Bank on Moreira for Triple Trio success
Brazilian rider has good chances in every leg and he can be the punter's pal eager for rewards
Joao Moreira holds all the aces in Sunday's Triple Trio at Sha Tin with the Brazilian star riding three solid bankers, including a pair of typically progressive types from the John Size yard.
Size's Sichuan Exec and Teofilo Calva look obvious standouts in the final two legs of the TT, and the "Magic Man" kicks things off in the first leg on Celestial Smile - a Paul O'Sullivan-trained four-year-old who has been desperately knocking on the door at his first four starts.
Sichuan Exec has been one of the quiet achievers this season, the classy son of Exceed and Excel compiling a seasonal record of three from five to go with his solitary win last season.
Some narrow winning margins - a head, a nose and three-quarters of a length - have saved him from the same fate of his stablemates, who tend to get slaughtered by the handicapper. The four-year-old has gone up just 17 points for three wins, despite there being some real quality about those victories - even if they appear tradesman-like and tough on face value.
One of the gelding's best qualities is his early gate speed and tactical ability, and after being posted wide two starts back from a tough draw, Moreira took matters into his own hands last time, led from gate 12 and dictated.
From barrier five this time, he should easily find the pole position again in the BMW Performance Race (Class Three, 1,400m) and the horse that he narrowly beat last start, Big Four (Tye Angland), again looms as the biggest threat.
Big Four has some appeal as a double banker given how much the depth falls away after the top two. The Michael Chang Chun-wai-trained import has considerable winning claims, with a three-pound turnaround in his favour for the nose defeat, and a much better draw - dropping from gate seven, from where he got too far back and charged home - into barrier three.
Playing a double banker allows some options and others to throw into the mix are Gallant Triumph (Zac Purton), dropping in grade after not being disgraced in Class Two, and Flying Unicorn (Karis Teetan) from gate one.
Toss up between Club Life (Derek Leung Ka-chun), I'm In Charge (Brett Prebble) - the step up in trip will suit him at start two - and Ka Ying Kid (Gerald Mosse), with blinkers on for the first time.
Size's Teofilo Calva brings a seasonal one-from-one record with exceptional form lines into the anchor leg, the Vital King Handicap (Class Four, 1,200m).
When Teofilo Calva won a 1,200m Griffin race in November he was impressive, showing blistering gate speed to lead from a wide gate, the poise to be able to come back and be rated through the middle stages, before kicking away for a tidy length and three-quarter victory.
Since then, the horses he beat have stood up to racing - Fantastic Kaka was second to Luger in the Griffin Trophy and has won since, while Lucky Bonus and Berlini have also won. Why Why, Real Fit, Faster More and Grand Harbour have all run consistently.
All of those horses have had the edge of more racing, but Teofilo Calva has had the incomparable polish of three trials under the gentle guidance of Size. Yake it as fact that he will have progressed.
Teofilo Calva has to contend with gate nine and some speed underneath him in the form of Sea Warrior (Angland), who also goes in.
Also look to include Dining Star (Teetan), Gaoling Lucky Star (Gerald Mosse) and Bespoke Collars (Olivier Doleuze). Consider Mighty K (Prebble) and Dynamic Voyage (James McDonald).
Moreira's magic touch has been called upon by O'Sullivan on the unlucky Celestial Smile. From gate two, this is his chance to break through over the mile in Class Four - but he does face a decent field.
Play him as banker, ahead of clear second pick Industrialist Way (Purton), Kissmet (Neil Callan) and Grand Harbour (Tommy Berry).