Upbeat after setting a new Hong Kong record for the most wins by a jockey at Happy Valley, Zac Purton turns his attention to next year's Four-Year-Old Classic Series when Beautyverse tackles the Class 1 Chevalier Cup Handicap (1600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (27 November).
An impressive first-up winner from barrier 14 over 1600m on November 6, 2022 Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) winner Beautyverse (120lb) will tackle LONGINES Hong Kong International Races selected runners Excellent Proposal (135lb) and Butterfield (134lb) in his most serious challenge so far.
“It's a good test for Beautyverse. Of course, he won really nicely first-up and he did it the tough way from a wide gate, having to make all which may not end up being his racing style. We'll find out more about that as we go on,” said Purton, who has posted 46 wins in 20 meetings this season to hold a 25-win lead in the jockeys' championship.
“He's trained on well from what I understand, all his better form overseas was at 2000m and beyond and he's a real galloper which is why he was able to sustain the tough run and continue on with his brave effort first-up.
“I've seen a lot of PP horses (Privately Purchased Horses) come to Hong Kong and run really well first time and then they haven't been able to back it up, so he needs to back it up and if he can, we might have a nice one.”
Trained by Mick Price and Michael Kent (Jnr) in Australia when he raced as Jungle Magnate, Beautyverse is among Purton's provisional choices for the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, which features the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) on 29 January, the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) on 26 February and the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) on 19 March.
“It'll be nice to see where we're at because he's only eight weeks away from the Four-Year-Old Classic Series so he probably only has the chance to maybe have one or if he's lucky two more runs before then, so it's just a matter of getting the competition into him and keeping his fitness up and seeing what we've got,” Purton said of Beautyverse.
“That's where he's heading and there are some other nice horses floating around as well so I think this season's series should be quite competitive and hopefully I can end up on the right one.”
Chasing a sixth Hong Kong jockeys' championship, Purton takes a full book of rides into Sunday's 10-race meeting and the Australian is also positive about Beauty Eternal's prospects in the Class 3 Chevalier Environmental Engineering Handicap (1200m) for John Size.
A luckless third behind Science Patch at Sha Tin over 1200m on 6 November, when he was severely checked and stumbled in the straight, Beauty Eternal faces Cruz's talented young sprinter Superb Capitalist in an intriguing clash.
“Beauty Eternal was obviously very impressive first-up and really stiff last start but I think he showed us two things last start – one, he's a talented horse and, two, he's very brave as well,” Purton said.
“He didn't shirk his task at all and I think that's going to hold him in good stead going forward. Against that, he just hasn't been able to get himself out of the gates with a lot of speed so far and he does give the impression that he already wants further than what he's racing at.
“We're on the C course and we're up against Superb Capitalist, who was extremely impressive first-up and, at this distance, he does everything right – he's got great gate speed, he's going to put himself in front out of a trouble on a rail position that's going to favour him and be hard to catch but it might open the race up a bit.”
Vincent Ho will bid to extend an excellent season aboard Frankie Lor's One Voice (134lb) in the Class 4 Chevalier E & M Engineering Handicap (1400m), while Luke Currie will look to return to the winners' stall in the same race on Michael Chang-trained Ching (129lb).
“He's a big horse, a strong horse – I think he can cope with the weight,” Ho said of One Voice, while Currie is similarly optimistic about Ching, who finished powerfully last start when second to Young Victory.
“I wouldn't say a little bit unlucky last start – he was very unlucky. I don't think gate one is an advantage or a disadvantage but he should run well,” the Australian said.
Sunday's (November 27) meeting at Sha Tin starts with the Class 4 Chevalier Aluminium Engineering Handicap (1000m) at 12.45pm.