Zac Purton’s fellow three-time Hong Kong champion, Joao Moreira, will be aiming to keep close tabs on his rival. The Brazilian ace is set to partner Beauty Rush (116lb) – an interesting import for champion trainer John Size – in tonight’s opening Class 2 Cheung Hong Handicap (1000m) at Happy Valley.
The four-year-old numbered victory in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield among his four wins from eight starts in Australia.
“He’s a very professional horse, he does things right. He’s got a little bit of speed and whatever he does I’m sure he’ll improve from it,” Moreira said of the Hong Kong debutant.
Size, renowned for his patient methods, saddled his first winner this season at the weekend and is in no hurry with his new charge.
“His trials have been ok, he’s done his track work fine, it seems like everything is normal with him and it’s time to go to the races,” the handler said. “I’m learning about the horse as a work in progress. We’ll start racing him and he’ll tell us what to do.”
The Helmet gelding – raced previously as Tin Hat for Godolphin – has not competed at the minimum distance before but has stretched out to 1400m for a solid fifth in Group 2 company.
“They could be a bit quick for him,” Size said. “He won’t probably have the speed to go with the leaders, he’ll follow the horses around and he’ll probably finish the race off quite soundly but it’ll be an eye-opener for him.”
The field includes the John Moore-trained Sunny Boy (117lb), who has race fitness off a third at Sha Tin two Sunday’s back, while another lightly-tried galloper, Hong Kong Bet (120lb), heads in first-up having won his last start of last season for trainer Tony Cruz. Saul’s Special (133lb), on the other hand, is well-proven with three wins at the course and distance – Purton takes the ride on Michael Chang’s top-weight.