Saturday 4 April 2020 18:07, UK
Zac Purton hopes multiple Group One winner Beauty Generation can continue his recent resurgence by recording back-to-back victories in the Chairman's Trophy at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The John Moore-trained seven-year-old may not quite be the force of old - but he is the highest-rated miler in the world and demonstrated plenty of ability remains when securing an eighth top-level triumph last time out, in the seven-furlong Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup.
With his confidence restored, Purton wants to see Beauty Generation repeat that effort back at a mile in this Group Two test, ahead of what could potentially be the final start of his glittering career in the Champions Mile over course and distance later this month.
He said: "He has got a couple of big races this month, as the Champions Mile at the end of the month could be his last start.
"It was great to see him bounce back last time, and get a bit of Group One stardust back on his career. He is obviously not the horse he was last season, but he is still more than competitive if things turn out well for him.
"As he gets older it gets harder and that is just a fact of life, but let's hope he has another couple of big performances in him."
One of the factors behind a number of Beauty Generation's defeats this season has been the increased competition he has faced for the lead, something Purton believes will be crucial to his chances again.
He said: "People forget that he holds the track record for 2200 metres at Sha Tin, he has got that little bit of stamina and has been able to use that over a mile to run other horses into the ground.
"He has got such a high cruising speed that he can just kick off. If you are back in the field and are seven or eight lengths down, he has that ability to kick again and put another two lengths on, which is hard to make up.
"This season he has had a little bit more competition for the lead, as the other runners have gone out there to try to beat him. It just depends how much pressure there is in the race."
The John Size-trained Waikuku has had the measure of Beauty Generation in their past four meetings, a result Purton fears could be repeated if his mount is drawn into an early battle.
He added: "Ka Ying Star has been running at sprint speeds before falling in a hole and that makes us fall in a hole a bit and sets up the race for a horse like Waikuku.
"If there is a sensible speed then it gives us a chance of turning the tables on Waikuku, but no doubt he will be hard to beat as he is the new kid on the block."
Though Beauty Generation may not be the easiest to train Purton, is proud to have been partnered with him on the track.
He said: "He can be quite tricky and you don't want to go near his box as he wants to savage everything. He can take that aggression out on to the track in the morning. When he gets to the races though, he is a beautiful ride.
"The fans in Hong Kong have loved Beauty Generation and really got behind him.
"He was the first horse in Hong Kong to win nine races in a season and they were all Group races. It is amazing the performances he has delivered."
Waikuku is trained by John Size, who retains the utmost respect for Beauty Generation.
He said: "Beauty Generation is the best miler we've got - his record is superior so while he's around he's going to be the best horse here. We'll be faced with the same problem again, Beauty Generation is always going to be hard to beat."
Elsewhere on the card, Purton expects Aethero to come on for the run when making his first start since finishing a close third in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint in December in the Group Two Sprint Cup.
He said: "He pulled up really bad after the race and it turned out he had a really bad fever and virus. It took him six weeks to get over that. To still only get beat when it was discovered he was like that was phenomenal.
"This is his first run since December and he is a little bit undercooked, but he should still go well enough."
While fans will not get to see Beauty Generation run in Britain, there is a chance Aethero could make a trip to Royal Ascot in 2021.
Purton said of the Moore-trained gelding: "Aethero would be a perfect horse to take to Royal Ascot for the King's Stand Stakes or Diamond Jubilee, he is a horse that would go phenomenally well up the straight track.
"He is a young horse and while it wouldn't be on the agenda for this year, maybe if I could do some talking (for next year).
"I came over and won the King's Stand Stakes on Little Bridge, so I'm undefeated there and I really enjoyed the couple of days I spent there. It would be great to come back at some time."
A stumbling block for Aethero will be another Size-trained runner in the shape of Hot King Prawn, who was one place in front of Purton's mount in December and has a handy pull at the weights.
He will be ridden by Purton's big rival Joao Moreira, who said: "We have to respect Aethero; he's young, promising and talented, so he deserves the respect but at the same time I'm quite confident about my bloke - he's a good horse and he deserves to add more great races to his resume."