IT WILL be good to see former four-time Champion Jockey Joao Moreira back in action with a full-book of rides on an eight-race programme at Happy Valley today.
Moreira made a belated return to the racetrack at Sha Tin last Sunday, and although only one of his seven rides made the frame, the Magic Man appeared back to his happy and confident best, especially after the well-documented reports about his health and mental issues.
At his peak the Brazilian is as good as any jockey in the world, and he will be desperate to get back on the scoresheet before setting himself the task of hunting down his arch-rival Zac Purton, who already has a sizable lead in the jockeys’ championship table with seven wins.
38-year-old Moreira teams up with his old ally, trainer Caspar Fownes, who himself had been going through a lean spell at the end of last season but bounced back to form with a double at the city track a week ago.
The Moreira-Fownes partnership are a formidable combination when firing on all cylinders, and they team up with a handful of contenders today.
The feature race of the day, the Causeway Bay Handicap (12.45pm) over the extended mile, sees the return of course specialist Fa Fa, a winner of six of his eight starts at the tight and tricky circuit, and one of the most popular horses in training.
Moreira and Fownes, however, are capable of spoiling the party with progressive JUMBO FORTUNE who can finally prove he is a smart miler this season.
The son of Pride Of Dubai only tried the distance once last season, finishing fifth, but looks to have grown and strengthened during the break, and his recent strong-finishing fourth in a highly competitive seven-furlong handicap should have put him spot-on for this contest.
Later in the card, the partnership will be hoping STORM LEGEND finally scores an overdue win in the Fortress Hill Handicap (2.45pm), over the extended mile.
This former two-time Irish winner has always been highly regarded by his trainer but has taken a long time to acclimatise to conditions in Hong Kong.
The penny started to drop back in June, when the four-year-old chased home main rival My Ecstatic over the track and trip, and he now finds himself 10 pounds better off for little more than a two-length beating.
His seasonal debut, which came over seven furlongs 10 days ago, was a much better effort than his final position (10th) suggested, as he suffered a wide journey throughout but closed strongly in the final stages of the race.
With his fitness now guaranteed, and racing over his optimum distance, he is capable of sparking a trademark post-race dance of delight by Fownes in the winners’ circle.
Jumbo Fortune 12.45pm Happy Valley
Storm Legend 2.45pm Happy Valley