Champion jockey Joao Moreira’s fans will have itchy trigger fingers going to Sha Tin on Sunday, knowing that the Brazilian must be about to explode after a lukewarm start to the new season.
Moreira has landed two wins from his 18 rides – well short of his usual one-in-four strike rate – and collected a careless riding suspension midweek, which he takes after Sunday, so it’s going to be an uncharacteristic first five meetings for the Magic Man even if he has a good weekend.
He has his usual full dance card and John Moore’s Group One ambitions with Joyful Trinity should prove the afternoon’s main focus when the gelding returns from his summer break with Moreira in the Kwangtung Handicap Cup on Sunday.
Punters look certain to make him favourite after two wins and a second to Helene Paragon to round out a successful first campaign here but Moore will be looking for him to step up another notch this season and take himself into A-grade.
Moore has won the race in two of the last three years with Kabayan and Same World, who ran in better races later without ever being top graders, but maybe the Group One king is looking to last year’s event as his guide – Beauty Only was successful before going on to hold his own in the best mile events.
It won’t be any pushover for Joyful Trinity, with Born In China backing up from the Chief Executive’s Cup and he should be fitter for that after having some questions over him a week ago after a minor foot problem in the lead-up.
Moreira’s mount for Tony Cruz in the last race, California Joy, has some longer term interest too, as the new four-year-old will be trying to build a rating in the next few months to see if he can qualify for the Derby in the new year.
He has a way to go so resuming down in the weights in Class Three he will want to be making his presence felt to be any chance.
It’s the usual suspects at the top of the trainers’ leader board so far with five trainers winning 14 of the races so far – Me Tsui Yu-sak, Danny Shum Chap-shing, Caspar Fownes, Cruz and Chris So Wai-yin.
All have nice representation again on Sunday but from the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” files, punters will be having a good look at Goal For Gold, who backs up from opening day when he was backed as if unbeatable up the straight course, firming from over 20-1 to under 7-1.
He was an eye-catching fourth for Dylan Mo Hin-tung after losing touch with the pack in the midstages, goes up to 1,200m with Ben So Tik-hung and blinkers going on this weekend on the dirt track which will stage its first race of the new term.
With the departure of Andreas Schutz and Sean Woods from the training ranks, there were more than the usual stable transfers after last season and the yard changers landed one big improver, Red Peony, last Saturday.
There are nine stable change horses this weekend and the most interesting looks to be Fantasticlife, with a move from Woods to Fownes and he looked ready to go in a recent trial running up to second behind likely race favourite Good For You.