Sixty passes time test again as Derby date beckons
Seldom can an up-and-coming HK horse horse have impressed with his acceleration as often as Golden Sixty.
Francis Lui's gelding took his record to nine from ten on his 1800m debut in Sunday's Classic Cup - clocking the fastest final 400m split of the day again - but the strongest measure of his progress comes through comparing his overall time performance to the principals in the following Class 2 handicap over 2000m
The first two home in that race - Amazing Beats and Columbus County - are also Derby hopefuls yet Golden Sixty ran five lengths faster than them from a mile out to the 1200m pole; he did the same again from 1200m out to 800m out; and, after easing slightly round the home turn, he powered home almost a second faster for the final split again under Vincent Ho.
The clock's evidence makes it hard to go along with Ho's suggestion that Golden Sixty was "about 75 or 80 per cent" after spiking a fever two weeks earlier. But it's altogether easier to believe that HK's latest young star is still very much the one to beat in the BMW Hong Kong Derby on March 22nd.
Stars out to shine again in Valley feature
Hong Kong handicappers are no different to their global counterparts in taking the hump at wide margin wins but Amazing Star is doing a fine job of keeping ahead of them.
Jimmy Ting's gelding brushed off a 12lb rise for his first Happy Valley success this season and laughed at a 14lb hike when he moved up from Class 3 to Class under Zac Purton four weeks ago
"Amazing Star is in splendid isolation here!"
Jimmy Ting's charge makes it 3⃣ wins in a row to remain unbeaten this season, giving @zpurton a double on the card. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/xlwA6Fkkf4
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 29, 2020
A further 10lb rise for that runaway win sees Amazing Star move up to Class 1 with major claims in Wednesday's Blue Pool Handicap at 1.45 but he isn't the only Star worth noting in this £145,000 contest.
Country Star proved a revelation at the city track last season, winning five times in all. The handicapper seemed to take his measure for a while after his purple patch but John Size's gelding looked back on song on his latest start at Sha Tin and the return to the Valley makes him an interesting alternative to the likely hot favourite.
Dubai dreams fade as Beauty bails out
First Exultant, now Beauty Generation. Hong Kong's representation on Dubai World Cup night is down another major star with the news that John Moore's eight-time G1 winner will not be travelling to Meydan for a clash with Almond Eye in the Dubai Turf.
Moore was mad keen to take on last year's winner in that 1800m contest but owners the Kwok family have other ideas and have sketched out a final chapter for their seven-year-old that involves the G2 Chairman's Trophy and the Champions Mile at Sha Tin in April, followed by a trip to Japan for the Yasuda Kinen on June 7th
Time will tell whether Beauty Generation makes the Japan trip. Recent history suggests it would be unwise to bank on it and, with Waikuku having finished ahead of him in their last four meetings, the old champ will have his hands full on home turf if he is to end a stellar career in a blaze of glory.
Aethero back at the trials ahead of Class 1 return
The one remaining potential ace in HK's Dubai pack is Beauty Generation's stablemate Aethero, who came back sick with a fever after finishing an honourable third in Beat The Clock's Hong Kong Sprint in December.
Moore feels the giant chestnut would be "very hard to beat" in the Al Quoz Sprint but Aethero's owners will have their say and no decision will be made until after the three-year-old tackles a Class 1 1200m contest at Sha Tin on March 8th.
Aethero & @zpurton cross the line in first. Next stop... Class 1, 1200m on 8 March. 👀 #HKracing pic.twitter.com/qmB1YSxXqH
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 25, 2020
Aethero limbered up for his next test by winning a Tuesday morning trial described as "satisfactory" by Moore and the Aussie expects a tough workout against the exciting Big Party next week. "He doesn't have to win against fit horses," he said. "The fever really knocked him around. As long as he runs a good race we will sit down with the owner and talk about Dubai."
Furore frustrations prompt stable switch
Switching a classic winner to another trainer would cause a furore in most racing nations but not so in HK's intense ownership system.
Frankie Lor guided the equine Furore to a famous Derby success last March but the five-year-old has failed to score in seven runs since - most recently when flopping under Jamie Spencer in Time Warp's Hong Kong Gold Cup - and owner Lee Sheung Chau has decided that a move to Tony Cruz holds the key to a revival.
"The owner made up his mind that the horse cannot win in my stable," said a diplomatic Lor. "They want the horse to win a big race. Tony Cruz is a big trainer so maybe he can help them."