Picture: JEFF GRIFFITH/UNSPLASH
Picture: JEFF GRIFFITH/UNSPLASH

Champion SA apprentice Luke Ferraris had a “baptism of fire” in Hong Kong on Sunday taking on two of the world’s best jockeys, Joao Moreira and Zac Purton, on the first day of the new season.

Sadly, it did not turn out to be a fairy-tale start for the 19-year-old with his first mount Dazzling Feeling, trained by his father David Ferraris, failing to feature after being sent off 5-1 second favourite in the opening event.

It was a happier Sunday for another youngster with SA links — Zac Lloyd, son of former SA champion Jeff Lloyd, booting home a double at the Sunshine Coast track in Australia.

It will not take Ferraris long to get on the board in Hong Kong as — apart from his father — he also rode two horses for former SA champion trainer Tony Millard.

Even so getting the better of Moreira and Purton will prove no easy task — the first-named has become the big favourite in the former British colony, which is hardly surprising given his avalanche of winners over the past few years. He was voted the most popular rider by the public.

In July, Moreira won his fourth Hong Kong jockey championship with 157 winners from 742 mounts and earnings of R403m.

It meant he joined the exclusive club of SA’s Dougie Whyte and Aussie star Zac Purton to have ridden 1,000 winners in the jurisdiction.

After three titles in succession, Moreira was dethroned by Purton in the 2017/2018 season and the Australian held the title in 2018/2019 and 2019/2020.

Speaking after receiving his trophy for the 2020/2021 campaign, Moreira said: “It’s a very meaningful win for me because I’ve been on the bench for three seasons in a row now and I had to find ways to ignite the flame within myself.

“It was such a difficult season to any other that I have gone through, I started off with health issues, the hip injury slowed me for a little while.”

Included in Moreira’s 157 successes were two grade 1 wins with Hot King Prawn (2021 Centenary Cup Sprint) and the 2021 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup on Waikuku.

Meanwhile, the weekend proved a memorable one for 27-year-old Lucinda Woodruff who saddled the first win of her career when World’s Your Oyster won the sixth race at Kenilworth on Saturday.

It was a notable victory by the grey as one of her rivals was Justin Snaith’s talented sprinter Kasimir who could only manage fifth place finishing four lengths behind the Woodruff runner.

Lucinda Woodruff is the daughter of five-times champion trainer Geoff Woodruff and granddaughter of legendary trainer Terrance Millard. She flew to Gauteng for the recent August Two Year Old Sale at Germiston where she bought eight horses for her stable.

Bred at Klawervlei Stud, World’s Your Oyster has done his connections proud and is now a seven-time winner. Jockey Greg Cheyne has partnered the grey to his past three wins.

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