Beauty Generation (inside) was narrowly beaten by Southern Legend in the Gr.1 Champions Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday. Photo: HKJC
New Zealand-bred miler Beauty Generation has been beaten the barest of margins in his attempt to land his third straight Gr.1 Champions Mile (1600m), foiled by fellow veteran Southern Legend.
The Caspar Fownes-trained Southern Legend was ridden by Vincent Ho, who racked up 44 wins as a young rider in New Zealand under the tutelage of leading trainer Lance O’Sullivan.
The victory was the first Group One win for Ho, who last month won the HK$20 million Hong Kong Derby (2000m) on star four-year-old Golden Sixty, winner of all three legs of the Classic series which are not afforded Group One status due to the trio of races not being open to international competitors.
Ho took the race to champion jockey Zac Purton and dual Hong Kong Horse of the Year Beauty Generation with 300m to run as the rising star of the jockeys’ room drove his mount from off the pace to take a narrow lead over the superstar pairing.
Southern Legend and Beauty Generation flashed past the post together and the former had it by a short-head in a time of 1m 33.13s.
“It’s amazing,” a jubilant Ho said.
“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.”
While Zac Purton was disappointed with the outcome he was appreciative of Beauty Generation’s brave effort.
“He ran well, he tried his hardest,” he said.
Trainer John Moore, too, was deflated by the defeat of his star, who might have run his last race in Hong Kong.
“We were gallant in defeat,” he said. “The bob just went 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’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.
“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.”
Purton became the first rider to win all of Hong Kong’s Group One races when he took the Gr.1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) on Exultant.
Earlier on the card, Mr Stunning turned back the clock with a shock win for trainer Frankie Lor and jockey Karis Teetan in the Gr.1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), the third Group One win of his career.
Like Beauty Generation, Mr Stunning is a graduate of the New Zealand Bloodstock Yearling Sales, purchased by Willie Leung of Magus Equine for $250,000 at Karaka in 2014 from the draft of Mark and Shelley Treweek’s Lyndhurst Farm.