Hong Kong Diary

The Lion Rock Trophy is the highlight of Sha Tin’s Sunday card – live on Sky Sports Racing - and Joao Moreira knows just what it takes to win it. The Magic Man has won three of four renewals since the Group 3 handicap was created in 2016 and will be relying on the mercurial Beauty Legacy and several other leading fancies on an 11-race card.

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ZAC PLAYS AN ACE EN ROUTE TO AW TREBLE

Any debate as to whether Zac Purton and Joao Moreira are as good as their Hong Kong numbers suggest tends to feature the suggestion that "they obviously get more winning opportunities than the rest."

It's a fair point - albeit one that applies to top jockeys the world over - but anyone tempted to doubt that the Aussie and the Brazilian bring something special to their craft would be well advised to take a swift look at this week's Sha Tin action.

Moreira matched his arch rival's Sunday four-timer, saving every inch from a wide draw on Defining Moment for Caspar Fownes, but Purton saw the Magic Man's paint-scraping performance and raised him with a gem to seal a treble on stablemate Enfolding in Wednesday’s nightcap.

THREE UP WITH 13 TO GO

A strong body of data shows that stall 14 over 1650m on the Sha Tin dirt  - with a frenetic short run to the first bend and a face full of kickback more likely than not - is one of the worst draws in Hong Kong racing.

None of the last 64 horses to start from the widest gate had defied it but Purton made it look light work on dual Wolverhampton winner Enfolding, who loped along in rear on the inside rail prior to producing a withering late charge to lead close home.

"An incredible ride" was the succinct Fownes summary and, having taken full advantage of Moreira's absence due to suspension, Purton leads 126-123 in the Jockeys’ Championship with 13 meetings left.

Moreira has 11 rides to Purton's nine when battle reconvenes on Sunday but Purton has outscored him by 20-14 during May with a winning strike rate nudging 30%.

LIGHT WEIGHT COULD REVEAL THE REAL BEAUTY

Moreira returns with a full book of 11 rides and one of the highlights is his latest chance to coax the best from the galloping fireball that is Beauty Legacy in the Group 3 Lion Rock Trophy at 9.40am.

The Fiorente gelding started his Hong Kong career with a bang but headstrong tendencies have got the better of him several times since and Moreira is hoping that extra time to adapt is helping him mature.

Joao Moreira
Joao Moreira will hope to strike aboard the tough ride, Beauty Legacy

“He hasn’t been perfect and he hasn’t done things the way we would love him to do but each race he has improved,” he told the HKJC’s David Morgan. “He’s going to carry a light weight, which he has never done before, and I think that’s a big plus for him. “

JERRY HAS STRONG CLAIMS IN SHA TIN SPRINTS

Hong Kong’s new apprentice Jerry Chau has come down to earth since a debut day double earlier this month but the overall poise he has shown suggests that his 10lb claim will prove an asset again before the season ends.

The 20-year-old has several strong sprint chances, including the speedy Quadruple Double in the 6.45am, while the fact that Purton and Moreira will corner a large slice of the market aboard Lucky More and Lucky Express in the finale at 10.50am could result in Stronger going off at a fair price.

Stanley Park is another interesting option for Chau in the 9.10am. Peter Ho’s gelding was thwarted close home when Chau recorded his debut winner aboard Relentless Me here three weeks ago but the speed he showed hints that he could be ahead of the handicapper in a race that looks weaker than most Class 3 sprints.

Hong Kong Diary
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