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Joao Moreira commits to Japanese star for HKIR, James McDonald eyes IJC

He partnered him to victory in the 2019 Group One Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) and Joao Moreira has committed to riding Glory Vase again at December’s Hong Kong International Races.

After finishing second to compatriot Loves Only You in this year’s Group One QE II Cup (2,000m) at Sha Tin, Glory Vase is poised to return to Hong Kong to chase another Vase crown and Moreira will be in the saddle.

“If he gets invited I am locked into ride the horse,” the Brazilian confirmed. “I would love to ride some other Japanese horses as well because they are doing very well around the world.”

Loves Only You made history on Sunday morning Hong Kong time, becoming the first Japanese horse to win at the Breeders’ Cup with victory in the Group One Filly & Mare Turf (2,200m) at Del Mar.

Trainer Yoshito Yahagi suggested the mare will chase a second Group One at Sha Tin in the Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) next month, while the Aidan O’Brien-trained Love – who finished fourth in the Filly & Mare Turf – could also line up.

“If the lads agree to it, I think the plan is to go to Hong Kong,” O’Brien told Racing Post.

It comes as reports out of Japan suggest Pixie Knight, Danon Smash and Resistencia have accepted invitations for the Hong Kong Sprint and Indy Champ will tackle the Hong Kong Mile for the second time after finishing seventh in 2019.

While the Jockey Club is still sweating on the government approval required to ensure international participation at its showcase meeting, officials are optimistic they will get the tick of approval soon.

The International Jockeys’ Championship is also starting to take shape, with New Zealander James McDonald joining Irishman Oisin Murphy in confirming he plans to make the trip to Hong Kong in December.

McDonald has competed in the IJC five times in the past and fresh off a dominant Melbourne Cup Carnival where he rode a record 10 winners, he told Australia’s he is planning to ride in Hong Kong for the first time since 2019.

“I am off to Hong Kong in December so I’ve got that carnival and then it builds into Christmas and Magic Millions so there’s not a lot of time to rest but I will try and get a week between now and Hong Kong,” said the star jockey, who took out last week’s Melbourne Cup aboard Verry Elleegant.

Lor takes lead in title chase

Frankie Lor Fu-chuen has vaulted into the lead for the trainers’ championship after collecting a double at Sha Tin on Sunday.

The 55-year-old tasted success with Infinite Power and Peak To Peak, moving to 16 winners for the campaign, one ahead of Jimmy Ting Koon-ho and two in front of David Hayes.

“Still a long way to go, but always trying,” Lor said. “The teamwork in the stable is really good. Also being able to move horses between Conghua and Hong Kong.

“I’ve always said that if the horse is healthy, you can do everything. If the horse has a fever or another problem, you cannot do what you want.”

Infinite Power kicked things off by leading all the way in the Class Four Grace One Handicap (1,400m), the six-year-old responding to the urgings of Matthew Poon Ming-fai to beat Mega Bonus by a half-length.

“He’s a big-striding horse and as you saw when Joao Moreira’s horse came up to him in the finish, he was able to find more,” Lor said. “He did a good job today from the draw [barrier 12] and I think he can run well again up in Class Three.”

Peak To Peak showed similar grit, sticking his neck out on the line to edge Nimble Nimbus by a nose to capture the Class Four Eleanor Handicap (1,400m) for Vincent Ho Chak-yiu.

Yiu prepares for financial hit

Ricky Yiu Poon-fai says he is unsure how Jade Theatre tested positive to omeprazole after finishing second at Sha Tin on October 27 but the veteran trainer will cop any fine that comes his way on the chin after stewards confirmed on Friday that the “matter is now adjourned to a date to be fixed”.

Omeprazole is found in Jockey Club-approved stomach ulcer treatment but cannot be administered within two clear days of racing, with Yiu maintaining that while Jade Theatre was treated for stomach ulcers, the galloper was not given the medication within the non-treatment period.

“I don’t know how it happened but I have my money ready,” Yiu said. “They found a stomach ulcer and we gave him either E-Gard or Gastrogard, either one of them if you test positive you are in trouble.

“The strict time is two days before and it’s all in the record, my stable has the record and we checked everything.

“I did treat him but as soon as he was entered on Thursday the week before we stopped the treatment – not two or three days, so I don’t know how he [tested positive]. The first urine they took there was nothing but after he finished second he was positive.”

Darci Joy gave Yiu a reason to smile at Sha Tin on Sunday afternoon, however, with the galloper breaking his maiden at start eight in the Class Four Kate Tokyo Handicap (1,600m).

After travelling one-off the rail just forward of midfield from gate three, Derek Leung Ka-chun eased Darci Joy out towards the middle of the track upon straightening and capitalised on a solid pace to overrun long-time lead pair Shanghai Dragon and Oscar Glory.

“Stepping him up to 1,600m was always on my mind and I’ve taken my time with him – just gradually from 1,200m to 1,400m and I think the mile is more ideal for this horse at this stage, he’s more mature now as a four-year-old and I’ll even look to 1,800m in the future,” Yiu said.

Lai shrugs off concussion

Alex Lai Hoi-wing has recovered from the concussion he suffered when falling from Anonyma on October 27 and is hopeful of resuming riding at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.

Lai was taken to Prince of Wales Hospital after hitting the dirt when Anonyma dipped at the start and has missed the past three meetings.

“The club’s chief medical officer has advised that jockey Lai has been cleared to resume riding in races at the Happy Valley race meeting to be conducted on Wednesday, 10

November 2021. Accordingly, jockey Lai has been approved to be declared to fulfil race riding engagements at the stated meeting,” Jockey Club licensing committee secretary Terry Bailey said in a statement.

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