Hong Kong Diary

Two of the world’s best riders are trading blows in Hong Kong at the moment. Zac Purton and Joao Moreira partnered ten of eleven winners at Sha Tin last Sunday and followed up by riding six of eight at Happy Valley on Wednesday. Both riders have full books on another eleven-race card at Sha Tin this Sunday and there is a powerful European flavour to the feature event.

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Zac and Joao show back in the spotlight

The Zac and Joao show is back in full swing in Hong Kong.

Champion jockey Zac Purton has been in dominant form for months but his arch rival Joao Moreira has risen to the challenge and followed last Sunday’s four timer with four more winners at Happy Valley on Wednesday.

Moreira needed late medical clearance to ride at the Valley after a bout of sickness but capped his night with a dramatic last-to-first swoop on Waldorffor Tony Cruz.

That success means Purton and Moreira have now won a remarkable 16 of the last 19 races run in HK.

Purton is home and hosed in this year’s title race and looks certain to break Moreira’s single season prize money record of a little over £20m at Sha Tin on Sunday.

However, Moreira was in Japan for the first three months of the season and has since been operating largely as stable jockey to champion trainer John Size.

Local reports suggest he will be applying for a full-season Club jockey licence for next season. And, if such an application is granted next week, the battle for next season’s title promises to be a great deal closer.

Brits out in force for Lion Rock Trophy

Sunday’s feature event at Sha Tin – namely the G3 Lion Rock Trophy at 9.40 – features a host of familiar imports.

Simply Brilliant (formerly Senator for Richard Fahey) has done his HK connections proud since running well at Royal Ascot two years ago, while Ka Ying Star (a smart York winner for Andrew Balding last August) is one of the best four-year-olds around and fresh from a dominant success in a Class 2 handicap over course and distance.

Red Warrior (known as Rusper when winning three out of four for Jamie Osborne) adds further strength to the batch of former Brits but the two key players could be Ka Ying Star and Champion’s Way.

Moreira chose wrongly when opting for Champion’s Way over Red Warrior here two weeks ago but there was very little in it and it seems significant that  the Brazilian has opted for the younger horse again.

Ka Ying Star shaped lazily when held up in a recent AW trial but he’s a different proposition when allowed to bowl along on turf and the way he eased clear of a strong field here last month was very impressive.

Flashy Beauty set to take the Applause again

Moreira’s fine form is helping keep his boss John Size in pole position for an eleventh trainers’ title and the pair combine in the 8.05 race with an eye-catching horse in more ways than one.

Step forward Beauty Applause, a striking chestnut with four white socks and a flaxen mane who left a very positive impression when winning on his second start over course and distance three weeks ago.

The final margin that day was just half a length as Speedy Dragon came home willingly - and David Hall’s gelding has a 4lb pull now – but the winner deserves upgrading for the impressive way he kicked from the front.

Meridian Genius looks the danger after several good efforts in similar company but Beauty Applause has plenty of scope for further improvement and should be tough to beat again.

Sonic to make a big noise if Wise Man comes up short again

Purton’s ability to be on the right horse for the right day has been a key factor in his stellar season and punters will latch on to the fact that he partners Little Wise Man for the first time in the 8.40.

Frankie Lor’s grey moves up to 1400m after three good seconds but he didn’t look an easy ride when having a tough race here on his latest start and there could be value in opposing him at probable short odds.

Tennessee Boss is an outsider to consider after showing signs of a revival from the front on his return from a break here last week, but topweight Sonic Fighter looks the best alternative to the favourite under Karis Teetan.

Purton endured one of his more forgettable rides when meeting considerable trouble in running aboard Paul O’Sullivan’s gelding three weeks ago.

That run is easily forgiven, but Sonic Fighter is nicely treated based on his earlier clear second here and this doesn’t look a race with much depth by normal HK standards.

Hong Kong Diary
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