Everything about Beauty Generation on Tuesday morning signalled that Hong Kong’s superstar will once again be the horse to beat when he kicks off his campaign in next week’s Gr.3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m).
The brilliant miler strode out through a 1000m barrier trial shortly after dawn at Sha Tin. The bay travelled close to the inner guide markers under Zac Purton, galloped by the winning post alength and a quarter fifth behind young gun sprinter Aethero (clocked at 57.82s), and advanced after the line to lead the pack of seven off towards home and the rising sun.
“I’m very pleased,” trainer John Moore said of the seven-year-old. “He’ll go into the race slightly underdone, which is taken for granted at this stage of his prep, but Zac wasn’t concerned that the horse’s age had caught up with him or anything like that.”
Beauty Generation is on an uninterrupted nine-win streak and has won the past two editions of the Celebration Cup. Like last year, he will shoulder top-weight of 133lb. This time, rated a mighty 137, his next best rivals could be weighted 20lb inferior.
“It wouldn’t be a disaster if he did get beat,” Moore admitted, before adding, “I don’t think he will.” There was a firm emphasis on the latter part.
“The important thing is getting him prepared for the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile in December but if he has continued in the same vein as last season it would be great to win next week,” he continued.
“This is all part and parcel of his prep, and, giving so much weight away, we know all champions can get beat. But we’re not using that as an excuse going in because I believe he will win.”
Owner Patrick Kwok wishes to see his champion put together “the same season as last year”, which would mean equalling Good Ba Ba’s record of three wins in the G1 Hong Kong Mile. But, knowing how difficult it is to achieve a perfect campaign, he has one over-riding ambition for Beauty Generation.
“The thing I want see most is him winning abroad,” he said. “I’m not sure if it will happen because he’s not getting any younger, so we have to factor that, but it would be a sweet thing to see him winning abroad, especially a race like in Dubai.”
Hong Kong’s two-time Horse of the Year had the demeanour of a fresh young buck before today’s trial, perhaps sensing that his first race since April’s Champions Mile is not far off. Groom Lau Wai-kit a couple of times had to take a strong grip leading him around the sand yard pre-trial, and when Purton climbed aboard, the gelding’s ‘spring’ coiled.
“He was a bit fresh in the gate too,” the champion jockey said. “He was happy to be back out there in a competitive environment and he wanted to bounce around a bit. He actually tried to jump at the front of the gate and I was lucky the gate opened otherwise he would have knocked his head. Now that he’s got that freshness out of him I think he should be ok on race day.
“He showed good speed early, he travelled along really, really well and I just let him do a little bit through the line,” Purton continued. “He feels good and we know he goes well fresh. He’s where he needs to be.”
Beauty Generation has enjoyed a long, relaxing summer without a hint of anything unusual. And the foot issues that caused some concern last term have not arisen.
“Everything has been perfect, no setbacks whatsoever,” Moore said. “He’s very durable, he’s the iron horse. He’s had shoeing issues before but he’s already been reshod: we shoe him 10 days out to make sure he fits into those shoes. We don’t do it close to the race because there’s always a chance of soreness.
“All in all, we’re really pleased,” he added.