What do we do with a drunken sailor and what do we do with Joao Moreira?
HKJC Chief Steward, Kim Kelly, must be tearing out whatever hair he has left on his head trying to figure that one out.
Without a doubt, The Magic Man has started off his time in Hong Kong with his own Big Bang Theory comprising an incredible strike rate, and giving Hong Kong racing fans with a charismatic, very likable, new super-hero and the main attraction at every meeting he rides.
And here lies the problem: Joao Moreira is almost a guest artist making cameo appearances by riding in a couple of meetings before receiving a new suspension, a now all-too-familiar trend which just has to give soon- one way or another.
These stop-start appearances can’t continue, and like Moreira himself has admitted, what’s the next step and, Where to now, Kemo Sabay?
On Wednesday night at Happy Valley, despite riding another treble including a great tactical ride on Ride Like The Wind, The Magic Man’s Indian Rope Trick came undone- again- and- hey, Presto- he incurred The Wrath Of Kim Khan Kelly and received another three day suspension. Again.
Though he has won a huge following with trainers, owners, the Chinese racing media and local racing fans with his freakish ability to ride winner after winner while bringing that effusive Brazilian enthusiasm, excitement and color seen on football pitches to Shatin and Happy Valley, the safety factor is paramount to racing- and one which the HKJC takes very seriously. It must.
So, ask many, how did Moreira succeed in Singapore without being hit with suspension after suspension?
Well, one reason might be the rider’s familiarity with the Kranji racecourse while he’s still on a learning curve in Hong Kong.
Others won’t buy that. They will say that Joao Moreira is not an inexperienced apprentice and doesn’t need any “learning curve” while also pointing out that racing in Hong Kong is far more competitive than in Singapore with the strongest lineup of International jockeys in the world who are not in awe of the Brazilian.
Other who view him as competition might point out that Moreira has been “presented” only with rides primed to win and not those going around to take in the view so they drop in the handicaps.
Whatever anything is- and there’s some truth in all schools of thought- Joao Moreira has made an impact on Hong Kong racing- and turnover and The Jockey Challenge- not seen since the short stint of Gary Stevens here and the successful “tours of duty” by South Africans Basil Marcus and the much over-looked Bart Leisher, below.
Of course, the really big question is where is all this heading?
By now, and without all these suspensions, Joao Moreira might even be leading the jockeys premiership, which would have been an incredible accomplishment after his late start to the Hong Kong season.
There is no doubt that the HKJC want to see the brilliant Brazilian succeed in Hong Kong, but they could be faced with “mutiny on the bounty” from other riders worried about their safety and unable to “play their natural game” due to having Zorro in their midst.
Whereas Joao Moreira was a one-man show in Singapore, Hong Kong racing is a very different kettle of halibut.
How he can fit in by still standing out as the unique riding talent that he is- and being true to himself- is something we would all like to see as the presence of Joao Moreira makes racing exciting and gives it that gooooooooaaaaal type of excitement and passion the sport needs.
Whether we do or not, well, time will tell.
We really hope it works out as 2014 is just around the corner and time waits for no one.