Beauty Generation and Glorious Forever, still basking in the afterglow of Group 1 victories at last month's LONGINES Hong Kong International Races, rolled with commanding ease through their respective barrier trials at Sha Tin on Tuesday.
Jockey Zac Purton had ominous words for Beauty Generation's rivals ahead of the upcoming G1 Stewards' Cup, and those who might face him beyond that 20 January feature.
“He just seems to be getting better,” he said. “It's getting into scary territory now, how good he's starting to become.”
That assessment was delivered after the horse – rated the world's best specialist turf miler – had cruised through a 1000m grass trial, the first of the morning at a floodlit Sha Tin. John Moore's stable titan moved powerfully within his capabilities, closing on the talented pace-setter Singapore Sling to finish upsides at the finish, and then drawing away at his leisure until eased to a stop.
“He strode out really well and worked up to the line under his own steam,” Purton said. “He had a nice little blow out and pulled up really well. He's a happy horse at the moment.
“It's like he's got stronger and got a lot more confidence. He seems to do it with ease and he enjoys doing it.”
And Purton noted there was no hint of any lugging out, either. The two-time G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile hero hung markedly across the track when setting a Sha Tin course record earlier this term.
“He went pretty straight this morning, which was good,” Purton said. “We worked him in company last week, he came up on the inside of a horse and he went very straight. It's the straightest he's gone, so hopefully that might encourage him to continue to do that.”
Glorious Forever, meanwhile, appears to have come out of his G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) triumph in fine heart. The Frankie Lor-trained chestnut relished the opportunity to bound out ahead of nine others in a 1600m turf trial this morning.
The five-year-old was never headed and jockey Silvestre de Sousa revealed that his mount had gone a little better than anticipated.
“It was meant to be an easy trial but I felt he was going so easily that I had to just sit on him and let him stride. He didn't do anything over what he was able to do and he felt in good heart, too,” the Brazilian said.
De Sousa also believes the Archipenko gelding has benefitted from a tough run to victory last time.
“I think the horse is now understanding more of what it's all about. He'd had a few races before, of course, but when a horse wins a big one like that, sometimes they improve again because he put all that effort in and he knows now what he's capable of doing.
“He's a classy horse,” Britain's champion rider continued. “You could see in that trial just now, he bounced out and that was after a very tough race last time. He took that race very well and you could see him out there, he looks even better. He's in good health and I'm looking forward to his next start.”
Lor confirmed Glorious Forever's next race will be the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap over 1800m at Sha Tin on 27 January. And he ruled out an overseas venture to Dubai in March.
“We plan for him to go to the (G1) Hong Kong Gold Cup after he races on the 27th.
Then there are not many races for him until April when the aim is the (G1) QEII Cup,” he said.
“We could potentially travel him but if you go to Dubai it is too close, it is at the end of March and then you come back and only have three weeks. When we're going to the QEII Cup, I don't want to go to Dubai because you don't know how the horse is going to come back – sometimes they don't come back well at all.”
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