Joao Moreira has a tricky day ahead of him on Sunday at Sha Tin with some wide draws in races around a bend, but in the two straight races his last start debut winners Styling City and Superich look well placed.
Five of Moreira’s nine rides on the circle have drawn double figures but Styling City and Superich should progress off easy first-up triumphs.
Two-year-old Styling City made light work of rivals – all six of them also on debut – in a griffin race on April 15, winning by six-and-a-half lengths, eased down in the end by Moreira.
John Moore’s sprint prospect returns to the same course and distance on Sunday for the Chueng Plate, another griffin contest containing four of his well-beaten rivals from last start and one newcomer.
Despite the massive margin and apparent ease of victory last start, Moreira was keeping a lid on expectations.
“It was only a griffin race so I don’t want to get carried away but he has felt good in his work and he is a very straightforward kind of horse,” he said. “To start his career off like that is what everyone would wish.”
Moore has a knack of getting griffins to fire early but one only has to look back to the corresponding races last year to see that a debut win isn’t a guarantee of future success.
In fact, it was a Moore-trained horse for the same famous racing family, the Lings – who have raced stand-out performers Charming City, Leading City and Sterling City – that provided the example.
Amusing City won on debut but was defeated at his next start a month later by Hot King Prawn, a horse who has since moved into Class One with four more wins.
After that debut victory Amusing City didn’t win again and was retired after five unplaced runs this season.
The difference between the cases is that Styling City won his debut by six-plus lengths and Amusing City got his by a short head, and there does not look to be a horse anywhere near the calibre of Hot King Prawn in Sunday’s field.
Zac Purton replaces Matthew Poon Ming-fai on Quadruple Double, the runner-up and race favourite from last start, so although the two-year-old gets a more experienced jockey, the five-pound claim is lost.
He now meets his rival just two pounds better at the weights for what was a comprehensive defeat and it is hard to see him turning that margin around.
Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s phenomenal first season continued on Wednesday night with a double and Superich should add to the trainer’s stellar record in the Class Three Li Cup (1,000m).
Superich was another who was not favourite but won like it first time out.
From barrier 11, Superich was settled just back behind the speed by Moreira and given one slap with the whip produced a nice finishing burst to score by a cosy two-length margin.
Since then Superich has trialled strongly on the dirt over 1,200m.
The same gate again will be key here in a race containing some real talent including fellow three-year-olds Refined Treasure (Chad Schofield) and Amazing Star (Victor Wong Chun).
Refined Treasure comes in off back-to-back course and distance victories while Amazing Star returns from a mid-season setback but trialled in great order on April 24.
The younger horses will have their work cut out against Caspar Fownes’ highly touted import Montreal (Purton).
It is difficult for imports to win first-up but Montreal, a winner of three from four in Australia, caught the eye in his one and only 800m barrier trial on April 17.
Montreal may not be fully wound up for this assignment but expect a cheeky race and for the four-year-old to progress from his mark of 76.