Joao Moreira’s faith in consistent sprinter Beat The Clock has been rewarded, with the pair taking out the Group One Centenary Sprint Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The John Size-trained galloper broke through for his maiden Group One after threatening to many times before in his remarkable career, which has seen him never miss a placing in 18 starts.
Moreira had ridden the horse 15 times before Sunday’s win and decided to go again on the five-year-old after having the choice of either D B Pin or Beat The Clock.
Even without a Group One win on his resume, Moreira chose the son of Hinchinbrook after a blistering trial last week where he won by more than seven lengths, causing the Brazilian to declare the horse had never gone better.
While he had been proven wrong in the past, Moreira’s assessment was spot on this time around, holding off Hong Kong Sprint winner Mr Stunning in a close finish.
“I always thought that he had that potential to break through in a great race, a Group One, and today was the day,” Moreira said.
“I am very pleased to be part of the team who has done an amazing job with this horse, they have also been very faithful and the hard work pays off today, so I am very pleased.”
With Size’s two other top-line sprinters Ivictory and Hot King Prawn missing from the race, there was no clear leader and Moreira admitted he was surprised when Zac Purton elected to go forward on the unproven Little Giant.
A battle royal between two exceptional sprinters but Beat The Clock and Joao Moreira find just enough to hold old rival Mr Stunning in Centenary Sprint Cup. John Size's gelding was gaining his first G1 win at the fifth attempt #HKracing pic.twitter.com/LxmRpLhiz6— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) January 20, 2019
“Things went quite differently to what we thought, I didn’t think Little Giant was going to lead the race, but he did, fortunately I was able to get my way through on his outside,” he said.
“My guy, he just attacked very strong, in the last 100m he just started to pull up and wait for the others but he was just too good, he was out in front and good horses do that.”
While Little Giant and D B Pin led the field into the straight, they were beaten with 250m left to run, allowing Moreira to go to work.
As the former trainer of runner-up Mr Stunning, Size was able to turn the tables on his former assistant Frankie Lor Fu-chuen after Lor struck the first blow last month.
“He’s taken his time to break through in the Group One but he has always promised to do that,” he said. “Today the race was suitable for him and he managed to do it.”
Size was quick to rule out the possibility of racing overseas with Beat The Clock, declaring his sprinter would “stay at home” and tackle the Group One Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1,400m) in a month’s time, where he is likely to run into champion galloper Beauty Generation.
Jockey Karis Teetan lamented the fact Mr Stunning did not travel as well into the race as he did in last month’s Hong Kong Sprint.
“He still ran good, they came around and I took a sit. Today he was not travelling as well as he did before so I had to get going a little earlier than usual,” he said.
“The winner got a sweet run on the inside and my horse still kicked so I’m pretty happy about it because there isn’t much between them.”
Australian Sam Clipperton reported defending champion D B Pin was “not his usual self” after fading out in the straight.
Tony Cruz’s Winner’s Way rounded out the placings with Silvestre de Sousa riding.