Moreira back and reaching for the Sky
The difference between Joao Moreira and Zac Purton at the top of the HK jockeys' table this year can be summed up in two words - Caspar Fownes.
Moreira's link with the bang-in-form King of the Valley has blossomed as Purton's has cooled in the last two months and the Magic Man returns from suspension at the city track on Wednesday night with high hopes that the highly progressive Sky Darci can impress again in the finale at 2.50.
The youngster has won three from six – the latest when defying a wide draw in emphatic style - and Moreira feels “there’s plenty more to come.”
“His last win was very impressive as we had to do it tough coming from the widest gate facing the breeze three-wide, and at the line he was running away showing that he has got a lot of ability,” he added.
Legend arrives as Clock runs out of time
Moreira has lost one of the aces in his pack with news that John Size’s Champion Sprinter Beat The Clock has been retired due to injury but is hoping that stablemate Hot King Prawn can fill the gap after a powerful trial performance at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, Fownes is hoping he has a potential sprint champion of his own after star Aussie import Classique Legend jetted in to join him overnight.
“His body weight is good, it’s bang-on his racing weight and now we’ll spend the next five weeks getting him really fit, having a trial before the Hong Kong Sprint,” said Fownes.
Kerrin McEvoy may well have to spend the festive period in an Aussie lockdown facility if he travels to partner the five-year-old on December 13th. A softening in quarantine rules would help his decision but, if he opts to stay home, then Vincent Ho can look forward to a very exciting early Christmas present.
HKIR stars heading for life in a bubble
HK racing will create a bubble within the existing racing bubble to help visiting racing professionals ensure that HKIR contenders get to the start in peak condition next month.
Hotel quarantine remains mandatory for anyone arriving in the city but, following an application to Government, it has been decided that visiting trainers, riders and stable staff will be able to shuttle to Sha Tin to complete trackwork before returning to their hotel.
No contact with anyone outside the international bubble will be allowed - while all participants will undergo daily Covid tests - and visiting riders will occupy separate changing rooms to their HK colleagues both for the International Jockeys' Championship on December 9th and for HKIR day itself on December 13th.
Ireland and Japan to the fore as HKIR entries take shape
The strength of the international raid on this year’s HKIR is directly linked to quarantine protocols in some ways but early indicators suggest that Japan and Ireland will both be strongly represented.
Hopes remain high that the globetrotting Magical will spearhead a powerful Aidan O’Brien team that could be bolstered by one or more of his Breeders- Cup Mile 1-2-3. Latest reports hint that Cox Plate runner-up Armory is unlikely to take up his Hong Kong Cup option for Ballydoyle but several star riders from HK and abroad are keeping their options open in the hope of partnering high-class Japanese contenders led by the exceptional filly Chrono Genesis.
More to come as Emperor steps out in new home
Trying to assess the potential of a horse from his first HK barrier trial is tricky but Karis Teetan was more than happy with the way Royal Ascot winner Russian Emperor shaped in an AW workout on Tuesday.
The impeccably-bred son of Galileo won Royal Ascot's Hampton Court Stakes before finishing seventh in the Derby for Aidan O'Brien and is now with fellow Ballydoyle buy Monarch of Egypt in Douglas Whyte's Olympic Stables just off the Sha Tin home turn.
It came as no surprise to see such a solid stayer run a little lazily early on against speedy trial foes like Fat Turtle but Russian Emperor seemed to be getting the hang of things up the straight and Teetan described him as "a lovely horse who should really come into his own once he's fully fit and gets more distance."