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Mission accepted as Moreira attempts to close on Purton

Fri 29th Jun 2018, 06:00

Joao Moreira will aim for a second win on Mission Tycoon.
©Hong Kong Jockey Club
Mission accepted as Moreira attempts to close on Purton 

Joao Moreira will not be around to capitalise on Mission Tycoon’s long-term potential but the outgoing ace is banking on the promising three-year-old delivering a timely victory in Sunday’s (1 July) Class 2 Hong Kong Reunification Cup Handicap (1200m).

Moreira trails Zac Purton by four wins in an enthralling battle to be this season’s Hong Kong Champion Jockey. With only five meetings remaining before the campaign closes on 15 July, the Brazilian has turned to a proven source of wins in his attempt to land the day’s feature event.

Mission Tycoon (122lb) already numbers as one of 12 victories the defending champion has notched from 46 rides for the Frankie Lor stable this term. Last time out, on 3 June, horse and rider placed second to Jumbo Luck in a hot Class 2 at the course and distance.

“He should have won the race,” the three-time champion said. “I was a bit unlucky because I got held up behind another horse and he flashed home to nearly get there. He’s facing the same kind of competition and I think if he delivers the same kind of form as his last three starts he’s a winning chance.”

The field of 14 contains a rival he knows only too well. The John Size-trained Raging Storm (121lb), another three-year-old with potential, is a horse that Moreira has partnered in each of his five starts this term for a three-win return - Chad Schofield will take the reins.

“I’ve been riding Raging Storm, a horse coming up in class and he’s a horse I respect very much but I had to choose one and I was pretty much already booked to ride Mission Tycoon. Honestly, it could go either way,” said Moreira, who will depart Hong Kong at the end of this term.

“Mission Tycoon has been very competitive in this class and I’ve decided to go with him because I really believe he’s a chance. Every time he’s gone out there he’s performed better, so I’m expecting him to do the same. He’s a very nice horse and a good prospect for next season.”

Championship leader Purton will side with the Danny Shum-trained Baltic Whisper (129lb), a two-time winner from five starts down the 1000m straight. Sunday will see the four-year-old stretch out over 1200m for the first time since import.

Also in the line-up is the Caspar Fownes-trained Seven Heavens (123lb), a smart second to the highly-touted Hot King Prawn at Happy Valley last time.

Five first-time Hong Kong starters will line up in the Class 3 Guangdong-Hong Kong Cup Handicap (1200m) in which the Benno Yung-trained Cruising (131lb) will attempt to put the experience of his one post-import run to good use.

That effort produced a second-place finish to the experienced Alcari. The margin was a mere nose with the newcomer conceding 5lb in weight carried.

“I think the inexperience cost him last time,” jockey Umberto Rispoli said. “We went head-to-head with Alcari for about 200 metres and with more experience he might probably have won that race. He will have improved for that.

“He nearly got it. It was his first time in Hong Kong and he responded very well, he showed nice gate speed and he got beaten by a decent horse.”

Cruising, a two-time winner from four starts in South Australia, will break from gate two in the 14-runner field.

“We have a nice draw - the race is not easy but at the same time he has the quality to win the race. It’s always hard when you go up in class but he’s capable in Class 3,” the Italian rider added.

The field also features impressive last time winner Little Bird (121lb), the mount of Karis Teetan. The Ricky Yiu-trained three-year-old drew three and three quarter lengths clear last time when winning a course and distance Class 4 handicap at his fifth start.

Moreira will partner the Derek Cruz-trained Mr Wealth, while Purton will climb aboard the Danny Shum-trained Hong Kong debutant My Power, a 1200m scorer at Listowel, Ireland last year.

The 10-race action on Hong Kong Reunification Race Day will start at 1pm with the Class 5 Racing Goes On Handicap (1650m) and will conclude at 5.50pm with the Class 3 Sporting Exchange Handicap (1400m).

Photo 1

Joao Moreira will aim for a second win on Mission Tycoon.

Photo 2

Cruising (purple cap and black sleeves) finishes a close second to Alcari (pink cap) last start.

Moreira takes honours, Purton teams with Geoff to maintain title lead

Rider Joao Moreira sparked the jockeys’ championship battle to life with a quickfire early double at Happy Valley tonight (Wednesday, 27 June), but title leader Zac Purton’s victory on Doctor Geoff in the night’s feature ensured that he still holds a commanding lead in the title race with five meetings left to go in the season.

THE IRISH TIMES