Joao Moreira i
Hong Kong Jockey Club
By Leo Schlink
Joao Moreira created racing history at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (6 April), reaching the 1,200-win milestone in Hong Kong record time while also over-taking Zac Purton in the battle for the 2021/22 jockeys’ championship after posting a double.
On a defining night for Moreira, the 38-year-old Brazilian became only the third jockey to slot 1,200 wins or more in Hong Kong behind Douglas Whyte (1,813) and arch-rival Purton (1,393), but the ‘Magic Man’ reached the mark quicker than either man.
Purton took 7,470 mounts to hit 1,200, while Whyte — Hong Kong’s all-time record-holder with 13 jockeys’ championships — reached the mark after 7,662 rides. Moreira’s success on Ricky Yiu’s Natural Storm in the Class 4 Murray Handicap (2200m) came aboard his 5,553rd mount in Hong Kong.
“I wouldn’t be sitting on that number (1,200) without the support of a lot of people,” Moreira beamed after opening the meeting with a race-to-race double. “Not in even in my wildest dreams, could I have those dreams, you know before I came over to Hong Kong.
“I wasn’t counting. I wasn’t aware that I was on 1,198 before the meeting and I didn’t come to the races thinking about it. It’s always good to reach the mark.”
Moreira moved to Hong Kong in October, 2013 and has since set a slew of records, including the most wins in a season (170 in 2016/17), most wins at a single Hong Kong meeting (eight on 5 March, 2017) and most prize money earned by a jockey in a single season (HK$215.30 million in 2020/21) as well as claiming the jockeys’ championship in 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2020/21).
Moreira’s latest haul leaves him level with fellow four-time champion Purton on wins for the season — 98 each — after the Australian closed the meeting by winning the Class 3 Des Voeux Handicap (1200m) atop Francis Lui’s Star Brite - but the Brazilian now leads overall because he has a more second placings.
Moreira accelerated his charge from the outset with victory aboard talented Whizz Kid in the Class 3 Connaught Handicap (1000m) — the opening race of the card — with a victory which delighted trainer Tony Cruz.
“I love this horse, his character is fantastic. The only worry is that he keeps on putting on weight so I’m going to have to gallop him in the off-season to keep him in shape,” Cruz said.
“He loves Happy Valley and the Sha Tin straight course over 1000m, but I’m sure he’ll get further in the future. Tonight, Joao said everything went great, everything was perfect, so I’m very happy.”
Matthew Chadwick interrupted Moreira’s spree with success on Benno Yung’s Humble Steed in the Class 5 Queensway Handicap (1650m) before Charity Go surprised trainer Danny Shum by claiming the Class 2 Chater Handicap (1800m) under Matthew Poon.
“I didn’t expect him to win, but I’m very happy that he did,” Shum said. “He had a good run and he seems to get along well with Matthew Poon. Everything worked out well tonight. His best distance is 1800 metres and he showed that tonight.”
In-form Yung fired in his third win from his past five starters to total 30 for the campaign when Multimore held on grimly to land the Class 4 Ice House Handicap (1000m) under Dylan Mo, while Yiu sealed a brace with Prime Minister for Derek Leung in the Class 3 Glenealy Handicap (1650m).
Lyle Hewitson and Douglas Whyte combined successfully for the fourth time this term when Durham Star broke through in the first section of the Class 4 Lambeth Handicap (1200m). All of Hewitson’s wins this season have come in tandem with Whyte.
Chadwick followed Sunday’s Sha Tin double with another brace, partnering Chris So’s Jiangxi Stamina to impressive victory in the second section of the Class 4 Lambeth Handicap (1200m)
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (10 April).