It takes a special kind of person to enjoy riding Beauty Joy. However, Hugh Bowman loves the challenge – perhaps Hong Kong racing’s toughest individual assignment – of getting the best out of Sunday’s Group Three Lion Rock Trophy (1,600m) top weight.
Half a dozen jockeys have attempted to win Hong Kong races aboard six-year-old galloper Beauty Joy, who arrived in the city from Western Australia with a four-start unblemished record and a reputation for being troublesome and talented in equal measure.
Zac Purton is the only rider to pose for a Hong Kong winning photograph on Beauty Joy’s back, with last year’s Lion Rock Trophy – in which they defeated Alexis Badel and Cheerful Days by one and a quarter lengths – one of their five victories together.
Leading into the Group Three Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse (1,800m) at Sha Tin on November 6, Beauty Joy’s trainer, Tony Cruz, said, “Zac is the only jockey who can handle this horse”, but that was just before the Jockey Club announced Bowman was joining the local riding ranks.
Bowman has partnered Beauty Joy in four of his past half a dozen starts, and the Australian believes he has worked out how to extract maximum performance from the enigma, who beat all bar Golden Sixty in the Group One Champions Mile five weeks ago.
“I’ve enjoyed riding Beauty Joy since I arrived in Hong Kong. I’ve had a pretty good association with him despite not winning a race,” Bowman said.
“He’s been racing against the supreme horses. Now he finds a race where it’s probably a fair drop in class for him, but he’s carrying the top weight and giving a fair bit of weight to some decent opposition.
“It’s all about a consistent pace with him. He doesn’t need a fast pace, but it’s no good if the pace steadies mid-race – it doesn’t suit him.
“I’ve been lucky he’s been in races where he’s had tempo to suit. His last start was a prime example of that. The pace picked up nice and early, as opposed to international weekend, when the pace was quite sedate. Vincent [Ho Chak-yiu] came out to a one-off position down the back, and I went out and forced the tempo [against California Spangle].
“It’s more to do with the running of races than his manners. It’s not like he over-races. He’s got a particularly light mouth, and as soon as you put the bit in it, he doesn’t react well. It’s about trying to flow and keep a nice rhythm with him.”
Beauty Joy carries 13 pounds more than Beauty Eternal in the first of Sunday’s two Group Three contests at Sha Tin, and Bowman thinks the lighter-weighted Kwok-owned runner
merits betting favouritism.
“He’s clearly the one to beat,” said Bowman of Beauty Eternal, who has won five of his eight starts and never finished outside the trifecta positions.
“Beluga is racing very well too, but these horses are probably a class above the opposition he’s been facing. Fantastic Treasure is racing in good form.
“It’s a small and select field. I’d prefer it at set weights, but it’s not, so we’ll see what we can do.”
Bowman’s minimum riding weight exceeds 121 pounds, so he jumps off Courier Wonder and jumps on another John Size-prepared speedster in Sight Success – who lugs 125 pounds – in Sunday’s Group Three Sha Tin Vase (1,200m).
“He was a bit under par last start,” Bowman said of Sight Success, who finished fourth in the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m) five weeks on from his fourth placing in the Group One Al Quoz Sprint (1,200m) in Dubai.
“I’ve trialled him since – pretty soft trial. It’s going to depend on if he’s bounced back from his trip overseas. You take him on trust. Lucky Sweynesse is probably too good, but we’ll do our best.”
Brenton Avdulla, whose first 49 rides in Hong Kong have resulted in one second and five thirds, teams up with the 2021 Sha Tin Vase winner, Courier Wonder.
Avdulla, the son of a bookmaker, knows better than most people that handicapping theory says Courier Wonder should turn the tables on Lucky Sweynesse from the Chairman’s Sprint Prize – 14 pounds is too much of a swing for three and a quarter lengths over 1,200m.
However, he is not sure basic weights and measures apply to Manfred Man Ka-leung’s superstar.
“Winners win, and winners keep winning. You’ve got to respect Lucky Sweynesse. He’s got the big weight, but he’s the best sprinter in Hong Kong,” Avdulla said.
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