Curitiba kickback aside, Moreira is feeling better and nearing 100 per cent fitness, but he maintains that the prognosis for his career has not changed: he still says that 2023 is likely to be his last year riding.
“It is difficult to predict how long the effects of the treatment will last, considering how much my hip has deteriorated,” he said. “The timeline has not changed though.”
Moreira put that timeline at around six months back in December, and as sad as that might seem, a rapidly approaching retirement date might be contributing to Moreira’s enthusiasm.
“I am making the most of the end of my riding career,” he said. “I am just enjoying it, I am just doing everything I can to have fun. I can be riding in a claiming race for very low prize money, on a shit track but I know what I am there for. I just want to go there and win races, it is not about the prize money, it is about how it feels.”
One aspect of riding in Brazil that has helped Moreira feel more comfortable is that he can speak in his native language of Portuguese. When Moreira arrived in Singapore in March, 2009, he could barely introduce himself in English, let alone ask a trainer for a ride.
“That is a big deal,” Moreira said. “In Hong Kong I had to develop that skill, on how to manage situations and deal with people. It was stressful. The intensity here from dealing with people is so much less and I am a lot more comfortable. I don’t get that feeling that I say something and they aren’t understanding what I am saying. That pressure of speaking English is gone and that makes a massive difference. I am doing so much better because of that. I don’t have control of everything around me but because I can speak the language, at least I have control of my own business.”
Moreira may take his first rides since his return in Rio this week but it is a ride at home that has him most excited, and sums up the general tenor of his refreshed attitude to the sport.
“I am riding a horse that is owned by my brother Jair in a cup race,” he said. “The race isn’t worth as much money as any race in Hong Kong, and it won’t make the news anywhere, but some things are worth more than money. I am so excited to be riding for him, it will mean the world to us if I can win.”
Moreira’s heroic homecoming: Fantasma’s return a boost for Brazilian racing