BANK on reigning Champion Jockey Joao Moreira to once again be in the spotlight when racing gets underway with a nine-race card at Happy Valley.
It didn’t take long for the ‘Magic Man’ to get back into the swing of things following his six-meeting suspension last month.
A couple of winning doubles at the Valley last Wednesday and Sha Tin on Sunday, including when taking a daring passage aboard winner Galaxy Witness in the finale, proved Moreira was back to his best.
While his arch-rival, and current leading pilot, Zac Purton continues to churn out winners on a regular basis, the Brazilian needs to keep tabs on the ‘Zac-Man’ – he currently trails by four in the jockeys’ championship – and start eating into his lead.
Although he has a full-book of rides on today’s programme, this won’t be easy with racing once again full of highly-competitive handicaps, and winners looking hard to find.
One horse where Moreira does appear to have a gilt-edged opportunity is SPARKY STAR, who takes his chance in the Wan Tsui Handicap (1.45pm) over the extended mile.
Trainer Benno Yung must have been rueing a winner that got away, after the six-year-old was set a near impossible task before finishing with a flourish to nearly run-down Packing Award over the course and distance a fortnight ago.
On that occasion, after going back to last from an awkward draw, he commenced a five-wide run from half-a-mile out, and was widest turning into the home straight, giving valuable lengths away in the process, before dashing strongly in the closing stages.
There is no doubt he would have gone close to winning with a more economical journey and can be rated much better than that performance.
That performance must have caught the eye of Moreira, who would have been quickly on the phone to Benno Yung to book the ride for his next engagement.
As with all Happy Valley races, this is not a one-horse affair; with the likes of the Purton ridden Hk Dragon, an eye-catcher on his latest run behind Villa Fionn, and the Danny Shum-trained Courageous Knight, who stepped up on previous form when attempting a mile on turf for the first time.
E Legend can also be included now stepping up in distance after three races over an inadequate six furlongs, and he is bound to be a different proposition over a mile.
Despite the strong opposition, expect Moreira to have Sparky Star positioned in midfield from the off and then commence to weave his way through rivals, before hopefully making a winning challenge down the home straight.
Sparky Star 1.45pm Happy Valley