Beauty Live enhances BMW Hong Kong Derby hopes
Frankie Lor’s Beauty Live has preserved ambitious hopes of a BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) tilt with stout victory in the Class 3 Peach Blossom Handicap (1400m) for Matthew Poon at Sha Tin on Saturday (12 February).
Rated 62 after last-start victory in Class 4, the Shamus Award gelding finished powerfully to provide Lor with a double – and hope the lightly-raced talent can reach the BMW Hong Kong Derby on 20 March.
Aware the Privately Purchased Griffin (PPG) would need probably two more wins to boost his rating to a level sufficient to warrant selection in the HK$24 million Classic, Lor will next try Beauty Live over a mile.
“I will race him one more time to see if he can get more of a rating, maybe try him over 1600 metres next start. I think he can handle a little bit further, no problem,” Lor said after Beauty Live improved his record to two wins from three starts.
“I was worried about the draw and he jumped slow, so we took him back and we were a little bit lucky in the straight.”
Lor cut John Size’s lead in the trainers’ championship to two – 47-45 – with a brace on a day which featured long-priced winners, while Karis Teetan – who bookended the meeting – and Jerry Chau shared riding honours with a double.
Teetan closed the programme in style aboard Tony Cruz’s California Ten, winner of the Class 2 Rose Handicap (1600m).
“He’s had setbacks, this horse,” Cruz said, before outlining an uncomplicated plan for the Rock Of Gibraltar gelding. “Whatever the next mile is, he’ll be in it.”
Revitalised by a recent visit to Conghua, Hong Kong International Sale Graduate Divine Era broke through for Jimmy Ting and Teetan in the Class 5 Azalea Handicap (1400m), leading virtually all the way.
“At the sale, I thought ‘This is a real good horse’, but he’s been a bit disappointing but to still get a win is okay,” Ting said.
David Hayes attributed Miracle Victory’s second successive Sha Tin victory to growing maturity after the son of Astern prevailed for Chau in the second section of the Class 4 Daisy Handicap (1200m).
“He’s done a great job this season as a gelding, we’ve always had a good opinion of him, leading into today I thought the favourite (Golden Empire) might be too good for us and, for him to beat, I might have under-estimated him,” Hayes said on slotting his 25th winner of the season.
“As a two-year-old colt, when it got tough, he just gave up. Now, he really puts in. He’s quite a genuine horse.”
Chau sealed a double with an inspired ride on Skyey Supreme for Francis Lui in the Class 4 Cineraria Handicap (1650m, dirt), driving the seven-year-old to the lead and dictating off a leisurely pace as the Henrythenavigator gelding posted his fourth win from 35 starts.
“Back in Class 4, on the dirt and he likes to lead,” Lui said pointing to the three decisive factors apart from Chau’s clever tactical manoeuvre.
En Pointe defied a charging Plikclone and top weight of 133lb to secure the Class 4 Daffodil Handicap (1400m) for Lor and Zac Purton to earn a rise in grade.
“Just maybe (one more) stride and maybe he loses,” Lor said, reflecting on the short head margin. “This time, he needed to carry a big weight. Maybe, later on, he will get over more distance.
Badly hampered at his previous start, Glenealy Generals made the most of clear running to land the Class 4 Lily Handicap (1000m) under Harry Bentley for Dennis Yip.
The grey dived through a slender gap under the in-form Bentley to deny Flying Season and Cheval Valiant to notch his third victory from 28 starts.
“This horse is very consistent, he has kept his form,” Yip said.
Paul O’Sullivan’s patience with Apache Pass was vindicated when the Australian import triumphed in the Class 3 Orchid Handicap (1650m, dirt) under Derek Leung.
“It’s been a long time developing him, he came from Perth with pretty good form but Perth runs left-handed and he’s really struggled to run right-handed here. He’s certainly found his niche here on the dirt,” O’Sullivan said.
Ruan Maia extended his partnership with Richard Gibson, piloting veteran Right Honourable to victory in the first section of the Class 4 Daisy Handicap (1200m). Notching his fourth win from 22 rides for Gibson, Maia guided the eight-year-old to his first Sha Tin success, having won his previous five races in Hong Kong over 1650m at Happy Valley.
“Don’t call the jockey Maia, call him Jesus – he’s walking on water,” Gibson enthused after the winner saluted at 74-1.
Texas Moon continued the spate of long-priced winners when the Irish-bred gelding claimed the Class 3 Peony Handicap (1200m) for Benno Yung and Daniel Moor at 71-1 – in a finish where half a length separated the first six horses across the line.
Imported to Hong Kong after succeeding in a 1400m maiden at Gowran Park in May last year for Willie McCreery, the Dawn Approach gelding dived a narrow gap after steaming from the rear of the field.
“The win had a lot of merit to it, he had no speed early, he’s a very green horse,” Moor said. “He doesn’t know a great deal, he’s still developing and he’s still got a bit more to come.
“He wasn’t going to win being the widest runner, so I whipped back inside and he responded nicely under riding.”
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday (16 February).