Hong Kong Diary

Hong Kong's midweek action switches from Happy Valley to Sha Tin this Wednesday for an eight-race AW card covered live on Sky Sports Racing. Champion jockey Zac Purton has a strangely quiet night with just three rides but this year's title race leader Joao Moreira has a full book as he bids to add to his excellent record on the dirt surface.

  • Tuesday 18 February
  • Blog
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Meydan on the menu as Beauty bounces back

John Moore says he is more confident than hopeful that Beauty Generation will head to Meydan for the Dubai Turf next month.

But history relates that it seldom pays to take things for granted when it comes to Hong Kong stars making foreign trips. And logic suggests that HK's most famous horse will need to up his game if last year's winner Almond Eye and various other stars turn up at their best.

The ever-quotable Moore summed up Beauty Generation's third consecutive Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup win by saying "the public have got their champ back."

A torrent of late support from a public confined to barracks to minimise the risk of coronavirus sent the dual Horse of the Year off at 1.6, but Beauty Generation was no more than functional in victory, driven out firmly by Zac Purton to master the Jamie Spencer-ridden Ka Ying Star by half a length as champion sprinter Beat The Clock faded into an unusually dull fifth.

Purton concedes that Beauty Generation has lost a little of his old killer instinct once he hits the front, but Moore feels his veteran will be "very, very competitive" if allowed to bowl along over 1800m in Dubai.
HK's most successful handler is planning "a long Australian lunch" if his star miler makes the trip. And his exciting young sprinter Aethero could also be on the Meydan menu  for the Al Quoz Sprint if he comes through a prep race at Sha Tin on March 8th.

Mercurial Time Warp gets away with murder

Has there ever been a top-level Flat performer quite like Time Warp?

The powerful chestnut has come a long way since opening his account in a Class maiden at Southwell for Sir Mark Prescott in the summer of 2015 and took his HK earnings to a little short of £4m when springing a 25-1 surprise in Sunday's Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup.

A soft lead secured by Joao Moreira played a significant role but the key moments came when the Brazilian started to wave the whip in the home straight. Time Warp engages reverse if struck behind the saddle and flashes his tail noticeably when touched down the shoulder but Moreira coaxed him along perfectly to hold long odds on stablemate Exultant by three parts of a length.

Zac Purton blamedExultant's defeat on a high draw and the fact that Moreira "got away with murder" setting such soft fractions but his usual power was missing and a proposed tilt at the Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup night has now been shelved.

Time Warp looks set to continue on the home beat. But that fact that he has more last place finishes than wins on his dance card - and he has seven of those - make it anyone's guess as to whether he can build on this.

Ryan switches saddles as Derby trail hots up

The fact that a pair of seven-year-olds landed were able to add to their G1 haul provides a broad hint that there is room at the top in HK racing and this Sunday provides an opportunity for relative youngsters like More Than This to stake their Derby claims in the Classic Cup.

Ryan Moore has lost the ride on More Than This to Purton but the Englishman will be back at Sha Tin in any case as John Moore has booked him to partner Champion's Way in a race that generally provides highly significant Derby Clues.

Ryan Moore on More Than This

Wellington is a year too young for the Derby at this stage but Richard Gibson's three-year-old has made a very bright start to his career and overcame a high draw and some early adversity to follow up his debut success from well off the pace under in-form Alexis Badel on Sunday.

Gibson is thinking in terms of just one more run for Wellington this season and can expect his phone to be buzzing with offers as Badel's latest HK stint comes to an end in early March.

Shinn sufferring seconditis

Second can be a lonely place in any sport and Blake Shinn's run of near misses continued at Sha Tin On Sunday.

The Aussie star won the Melbourne Cup aboard Viewed aged just 20 and bounced back from a serious neck injury to re-establish himself as one of Australia's leading riders last year.

Blake Shinn

His long-held dream of riding in HK has become reality this season but along with it has come a reminder of how fine the margins between success and failure are perceived.

An intense character noted for meticulous precision, Shinn hasn't made the expected impact - with just eight winners from 203 rides - but 30 of those mounts have finished second with three more added to the tally at the weekend.

Securing the right rides is half the battle - and Shinn only has three longshot mounts at Wednesday's AW fixture - but a few more doors could open when Alexis Badel and Tony Piccone join Silvestre de Sousa back in Europe in a couple of weeks' time.

Hong Kong Diary
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