Moreira followed his Sha Tin four-timer with another treble, to have 14 winners for the month but his arch-rival Purton prevailed in the night’s feature, pocketing the Class 2 Lantau Island Handicap (1650m) on Tony Cruz’s Beauty Joy.
“He was sluggish out of the gate, he felt stiff in his action and he couldn’t get into his rhythm early. It probably took him a good 400 metres for him to move nicely but the pace was on. We able to get a nice run until we came into the straight and it got a bit messy when a couple in front were stopping,” Purton said.
“My horse showed his versatility tonight and his tenacity to win. He was able to come through nicely and win. He was plagued with a number of small issues when he first arrived and he needed to acclimatise. Those two things took time. He needed time to get over those niggles and now we’re seeing the benefit of that. He’s lightly-raced and I don’t think he’s reached his ceiling yet.”
Moreira marched on from his Sha Tin quartet with victory in the first race tonight, clinching the Class 5 Po Toi Handicap (1800m) with a rail-hugging ride aboard Caspar Fownes-trained Tailor Made.
The Brazilian’s remarkable spree continued when he lifted Viva Popcorn to success in the second section of the Class 4 Peng Chau Handicap (1650m) for Tony Cruz and the ‘Magic Man’ notched his treble with David Hall’s Total Power in the first section of the Class 4 Peng Chau Handicap (1650m), as the Dundeel gelding vindicated Hall’s decision to reapply blinkers.
“He’s a bit of a thinker and he gets trapped inside horses and he switches off quite a bit. We were trying to change the gear around to see what works best for him. Blinkers back on today and a nice tempo and a smooth run and Joao was able to get the best out of him,” Hall said.
Matthew Chadwick scored with Danny Shum’s Winning Method in the second section of the Class 3 Cheung Chau Handicap (1200m) as the Holy Roman Emperor gelding posted his fifth victory in 35 Hong Kong starts as Shum matched Cruz’s effort to post a double when Gorytus sprinted hard late to claim the Class 3 Lamma Island Handicap (1650m) for Vincent Ho.
Benno Yung secured his 18th win of the season when Harry Bentley drove Ice Legend to victory in the first section of the Class 4 Green Island Handicap (1200m).
“I was disappointed with him last start (when 12th of 14 at Sha Tin on 27 December) but he performed well tonight,” Yung said. “Harry rode him well.”
A superb, ground-saving ride by Blake Shinn helped Loving A Boom end a 27-run losing streak as the Acclamation gelding posted his first win since May, 2019 with success in the first section of the Class 3 Cheung Chau handicap (1200m) for Richard Gibson.
Now seven, Loving A Boom improved his record to two wins, 11 seconds and three thirds from 36 starts.
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (23 January) with the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) featuring Golden Sixty and the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m).