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‘Impressed’ Joao Moreira chases back-to-back wins aboard Superbella

May 19, 2021, 8:26:48 AM

Following an impressive course and distance victory last start, championship leading jockey Joao Moreira believes Superbella (119lb) will compete in Class 3 when he moves up in grade to contest the Lam Tsuen River Handicap (1800m) at Happy Valley tomorrow evening (Wednesday, 19 May).

“I was very surprised – the way he did it gave me hope that even though he is now in a higher class, he can be successful again,” Moreira said.

The Frankie Lor-trained five-year-old began his Hong Kong career in Class 3 after arrival on a mark of 74, but took some time to adjust before sauntering to his first Hong Kong victory by four and three quarter lengths at his 12th start.

“I believe so (in terms of progressing),” Moreira said. “When a horse wins as he did last start, you can't really ask for anything more.”

Prior to his arrival, Andrew Balding's Passing Glance gelding was a two-time winner in Great Britain at Brighton and Lingfield.

Stepping out of gate six, the 62-rater faces 11 opponents, including the progressive Cheerful Days (119lb), an Australian bred son of Smart Missile with whom Moreira won last start but now partners with Alexis Badel from gate four.

“I was already scheduled to ride Superbella because he won before Cheerful Days, but I sincerely believe Superbella is one step ahead, and with a little luck, I may be able to finish ahead of Cheerful Days,” Moreira said.

Earlier on the card, the Brazilian teams up with Savvy Kingman (124lb), another Frankie Lor-trained runner, in the Class 4 Tai Shing Stream Handicap (1650m).

“I just think he wants stuff to go his way because they haven't the last two starts – two starts ago he was in front and I was able to come through and then another horse pushed him to make sure the tempo was hot, so he was a little wounded for the finish.

“Then last start he was holding up and it seemed like he wasn't going anywhere at the 600 metre stage, but he still finished the race really good, so he just needs to display the same kind of acceleration in the finish,” Moreira said.

The three-time champion jockey will ride his third pairing aboard the British import, and the pair will take the starting line from gate seven against 11 competitors.

“He's very good and he's a very straightforward horse – with a little luck, we may be able to win this race,” Moreira said of the seven-race maiden runner.

Moreira has 123 points to Zac Purton's 109 in this season's title race and will be looking to add to his total as he returns to the city circuit as the only jockey with a complete book of nine runs.

Antoine Hamelin rides the Chris So-trained Split Of A Second in the second portion of the Class 4 Shan Pui River Handicap earlier on the card (1200m).

“Last time he was in Class 5 and now he's back in Class 4, I think the horse's confidence is higher because he won last time, he did the job really well last time, so we'll try the same up in grade,” the Frenchman said.

“He's not very difficult, he's an easy horse, we have a light weight (117lb) and a decent draw, so that's all he wants in Class 4, so everything looks good and hopefully a bit of luck is there,” the 29-year-old said.

Hamelin has earned HK$37.6 million in earnings in his first annual season in Hong Kong, including an impressive five-timer at Sha Tin in January.

“Of course, everyone needs more champions, but I'm still happy and I do my best all the time – I love Hong Kong a lot, everything is going well for me, and I want to stay here for a long time,” Hamelin said.

The second segment of the Class 5 Tan Shan River Handicap will begin at 6.45pm on Wednesday (19 May) at Happy Valley (1650m).