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It’s time to get Hong Kong’s finest champions on the protected list after the city’s two-time Horse of the Year’s name popped up this week in a Kempton Park maiden.
We had the Indian Winx, now we have the British Beauty Generation and the groans can be heard from Sha Tin all the way to Newmarket’s Snailwell Road where Marco Botti has charge of the young ‘imposter’ to the Hong Kong champion’s moniker.
‘THE’ Beauty Generation, let’s be reminded, was a New Zealand-bred gelding that bossed the mile ranks in Hong Kong for trainer John Moore and owners the Kwok family, whose horses invariably carry the ‘Beauty’ prefix. Under the cool piloting of Zac Purton, the powerful bay was imperious in his prime and won 18 races (10 in a row), including eight Group 1s, and set a Hong Kong prize money record at the time of HK$106,233,750.
The new Beauty Generation debuted at Kempton Park on Wednesday evening in the dark green silks of Francesco Sorge and passed the post a running-on fifth of 10. The Ulysses colt was a 15,000 guineas foal at Tattersalls in December 2021 and fetched 18,000 guineas when resold as a yearling at Tattersalls Book 3 last October.
Experience ocmes to the fore in the @UnibetRacing / @BritishEBF Restricted Maiden Stakes as Bigger Than Giga sees off debutant Haya Taal to score in the hands of @D_Muscutttt for @kpfracing 🥇 pic.twitter.com/Gscr91phuU
— Kempton Park Racecourse (@kemptonparkrace) June 28, 2023
Identity theft is a hazard of the age, but it’s been a problem in horse racing forever and a day, or so it seems. As imposters go, the old ‘ringer’ scams always make for colourful yarns: think the Running Rein scandal of 1844 or Australia’s notorious Fine Cotton ruse of 1984.
Then we have the duplicate-naming of horses. Back in the mid-1990s British racing had the awkward case of two horses named Averti, both foaled in 1991: a US-bred filly for owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte operation and a colt bred in Ireland by owner-breeder John Deer. They even raced against each other, at Yarmouth on June 30, 1994: Averti finished fifth … and sixth.
And there is Moore’s Hong Kong champion from earlier this century, Viva Pataca, who was in fact the second Viva Pataca to race in the city, the first having won the Sha Tin Trophy in 1981 for his father George Moore.
But aren’t the names of outstanding champions protected? Doesn’t the IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities) have a list of some 3,200-plus names that will never be used again? Well, yes and no.
In the case of Winx, that one slipped through due not only to the fact that India was not part of the international agreement to protect famous racehorse names, but also because Winx was not added to the protected list until after the Bangalore-based gelding was named.
But Beauty Generation’s duplication is possible because Beauty Generation is not a protected name at all, and neither is Ambitious Dragon, or Viva Pataca, or Sacred Kingdom, or Good Ba Ba, or Able Friend, all Hong Kong standouts this century.
You see, according to the IFHA’s website, back in 1996 when moves were made to protect names internationally, it was decided that the winners of nine selected major races around the world would have their names ‘retired’. That was increased in 2004 so that there are now 11 races that will ensure their winners’ names cannot be used again.
Those races are the Japan Cup, Hong Kong Cup, Melbourne Cup, Dubai World Cup, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Breeders’ Cup Turf, Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini and Grande Premio Brasil.
What leaps out immediately is that not all champions deserving name protection will compete in that small sample of races. That being so, there is a provision that enables a horseracing authority to request that a horse’s name be protected.
In 2020, Japan’s Triple Crown winner Contrail was added at the request of the JRA. Two years prior, Britain had Cracksman and Stradivarius added on request, while Japan successfully asked for Lord Kanaloa and Orfevre to be protected, as did the US for Justify. It was a request in 2017 that got Winx her protected status.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club, it would seem, has not made a request for Beauty Generation and here we are, two and a half years after his retirement, with a young upstart carrying his name.
Perhaps it’s time for the IFHA and the world’s racing authorities to revisit how they determine whether or not a horse’s name should be protected.
It is most definitely time for the HKJC to make a push and ensure some of Hong Kong’s very finest have their names protected permanently. That way we will not have the utterly ridiculous situation of Romantic Warrior, Glorious Forever and Time Warp enjoying name protection simply for winning the Hong Kong Cup, while a superior champion, an outstanding hero of the Hong Kong sporting sphere like Beauty Generation, has his name pop up in a low-level Polytrack maiden.
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