Waiting for in-play value about Joao Moreira in the Jockey Challenge at the last two meetings has been an exercise in futility and taking the “starting odds” again looks the smart play.
At Happy Valley on Wednesday night and at Sha Tin last Saturday, Moreira marched to easy Jockey Challenge wins with strong starts that saw his odds shorten, and never drift, from race one onwards.
Likely favourites in the opening two races should give Moreira another fast start, and even if the middle part of his day looks a touch shaky, his rides in the three feature races are solid and he partners one of the shortest-priced favourites of the day in the last.
The Richard Gibson-trained four-year-old Amazing Feeling seems to be edging closer to a win with two placings to start the term, the last of those a fast-finishing second to Kirov at Happy Valley three weeks ago.
On that occasion, Moreira elected to surrender ground to sit last before riding for luck, and not getting clear until late.
Stepping up to what looks a perfect 1,400m, Amazing Feeling maps to get the run of the race from barrier five and should break his local maiden.
In race two, Moreira climbs aboard a John Size three-year-old of considerable promise, Money Boy, who despite barrier 12, should have the natural ability to account for his Class Four rivals on debut.
Ashkiyr and Easy Hedge probably stand out as the weak point of Moreira’s day in races three and four, before another good draw gives Volitation another great chance to breakthrough in Class Three.
Moreira surprised many by giving up Eastern Express to take the ride on Military Attack for Caspar Fownes – a trainer with whom he has shared a phenomenal nine from 16 strike rate this season.
Even though Military Attack has to tackle 2,000m first-up, the eight-year-old has a tremendous fresh record and it unlikely the Brazilian would have taken the ride without some assurance that the veteran was ready to run a big race in the Group Two Jockey Club Cup.
Size then supplies Moreira two feature race contenders that should start among the favourites in their respective races, Sun Jewellery in the Jockey Club Mile and Amazing Kids in the Jockey Club Sprint.
Cheeky Too maybe be running for place money in the second last race of the day against Pakistan Star, but Size’s exciting prospect Mr Stunning can seal the Jockey Challenge in race 10 – if Moreira hasn’t wrapped it up long before then.