On a rare occasion that Joao Moreira doesn’t have a numbers advantage, the Magic Man is still the one to beat in the Jockey Challenge with the help of a couple of odds-on favourites from the powerful John Size stable.
Usually Moreira has the most rides on a Sunday at Sha Tin, and most are the favourites too, but in vogue new apprentice Matthew Poon Ming-fai is the only jockey with a ride in all 10 races.
The “Poon Train” has some good chances as well, including Happy Meteor, a horse he notched his maiden Hong Kong win aboard last month.
Moreira still has nine rides though, and if the early odds are correct, might already have 24 points in the bank courtesy of Size’s rising stars Nothingilikemore and Western Express.
Nothingilikemore closes the day for Moreira in the The Power Of Music Handicap, with the unbeaten three-year-old chasing four straight wins to start his career.
Western Express leads the way in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Trophy as the four-year-old chases five wins for the season and four straight over the distance.
The Brazilian has some other top chances too, including another couple of Size.
There are six dirt races for punters to get their heads around and Moreira has Size-trained horses that should run well in two of them.
Arizona Blizzard hasn’t won since a narrow early season success but hasn’t been far away either and strikes a moderate Class Three sprint, while Red Marvel has been more consistent without winning.
Size is not only a runaway leader in the championship but, somewhat surprisingly, is leading the way on the all-weather track as well, with his nine winners equal most with Chris So Wai-yin.
Moreira also rides two on the dirt for Caspar Fownes, with Born Dragon coming back to his best distance of 1,200m in the Heritage Conservation Handicap.
Born Dragon is badly drawn in barrier 12 but has struck a rich vein of form on the inner circuit, winning two straight over 1,200m before a last start third over 1,650m.
Fownes’ Imperial Seal is another to have risen out of Class Five to build a respectable record this season and although probably nearing his ratings ceiling, a switch to the dirt might bring about another step.
Moreira returned from suspension on Thursday night at Happy Valley and although beaten in the Jockey Challenge, his overall record in the bet type is outstanding, particularly at Sha Tin.
The strongest of Moreira’s rides are in the second half of the meeting, so perhaps there will be some value to be found in in-play betting.