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Joao Moreira believes Master Eight can again live up to promise at Sha Tin

June 11, 2021, 2:51:48 PM

Joao Moreira is convinced Master Eight, who has a practically unassailable lead in the jockeys' championship, will cement his standing as one of Hong Kong's brightest prospects with victory in the Class 3 Hap Mun Bay Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (13 June).

Moreira, who leads Zac Purton 138 to 117 in his quest for a fourth Hong Kong crown, says that of the three-year-olds he has handled this season, only undefeated Courier Wonder is superior than Master Eight.

“If he weren't at the top, he'd be second. It's simply a question of time, and if he offers a little bit more, he may be as good as the one I'd place at the top,” Moreira said of Frankie Lor's charge, a commanding three and a quarter length winner on debut on May 16th.

“He performed exactly what we expected. He was extremely direct, as he had been in his trials this preparation, and he astonished me in the manner he smashes the line - he was really strong, which gives us a lot of optimism about this man. 

When I urged him to return a little further, he acted like a professional horse. He's the sort of horse who will make the lives of the trainer and jockey simpler.

On Monday, Master Eight, who has advanced from Class 4, wowed Moreira with his trackwork passion (7 June).

“I was asked not to go too fast on him, but he was feeling so good in himself that we ended up going a little bit faster than what the trainer wanted, but he pulled up very well after the gallop and I'm sure he'll bring his best to the races,” Moreira said, before succinctly quantifying his confidence levels as “very high.”

Purton, who rides steady veteran Regency Bo Bo (133lb) against Moreira and Master Eight (118lb), recognizes both the younger horse's aptitude and the weight scale.

“He (Master Eight) was very impressive on debut and appears to be a really excellent horse. He comes in at a light weight, so he'll be tough to beat,” the Australian remarked before arguing for Regency Bo Bo, who has seven victories and 16 minor placings from 54 outings.

“Danny (Shum) saw that he might not be able to run 1400 (metres) any more as he became older in his career and lowered him down to 1200. (metres). The horse has started to show us his finest form again after he did it.

“He's been racing extremely well, and hopefully he can keep it up.”

Moreira will want to add to his tally with Kurpany in the Class 2 Cheung Sha Handicap (1200m, dirt).

“The last time he had an outside gate (11) and had to make the turn a little wide - he had to cover ground and be overworked to get over and establish a position. “From a good gate, he might not have too much trouble placing himself,” Moreira added. “He was without a doubt one of my greatest rides of the day.”

Karis Teetan is hoping for a class drop to compensate for Decisive Action's wide draw and heavy weight in the opening leg of the Class 4 Silverstrand Handicap (1400m), as the Mauritian looks to build on his four-timer at Happy Valley on Wednesday (9 June).

“He's got the outside gate (14) and the hefty weight (132lb), so a few things aren't going his way, but he's lowering in class, which helps him out,” Teetan said of the Rip Van Winkle horse, who placed fourth in a Class 3 1600m race on May 16.

“I believe he should perform well.”

Teetan will ride Vukan for Paul O'Sullivan in the Class 4 Lido Handicap (1200m), with the trainer hoping that the installation of a crossed nose band would help.

“He's gone forward and been way too keen in his races the previous couple of runs,” O'Sullivan said. “He's returned to trip, so perhaps we can swap off and reach the line.”

The Tung Wan Plate (1000m) for Griffins kicks off Sunday's 11-race card at 12.30pm at Sha Tin.