Moreira takes two off Purton
Double puts Brazilian just three behind arch rival
Jockey Joao Moreira got the fillip he wanted on Wednesday night, teaming up with trainer Caspar "King of the Valley" Fownes to nail a much-needed double.
The Brazilian entered the city track four wins adrift of championship leader Zac Purton and that widened to five, when the reigning champ took the opener on Harrier Jet.
But, with the Australian unable to add to that early score, Moreira hit back with two wins that narrowed the gap to three, with the tally now at 129-126 in Purton's favour.
Moreira kicked off aboard Sky Darci in section one of the Class 4 Renfrew Handicap over 1,200m.
He backed up a race later with Green Luck in the Class 3 Lancashire Handicap over 1,650m.
Moreira and Fownes have seven wins from 32 pairings this term, a strike rate of 22 per cent.
"It was a great ride on Green Luck," said trainer Fownes.
"We studied the race and we knew if he jumped well, he could go forward and Joao's nailed it a treat.
"He's crossed from Gate 7 and been on the leader's back all of a sudden, which has made things a lot easier for him."
Green Luck shouldered top-weight of 60.45kg, having dipped into Class 3 for the first time since May last year, as Moreira took his record on the Street Cry five-year-old to two wins from three rides.
"The drop in class made a huge difference. He's been very good in this class before, he's won multiple times and he didn't disappoint again," said Moreira.
"He's a nice horse and I've been quite lucky with him because I haven't ridden him often but I've won a couple on him, so I'm pleased."
Fownes and Moreira were on the ball with Sky Darci's tactics too. As it happened, the 2.2 favourite was well ahead of his rivals to win by two lengths.
While Moreira is locked in an intense battle with Purton, Fownes has a side contest with trainers' premiership leader Ricky Yiu for the "King of the Valley" title.
With a double to one winner for Yiu (Eternal Harvest), Fownes now has 28 wins at Happy Valley to Yiu's 25. - HKJC