Tony Cruz is undaunted as he prepares to pitch Ka Ying Star against the might of Beauty Generation in the Gr3 Celebration Cup Handicap to be run over 1400m at Sha Tin on Tuesday.
“It’s looking like a really tough race but I’m not afraid of Beauty Generation,” the two-time champion trainer said on FridaY morning.
Beauty Generation is slated to carry 133lb for his first-up run, just as he did last year when he claimed the trophy for a second year in a row. But the Horse of the Year’s local rating has since climbed a further 11 notches to 137, positioning him 14 points clear of next best Southern Legend and a gaping 29 points ahead of Ka Ying Star.
Only Southern Legend (119lb) will race from within the handicap proper should the current 10-strong entry line-up next week. Ka Ying Star is one of eight contenders set to carry bottom-weight of 113lb, which would mean the Cruz galloper being 9lb ‘wrong’.
“Beauty Generation has to give a lot of weight away to some good horses, so it’s those other horses I’m worried about more,” Cruz said. “I don’t think Beauty Generation can give that much weight to so many horses, you’d think one of those carrying 113 or 114 might be able to beat him.”
Part of Cruz’s thinking is rooted in his belief that Ka Ying Star – known as Urban Aspect when raced in Britain for Andrew Balding – has what it takes to rise above his current mark. The Cityscape gelding showed merit in last season’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series and impressed with a Class 2 win over a mile in late April.
“I expect this horse to prove that he’s a really good miler this season, that’s what I think he is. The 1400 metres might be on the short side for him on Tuesday,” Cruz said.
The bay has warmed up for Tuesday’s test with a couple of barrier trials, the latest being a plugging-along fifth of 12 behind Pakistan Star in a 1200m dirt track tune-up 10 days ago.
“I’m very happy with his preparation, I’ve been happy with both of his barrier trials and he’s looking good, so we’ll see how good he is now,” Cruz added.
The high-class entry features last season’s BMW Hong Kong Derby one-two Furore and Waikuku and 2018 Hong Kong Classic Mile hero Nothingilikemore.
Tuesday’s card also includes the G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m).