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Joao Moreira sails past 900 winners with five-timer and could reach Tony Cruz this season

The Magic Man dazzles at Sha Tin to become just the fourth jockey to reach the mark in the history of Hong Kong racing

Joao Moreira became just the fourth jockey in the history of Hong Kong racing to reach 900 winners at Sha Tin on Sunday, shrugging off a quiet month to boot home a sparkling five-timer. Moreira joined Douglas Whyte (1,813 winners), Zac Purton (1,115) and Tony Cruz (946) in reaching the mark, finishing the day on 901 victories and with a realistic chance of passing Cruz by season’s end. “Tony is a legend and to be getting close to his mark is amazing, I never thought it would be happening to me,” he said. “It was a very good day for me, I’m very pleased to be given some decent rides and be able to perform.

“Honestly I wasn’t counting, I wasn’t aware I was close to 900, so when I was told I was surprised and very pleased. “Jockeys from all around the world would love to reach this mark in Hong Kong and I’ve been very blessed to get to it.” Moreira maintained he doesn’t set specific numerical goals, but rather just does everything in his power to ensure he is continually moving forward.

“It’s a great mark that I’m very pleased with, but I want to look over my shoulder at it, I don’t want to get stuck,” he said.

“I don’t set goals, my goal is to be consistent. When things aren’t playing out the way I want them to as far as winners, I jump on it and work very hard to turn it around as quickly as possible. To me, what matters is being consistent.” Moreira’s day out also saw him regain the lead in the jockeys’ premiership after he relinquished it to Zac Purton at Happy Valley midweek.

The Brazilian’s third quintet of the season could not have come at a better time, with the Magic Man heading into Sunday’s meeting with only eight March winners under his belt to go with 15 seconds and 12 thirds. Moreira saluted aboard the John Moore-trained Above and Danny Shum Chap-shing’s Fantasy early in proceedings before combining with John Size for a treble in the back half of the card. After prevailing on Juneau Park, Moreira made it 900 aboard Picken before putting the cherry on top in the final event with $12 chance Shining Ace, who recently took out the DBS x Manulife Million Challenge at Happy Valley.

It was Picken’s first win since February last year but the fourth time Moreira and the five-year-old have teamed up for victory after the pair strung together three wins in four starts last season. The third of those came at a rating of 62 and Picken was able to find himself back in the winner’s circle off a mark of 66 after holding out Neil Callan aboard the Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained Toycoon in the Class Three Nam Shan Handicap (1,400m). “It’s amazing how hard it was to win this race. Neil’s horse didn’t want to give up but fortunately I had the edge on him at the right time,” Moreira said.

“We knew he was coming into form – he’s in a quite nice place in the handicap and we knew he was there to win his race and I’m very lucky to be getting on him at the right time.” Juneau Park made it two wins on the trot in the second section of the Class Four So Uk Handicap (1,400m). “He’s still picking up. He is continuing to get better,” said Moreira, who now leads Purton 94-92 in the title race.

“He had to be better because they put the top weight on his back today. To win with the top weight gives me the feeling that he is a nice horse and there will be more wins in him.” Size’s three winners move him to 33 for the term, leaving him 12 behind pacesetter Yiu as he chases a record 12th trainers’ title.

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