Moreira posts 1200th Hong Kong winner in record time
Joao Moreira created racing history at Happy Valley last night, reaching the 1,200-win milestone in Hong Kong in record time while also over-taking Zac Purton in the battle for the 2021/22 jockeys’ championship after posting a double.
On a defining night for Moreira, the 38-year-old Brazilian became only the third jockey to slot 1,200 wins or more in Hong Kong behind Douglas Whyte (1,813) and Purton (1,393), but the ‘Magic Man’ reached the mark quicker than either.
Purton took 7,470 mounts to hit 1,200, while Whyte – Hong Kong’s all-time record-holder with 13 jockeys’ championships – reached the mark after 7,662 rides. Moreira’s success on Ricky Yiu’s Natural Storm (Pins) in the Class 4 Murray Handicap (2200m) came aboard his 5,553rd mount in Hong Kong.
“I wouldn’t be sitting on that number without the support of a lot of people,” Moreira beamed after opening the meeting with a race-to-race double. “Not even in my wildest dreams, could I have those dreams, you know before I came over to Hong Kong.
“I wasn’t counting. I wasn’t aware that I was on 1,198 before the meeting and I didn’t come to the races thinking about it. It’s always good to reach the mark.”
Moreira moved to Hong Kong in October, 2013 and has since set a slew of records, including the most wins in a season, most wins at a single Hong Kong meeting and most prize-money earned by a jockey in a single season as well as claiming the jockeys’ championship in 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2020/21.
Moreira’s latest haul leaves him level with fellow four-time champion Purton on wins for the season – 98 each – after Purton closed the meeting by winning the Class 3 Des Voeux Handicap (1200m) atop Francis Lui’s Star Brite (Toronado) – but the Brazilian now leads overall because he has a more second placings.
Moreira accelerated his charge from the outset with victory aboard the talented Whizz Kid (Shalaa) in the Class 3 Connaught Handicap (1000m) with a victory which delighted winning trainer Tony Cruz.
“I love this horse, his character is fantastic. The only worry is that he keeps on putting on weight so I’m going to have to gallop him in the off-season to keep him in shape,” Cruz said.
“He loves Happy Valley and the Sha Tin straight course over 1000 metres, but I’m sure he’ll get further in the future. Tonight, Joao said everything went great, everything was perfect, so I’m very happy.”
Matthew Chadwick interrupted Moreira’s spree with success on Benno Yung’s Humble Steed (Kodiac) in the Class 5 Queensway Handicap (1650m) before Charity Go (Harbour Watch) surprised his trainer Danny Shum by claiming the Class 2 Chater Handicap (1800m) under Matthew Poon.
“I didn’t expect him to win, but I’m very happy that he did,” Shum said. “He had a good run and he seems to get along well with Matthew Poon. Everything worked out well tonight. His best distance is 1800 metres and he showed that tonight.”
In-form Yung fired in his third win from his past five starters to total 30 for the campaign when Multimore (Kaphero) held on grimly to land the Class 4 Ice House Handicap (1000m) under Dylan Mo, while Yiu sealed a brace with Prime Minister (Makfi) for Derek Leung in the Class 3 Glenealy Handicap (1650m).
Lyle Hewitson and Douglas Whyte combined successfully for the fourth time this term when Durham Star (Deep Field) broke through in the first section of the Class 4 Lambeth Handicap (1200m). All of Hewitson’s wins this season have come in tandem with Whyte.
Chadwick followed Sunday’s Sha Tin double with another brace, partnering Chris So’s Jiangxi Stamina (Moshe) to an impressive victory in the second section of the Class 4 Lambeth Handicap (1200m).