12/29/2017 2:56PM

Helene Paragon faces stern test in Chinese Club Challenge Cup

Hong Kong Jockey Club
Peniaphobia wins the 2015 Hong Kong Sprint, a Group 1 race.

Helene Paragon, third in the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin Racecourse on Dec. 10, is one of four Group 1 winners in Monday’s Group 3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup at seven furlongs on turf in Hong Kong.

In addition to the established runners, there are two promising geldings in Beat the Clock and Fifty Fifty, who have each won three of their last four starts and will have their first starts in group stakes on Monday.

The $384,024 Chinese Club Challenge Cup drew a field of 12 and is the 10th race on an 11-race program that begins at 11:30 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.

Helene Paragon, trained by John Moore, will carry the top weight of 133 pounds. A 6-year-old horse, Helene Paragon won consecutive Group 1 races in early 2017, including the Queen’s Jubilee Silver Cup at seven furlongs on turf at Sha Tin. Helene Paragon was beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Beauty Generation in the Hong Kong Mile.

“He definitely hasn’t taken any step backwards since his last run, and that was a good effort,” jockey Tommy Berry told Hong Kong Jockey Club publicity on Friday.

“He just got too far back, and we had to make a run from the back in a race that was run at a slow pace. If it was a strong pace, he’d have gone close to winning.”

Two other runners from the Hong Kong Mile field are in the Chinese Club Challenge Cup – Beauty Only, who was seventh, and Contentment, who was 12th.

Beauty Only, who carries 132 pounds in Monday’s race, won the Hong Kong Mile in 2016. Contentment won the Group 1 Champions Mile at Sha Tin last May and has been assigned 131 pounds for Monday’s race.

Peniaphobia, the winner of the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint in 2015, will carry 128 pounds. A 6-year-old, Peniaphobia was ninth in the Hong Kong Sprint on Dec. 10 and is winless in his last seven starts.

Beat the Clock, who will be ridden by leading rider Joao Moreira at 115 pounds, has won half of his 10 starts and tends to run from off the pace.

Fifty Fifty, who will carry 113 pounds, has a similar style. Fifty Fifty has won four of six starts, including a maiden race in New Zealand in November 2016 when he raced under the name Speedy Grey. Horses frequently have their names changed when sent to Hong Kong.

There will be support for Southern Legend, who has won his last two starts and is another with a light assignment at 115 pounds.

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