Joao Moreira insists Silver Express warrants a tilt at the BMW Hong Kong Derby after the grey forged into Classic calculations with runaway success in Sunday’s Class 3 Tai Mei Tuk Handicap at Sha Tin.
Committed to partner Caspar Fownes’ Sky Darci in the 21 March feature, Moreira did little to disguise his admiration for the Canford Cliffs gelding after he demolished 13 rivals by leading virtually all the way in 1m 21.18s – well inside class and distance standard.
Crossing the line two and a quarter lengths ahead of Uncle Steve (131lb) and Pure Legend (116lb), Silver Express (133lb) will earn a vital rise in the handicap ratings as he atoned for a wayward second at his previous start by coursing truly in blinkers for the first time.
The emphatic nature of the performance – coupled with the open nature of this year’s Derby – prompted Moreira to suggest John Size’s lightly-raced galloper could rapidly emerge as a Classic contender.
“It’s hard for me to say right now (if he’s a Derby horse), but he deserves a chance – who knows if he can make it there,” the Brazilian said after completing a double.
“Maybe John is going to run him again soon to try to give him a chance and the way he won today, even if he goes up in class, he should be competitive once again.
“If he wins again, he deserves buying a ticket for himself into the Derby because what else could you ask for a horse to be put in there?
“There is nothing jumping out of the page for the Derby – it seems very open and who knows, he could be the one jumping out and making it very interesting.”
Moreira was aware of the grey’s antics at his previous start when he threw away certain victory by racing waywardly, but there were no problems with the addition of head gear.
“Of course, we were a bit worried about him doing what he did last time again,” Moreira said.
“All we had in mind was to make sure that we don’t upset him and the hope today was that he was tractable – and he was.
“He was kind – he didn’t make my job hard at all today, it’s a great training achievement.”
The success delivered the final leg of a treble for Size, who overtook Caspar Fownes in the training championship to lead 47-46.
The 11-time champion trainer combined with fellow Australian Blake Shinn to land the Class 4 Wu Kau Tang Handicap (1400m) with Zone D before teaming with Moreira and Fantastic Way in the Class 3 Pat Sin Leng Handicap (1200m).