Happy Valley has been a not-so-happy hunting ground for Joao Moreira this season but the Brazilian heads to the city track with a great book of rides and a golden opportunity to make ground on Zac Purton in the jockeys’ championship.
Moreira (121 wins) trails Purton (126) by five with six meetings remaining, a gap that could close quickly if the Magic Man gets on a hot streak.
That could happen at the Valley with Moreira looking like he has an advantage over Purton.
Still, Purton is riding the tricky course as well as anybody in history at the moment, and has collected 16 more winners than Moreira at the track this season.
Moreira’s strike rate at the smaller course has dipped to 15 per cent heading into this fixture but he should give that number a boost on Wednesday.
As well as the return of impressive stayer Insayshable in the feature race, Moreira is aboard some other great chances.
Top of the list is Sam’s Love returning to Happy Valley for the Class Three Cheung Chau Handicap (1,650m) after a barnstorming second over 1,400m at Sha Tin.
That defeat put Dennis Yip Chor-hong’s four-year-old back up in grade but the step up in distance comes at the right time and a low draw is another plus.
Sam’s Love steps beyond 1,400m for the first time but the extended mile looks suitable for a horse that is now outpaced in sprints and has caught the eye with his fast finishes of late.
Last start, Sam’s Love was last when turning and rattled home, beaten a head by Starship, with only race position and a great ride from Purton the difference.
If the track is playing to the front-runners, Moreira may have to push to be midfield, but regardless of track conditions, with the bottom weight of 118- pounds and barrier six, Sam’s Love won’t be last and will also get a genuinely run race on the C course.
Moreira takes over from Purton on Dragon Pioneer in the Class Three Lamma Island Handicap (1,000m) as the Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained gelding looks to take advantage of a big weight swing on last start winner Healthy Luck.
Dragon Pioneer meets Healthy Luck seven pounds better, but the key might be the barrier, with Moreira to get a lovely run from gate three.
Sichuan Boss is another of Moreira’s rides with an ideal inside draw and the consistent type looks for a second win this season.
The Class Four Lantau Island Handicap (1,650m) looks an ideal opportunity for Tony Millard’s five-year-old.
Sichuan Boss has been racing with Victor Wong Chun’s 10-pound claim but perhaps Moreira can ellicit some extra spark from the gelding.
Hardest to beat looks to be Megatron (Karis Teetan) as the six-year-old returns to the turf after two good runs on the dirt.
Megatron has won twice at the Valley, including once over the course and distance, has a nice draw and seems to be on a winning mark.
The opening event, the Class Five Po Toi Handicap (2,200m), looks another fascinating battle of tactics between the two top riders with Moreira on Penzance and Purton on Sweet Bean.
The 2,200m course lends itself to mid-race moves and Moreira and Purton will have a close watch on one another throughout from barriers one and two.
Sweet Bean hasn’t left Class Five since he got there in June 2014 but has been an absolute iron horse for the Caspar Fownes stable.
The seven-year-old will be having his 18th start of the term after running 20 times last season, and looks a great chance of matching his record of three wins from 2016-17.