Markets often hinge on which horse Joao Moreira “chooses” but the two-time champion jockey warned not to read too much into him taking the ride on Healthy Luck in the Class Three Lai Chi Chong Handicap (1,200m) on Wednesday night at Happy Valley.
In fact, on many occasions odds swing one way or the other on the basis of a leading jockeys’ choice when in reality the decision has been made for them, mostly through a mix-up at entry stage, but in this case, loyalty.
Moreira was aboard for Prince Harmony’s impressive last start victory but only because Douglas Whyte was unavailable through suspension for that meeting, and now trainer Chris So Wai-yin has given the 13-time champion the ride back.
“And fair enough too, Douglas had won on the horse twice before,” Moreira said, who climbs aboard Healthy Luck for the first time, the three-year-old having won two from six with Whyte aboard before a last start third under Olivier Doleuze.
“That was a good effort, he had to work hard to find the front and was only beaten half a length.”
There could be fireworks in the early stages of the sprint with the rail out in the C + 3 position and a host of on-pace runners sure to be sent forward.
Healthy Luck races prominently and while Moreira said he will await instructions from trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung, he said it wasn’t a given he would get involved in an early speed duel.
“He has led mostly in his races this season but I don’t think he necessarily has to lead,” Moreira said. “It is going to be very interesting, I have Douglas drawn to my outside on a horse that always leads and some other speed in the race as well.”
Healthy Luck will be having his ninth start of the season, not an overly taxing campaign by local standards, and Moreira seemed hopeful the son of Written Tycoon would be at his best.
Boosting Moreira’s confidence were two recent track gallops where the Brazilian kept the lightly framed gelding under wraps.
“He is a bit small to look at, but I would say he is more compact and he is still strong, I think he will be alright,” Moreira said. “I galloped him the last two times in his fast work, the last time on Monday and he felt fine. He is a young horse with more to give and I think he will still be better again next season.”
The race also includes last start winners Perpetual Joyance (Zac Purton) and Master Viking (Callan Murray), plus Travel Datuk (Umberto Rispoli).