The best laid plans don’t always pan out but when the outcome is achieved regardless, the plan is irrelevant anyway. That was the case for Joao Moreira at Sha Tin this afternoon (Tuesday, 1 October) as the gun Brazilian fired Full Of Beauty (Darci Brahma) (115lb) to victory in the G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m).
“That was Plan B!” Moreira said after John Size’s charge had overcome a tardy start to land the Hong Kong season’s first Group race in a hot time of 55.16s.
“I was forced to handle the race that way because he didn’t jump as well as we were hoping. But John Size passes on great confidence to me, so when that happened I could ride him knowing that the head of the team knew I was doing my best for all of us,” he added.
Full Of Beauty was awkward breaking from gate one and raced back in the field of seven, two lengths behind the pace-setting Rattan (132lb). Moreira had to niggle at his mount from a long way out but the five-year-old responded gamely, striding out to claim the lead 150m from home.
“The horse just didn’t let us down,” the rider continued. “He didn’t really travel as well as we were expecting or hoping but when he came under pressure he started to make ground and close up. With 200 metres to go I knew I was already the winner.
“He started to creep in front and I knew there was one flashing for him on my inside but I was always confident that I was going to hold on and win the race.”
Jolly Banner (113lb) was the flashing chaser: the Ricky Yiu-trained galloper crossed the line a neck second under Matthew Poon. It was a short-head back to Wishful Thinker (126lb) in third.
Full Of Beauty won his first five races in Hong Kong last season, placed second in his next two and rounded out his four-year-old campaign with a sound fourth in this grade. All of those efforts were at 1200m and took his rating from 54 to 103.
After making it one win from one run at the minimum trip, Moreira believes there should be more to come from the Darci Brahma gelding.
“He’s not fully tuned yet, there’s still some improvement in him and that’s a nice situation to be in,” he said. “He’s an up-and-coming horse and he has potential. It’s hard to predict what his top rating will be but I can say that he’s heading forward.”
Poon was delighted with runner-up Jolly Banner who clocked the fastest final 400m split, 20.89s.
“He’s eight years old but he ran a great race, he’s very honest,” he said
The Richard Gibson-trained Wishful Thinker stalked the pace, shifted off the rail and ran on late under Blake Shinn.
“He ran a really good race, he jumped well and we had a nice run. He presented like he was going to win but the horses down in the bottom of the weights were well advantaged today and that was the telling factor,” the jockey said.
The Gibson-trained Rattan led the field but faded out to finish sixth, while Little Giant (133lb), the 3.7 favourite and top-weight was fifth under Zac Purton.
Darci Brahma's other winner for the night was Mr Croissant, who was bred and sold by The Oaks Stud out of their 2017 Premier draft for NZ$105,000 to Shaune Ritchie. It was Mr Croissant's third win in Hong Kong, taking out the Class 3 1200m Handicap in near track record time.
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday, 6 October.
-Hong Kong Jockey Club.