Joao Moreira has never hidden his regard for Beat The Clock (128lb) 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 (1400m).
“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,” Moreira said after the John Size-trained three-year-old landed his fourth win at start eight in a time of 1m 21.82s.
Beat The Clock impresses with his win in the Hong Kong University Alumni Association Challenge Cup Handicap under Joao Moreira, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
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 (123lb), 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,” Moreira continued.
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,” the Brazilian said. “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 today, 11 short of the record he established last year.
Meanwhile, chasing Beat The Clock in second place, Limitless (132lb) 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 seven-furlong trip.
Zac Purton allowed last year’s Britannia Handicap (1600m) 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 22.33s, compared to Beat The Clock’s 22.45s. Happy Agility (114lb) took third.