Hong Kong’s reigning Champion Trainer John Size and Champion Jockey Joao Moreira have enjoyed plenty of success, both on their own and in tandem. However, few wins will demonstrate their collective mastery quite like Dinozzo’s victory in the Group 3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (4 February).
Dinozzo (122lb) won a Class 2 handicap over 1650m at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (31 January), after which Size declared that he would run the Lilbourne Lad five-year-old again in Sunday’s feature. The Australian handler is a rare proprietor of the quick back-up, only producing horses off a three or four day lay-off four times this decade.
“I think the winter makes it easier to back up, for the horses at least,” he said. “In the summer, it’s very tough. We only have a very short period of cold weather in Hong Kong so the opportunities aren’t there as much. I did do it quite often when I was training in Sydney, but it was a completely different environment.
“I’ve seen some of the boys do it here though, with good results. It’s just not me, usually. But in this particular case, we had a rating issue in terms of the class. We had a horse that we thought would handle it and we had the climate to help us out. Obviously, he’s handled the back-up from Wednesday night and he’s done what we’d hoped.”
Once the horses had reached the gates, the baton was passed from Size to Moreira. In a manner befitting his status as Champion Jockey, the Brazilian rider took advantage of a lack of pace in the seven-runner field, taking Dinozzo straight to the lead and dictating terms at a moderate tempo.