He’s gone winless in consecutive meetings for the first time this season and things didn’t quite fall his way during international week but Joao Moreira looks well placed to resume normal service at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The Brazilian has been a force to be reckoned with throughout the first third of the season, racing to 51 winners after 30 meetings, but didn’t have the impact he would have liked during Hong Kong racing’s biggest week.
After a narrow second behind arch-rival Zac Purton in the International Jockeys’ Championship, Moreira was unable to hit the board at the Hong Kong International Races.
“It’s a bit frustrating but I’m going to work harder to turn it around. Some of my rides didn’t produce their best but that’s part of racing, I have to accept it and move forward,” the Magic Man said.
“Sometimes things don’t go your way, I’ve been very unlucky with the barriers I’ve got lately and some of the rides I was committed to have ended up being reserves and I’ve ended up on horses I wasn’t supposed to be riding.”
Moreira looks to have come out on the right end of the barrier draw with one of his best chances this weekend, with smart youngster Forte jumping from gate 13 in the Class Four Geranium Handicap.
After an impressive debut victory down the Sha Tin straight, the Caspar Fownes-trained Forte will again tackle the 1,000m under the top weight of 133 pounds after being hit with an eight-point penalty.
“He’s got it, he’s a horse to get excited about,” Moreira said. “He gave us a lot of confidence going into his first run, he had a couple of trials and he finished them off really nicely.
“He responded in the race and I don’t expect anything different this time, he’s had a nice space between runs so he should be very fresh and he has been working well lately.”
Forte is one of three second-starters in the race – along with Infinite Power and Sight Hero – while there are no less than eight debutants.
Despite the many unknowns in the race, Fownes has confidence Forte can retain his unblemished record.
“He worked well earlier this week and he has got to be hard to beat off his gallop on Monday,” Fownes said.
“I think he can win in Class Three so hopefully we can snag one more in Class Four then go up in grade. He’s a nice horse, he’s learning a lot and he’s still improving.”
Also among Moreira’s book of 10 rides is the Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained Jade Phoenix, who looks to be getting close to a win and will attempt to breakthrough from gate one in the Class Four Hibiscus Handicap (1,200m) on the all-weather track.