The ebbs and flows of the title fight between Zac Purton and Joao Moreira are captivating the racing world and it is the Brazilian who heads into Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting on the back foot.
After going winless for two consecutive meetings for the first time this season, it is frustration rather than worry that Moreira is looking to shed this weekend.
“It doesn’t add any pressure but it adds frustration – there’s something I must have done wrong and obviously I’m trying to work around it,” Moreira said.
“I’m a winner, I love winning races and when I don’t, it gets on my mind and makes me really think about what I have done and try to change it.”
Moreira, who missed the May 27 fixture with suspension, has failed to ride a winner since he and Purton snared four-timers at the Champions & Chater Cup meeting on May 24, with his arch-rival opening up a gap of five.
“Unfortunately I haven’t been able to produce winners lately but I don’t think people should doubt my capability as a jockey – it’s only a matter of time until I start kicking home winners and hopefully this weekend is that time,” Moreira said.
“I think my rides this weekend are much better than the previous two race meetings. I’m looking forward to those rides and hopefully I can make the championship even more interesting.”
Moreira has nine rides to Purton’s eight, with his book including a host of gallopers in strong form that he rides for the first time.
The Brazilian climbs aboard the Manfred Man Ka-leung-trained War Of Courage, with the three-year-old well placed to add to his record of two wins and five placings from seven starts in the Class Three Fu Tai Handicap (1,000m).
Moreira takes the reins of Dennis Yip Chor-hong’s Decisive Action from Purton, with the last-start winner carrying only 116 pounds in the Class Three On Ting Handicap (1,600m) after stepping up in grade.
John Moore’s Dan Control and the David Ferraris-trained Lobo’s Legend are other gallopers Moreira teams up with for the first time after both ran on encouragingly at their last appearances, while he sticks with enigmatic John Size galloper Heza Beauty.
The Magic Man also continues his association with another Size horse in Monkey Jewellery after partnering the son of Exceed And Excel to three straight Class Four seconds, as well as his two career wins last year.
“His previous runs have been very good and since he’s dropped in class he has shown good form against some really nice horses,” Moreira said.
“He seems a quite versatile type of horse and based on that I am quite confident he is going to be very competitive in this race.”
Monkey Jewellery’s trio of thirds have all come at Happy Valley but Moreira maintains the switch back to Sha Tin for the Class Four Po Tin Handicap (1,200m) will be a positive.
“His wins have been [at Sha Tin] so there is no doubt he has given the indication that he goes better there,” the Brazilian said.
“I actually love it when horses go over to Happy Valley, it’s a racecourse that toughens them up a bit and I think that it’s going to do a lot of good for this guy.”