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Zac Purton hopes to seal record-extending eighth Stewards’ Cup for John Size

January 17, 2024 at 3:57:26 AM

John Size will aim to continue his dominance of the HK$13 million G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on Sunday (21 January) at Sha Tin.

John Size will aim to continue his dominance of the HK$13 million G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on Sunday (21 January) at Sha Tin.

The most successful trainer in the race’s history with seven victories, Size is represented by mercurial chestnut Beauty Eternal in the first leg of the Triple Crown, who teams up with familiar ally six-time Hong Kong Champion Jockey Zac Purton.

“Beauty Eternal’s trials have looked good. He seems to have come through his run in December in good shape and it’ll be good to be back on him – hopefully he can produce his best,” Purton said.

Purton has three wins in the Stewards’ Cup, while he and Size have significant history together. The pair combined in 2022 to win with Waikuku, who downed Hong Kong’s current champion Golden Sixty in spectacular fashion.

“We know what it takes to win it. We have a good chance, it’ll just come down to barriers, race speed, track bias – there’s not a lot between them,” Purton said.

Sired by Starspangledbanner, Beauty Eternal has earnt HK$18.79 million across 13 starts. His most recent victory came in the HK$5.35 million G2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1600m) last November.

“I’m not sure – I think what we see might be what we’re going to get. He could have reached his peak and, on his day, that’s good enough. We just need the right circumstances,” Purton said.

Voyage Bubble, Straight Arron, California Spangle, Russian Emperor, Healthy Happy, Beauty Joy and Fantastic Treasure are also entered to run this weekend.

“Voyage Bubble has been doing well this season – he’s going to be tough to beat. It’ll be interesting to see how California Spangle goes – he’s put in a couple of below par performances for whatever reason but he could easily bounce back.

“It’s an interesting race,” Purton said.

Sunday’s Stewards’ Cup is without Golden Sixty, who suffered a minor setback.

Purton has three wins in the Stewards’ Cup, scoring with Fellowship (2010) and Beauty Generation (2019) before Waikuku.

Size’s six other Stewards’ Cup triumphs came from Electronic Unicorn (2002 & 2003), Super Kid (2004), Armada (2007), Glorious Days (2013) and Waikuku (2020).

Hong Kong’s Triple Crown also features the HK$13 million G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) and HK$13 million G1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m).

River Verdon is the only horse in history to win all three races in the same season, doing so in 1994 to complete the Triple Crown.

Leading the jockeys’ standings on 50 wins, Purton reunites with Lucky Sweynesse in the HK$13 million G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) at Sha Tin on 28 January.

“It was good to see him win in December. He looked as though he trialled well the other day and at his best he’s clearly the best horse in the race.

“It’s interesting to see a field as big as it is. I think after Lucky With You ran second in the Hong Kong Sprint that it’s given a few people a bit of confidence to roll the dice and try their luck,” Purton said.

Lucky Sweynesse won the HK$26 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) last December – his fourth triumph at the top-level.

Courier Wonder, Duke Wai, Flying Ace, Lucky With You, Packing Treadmill, Sight Success, Son Pak Fu, Super Wealthy, Taj Dragon, Victor The Winner, Wellington and Whizz Kid hold entries for the Centenary Sprint Cup.

The Centenary Sprint Cup is the first leg of the Hong Kong Speed Series, which carries a HK$5 million bonus for victory in all three legs.

The second leg is the HK$13 million G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m), while the third is the HK$22 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).

Lucky Sweynesse is aiming to become the second horse after Silent Witness (2003/04 & 2004/05) to win the Hong Kong Speed Series twice.

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