Brazilian jockey success in Hong Kong is overwhelmingly Joao Moreira’s domain but at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (24 March), Ruan Maia posted one of the most significant – and relief-laden – victories of his career with a memorable breakthrough triumph.
Eight meetings and 44 rides into his Hong Kong stint, Maia logged his first winner in his new surrounds, driving Bulletproof through narrowing gaps in the home straight to clinch the first section of the Class 4 Lok Fu Handicap (1650m).
Fittingly, the victory was for trainer Ricky Yiu – one of Maia’s most ardent backers and a renowned supporter of new jockey arrivals.
“I always supported the new Club jockeys,” Yiu said. “Even Zac Purton still says that I gave him a good leg-up when he first arrived.”
“Some of the more established jockeys are hard to get, it’s easier to get the newer jockeys as they don’t have too many rides. As soon as I asked him, he said ‘yes’. The other senior jockeys say they have to think about it and ‘I’ll get back to you’.
“He was a little bit rough around the first bend but he managed to stay midfield one-off the rail. The way he was travelling, I thought he would run in the first three. But the last 150 metres I thought maybe second, but he’s a talented little horse with a good heart.
“I said to the owner, even though he hasn’t been winning, he hasn’t been beaten far – just two or three lengths, he’s always trying.”