Joao Moreira took his magic show on the road with a Taipa treble but it was the home side that broke an interport drought when Best Of Luck made best use of a front runner’s paradise in the Macau Hong Kong Trophy on Sunday.
Moreira had ridden three winners at Sha Tin on Saturday and he matched that effort with a trio of victories that included a brilliant ride to capture the Group One Macau Derby on Geoff Allendorf-trained import Turquoise Power.
“Thank God we had Joao,” Allendorf said after Moreira helped the former Gai Waterhouse-trained galloper run away for a dominant win.
Turquoise Power looked to be struggling on the tricky surface in the run, but from the top of the straight Moreira weaved a passage close to the rail and the advantageous inside part of the heavy track, booting clear over the closing stages for a two-length win.
A Macau-trained runner hadn’t won an interport series race on either side of the Pearl River delta since 2012 when Gary Moore’s Viva Pronto scored on a similar surface and Best Of Luck was able to lead all of the way under an aggressive ride by Kiwi jockey Andrew Calder.
Torrential rain during the week made finding the front a priority at Taipa, and with a visiting contingent that lacked a leader, Best Of Luck’s trainer Wong Kwan-sik felt confident his horse would win if Calder could control the race from gate two.
“We knew they were the best tactics, the track was very heavy so we let the horse go on to the front,” said Wong. “We also saw that the Hong Kong horses would all sit back, so I told Andrew to let the horse run from the 400m. If some horses catch him, that’s fine, but we had to lead and ride this way if we were going to win.”
Chasing hard in second was Joe Lau’s local favourite The Alfonso, who was also runner-up in the Sha Tin leg, while best of the visitors was third-placed Great Spirit (Derek Leung Ka-chun), trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai saying it wasn’t just running style working against the five Hong Kong-trained entrants.
“My horse ran really well, he tried very hard, Derek had him in a great spot, but a few of the Hong Kong runners really didn’t handle the conditions,” Yiu said.
“It is completely different to Sha Tin and it is better for the Macau horses here, as they are used to those conditions.”
Moreira’s big haul also included a pair of Group Three wins, capturing the Grand Lisboa Cup on Golden Double followed by success in the Sand Specialist Stakes on Sheng Li Win.