The Jockey Club will do “whatever it takes” to support the injured Joao Moreira, with chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges confirming the star Brazilian has a “major decision” to make in the coming days.
Sidelined from Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting because of an ongoing hip injury, Moreira is likely to require surgery and may face an extended stint on the sidelines.
“We will do everything to support him. It’s not only about short-term health, it’s about the long term,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said.
“It’s likely he will have to undergo a certain procedure, which will take him away from riding for a longer period of time.
“I’m really concerned about him mentally. When you are suddenly faced with ‘can you continue to ride, can you continue to ride at this level?’, it is something I think is heavy on his heart.
“Whatever we can do, it doesn’t matter where, we will try everything to give him the best medical attention and recovery, whatever it takes. He has been a tremendous asset to Hong Kong racing. He has been one of our heroes.”
After having his troublesome hip examined, Moreira is expected to make a decision early this week on whether he goes under the knife. The club is looking abroad, as well as locally, for the best medical care on offer.
“He doesn’t have to be concerned about cost, we will do what we think is best for Joao. I think we have to do everything to support him because he is a tremendous athlete and he has made a tremendous contribution that we want to honour and recognise,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said.
Moreira missed the first two meetings of the new term after undergoing surgery in Brazil during the off-season and was stood down after just two meetings back in the saddle after struggling through last Wednesday’s Happy Valley meeting.
Chadwick impresses Hayes
Matthew Chadwick can expect to be receiving more support from David Hayes in the coming weeks after producing a winning effort aboard Star Contact that the trainer labelled “as good a ride as you’ll ever see”.
Chadwick took the $15 chance back to last from gate 12 in the Class Four Oi Man Handicap (1,400m) before quickly making ground up the rail and settling just behind midfield.
The jockey then eased Star Contact off the rail cornering for home and allowed him to work past his rivals in the straight and defeat Happy Daily by a neck.
“When he drew that gate I didn’t think he was quite fit enough [to win], but I just have to say that was as good a ride as you’ll ever see,” Hayes said.
“That’s what won the race, Chadwick’s ride. He said ‘I hope it gets me more rides’, so Matthew was very happy.
“I think you have to [give a jockey more rides] when they ride them like that. We thought the horse was going well, but we were just very worried about the gate.”
Chadwick commented recently about his struggles attracting support despite winning the Tony Cruz Award as last season’s leading local jockey with 55 winners.
It was just his second winner for Hayes and they have combined only 25 times, five of which have been with Star Contact.
Star Contact broke his maiden at start nine after three placings last season, and Hayes is confident the four-year-old son of Star Turn, who was rated 48 prior to Sunday’s win, will remain competitive at the top of Class Four and into Class Three.
Hayes completed a double in the last race on the card, with Fantastic Treasure winning his first race for 16 months in the Class Two Cheung Hong Handicap (1,200m).
The one-time spruik four-year-old won his first five races and was Classic Series bound before a splint-bone injury stopped him in his tracks in January, and he didn’t hit his straps in three runs towards the back end of last season.
But after the five-year-old closed nicely under Zac Purton to see off Ima Single Man by half a length, an excited Hayes was again dreaming about how good the galloper could be.
“I think he is upper class and he will show that as the season goes on,” said Hayes, adding that Fantastic Treasure’s next outing could be in the Group Two Premier Bowl (1,200m) on October 23.
“I’ll keep him sprinting for the moment, he should come in on the minimum. You could run him with 135 pounds in Class Two, but he’s won that race now, so I think we’ll go for a proper race.
“It’s a real thrill. I’ve got to thank one, Purton – he was fantastic – and two, the owners for being so patient. He promised so much but lost his way.”
Chung hits pay dirt
Angus Chung Yik-lai is developing a liking for the Sha Tin all-weather track, with the 26-year-old taking out the Class Five Wah Fu Handicap (1,650m) aboard Lucky Victor.
Both of Chung’s Hong Kong victories have come on the dirt after Quadruple Double’s success a week ago, and he is striking at 50 per cent on the surface.
Chung sits at the top of the dirt leader board, with Purton, Vincent Ho Chak-yiu and Derek Leung Ka-chun also saluting on the all-weather track this season.
Chung led all the way aboard Quadruple Double, and he again made full use of his 10-pound claim to get the chocolates atop the Jimmy Ting Koon-ho-trained Lucky Victor, assuming the lead early and dictating throughout.
It was Lucky Victor’s fourth win at start 22 and all have come on the dirt in Class Five, but it may be a while until the six-year-old can salute again, with his rating of 36 poised to jump into the 40s.
Lucky Victor was a three-quarter-length winner ahead of Benno Yung Tin-pang’s Run Des Run, handing Ting his second winner of the season.
Yung had to settle for second best in the first two races after his veteran Yes We Can was runner-up to Woodfire Bro in the opening event, the Class Four Shun Lee Handicap (1,650m).