Hong Kong stars out in force at Sha Tin Sunday

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

February 16th, 2019

Reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year Beauty Generation bids to defend his crown in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (G1) at Sha Tin Sunday. The first of three marquee events on the program, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup is carded as the 6TH race, scheduled to go off at 2:30 a.m. (EST). Although nearly upset by Beat the Clock in last year’s running, Beauty Generation has morphed into a superior animal in the interim. The John Moore trainee has rattled off six straight wins, his last pair three-length jogs in the Hong Kong Mile (G1) (as the defending champion) and the Stewards’ Cup (G1). The cutback from a metric mile to about seven furlongs is a factor, but Beauty Generation’s class ought to see him through. Beat the Clock had been knocking on the proverbial Group 1 door until finally getting the deserved breakthrough in the Centenary Sprint Cup (G1) last out. An eminently logical contender, he still looks the type who needs everything to go just right for him. His progressive stablemate from the John Size yard, Conte, was a respectful runner-up behind Beauty Generation in the Stewards’ Cup but eligible to get closer back down in trip. Five of Conte’s seven career wins have come at this distance, including the Chinese Club Challenge Cup H. (G3) in his stakes debut on New Year’s Day. Ryan Moore takes the ride. I’m really interested to see if Seasons Bloom can advertise the rejuvenating benefits of the new Conghua Training Centre, where he quickened well to take a recent barrier trial. Sporting back class as the 2018 Stewards’ Cup winner, the Danny Shum veteran had a forgettable fall campaign. But a change of training environment from the hurly-burly of Sha Tin to the tranquility of Conghua, coupled with the drop in trip and losing the blinkers, might help him recapture his spark. The 7TH race is another major, the Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1) at about 1 1/4 miles. Exultant might be the safest option, both because he’s in career form coming off scores in the Hong Kong Vase (G1) and Centenary Vase H. (G3), and in light of his reliability for trainer Tony Cruz. Stablemate Pakistan Star, in contrast, is brilliant on his day, but the quirky individual hasn’t won since last spring. While it’s Russian roulette whether he’ll be in the mood, Pakistan Star gave an encouraging vibe when finishing in front in his latest barrier trial. You can also try to play the guessing game of whether one of the Hong Kong Cup (G1)-winning full brothers will get his optimal trip. Can Time Warp clear them and steal it up front? It’s been a while since he was able to engineer that, and he’ll have to burn a lot of energy from post 10. Glorious Forever beat Time Warp to the punch when dethroning him in the Cup, but like his brother, he’s also liable to compound if things get too hot. As with Pakistan Star, they’re well qualified if inconsistent. Eagle Way would be happy for them to turn on the early speed; the last time he tried this trip, he picked up the pieces from their duel to set a course record in the Jockey Club Cup (G2). Frankel’s son Simply Brilliant has a progressive profile hinting he’s ready to tackle the top level. After capitalizing on the garden trip and favorable weight in the January Cup H. (G3), he faces the acid class test while trying the distance for the first time. Southern Legend, third to Beauty Generation in the last two Group 1 miles, could get involved on the stretch-out as he plots a path to Dubai. The 9TH race, the Hong Kong Classic Cup (4:15 a.m. EST), serves up a rematch between Frankie Lor’s dynamic duo of Furore and Dark Dream on the march to the Hong Kong Derby. Furore deployed a devastating change of gear to take the first leg of the Four-Year-Old Series, the Hong Kong Classic Mile, comfortably. Hugh Bowman of Winx fame is back aboard the son of Pierro, who’s plenty effective at this about nine-furlong trip too. Yet Dark Dream, fourth as the Classic Mile favorite, had a torrid trip and ran better than it appears on paper. The increase in distance ought to help the Queensland Derby (G1) winner, who now gets a rider change to Zac Purton. Dark Dream also projects a better trip from post 5, while this time it’s Furore stuck in post 12. Could the reversal of posts be a harbinger of a reversal of form? Likewise eligible to improve off the Classic Mile is Harmony Victory, fifth after missing the break. The multiple Brazilian Group 1 winner captured a handicap at this course and distance back in November and figures to stay on stoutly, especially if Ka Ying Star blazes the way early again. Other Hong Kong Derby prospects are emerging from handicaps. Ho Ho Khan has won three straight over course and distance, most recently nabbing Helene Leadingstar (who was spotting him five pounds and now meets him on level terms), while Red Warrior transitions from Happy Valley. Well-bred War Front gelding Gold Chest, aka Naval Intelligence from his British days, looks to take a step forward in his third start for Richard Gibson. Beauty Generation photo (c) Hong Kong Jockey Club