While Aethero stole the limelight on Saturday in Hong Kong with a record-breaking run, South African trainer Douglas Whyte and jockey Joao Moreira teamed up for the first time – and a first win.
“He’s a star. He’s a star!” were the first words a beaming Joao Moreira said to trainer John Moore after Aethero lowered Sacred Kingdom’s 12-year 1000m track record at Sha Tin.
“He’s going straight to the moon,” the Brazilian added after weighing in.
Aethero (55.3kg) brushed aside fellow rising star Voyage Warrior (56.7kg), the only other horse in the past decade to have dipped below 55 seconds, as he clocked a sizzling 54.69s, one click inside Sacred Kingdom’s old mark of 54.70s.
“Voyage Warrior is no slouch, so what Aethero did today, breaking the record – and there’s not a great tail-wind here – shows what I’ve been saying about him: I believe he has the makings to be a superstar,” Moore said.
The trainer is no stranger to handling horses in that bracket: Beauty Generation, Viva Pataca and Able Friend have all reached those heights under the Australian’s care.
Champion jockey Zac Purton had ridden Aethero in each of his four prior races for three wins but was aboard Voyage Warrior this time.
“Zac’s got the ride unless he goes for something else,” Moore said. “Zac always had the ride but he had the booking with Voyage Warrior five or six weeks out so Zac will go back on but it’s a nice substitute to have Joao waiting in the sidelines.”
Aethero put 2.50-lengths and more on his 13 rivals in the Class 2 Wo Tik Handicap, with Big Time Baby (56.7kg) second and stablemate Thanks Forever (56.7kg) third.
Moreira ended the day with five wins on the board, wrapping the card.
Bt it was a case of two Hong Kong greats teaming up for their first win together when Moreira drove home the Whyte-trained Relentless Me in the Class 4 Yan Chai Trophy Handicap over 1400m.
It was the Brazilian’s first ride for the legendary South African.
“He won the race,” Whyte said of Moreira. “Had he pulled out and gone around the leader, Golden Four (runner-up) would have got his shot. It’s rides like that that win you races and that’s why he’s one of the best.
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 16 October. – Hong Kong Jockey Club