No time-out for Beat The Clock
The trainer Size-jockey Moreira partnership also capture the Group 1 Stewards' Cup with Waikuku
Beat The Clock displayed the class that has made him a champion to complete back-to-back wins in the Hong Kong Centenary Sprint Cup over 1,200m at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The ever-reliable bay's narrow victory over Thanks Forever sealed a Group 1 double on the day for trainer John Size and jockey Joao Moreira, following Waikuku's victory over Beauty Generation in the Stewards' Cup over 1,600m.
Beat The Clock's success was his fourth at the highest level and maintained his incredible record of finishing in the top three in all 24 career starts - 10 in the prime spot.
"Good horses always know where the finish line is and they know what they're being asked for, which is to cross that finish line first," said Moreira of Hong Kong's champion sprinter.
But all was not plain sailing for the Brazilian and his mount. Plan A was binned when Beat The Clock was last to break in the seven-runner field, forcing his rider to improvise.
"I was a bit worried about it but there was nothing I could have done," said Moreira. "Just a fraction before the gates opened, he wanted to lunge into the front gates and, when he was coming back, that was when the gates opened, so he wasn't able to step out with them.
"But he quickly got back into the race. I rode him for luck and the split came at the right time. Once again, he proved that he's probably the best sprinter in Hong Kong."
Beat The Clock cruised into the slipstream of the pace-setting Thanks Forever with 300m to race, and when stablemate Full Of Beauty rolled out a fraction, Moreira gave the winner his cue to accelerate between the pair.
The six-year-old wound up and hit the lead approaching the final 100m and held the battling Thanks Forever by a head, with another Size-trained galloper Hot King Prawn third.
"He seems to overcome the circumstances of a race, whatever they may be, to win. That's something you can't deal with, he just does it himself," said Size. "He gives you a very nervous time and a very nervous feel but it's one of relief when they deliver."
But Moreira stressed his belief that Beat The Clock has more in the tank.
Beat The Clock was second in the last two editions of the Group 1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup over 1,400m - behind Beauty Generation, and that assignment is an option once again.
Waikuku defeated Beauty Generation in an exhilarating showdown for the Steward's Cup, a result that all but confirmed a changing of the guard at the very top of Hong Kong's pecking order.
Moreira's victorious mount quickened from the rear through a closing 400m in 22.38sec to register a time of 1min 33.04sec, the eighth-fastest at the course and distance in more than a decade.
"His sections at the end were outstanding," said Moreira. - HKJC