Trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung has a simple system in place for when Joao Moreira requests to ride one of his horses: he just says yes.
The Magic Man’s rival jockeys may find it a little disheartening, but Man was unapologetic after Moreira’s win on Spicy Sure gave the trainer a treble.
“If Joao asks to ride one, you know it will win, and I never say no,” Man said after Spicy Sure, helped firstly by a drop in grade, scooted along in front on a C+3 course playing hard and fast, and where being near the speed was no harm at all.
“This horse is consistent and the 1,400m is his best trip,” Man said. “But the key is Class Three, he finds it too tough up in Class Two.”
Spicy Sure had actually run on nicely for third at his last start in Class Two, but after the four-year-old stayed on a rating of 80, Man opted for a run down in grade with top weight, and left him with more than a month between runs after a taxing season.
In that time, Moreira was able to hop aboard for some key trackwork gallops that filled the Brazilian with confidence.
“He has been working really well, and I could feel he was ready,” Moreira said. “His run up in grade was very good. To be honest, I am surprised they let me have the lead so easily. The track was very fast.”
Spicy Sure’s win gave Moreira four on the day and his 400th win in Hong Kong, a feat that came as a surprise to a rider who seems to break a record every other week.
“The photographers after the race were yelling out ‘four’ to me, I just thought they meant four winners today,” he said.
Little Fantasy had earlier denied Moreira a win when grinding out a victory for Nash Rawiller, holding out race favourite House Of Fun, with Man saying the application of a tongue tie to the gelding’s gear had been critical.
“Of course he loved that track being so hard, but the difference was he wasn’t fighting with the rider the whole way,” Man said. “Let’s hope he can keep improving.”
Man’s consistent sprinter Malmsteen was another to revel in the conditions as he skipped away for a wire-to-wire win for apprentice Kei Chiong Ka-kei.
Chiong now has a three-win break in the race for the Tony Cruz Award for leading local rider with five meetings remaining in the season.