Joao Moreira booked for Japan’s Cafe Pharoah in the Saudi Cup

The champion Brazilian jockey is in top form at home and his ‘global farewell tour’ is gaining support after he was booked on a leading chance in the world’s richest race.

Cafe Pharoah wins the G1 February Stakes at Tokyo. (Photo by JRA)

Michael Cox



Buoyed by brilliant form in his native Brazil, Joao Moreira has been called on by master trainer Noriyuki Hori to ride reigning Japanese dirt horse of the year Cafe Pharoah in the US$20million Saudi Cup at the end of the month. 

The ride in the world’s richest race will come a week after he teams with North American visitor Shirl’s Speight in the G1 February Stakes at Tokyo, which will be the first time he has ridden in Japan since 2018. 

Moreira is also riding in the International Jockey Challenge in Riyadh on February 24 and the following night he reunites with Hori on a horse that has won the last two February Stakes. 

After ‘retiring’ from Hong Kong racing following a winless International Day meeting, citing a hip problem that required treatment, Moreira has returned to the saddle in Brazil, riding primarily in Sao Paulo with great success. 

Another four-timer at São Paulo and a treble at Gávea in Rio at the weekend, including two wins from his first two rides at the course since 2008, gave Moreira a total of 19 winners from eight meetings since he took a Christmas break with his family. That makes a total of 26 wins and 26 seconds from just 102 rides since he returned to riding in his homeland at the start of December. 



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

Moreira has an incredible record as a visiting jockey in Japan and has enjoyed success on the country’s horses abroad. His 114 wins from 347 rides there give him a strike rate of 32.9 percent, the highest of any jockey with more than 100 wins, and he has won Group 1s in Dubai and Hong Kong on Japanese horses. 

Hori has teamed up with Moreira to win the 2016 Champions Mile with Maurice at Sha Tin and the 2017 QEII Cup with Neorealism. 

The six Japanese runners in the Saudi Cup field have depleted the strength of the February Stakes field and gives Shirl’s Speight a terrific chance of being the first international winner of the race. 




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