Joao Moreira enjoyed one of his finest days in the saddle on Sunday, winning five races including two out of the four LONGINES Hong Kong International Races. But with eight mounts at Happy Valley on Wednesday the Brazilian ace is not about to rest on his laurels.
“I would put it up there as one of the best days in my life and my career as a jockey - it’s one of those days that I’ll never forget,” he said.
Moreira secured his second LONGINES Hong Kong Vase when Glory Vase powered to victory, before landing a G1 race-to-race double when the consistent Beat The Clock burst through to capture the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint as part of his fantastic five-timer.
“It’s very hard to win one race on International day but to go out there and win five it feels surreal and I’m extremely happy with that,” he said.
Moreira though, has eight chances on Wednesday’s nine-race programme, including the Peter Ho-trained Le Terroir (132lb) in the finale, the Class 3 Sea Eagle Handicap (1200m).
“He’s a nice horse who is improving each time he goes out to race; obviously circumstances are a little bit different this time but based on what he has done in the past, he’s going to be competitive once again,” Moreira said.
The Star Witness gelding has won four out of his last five starts, the last two with the three-time Hong King champion in the plate, but hasn’t raced since late October, trialling twice at Sha Tin since then.
“He felt great; I wasn’t able to give any challenge to those good horses as we know they’re very good. I was asked to look after him in the trial and he gave me a good feel - he’s going to the races well-prepared,” he said.
Le Terroir still has plenty more in the tank, according to Moreira, even after rising 32 ratings points since his first win, five starts ago, in April of this year.
“What he has done in the last two months gives us that confidence that he’s going to reach Class 2 and be competitive there as well,” the rider said.
Joao Moreira and Beat The Clcok, picture Liesl King
Following their G1 success together with Beat The Clock on Sunday, Moreira and trainer John Size will look to combine again with Special Stars (130lb) in the Class 3 Sand Martin Handicap (1000m).
“He should get a similar run - obviously gate two is not as good as one, but circumstances should play out the same way as it did last time.
“As we know, he’s such a trier, and if he brings his best, he’s going to be competitive again,” Moreira said.
Special Stars captured his third win last start, beating Jumbo Prize by a neck with Size crediting his training at the Jockey Club’s Conghua facility for that victory.
“He’s got a good gate so he knows how to use that, he looks healthy and well since he’s been back from Conghua - he looks great,” Size said.
The trainer believes there may be more merit to the Kuroshio gelding’s win than might appear at first look, with a two-and-a-half length margin to third.
“It was a good win last start, he only won by a short margin but it was a decent space to third - so the win was ok I thought, if he can repeat that he’s probably got a chance again.
The 11-time champion trainer heads into Wednesday’s card off the back of a G1 quinella in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint as Beat The Clock held off stablemate Hot King Prawn.
“I couldn’t have been any happier with the performance of my horses - the jockeys rode well and it was a very good result for everybody,” Size said.
Size felt an aura of pressure lift when Beat The Clock captured the Sprint and post-race neither he or Moreira could hide their emotions.
“You’re always under a bit of pressure with a good horse and I think that it’s more or less a relief when things work well for you, so that contributes to the moment,” he said.
Size was full of praise for Beat The Clock, who took his already impressive record to nine wins from 23 starts and 14 minor placings, having never finished outside of the top three.
“He helps himself a lot, he has the character, he seems to know where the winning post is and he’s ultra-consistent, so if he remains healthy and well, he’s going to be competitive wherever he goes,” the Australian said.
Hot King Prawn pleased Size at only his second G1 start, an effort that bodes well for the future.
“He’s racing about 40 pounds heavier than what he was a year ago, he’s going to maintain that - he’s a stronger horse because of it now that he’s put those two runs together. He probably is due to kick and improve and win a big race,” he added.
Wednesday’s nine-race card at Happy Valley commences at 6.45pm with the Class 5 Frigatebird Handicap (1000m).