussie powerhouse put down a persuasive marker to suggest he might just beat them both later this month.

Those are the three main conclusions from a significant weekend in HK and Sydney, but Beauty Generation has to be the starting point following his eighth consecutive win in the Chairman’s Trophy.

Hong Kong’s master miler was well ahead of his rivals on form and duly landed the odds in style, securing a soft lead and running faster in each 400m split to win under mere hands and heels from Zac Purton.

It’s crystal clear that nothing in the HK mile division can touch him. Japan might provide sterner resistance when he bids for a second Champions Mile on April 28th but at this point BG has an aura that makes him extremely difficult to oppose.

Pace breaks the race as Rattan runs down big two

The sprinting picture is far less clear, not least because the running battle between the two best 1200m horses – Beat The Clock and Mr Stunning – now stands at three apiece with a dead heat thrown in.

Beat The Clock shaded his old rival for the second time this year in Sunday’s Sprint Cup but both he and Mr Stunning were left to play supporting roles as Rattan came charging by close home for Richard Gibson and Chad Schofield.

Perhaps blinkers brought about improvement in the winner; or maybe the 5lb he received from the G1 winners made the difference; but the most likely explanation for the shock result lies in the way the race was run.

The sectional times show this was a very strangely run race, with Mr Stunning dictating a pedestrian 24.91s for the first 400m and then blasting through a fiery 21.64s for the second split.

In short, Mr Stunning and Beat The Clock left the strong impression that they left the door wide open for one of HK’s strongest finishers by running their races in such an uneven manner.

Both should be seen to better advantage in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize on April 28th – but whether they can see off a highly dangerous Aussie challenger is another matter.

Santa is coming to town

The Aussie in question is Santa Ana Lane, who recorded his fifth G1 success with an overwhelming defeat of high-class rivals in the T J Smith Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.

Anthony Freedman’s gelding is pencilled in for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot but has a more pressing date with HK’s best in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize later this month.

Chautauqua (2016) remains the sole foreign raider to take that trophy and, like Santa Ana Lane, he also warmed up for his date at Sha Tin by storming from the rear to land the T J Smith.

Santa Ana Lane heads out on his world tour with an equally persuasive record and his new international rating – which seems sure to be in the mid 120s – gives him a legitimate claim to be the best turf sprinter in the world.

Dream still alive as QEII beckons

Zac Purton is locked into Exultant for the QEII Cup over 2000m on Champions Day and that means there is a very good spare ride going aboard Dark Dream.

Frankie Lor’s gelding put memories of a frustrating Derby fourth firmly behind him with a highly encouraging Class 1 handicap success and the way he travelled throughout a very strongly-run race was impressive.

His new local rating of 109 will leave him with plenty to find in the QEII and Lor has two other strong contenders for that race in the shape of Derby hero Furore and G1 winner Glorious Forever.

But it’s interesting to note that the canny Purton is adamant that the best is still to come from Dark Dream, especially if headgear is fitted.

He’s capable of going well at a decent price if the pace is true in the QEII and the 2400m of next month’s G1 Champions & Chater Cup looks tailor made for him.

Chan off and running but Beauty remains one to note

Hong Kong’s newest apprentice broke his duck aboard Care Free Prince at Sha Tin on Sunday and promptly doubled up with California Fortune.

These are still early days for Alfie Chan but it’s clear he is a capable judge of pace from the front and, although he copped a two-day ban on his second winner, his 10lb claim is going to prove a valuable edge for a while yet.

California Fortune’s success in a a very strong Class 2 sprint ended Full Of Beauty’s unbeaten run at five but John Size’s gelding never stopped trying and finished clear in second.

Time will show he was up against it trying to concede 10lb to the winner and he remains one of the brightest young prospects on the HK scene.

Hong Kong Diary
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