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The Brazilian has shared videos of his intense workouts as he returns to his old stomping ground in Sao Paulo to prepare for his Sha Tin International Day farewell.
Joao Moreira is back riding trackwork as he continues an intensive workout regime with a personal trainer and will ride in Sao Paulo this weekend in preparation for his ‘farewell appearance’ at next month’s Hong Kong International Races.
Moreira was given clearance to ride trackwork again and has ridden trackwork where he began his career at the Jockey Club do Parana racetrack in his home city of Curitiba and in Sao Paulo.
On Sunday at Sha Tin, Hong Kong Jockey Club officials raised concerns about the Brazilian’s fitness and said Moreira would require a “full medical” before he can ride on December 11.
The 39-year-old hasn’t ridden in a race for more than two months and has competed in just 15 races in more than five months due to a persistent hip problem that has brought the imminent end of his career.
Moreira returned home to Brazil from Hong Kong after receiving platelet rich plasma treatment (PRP) in late September and began a strength-building program soon after with Curitiba-based personal trainer Maurício Mandim.
“Physically I am very fit and well,” Moreira told Asian Racing Report. “I have been working out with Mauricio five times per week for six or seven weeks now, slowly building up strength and flexibility.”
Moreira shared a series of videos from his workouts which included balancing exercises and movements designed specifically around the challenges of race riding. One video shows Moreira ‘riding’ an elliptical machine in a crouch position on one leg with a soccer ball held between his knees.
The jockey, known for his dynamism on horseback, said his left hip will always be an issue and the unorthodox-looking exercises are designed to strengthen ‘everywhere else as much as possible’.
““I am fit, and flying physically,” he told Asian Racing Report on last week. “If I wasn’t 100 percent fit, and feeling positive, I would not even consider taking rides.”
Moreira will return to Sha Tin to ride three Japanese horses in the main Group 1s: Resistencia in the Hong Kong Sprint, La Papale in the Hong Kong Cup and will be aiming for a third Hong Kong Vase on Glory Vase.
The Hong Kong comeback is a one-off though; he has relinquished his Hong Kong licence and intends to travel the world in search of big race success early next year before retiring midway through 2023.
The PRP treatment provides temporary relief to the severe pain caused by a labrum tear and degenerative issues that had hampered, and ultimately sidelined, the rider this season, but the clock is ticking on his illustrious career.
Moreira’s final hitout before his planned International Day return is at Sao Paulo’s Cidade Jardim Racecourse on Saturday December 3, eight days before HKIR.
Joao Moreira has been back riding trackwork at Sao Paulo. (Photo supplied)
Champion jockey Joao Moreira has returned to the saddle in his native Brazil. (Photo supplied)
It will be a much anticipated return to the inner city track where he boarded on-course at the Sao Paulo apprentice school, and rose through the ranks to ride more than 1000 winners – including eight in one day in 2006 – en route to becoming a two-time Brazilian Eclipse Award winner.
While he went on to be known as “The Magic Man” while dominating in Singapore, and then Hong Kong, Moreira was dubbed “Fantasma”, Portuguese for ghost, during his time in Sao Paulo, thus named for his ability to appear from nowhere and steal races with a late move while crouching so low his face was hidden in his horse’s mane.
That low-crouching style may have come back to haunt Moreira as perhaps a factor in his debilitating hip problems at such a relatively young age.
Few jockeys would rely on their flexibility and movement on horseback as much as Moreira, whose forward riding style won him more than 1200 races and four championships in Hong Kong.
“He could do things on horses I have never seen before,” Zac Purton told Asian Racing Report in a video interview earlier this season, in which he analysed his arch rival. “There are certain things that I can see him doing that other riders don’t do.”
Purton went on to describe why Moreira’s movement on a horse is so critical to his success.
“I have never seen a jockey of his calibre ride with that short a rein on a horse; we were always told to have a long rein and get them relaxed,” Purton said.
“His weight is well over the wither, it is like he is riding a motorbike, he has that type of seat on the horse.
“He can throw his balance around on a horse, while also keeping the horse balanced, but he can also throw his weight around on a horse and get them to change their legs and manipulate their paths in races. His style is very unique in that sense.”
One last push: Moreira’s Sha Tin swansong to be followed by freedom
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