Joao Moreira has his sights set on what would have once been an inconceivable 175 winners for the season but says a string of bad barrier draws might make life difficult for him on Saturday at Sha Tin.
Moreira is famous for not setting goals, but with just four meetings remaining in the term he has indulged his competitive instinct and come up with a short-term target of riding nine winners from the remaining four meetings.
“That means I will have to ride three doubles and a treble somewhere along the way,” he said. “I usually don’t set myself goals because I don’t want to be disappointed but 175 would be nice. If I don’t get there, that’s fine, but I will be trying my best.”
The Brazilian needs two more winners to equal the record of 168 he set last season on his way to a second straight championship, before pushing on to set a new mark.
Moreira rode 99 winners in 2013-14 before breaking Douglas Whyte’s record of 114 with 145 in 2014-15.
Moreira said Saturday’s meeting might be the most difficult to get the wins he needs to push for 175.
“I have an OK book of rides but so many wide barriers will make it difficult,” he said.
Five of Moreira’s 10 rides have drawn double figures, including leading hopes Super Euro Star, Sam’s Love and Master Albert.
Gran Master and Multigogo should both start favourite but have drawn eight and nine respectively.
Moreira takes over on Multigogo in the Class Four Continuous Development Handicap (1,200m) just as the three-year-old seems to be ready to break through at start seven.
“He is right there on his rating and the step up in trip suits him,” Moreira said of the Tony Cruz-trained sprinter.
Still, there is one rival Moreira is wary of in the race, Southern Express, a smart three-year-old with 2018 Derby ambitions that he rode in two early season starts as well as his two most recent trials.
Sam Clipperton takes the ride on Southern Express and even though 1,200m might seem too short based on the gelding’s breeding, Moreira still expects a bold showing.
“I hope I picked the right horse,” he said. “Even though it seems like Southern Express needs further and he is very one-paced, you never know what he might do fresh. He hasn’t raced since November and he has drawn a good gate too.”
Moreira might have knocked back the ride on Southern Express but he has taken three others from the John Size stable: Ensuring, My Darling and Unicron Jewellery.
My Darling is one ride that did draw well with barrier three in the Class Two Hong Kong Reunification Cup (1,400m).
“I think he can win again,” Moreira said. “He had to work hard early from his gate last time over the same course and distance last time and was still able to pull away.”