Rival trainer Tony Millard has warned that champion Hong Kong galloper Beauty Generation could become a “has-been” overnight ahead of the showdown against his much-improved galloper Elusive State on Sunday.
The South African handler said while he believed the seven-time Group One winner would bounce back from his shock defeat in Sunday’s Group Two Jockey Club Mile, the nature of horse racing meant he was very much beatable.
“With Beauty Generation getting turned upside down last time, one wouldn’t think that he would be vulnerable but this is horse racing,” he said.
“Things change and champions turn into has-beens overnight. I personally think he will win but you never know. Once a horse gets headed, anything can happen.”
After coming unstuck in last month’s Group Two Sha Tin Trophy (1,600m) while lugging the top weight of 133 pounds, Beauty Generation comes back to set weights and penalties conditions on Sunday.
With Glorious Forever and Ka Ying Star rolling forward last time, Beauty Generation was unable to bully the field with his dominant freewheeling style and run his opposition into the ground.
However, lining up against just six rivals here, Millard believes the John Moore-trained galloper may get his own way once again.
“Horse racing is horse racing, you think it’s a living certainty because it’s level weights but it doesn’t work out like that.
“I have seen champions get beat before, I have trained champions that have got beat before, they win at handicap and then get beat at level weights.
“We will take our chance and see how it goes, [Elusive State] is what he is, he is a dirt horse running on the grass so realistically we are blowing smoke up somebody's chimney but if you haven’t got a ticket, you haven’t got a chance.”
Millard remained typically coy about the awkwardly rated Elusive State, who is generally considered a dirt specialist but now finds himself with only limited opportunities in Hong Kong with a rating of 104.
He had previously mentioned the mega-rich US$20 million Saudi Cup and was last year keen to go to Dubai’s World Cup meeting with the former Derek Cruz-trained galloper, but has gone silent on what the future holds.
“We will have to see how it goes. I’m saying nothing,” Millard laughed.
Popular jockey Silvestre de Sousa will ride Elusive State in what marks a full book of rides for the Brazilian in his first meeting back at Hong Kong.
Millard has long been a fan of De Sousa’s work, with the pair enjoying a 27 per cent strike rate together last season.
“He has done well in Hong Kong, he knows the place and he has a good attitude,” he said. “A lot of jockeys have the ability but they have a bad attitude, he is going to really help.”