Beauty Eternal catapulted himself into Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) favouritism when he brought down the curtain on Sunday’s Sha Tin programme with the best audition yet for this season’s HK$24 million showpiece event.
Sent off the $1.3 favourite for the Class Three Des Voeux Handicap (1,400m) on what was his first start beyond 1,200m, Beauty Eternal’s arrogant one-and-three-quarter-length victory prompted overseas fixed-odds bookmakers to immediately promote him to the top of their Derby markets at $4.
The early leader from barrier one, Beauty Eternal eventually settled behind Master Hero and another talented galloper who holds a Derby entry, Australian Group Three winner Majestic Colour.
But as the Des Voeux Handicap field exited the final turn and straightened up for the run to the finish, it was only a matter of time before Beauty Eternal, who was cantering under Zac Purton, retook the lead.
With a lapful of horse awaiting his instructions and a clear path to the winning line – the latter was not the case when Beauty Eternal suffered his only defeat on Ladies’ Purse Day in November – Purton looked over his shoulder as his mount cruised ahead of Master Hero and Majestic Colour with 250m to go.
Such was the ease with which Beauty Eternal was racking up his third win from four starts that Purton was able to turn his head and check on the whereabouts of their outclassed opponents another three times from the 200m marker to the 100m pole.
Even though Purton allowed Beauty Eternal to pass the winning post under his own steam, the John Size-trained son of Starspangledbanner clocked a time 0.2 seconds inside standard for the grade.
“It was a nice win,” an understated Purton said of Beauty Eternal’s most eye-catching performance of his fledgling career. “He drew a good gate. He’s beginning nicely. He’s getting better every start.
Zac Purton and John Size discuss Beauty Eternal’s Class Three Des Voeux Handicap winning performance.
“We wanted to get some cover because if you want to get him out over further, you need to teach him to be a proper racehorse. I was happy when a couple went forward around us. We were in a lovely rhythm all the way and he enjoyed it,” added Purton, for whom Beauty Eternal rounded out his Sha Tin treble.
Someone else who enjoyed it was Size, whose patience Beauty Eternal has tested this term – the four-year-old gelding missed a run in November because of race-day lameness and a run in January after he dislodged Purton during the pre-race preliminaries.
“Sometimes interruptions help you. Sometimes they don’t,” said Size, who has saddled three Hong Kong Derby winners – Fay Fay (2012), Luger (2015) and Ping Hai Star (2018) in his illustrious career.
“If you get an interruption it might make you go a little bit slower. Sometimes it’s a good thing. Sometimes you don’t get there in time.
“We’re not completely disadvantaged at the moment. We’ll go race by race. We’ve got to absorb what happened, see how he does in the next week and see what we can do to get
him ready for the next race.
“We’ll keep asking him. If he keeps going the right way, he’s willing to do it and he keeps improving, we’ll keep going and see where we end up.”
Size indicated Beauty Eternal is likely to have one more run before the Derby on March 19, but is unlikely to contest the Classic Cup (1,800m) on February 26.
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