Starspangledbanner's Beauty Eternal Upends Golden Sixty In Champions Mile

Beauty Eternal | HKJC

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HONG KONG, CHINA — Relentless rains in Hong Kong's New Territories over the last week gave way to a rare dry day on Saturday, offering a sliver of hope that Sunday's FWD Champions Day meeting might take place on a surface that was sufficiently sound or at least drying out so as to leave a reasonably even playing field.

The precipitation was back in the overnight hours on Sunday, never really more than a steady shower, but enough to turn the Sha Tin turf officially yielding. Three-time Hong Kong Horse of the Year Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d'Oro) was in search of a fourth straight success in the G1 FWD Champions Mile, but he had done his best work on quick tracks, his lone previous effort over a surface this affected by rain coming when a distant third in the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup over 2000 metres in 2022.

Sent away as the $1.50 favourite nevertheless and racing first-up since his breathtaking win in December's G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile, the 8-year-old was poised turning in, but it was clear he was struggling to accelerate and he stayed on only at one pace to finish fourth to front-running Beauty Eternal (Aus) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}).

“He ran well. The ground was not in our favour,” jockey Vincent Ho reported. “When I hit the straight, I could already feel he could not pick up with his usual turn of foot. I know it's a bit difficult. It is what it is, we can't fight the weather. I was in a great position and everything was close to the speed, but still we couldn't improve on that ground.”

Beaten horses typically exit the track at a gap about 150 metres past the winning post, but Golden Sixty made his way back under the wire and towards the path normally reserved for the winner. And the Sha Tin faithful welcomed him back warmly, cheering him despite finishing outside the top three for just the second time in his 31-race career. With a formal decision yet to be taken, trainer Francis Lui told South China Morning Post that Golden Sixty had likely run his final race.

“Yes, I think [that is his final run]–probably,” Lui told the publication. “We'll discuss with the owner, but he's nine next year.”

On a day when it was imperative to be on or near the early pace, Beauty Eternal came across from gate 11 to make the running, with Golden Sixty handy and covered up from fourth. Ho wheeled out Golden Sixty and came to win the race, but ultimately just spun his wheels to settle for fourth.

Said Purton, who piloted the winner in three of Golden Sixty's five career losses and whose celebration crossing the line was noticeably subdued: “There was no speed in the race, which gave us the opportunity to lead. The last thing I said to [trainer] John [Size] before the race was, 'I think the going is a lot better on the fence', he just got into a lovely rhythm and controlled the race and I thought the only chance I had to beat Golden Sixty was to try to put a gap on them and see how we went and today was his day.”

Size, now a four-time Champions Mile winner, also saddled Red Lion (Ire) (Belardo {Ire}), owned by former HKJC chairman Ronald Arculli. Voyage Bubble (Aus) (Deep Field {Aus}), who won the G1 Stewards Cup in Golden Sixty's absence in January and was runner-up in this year's Gold Cup ahead of a forgettable trip to Dubai, was third. The top four placegetters ran in that order throughout.

Pedigree Notes:

Beauty Eternal is a seventh international Group 1 winner for Starspangledbanner, whose son California Spangle (Ire) was a gallant runner-up in Sunday's G1 Chairman's Sprint Prize. Hailing from the family of 2008 G1 Racing Post Trophy hero Crowded House (GB) (Rainbow Quest), Beauty Eternal has a 3-year-old full-brother and his dam, who has not produced a foal since, was most recently served by Home Affairs (Aus).

Sunday, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
FWD CHAMPIONS MILE-G1, HK$22,000,000, Sha Tin, 4-28, 3yo/up, 1600mT, 1:34.52, yl.
1–BEAUTY ETERNAL (AUS), 126, g, 5, by Starspangledbanner (Aus)
1st Dam: Ithacan Queen (NZ), by Savabeel (Aus)
2nd Dam: Bering Island (Ire), by Bering (GB)
3rd Dam: Wiener Wald, by Woodman
1ST GROUP 1 WIN. (A$90,000 Ylg '20 INGFEB). O-Patrick Kwok Ho Chuen; B-P Raftopolous (Vic); T-John Size; J-Zac Purton; HK$12,320,000. Lifetime Record: 17-9-3-3, HK$35,741,325. *1/2 to Love Sensation (Aus) (Night of Thunder {Ire}), GSP-Aus, $170,606. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Red Lion (Ire), 126, g, 5, Belardo (Ire)–Crystal Idea (Ire), by Namid. (€7,000 Ylg '20 TATDEC; £240,000 RNA HRA '22 GOFLON). O-The Hon Ronald Arculli GBM GBS JP & Johanna K J Arculli BBS; B-P Harney; T-John Size; J-Hugh Bowman; HK$4,620,000.
3–Voyage Bubble (Aus), 126, g, 5, Deep Field (Aus)–Raheights, by Rahy.  (A$300,000 Ylg '20 INGFEB). O-Sunshine and Moonlight Syndicate; B-Torryburn Stud (NSW); T-Ricky Yiu; J-James McDonald; HK$2,530,000.
Margins: 1HF, NK, 1HF. Odds: 11-1, 29-1, 5-1.
Also Ran: Golden Sixty (Aus), Galaxy Patch (Aus), Taj Dragon (Ire), Beauty Joy (Aus), Elton Barows (Jpn), Brave Emperor (Ire), Obamburumai (Jpn), Champagne Color (Jpn).
Click for the HKJC chart, PPs and sectional timing.

 

 

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