The Joao Moreira-factor is often just a matter of getting on the right horse at the right time and that certainly seems the case with Spicy Sure in the Shan Pui River Handicap on Wednesday night at Happy Valley.
Spicy Sure was desperately unlucky last start under Neil Callan and now comes back to the same course and distance (1,650m) with a perfect barrier and Moreira aboard in a paper-thin Class Three.
Had Callan not been squeezed up when he went for a rails run, Spicy Sure would have almost certainly beaten the fast-finishing Litterateur last time out.
Three weeks later, Spicy Sure should get another gun run from barrier three, sitting up on the speed in a race containing very little pace.
Super Sprinter has been ridden forward successfully in the past, was used early last start, and should again press on from barrier one with Jack Wong Ho-nam aboard.
Moreira could slide in behind, but he may be better served taking matters into his own hands and making a play for the front himself. That way he can control proceedings – at the same time avoid the type of traffic jams that Callan struck last start.
Front-running tactics worked the last time Moreira rode Spicy Sure, which happened to be the gelding’s last win, over 1,400m at Sha Tin nearly a year ago.
On that occasion, Spicy Sure hacked up to win by three lengths with the rail out in the C + 3 at Sha Tin, a result that put the son of Casino Prince deep into Class Two.
Moreira was also gifted a gun draw on Go Go Win as Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s seven-year-old looks to snap a long losing sequence in the Class Four Ng Tung River Handicap (1,650m).
Go Go Win hasn’t won for close to two years but has been reasonably consistent, notching seven runner-up finishes from 23 starts since, including his last two over the course and distance.
The gelding is another Moreira may attempt to make his own luck on in a race that would otherwise be open to the types of messy mid-race moves that are the cause of many a hard luck tale at the city track.
Clever Spirit, winner of one from 22 so far and zero from 10 this term, has dropped to the brink of Class Five and also comes up with a crucial draw for Moreira.
With the rail out and 115 pounds on his back, Clever Spirit maps to get a lovely run from barrier two in a race containing a suitable amount of early speed.
It is Moreira’s second ride on Clever Spirit, and first this season, and it pays to take note when Caspar Fownes and the Brazilian combine.
Moreira has a freakish strike rate for Fownes, riding 18 from 44 overall for the stable at 41 per cent this season.
The Ho Chung River Handicap looks a top heavy affair containing three or four runners likely to bounce back out of Class Five before the end of the term.
Paul O’Sullivan will be hoping blinkers make the difference for Aeroluminance, beaten a neck in his most recent outing over the course and distance.
The Caspar Fownes-trained Born To Race (Vincent Ho Chak-yiu) will be competitive, with the five-year-old finding himself in cellar grade for the first time after 17 starts.
Born To Race drops off a series of runs from extremely wide draws, having drawn widest in his last three races.
Similarly, True Comment (Jack Wong Ho-nam) drops into Class Five for the first time, and while barrier two with the rail out and blinkers back on are both positives, it’s impossible to ignore the diabolical recent runs, even if they were on the dirt over further.
True Comment has been beaten a combined 53-and-three-quarter lengths at his last three starts and a recent trial at the Valley didn’t do much to boost confidence either.