Time will tell what 2019 brings for de Sousa but 2018 could hardly have ended more strongly and the Brazilian matched his previous best Hong Kong total of 16 winners earlier when Dennis Yip’s M Reborn responded to blinkers by landing the Wo Che Handicap (1200m) with authority.
Only Purton has ridden more winners than de Sousa since he arrived back in Hong Kong in early November and, with two months of his current contract still to run, some interesting choices lie ahead in 2019.
The lure of a fourth UK title will be strong, especially with a third child due in the spring, but de Sousa is thriving in his new role and some good judges firmly believe he is a potential Hong Kong champion if he decides to commit for the longer term.
Moreira and Size strike late with progressive Mr So And So
Joao Moreira isn’t used to being the second most successful Brazilian in town and a frustrating day for the three-time champion continued when 2.1 favourite Raging Blitzkrieg (132lb) suffered a torrid trip in the Shiu Chuen O Handicap (1200m).
Douglas Whyte took full advantage as John Moore’s People’s Knight (128lb) gained his eighth Hong Kong success, but Moreira ended 2018 on a high as John Size’s Mr So And So got the better of a thrilling duel with Superich in the Class 2 Shek Mun Handicap (1400m).
Wong ends breakthrough year in style aboard Bonanza
Victor Wong will look back on 2018 as a breakthrough year and the 7lb claimer, who rode 13 winners in his first Hong Kong season, partnered his 18th winner this term aboard Romantic Bonanza in the Lek Yuen Handicap (1650m).
Danny Shum’s gelding was making his AW debut and, with Wong aboard for the first time, responded willingly to get off the mark at the seventh attempt.
Wong is engaged in an interesting battle of Hong Kong’s young guns with Matthew Poon which promises to continue in the new year.
Poon continues to maintain a healthy strike rate with his claim reduced to 3lb and ended the year still one ahead of his fellow 24-year-old when David Hall’s Speedy Dragon saluted at 37-1 in the Lung Hang Handicap (1200m).
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Tuesday 1 January 2019 with an eleven-race card highlighted by the Group 3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup.