After an authoritative course and distance conquest last start, championship leading jockey Joao Moreira is confident Superbella (119lb) can measure up in Class 3 when he steps up in grade to contest the Lam Tsuen River Handicap (1800m) at Happy Valley tomorrow evening (Wednesday, 19 May).
“I was very impressed – the way he did it gives me the confidence that even though he is up in class now that he should be competitive once again,” Moreira said.
The Frankie Lor-trained five-year-old kicked off his Hong Kong career in Class 3 after arriving on a mark of 74, but took time to settle into his surroundings before sauntering to a first Hong Kong win at his 12th start by four and three quarter lengths.
“I believe so (to progressing further), when a horse wins as he did last start, you can’t really ask for much more,” Moreira said.
Prior to his arrival, the Passing Glance gelding was a two-time winner in Great Britain at Brighton and Lingfield under the care of Andrew Balding.
Stepping away from gate six, the 62-rater faces 11 rivals including the progressive Cheerful Days (119lb), an Australian bred son of Smart Missile whom Moreira partnered to victory last start but instead pairs with Alexis Badel from gate four.
“I was already booked to ride Superbella because he won before Cheerful Days but I honestly think Superbella might be one step ahead and with a little bit of luck, I might be able to finish ahead of Cheerful Days,” Moreira said.
Earlier on the card, the Brazilian combines with another Frankie Lor-trained runner, Savvy Kingman (124lb) in the Class 4 Tai Shing Stream Handicap (1650m).
“I just think he needs things to go his way, the last two starts things haven’t – two starts ago he was in front and I was able to come across and then another horse challenged him to make sure the pace was hot, so he was a bit wounded for the finish.
“Then last start he was held up and at the 600 metre mark it looked like he wasn’t going anywhere but he still finished the race very strong, so he just needs to show the same kind of acceleration in the finish,” Moreira said.
The three-time champion jockey will have his third pairing aboard the British import and the duo will step away from gate seven against 11 rivals.
“He’s very healthy and he’s a very straightforward horse – with a little bit of luck we might be able to win this race,” Moreira said of the seven start maiden galloper.
Moreira leads this season’s title race 123 to Zac Purton’s 109 and is looking to enhance his haul when he heads to the city circuit as the only jockey with a full book of nine rides.
Earlier on the card, Antoine Hamelin bids for consecutive victories aboard the Chris So-trained Split Of A Second in the second section of the Class 4 Shan Pui River Handicap (1200m).
“Last time was in Class 5 and now he’s back into Class 4, I think the morale of the horse is better because he won last time, he did the job very well last time so we will try the same up in grade,” the Frenchman said.
“He is not very complicated, he’s an easy horse, we have a light weight (117lb) and a good draw, so that’s what he needs in Class 4 but everything looks good and hopefully a bit of luck is there,” the 29-year-old said.
In his first full-season in Hong Kong, Hamelin has amassed HK$37.6 million in earnings with 23 wins, including an incredible five-timer which he collected at Sha Tin in January.
“I’m happy with my season, of course everyone wants more winners but I’m still happy and I do my best all of the time – I love Hong Kong a lot, everything is going well for me and I hope to stay here for a long time,” Hamelin said.
Wednesday’s (19 May) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 6.45pm with the second section of the Class 5 Tan Shan River Handicap (1650m).
Hong Kong Jockey Club Press Release by Declan Schuster
Photo: Courtesy of Hong Kong Jockey Club