Consistently bridging the gap to Joao Moreira in the Hong Kong Jockey Championship with a four-time, Zac Purton was amazed by Beauty Joy’s incredible G3 Premier Cup Handicap (1400m) triumph at Sha Tin on Sunday (June 19) after he the talented gelding underwent a rival concession a great start before winning with emphasis.
Last backed up at 800m, the quirky five-year-old finished in 44.29, including a final 400m burst of 21.83, to claim his fifth win of nine starts in Hong Kong after recording four wins out of as many starts in Australia when it is known as Talladega.
The Sebring gelding has developed a reputation as a rebel in a booming career in Hong Kong, with Purton revealed that he is unsure of even completing the race on Sunday, let alone winning it.
“Every race is something different with him, right? It was pretty cold behind the gates today and I thought ‘Oh, that’s going to be cool. Maybe, it’s the end of the season, he’s going to have a nice lap today, “said Purton after crossing the line one length before Lucky Express, while Healthy Happy was third, another length and a quarter behind.
“But he turned up and he just didn’t want to go. He was really stiff in his action of him. He couldn’t lie down properly and wasn’t comfortable with him. I was looking down (the horse’s legs). I was a little 50-50 (to continue) on him and thought I would just keep pushing him forward and keep him going for a while and see if he could warm up.
“Once he got to 1000m, he was fine, but I was so far away from them, I thought the race was over. But he went really well, he came in a lot of time and then had to fight for the win in the end.
“He’s obviously talented, but he can’t continue to produce performances like today and (even) in his previous beginnings and get away with it. You have to start doing it right from here on out.
Coach Tony Cruz believes Beauty Joy will be better suited for extended trips next season after a possible tilt at the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) in December.
“I think the horse no longer has the initial speed and we will also be thinking about 2000 meters next season,” said Cruz. “But I will first plan the (G2 Jockey Club Mile in November) and then the (LONGINES Hong Kong Mile), but nothing is confirmed yet. For me I think he is a good miler, but I also think he can go further. I’m sure he can improve.
“Zac said ‘Tony, the horse looked very low in its stride, it wasn’t stretching, but at the turn when I slapped it it literally turned it on and it drove home at 100mph.’
Winner of the G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m) on his previous start, Sebring’s son “was a little too dull and too relaxed in the race,” according to Cruz.
“His problem (before) was that it was difficult to relax in a race and previous races when they slowed him down and he saw his head lift, but I think we have to train him to be much more like today, then he can run farther – we will. definitely much later next season, “Cruz said.
“He was a beaten horse, but I’m very happy with how he ran today, even if he didn’t show that initial speed. I think he needs a lot more distance, that’s why. “
Riding in supreme form, Purton entered a quartet to cut Moreira’s lead to two – 127-125 – with only eight fights left in the season, prevailing over Beauty Joy, Sauvestre, California Vanes and Tuchel, who continued an impressive trajectory with success in Class 4 Lapis Lazuli Handicap (1400m).
“Now that (Tuchel) has played four games, he’s starting to put things together more efficiently,” said Size, who follows Frankie Lor 85-79 in the coaching league. “Winning by a margin (two and a quarter lengths) with a heavy weight (133 pounds) is hard to do. He has a future “.
Lor teamed up with Purton to trap the Class 3 Sapphire Handicap (1400m) with Sauvestre, giving Lor a double after he successfully combined with Moreira to land the Class 4 Topaz Handicap (1600m) with Chevalier Prince.
Lucky Eight’s brilliant debut performance to win the first section of Class 4 Spessartine Garnet Handicap (1200m) under Karis Teetan prompted coach Ricky Yiu to compare three-year Pride Of Dubai to G1 winner Al Quoz Sprint (1000 m) of 2014 Amber Sky.
“It reminds me a little of (Amber Sky) – it’s going to come close to what this horse has achieved. He’s just smart, he’s got a good brain, “said Yiu.” Victory was expected. He’s improved with each race and he’s got a relaxed mind, which is the most important thing for a sprinter. He’s got a very good mindset. “
Cruz praised Purton’s run after California Vanes denied Beauty Tycoon to conquer the second section of class 4 Spessartine Garnet Handicap (1200m).
“It was a very good and patient race,” Cruz said after scoring his 61st campaign win. “All thanks to Zac.”
Cruz and Lor shared training honors with Danny Shum, who teamed up with Harry Bentley to win the Class 3 Amethyst Handicap (1600m) after previously teaming up with Alexis Badel to clinch the G3 Premier Plate Handicap (1800m) with Tourbillon Diamond.
Matthew Chadwick approached the Tony Cruz Award snare for the indigenous leading jockey when Chris So’s Turf Brilliant bolted through a narrow gap to land the Class 5 Ruby Handicap (2000m). Chadwick has 46 wins for the season, three more than Vincent Ho.
David Hall was pleasantly surprised with Eight Trigrams, who prevailed with an odd of 46/1 in the Class 3 Emerald Handicap (1200m) under Dylan Mo.
“It’s a bit of a surprise because the race looked a lot stronger today,” Hall said. “The key for him was to have a nice and smooth ride and Dylan did it really well and was able to take another win.”
The Hong Kong races continue in Happy Valley on Wednesday evening (June 22).
By Leo Schlink
Main photo: Beauty Joy completes a miraculous victory. (Hong Kong Jockey Club)