Joao Moreira’s brilliant form continued last night as the championship leader sealed a hat-trick with a ride of composed aplomb at Sha Tin’s eight-race all-weather track fixture, Wednesday, 19 February.
On Sunday past, the Brazilian ace set perfect leader’s fractions to earn an unlikely Group 1 win on Time Warp, but yesterday evening’s piece de resistance was a whole different kettle of cool as he first clung to the rail and then made weaving progress down the straight to deliver the hitherto unfortunate Righteous Doctrine (124lb) a first Hong Kong win.
“I had to go to plan B because we thought we were going to be a little bit more forward but he didn’t jump as well as we were hoping – I had to ride him for luck,” Moreira said.
Trainer Michael Chang, earning his eighth win of the campaign with the 2.8 favourite, was relieved to see Moreira live up to his ‘Magic Man’ moniker in winning the Class 3 Lam Tin Handicap (1800m) by three quarters of a length.
“Joao scared me when we got the slow start but then he saved a lot of ground on the inside and he was cool and calm enough. The horse is always unlucky but this time he found the gaps,” he said.
Righteous Doctrine was talented enough to place seventh in the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains as a three-year-old in France; almost two years on, he had gone 15 starts without a win in Hong Kong, and had hit plenty of bad luck in running, most notably at his previous start when all doors slammed shut. Tonight, they opened on cue.
“Luckily we got behind a horse that was going forward, Volpino, and the gap was appearing for him as well, and I had to gamble on the inside because I had too many horses on my outside, I couldn’t get out,” Moreira said.
“The bad luck that he had last start, we got the pay-off today because he had a lot of luck to get that split!”
Moreira has bagged two wins from 10 rides for Chang this season and had four from 11 last term.
“Michael has been very good to me, he has given me some nice rides and to get a winner for him once again, I couldn’t be more pleased. I hope there’s more, not just for his yard but on this horse, and I think there is,” the three-time champion jockey said.
Moreira opened his account for the night on Foodie Princess and followed that with a score on top-weight Red Desert (133lb) in the Class 3 Hang Hau Handicap (1200m), kicking clear off the turn and holding the chasing 2.3 favourite Will Power (123lb) by a length and a quarter.