Southern Legend denied Beauty Generation in a thrilling renewal of the FWD Champions Mile at Sha Tin.
The John Moore-trained Beauty Generation was bidding for a third successive win in the Group One showpiece and settled on the heels of Ka Ying Star through the early exchanges. Waikuku also broke well before being taken back.
Zac Purton still had plenty of horse underneath him on the favourite two furlongs out, but Southern Legend threw down a strong challenge a furlong and a half out and while Beauty Generation refused to give in, Vincent Ho’s mount had his head down at the right time on the line. Waikuku was third, with Rattan fourth.
It was a first Group One success for Ho, who has enjoyed a superb season highlighted by the exploits of Golden Sixty.
He said: “It’s amazing. There are no spectators here, but it’s a Group One! I’ve been working really hard for it and hopefully there are plenty more to come.”
Winning trainer Caspar Fownes said: “This is all about Vincent, he deserves that more than anyone. With hard work, if you keep plugging away, things will come your way. To get it on my horse, that’s extra special.”
He added of Southern Legend: “It’s like anything, as horses get older you’ve got to freshen them up a little bit, get their mind back on their job. I think his last run really showed us that he was up to giving a big effort this start.
“I haven’t told him he’s turning eight in August yet so we’ll keep that a bit of a secret! I’ll just try to keep him happy and healthy and I always believe if horses are producing and have the ability to earn money for their owners, we keep going.
“When they’ve had enough, that’s when we retire them.”
Moore was deflated at the result but proud of Beauty Generation nonetheless.
“We were gallant in defeat, look at the bobs, the bob is just against him – if he’d got the head down we’d have won. It could have gone the other way, it just wasn’t our day,” he said.
“He’s beaten the rest by two and three quarter lengths and they’ve run a pretty good time so it’s a pity he can’t go out on that but you’ve got to live with it.”
Plans have yet to be made for Beauty Generation’s future, with Moore set to retire from Hong Kong racing at the end of the season and relocate his operation to Rosehill in Sydney.
He said: “I’d like to take him back for a mile race in Australia and then have him stay there at the Living Legends Farm. That’s what I’d like to do but what the Kwok family wants to do is what counts, I don’t know whether they’ll keep racing him or retire him.”