Joao Moreira safely tucked away a Jockey Challenge that had the stamp of inevitability all over it despite managing only a winning double, but in Love Shock and Unique Joyous he banked victories with horses which are going to go in again before the season is out.
The three-year-old Love Shock has the look of a potential Hong Kong Derby runner next year after just two runs, as the John Size-trained gelding isn’t bred to be doing what he is doing over sprints.
The son of Melbourne Cup winner Shocking catches the eye as he has the tactical speed for short races, at least in these early days of his career, but everything about him says longer.
“He is a lovely horse with a lot of room for improvement within himself and we aren’t going to see the best out of him until next season,” said Moreira after the odds-on chance cruised away to his maiden win by more than two lengths. “He had a good gate and every chance in the run but the best part of his race was the last 100 metres and he just ran away from them. It’s nice to have an up and coming young horse like him.”
Unique Joyous kept his perfect record intact since he returned to Manfred Man Ka-leung’s yard in March, putting up his third straight win, although not with the comfort of the last two after he was back to his old tricks and slow to jump.
“He had been jumping OK but I couldn’t get him out of the gates any faster than that today,” Moreira said.
“What helps him out is his big finishing burst. Even when he is giving away a start like that, I’m still confident he can win because he does finish off well. He’s done a good job now winning three in a row but, to be honest, I think there is still more to come with him.”
Moreira’s rides on paper looked capable of yielding a lot more than a winning double and he was the 1.3 favourite for the Jockey Challenge overnight. Just two wins could have meant a nervous time for his backers at the short odds but the Brazilian was home comfortably with a number of minor placings ensuring the success.
The pair made Moreira the first jockey ever to breach 150 wins in a Hong Kong season and he has seven more fixtures to come, with a pending suspension taking the June 12 and 16 meetings out of play.