If you can put Ivictory’s last start failure as favourite down to interference and inexperience then the John Size-trained three-year-old should bounce back and finish the season on a high at Sha Tin on Sunday.
After winning his first two starts, Ivictory was sent out 1.5 to make it three straight on June 25, and although he finished unplaced, there were excuses.
Ivictory had been given a push by Umberto Rispoli to maintain a position from a low draw, so was already travelling strongly, before interference in the early stages seemed to set the gelding off.
The sprinter began racing ungenerously heading into the first turn, pulling and getting his head in the air, and when it came time to sprint for home Ivictory was left gasping and flat-footed, having used up energy early.
Joao Moreira now gets aboard three weeks later for the Class Three Medic Kingdom Handicap (1,200m) after riding the compact type in a trial last week.
Even though the rain-sodden all-weather track didn’t allow for fast times, Ivictory got the blow-out he needed and moved through his gears nicely to skip away from his three rivals easily.
One thing that wasn’t tested, and hasn’t really been yet, is Ivictory’s ability to handle the hustle and bustle that can present itself back in a field.
Being able to deal with some bumps could be an issue again as Ivictory returns to the same course and distance with the rail out in the C position.
From barrier eight, Moreira will use Ivictory’s early speed and with some on-pace runners drawn below he will look for a spot just off the leaders, hopefully without the same type of bumps that got Ivictory pulling last time.
As usual at the season finale, there are competitive fields, and this race contains a number of live chances.
Expect improvement from the Tony Cruz-trained Fionesay (Neil Callan), who missed by a narrow margin when beaten by promising sprinter Fantastic Eight.
That was Fionesay’s third run back from a year-long absence due to a tendon injury, but the gelding still looked big.
A two-week backup looks ideal for Fionesay, but the key might be that he will be conceding 11 pounds to Ivictory, a horse with undoubted upside.
Having already broken his all-time record last weekend, Moreira heads into the season finale in uncharted territory, and boasting an outstanding book of rides.
Moreira has 169 wins but could be in for a big day with rides in 10 of the 11 races and seven of them for Size.
Beat The Clock looks well weighted for the duo in the Class One feature of the day, the Sha Tin Mile Trophy (1,600m), but he also has strength in the lower grades.
Big Bang Bong has been banging away of late with four consecutive seconds and now returns to the bigger track for the Class Two Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association Handicap (1,400m).
The horse who has beaten Big Bang Bong at his last two, Time Warp, runs in the Class One earlier on the card and can provide an interesting reference for when the final race of the season rolls around.
Moreira will also be doing his best to lift trainer Michael Chang Chun-wai up to the minimum win benchmark of 16 wins when he rides Superior Boy in the Class Four Sight Winner Handicap (1,400m).
In the opening race, the Class Five Being Famous Handicap (1,200m), Kwaichung Brothers will start high in markets after running a solid race first time in cellar grade last start.
Coming back to 1,200m may not be as ideal as 1,400m for the four-year-old, but this is a weak race.