All eyes will be on Beauty Generation in Sunday’s FWD Champions Mile at Sha Tin, as he bids to give trainer John Moore a golden farewell.
Having reached the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s compulsory age for retirement, Moore will return to the training ranks in his native Australia when the Hong Kong season ends in July, after an illustrious career that has seen him win eight renewals of this Group One heat.
Beauty Generation will become the first three-time winner of the race if he triumphs again in the hands of Zac Purton, in a race that will be live on Sky Sports Racing.
Moore, 70, said: “He keeps doing it! Look at what he can do, racing time and time again on firm tracks, the wins he’s had, the records he’s broken. And they’re all gunning for him.
“He gets out in front and he gets shot at from every angle, but at his best he was so impressive that they were scared to take him on – he’s capable of running sectionals that other horses can’t live with at a mile.”
The coronavirus outbreak has prevented any overseas raiders making the trip to Hong Kong, a factor which causes some regret for Moore.
He added: “People might say, well he only beat the locals, and I’d say ‘you’re right, but this is all we could do with the coronavirus’, so we’re out there to win it and get that third Champions Mile.
“It’s all we can do in the situation the world is in at the moment. The fact is, without the international runners this year it’s still an important event, but it’s not doing what it was put on the racing calendar for.
“It’s a home run event, and, as things are right now, we’re just grateful for that – it provides a great focal point for the sport when you think of all the places that are shut down.”
While Moore is readying for the “next adventure” he does admit when pressed that he occasionally pulls out the old footage of his first flagship racer to gain global recognition.
“I might once in a while have a look at Viva Pataca all those years ago and I go ‘wow’ and I do enjoy that,” he said.
“But it’s more like when you might re-run an old home video of a family gathering and get excited for the old days – I do it sometimes but not often.”
Moore does though have a soft spot for his outstanding champion miler Able Friend who was superlative when winning the 2015 Champions Mile.
He said: “Able Friend always will be admired for what he could do at both ends – you could have him up on the speed or he could come from off the pace, he was so versatile. Of all of them, Able Friend would be the one I’d run the video back and get excited, he was something!”
But he reiterated: “I live in the present. Here’s Beauty Generation and he’s an iron horse. Able Friend broke down and this horse hasn’t, and you take that into consideration, the way he keeps going. He’s now getting close to being my favourite – you just look at that record he’s put together.”
Should Beauty Generation take home the first prize, he will top £11 million in earnings and jump to eighth on the all-time earners list – one place in front of Enable.
One of his main rivals will be the Joao Moreira-ridden Waikuku, who has shown more than once he has what it takes to beat Beauty Generation but was well beaten behind him last time out, on his return from a break.
Trainer John Size was not thrilled to see rain in Hong Kong this week and said: “I don’t think he likes it, I think he’s a better horse on top of the ground and I’d be surprised if the rain helped him.”
However, Size was positive about the Harbour Watch gelding’s draw in stall eight.
“I think we’ll be OK, probably go back in the field a little bit and then race similar to how he did in the Hong Kong Mile,” he said.
The eight-strong field also features the Tony Cruz-trained Ka Ying Star, who has twice finished second to Beauty Generation this term.
“Ka Ying Star’s facing Beauty Generation again, but maybe for once he’ll beat the big horse – he’s always about half a length off him so I hope this will be the day he gets his head in front,” Cruz said.
Ex-Richard Fahey inmate More Than This, Rattan, Southern Legend, Fat Turtle and Thinkin’ Big also line up.