Beauty Legacy storms into Hong Kong’s Classic Series picture

Beauty Legacy brought a pixel of clarity to a fuzzy Four-Year-Old Classic Series picture with an impressive debut victory in the Class 2 Broadwood Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin this afternoon (Sunday, 5 January).

Trainer John Size confirmed the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) on 27 January as the Australian G2 winner's next stop following a half-length victory.

Cheerful Star winning the Leighton Hcp (C4)
Cheerful Star winning the Leighton Hcp (C4) Picture: HKJC

"He's got the rating so he's not looking for figures, we've just got to sort out his racing," Size said. "We'll go to a mile next start and keep him in the Classic Series – we'll go in the series and trial him in between, try to contain his energy and hope we have similar luck again."

John Size was relieved and pleased with Beauty Legacy’s performance
John Size was relieved and pleased with Beauty Legacy’s performance Picture: HKJC

Size, Hong Kong's 11-time champion trainer, admitted to some reservations about the gelding, known as Hawkshot in his homeland, with regard to how he might handle his first day test.

"The truth is I'm quite relieved with the performance because I was quite concerned before I even took the horse, I knew he'd have some management issues on race day. So far, so good!" he said.

Moreira remains in hot form with a treble
Moreira remains in hot form with a treble Picture: HKJC

Joao Moreira sought and found cover from gate 12, smothered the talented import in a cosy berth towards the rear, and gambled on a rail run for home that paid off handsomely.

"John Size told me to ride him as I did; jump out and try to switch him off because he is a bit temperamental," the Brazilian said.

Douglas Whyte’s fine first season continues
Douglas Whyte’s fine first season continues Picture: HKJC

"We wanted to make sure he kept all of his energy together and used it at the right part of the race, which is what happened – he got behind, he got relaxed and when I started to squeeze him to go forward and try to go for gaps he showed his class. He didn't hesitate; he went past, got the split on the inside and won impressively."

Moreira was clearly taken with Beauty Legacy's ability but was not getting too carried away with Classic Series talk.

"He is one of a kind," he said, "he's got presence, he's got temperament, he's got scope and he's got ability as well. Horses that get back first time out in such a strong class of race and do what he's just done, they must have class and I think he's one of them.

"He feels like he's promising. It's hard to say he is the one (to win the Derby) right now because there are a lot of horses untouched, but as time goes by we'll see them all and there's no doubt he's one of those that is shining at the moment."

Size, too, was suitably taken with Beauty Legacy's performance shouldering 129lb, but he knows his charge will have to learn from his experience and repeat the performance if he is to make his mark on the three-race Classic Series.

"He was actually able to come through that first test quite well. The horses that start in Hong Kong rated above 90, very few of them win their first start, so you can't be anything but complimentary towards the performance of the horse," he said.

"Today, everything went perfectly. Whether that happens in the future is another matter, but he did draw a bad gate today; he showed he can give away a start and win, so we learned something. He was a little bit anxious today, first start at Sha Tin, so when he comes back next start for his second run, you'll know then whether he's going to be manageable or not – he's going to be worse or better.

"After I watched his races in Australia I thought he was going to take some managing so we'd have to contain that energy so he uses it in the correct manner,' Size continued.

"He's got some management issues in his racing manner so we have to iron those out more or less immediately."

Moreira left the track with a treble, having hit the board earlier when Supreme Witness also overcame draw 12 to win the Class 5 Sun Wui Handicap (1400m). The Brazilian took the Tony Cruz-trained gelding forward to post handily in the run before kicking for home and holding on by a neck. 

And Moreira saw off a clutch of Classic Series aspirants when driving Chefano to an overdue first Hong Kong win in the Class 2 Caroline Hill Handicap (1800m). The John Moore-trained five-year-old had placed second in his three previous starts.

Classic Series hopefuls Reliable Team (117lb), Enjoying (120lb) and Super Oasis (122lb) posted positive efforts, placing second, third and fourth, respectively.

Will Power for Whyte

Douglas Whyte's good form continued with Will Power following up a mid-December debut win with a smart victory in the Class 4 Link Handicap (1200m, dirt).

The four-year-old's win was Whyte's 20th of his debut term, a haul that has prompted comparisons with Hong Kong's next two most recent rookie handlers, Frankie Lor and Jimmy Ting. The former bagged a record first-season haul of 65 in 2017/18, while the latter tallied 38 wins last term.

Whyte rolled out of the 1 January fixture with 19 on the board, while Lor had 31 at that stage of his first term and Ting had 22. But, as the former champion jockey pointed out, such bare comparisons lack depth.

"I'm not going to compare because then we should compare how many transfer horses I've had and how many older horses and younger horses and so forth, and how many runners I've had. I'm not comparing anything, I'm just trying to get the horses to the races in the best possible condition and hoping they let down and run well," Whyte said. 

"This season I didn't set targets. I didn't set a target the first season I was a jockey, it was just as many winners as I could possibly ride and from there on in I started setting targets.

"It's a very new experience for me so as long as I can keep the horses healthy and more so in a happy condition, I'll just keep turning them up to the races and hopefully they do their job."

Whyte was delighted with top-weighted Will Power, who had to overhaul rivals down the home straight to win by two and a quarter lengths with his ears pricked.

"He's improved but he still had to come and do it the hard way and bring up another good performance in order to win the way he did," the trainer said.

"If there's a race that presents itself on the dirt, why break a winning formula? If there's not a dirt race, I'm not afraid of going to turf, he's trialled well on it – I just hope there's a bit of give in the ground because he does come down hard on his legs, and that would be the only concern, that he doesn't let down like he does on the dirt."

Zac Purton kept tabs on leader Moreira in the jockeys' premiership with a double on Cheerful Star and Noble Steed, two days after his 37th birthday.

The Australian's 50th win of the campaign came when Cheerful Star (120lb) edged the Vincent Ho-ridden God Of Dragon (131lb) in a ding-dong battle for the Class 4 Leighton Handicap (1800m).

His 51st was achieved in the Po Leung Kuk Cup Handicap (1400m) aboard the Francis Lui-trained Noble Steed. Purton is two from two on the Hong Kong International Sale graduate, who held his rivals by three quarters of a length.

Premiership leader Ricky Yiu notched his 31st win this season when Encore Boy landed the Class 3 Hoi Ping Handicap (1200m) under Silvestre de Sousa.

Dennis Yip had a slow time of things through the early part of this season before unleashing four winners in December to accelerate his win accrual, and the handler got his 2020 tally rolling with the Matthew Poon-ridden Trust Me (118lb) in the Class 4 Yun Ping Handicap (1000m).

Ever Strong (132lb) relishes the Sha Tin dirt and notched his fourth win on the surface when taking the Class 5 Ventris Handicap (1200m, dirt) under Vincent Ho. That gave trainer Manfred Man his 10th win this term.

Baltic Whisper (128lb) ended his first Hong Kong campaign back in 2017/18 with two wins from six starts but Danny Shum's charge had not posted a victory since March of that season until he showed resilience to land the Class 3 Sunning Handicap (1000m) this afternoon. The six-year-old tried to make all and rallied hard for jockey Grant van Niekerk when headed by Ka Ying Master (120lb), going on to score by a neck at odds of 7/1.

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 8 January.

Hong Kong Jockey Club