In a Hong Kong season marked by the emergence of brilliant young talent, Joao Moreira is confident Drops Of God can continue his advance through the grades with success in the Class 3 Lai On Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (6 June).
An emphatic two and a quarter length winner on debut on 23 May, Drops Of God shapes as yet another prodigious sprinter from John Size’s stable, which has already produced Courier Wonder and Fantastic Way this season.
Moreira, who leads Zac Purton 136-115 in the jockeys’ championship, describes the Mossman gelding as “another nice one, a very nice one.”
“He’s done it in a good way at his first run and I could not ask for more than what he did, he’s such a professional horse,” the Brazilian said. “We wonder why John Size backs him up in two weeks – that means he felt the horse did what he needed to do without overdoing it at his first attempt.
“He’s another horse I have no doubt people should keep an eye on because he’s quite promising.”
Drops Of God showed tremendous pace on debut to have a Class 4 1200m contest at his mercy a long way out, clocking 1m 08.89s while hefting 127lb. On Sunday, rising in class, he will jump from gate 10 with 117lb – while Danny Shum’s Winner Method will lug 133lb for Purton.
“If I need to, I’m happy to go back (from the barrier),” Moreira said. “He seems to be a versatile type of a horse and off a light weight, I guess he’s going to be able to be hitting the line very strong.
“It is a strong race, he’s up in class but I think with light weight on his back, he’s going to appreciate that and we’re about to find out if he’s up the class. I think he is and I’m very excited to be sitting on his back on the weekend once again.”
While Purton’s hopes of retaining the championship with a fifth jockeys’ crown are fading rapidly with only 11 meetings left, the Australian is upbeat about Tourbillon Diamond’s prospects in the Class 2 Chung On Handicap (1600m).
“He doesn’t necessarily have to lead, he’s shown he’s versatile. He’s come from different positions in the field in a number of races and run equally well. In that respect, he’s easy to ride,” Purton said of the talented import who raced as Eric The Eel in Australia.
“I think a mile is a good distance for him, that’s not to say he can’t run 1800 (metres) or 2000 (metres). I think his run (seventh) in the Hong Kong Derby was very good from a bad gate. If he had drawn well there, he could have possibly been winning that race.”
Matthew Poon is eager to add more momentum to his late-season surge after a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday (2 June) when he partners Tony Cruz’s Joyful Fortune in the Class 3 Kwong Tin Handicap (1000m).
“His form is good and he’s ready, so I hope he can perform like the trial (on 25 May at Sha Tin) – hopefully he can travel easily and give me a good finish,” Poon said, pointing to widespread support from the training cohort.
“This season I have lots of support from different trainers and I’m quite happy I can get a good number of rides, so thanks to the trainers and owners. I just want to keep getting a good number of rides and hopefully I can get more winners in the coming meetings”
Alfred Chan hopes Caspar Fownes’ decision to seek weight relief on The Hulk in the Class 3 Lee On Handicap (1400m) will prove decisive through the apprentice’s seven-pound claim.
Handicapped at 133lb, the Spirit Of Boom gelding is chasing a hat-trick of wins, having triumphed at his two most recent attempts under Karis Teetan with 118lb and 125lb, respectively.
“His draw (gate one) will definitely help him because hopefully we can put him just behind the pace or maybe three back on the fence. It will make it a lot easier,” said Chan, who is enjoying his time learning from Fownes.
“Caspar has been very supportive and I’m happy to keep working hard for him and hopefully I can get more results for him.”
David Hayes believes Packing Award is ready to atone for some luckless performances with a strong display in the Class 4 On Yam Handicap (1400m) for Purton.
“He’s a young horse, who’s been running short of his distance but he’s started to adjust to Hong Kong and I’m pretty happy with him,” Hayes said, referring to two minor placings from three 1200m starts.
“The runs have been fine but the distances have been too short and twice he’s had bad luck. This time, he should get clear running from the wide gate (12). The bad thing is that we’ve got a bad gate and the good thing is that we’ve got a good jockey on, so we’ll leave that to Zac.
“The horse is relaxed now and will probably settle mid-field with cover.”