Joao Moreira produced his most prolific day in the saddle in over three-and-a-half years with a scintillating Sha Tin six-timer on Sunday afternoon.
Moreira’s dominant half-dozen marked the most winners he’d had in Hong Kong since his record-setting haul of eight in March 2017 and he pulled six victories clear of Zac Purton and Karis Teetan in the race for the jockey’s title – both of whom went winless for the first time this season.
After riding 123 seconds to go with his 138 winners last season, Moreira has been the bridesmaid only three times while amassing 14 victories this term.
“It helps me believe in myself, which is very important – when you go for penalty kicks and you hit the bar, it is frustrating,” the Brazilian said.
“No doubt it has boosted my confidence and has made me feel more comfortable. I knew at the beginning of the season I was going to have some nice horses and I was quite confident that I could have a good start, but I didn’t think it was going to be this good. After winning six races today and looking back, it’s been very good.”
It was the performance of Excellent Proposal in the final event that set tongues wagging, with the four-year-old fuelling his Classic Series push with an impressive win in the Class Two Cheung Shan Handicap (1,600m).
“He’s proven he can handle a mile but he seems the kind of horse that connections may have to start considering targeting at the Derby. He’s the kind of horse that might run the distance,” Moreira said.
After jumping from barrier 14, Moreira travelled wide without cover aboard the Australian import before sailing past his rivals in the straight.
“There wasn’t much pace in the race and there was never going to be, so he just had to cover the ground and hope that he could out-sprint them,” trainer John Size said.
After three wins from four starts under the care of Richard and Michael Freedman in Australia, Excellent Proposal has now won twice in Hong Kong and will see his rating sail past 90 to give Size plenty of options as he plots a Derby path.
“We’ll head [towards the four-year-old series] and see how we go,” Size said. “That’s how he runs, that’s what he looked like when he first arrived here and he’s kept going on with it and he hasn’t disappointed us.
“I think I’ve got enough time to give him a break before [the Classic Mile in] January so it looks all right, I couldn’t be more pleased at the moment. We’ve just got to match the horse’s health and the programme.”
Size and Moreira also teamed up to salute with another promising youngster in Scores Of Fun, who improved his record to two from two by saluting in the first section of the Class Four Shek Lei Handicap (1,200m).
“He got a little bit of traffic in the home straight but he showed that he’s got braveness and he’s got heart to come between horses and get there. He’s a horse with a bright future going forward,” Moreira said.
Moreira opened his account with a front-running effort aboard Skyey Supreme for Francis Lui Kin-wai before also getting the chocolates with Fabulous Eight (Ricky Yiu Poon-fai), Armor Star (Frankie Lor Fu-chuen) and The Rock (Caspar Fownes).