Hong Kong Derby – The Sunday Highlight

John Size, who is seeking his fourth BMW Hong Kong Derby triumph at Sha Tin on Sunday, is cautiously optimistic after leading Classics contender Beauty Eternal moved into the middle of the field.

With Fay Fay (2012), Luger (2015) and Ping Hai Star (2018) victorious, Sunday’s Size is represented by three runners – Beauty Eternal, Tuchel and Sweet Encounter – but the nature of Beauty Eternal’s searing climb through the classes below Zac Purton means the Starspangledbanner gelding has become the arbitrary benchmark of this season’s four-year harvest.

Beauty Eternal – a popular pick for the big Sunday (Pic -HKJC)

Referring to Chestnut’s exciting draw in barrier seven, Size said: “I think it’s alright, Zac has options from there and I’m sure he has a better idea of ​​what he wants to do depending, who moved around him. But I think seven is fine. It doesn’t seem like a big disadvantage.

“It really depends on the horse himself how important the gate is and then of course the course of the race determines the value of the draw. I think in most races it’s nice to get a good gate where your horse gets a good opportunity and can show its worth.”

Winner of his last three starts and four of five overall, Beauty Eternal has gone from a grade of 52 to a 94 in his first pre-season, which has been far from seamless due to injuries and two race-day scratches.

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His stunning progress, capped by a stunning win over class 2 rivals in the 1600m on February 26, has surprised even 11-time trainer Size.

“That goal (the derby) came about pretty quickly for him. He could have prepared better to race more, but as I mentioned, you never know what’s good or bad about preparation,” Size said.

“He had a couple of stoppages that might have helped him get to this race, whereas if he had a few more runs he might not have made it. So you have to deal with what you have and that’s where I like to go into the race. He seems to be in very good order. He hasn’t changed much since his last race and he’s handled it well.

“The more they race, the more stress they have and the more likely it is to affect them. That they actually missed a race probably helped mentally.”

Purton and Size recently shared the BMW Hong Kong Derby success with Luger.

England’s Ryan Moore will partner with Size’s Tuchel in hopes of emulating Ping Hai Star’s win five years ago, and Size is pleased with the redwood gelding’s draw in barrier one.

“I’m not overly concerned that he’s on track because he has the pace to follow the leaders. He will not return to field or midfield,” Size said of the four-time Hong Kong winner.

“He’s making good progress. He too had a major break a few months ago. He seems to be in pretty good shape going into the race. He’s a bit fitter than three weeks ago.”

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Completing Size’s squad was Sweet Encounter, who landed in goal two for Luke Currie.

After stringing together four wins from his first five appearances in Hong Kong, Sweet Encounter’s form rejuvenated in the first two legs of the HK$48 million Four-Year-Old Classic Series, finishing eighth at the Hong Kong Classic Mile on January 29 (1600m). 11th at the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) on February 26th.

“Physically he was fine. (Lately) he hasn’t finished. We put blinders on him so he can concentrate. We saw him run 1800m (win on December 11, 2022) and he looked like a stayer,” Size said.

Hong Kong Classic Cup winner Super Sunny Sing will look to give Chris So his maiden BMW Hong Kong Derby win as he seeks his fifth straight win at the weekend.

Super Sunny Sing is a big runner on Sunday (Image – HKJC)

Super Sunny Sing will be ridden by Vincent Ho, one win short of Hong Kong 500 victories, and will start obstacle nine.

“It’s okay, not bad at all,” So said of the draw. “On the A route, there are many winners from draw nine. But for Beauty Eternal, it seems like tie seven represents the highest percentage of winners.

“I have to study it, but for now I’m happy with the draw. It will depend on the pace but I think draw nine isn’t that bad but we’ll let Vincent do the work. I honestly don’t know what pace to expect, but usually the pace is a bit slow in the big races.

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“That’s why we let Vincent do the work – he’s the main actor in the race.”

Hong Kong Classic Mile winner Voyage Bubble was the worst performer in the draw, finishing in gate 14 for Ricky Yiu and Alexis Badel, while Galaxy Witness (gate three) drew well for Caspar Fownes and Damian Lane.

Frankie Lor will saddle Keefy (barrier five) for Derek Leung and Sword Point (gate six) for Hugh Bowman in the 14-horse field.

Another reminder that the revamped free Hollywoodbets Punters’ Challenge is now being run at all local racing events, as well as matches in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The new prize payout formulas mean that in addition to the daily must win prize of R5,000 awarded to the top 20 on the leaderboard for each Challenge Race Meeting, there is now the all or nothing jackpot prize of 100% clean sheet awarded is determined by the number of runners at the race event multiplied by R10,000 per unit, for all venues.

And as an added incentive, any player who wagers R50 or more on the bet slip generated by participating in the Hollywoodbets Punters’ Challenge will automatically have their potential winning payout from the competition doubled!

The Sha Tin meeting on Sunday starts at 07:00 with the Class 4 Sky Darci Handicap (1200m).

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