Horse Racing
Moreira bags three as Champion’s Way makes it four in a row

By Declan Schuster
31/03/2019 19:15

Joao Moreira completes a treble as Champion’s Way wins his fourth race in a row.
Joao Moreira completes a treble as Champion’s Way wins his fourth race in a row.

Joao Moreira secured a treble aboard Champion’s Way, who won his fourth race on the bounce to remain undefeated for trainer John Size in the Class 3 Port Shelter Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin this afternoon (Sunday, 31 March).

“He looks like a good horse, it was a good horse’s task that he had today and he completed it,” Size said.

The Hinchinbrook three-year-old was forced to overcome a wide draw (12), top-weight duties (133lb) and a 10-point rise in the ratings, but he was up to the task as he went on to score by one-and-three-quarter lengths from Fat Turtle (129lb).

“That’s about all you can do, he had a heavy weight, wide gate and he did a bit of work the first 300m and he still managed to kick on,” Size added.

Champion’s Way will now move up to Class 2, but Size insists he will be taking one day at a time with the lightly-raced gelding.

“So we’ll have a look, see what’s on, see how he does at home, he’s had four races as a three-year-old, so in Hong Kong that’s a bit tough – but he hasn’t shown any sign of stress,” Size said.

Champion’s Way makes it four from four

Moreira laid the foundations for his treble by winning the Mirs Bay Handicap (1800m) aboard the John Moore-trained Champion Supreme and the Class 4 The CUHK Alumni Cup (1400m) on Chris So’s Perfect Pair.

Moore had been undecided about the best trip for Champion Supreme but the Denman gelding relished the extra distance, prompting Moreira to say “you can put him over 2000m.”

Chris So’s Perfect Pair (132lb) had broken his duck over course and distance under Moreira in early March and followed up under a ground-saving ride, quickening well close home to foil Victory Power (127lb) and My Winner (118lb) by a short head and a neck.

Moreira’s hopes of a four timer just hours after returning from a trip to ride in Dubai were thwarted when Tornado Twist (118lb) came up just short behind Lean Perfection (121lb) in the Class 2 Tolo Harbour Handicap.

Dennis Yip’s gelding came home strongly to score by a neck and Purton, who had earlier overtaken Tony Cruz as clear second behind Douglas Whyte on Hong Kong’s list of all-time leading jockeys, was in mischievous mood afterwards.

“I pulled Tony’s leg about going past him earlier,” said the champion jockey. “He counts all his Hong Kong training wins in his career total, but he doesn’t realise I’ve got plenty of time to be a trainer, too!”

Golden debut has style and substance

Lightly-raced horses dominated three divisions of the Class 4 Castle Peak Bay Handicap (1200m) and Golden Sixty (R4) was the most impressive, scoring on debut for trainer Francis Lui and jockey Vincent Ho, who combined for their 16th win together this season.

Vincent Ho scores on the well regarded Golden Sixty.
Vincent Ho scores on the well regarded Golden Sixty.

“His trackwork and trials made me very confident that he could win today. He’s still very green but if he improves mentally then he will be a very promising young horse,” Ho said.

The visual impression created by Golden Sixty was backed up by the clock as the son of Medaglia d’Oro posted the fastest time of the trio – running a 1m 09.56s and closing off his final 400m in 22.34s.

“He’s a nice horse, he was quite relaxed in the parade ring for his first time and I was happy with that,” Lui said.

Paul O’Sullivan’s hot streak continued as Duke Wai swooped late under Matthew Chadwick to land the first division, giving the handler his 13th winner for the season and his fourth from the last five meetings.

“His run at the Valley was quite good, he was a bit tardy out of the machine but he made up a little ground towards the end on a night that it was difficult to do,” O’Sullivan said.

“We’ve had a big couple of weeks, the first half of the season was always going to be tough and we always thought the second half would be better,” he added.

Frankie Lor’s Everyone’s Joy landed the second of three divisions, asserting late for Zac Purton, who was having his first ride after an overnight flight from Dubai.

“He has a big stride, he should get out to 1400m and 1600m. I thought he had a good chance today, he looked good in the morning and prior to today he had trialled very well,” Lor said.

Martin Harley records his second win in Hong Kong aboard Indigenous Star.
Martin Harley records his second win in Hong Kong aboard Indigenous Star.

Determined Harley repays the faith

Martin Harley’s first ride in Hong Kong was aboard Indigenous Star and the pair teamed up again to win the Kat O Hoi Handicap (1600m), giving Ricky Yiu his 18th success of the season and Harley his second.

 “Ricky stood by me and I am absolutely delighted to ride him a winner, he’s given me plenty of trackwork in the morning and he believes in me,” Harley said.

Harley’s win on Indigenous Star came at the expense of Alfred Chan, who finished a close second on his first two rides aboard Best Effort and Bingo in R2 and R3 and finished his first day as a Hong Kong rider with those two second placings from six attempts.

A product of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Apprentice Jockeys’ School, Chan appears to have a bright future and his master Frankie Lor said “the 10lb claim, a lot of trainers are asking me to use him”.

Luckless Sanna in the wars again

Sunday proved another painful day in the eventful Hong Kong career of Italian jockey Alberto Sanna, who sustained an ankle injury before R2 and then suffered the added frustration of seeing two of his intended mounts win.

Sanna, who endured a lengthy absence late last year due to hip injuries sustained in a biking accident, was taken to Union Hospital for treatment on an injury to his left ankle sustained as Young Glory made his way to post.

Further frustration followed as Champion Supreme and Super Wise - his intended mounts in R5 and R8 - came home in front under substitute riders Joao Moreira and Dylan Mo.

While Sanna faces another spell on the sidelines, Keith Yeung marked his return from a month out due to back trouble with a winner aboard the progressive Not Usual Talent in the Yan Chau Tong Handicap (1600m).

Yeung had predicted that Benno Yung’s gelding was on the up and was seen at his strongest in driving the four-year-old home in a bunched finish.

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin with a midweek All-Weather Track fixture on Wednesday, 3 April.