David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Four seconds for Joao Moreira on his São Paulo return as he remains on track for Hong Kong

Joao Moreira draws a blank on his comeback at Cidade Jardim but rides six races as he returns from a debilitating hip injury, with ten rides to come at Jockey Club do Paraná on Sunday.

There was no victorious homecoming for Joao Moreira at São Paulo on Saturday but the Magic Man’s comeback put him on target for a return to Hong Kong to ride in the Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin on December 11.

Moreira left the city – his home for nine years – in September after riding in only 15 races this term, and, having undergone platelet rich plasma treatment (PRP) on a long-term and painful hip injury, he returned home to Brazil to recover his body and mind.

Late last month Moreira sensationally revealed that he intended to ride on ‘International’ day at Sha Tin in what will be his goodbye to Hong Kong racing as he embarks on a six-month ‘world tour’ to close out his storied international career.

On November 23, the Hong Kong Jockey Club granted the rider’s application to withdraw his licence for the current Hong Kong season, and on December 2, the Club listed the four-time Hong Kong champion among 13 jockeys granted a licence to ride at the international races.

But the Club has stipulated that his participation at Sha Tin next weekend is contingent upon passing a medical in Hong Kong this coming Tuesday and Moreira’s return to his roots, to ride in six races at Cidade Jardim in São Paulo, was the first step in regaining race sharpness and proving his fitness before moving on to his hometown track, the Jockey Club do Paraná, in Curitiba, for 10 rides on Sunday.


Joao Moreira was delighted to be back in the saddle at Sao Paulo. (Photo: Firo Menezes)

Joao Moreira finishes second on Merli in the first thoroughbred race of the meeting. (Photo: Firo Menezes)

The Brazilian great had nine rides lined up in São Paulo but continuing rainfall meant that all races bar the third were run on the dirt track, rather than turf, and his book dwindled to six. That sextet brought four seconds and two unplaced finishes, more or less in line with market expectations.

“It’s a shame that he had no wins but the rain affected everything from Friday into today,” Brazilian handicapper and media commentator Ricardo Ravagnani told Asian Racing Report.

“He had only four seconds but tomorrow he will be in Parana, riding in ten races from 12 on the card.”

São Paulo Results

Moreira’s first ride in two and a half months was in a 1100-metre Arabian race, aboard Normandy Rach, a race noteworthy for little other than the returning champion’s participation.

The chestnut, the 2.40 second pick, was positioned second off the turn but was no match for the dominant winner, RG Kalifa.

Next came Merli, second-favourite at 2.90, and again, Moreira guided his mount to second place, this time behind the 1.90 market leader Boom Balloon. Be Our Guest, another 2.90 second choice, was a long way second in race four, then the 10.80 chance Crafty Back was fifth in race five.

Be Our Guest was one of four runners-up for Moreira on the day. (Photo: Firo Menezes)

Joao Moreira heads out on Normandy Rach. (Photo: Firo Menezes).

His final two mounts both had issues at the start: Trick Twice lost all chance when he was closed out roughly at the break, as the horses either side of Moreira shifted in and sandwiched his mount, forcing him to check back before staying on for second, beaten a length and three quarters; Uncle Bear, ninth as an 8.30 hope in the last, missed the break after the stall handler seemed to be fiddling with something around the horse’s head in the moment before the gate opened.

Moreira’s first ride at Curitiba on Sunday will be aboard Oscarito in race two, the 1400-metre Premio Jockey Club de Minas Gerais.

Curitiba Racecard for Sunday




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