John Moore hailed Beauty Generation “the best” he has trained after the champion brushed off five opponents to seal a fifth G1 win in the Stewards' Cup (one mile) at Sha Tin this afternoon, Sunday, 20 January.
“He's the best of the lot,” the trainer confirmed when pressed.
That “lot” includes Hong Kong's record prize money earner Viva Pataca, as well as the horse who currently shares with Beauty Generation Hong Kong's all-time highest international rating of 127 – the brilliant miler Able Friend.
“He was coasting: there was a bit more there,” jockey Zac Purton said after the six-year-old had made all and kicked away for an easy three-length success.
Closest behind was the talented rising star Conte, who edged second from the Dubai World Cup Carnival-bound Southern Legend by a short-head.
“I thought Beauty Generation's performance last time was better than today,” Purton continued, “but he had a bit of a let-up after the Hong Kong Mile and John had him on the way back up today. He's not far off his top and he's just shown that.
“He doesn't need to get any better, he just needs to keep doing what he's doing and that's enough.”
Beauty Generation recorded a winning time of 1:33.51, winding up through two concluding quarter-mile sectionals clocked at 22.92s and 22.69s.
“He's actually better on a fast speed than on a moderate speed like today because that gives the other horses a chance to sprint with him. That's why the manner perhaps wasn't as impressive today but he can only do what he's doing and he was enjoying himself in the straight.”
Hong Kong's Horse of the Year is now unbeaten in his latest six starts going back to last season's impressive Champions Mile success. That April G1 is now the big late-season target but the Road To Rock gelding will first aim to repeat back-to-back wins in next month's G1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m).
“I'll recommend to the owner, Patrick (Kwok), that we go to the 1400-metre Group 1 like last year,” Moore said, noting that the owner's ambition is to top Viva Pataca's HK83,197,500 in stakes accrued. After today's win, Beauty Generation has banked HK$66,387,500.
“I'd love to travel him,” the trainer admitted, “but it's important that I fit into the route that the Kwok family wants to take. I know their Grand Final is the Champions Mile so that's our number one focus now – my job is to get him ready for that.
“If he wins the Champions Mile, it'll be down to the family as to whether we go to Japan for the Yasuda Kinen or we put him away for next season. It's always up to the owner.”
The Stewards' Cup is the first leg of the Hong Kong Triple Crown and Moore ruled out stepping up to 2000m in next month's second leg, the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup. The final leg is the G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup over 2400m in May.
Joao Moreira was delighted with Conte's run. The John Size-trained rising star headed into this first G1 experience off a potential-packed win in a G3 handicap on 1 January.
“He performed very well!” a smiling Moreira said. “I was pleased with his run – he had a beautiful run through on the fence. He was beaten by a very good horse and I still have a lot of faith in him.”
Douglas Whyte said of Southern Legend: “Another solid effort – he really digs down and tries his best.”
Pakistan Star was tapped for toe but ran on down the stretch to take fourth place. Trainer Tony Cruz's two-time G1 hero is likely to line up in next month's G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m).
Jockey Silvestre de Sousa said: “He ran a good race, it's just the mile is a bit too short for him now – we all get old.”
Beauty Generation will take high rank in the 2018 LONGINES World's Best Racehorse Rankings released on Wednesday (23 January).
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 23 January.
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