Progressive four-year-old C P Brave rewarded Tony Millard’s patience at Sha Tin on Sunday, surging home after a moment of uncertainty in the straight to take out the Class Two Woodpecker Handicap (1,600m) in convincing fashion.
After meeting nothing but backsides late aboard another hot favourite Leap Of Faith earlier in the card, jockey Joao Moreira must have thought history was repeating as he searched for a run 400m from home aboard $1.85 shot C P Brave.
But the gap appeared up the inside of leader Highland Fortune for the day’s best-backed runner and he powered home to ring up his first Hong Kong victory at start four.
“Good horses, they win – I couldn’t be happier,” Millard said. “He’s a nice horse, we could have run him at the end of last season but he just wasn’t doing well enough and the heat had got to him.
“So we just backed off, sometimes you’ve got to do the right thing and that was the right thing to do at the time. It was very nice and Joao is very happy with this horse.”
After beginning his Hong Kong career off a mark of 76 following two wins from four starts in Britain, C P Brave worked his way into Class Two on the back of two close placings and carried just 116 pounds from the inside gate.
“He’s certainly come along well and I think he can improve – he’s going to need to improve because in Class Two there’s some pretty good horses and he got all the advantages because he had the draw and the weight. But a win is a win and we’ve got to enjoy it and move forward,” Millard said, suggesting he will endeavour to step his charge up in trip in time.
Moreira, who positioned C P Brave in the box seat from barrier one in his first run of the season, was impressed with the feeling he got in his first ride aboard the galloper.
“I think he is very talented. He’s just in the making still. As times goes by, he’s progressing and that’s what you would wish from a horse who is beginning their campaign. It’s hard to predict where he will go up to, but he’s very promising,” the Brazilian said.
C P Brave provided Millard with his third winner of the season – “we’re ticking over, I’m happy” – while the win completed a running double to round out the card for Moreira after his victory aboard Dragon Fortune in the Class Three Tailorbird Handicap (1,400m).
“I was expecting to have a good day because some of my rides were favourites but we just had to wait until the last few races of the day to make it happen,” Moreira said. “Fortunately we did and I certainly go home with a smile on my face.”
As well as Leap Of Faith, Moreira also went under aboard favourites Fairy Floss, Glenealy Generals, Beauty Spirit and the highly touted Drops Of God.