Having brushed aside the distaff division in all three legs of the Queens’ Tour for the second time in 2019, Silver Wolf did conclude last year with an uncharacteristically lacklustre performance against the males in the Grand Prix Stakes in December.
While back in restricted company on Sunday, Silver Wolf was not quite the overwhelming favorite she has been in these kinds of events in recent times. She was sent off as market leader but only narrowly ahead of Dia Road and last year’s Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup winner Clear Geom.
For a moment in the home straight it looked as though any concerns were unwarranted as Silver Wolf loomed up on the shoulder of Dia Road, who had led from the start, and briefly went past.
However, under jockey Kim Yong Geun, Dia Road fought back immediately and, with a 5kg weight advantage, pulled away to win by a full three-lengths on the line. Long shot Hwa Gi came in 3rd a further five-lengths adrift of Silver Wolf.
Dia Road, a four-year-old filly by Captain Coltish and out of the Menifee mare Gieongnal Geunal, moves on to six wins from seven starts with her only defeat coming at the hands of Clear Geom in the Gyeonggi Governor’s Cup. Like Silver Wolf, she is trained by Song Moon-Gil and has been similarly sensibly campaigned.
Dia Road and Silver Wolf could well clash again this summer when the Queens’ Tour gets underway with the Ttukseom Cup at Seoul on July 5th.
At Sha Tin the John Moore trained Beauty Genertion under Zac Purton returned to the winner’s arch with a tough victory for a history-making third victory in the 1400m feature in as many years and put behind him four successive defeats.
“The defeats have been disappointing but they hadn't been by any great margin,” Moore said after collecting the trophy for the fourth time in a row and eleventh time in his career.
“I said to the staff that we just had to try a few things a little bit different, just to tweak his mind and get him thinking that he can win races. We managed to do that by taking off the blinkers, putting on the side winkers and the bit-lifter.
“I jumped him out of the gate on Thursday morning,” he continued. “I did a lot of things with him trying to not stick to the same pattern as we’d had in the lead-up to the big races in the past. It was quite a different prep.”
Beauty Generation’s astute partner Zac Purton had hoped to lead the seven-runner affair but that plan was scotched when Hot King Prawn outpaced him and claimed the vanguard under Karis Teetan.
Purton opted instead to settle the seven-year-old in fourth, biding his time until the champ rolled up strongly at the turn into the straight. The Australian shook the reins and Beauty Generation drew level with the leader at the 300m point, and from there he ground out the win.
Hot King Prawn faded to third as Beauty Generation held off Ka Ying Star by half a length in a time of 1m 21.64s.
But while Beauty Generation proved that he still has what it takes to be a force at the highest level, the manner of victory – albeit into a headwind – lacked the imperious power of the peak performances that saw the Patrick Kwok-owned bay stand out as the world’s best miler.
“I don't think we’re going to see him as good as he was last season but he’s very close to that and that’s good enough to win some races,” Purton said.
Moore is looking to Meydan now and the G1 Dubai Turf (1800m) at the end of March, but that possible assignment is still at the discussion stage.
The day’s other feature at Sha Tin, the Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m), went to the Cruz-trained Time Warp under Joao Moreira.