Southern Legend has ruined Beauty Generation’s bid for a third Champions Mile at Sha Tin with a last-stride victory over Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year.
The win on the Caspar Fownes-trained seven-year-old was a first at Group One level for home-grown jockey Vincent Ho who served his apprenticeship with the winning trainer.
Both Southern Legend and Beauty Generation did their early racing in Sydney with the latter Hong Kong’s highest-rated horse in world rankings.
Southern Legend was originally being prepared for a tilt at a third-straight win in the Kranji Mile but those plans had to be changed when Singapore racing shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fownes switched his program to Sunday’s feature meeting at Sha Tin with racing continuing in Hong Kong without public attendance.
“We had the opportunity to set Southern Legend and go for the Singapore race, to try and go for three wins in a row there, but when this virus hit we had to change plans pretty quickly,” Fownes told the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
“He’s beaten the best on their day, there’s no doubt about that. When horses were flying, he beat Pakistan Star, Nothingilikemore and now the best horse Hong Kong’s ever seen, Beauty Generation.
“This is all about Vincent. He deserves that more than anyone.
“With hard work, if you keep plugging away, things will come your way. To get it on my horse, that’s extra special.
“He’s been a great kid and he deserves all the success he can get and I think hopefully next season, if the local trainers and all of us can get behind him, we can certainly put him up there to fight it out with Zac (Purton) and Joao (Moreira).”
Beauty Generation was ridden by ex-pat Australian Purton with trainer John Moore flagging retirement to coincide with his own departure from Hong Kong.
The 70-year-old Moore will relocate to Rosehill in Sydney at the end of the season with Hong Kong enforcing the mandatory age limit for trainers.
“I’d like to take him back for a mile race in Australia and then have him stay there at the Living Legends Farm,” Moore said.
“That’s what I’d like to do but what the Kwok family wants to do is what counts, I don’t know whether they’ll keep racing him or retire him.”
Purton did not come away empty handed, riding Exultant to win the QEII Cup to to become the first jockey to win all Hong Kong’s Group One races.
Karis Teetan took out the Chairman’s Sprint, the other Group One race on the program, aboard Mr Stunning.
While Joao Moreira failed to ride one of the major winners, a treble on the program means he maintains his three-win buffer over Purton in the race for the jockeys’ premiership.