Racing

Wiser Moreira has faith in Time Warp

Champion jockey now knows the horse better as he heads to Sunday's Group 2 race in Hong Kong

Come Sunday at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong, it will be a wiser Joao Moreira aboard Time Warp in the Group 2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup over 2,000m.

Hong Kong's champion jockey had his first race ride on trainer Tony Cruz's charge in the Group 3 Sa Sa Ladies' Purse Handicap over 1,800m two weeks ago.

The Brazilian guided his front-running partner to what appeared to be a winning advantage mid-way down the home straight, but the even-money favourite faltered and was unable to repel the late thrust of Nassa.

Moreira and Time Warp failed by a head.

"I believe I only got beaten on him because I didn't know him," said the Brazilian, also a champion jockey during his stint in Singapore .

"If I had ridden him before, I think I would have been able to get out of him that little bit extra, enough to get him there."

Despite defeat, Moreira, on reflection, was pleased with the strapping chestnut's effort.

The British import shouldered 123lb (55.9kg), a full 8lb more than the winner in what was a high-class handicap.

"I thought that was an amazing performance by him. I was expecting him to be able to do that based on how he had been going," said Moreira.

Time Warp has taken a roundabout route to Sunday's scheduled first start in Group 2.

The four-year-old began his career with Sir Mark Prescott in England, the man responsible for guiding the early career of Hong Kong champion Viva Pataca.

He won a Class 6 Southwell maiden by six lengths at his fifth start as a juvenile in 2015 and proceeded to rattle off a five-timer before being sold to race in Hong Kong.

The galloper closed his European schooling with a brace of Listed wins at Craon and Saint-Cloud in France, the latter being his sole three-year-old start.

Time Warp now sports the high-profile red-and-black silks of Martin Siu.

The Archipenko gelding took time to acclimatise to Hong Kong racing.

Seven races went by before a course record-setting breakthrough win over 1,800m at Happy Valley in June, which triggered a quick hat-trick before last season's end.

Two placed efforts in Group 3 handicaps this term suggest the galloper is still on an upward curve, and the step-up to 2,000m could assist that progression.

"Now the competition is going to be a little bit stronger but I have faith in him and I think he's going to be right there with a chance on Sunday. I see the extra distance as an even better thing for him," said Moreira.

"It all depends on how many horses will be attacking him for the lead. He didn't have an easy time in front last time and, if that happens again, he might find it tough.

"If he gets a nice run, whatever comes to challenge him will have to finish really strongly to go past him because he's a tough horse."

Time Warp is among nine entries for the BOCHK Jockey Club Cup, the prime lead-up race for next month's Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup over 2,000m and the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase over 2,400m.

The contest has also attracted Hong Kong's former Horse of the Year Werther, the only horse set to carry a 5lb Group 1 penalty, and last year's winner Secret Weapon.

Time Warp's Ladies' Purse conqueror, Nassa, Group 1-placed in South Africa, is also engaged, as are the Royal Ascot winner Gold Mount and last year's Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris scorer, Helene Charisma. - HKJC

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