WILL IT BE A HAPPY ZACDAY TONIGHT?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
Visit Hans-Ebert.com

“When they asked for his support, he almost always turned them down because he had better options. Now when it’s coming to the end of the season and there are many tired horses going around and some good new ones, and he needs good rides, many won’t or can’t support him.” Oh what a tangled web we weave.

A friend in the Chinese racing media was trying to explain the sudden shift away from the usually much in-demand Joao Moreira and many trainers throwing their support behind Zac Purton as this season’s Hong Kong Jockeys Premiership comes down to a two horse race between two superb athletes.

It’s eerily similar to the Whyte Years when the then-champion South African jockey would jump on and off horses and frustrate trainers and owners so he could ride those with the best chances of winning. Makes sense. Who wants to ride horses in a race that can’t win?

What happened, however, was that Whyte detonated bridges with trainers who were not there to support him when he needed them. Karma is a strange beast. And so it is with Joao Moreira.

When everything was humming along sweetly with especially huge support from the John Size and John Moore stables, nothing could possibly go wrong and the winners kept rolling in.

Today, though remaining the Magic Man’s main support system, Size also “shares the wealth” by distributing rides to jockeys like Olivier Doleuze, Brett Prebble, Sam Clipperton and others including- hello- Zac Purton.

Ironically, many of these rides are Moreira discards, especially when he was hoping that the Size trained Thewizardofoz would be more than the horse he has become. Guess the same can be said about his loyalty to Nothingilikemore. Sometimes, as in life, one ends with the short end of the straw.

As for the support system from John Moore, well, that was tenuous at best. And when Tommy Berry was brought in as his stable jockey this season, the magic man was locked out. With the Berry Moore partnership gone kaput, Moreira gets some rides from Moore, but nothing like the love fest they enjoyed a couple of years ago when both combined to make headlines with such champions like Able Friend and Rapper Dragon.

Then again, this has hardly been a banner year for John Moore with not much in the way of equine talent that have gone on to bigger and better things. But Joao Moreira being dropped like a hot tortilla by a trainer Caspar Fownes and sparingly used by Tony Cruz and almost never riding for Richard Gibson and Tony Millard is strange- at least on the surface. But as our Chinese racing media friend explained, when Joao Moreira was serving suspensions, his rides went elsewhere. And the riders who won on these were kept on them. Why screw around with winning formulas?

It might explain the tremendous support The Zac Attack is receiving from Fownes this evening, but lest one forgets, Joao Moreira is sitting out two more meetings through suspensions. But even if he wasn’t, the Fownes Purton Punton team has been flying high so why clip its wings?

Plus, it’s no great secret that the Magic Man’s bag of tricks were seldom successful at Happy Valley. But to keep things simple, as this battle between two of the best riders competing for the Hong Kong Jockey Premiership continues, it has to be said that The Zac Attack is riding with supreme confidence in Sha Tin and Happy Valley whereas, for once, the Brazilian Magic Man is looking shaken and stirred.

After all, he has seen his one-time huge lead whittled down to just three winners. It’s almost certain to be less or he might even find himself behind the eight ball after tonight.

While popular Hong Kong based band Esimorp, below, makes its debut on centre stage of the Beer Garden, the Zac Attack has a full book of rides including five for Caspar Fownes who’s known as “The King of the Valley” because of his high strike rate at the city track.

Of course what one must remember is that though Joao Moreira might be missing from action tonight, there are a number of other riders the Zac Attack has to beat. It’s not going to be any walkover. He’ll have to work hard for his wins especially as there’s another battle going on for The Tony Cruz Award between local riders Derek Leung and Matthew Poon, another rider out with a suspension.

Derek Leung has a good book of rides tonight as does in-form apprentice Jack Wong whereas always capable of an upset is The Plunger- Ben TH So, below, who has a history of riding outsiders, especially for trainers David Hall and Peter Ho.

If for some reason he goes home empty handed- the iffy weather puts a spanner AND a Spaniard in the works- it will be all up to how lethal the Zac Attack is on Sunday at Shatin. Understand?

After this meeting, the Magic Man is back and no matter what he might say publicly about his chances of winning another premiership looking a forlorn hope, he’s not called the Magic Man for nothing. He’s way too competitive to just roll over and be Zac Attacked. The Magic Man could easily morph into The Terminator.

#ZacPurton #JoaoMoreira #HKracing #HKJC #DouglasWhyte #JohnSize #JohnMoore #TonyCruz #CasparFownes #HappyWednesdayHK #HappyValleyRacecourse #HongKong #Esimorp

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