Beauty Only wins the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile
Image supplied by Hong Kong Jockey Club
Beauty Only came with a beautifully timed run to land the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin.
A field of 14 went to post for this contest.
As the gates burst open it was Beauty Flame from a wide berth who broke fastest ad cut out the early pace from Neorealism and Logotype, with Contentment settled in fourth, ahead of Packing Pins.
Up front, Beauty Flame continued to bowl along and took the field into the home straight from Neorealism, with Contentment trying to close.
However, the complexion of the race changed dramatically with 1 ½ furlongs to race as the leaders were swamped by a wall of horses.
As contentment joined the leaders, Joyful Trinity came with a powerful run and out wider Beauty Only and Zac Purton also began to charge, while further back, Able Friend was closing.
Joyful Trinity inched into the lead but was immediately passed to his outer by Beauty Only and Helene Paragon and it was Beauty Only, from an unfavourable draw 13, who got the prize.
Helene Paragon lost little in second, with Joyful Trinity winning a blanket finish for third ahead of Contentment and Logotype, with Able Friend right on their heels.
Beauty Only was giving Purton a big race double on the day.
“He was really good today,” Purton said. “I think we’re just starting to see the best of him. He’s always been so honest but now that he’s fully matured and acclimatised we’re really seeing what he can do.
“He is much improved this season and he was very strong out there today. Hughie (Bowman) pushed off the fence about the 700 (metres), which made me have to go a bit earlier than I wanted to but the horse has got a big set of lungs and kept running. We set sail after the leaders and he responded really well. I believe he can stretch out to 2000 (metres) so there was no doubting him being strong at the end of the mile.
“The firm ground suited, the harder the better for him, and so did the good speed,” he added. “We know he does his best now if we let him balance up early.”
Trainer Tony Cruz was perhaps even more effusive than Purton about what the future might hold for the five-year-old who was imported from Italy.
“I think we haven’t seen the best of him yet. From the day we bought him, we had high expectations with him and I’m so pleased to see how he has improved this season. He’s a good horse to handle, a real professional and he’s gone on as we thought he would after winning the lead-up race.
“We’ll generally keep him to local races but I’d look to the Yasuda Kinen in Japan as the mile and the firm ground there is perfect for him,” Cruz said.
Runner-up Helene Paragon confirmed that he is also on the rise after his luckless seventh behind today’s winner in the G2 Jockey Club Mile and rider Hugh Bowman was delighted with his effort.
“I was held up when Zac (Purton) made his run but I still felt I had the horse to peg him back. Look, he was too strong late and although I was held up for a few strides, I had plenty of time. He has a bright future and will be a headline horse here in Hong Kong,” he said.
Helene Paragon’s trainer John Moore, second only to Cruz in the HKIR trainers tally, also had to be content with third prize with Joyful Trinity while stable star and 2014 Hong Kong Mile winner Able Friend was beaten two lengths into sixth place with his interrupted preparation telling in the end.
Jockey Joao Moreira said of Able Friend: “He feels like he needed another run, his lack of fitness told. He should be right on his next run.”