EXCLUSIVE: Joao Moreira to ride Danon Beluga in Dubai

The Brazilian champion will connect with his old ally Noriyuki Hori to ride the high-class four-year-old Danon Beluga in the Dubai Turf, and says he intends to apply for a JRA short-term licence later in the year.

Joao Moreira will replace Yuga Kawada on Danon Beluga in the G1 Dubai Turf. (Photos by @kabosu7222 and Getty Images)

David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Joao Moreira has received a surprise call-up to ride the Noriyuki Hori-trained Danon Beluga in the G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan next Saturday, replacing Japan’s champion jockey Yuga Kawada.

Moreira was already locked in to partner the Hori-trained Cafe Pharoah in the G1 Dubai World Cup and the Danon Beluga booking gives the brilliant Brazilian three mounts on the card, the other being the Uruguayan G2 UAE Derby contender Es-Unico.    

“I will ride Danon Beluga in the Dubai Turf, it is a good ride to have and I’m looking forward to doing my best for Mr Hori and the owner,” Moreira said. “I rode the other two horses in Saudi, Cafe Pharoah was third in the Saudi Cup and Es-Unico is a horse that ran a good race to be fourth in the Saudi Derby.” 

Kawada rode Danon Beluga in each of the four-year-old’s last four starts, all at Group1 level, for fourth in the Satsuki Sho and the Tokyo Yushun, third in the Tenno Sho Autumn and fifth in the Japan Cup. The last of those efforts saw the colt hit the lead with 250m to race, only to be headed and then crowded and snatched up close home when beaten. 

Hori has been a big supporter of Moreira in the past, during the rider’s contracts in Japan and in big race assignments overseas. They have enjoyed Group 1 wins together in Hong Kong, with Maurice in the Champions Mile, Satono Crown in the Hong Kong Vase and Neorealism in the QEII Cup.   


Danon Beluga wins the G2 Kyodo News Hai. (Photo by JRA)

Joao Moreira and trainer Noriyuki Hori celebrate Maurice's Champions Mile success in 2016. (Photo by Kenneth Chan)

Moreira will head to Sydney to ride after the Dubai World Cup fixture but told Asian Racing Report that he hopes to ride in Japan later this year.

“At the end of the year, I intend to apply to ride in Japan for maybe eight to ten weeks,” he said. “There is plenty that I have in mind but I will take it step by step. There might be opportunities that will present, to ride in the Arc or the Breeders’ Cup, because I will be putting myself out there, but I hope I get support and opportunities and then I’ll make things happen. 

“Those things are in the back of my mind because I don’t have to make a decision yet: I’ll see where things are at, what comes up, and assess it from there.”




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