Joao Moreira believes impressive debut winner Top Beautiful can absorb a nine-point ratings rise second-up but hasn’t given up on last-start failure Travel Emperor – who flopped in a similar situation on opening day.
Top Beautiful was the obvious black-booker from the first meeting of the season, scoring under a hold in a 1,000m Class Four, while Travel Emperor was by far the biggest disappointment, showing few signs of the talent that took him to his own impressive debut win late last season.
Both horses contest Class Three on a two-week back up with Moreira also retaining the ride on the pair, and while the Brazilian is supremely confident about Top Beautiful’s chances, he is still holding out hope for Travel Emperor.
“They are both very nice young horses, based on what he did first-up Top Beautiful will be hard to beat, and even though Travel Emperor was disappointing last time, I still maintain he will be a very nice horse in time,” Moreira said.
Right from the time Top Beautiful arrived in his stable, trainer Chris So Wai-yin has held the opinion that his acquisition was a sprinter bound to rocket through the grades, even boasting that the gelding was running “Silent Witness-like” times in trackwork.
So’s confidence in his charge’s ability was clearly justified as So Beautiful made light work of more favoured rival Lucky Lucky in the opening race of the season.
Unlike trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing, who stepped Travel Emperor up to 1,200m at his second start, So has elected to keep it simple and start his four-year-old over the same 1,000m course second-up.
A draw close to the grandstand rail looks perfect in the Tailorbird Handicap and Moreira is brimming with confidence – even if he thinks Top Beautiful’s best will be beyond 1,000m.
“After this run, I think Chris will step him up in trip,” Moreira said. “He gives that indication, that kind of feeling that he will be better over further in future. He has a beautiful temperament and does whatever you want him to do.”
When asked to assess Travel Emperor’s first-up run, Moreira paused and chose his words carefully, but there is no getting around the fact that he felt the boom sprinter didn’t live up to expectations two weeks ago.
“It is true, he disappointed me ... I thought he would be better than that but he just didn’t take that next step,” he said.
“Obviously he was way too good for Class Four, he showed that, but horses need to take another step if they are to win up in grade and he just didn’t do it. But I still have a lot of faith in him, I stand by what I said that he could be a top horse in the making, but he is just one of those horses that will take a lot longer for the penny to drop.”
Moreira gave Travel Emperor every chance from an awkward draw last start, but will have an even tougher job this time round after drawing barrier 12 of 12 on the C+ 3 course in the Swallow Handicap.
“He has been working aggressively, and that’s why he probably didn’t take that next step last time, we put him in the right spot but he didn’t really know what to do,” he said. “He can only get better though, and if he can put it all together he certainly has the ability.”