Joao Moreira’s record-breaking run is the story of the season but as far as the feel-good factor is concerned the career turnaround of David Hall’s eight-year-old Bamboo Dance, the one-time cellar dweller that has risen from the depths of Class Five, isn’t far behind.
The two storylines continued in spectacular fashion at Sha Tin yesterday when Bamboo Dance made it six straight wins, the victory one of five on the day for the white-hot Moreira, who went three-for-three on Hall’s horses to continue their fruitful partnership.
“The hurdles keep getting higher and he keeps jumping them,” Hall said of Bamboo Dance after the gelding overcame barrier 11 and carried 131 pounds for another convincing Class Four victory.
Bamboo Dance was rated 18 in May, ended last season with a hat-trick of wins and started this season with the same winning sequence – the common factor in the streak being the Midas touch of Moreira, who has been aboard for each of the wins.
Horses rarely win six straight in Hong Kong, but Bamboo Dance is almost certainly the first eight-year-old to achieve the feat.
“In Hong Kong it is unheard of – six in a row is hard to do with a Silent Witness, but Bamboo Dance, at eight-years-old, down to a rating of 18, it is certainly not something you can predict,” Hall said. “It gets more exciting with each win and he is a bit of a cult figure and everybody in Hong Kong knows who he is, that’s for sure.”
Everything was going right for the jockey and trainer combination with a jubilant Moreira throwing his whip from the track in celebration and Hall catching it on the fly in the winner’s enclosure.
Moreira then won the following race on Hall’s Hard Ball Get and backed up later on Heroic Guru to bring up his five-timer.
Hall’s strike rate with Moreira is better than one in three overall but this term has climbed even higher, with the Brazilian riding seven from 11 for the stable so far this season.
Hall said Hard Ball Get had been “hard work” since arriving in Class Two more than two years ago, with the grey showing glimpses of ability but mostly struggling to stand up to life at Sha Tin. Even though Hard Ball Get’s rating had dropped nearly 30 points Hall doesn’t foresee a Bamboo Dance-like march up through the grades.
“It’s a little bit of a different story – it’s been a long, hard road,” Hall said. “He is one of those horses that finds it hard to hold his condition, and he is a little bit chicken-hearted when he races inside other horses in a race. It’s taken a long time to get a win, although I will say he is handling things a little better so hopefully he will be more competitive in Class Three now.”
Moreira came up with one of the rides of the season on Heroic Guru when he went back to find the rail from gate nine before miraculously presenting the horse with clear running at the top of the straight.
That’s not where the challenge ended for Moreira on a horse that is notoriously whip-shy.
“He is a very tricky horse to ride and he nearly got me suspended last time I won on him when he ran away from the whip,” Moreira said. “You just can’t hit him, he hates it, and even when I held the whip up near his head and he could see it he wanted to run away from it.”