JOAO the ‘Magic Man’ Moreira looks the jockey to follow when racing resumes at Happy Valley in Hong Kong this afternoon.
The Brazilian ace sent his thousands of supporters home happy from the inner-city track last week when landing a treble and it could be a similar scenario, or maybe even better, with a full book of rides on the eight-race card.
Moreira’s best ride could prove to be bottom-weight TANGMERE who lines up in the Community Chest Cup (2.45pm).
This slow-maturing five-year-old has only made the frame in one of his eleven starts since arriving in Hong Kong from Australia, with his rating plummeting by 15lbs.
Trainer Caspar Fownes is a master with his patient approach to horses who take time to acclimatise in the hot and humid conditions and there is every reason to believe he now has Tangmere at peak fitness.
This son of Frankel ran over an inadequate trip of seven furlongs on the first day of the new season, but looked one for the notebook when staying on from the back of the field and finishing on the heels of the main contenders.
Since then, he has been given a couple of serious gallops, including one last Saturday, as a prep for this afternoon’s contest.
Fownes and Moreira teamed up with a winner at the Valley a week ago and they have a good chance of doubling that tally with a horse who can prove a value for money proposition.
All eyes will be on Moreira’s mount in the opener (12.15pm) when he climbs aboard champion trainer John Size’s only runner at the meeting, Beauty Rush over five furlongs.
The four-year-old arrived in HK with a huge reputation having won four of his eight races in Australia, including a Group Three over six furlongs. His two trials have been impressive, including an eye-catching runaway win last week.
Size, however, has tempered everyone’s enthusiasm by stating the trip could be too sharp and everything could happen too quickly for his potential superstar.
With the likes of seven-time course and distance winner Moment Of Power, Sunny Power and Little Bird scorching the turf from the off, while the Purton-ridden Saul’s Special and Hong Kong Bet will be waiting to pounce if the early pace is too fast, this is probably a race best watched, though it will certainly be informative for the future.
While Moreira will be hoping the likes of in-form Encore Boy in the penultimate race and the speedy Le Terroir in the lucky last can end the afternoon in celebrations for him and his supporters, the Brazillian’s most interesting ride is KING’S TROOPER in the Shun Lee Handicap (2.15pm).
The Ricky Yiu-trained gelding failed to catch the judges’ eye in four runs last season, displaying plenty of wayward tendencies and everything happening too quickly for him.
Nevertheless, this is a horse with a big engine, a huge amount of potential and he looks to have improved dramatically during the close season, judging by his trackwork and trial form.
In last week’s five-furlong trial at Sha Tin, he held various positions throughout the sprint before shooting clear in the closing stages with Moreira aboard. The jockey must have been equally impressed to stay loyal with him this afternoon.
King’s Trooper 2.15pm Happy Valley
Tangmere 2.45pm Happy Valley