Hong Kong Diary

The stakes are getting higher as HK's new season moves into its third week. A new wave of youngsters have enhanced their reputations recently, while Joao Moreira has run riot at the last two meetings with three winners at Happy Valley and six at Sha Tin. Sky Sports Racing will cover all the action as Moreira returns to the city track with a full book this Wednesday and some smart sprint handicappers take top billing on an eight-race card offering almost £1m in prize money.

  • Tuesday 22 September
  • Blog
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Six shooter Moreira takes Sha Tin by storm

Joao Moreira
Moreira celebrates his Sunday six timer

When a man has ridden three winners or more at a racecourse 18 times in the previous year you shouldn't be surprised when he repeats the feat but Joao Moreira took things to a new level on Sunday with a superb six timer that peaked with vintage efforts aboard former Clive Cox galloper The Rockand exciting youngster Excellent Proposal.

It was Moreira's most prolific day since a historic Sha Tin eight timer in March 2017 and the Magic Man, who has admitted his confidence dipped as Zac Purton wore him down in last season's lengthy title duel, is clearly on a roll again.

“It helps me believe in myself, which is very important – when you go for penalty kicks and you hit the bar, it is frustrating,” he said. “We have so much to look forward to and I don’t want to put the premiership in my mind – I want to concentrate on these good horses and hopefully I am on board some nice ones when we get closer to December."

Ratings place Excellent at head of 4yo pack

HK's young guns have found their range impressively of late. Sky Field is up to a mark of 80 after his striking success last week and Frankie Lor's  Winning Dreamer is up to 79 after taking his unbeaten run to three under Vincent Ho on Sunday.

But Excellent Proposal's 8lb rise for Sunday's success takes him to a rating of 92 with the promise of much more to come. "Only good horses can do what he's just done," said Moreira after the chestnut had defied stall 14 and a wide transit. It will come as a big surprise if Excellent Proposal doesn't crack the 100 barrier this season. And the fact that he is already proven over a mile is another major plus with next year's Classic Series in mind.

Valley visit a new challenge for Applause

Even the best get the fractions wrong on occasion in HK and Moreira will be on a retrieval mission when Beauty Applause makes his Valley debut in Wednesday's featured Big Wave Bay Handicap at 3.50.

The flashy chestnut paid a predictable price for helping set savage fractions over 1400m at Sha Tin recently and now crosses town for a 1200m handicap that promises to be run at a similarly demanding pace, with Amazing Star and Team Spirit all set to trade blows early.

A fierce pace won't trouble California Rad, who is thriving over course and distance, but he's going to be a short price and Beauty Applause and Ugly Warrior both have value potential. Beauty Applause has shaped as if he can go close in Class 2 several times, while Ugly Warrior is renowned as an AW specialist but showed enough in the final race of last season here to suggest that he's more than just a one-trick pony.

Chariot gets Callan rolling

Neil Calllan
Neil Calllan on Excellent Chariot

Neil Callan has been pounding the HK beat too long to let a few near misses irritate him and the Irishman duly got off the mark for the season on Sunday when the promising Excellent Chariot carried him to victory.

Ricky Yiu's gelding was nicely on top close home, impressing on the clock compared to the other six furlong races on the card, and Callan went into the race confident after partnering him in a strong trial behind leading sprinter Thanks Forever and high-class milerKa Ying Star.

“Everyone just wants to get the first winner out of the way and I’ve been here long enough not to be panicking,” he said. “After the trial I remember saying to my wife Trish – now we’ve got something we can win on. It’s all about opportunities and hopefully more to come.”

Hong Kong Diary
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