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Joao Moreira lands ride aboard gun Japanese raider Danon Smash for Chairman’s Sprint Prize

Joao Moreira will ride Japanese gun Danon Smash in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize later this month with the champion jockey quick to bounce back following the loss of Hot King Prawn.

The championship-leader secured the ride on the Hong Kong Sprint winner and early favourite for the HK$18 million feature following the withdrawal of the popular grey.

With a desperate lack of depth at the top end of Hong Kong’s sprinting ranks, Moreira knows he is on the right horse with the colt coming off a strong win in the Group One Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1,200m) at Chukyo last month.

It also comes on the back of the news Everest winner Classique Legend will be returning to Australia following a bleed during trackwork last week.

“He has proven that he can travel to a new environment like Hong Kong and perform,” Moreira said of the Takayuki Yasuda-trained Danon Smash, who was victorious under Englishman Ryan Moore last time out at Sha Tin.

“It seems like the race itself is shaping like one where it is unlikely the best horses in Hong Kong will be running.

“After losing Hot King Prawn, getting on Danon Smash is an absolute bonus. Hopefully he does come over and perform like he has before.”

With Danon Smash’s connections approaching Moreira about the ride well in advance, he said he became open to the prospect of riding him following Hot King Prawn’s disappointing fifth in Class One company a month ago.

“They offered me the ride much earlier and I said I have to see how Hot King Prawn goes,” he said. “After running a poor race last start, [John] Size kind of said he might not run him, so I rung them back in Japan and said I might be available.

“We spoke to the connections and they were happy to lock me in so it all happened quite quickly.”

Following Amazing Star’s shocking win at 178-1 in the Group Two Sprint Cup on Monday, Moreira said there were no stand-out performers in Hong Kong, so he was happy to be on board a foreign raider.

“It was a very strange race from my point of view, it proves that it is changing quickly here and the horses that are winning one day aren’t necessarily winning the next day,” he said. “It is a race-to-race thing at the moment, so with no barriers announced yet, you’d think Danon Smash would be the favourite.

“All jockeys like to be getting on those horses so I feel quite lucky to be getting on.”

While he is partnering a Japanese raider in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, he will be taking them on in the QE II Cup (2,000m) when he partners the Tony Cruz-trained Furore.

The Brazilian takes a book of eight rides to Happy Valley on Thursday where he is looking to extend his lead atop the jockeys’ championship.

After being dogged by wide barriers, Aurora Pegasus has drawn barrier one in the Class Three Creasy Handicap (1,200m), giving Moreira confidence he will be able to rediscover the form that saw him land three consecutive city track victories last season.

“Finally we got a good gate with him, we have been unlucky with them until now so hopefully we can go out there and get a result,” he said.

He also rides the likes of Peak To Peak, Incanto Prepared and Universal Go Go on the night.

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