Joao Moreira gets a chance to continue his great association with one trainer and begin to build on a low strike rate with another when he partners a pair of horses that look ideal bankers in tomorrow night’s Triple Trio at Happy Valley.
Moreira can build on the deadly combination he has formed with trainer Paul O’Sullivan on Towering Storm in the opening leg of the TT, while the jockeys’ championship leader will be chasing just his second win for trainer Richard Gibson with second-starter Amazing Feeling in the following race.
Horses don’t get many chances to race over 2,200m at Happy Valley but Towering Storm has run well over the distance at his previous two tries and gets Moreira aboard for the first time as he steps back up in distance.
The extended trip has come along at just the right time for O’Sullivan’s seven-year-old – now in his fourth stable and the winner of just two from 43, but nevertheless consistent enough to never drop below the mark on which he started this season, 48.
Those previous two wins were at the bigger Sha Tin track, over 1,800m and 2,000m, but the gelding has struck form in the city at his last two – first with a neck defeat to Rock The Tree and then when beaten less than two lengths by Monsieur Mogok.
Now Towering Storm finds an average race and gets the magic touch of the Brazilian, who has an excellent strike rate with O’Sullivan, winning two from five for the stable this term and missing a place just once.
Overall, Moreira has won eight from 22 for the yard for a strike rate of 36 per cent and has placed on 73 per cent of O’Sullivan’s runners since the record-breaking jockey arrived full-time in October 2013.
Gate seven isn’t a terrible result for a horse that has been dropped right back in his races, and while he will need a solid tempo, something that is rare in a Valley staying race, Towering Storm should get at least some speed.
Claimer Jack Wong Ho-nam rides Oscar Miracle, which will take up the running, and he will cross from 10, with Kerkeni likely to dig up and sit handy from barrier two.
Ambitious Dragon’s little brother Packing Dragon (Umberto Rispoli) also makes the step up in trip 10 days after a moderate effort on the dirt. He will also sit close to the speed from a decent draw and should go in.
Another with some famous Hong Kong bloodlines, Super Silks, makes the leap from Class Five 1,650m dirt races, which doesn’t read all that well, but if pedigree is anything to go by then the son of versatile sire Commands should relish the extra ground.
Super Silks’ dam Isaure is by a Hong Kong Vase winner, Daliapour, and is also a half sister to dual Vase winner Doctor Dino. Now, of course that may all mean nothing and could even equate to Super Silks just being plain slow, but he deserves his chance here on account of being race hard fit, in form and with no previous convictions to say he can’t handle it here.
Another option is Rouge Et Blanc (Gregory Benoist), who seems out of form, but may appreciate a switch to new surrounds.
Somewhat surprisingly, just one of Moreira’s 301 victories in Hong Kong has been for Gibson, with the pair combining just 10 times, but Amazing Feeling has the look of a horse ready to break through in Class Four and improve that record.
The son of Iffraaj was an unlucky second to London City on debut up the straight, enduring a difficult run, having his momentum halted and then forced to come home on the slowest part of the straight course.
A step up to 1,200m looks ideal at this point, even if barrier 12 on the B course doesn’t.
Diamond Master (Benoist) is an interesting galloper drawn low and could figure, and of the others, try the bottom weights Whistle Blower (Derek Leung Ka-chun), Giddy Giddy (Karis Teetan) and Lean Journey (Alvin Ng Ka-chun).
O’Sullivan’s Pearl Warm Warm (Teetan) enjoyed the switch to the Valley’s 1,650m last start and returns to the same course and distance with another good draw in a weak Class Four.
Take him as banker, ahead of Danewin Express (Douglas Whyte), Rising Power (Nash Rawiller) and Smart Union (Moreira).