Hong Kong News

Moreira posts a four-timer as Fownes eyes Derby success

Caspar Fownes laid down a positive sighter for a third Hong Kong Derby (Listed, 2000m) title at Sha Tin on Sunday when Kokushi Musou (Bullbars) edged the reigning champion trainer closer to his 1,000 Hong Kong winner with a victory in the first section of yesterday’s Class 4 Hereford Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley.

Posting his 995th career victory after the four-year-old benefited from a heady Alexis Badel ride from barrier 1, Fownes is eagerly anticipating Sunday’s feature with both Rocket Spade (Fastnet Rock) and Senor Toba (Toronado).

“We’ve got two horses in there and we’ll be doing our best to hopefully get another Derby,” Fownes, who won last year’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series finale with Sky Darci (Darci Brahma), said.

Fownes will start both Senor Toba and Rocket Spade in blinkers, encouraged by New Zealand Derby (Gr 1, 2400m) winner Rocket Spade’s emphatic trial win over 1200 metres at Sha Tin last week when sporting headgear.

“He has raced in most of his races with blinkers on, he won the New Zealand Derby with the blinkers and I’ve basically given him a good preparation leading into the Derby and now we just hope that he gets a good draw and he can give us a nice run,” Fownes said. “Senor Toba is also a nice horse and his best racing is ahead of him.”

Joao Moreira will reunite with Fownes atop Senor Toba on the weekend having celebrated a midweek quartet.

“I was quite confident I was going to have a good day because I had good rides,” Moreira said after dominating the city circuit. “Four is always a good number and I’m very happy with that. This builds confidence going into the Derby and hopefully I can repeat on Sunday.”

Zac Purton started the meeting promisingly by notching his 90th win of the season when he drove the Richard Gibson-trained Viva Mama (Dream Ahead) to success in the Class 5 Selkirk Handicap (1000m). It was Gibson’s 12th victory of the campaign.

Trailing Purton by nine wins after the first race last night, Moreira responded in devastating fashion.

Diamond Star (Sweet Orange) extended late under the four-time champion rider to claim the Class 5 Wiltshire Handicap (1650m) for John Size, the six-year-old breaking his Hong Kong maiden status at his 24th attempt.

The Brazilian then upped the ante with success aboard Danny Shum’s Packing Famous (Press Statement) in the Class 4 Renfrew Handicap (1800m), with the gelding accelerating powerfully after a rails-hugging ride by Moreira.

Formerly known as Marcher Sur L’Eau when a runaway winner for Tom Dabernig and Ben Hayes in Australia, Packing Famous has scope for improvement, according to Shum.

“He’s only lightly raced and I think he’s getting better,” Shum said. “He’s a consistent horse.”

Moreira continued a fine display aboard Like That (Akeed Mofeed) for Frankie Lor in the second section of the Class 4 Hereford Handicap (1200m), dictating the tempo from the front to win comfortably.

Moreira’s fourth success came atop three-year-old Eason (Written Tycoon), whose dominant victory in the first section of the Chester Handicap (1200m) gave Lor a double – and a prospect to be excited about.

“He’s a nice horse. He’s still only three and tonight was only his fifth start. I think he could get ten points for this win, but he should still be in Class 3, so I will keep him at Happy Valley,” Lor said.

Blake Shinn expertly exploited the inside draw when he registered his 20th victory of the campaign as Francis Lui’s veteran Universal Go Go (Azamour) clinched the Class 4 Lancashire Handicap (1650m). It was the seven-year-old’s fifth victory from 49 Hong Kong starts.

Three-year-old Scotch Tycoon (Rich Enuff) steamed to his third victory in fifth starts for Lui under a brilliant Karis Teetan ride in the second section of the Class 3 Chester Handicap (1200m). Teetan plotted a ground-saving course along the fence after sitting off the speed.

Matthew Chadwick posted his 30th triumph of the season when the David Hayes-trained Red Majesty (Ferlax) narrowly prevailed in the Class 3 Durham Handicap (1650m).