By David Morgan
Joao Moreira charted an untroubled passage on Winnie’s Honey to sluice away with the feature at Happy Valley tonight (Wednesday, 16 November), the Class 2 Japan Racing Association Trophy Handicap (1800m). It was a far cry from the last time the Brazilian ace partnered the Australian import.
That came in April 2015 when Moreira endured a wayward course atop the High Chaparral bay, then known as Omeros, to finish a torrid seventh behind Mongolian Khan in the G1 Australian Derby. Hong Kong’s champion jockey had his work cut out to keep his mount straight in the run home on that occasion after charting a wide passage into the Randwick straight.
There was no repeat of those antics tonight. Moreira anchored Winnie’s Honey at the tail of the 12-runner field; made progress out of the back stretch; shifted out for a wide run off the turn and unleashed the five-year-old’s turn-of-foot upon straightening. The Caspar Fownes-trained 1.9 favourite arrowed to the line for a dominant three and a quarter-length victory.
“He was much different today!” Moreira said when reminded of his previous ride on the horse.
“It was the plan to switch him off tonight but not to sit last,” he continued. “They went fast through the first half of the race so I was happy to let him be where he was. Fortunately, a few horses that were right in front of him started moving up and that gave him room to go through, so by the 600 metres I knew I had a good spot and just needed some luck to get him on the outside and use his momentum. That luck came.
“When I put him under pressure he just ran away. He’s a very nice horse and Caspar has got him at his best so far. He has a good turn-of-foot so I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him. He should be winning more races.”
Winnie’s Honey stopped the clock at 1m 48.75s ahead of Dynamism in second and Magical Beauty third.
That victory completed a double for Moreira. Hong Kong’s reigning champ had to wait until race five to get off the mark and it came aboard the John Size-trained King Bountiful. The five-year-old had notched his three Hong Kong wins at 2200m but showed a hint of late toe down centre track to claim the Class 4 Nakayama Handicap over 1650m.
“His last run, he was a bit unlucky so tonight I used his momentum and he showed that he’s pretty good in this class,” Moreira said. “We thought tonight there wouldn’t be much pace so the plan was to sit him closer, because he wants further, but I wasn’t able to sit that close. Overall things played out for him and he got there.”
King Bountiful completed a treble for Size, which began in race two with the hot 1.6 favourite D B Pin and continued one race later with the Nash Rawiller-ridden Wayfoong Vinnie.
Zac Purton steered the first-time winner D B Pin through a wide course. The success made up for the four-year-old’s win that never was on 26 October, when the Darci Brahma gelding’s maiden success was wiped off the records due to an errant rake causing an non-simultaneous opening of the starting gates.
“Not much went right in the race,” Purton said after D B Pin had edged to a neck win ahead of Wonderful Fighter in the Class 4 Fukushima Handicap (1000m).
“There was a lot of speed underneath me so I had to let him drop back and there was a ton of horses there too. He got in an awkward spot a couple of times and overraced but was still too good, so it was a very solid effort. As it turned out it wasn’t too bad being on that part of the track, away from the fence.
“When he picked up I thought he was going to win easier than he did but Wonderful Fighter had a bit of a soft run and I sensed he was going to give me a fight, but I always had him covered.”
Purton went on to score a double with the Manfred Man-trained Little Island in race six, the Class 3 Kyoto Handicap (1650m). Nash Rawiller also steered a brace, atop Wayfoong Vinnie in the Class 4 Chukyo Handicap (1200m) and the Chris So-trained Win It in race four. Brett Prebble took the Class 5 opener atop the Peter Ho-trained Peace On Earth and apprentice Kei Chiong closed the card with a win atop the Ricky Yiu-trained Molly’s Jade Star.
Racing resumes on Sunday, 20 November with the Jockey Club Races, featuring a trio of Group 2 contests, the premier lead-up races to the HK$83 million LONGINES Hong Kong International Races on 11 December.
Winnie��s Honey storms home under Joao Moreira to take the night��s feature, the Class 2 Japan Racing Association Trophy Handicap at Happy Valley tonight.
The John Size-trained D B Pin (No. 4) scores his first Hong Kong win in the Class 4 Fukushima Handicap.
Nash Rawiller completes a double atop outsider Win It in the Class 4 Nakayama Handicap.