Beauty pleases but it's Rapper's race to lose
Trainer John Moore is confident of Rapper Dragon's chances in Sunday's Hong Kong Classic Cup
Jockey Zac Purton is pinning his Hong Kong Classic Cup hopes on BEAUTY GENERATION's capacity to improve for the step-up to 1,800m this Sunday.
The handsome bay is the second highest-rated Four-Year-Old Classic Series protagonist right now, but is still some way off the best of the bunch.
"It's RAPPER DRAGON's race to lose," was Purton's pragmatic assessment yesterday morning, shortly after the John Moore stable's Classic Cup contenders had galloped around Sha Tin's turf track.
But the former champion jockey is not discounting the talented Patrick Kwok-owned galloper, not after his smart piece of work.
"He worked well," Purton said of the Hong Kong Classic Mile third placegetter. "The last furlong (200m) of his work was nice. He came up on the bridle, ran through the line, pulled up pretty cleanly in his wind - it was a pleasing piece of work."
And the gallop gave Purton encouragement that a longer trip will benefit the Moore-trained racer, given Beauty Generation's second-placed finish in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas over 2,000m and fourth in the Group 1 The BMW over 2,400m. That was when the gelding raced in Australia as Montaigne for trainer Anthony Cummings.
"The way he worked this morning, he felt to me like a longer distance might be more suitable for him," Purton opined. "He's had a few little hiccups in his preparation along the way, so hopefully, he's got that little bit more improvement in him so that when he gets up over a distance, he's a bit more comfortable."
Beauty Generation clocked 1min 18.19sec (sectionals of 28.2, 27.6, 23.1) yesterday morning, working 1,200m in company with fellow Classic Cup contender RODRICO.
Sam Clipperton was nudging the latter down the home stretch but Beauty Generation travelled without too much exertion to finish on top.
Moore was pleased with Beauty Generation's final fast work before Sunday's second leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series.
"Zac felt that the way he galloped this morning, the longer distance would be more suitable. He doesn't look the type, he's got plenty of strength to him; he looks like a sprinter-miler but he's got the form over further," the trainer said.
But, with 14 and more rating points in hand over the rest of the Classic Cup field, Rapper Dragon is the horse Moore believes will carry off the spoils and add the prize to his first leg win in last month's Classic Mile.
A powerful gallop yesterday morning only boosted his belief.
"Beauty Generation might close the gap but, to me, Rapper Dragon will win the race - the way he worked this morning, as long as he gets the gate and gets the good run, he's the one. Joao (Moreira) said when he got off him that he felt like a perfectly-balanced bicycle," Moore said.
Rapper Dragon worked under Moreira in company with the smart MIDNIGHT RATTLER and was well on top as the pair quickened down the straight.
The horse that ran second in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes over 1,600m at Randwick as a juvenile breezed past the post at the end of his 1,200m hit-out in 1min 22.0sec (30.4, 28.3, 23.3).
"The way Rapper Dragon galloped just now, the way he floated over the ground, it was very impressive work and the feedback was very positive," said Moore.
"He couldn't blow a match out. I keep saying it, so I'm sounding repetitive, but he's the cleanest-winded horse I've had in a long time. He enjoyed the work, not a problem.
"He'll go back and he'll get his front leg and start kicking the door for feed time - we've rubberised his whole box now after he kicked the wall the other month.
"In the afternoon, every other horse is fed at five but he's a four o'clock feeder and he lets you know if you're late - he just kicks at his door."
Moore's EAGLE WAY is another that heads into the Classic Cup with a good piece of fast work under his belt. The Group 1 Queensland Derby (2,400m) winner, a running-on sixth in the Classic Mile, galloped on the turf under Clipperton alongside the stable's lead horse, LEADING CITY.
"Sam was very happy with Eagle Way, the feedback was good," Moore said after the chestnut had been timed at 1min 19.9sec (28.3, 28.6, 23.0) for 1,200m.
Sunday's Hong Kong Classic Cup has attracted a field of 13.
Also engaged are the Tony Cruz-trained PAKISTAN STAR, WINNER'S WAY, CALIFORNIA WHIP and SUPER CHIC.
Trainer John Size will also send out four - WESTERN EXPRESS, DINOZZO, MY DARLING and PRAWN BABA.
The Danny Shum-trained Classic Mile runner-up SEASONS BLOOM completes the line-up. - HKJC