There was magic aplenty at Happy Valley on Wednesday night as Joao Moreira swept through the first half of the card unbeaten, pulling five rabbits out of his hat in all and four from five rides for Caspar Fownes.
“Sure, Joao was great but nobody talks about the sore back he gave Royal Partner,” laughed Fownes, tongue in cheek, after Moreira turned the night into a samba procession with Winaswewish, Formula Galore, So Caffe and Speedy Wally for Fownes and threw in Forza Avanti for Me Tsui Yu-sak in the second race for good measure.
Fownes has probably used the Brazilian’s talents more sparingly than some yards, with their 65 combinations before this season landing 10 winners, but Fownes and Moreira have struck lately with six of eight this season.
“But seriously, that was brilliant – I came here full of confidence all night and the horses, and Joao, really delivered,” said Fownes as he skipped to a four-win lead in the trainers’ title. “It has just been a matter of timing with Joao really. He rides lighter than some of the other jockeys I use and it just so happens that I’ve had rides for him lately on horses that were just coming right and some with lighter weights that were going well, like Formula Galore tonight.”
Zac Purton rode the four-year-old last start and probably would have liked to keep the mount but, up in class and down in weight and out of Purton’s range, the opportunity just wasn’t there and Moreira jumped in.
“This horse has been flying and I wasn’t worried about gate twelve – the speed on and down in the weights, I was really confident and the track didn’t seem to be against the horses swinging wide and running on, so that suited him,” Fownes said.
“Speedy Wally has done his job with two wins, he might get another one later in the season when his rating comes back down but for now he’s done well. The others, Winaswewish is a bit of a slow improver who I think could keep improving and he will run further than 1650m and So Caffe put a few off with his trial and he had a minor setback with tying up but I think we’ve already seen he’s better than Class Three so he wasn’t a surprise.”
Chad Schofield was the jockey to break the Brazilian’s grip on the night in the fifth, riding for luck on David Ferraris-trained Nitro Express to come from last and win.
“Look, I think the credit has to go to Paul Robinson, the vet,” said Ferraris. “This horse developed an issue here with his breathing and started making a noise and now you can’t hear him at all after Paul’s operation. Before, you’d have thought about retiring him but Paul sorts them out and gets them back in action quickly too.”
The Moreira six-win haul was still alive going to the last race where he had the favourite, Who’sthedude, but instead Ferraris made it a double for his yard.
Douglas Whyte brought Fantastic Feeling from near last to sweep down the centre of the course and give the Jockey Club’s vice chairman, Anthony Chow Wing-kin, a rare international double as an owner – he had won at Brisbane’s Doomben racecourse earlier in the day with Delightful Feeling.
The win came at a cost for Whyte though, who copped a two-day suspension and will miss the meetings on October 30 and November 2.