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“Health and wellbeing are the only thing that matters” – Joao Moreira heads home to Brazil with Hong Kong Jockey Club blessing

Champion jockey Joao Moreira will continue his rehabilitation in his homeland after club officials back his request to return to family.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has thrown its support behind ailing jockey Joao Moreira and kept the door ajar for the injured rider to return later this season. 

Moreira boarded a flight to Brazil on Friday night after informing Jockey Club officials of his mental health struggles and desire to return home to be with family as soon as possible. 

While there the four-time champion will continue his rehabilitation from a career-threatening hip injury and reassess his riding future. 

Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges had already stated that the club would do “whatever it takes” to help Moreira and on Friday the club’s executive director of racing Andrew Harding issued a statement to Asian Racing Report reiterating that support. 

“Joao must do whatever he needs to do to recover,” Harding said. “The Club will continue to support him in this in every way possible, including the ongoing assistance whilst he is in Brazil of our medical team and the other experts we have made available.

“His health and wellbeing are the only thing that matters.”

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Joao Moreira has been Champion Jockey in Hong Kong on four occasions. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit /Getty Images)

Moreira’s wife Taciana and two children Miguel and Marina returned to Brazil late last season, in June, and in August the jockey received treatment on his troublesome right hip in his home country.

That and other minor surgery meant the 39-year-old then missed the first two meetings of the season after arriving back to Hong Kong later than usual. He competed at only two meetings before excruciating pain forced him to seek medical treatment. 

Moreira underwent platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy to accelerate healing on a torn labrum in his left hip and doctors have indicated it will be three months before he should consider riding again. 

It is Moreira’s psychological condition that was more concerning though and on Thursday he spoke to Asian Racing Report about the extent of his struggles. 

“I am not OK, I need a different environment and different support, I need to be where I am loved,” he said. “I need to feel that love from my family.”

Moreira said the “ten-out-of-ten” pain he has been suffering while riding has contributed significantly to his mental health problems. 

“It just proves that I’m a human being, I’m vulnerable and I’m not made of steel,” he said. “I’m grateful for everything the Jockey Club has given me but it has only been two weeks since I stopped riding and it feels like it has been two years. I have been closed up between four walls, and not feeling like going out, and all I have been doing is focusing on my recovery.”

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