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Beauty Eternal tunes up for Sha Tin Trophy return: ‘hopefully, he can take that next step this seaso

Beauty Eternal kicked off what connections hope is a march to the Longines Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) at Tuesday’s trials at Sha Tin, with jockey Zac Purton hopeful the five-year-old “can take that next step this season”.

While the son of Starspangledbanner won seven races in his debut campaign and rocketed 65 points up the ratings to a mark of 117, there was still a feeling of what could have been after he finished third in the Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) as the much-hyped $2.3 favourite.

“He felt good, he was quite well behaved, but obviously he’s not fit yet and as he gets fitter, that streak might start to come back out,” Purton said of a galloper who deposited him onto the Sha Tin track while playing up pre-race on New Year’s Day.

“This is, basically, his second preparation now. He’s had the benefit of a break, and he feels like he’s in reasonable order. He moved very well, he still had the enthusiasm, so hopefully, he can take that next step this season.”

Beauty Eternal, who rounded out last term with consecutive Group Three victories, sat wide throughout before cruising across the line in sixth in yesterday’s 1,200m all-weather hit-out.

After delaying his star’s return to the trials by a few days, trainer John Size confirmed his galloper will resume in the Group Two Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m) on October 15.

“It was too wet last week. I didn’t want to trial him in case he put his foot down wrong. It was a

better track today,” Size said.

“We weren’t testing him, just doing a bit of exercise, so he’ll have another trial and run on the 15th.

“It looks the mile is the go. I think the sprints are probably too quick for him, and I think he probably doesn’t run the 2,000m, so we’ll keep him at the 1,600m. He’s proven he’s effective at that, so we’ll leave him there.”

It was Voyage Bubble who took the honours in March’s Derby and his trainer, Ricky Yiu Poon-fai, is happy with how his stable star is tracking after knee surgery in May.

“He’s doing well, he’s started to gallop step by step – from 400m to 800m – and the feedback is positive. He’s a real athlete,” Yiu said.

“He’s come back really strong. He’ll come back to Hong Kong in a couple of weeks. We want to trial him with a proper jockey here in Hong Kong.”

Yiu will see how Voyage Bubble trials before identifying a first-up assignment, but confirmed the Group One Hong Kong Mile at December’s HKIR, and the possibility of another meeting with Beauty Eternal, is the ultimate goal at this stage.

Entries for HKIR close on October 23, and Jockey Club head of racing product Greg Carpenter is hopeful the early star of the Australian spring, Mr Brightside, reigning Group One Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) champion Win Marilyn and April’s Group One QE II Cup (2,000m) runner-up Prognosis will grace Sha Tin on the city’s biggest day of racing.

“We’re confident we’ll get good numbers and good quality. The response to this point, more than a month before entries close, has been very encouraging,” Carpenter said of the interest in HKIR’s four Group One races, which boast a record HK$118 million in prize money this year.

“The level of interest from Europe has been very positive. As always, the four races come December will be very strong. We’ve already had indications from Japan they’ll be fielding good numbers and good quality. We’re working really hard on trying to grow the Australian participation.”

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