THE magic of George Moore and wizardry of Australian superstar Mick Dittman produced another winner at Taipa last night - but the betting windows on the track weren't crowded.
A midweek crowd of 3,285 turned up for the first sand meeting of the new season but a disappointing $11.1 million was the official turnover figure for the seven-event card.
Those staying faithful to the Moore and Dittman combination received their reward in the sixth race when topweight Funny Boy scored by a head in the Class Six short sprint.
Apart from a typical driving finish from Dittman, the most significant factor to the success was the gelding's price - he returned at odds of 4-1.
Virtually every other Moore runner to date perceived to have a chance has gone off in the red or at even money, as was the case with Plus Fame Success (2-1 favourite) in the fourth event.
Colin Dean, on topweight Asean Treasure (4-1) for trainer Paul Leung Che-pong, proved too strong and the Moore favourite finished third.
There was another third placing for Dittman, who wraps up his stint at the track after Saturday's meeting, when the Joe Barnes-trained Vera's Boy (5-2 favourite) was beaten a head and three-parts by Wonderful Worlds (3-1) and bottomweight Little Fighter (6-1).
It was a night to remember for Macau-born trainer Kenny Man, who has been around the Taipa complex since trotting began there 14 years ago.
He continued his good start to the season with a career-best treble that was initiated by 40-1 chance Pot Of Diamond, allowed to go off at a staggering quote in the second event despite his excellent sand form. He had no trouble in beating odds-on favourite and topweight Ever Supreme (8-5), with Dittman up.
Wonderful Worlds then took the fifth event and Man wrapped it up in the final event when Functional (25-1) scored the second huge upset of the night.
It was a 3,000-1 treble but only the stable's most diehard supporters would have been counting the money when it was all over.
Dittman picked up a spare ride in the final event on unplaced Odysseus, taking over from Hong Kong-based Jackie C. K. Tse who cried off two planned rides because he was indisposed.
The Taipa fans will have to wait until Saturday to see champion jockey Jose Corrales in action again.
The Panamanian had 'gone missing' in the lead-up to the new season but turned up on Sunday and was down to ride The General in the second event last night. But his exertions on the training track and in trials must have taken a toll and he forfeited the ride.
George T. D. Moore