Moore hoping cheekpieces can spur his Special One
“The special one is diminished.” No, not a cry from irate Spurs fans but John Moore’s realistic appraisal of Beauty Generation as he heads into Sunday’s G1 Stewards’ Cup (6.15) at Sha Tin.
Beauty Generation has spent a long time as the highest rated miler on the planet – and bolted up in this race twelve months ago - but his crown slipped with three reverses in seven weeks late last year and another loss in Sunday's Stewards' Cup will surely see him dethroned for good.
Moore has decided to add cheekpieces to the seven-year-old’s battle tackle, while Zac Purton feels there have been encouraging signs in the mornings and regular work rider Romain Clavreul has come out swinging on Twitter with a hashtag reading #Only1KingInThisTown.
Moore is looking for a revival that acts as a springboard to the Dubai Turf in March. But the clock is clearly ticking for Beauty Generation. And, for the first time, even the man who took him to the summit seems to have lost a little faith.
Moreira confident that Waikuku is top of the board
The good news for Beauty Generation fans ahead of Sunday's £1m showdown is that the opposition is eminently beatable if he can recapture even a glimmer of his old brilliance.
But the bad news is that his six rivals include the former John Oxx-trained Waikuku, who has made relentless progress through the HK miling division and now leads Beauty Generation 3-1 in their head-to-head clashes this season.
Waikuku made the most of the 5lb he received from BG to turn him over in the Jockey Club Mile in November and mastered him again at levels when the pair chased home Japanese raider Admire Mars in the HK Mile last month.
Beauty Generation looked set to rip when nosing ahead early in the straight that day only to fail to deliver the surge that was once his trademark, while Waikuku had to be dropped out from stall 10 but still ran past his older foe readily, leaving Joao Moreira to reflect that “in different circumstances, I’m quite confident he would have won the race.”
Moreira feels that Waikuku is “top of the board” in HK’s mile division nowadays. Beauty Generation will lead for a long way in Sunday's showdown but, unless Moore and those cheekpieces work some magic, logic suggests Waikuku can wear him down again when it matters.
Time is right Beat The Clock to strike again
The lull in Beauty Generation's fortunes leaves the door ajar for a new Horse of the Year this season and Waikuku's stablemate Beat The Clock will be in pole position if he continues his domination of HK's best sprints under Moreira in the Centenary Sprint Cup at 7.20.
John Size's gelding doesn't win extravagantly, nor does he ever score by far, but he got the better of a tight battle with Mr Stunning in this race last year and completed a clean sweep of HK's three G1 1200m contests in 2019 by winning the Champions Sprint in April and the HK Sprint last month.
Beat The Clock finished just a neck ahead of stablemate Hot King Prawn in December with Mr Stunning, Full Of Beauty, Wishful Thinker and D B Pin all beaten by two lengths or less in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.
The margins for error are slim at this level and Hot King Prawn will be dangerous if Karis Teetan can secure a softish lead from stall 2. However, Moreira ought to be able to find a good stalking position from gate 3 and Beat The Clock’s ability to rattle off a closing split of 22.0s or under could be the crucial factor again as he bids to confirm himself the king of the HK sprinting hill.
Purton can pounce on progressive Smart Patch
The last two races on Sha Tin’s card are run at a more suitable time for British and Irish viewers on Sky Sports Racing and a punters who are behind could be looking to Zac Purton to help patch things up.
Computer Patch and Purton will corner a big chunk of the market for the Ambitious Dragon Handicap at 8.30 and the lightly-raced Aussie import looks a leading player after getting the better of a sustained duel with Beauty Applause over course and distance last month.
Further improvement looks probable but it shouldn’t be forgotten that Beauty Applause had to work hard to offset stall 12 that day and this flashy chestnut looks all set to go close again with a low draw and a 3lb pull.
Charity Go just got the better of Smart Pitch in a tight finish here last month but the latter continues to travel like a horse who’s more than ready to strike at this level and slightly more patient tactics this time could see him prove the point.