Michael Cox



Joao Moreira set for shock Hong Kong International Races return on Japanese raiders

Four-time Hong Kong champion Joao Moreira hasn’t ridden since his aborted early season return but has committed to ride a pair of Japanese-trained hopes at next month’s flagship Sha Tin meeting.

Superstar jockey Joao Moreira plans to make a shock return to the saddle after ten weeks on the sidelines and ride two Japanese raiders at next month’s Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin. 

Moreira hasn’t ridden since the fourth meeting of the Hong Kong season on September 21, after which he has been sidelined by debilitating hip issues and has spent time recovering from the resulting treatment. 

The Brazilian returned to his homeland to continue his rehabilitation and be with family in early October, citing mental stress, but has confirmed to Japanese connections that he will be available to ride at Sha Tin on December 11. 

Moreira has committed to two Carrot Club-owned, Group 1-winning mares in the Hong Kong Sprint and Cup.

In the Sprint he rides Resistencia, who was runner-up in last year’s race under Christophe Soumillon, and he rides Lei Papale in the Cup. 


Resistencia wins the 2021 Sankei Sho Centaur Stakes. (Photo by JRA)

Moreira will partner with G1 Osaka Hai winner Lei Papale in Hong Kong. (Photo by JRA)

Both horses loom as top chances at their best form and give Moreira a chance to add to his seven HKIR Group 1 wins. 

Resistencia, a G1 winner as a two-year-old, hasn’t won since last year’s G2 Centaur Stakes and although she has struggled to match-up at G1 level over a mile, she will be sharp back at 1200m.

Last year’s G1 Osaka Hai winner Lei Papale was most recently fourth behind Salios in the G2 Mainichi Okan and was sixth under Soumillon behind Loves Only You in last year’s Hong Kong Cup. 

When Moreira announced he would step down from riding after riding in just two meetings in September, he vowed he would ride again despite the career-threatening nature of his ongoing injury. 

“I do think I will ride again and I will ride again,” he said at the time. “I am only doing this because I want to get back in the saddle. You will see me in the saddle again.” 

Moreira underwent platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Medical Centre to treat a labrum tear in his left hip in late September. The injury is not from one particular fall or incident, just a case of ‘wear and tear’ over time.  

Moreira has not spoken publicly since asking for permission to return to Brazil to recuperate. 

Moreira, who has remained licensed by the Jockey Club, has yet to confirm whether or not he will ride in the lead-up to HKIR, but if he were to ride at the meeting he will have ridden in just 15 races in nearly five months.

Full fields for the four HKIR Group 1s will be released on Wednesday, and Moreira is yet to indicate which horses he will ride in the Mile and Vase.

Moreira has a strong association with Carrot Club; he won the 2017 QEII Cup at Sha Tin aboard Neorealism and the 2018 Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Lys Gracieux in the distinctive green, white and red silks.  



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