Joao Moreira joins elite '800' club, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Joao Moreira joins elite '800' club

The Brazilian ace boots home his 800th winner in just his sixth Hong Kong season

His membership application was sitting in the tray, just waiting to be approved.

It was just a matter of time.

And, on Sunday at the Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong, just as everyone had expected, Joao Moreira was inducted into the prestigious 800-winner club.

The "Magic Man" from Brazil had - in record time, mind you - punched home his 800th winner in that racing-crazy jurisdiction when Such A Happiness beat all challengers to take the fourth event on the 11-race card.

"It's a nice round number but I don't want to get stuck there, I want to be moving forward," he said.

"I wasn't even thinking about it. I honestly thought I'd reached it before but it's come along just a couple of race meetings after that."

Moreira is the fifth jockey to gain admission into that exclusive club. Others who have hit the 800-winner mark are Tony Cruz, Douglas Whyte, Brett Prebble and Zac Purton.

But Moreira being Moreira, his feat had to be special. He reached the mark in record time, on his 3,563rd race ride, seven meetings from the end of his sixth Hong Kong season.

As a rough comparison, his greatest rival, Purton - who hit 1,000 Hong Kong wins last weekend - reached 800 wins in the April of his 11th season.

The treble on Sunday moved the Brazilian ace moved on to 84 wins for the term, a fine return, given that the season was three months old when he returned from Japan to take up the role of John Size's stable jockey.

Moreira took the opener, the Chancery Plate over 1,000m for Griffins, on a horse seemingly destined to rise to a decent perch.

Winning Method was beaten on debut by the highly touted Aethero but has now put two easy wins together and, on Sunday, strolled in by 41/2 lengths.

"I was quite worried at about halfway because the pace was on a bit and I had to niggle at him to stay in touch. But, once I gave him a tap on the shoulder, he just ran past them, so that says he's got ability," the rider said.

"He was in great form and he's shown he has more maturity than before. He raced more kindly in the race - he didn't jump and run on the bridle like a lion.

"This time he was a bit more cautious in what he was doing and that's why he was able to run away from them. I'm pleased with what he's done today."

Trainer Danny Shum intimated that the talented two-year-old will be gelded before returning next season.

For good measure, Moreira made it three wins for the day - and 801 in total - when the Size-trained Beauty Applause (Race 5) showed again that, while he might look like a fairground carousel horse, he can gallop like a useful athlete.

The chestnut with four white socks, a face to match, and flaxen mane and tail, took his career record to two wins from four starts.

What now for Moreira?

There's only one target: His 1,000th Hong Kong winner. And don't go betting against it happening. - HKJC