Joao Moreira may be on his way to another record-breaking season, but the rides the Magic Man rejects have still proven profitable for rival jockeys.
Chad Schofield could be the latest beneficiary when he partners Helene Paragon in the Group Three Lion Rock Trophy.
Moreira has ridden 143 winners through 71 meetings and needs just two more tomorrow to equal his own record set last term, but was forced to make another tough decision; choosing three-year-old Rapper Dragon over the John Moore-trained stablemate.
Among the horses Moreira has “jumped off” that have gone on to win feature races in 2015-16 are Sun Jewellery, Contentment and Peniaphobia, but the most notable is Werther – Moreira could have ridden Moore’s horse first-up and Hugh Bowman went on to capture two Group Ones on the likely horse of the year.
Perhaps it was Rapper Dragon’s age – he is Hong Kong Derby eligible next season – that swung Moreira’s decision, but Schofield is not concerned with the how and why, just grateful for another big race opportunity.
“Maybe Joao is already thinking Derby next season, but I’m not complaining, my horse won well last start – in fact he has run very well at every start in Hong Kong, he just didn’t quite get the trip in the Derby,” said Schofield, who believes 1,600m will be ideal for Helene Paragon, who won in electrifying fashion for Moreira at 1,400m last start.
“Over this trip, when you ask him to quicken he will be able to show his greatest strength and that is his turn of foot,” Schofield said. “I think he has got a lot of upside and in terms of feel, he could not have impressed me any more than when I’ve sat on him at trackwork.
“I’ve been on him three times now and galloped him, he is a lovely horse. Even though he is a stallion, he is very relaxed and quiet. When he gallops, he works along behind a mate and just travels along nicely but when you ask him he lets down beautifully, he has just got a perfect attitude.”
The 22-year-old Schofield has ridden 27 winners in his rookie season so far, including a recent victory aboard Ambitious Champion in the Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup, but is yet to attract solid support from many of the more powerful stables and a win on Sunday would represent his first for Moore.
Helene Paragon faces some talented rivals in the newly-created feature, including Tony Cruz-trained top weights Beauty Only and Beauty Flame and Schofield’s task is made more difficult by drawing widest of 10.
“Every start in Hong Kong he has drifted back, so even though we have drawn widest, at least that gives us the opportunity to come to the outside in clear room and get home,” he said.