Master Eight was the star of the show and Joao Moreira put a rare lull behind him by completing a treble as Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s exciting four-year-old coasted to a commanding victory at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Sent out a raging $1.35 favourite in the second section of the Class Three Spoonbill Handicap (1,200m), Master Eight went straight to the front and controlled proceedings throughout to win by a length and three-quarters from fellow up-and-comer The Golden Scenery.
“He knew what we were asking him to do and he just delivered. He’s a very nice horse to ride and he’s got a bright future. He’s got plenty more to come,” said Moreira, who had gone 30 rides for just one victory before hitting the board on Sunday. “It’s always better to be riding winners.”
The sky looks to be the limit for Master Eight after three wins from three starts to begin his career, with his rating to soar into the 80s.
While Lor admitted the nature of the gelding’s victory was cause for excitement, he is content to take things one step at a time as his first Class Two challenge awaits.
“It’s too early [to get too carried away], next start he will go up to Class Two and we will know a lot more,” the trainer said.
“He looked very good, we will stick to 1,200m – if you go a little bit further he might be too keen. If he sticks to 1,200m there are still some big races for him later on.
“He looks like he will still improve, he’s only had three starts and he needs to learn to relax a little bit more and he will be better. Joao still had to hold the horse a little bit.”
Master Eight was the second victory Moreira and Lor combined for after they prevailed with Xiang Yin in the Class Three Chinese General Chamber of Commerce Cup (1,600m).
After taking 15 starts and over two and a half years to break his Hong Kong maiden, the six-year-old has now won two on the trot.
“He appreciated the light weight on his back and he came into today’s race with a win under his belt. He’s now understanding what it’s all about, so congratulations to Frankie’s team – they’ve done a great job,” Moreira said.
“Frankie is a good trainer and a good person who deserves all the success he has been having. I’m lucky to be riding some of his nice horses.”
Lor thanked Japanese owner Yoshifumi Naito for his patience after Xiang Yin picked up nicely from just forward of midfield to salute by three-quarters of a length from favourite Maldives.
“Unfortunately in his first season he got a joint problem and he needed more and more time but the owner didn’t complain at all, so I’m really happy to win two for him this season,” the trainer said.
Moreira got the ball rolling in the third event by piloting Manfred Man Ka-leung’s So Awesome to victory in the Class Five Heron Handicap (1,400m), the five-year-old’s first start in the cellar grade and maiden victory at start 20.
The three-timer moves Moreira to 17 wins for the season and shaves his deficit in the jockeys’ premiership to nine after Zac Purton could only manage one winner (Good Buddy) for the afternoon.