By David Morgan, Hong Kong Jockey Club
Joao Moreira outpointed Zac Purton three wins to zero with a skillful treble to move to within one of his championship rival, having been winless against the Australian’s five-timer at Happy Valley midweek.
The scores at the end of the day stood at 113-114, with 18 race meetings left in the current Hong Kong season.
The Brazilian wrapped up the trio atop the John Size-trained Hong Kong Win in the Class 2 Amethyst Handicap (1000m).
“He had a smooth run today, so circumstances just played his way. He’s a good horse and he’s still in the making,” he said.
Moreira rode a sweet stalking race on Perfect To Play, settling behind the lead and waiting for the gap to open midway down the straight. He asked his mount to quicken when daylight was sighted, and, reacting to strong insistence, the Caspar Fownes-trained galloper battled on to take the Class 4 Sapphire Handicap (1800m) by a neck.
One race later, the ‘Magic Man’ overcame gate 12 to score aboard the Francis Lui-trained This One’s For You (129lb) in the Class 4 Ruby Handicap (1650m, dirt). Moreira had to bide his time as he plotted a path through traffic, eventually pulling wide in the straight for a clear run to nick it by a head from Party Everyday (120lb).
The win took Moreira’s total wins this term for the yard to six from only 17 rides – an impressive strike rate of 35%.
“Sometimes you find luck and I had a bit of it with those two earlier rides. Hopefully we can keep on kicking in winners!” he said.
Borges in the zone
Vagner Borges is eight weeks into his current Hong Kong contract and took his tally to seven wins with a first double in the city, having drawn a blank from 31 rides during his debut stint last July.
The Brazilian struck first in race two, the Class 3 Jasper Handicap (1650m, dirt), aboard Touch Of Luck for the in-form Moore stable. The success took the rider’s record for the trainer – at that juncture – to three wins at a 30% win strike rate.
“John Moore has helped me a lot, he treats me well and gives me some nice rides,” Borges said through an interpreter.
— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) May 9, 2020
Borges followed up in the next, section one of the Class 4 Peridot Handicap (1200m), when galvanizing the Michael Chang-trained Gallant Legacy to a length and three-quarter score. The International Sale graduate’s maiden win at start nine took the handler to 13 wins for the term.
“I have to thank the trainers and owners for the opportunities they have given me,” Borges said. “This support allows me to show that I can do a good job – I’m happy with how things are going right now.”
Karis Teetan and Benno Yung teamed successfully for the third time this term to bag a second win on the bounce for the lightly-raced six-year-old Humble Steed, another graduate of the Hong Kong International Sale. The Class 5 Topaz Handicap (1600m) was only the 10th race for the Kodiac gelding across three seasons, due to a catalogue of leg injuries.
Antoine Hamelin claimed the finale, the Class 3 Emerald Handicap (1400m), with yet another thunderous wide-and-late charge, this time on the Jimmy Ting-trained Assimilate.
The first race of the day, section two of the Class 4 Peridot Handicap (1200m), saw Alfred Chan secure an early lead on Hinyuen Swiftness and the seven-year-old rolled on gamely to give trainer Dennis Yip his 19th win of the season.
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 13 May.