Hong Kong Diary

Fine margins tend to be a feature of HK racing and Sunday's Sha Tin card was a classic example, with seven races won by a neck or less. John Moore was beaten in photos for both G1 contests; Joao Moreira rode six beaten favourites including three who missed out by a short head or a nose; but the Magic Man emerged on top in the two that mattered most as Waikuku and Beat The Clock landed the feature events. So what did we learn from HK's first major weekend of 2020?

  • Tuesday 21 January
  • Blog
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Waikuku is the new king of the HK miling division

Not by much, as Beauty Generation kept him honest in an absorbing Stewards’ Cup, but Moreira was merely waving the whip at John Size's gelding, who put up his best performance yet and now leads the former champ 4-1 in head to heads.

Size seems set to give Waikuku a break before another possible clash with BG in the Champions Mile in April. Time will tell whether he faces international competition there but his earnings since leaving John Oxx are already nudging £2.5m with the prospect of plenty more to come.

Beauty Generation isn't done

But he clearly isn't as good as he once was as he moves towards his eighth birthday and had no excuses as Waikuku loomed upsides.

The rest of his season offers the tantalising prospect of a trip to Meydan and a possible meeting with previous winners Almond Eye and Benbatl in the Dubai Turf.

Beauty Generation

However, before that there is the small matter of £1m on the table for the G1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup at Sha Tin next month.

Beauty Generation would be bidding for a hat-trick in that 1400m contest if he turns out again on February 16th. And another showdown with the horse who chased him home in 2018 and 2019 will surely prove hard to resist for his owners the Kwok family.

Clock times it to perfection again

The horse in question is the Size-trained Beat The Clock, who consolidated his position as HK's top sprinter with a second consecutive success in the Centenary Sprint Cup.

The six-year-old specialises in doing just enough - his four G1 successes have all been gained by half a length or less - but as with Waikuku the ability to quicken at the crucial moment proved decisive.

“When he gets in front it looks like he is just going to run away, but he doesn’t mind just putting his neck in front and staying there," said Moreira. "I feel like there is more in him but he’s just not giving it. I don’t mind, as long as he crosses the line first I’m happy.”

Size aiming to make latest Beauty a different beast

Size constantly plays down his role in preparing elite horses for battle but his skill at building towards major targets is beyond doubt and Beauty Legacy took his latest step on the way to next Monday's Classic Mile with a barrier trial at Sha Tin on Tuesday.

The Fiorente gelding was an aggressive front runner when known as Hawkshot in Australia but Size seems determined to add another dimension to his game and Moreira was at pains to drop him out in the 1200m workout won by smart stablemate Champion's Way.

Moore and Spencer to ring in Chinese New Year at Sha Tin

Beauty Legacy's pre-race manners will be interesting to observe next week - he was notably edgy before his winning HK debut - but Moreira has chosen him ahead of for the first leg of HK's Classic Series.

And the Brazilian will be up against several familiar British and Irish faces for the important Chinese New Year fixture.

Ryan Moore is jetting in to partner highly progressive former Richard Fahey galloper More Than This in the Classic Mile, while Jamie Spencer looks set to partner Macau raider Sacred Capital against HK's champion middle distance stayer Exultant in Monday's Centenary Vase.

De Sousa and good draw can help Star shine again

It would be stretching things to suggest that Wednesday's Happy Valley meeting is high class but the fact that several of the races don't look as strong as most HK handicaps could assist punters.

Silvestre De Sousa

In-form sprinter Compassion Star has Silvestre de Sousa and a good draw in the 11.15, while Racing Luck has won from stall 11 at the Valley before and can go close again in the 1.45.

The way Monkey Jewellery shaped to split two subsequent winners at the Valley two starts ago brings him firmly into the reckoning for the 2.15 under Moreira, while Winning Method and Fresh Power look a handy pair against the field in what promises to be a strongly-run finale at 2.50.

Hong Kong Diary
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