Sha Tin treble for Moreira cuts Purton's title lead to one

Riders are locked in a fascinating battle for the Hong Kong jockeys’ crown.

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Joao Moreira cut Zac Purton’s lead in the Hong Kong jockeys’ title to just one after riding a treble at Sha Tin on Saturday.

Purton had notched up a five-timer at Happy Valley on Wednesday, but he was out of luck as Moreira claimed three wins, highlighted by the John Size-trained Hong Kong Win in the Amethyst Handicap.

Moreira said: “He had a smooth run today, so circumstances just played his way. He’s a good horse and he’s still in the making.”

The rider also struck gold on Perfect To Play in the Sapphire Handicap and the Francis Lui-trained This One’s For You in the Ruby Handicap.

“Sometimes you find luck and I had a bit of it with those two earlier rides. Hopefully we can keep on kicking in winners!” he said.

The day very much belonged to Jerry Chau though, with the 10lb claimer notching a double on his first day riding at Sha Tin.

Teaming up with his new boss Douglas Whyte, Chau secured his breakthrough win on Relentless Me in the Crystal Handicap before steering the John Moore-trained Buddies to victory in the Amber Handicap.

Chau said: “I didn’t think I could have a double on my first day, but I’m really lucky and very thankful, especially to Mr Moore and my boss.

“The first win was very exciting, especially as I won for my mentor. He has already taught me a lot, in particular those things that I need to pay attention to when riding in Hong Kong.

“He knows everything about Hong Kong racing and he has encouraged me to keep on asking questions. He said to me ‘if you don’t ask, you will never know’, so that’s what I will do.”

Whyte delighted with Chau’s efforts, but does not intend to let the young rider get too carried away.

He said: “He’s ridden phenomenally well for his first day and with a little bit of luck on Smiling City it could have been three winners. It’s about building momentum now and building a bit of confidence.

“He’s riding with his head and that’s what you need to do in Hong Kong. We need to make sure it doesn’t go to his head and that’s what I’ve got to be there for.

“Today is a great day and tomorrow’s another day – don’t worry, he’ll be working tomorrow morning!”

Vagner Borges also secured his first double in Hong Kong, with the Brazilian taking the Jasper Handicap aboard Touch Of Luck before adding the Peridot Handicap on Gallant Legacy.

Borges said: “I have to thank the trainers and owners for the opportunities they have given me. This support allows me to show that I can do a good job – I’m happy with how things are going right now.”

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