Joao Moreira made short work of the Jockey Challenge on New Year’s Day but on Sunday at Sha Tin it might pay to bet on the Brazilian late.

A commanding book of rides meant Moreira was already $1.15 to start Monday’s meeting but when he won the opening race on Soccer Brave, the Jockey Club suspended betting.

Bets were again taken at $1.04 after race two and $1.06 before race four but when Moreira made it two wins from the four races betting was again suspended and remained closed.

Moreira opened odds-on favourite again at $1.70 and although his ride in the opening race, Noble Delight, was top pick on Saturday night, his rides in the last half of the 10-race card probably pack more punch.

That means waiting for some mid-card fluctuations on in-play betting could be a smarter strategy than taking the short odds to start.

Sweet Bean was a last start winner for Moreira at Happy Valley but the seven-year-old, who has never won back-to-back races, now carries 125 pounds and jumps from gate nine in the Class Five Cineraria Handicap (1,800m).

Endearing and Gonna Run are both rated each-way chances before Moreira spends a rare race sitting in the jockeys’ room for race five.

New year, same result: John Size and Joao Moreira put on another clinic at Sha Tin

Race six through to race 10 is when Moreira could finish with a flurry, starting with Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s Midnite Promise in the Class Four Iris Handicap (1,800m).

Moreira has ridden seven winners from 14 rides for Lor this season but is yet to win a race for the in-form stable outside Class Five.

House Of Fun is likely to start favourite in the Group Three Bauhinia Sprint Trophy (1,000m) after an unlucky fourth last start.

Betting closes before race eight, in which Moreira replaces apprentice Dylan Mo Hin-tung on smart three-year-old sprinter Amazing Star.

It was only Moreira on a rampant Easy Go Easy Win that denied Amazing Star a second career win last start and Chris So Wai-yin’s youngster could start shortest-priced favourite of the day in the Class Three Pearce Memorial Challenge Cup (1,200m).

Has Hong Kong’s love affair with Joao Moreira taken a downward turn?

The penultimate race of the day, the Class Three Orchid Handicap (1,400m), looks a head-to-head battle between Moreira on Ping Hai Star and Zac Purton on Simply Brilliant.

If Moreira hasn’t clinched the Jockey Challenge by then his final ride, Time To Celebrate in the Class Two Violet Handicap (1,600m) should at least score place points to get the three-time champion over the line.

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