Knowledge of Taipa track is Nunes' secret weapon for interport trophy
John Moore has won the early battle of tactics by engaging Brazilian riding ace Manoel Nunes to partner Wealthy in this afternoon's HK$2.3 million Macau-Hong Kong Trophy at Taipa racecourse.
Nunes, now a Hong Kong club jockey, was previously Macau's champion rider for two seasons, so no one knows the intricacies of the Macau racecourse better.
'I have the two runners, Wealthy and Sounds Best, but I was keen to have Nunes in our corner,' Moore said.
'He is a very good judge of pace but is equally patient when required on a horse that needs to get back in the field. Obviously, in a feature race like this, his local knowledge is a definite plus for us.'
Moore's second runner, Sounds Best, a last-start second to Silver Sun over 1,650 metres at Happy Valley on February 28, will be handled by Eddie Lai Wai-ming, who warmed up for the big day with a winning double at Sha Tin yesterday on Grabbit and Rocket Win.
On a personal note, the one disappointing aspect of the day for Moore is that his brother, Gary, does not have a runner in the big race.
Gary Moore has won the Macau trainers' premiership for the past two years, adding to the seven titles he won in Hong Kong in the 1970s and '80s as champion jockey.
John Moore, a top amateur rider before racing went professional in 1973, was originally foreman to his father, 11-times champion trainer George Moore, while Gary was stable jockey. As a team, they were all but unbeatable in the early part of the Hong Kong professional era and the brothers had been looking forward to some friendly rivalry on Gary's home turf today.
The favourite for this event, which now holds Macau Group One status, will undoubtedly be Silver Sun, trained by Dennis Yip Chor-hong.
The Scenic gelding is already a Group One placegetter, having run third to Viva Pataca and Hail The Storm in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby in March last year.
He has always been a horse who favours some forgiveness in the track and the well-cushioned surface at Taipa should suit him ideally, even if there is no overnight rain after a warm spring day yesterday.
The gelding burst back to life to brilliantly win in Class Two at the city venue last start, where he was perfectly ridden by Brett Prebble.
Prebble handled Bullish Luck in the Dubai World Cup last night but thought enough of Silver Sun's chances today to make the commitment to rush back from the world's richest race meeting.
Hong Kong's other runners are Expectations (Olivier Doleuze) and Maverick Star (Howard Cheng Yue-tin). The return leg of the friendship series, the Group Three Hong Kong-Macau Trophy, will be decided at Sha Tin on April 22.