Beat The Clock 'a Group class horse'
Moreira praises rising star after his smart victory at Sha Tin
Joao Moreira has never hidden his regard for BEAT THE CLOCK and the champion jockey was verging on the effusive after the rising star posted a smart victory in Sunday's feature race at Sha Tin, the Class 2 Hong Kong University Alumni Association Challenge Cup Handicap over 1,400m.
"I've been indicating that I think he's a very nice horse, one of those up-and-coming horses, and I'm convinced we're going to see him in Group races sooner rather than later," said Moreira, after the John Size-trained three-year-old landed his fourth win at start eight in a time of 1min 21.82sec.
The Hinchinbrook gelding was sent off the 1.7 favourite, and, after a tardy break, had the innate speed to track the pace-setting Adventurer, albeit in a breeze-facing wide position.
"He had to do it the tough way today, three-wide and exposed, but he was just too strong," said Moreira.
When the rider shook his reins at the top of the home stretch, Beat The Clock responded with a smart change of gear that took him past the leader and on to a cosy length-and-a -quarter score. It was all hands and heels in the final 100m.
"He wasn't very fast out of the gate but, once he got going, he put himself in a very close position," said the Brazilian.
"I wish I could have had cover to get him a little bit more relaxed but, despite that he was very professional, and when I asked him to get going he responded.
"The fact that he's only a three-year-old, that's what makes me even more excited, because it feels like there's plenty more inside him, and, based on that, I'm confident that he's a Group class horse. He's a very nice horse going forward."
The win took Size to 89 for the campaign, just two short of Tony Cruz's Hong Kong record of 91 wins in a season.
Moreira sits on 157 after a double, 11 short of the record he established last year.
Meanwhile, chasing Beat The Clock in second place, Limitless once again flagged that he is a galloper of serious ability.
The Lope De Vega gelding did plenty wrong on his first start for the Caspar Fownes stable, refusing to settle at the tail over the 1,400m trip.
Jockey Zac Purton allowed last year's Britannia Handicap (1,600m) winner to creep forward on the turn. Three lengths down at the swing into the straight, the four-year-old rifled home to finish second in 22.33sec, compared to Beat The Clock's 22.45sec.
Happy Agility took third.
Trainer Chris So welcomed his first four-time winner of the campaign after the treble-scoring Purton utilised BEST REWARD's ample stamina in the Class 4 HKU Faculty of Medicine Handicap over 2,200m.
The Holy Roman Emperor gelding may not hit the same level as his half-brother Roseburg, third in last season's Group 1 Coronation Cup (2,400m), but the bay has clearly inherited plenty of staying power from his dam, the In The Wings mare Raydaniya.
"I'm very impressed with the horse," said So, after the 3.9 favourite had notched his fourth win on end at start 17.
"When we got him, the owner told me he was a good horse - I thought the horse was useful and we just needed patience because he needed distance.
"Now he's won two on dirt and two on the grass. I thought he'd keep on winning, he needed to go further and you can see the way he runs that he was going to get better up in distance - if he went 2,400m - he'd still win."
Purton notched the second leg of his treble atop 21-1 chance PERPETUAL JOYANCE for Size and completed his three-timer atop the John Moore-trained GO BEAUTY GO,
Purton is now just eight shy of his second Hong Kong century, with nine meetings remaining this term. - HKJC