The John (Size) and Joao Show at Sha Tin

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Waikuku gets his Group 1 in the Stewards' Cup | HKJC photo

by Alan Carasso

Hammered into $1.50 (2-1 on) favouritism to assume the mantle of Hong Kong's top miler, Waikuku (Ire) (Harbour Watch {Ire}) was given a ride full of finesse from jockey Joao Moreira and raced over the top of two-time defending Horse of the Year Beauty Generation (NZ) (Road to Rock {Aus}) in the dying strides for a maiden Group 1 success in Sunday's Stewards' Cup at Sha Tin. But while there very well may be a new sheriff in town, the deposed king of the hill showed that there remains a fair bit of life in his limbs and could take his show on the road in the next couple of months.

Beauty Generation was rumoured to be showing signs of his old self since his defeat in the G1 Longines Hong Mile six weeks ago, where Waikuku was one spot ahead. Racing without the blinkers and equipped with cheekpieces for the first time in his 28 local starts, the 7-year-old was kicked straight into the lead by Zac Purton and set the pace from a slow-starting Ka Ying Star (GB) (Cityscape {GB}) as Moreira dropped Waikuku out to the tail. Whereas Beauty Generation began to send out early distress signals in three straight defeats, he continued to roll along into the final 200 metres, but try as he might, he could not quite resist the late surge from Waikuku, who was produced wide off the home corner and closed off in :22.38 to seal the deal.

“I was always aware that I could not turn for home too far away,” Moreira told the HKJC's David Morgan. “Just before turning for home I started to angle him out and didn't hesitate to make a long run to make sure that I didn't go into the last 300 metres too far back.”

Following back-to-back Stewards' Cups in 2018 and 2019, Beauty Generation cut back in trip to add the G1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m). But trainer John Moore is eager to travel the Kiwi-bred.

“He was gallant in defeat; our boy is on the slow fade but is capable of running a big one in Dubai if we get the go-ahead,” Moore said, adding that he will pitch the Kwok family on the idea. “The 1800 metres there (G1 Dubai Turf), putting him on the other leg, I think it would really rejuvenate him; and he won't meet Waikuku in Dubai, so the trip would be the best way forward.”

Exiting a tough win in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint Dec. 8, the ever-consistent Beat the Clock (Aus) (Hinchinbrook {Aus}) was back to his determined best to successfully defend his title in the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup, giving Moreira and trainer John Size a sweep of the day's features.

A half-step slow to begin, the reigning champion sprinter settled second-last early on as Thanks Forever (Aus) (Duporth {Aus}) and Hong Kong Sprint runner-up Hot King Prawn (Aus) (Denman {Aus}) showed the most early initiative, even as the race was run at early sectionals about two-fifths of a second outside of standard. That meant that a flying finish would be necessary from anything coming from the back, but Beat the Clock proved equal to the task, knifing through between a very game Thanks Forever and a tiring Full of Beauty (Aus) (Darci Brahma {NZ}) before finding his way home first. His final 400m was clocked in a spectacular :21.91. In 24 career appearances, never has he finished outside the top three.

“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, who has sent out the winners of seven of the last 10 Group 1 sprints in Hong Kong.

There are no overseas objectives for Beat the Clock, who likely makes his next start in the Queen's Silver Jubilee in a month's time. John Moore was over the moon with Thanks Forever, calling it “the best run of his life.” The QSJC is next on the agenda, with a trip to Dubai not out of the question. Stablemate Aethero (Aus) (Sebring {Aus}) is also slated for a trip to Meydan, with a newly programmed Class 1 handicap (1200m) Mar. 8 a lead-up, South China Morning Post reported Sunday.

Pedigree Notes:

A maiden winner in two Irish runs for John Oxx, Waikuku is one of seven stakes winners for his late sire and his first Group 1 winner. London Plane is also responsible for the Clive Cox-trained It's Good to Laugh (Ire) (Tamayuz {GB}), an €100,000 TISEP grad who posted a record of 4-1-2-0 as a 2-year-old last season. A full-sister to multiple group-placed Al Waab (Ire), London Plane produced a filly by dual Hong Kong Vase winner Highland Reel (Ire) last Mar. 9.

One of four Group 1 winners for his sadly departed stallion, Beat the Clock has a yearling half-sister by Your Song (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) that was purchased by Ontrack Thoroughbreds for A$90,000 at the recently concluded Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale. Flion Fenena was purchased for A$120,000 with that filly in utero at the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast National Broodmare Sale. She is also represented by a filly foal by Smart Missile (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) after being passed in for A$140,000 at Magic Millions' National Broodmare Sale last May. Flion Fenena, an own sister to SP Lil Elsa, was most recently among the first mares bred to MGSW/G1SP Encryption (Aus), a son of Lonhro (Aus) out of champion and four-times Group 1 winner Guelph (Aus) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}).

Sunday, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
STEWARDS' CUP-G1, HK$10,000,000 (£984,230/€1,155,283/A$1,864,899/US$1,286,714), Sha Tin, 1-19, 3yo/up, 1600mT, 1:33.04, gd.
1–WAIKUKU (IRE), 126, g, 5, by Harbour Watch (Ire)
1st Dam: London Plane (Ire), by Danehill Dancer (Ire)
2nd Dam: Aunt Julia (GB), by In the Wings (GB)
3rd Dam: Original (GB), by Caerleon
1ST GROUP 1 WIN. (€33,000 Ylg '16 TISEP). O-Jocelyn Siu Yang Hin Ting; B-Shane Molan; T-John Size; J-Joao Moreira; HK$5,700,000. Lifetime Record: 15-7-4-1, HK$24,894,680. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating: A+.
2–Beauty Generation (NZ), 126, g, 7, Road to Rock (Aus)–Stylish Bel (Aus), by Bel Esprit (Aus). (NZ$60,000 Ylg '14 NZBJAN). O-Patrick Kwok Ho Chuen; B-Nearco Stud Ltd; T-John Moore; J-Zac Purton; HK$2,200,000.
3–Ka Ying Star (GB), 126, g, 5, Cityscape (GB)–Casual Glance (GB), by Sinndar (Ire). O-Leung Shek Kong; B-Kingsclere Stud; T-Tony Cruz; J-Karis Teetan; HK$1,000,000.
Margins: NK, 4 1/4, 3/4. Odds: 1-2, 9-5, 14-1.
Also Ran: Rattan (NZ), Citron Spirit (Ire), Southern Legend (Aus), Furore (NZ).
Click for the HKJC chart, PPs and sectional timing. VIDEO. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.

Sunday, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
CENTENARY SPRINT CUP-G1, HK$10,000,000 (£984,230/€1,155,283/A$1,864,899/US$1,286,714), Sha Tin, 1-19, 3yo/up, 1200mT, 1:08.57, gd.
1–BEAT THE CLOCK (AUS), 126, g, 6, by Hinchinbrook (Aus)
1st Dam: Flion Fenena (Aus) (GSP-Aus), by Lion Hunter (Aus)
2nd Dam: Fenena (NZ), by Crested Wave
3rd Dam: On the Wind (NZ), by Sea Anchor (Ire)
(A$70,000 Ylg '15 INGMAR; NZ$200,000 2yo '15 NZBRTR). O-Merrick Chung Wai Lik; B-Miss J Henderson (NSW); T-John Size; J-Joao Moreira; HK$5,700,000. Lifetime Record: Ch. Sprinter-HK, 24-10-8-6, HK$52,561,525. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating: A.
2–Thanks Forever (Aus), 126, g, 4, Duporth (Aus)–Cinecitta (Aus), by Exceed and Excel (Aus). (A$170,000 Ylg '17 MMGCYS). O-Patrick Ng Pak Hong, Albert Lee Wai Choi, Francis Lee Lan Yee & Chan Wing Kwong; B-AC Lloyd Jones (NSW); T-John Moore; J-Grant van Niekerk; HK$2,200,000.
3–Hot King Prawn (Aus), 126, g, 5, Denman (Aus)–De Chorus (Aus), by Unbridled's Song. (A$90,000 Ylg '16 INGFEB). O-Lau Sak Hong; B-Torryburn Stud (NSW); T-John Size; J-Karis Teetan; HK$1,000,000.
Margins: HD, 1, HF. Odds: 3-2, 15-1, 13-5.
Also Ran: Wishful Thinker (Aus), Mr Stunning (Aus), Full of Beauty (Aus), D B Pin (NZ). Scratched: Premiere (NZ).
Click for the HKJC chart, PPs and sectional timing. VIDEO. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.

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