Hong Kong Diary

No sooner is Royal Ascot over than the Sky Sports Racing cameras switch to Sha Tin on Sunday morning. A ten-race card features the final two Group races of the HK season and Zac Purton and Joa Moreira have a string of fancied rides for a card that gets under way at 5.45am.

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Hard on the heels of Zac Purton reaching 1000 HK winners, his arch rival Joao Moreira also reached a notable milestone last week.

The brilliant Brazilian became the fastest man ever to pass the 800 mark when Such A Happiness formed the middle leg of a treble at Sha Tin last Sunday and is keen to maintain his strong run into next season. 

"It's a nice round number but I don't want to get stuck there, I want to be moving forward," he said.

Moreira's move for next season involves stepping away from his current role as stable jockey to John Size to return to a freelance role. He has done well to ride 84 winners this term since returning from Japan in December and, with far greater freedom next season, his battle for the title with Purton promises to be very close indeed.


Networking for rides is crucial to any jockey's progress in Hong Kong and Purton's persistence has paid off with the plum ride aboard Voyage Warrior in the Ma On Shan Handicap (9.05) at Sha Tin on Sunday.

Ricky Yiu's gelding bruised a sky-high reputation when losing his unbeaten record to Thanks Forever last month but the winner has bolted up again since and Purton steps in for the suspended Karis Teetan.

"He's always been asking for the ride and after I spoke to the owner it was an easy decision," said Yiu.

"Voyage Warrior is a pure athlete, he’s a natural. I don’t find any problems for him in Class 3, even carrying top weight,” he added. “I’ve had a look at the field, it’s not particularly strong and we have a winning machine on his back so he’ll do well again.”


Frankie Dettori's Thursday four-timer was the biggest betting story of Royal Ascot but the launch of the World Pool may well have longer term implications.

HKJC's partnership with Ascot and Totepool got off to a very solid start, with turnover of well over £100m spread across five days and some notable payoffs for those with the foresight to identify live outsiders.

Friday's Coronation Stakes winner Watch Me paid 32-1 in the World Pool against an SP of 20-1, while Thanks Be (41-1 against 33), Biometric (45-1 against 28), South Pacific (41-1 against 22), Raffle Prize (33-1 against 18) and Afaak (29-1 against 20) provided further evidence of the value to be found in going against the crowd.

Some of Ascot's huge fields present problems in offering the full range of exotic pools that Hong Kong punters thrive on but that can be addressed in due course and the World Pool concept looks sure to be extended, with Champions Day in October high on the list of likely short-term options.

Hong Kong Diary
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