Joao Moreira has a huge opinion of Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s boom sprinter Master Eight, comparing him favourably to rising star Courier Wonder.
The Magic Man has ridden a host of talented three-year-olds this season, including Killer Bee, Drops Of God and Fantastic Way, and of that group, he ranks Master Eight second only to Courier Wonder, who won the first five starts of his career, culminating in the Group Three Sha Tin Vase last month.
“If he’s not at the top, he would be sitting second,” Moreira said. “It’s just a matter of time and if he gives a little bit more he might be as good as the one that I would put at the top.”
Master Eight was a dominant winner on debut last month, jumping straight to the front and coming away to win by three and a quarter lengths in soft fashion, which is exactly how the trainer and jockey drew it up.
“He did what we were expecting. He was very straightforward, as he was at his trials this preparation, and he surprised me in the way that he hits the line – he was very strong and that gives us a lot of excitement about this bloke,” Moreira said.
“When I asked him to come back a little bit he responded like a professional horse. He’s the type of horse that is going to make the trainer’s and jockey’s life easier.”
Moreira galloped Master Eight on Monday morning and he caught the eye of trackwork watchers, coming home his last 400m in a scintillating 21.9 seconds.
It was an impressive piece of work, even if it was a little sharper than planned.
“I was asked not to go too fast on him but he was feeling so well in himself that we ended up going a little bit faster than what the trainer wanted but he pulled up very well after the gallop and I’m sure he’s going to bring his best to the races,” Moreira said.
Master Eight now finds himself in Class Three for the Hap Mun Bay Handicap (1,200m), coming up against the likes of Regency Bo Bo and Super Dobbin.
He’s drawn barrier 10 but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue as he should roll forward again.
When asked for his confidence levels, Moreira was succinct: “very high”.
The Brazilian, who is poised to claim his fourth championship, partners Kurpany in the day’s feature, the Class Two Cheung Sha Handicap (1,200m) on the dirt.
The Caspar Fownes-trained four-year-old was only beaten a head in his first start on the surface in April and Moreira expects him to be in the finish again.
“His trials indicated that he was going to be able to [handle the dirt] and he didn’t disgrace. He floated on the surface and I can’t see him doing anything different,” he said.
“Last time he had an outside gate and he had to make the turn a bit wide – he had to cover ground and had to be overused to come across and get a position. Off of a decent gate [seven] it might not be that difficult to place himself.
“He’s no doubt one of my best rides on the day.”