It’s been over a month since Joao Moreira landed a double but the Magic Man will have to find a way to start dealing in multiples as he bids to peg back a deficit in the final week of the season.
Moreira trails Zac Purton by two winners with two meetings remaining and has also had two dead-heats to his Australian rival’s one, meaning a tie will not be enough for him to take home the championship.
With Purton unlikely to walk away empty-handed from the final 20 races, Moreira will likely need at least a pair of doubles to put himself in contention for a fifth crown.
Moreira has nine opportunities to hit the board at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, including aboard the Caspar Fownes-trained Sugar Sugar in the Class Four Sung Tak Handicap (1,200m).
Moreira looks to be climbing aboard the son of Star Turn at the right time after the three-year-old produced a much-improved performance last start to finish a close runner-up behind Excellent Peers.
Sugar Sugar was ridden by Alexis Badel on that occasion and it was Moreira getting the chocolates aboard Excellent Peers, a ride the Brazilian retains for the midweek meeting.
The Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained Excellent Peers lines up in the Class Three Sports Road Handicap (1,200m) and is shooting for a hat-trick of wins for his handler, who boasts a six-win lead over closest rival John Size in the race for the trainers’ premiership and will almost certainly claim his first title at Saturday’s season finale.
Moreira also takes the reins aboard Savaquin for John Size in the Class Two Wong Nai Chung Handicap (1,650m), as well as Manfred Man Ka-leung’s last-start runner-up E Legend and Yellowfin, a Francis Lui Kin-wai-trained galloper who looks to have promise but remains winless from three starts.
Purton could put the title fight to bed with a big night at the city circuit and he will attempt to extract an extra inch out of a trio of last-start placegetters.
Danny Shum Chap-shing’s Gorytus enters the Wong Nai Chung Handicap on the back of a third-placed finish over the Valley 1,800m and he will return to the course and distance of his two Hong Kong victories.
The Tony Cruz-trained Yo Beauty is edging closer to a Hong Kong breakthrough after three consecutive placings and Purton will be hoping start 20 proves to be the sweet spot in the Sports Road Handicap.
Jimmy Ting Koon-ho’s Blissful Star is another Purton mount who has done everything but win after finishing second in his past three appearances and the four-year-old steps out in the Class Three Hau Tak Handicap (1,650m).
Blissful Star strikes what looks to be a very winnable contest, however Purton will need to be at his best to deliver the goods from the tricky barrier 11.