Joao Moreira and Danny Shum have laid down auspicious markers ahead of the glittering FWD Champions Day meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday (April 24) by posting trebles at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (April 20).
Regaining the lead in the Hong Kong jockeys’ championship from Zac Purton with victories on Diamond Star, Blastoise and Packing Famous, Moreira will attempt to continue the spree at Sha Tin at Group 1 level aboard Excellent Proposal (FWD Champions Mile), Columbus County (FWD QEII Cup) and Hot King Prawn (Chairman’s Sprint Prize).
Shum will be represented on Sunday by BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) victor Romantic Warrior and Tourbillon Diamond in the Group 1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) and More Than This in the Group 1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) after saddling Gorytus, Packing Famous and Namjong Sings this evening.
Moreira’s latest trio of wins leaves the Brazilian with a 106-104 margin over Purton, while John Size holds a 65-64 edge over Frankie Lor in the trainers’ championship.
Chris So celebrated a pair of career milestones in perfect fashion, reaching 300 career wins in Hong Kong and 100 victories at the city circuit with a double.
So reached the landmarks simultaneously when Vincent Ho prevailed atop Copartner Era, a son of Testa Rossa and a Hong Kong International Sale graduate, in the first section of the Class 4 Tseung Kwan O Handicap (1650m).
“I’m very happy, honestly. I’ve been training for nine seasons, so I’m getting about 30 wins a year but Hong Kong training is very tough, very competitive,” So said. “I have to compete against champions like John Size.
“Since 1997, when I started from being a riding boy to 2013, to becoming a trainer to now have 300 wins is fantastic.”
So sealed a double when former South African Super Commander swept through on the inside under an inspired Alexis Badel in Class 4 Po Lam Handicap (1000m) to triumph for the first time in Hong Kong at his 23rd start.
“The inside made the difference and that was our plan to have him in the first four and get him to relax,” So said of the gelding previously trained by David Ferraris. “It was a very good ride by Alexis.”
Shum first featured at the meeting when Namjong Sings controlled the speed under Badel before scrambling to victory in the first section of the Cha Kwo Ling Handicap (1200m).
“He did a really good job, he had the inside barrier so it worked out well,” said Shum.
Shum claimed a brace when Packing Famous powered late to land the second section of the Class 4 Tseung Kwan O Handicap (1650m) before Gorytus closed the meeting stylishly under Alfred Chan to land the Class 3 Hang Hau Handicap (1650m).
Diamond Star notched his second win at Happy Valley in three starts with sharp acceleration to land the Class 5 Yau Tong Handicap (1800m) for Size and Moreira before Super Mission showed the benefit of a stint in Conghua with a withering finish to win the Class 4 Tiu Keng Leng Handicap (1200m) for Ricky Yiu and Derek Leung.
“When you ask him, he can lead but you’ll be doing much then but I can guarantee that if you ride him quietly, he’ll give you a good finish,” Yiu said. “We had to ride him for luck, a bit quiet, from the barrier (eight) and he did a good job.”
Moreira teamed with Tony Millard to claim the Class 3 Lei Yue Mun Handicap (2200m) in a last-to-first success with another horse also previously trained by Ferraris.
“It was a very good ride by Joao,” Millard said. “This horse is a good tough stayer and Joao summed up the situation well when he realised the pace was on and kept the horse out of it.”
Smart Idea and Harry Bentley combined for their fourth win from six attempts, adding the second section of the Class 3 Cha Kwo Ling Handicap (1200m) to the pair’s growing haul.
“He likes Happy Valley and he likes the jockey also,” Lor said. “English jockeys are usually more relaxed and this horse is quite strong and a little bit keen, but this season he has improved and he’s more relaxed.”
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (April 24) with FWD Champions Day and the running of the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), Group 1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) and Group 1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m).