Acclaimed last season as Hong Kong’s Most Improved Horse, Beauty Eternal embarks on the first step towards the HK$32 million Gr1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile when the talented five-year-old contests the Gr2 Sha Tin Trophy Handicap at Sha Tin on Sunday .
Resuming after closing a wonderful debut season with success in the Gr3 Premier Cup Handicap on 25 June, Beauty Eternal (123lb) will jump from barrier three on Sunday under Zac Purton in search of his eighth win from 11 starts.
Sharpened by a trial win over 1200m at Sha Tin on 6 October, Beauty Eternal will face nine rivals in the HK$5.35 million feature including California Spangle, Russian Emperor, Money Catcher and Beauty Joy.
“He seems okay, he’s fine. He’s had a slow build up in his preparation, but his trial was good the other day,” 12-time champion trainer John Size said. “He seemed to do what he normally does in a barrier trial and with a little bit of trackwork after his trial, he’s come on. He’s in good enough condition to go to the races and perform well and I’m hoping he’ll improve again after the race.”
Searching for his first success in the Sha Tin Trophy since Contentment’s 2015-win, Size will methodically approach the HK$118 million LONGINES Hong Kong International Races on 10 December with Beauty Eternal, who swept from 52 to 117 in the handicaps last season.
“The programme is there and because of his rating band or his rating, you don’t have much option. So, he runs in a couple of races and is heading towards the 1600m on International Day,” Size said before reflecting on the Starspangledbanner gelding’s startling 2022/23 advance.
“Every horse has got something (fitness issues) and he had some interruptions, but I think that he just showed he had the talent to overcome those things and kept on racing well.”
Fresh from slotting his first Hong Kong winner with Happy Hero on Wednesday, 11 October, at Happy Valley, Mark Newnham is represented by Tourbillon Diamond in Sunday’s showpiece at Sha Tin.
“I think he’ll run a good race, he’s in good order but the target the race is second-up in the Gr3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap over 1800m at Sha Tin on 5 November,” Newnham said. “But from barrier one with no weight, we still need to see him run a forward race.
“His form tapered off at the end of last season, so he needs to build a bit of confidence more than anything because physically he’s in really good shape.”
Newnham was deluged with congratulatory messages following Happy Hero’s win.
“It’s nice that people acknowledge it and it was hopefully a start here. It was enjoyable. I enjoy the atmosphere at Happy Valley, it was exciting to get the first win and it was exciting to see the way the horse won.
“He was my lowest-rated horse and it was his first win. It was also nice to get a win for the owners – it was a bit of a first for all of us, really.”
Frankie Lor is hopeful Dream Winner can rebound to winning form in the Class 2 Lek Yuen Handicap after suffering the first defeat of his four-start career when fifth over 1000m on 17 September.
“Last start, he didn’t run badly. He was beaten only one and a half lengths but, as I said last season, he needs further, so first-up over 1000m was a little bit short,” Lor said. “He’s a big horse, big stride and he’s over 1200 metres now.
“I’ve been happy with the horse since. He’s drawn barrier 12 this time but he’s got a big stride, so I’m hoping he can still run well. He’s still can improve with experience.”
Sunday’s 10-race Sha Tin card starts with the Class 5 Wo Che Handicap at 07h00. Don’t forget to take the free-to-play Hollywoodbets Punters’ Challenge.