It wasn’t all plain sailing for Joao Moreira at Sha Tin on Saturday despite a treble that extended his lead at the top of the jockeys’ championship.
The Magic Man ended the meeting five winners clear of rival Zac Purton, who drew a blank on the card, but a two-meeting ban following his victory on Red Elysees in the Class Four Jasmine Handicap (1,800m) means Moreira will be forced to sit on the sidelines during a crucial part of the season.
With the title rivals coming down the home straight and looking to be involved in a tight finish, Moreira firmly shut the door on Purton aboard Right As Rain, with the Australian forced to snatch up his mount and lose several lengths at the worst possible moment before running on to finish a closing fourth.
“I totally messed up, I tried to get the horse to switch his lead and allow him to step in a bit and that’s going to put me out for two meetings,” Moreira said. “I’m just so frustrated but I can’t go back in time and change it.”
While the ban was still playing on his mind after the last race, Moreira was pleased with his treble.
“It’s not every meeting that you ride three winners so when you do you’ve got to be happy,” the rider said.
“Finally I’ve been given some opportunities by some trainers, not all of them but some. Others have been very loyal, which I appreciate. Fortunately the winners keep on picking up and hopefully it doesn’t stop.”
Moreira’s treble was completed by a couple of victories for John Size, who is locked in a tight tussle with his former assistant Frankie Lor Fu-chuen in the trainers’ title race, and the Brazilian predicts a grandstand finish.
Power Koepp and Joao Moreira JUST outlast a luckless Seven Heavens! #HKracing pic.twitter.com/ZnaZsVhbLK— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) May 7, 2022
“John is not just a great trainer, he’s a great person. He deserves to win it,” Moreira said.
“It’s going to be a tight race between them but his horses are running well and it’s nice to see those two great trainers fighting it out.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how things pan out and hopefully the crowds are back at the end of the season to watch and create a good atmosphere.”
Size and Moreira first teamed up for a win when Power Koepp got home by the smallest of margins to beat Seven Heavens in the Class Three Balsamine Handicap (1,000m).
Erimo gets it! The favourite obliges for his first win in town as Joao Moreira collects a treble. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/fXtAlCYoTX— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) May 7, 2022
The first two home were the last two early in running and they wove different passages through the race, with Power Koepp bursting through the middle to take a clear lead and looking the likely winner before Blake Shinn got a split up the rail aboard Seven Heavens to challenge strongly before losing out by a nose.
Size and Moreira’s day was completed when Erimo broke his maiden tag at the fourth time of asking when wearing first-time blinkers in the Class Four Hydrangea Handicap (1,400m).
Teetan rides fantastic four-timer to round off bumper week at Sha Tin
With his rival Frankie Lor Fu-chuen also landing a double at Sha Tin, Size was unable to reduce his deficit in the trainers’ championship from two but he will keep plugging away in his attempt to land a record 12th title.
“We’ve had a couple of winners today, which is good,” Size said. “I’ve never been confident because it’s so close, but I’ll keep trying and see what happens.”