Joao Moreira hopes to carry hot Rio form into Dubai and Sydney

The Magic Man is buoyant after his recent Group 1 win in Brazil and is looking forward to his travels as he continues to manage the hip problem that led to his Hong Kong departure last year.

Group 1 glory for Joao Moreira and Quantify in Rio. (Photo by Fernando Lopes)

David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Joao Moreira is hoping to carry his hot home form into the Dubai World Cup fixture at Meydan next week before landing in Sydney for the Australian autumn.

The Brazilian ace bagged a five-timer at Gávea racecourse in Rio de Janeiro last weekend, a haul that included the G1 Grande Premio Francisco Eduardo e Linneo Eduardo de Paula Machado on Quantify, as well as what he called “Brazil’s Golden Slipper” on the sharp two-year-old Figaro.

Moreira is continuing to manage the hip condition that required platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy to accelerate healing on a torn labrum last September, and which prompted his departure from Hong Kong where he had won four champion jockey titles in a nine-year span.

“I will ride in Dubai next Saturday and then I will head to Sydney right after that,” Moreira told Asian Racing Report via phone from Brazil.

“I plan to ride there for about six weeks and then I will come back to Brazil to ride in some big races, as I have some commitments here. But the Australian visa is for three months, so then I do intend to go back to Australia for a few weeks before my visa expires.”



Moreira said he has been in contact with trainers in Australia ahead of his arrival and is hoping to have the support of at least one major stable.

“Whether or not I go back to see out my visa all depends on if I get enough support over there and if I feel the trainers want me. And then we go from there, but it all depends on how well I do,” he added.

Before that, he has two rides locked in, so far, for the Dubai World Cup card, an event at which he has shone previously. Moreira landed a famous double for Hong Kong connections in 2014 when he took the G1 Al Quoz Sprint on Amber Sky and the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on Sterling City, and in 2017 he landed the G1 Dubai Turf on the Japanese mare Vivlos.

He will rely on a Japanese contact again this time as he teams with Cafe Pharoah in the G1 Dubai World Cup, as well as a South American connection, the Uruguayan G2 UAE Derby challenger Es-Unico.  

“I rode both those horses in Saudi last month: Cafe Pharoah was third in the Saudi Cup and Es-Unico is a horse that ran well to be fourth in the Saudi Derby,” he said.

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

Moreira had just left a regular doctor’s check-up on his left hip when he spoke to Asian Racing Report.

“I’m very happy with how things are right now,” he said. “I have this hip joint problem: it’s just one of those things where you have to keep on going back at times (for check-ups) just to make sure it’s all ok, and I’m clear to keep riding. The pain is not any greater, it’s just as it used to be and I’m getting used to it. My mind, my psychological side, is ok with that so I can keep on riding for a bit more.”

Asian Racing Report has listened to medical reports from Hong Kong Jockey Club-approved medical professionals, which confirm Moreira’s health issues.

But there has been growing comment among Hong Kong racing fans and racing media personalities, and even casually among Hong Kong Jockey Club figures, questioning and disbelieving Moreira’s injury or that he is in the final stage of his career. 

“It doesn’t annoy me,” Moreira said. “I don’t care about their opinion, I know how I feel.

“People keep on asking me if I am really going to retire. Well, if my hip joint keeps on deteriorating and gets to a point where I don’t feel like riding any more, just because of the pain getting greater, then I will consider stopping altogether. But for the time being I am ok to keep riding and people are seeing that, maybe they think I’m riding ok so then I must not have this problem; when the time comes, I will just stop.”

In the meantime, he is continuing to build connections back in Brazil, having returned to race riding there in December.

“Getting that Group 1 result on Quantify was important, this is what it’s about, it keeps me smiling,” he said. “Even if it’s Brazil it is still very difficult to find a horse to win those Group 1 races. Quantify’s trainer, Luiz Esteves, is Brazil’s leading trainer, so we’ve been able to build bridges with the right connections.”

Joao Moreira with trainer Luiz Esteves. (Photo by Fernando Lopes)

Joao Moreira after winning on Quantify at Gávea Racecourse in Rio de Janeiro last weekend. (Photo by Fernando Lopes)

But the Group 1 success was not the one among his five wins that gave Moreira the most satisfaction at Gávea last weekend. His 1000m win on the juvenile Figaro, trained at his hometown Paraná track in Curitiba by Beto Feltran, was closer to his heart.

“It was extremely good because it was for a trainer that was finding it difficult to find winners,” he said. “There were a lot of things around winning that race that made it the most special: I had done most of the work on that horse, I started working him in December and right away I could feel there was something special about him.

“It’s nice when you do a preparation with a horse that nobody knows about; you have expectations and the horse goes there and wins, and this time it’s one of the highest prize money races in the country, it’s like the Golden Slipper for Brazil.”

Moreira is based out of his hometown of Curitiba but makes the 45-minute plane journey to Sao Paulo regularly, as well as travelling to Rio for big races.

With his confidence high, the Magic Man is ready to tot up some more air miles and join the tough fray of a Sydney autumn.




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