Andrew Le Jeune

Presenter & Columnist


LJ Confidential: Magic Man making himself at home in Australia

Joao Moreira has been in scintillating form across his first two Group 1 meetings in Australia and the Brazilian has another strong book of rides this weekend.

The world is an oyster for Joao Moreira right now but one wonders whether or not his tremendous success in Australia so far has him considering a longer stay in Sydney. 

Moreira was joint winner (with Longines World’s Best Jockey James McDonald) of the Nathan Berry Medal, given to the most successful rider at The Championships. 

The Brazilian – who started his planned six week stint on the first weekend of the two-day carnival – had two wins out of the 12 eligible races at The Championships that count towards the medal.

One of those wins was a Group 1 triumph on Militiarize and he gets another crack at top level success when he rides the colt again in the G1 Champagne Stakes on Saturday. 

Moreira, now based out of Sāo Paulo after quitting full-time riding in Hong Kong due to injury last September, has a hip problem that requires maintenance and that he says will likely force his retirement within the next year.  

Until then, the 39-year-old wants to ride at some of the biggest race meetings around the world. The Magic Man is eligible to ride for three months in Japan this year but a European summer stint set around Royal Ascot in June could also appeal. 

Right now Moreira is riding in great form and he has stated how much he loves the style of racing and the support he has received from Australian racing fans. It is clear that Moreira loves Australia, and Australia loves him back. 


Militarize and Joao Moreira taking out the G1 Sires' (Photo: Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

World racing fans will be waiting to see where Moreira takes his magic show next but also looming is his former rival Zac Purton’s long-promised decision on his riding future. Purton has said he would make his announcement in April. The Australian enjoyed some great success of his own in his homeland during the autumn – riding three Group 1 winners across two days – and perhaps that has opened his mind to possibilities.

Whatever happens, the odds of Moreira and Purton renewing their rivalry, at least later this year  during the Australian spring, seem likely. 

All Aged Stakes an all star affair

Saturday’s G1 All Aged Stakes is not part of the officially branded ‘The Championships’ but it certainly has the look and feel of a championship race. 

The 1400m event brings multiple form lines together: sprinters, milers and middle-distance horses clashing at a distance that gives all an opportunity. 

Giga Kick was a solid second to new sprint star I WIsh I Win last start in the G1 TJ Smith and now steps up to 1400m for the first time. 

The Everest winner’s racing style indicates he should find the line but this is a race of depth, quality and intrigue. 

Zaaki comes back in trip, top sprinters Roch ‘N’ Horse, Private Eye and Mazu step up, and, down in the weights, Jacquinot brings Group 1 form at the distance out of Melbourne. 

Craig Williams and Giga Kick win the $15 million Everest. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Then there is last year’s winner Cascadian, scratched from the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in favour of a run here. 

The intrigue comes in the form Ho O Amazon, whose form looks weak on paper, but you just never know when it comes to the Japanese horses – especially from such a renowned global sniper like Yoshito Yahagi. 

Yahagi has won seven Group 1s outside of Japan in the last four years and while this one might seem beyond Ho O Amazon on form, Australian fans will remember 2014 when another Japanese outsider named Hana’s Goal blew her rivals away in this race at double figure odds. 

Satsuki Sho to sort things out

While new Japanese superstar Liberty Island has stamped herself as the standout of her three-year-old fillies crop, ranking the colts has not been as clear-cut. 

The first leg of Japan’s Triple Crown for colts, Sunday’s G1 Satsuki Sho over 2000m at Nakayama, should help us sort out an order with a view to June’s all-important G1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby). 

Liberty Island’s trainer Mitsusama Nakauchida told Asian Racing Report this week that his filly would not contest the Derby, which will be a relief for connections of the contenders. 

Sunday’s race is an opportunity for a colt to take the sword from the stone and betting has Sol Oriens the most likely to do so. 

Prepared by Win Marilyn’s trainer Takahisi Tasuka, Sol Oriens is two-from-two and strikes some similarities with current superstar Equinox at the same stage. Both head into the Satsuki Sho unbeaten in two starts, but most notably, both are by the sire-of-the-moment Kitasan Black, and carry a distinctive white blaze. 

Sol Oriens takes out the G3 Keisei Hai at Nakayama. (Photo by JRA)

Sol Oriens shares the distinctive white blaze of his champion sire Kitasan Black. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit)

The Satsuki Sho, and Tokyo Yushun, came too soon for Equinox and he was caught out by more seasoned rivals. Is Sol Oriens more ready? 

Globetrotting Australian Damian Lane starts his stint on Sunday and has a top ride in the big race, aboard Hrimfaxi for trainer Naosuke Sugai. 

My pick is Tastiera after his classy display in the G2 Yayoi Sho (Deep Impact Kinen) over Sunday’s course and distance. That victory elevated him to number five in Asian Racing Report’s Tokyo Yushun Rankings

The race features eight last start winners but history says Sunday’s hero will take a prominent spot in our updated Tokyo Yushun rankings, released next week. 

Andrew's Best Bets

R8 No.12 Giga Kick WIN

Nakayama (Hong Kong simulcast S1)
S1 R6 Tastiera WIN 

Sha Tin
R6 No.7 Turquoise Alpha WIN




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