The eight-time group 1 winner has hero status in Hong Kong but some are comparing his dip in form to that of 2004 Hong Kong Sprint champion and three-time world champion sprinter Silent Witness.
In his first 17 starts, Silent Witness remained unbeaten in Hong Kong, starting the favourite in all, a remarkable 15 being at odds on, before Bullish Luck got the better of him in the final bound at Sha Tin in the Champion’s Mile in 2005.
He won only once in 12 starts after that and was retired with 18 wins from 29 starts and $11.78m in stakes.
Now, Beauty Generation has his chance to prove the naysayers wrong and have the expected 70,000-plus crowd at Sha Tin roaring.
The gelding took to the Sha Tin turf track alongside regular lead horse, the retired group 3 winner Harbour Master, and completed a 1200m gallop in a leisurely 1 minute 24.4 seconds, quickening over the final 400m in 23.9s.
“We’ve tweaked some things,” Moore said. “He’s fit and a very sound horse. No excuses now. He’s not giving away lots of weight so we’re looking forward to a big run.”
Beauty Generation stepped out at his heaviest racing weight (1161 pounds) when successful under top weight in the Celebration Cup. There is a school of thought that the champ’s two subsequent third placings, the latest a dour third, could be linked to that epic, track record-setting, first-up effort.
“His weight has been a bit of an issue, definitely. We can go back to the first run and that probably took more of an edge off him than we anticipated it would have, but we’re not looking for excuses now. The bottom line is he has to be ready for the big race on Sunday, and he is,” Moore said.
While Beauty Generation’s story is massive, the emergence of Aethero is not overshadowed.
The Australian-bred three-year-old has cut a swathe through the sprinting ranks, including with a triumph in the group 2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) last month.
“I wanted eight to 10, so five is not a bad one,” Moore said of the barrier.
“He can be a fraction slow to begin before he gets into that high tempo … it gives a chance to weigh up the options.
“We hope we’ve got the real deal, and with that three-year-old weight allowance, he should be very close.”
Zac Purton will partner Beauty Generation and Aethero.
John Size has a strong hand in the event headed by the runner-up in the last two editions, D B Pin, which will jump from 13, and another rising star in Hot King Prawn, last year’s beaten favourite, across the track in barrier one.
“I think they’re drawn according to their chances, really,” Size said.
“Hot King Prawn’s in one and they work their way out from there – Beat The Clock [barrier three], Full Of Beauty [five], Ivictory , D B Pin.
“I think the gates are pretty important for this event. It’s only a short run to the first turn and the three horses drawn inside will probably get the easiest run.
“D B Pin has been going very, very well but it’s a disappointing gate for him. Ryan Moore will have to be at his best to get something out of him.”
Trainer Frankie Lor was happy with barrier two for hat-trick seeking Mr Stunning.
“No problem with the draws for mine. Mr Stunning drew in, which was good,” he said.
Likely tactics were confirmed for high-class four-year-old Ka Ying Star by trainer Tony Cruz after the barrier draw.
“I’m very happy with gate one, it’s the perfect alley for him,” Cruz said. “I was hoping for it and he’ll go to the front.
“In their previous race, Beauty Generation was on his inside and Ka Ying Star was on his outside. But Beauty Generation carried him out and off the track.
“This time I don’t think we have to fight it out like that. I believe it will be a smoother race and everybody has a fair chance. Definitely he is improving and he’s sure to be in the finish.”
Size’s progressive Waikuku beat Beauty Generation and Ka Ying Star in the Jockey Club Mile but was drawn on the outside in 10.
“It is a stronger race and there is tougher competition here, particularly from the Japanese entries,” Size said.
“He’d have to improve and then some to win the race, but it’s not impossible. I’ll have to look at the draw first. I’ve just seen the outside gate and I think we’ll make some plans in the coming days.”
High profile half-brothers Time Warp and Glorious Forever have won the past two editions of the group 1 Hong Kong Cup (2000m) and were drawn in adjacent gates.
Lor has the former Kris Lees galloper Furore in the 2000m feature and was open about the news that he would be in barrier one.
“It probably doesn’t matter too much, the draw in the Cup with a small field and it’s probably the same for the Mile.”
The decorated Cruz was unconcerned about barrier 14 for Exultant, who was last year’s best local middle-distance performer and stayer and goes for glory in the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m).
“I’m not worried about it, I think it’s better for him because I don’t want him to be stuck in traffic going fast and slow, steadying up here and there,” he said.
“I prefer him to be out there with clear running.”
The draw was not kind to Aidan O’Brien’s two runners, with Anthony Van Dyck entering gate 12 and stable companion Mount Everest wider still in 13.
Prince Of Arran, fresh from another visit to Australia, had fortune on his side this time around.
After receiving barrier eight, Natasha Eaton, representing trainer Charlie Fellowes, said: “That was quite emotional. There was a lot of pressure after he was drawn widest last year.
“I’m delighted and thrilled, it’s just what we needed. We can play with that draw and I’ve been told that eight is a lucky number here.”