The road to the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) is shortening with the Four-Year-Old Classic Series already underway and the big race less than two months away, and on Sunday (2 February) the picture should become clearer with six Derby entrants looking to strengthen their credentials in the Class 2 Azalea Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin.
New Zealand import Super Oasis (123lb), to be ridden by Joao Moreira, is among the mix of hopefuls, along with Enjoying (122lb), Columbus County (121lb), Butterfield (120lb), Savvy Nine (119lb) and Amazing Beats (117lb), but the Brazilian ace has it narrowed down to three leading candidates.
“I don’t think there’s much between Enjoying, Super Oasis and Columbus County; it seems like these three are the stand outs and this race will give us a very good guide toward the Hong Kong Derby,” he said.
Moreira will take the ride on the Frankie Lor-trained Super Oasis for the first time after guiding Columbus County to a slashing second last start behind Preciousship, who prior to that win got within a head of More Than This, runner-up to stablemate Golden Sixty in the HK$10 million Hong Kong Classic Mile on Monday (27 Janaury).
“I was booked to ride Super Oasis before I rode Columbus County; obviously Columbus County ran really well the other day and he’s no doubt one of the leading chances in the race,” Moreira said.
The four-year-old gelding arrived in Hong Kong off the back of a third-place effort in the G1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick but his two major wins came in New Zealand at G2 level – the Auckland Guineas (1600m) followed by the Avondale Guineas (2100m).