Racing

Moreira lands his 500th win in HK

The Magic Man boots home a treble to achieve a new milestone in his career

Jockey Joao Moreira rode a treble at Sha Tin on Sunday and recorded one of his biggest milestones of a storied Hong Kong career yet as he made it 500 wins in the city.

The Brazilian maestro scored his first two wins in Hong Kong in December 2012, aboard the Peter Ho-trained All The Winners and Noble Deluxe on his way to taking out the LONGINES International Jockeys' Championship that year.

He moved to the territory as a Club Jockey in October 2013 and has been named champion rider the past two seasons.

"The milestone, it means a high five," a cheeky Moreira told the waiting crowd.

"It's very nice to get to that mark, but I think we're going to stretch that number out a little bit yet, don't worry."

Moreira started the day with a win on debutant BRAVO WATCHMAN. The three-year-old shared the lead early before racing clear for a two-and-a-half length success in the Class 4 Cineraria Handicap over the straight 1,000m.

"We were a bit concerned when he arrived in the stable because he weighed 1330 pounds (604.5kg) and had a few little issues," trainer Chris So said.

"But the moment he stepped on the track he showed us he had an engine. He is so big and he is still growing, he doesn't know what to do with that frame and can't really get around a turn too well yet, so I thought the straight would be the good place to start him, even though I think he will be a 1,400m horse."

The milestone, it means a high five. It's very nice to get to that mark, but I think we're going to stretch that number out a little bit yet, don't worry.Jockey Joao Moreira

So said, from the moment the horse first trialled, he wanted Moreira as the jockey as he was the best person to help educate the horse from early on.

A narrow win on David Hall's MAMBO ROCK followed for the Magic Man in the Class 3 Heung Yee Kuk Cup Handicap over 1,800m, before he brought up his milestone on impressive winner WESTERN EXPRESS in the Class 2 Orchid Handicap over 1,400m.

The John Size-trained Western Express is on a BMW Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) path and has mixed his form since his local debut, winning twice, placing once and finishing out of the money twice from five starts.

However, Moreira believes the horse is heading the right way towards a Derby, although he is still cautious about whether the four-year-old classic may come up too soon for the son of Encosta De Lago.

"The horse is trending the right way, there's no doubt about that," Moreira said.

"He ran well first-up, his second run he didn't have things go his way and he ran terrible, his third run he ran extremely well and was just beaten and then his fourth run, he faced the big boys in the Classic Mile.

"His form is not that consistent, but he's taking two steps forward, one step back, so he's heading in the right direction, and he's improved so much in the last three months, even since his first run.

"He's still got a couple of steps to go up to be level with the big boys, but I like him very much. He's still not there and he could be a horse for next season, because I don't think he's even close to his best yet.

"But nothing would surprise me with him because I've seen horses with the same sort of form turn up at the Derby and produce their best, and I think if he reaches where I think he will get to, he could win a Derby." - HKJC