Joao Moreira pocketed a treble and hit a milestone figure at Sha Tin on Sunday, notching his 800th Hong Kong career win aboard Class 4 galloper Such A Happiness.
“It’s a nice round number but I don't want to get stuck there, I want to be moving forward!” he said before admitting, “I wasn’t even thinking about it. I honestly thought I’d reached it before but it’s come along just a couple of race meetings after that.”
Moreira is the fifth jockey to achieve 800, following Tony Cruz, Douglas Whyte, Brett Prebble and Zac Purton. He reached the mark in record time, on his 3,563rd race ride, seven meetings from the end of his sixth Hong Kong season: As a rough comparison, his number one rival, Purton – who hit 1000 Hong Kong wins last weekend – reached 800 wins in the April of his 11th season.
The Brazilian ace moved on to 84 wins for the term, a fine return given that the season was three months old when he returned from Japan to take up the role of John Size’s stable jockey.
Such A Happiness was Moreira’s second win on today’s 11-race card. Benno Yung’s charge took the Class 4 Graham Handicap (1000m) by a length.
“He got gate one and he had a beautiful run through; he was behind the speed, got a lovely gap to go through and he dashed home to catch the leader,” the three-time champion jockey said.
Moreira took the opener, the Chancery Plate (1000m) for Griffins, on a horse seemingly destined to rise to a decent perch. Winning Method was beaten on debut behind the highly-touted Aethero but has now put two easy wins together and today strolled to a four and a half-length success at odds of 1.0.
“I was quite worried at about halfway because the pace was on a bit and I had to niggle at him to stay in touch. But once I gave him a tap on the shoulder he just ran past them, so that says he’s got ability,” the rider said.
“He was in great form and he’s shown he has more maturity than before. He raced more kindly in the race – he didn't jump and run on the bridle like a lion. This time he was a bit more cautious in what he was doing and that’s why he was able to run away from them. I’m pleased with what he’s done today.”
Trainer Danny Shum intimated that the talented two-year-old will be gelded before returning next season.
Moreira made it three wins when the Size-trained Beauty Applause showed again that while he might look like a fairground carousel horse, he can gallop like a useful athlete. The chestnut with four white socks, a face to match, and flaxen mane and tail, took his career record to two wins from four starts.
The three-year-old defied top-weight, making all and striding on to a length and three-quarter win in the Class 4 Lyndhurst Handicap (1200m).
After providing Moreira with his 800th, Yung landed a treble of his own. The trainer’s Ka Ying Master took the Class 4 D’Aguilar Handicap (1000m) under Keith Yeung. And the same rider was in the plate when Not Usual Talent tore down the home straight for a cosy win in the concluding Class 2 Staunton Handicap (1600m).
Such A Happiness and Joao Moreira, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club