Horse Racing
No Classic doubts for Moreira as Nothingilikemore steps up in trip

By David Morgan
15/02/2018 15:26

Joao Moreira celebrates after Nothingilikemore passes the post first in the Hong Kong Classic Mile.
Joao Moreira celebrates after Nothingilikemore passes the post first in the Hong Kong Classic Mile.

Champion jockey Joao Moreira is confident that Nothingilikemore, the horse touted as the Hong Kong circuit’s outright champion-in-waiting, will only enhance his status in Sunday’s (18 February) Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).

The last time John Size’s charged stepped onto the track he took his career record to six wins from seven starts with an emphatic performance that sealed the Hong Kong Classic Mile, the first leg in the three-race Four-Year-Old Classic Series.

To add the series’ second leg this weekend, the talented bay must stretch his brilliance over a further 200 metres. So far, speed, not stamina, has been Nothingilikemore’s forte, but jockey Joao Moreira is confident that the extra distance will not trouble his mount, even though some of his closest opponents are likely to relish the extra ground.

“He’s a very special horse,” Moreira said at Sha Tin this morning. “I have no doubts that 1800 metres will be no problem for him. He was very impressive last time and if he reproduces the same form it’s going to be very hard again for those horses to beat him.”

Nothingilikemore scores a cozy win in the Hong Kong Classic Mile.
Nothingilikemore scores a cozy win in the Hong Kong Classic Mile.

That last start victory in the Hong Kong Classic Mile was achieved with a flourish of brilliance; a wide run on the turn, a quickening of his gait upon straightening, and a decisive burst of speed that took the Australian-bred an easy length and a quarter clear of runner-up Singapore Sling.

“I think the horse can do that again but I don’t think it’s what I’m going to be doing,” Moreira said, recalling that race-clinching surge. “I’ll take it as it comes – I can’t say exactly how the race will play out, I can only guess, but even if I have to do the same as the other day, I still think he’s capable of doing that and beating them all. If circumstance plays differently, I’ll take that as it happens.”

With the natural front-runner The Golden Age entering the fray drawn five – two berths inside the seven-drawn Nothingilikemore – and chief rivals Singapore Sling (gate two) and the confirmed stayer Exultant (gate one) out to avenge their Classic Mile reversals, Moreira expects the pattern of Sunday’s contest to vary from last time.

“I think this race is going to be run differently to the mile the other day,” he said. “The horses in this race will be really trying to set down for the (BMW Hong Kong) Derby, to make sure they run this distance and don’t travel too keenly. I presume most horses will be trying to beat us while half-looking ahead to the next race, too.”

Nothingilikemore will attempt to repeat his Classic Mile dominance in the second leg of the Hong Kong Four-Year-Old Series.

For the Husson gelding to taste defeat this time, Moreira believes something abnormal would have to occur.

“I expect him to still have the advantage over them, unless something has improved beyond what could have been foreseen or if something goes wrong for us in the race. But under normal circumstances, I think he’s going to beat them.”

The Hong Kong Classic Cup, the traditional lead-up to the Four-Year-Old Classic Series’ final leg, the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m), also features Classic Mile third Morethanlucky, as well as G1 winners Rivet and Ruthven, fifth and seventh in last month’s first leg.

Doctor Geoff, Rattan, Goldfield, Patriot Hero, Beauty Miles and Grand Chancellor are also in the 13-strong line-up for the Chinese New Year race day feature.

Sunday’s 11-race card will start at 12.30pm with the Class 5 Yue Yee Handicap (1400m) and will end with the Class 3 Kut Cheong Handicap (1400m) at 5.50pm.