Brazilian magician Joao Moreira was back in action at Happy Valley last night and made his presence felt from the first moment with a stunning four-timer - but he almost ruined the comeback with another suspension.
Moreira had not ridden since November 17 after catching back-to-back careless riding bans and showed he was raring to go again when he came from last to win the opening Class Five on Tony Millard-trained Super Team. That was just the start, with three more to come.
"I'm so happy. What can I say?" said Moreira at the end of the night. "It has been so frustrating sitting and watching the races, and seeing some of my rides winning, too. People say it takes time when you come back from a break like that, to get things to click back into place, but tonight it just happened right away."
Moreira went in again to win on Dark Secret in the second for David Ferraris, then added the last two races on Step Faster for Chris So Wai-yin and Classic Jewellery for John Size.
Each time Moreira saluted, it was championship lamplighter Zac Purton who saw his rear end, taking second four times, and it was Purton who copped the interference in the second race that made Moreira a candidate for yet another suspension.
Dark Secret ducked in sharply after getting the better of Purton's mount Superking Dragon, and while the result was never at risk with a margin of three-quarters of a length, Moreira was reprimanded by the stewards for the incident.
Moreira has combined well with Size so far and once Classic Jewellery was in front of his biggest threat, Royal Partner, in the run, the Caspar Fownes-trained horse couldn't make up the ground, a familiar tale there.
The win on Step Faster took the night's Class Three trophy race, a win that trainer So had been confident about as soon as he saw the inside draw.
"He's an easy horse to ride and from the good draw he was able to control the speed," So said. "I was only worried about my old boss' horse, My Name Is Bond, but Joao was able to get a break on him."
The old boss, Fownes, was able to pick one up, however, when Domineer (Gerald Mosse) found himself in front again, but with less pressure than seven days ago, and kept going.
"He did a good job last week considering the speed," said Fownes. "He was only beaten a couple of lengths and it was a different result tonight when he got an easier lead. He's grown and put some weight on during the summer and I think he's going to make a handy horse, here and at Sha Tin."
Tye Angland's mo' is gone, but not his mojo and he had a breakthrough for trainer Richard Gibson with Dragon Pins. The Australian has been one of the form jockeys this season, but had had only three previous mounts for Gibson and got his chance with Olivier Doleuze suspended.
"I've got a few for him on the weekend, too," said Angland. "The race itself worked out as expected and I didn't have to think too much about it from gate one but it's nice to get one for Richard and hopefully it's one more trainer who will think of me in the future."