It was reminiscent of the sheriff who had decided to hang up his guns for a while to stare at the cacti against the purple sky of the prairie deciding that, aw shucks, it’s time to return to Dodge City.
And so it was that with a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders John Size walked back into town and showed who’s boss and that Size always matter.
It was also the Sorcerer and the Apprentice stuff with John Size unloading four rounds of winners that afternoon in the direction of his former Assistant Frankie Lor.
Lor has hit the ground running in his first season as a trainer and offers much more than a glimpse into the not so distant future. But right here and now, John Size is the best trainer in Hong Kong and Frankie Lor couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.
For his owners, apart from complete trust, they must often think they’re talking to either Clint Eastwood or Coop. John Size doesn’t say much, but he says enough. It’s experience and knowledge talking with one look often saying it all.
Though not easily intimidated, except by my ex wife when she’s in full flow and dragging up the past in another sudden surge of cathartic anger, John Size can be intimidating. One wouldn’t want to waste his time because he has no time to waste. And then there’s Joao Moreira.
Together with John Size, they’re Butch and Sundance. Of course John Size is a brilliant horseman and trainer, but the rides offered to Moreira aren’t all simple “sit and steer” jobs. They didn’t nickname him “Ghost” in São Paulo for nothing. Getting horses out from barrier thirteen and quick as a flash having them one out on the rails is no magic trick. It requires talent and great horsemanship.
Watching Joao Moreira on the first meeting of 2018 take many of his rides behind the barriers and give them some quick schooling by having them turn from left to right and right to left as a reminder of what’s expected of them when the barriers open, made fascinating viewing. It was far removed from what is normally seen as being part of horse racing. We were seeing another facet of the sport. It was, dare I say, mystical and a ritual of the dance. It was balletic dressage.
There are a number of brilliant jockeys. There are extremely few exceptional riders. There’s a difference. Horse racing has its Lone Rangers, Hopalong Cassidys and Roy Rogers and lesser cowboys. In Joao Moreira, there is Zorro.
It’s no doubt why a master horseman like John Size uses the best available jockeys for his horses, but uses one rider the most. Why? Because Joao Moreira is a freak of nature. His sense of timing is impeccable.
So, while apparently going through a “slump” by his own lofty standards and taking a backseat to Postman Zac (Purton) riding brilliantly and delivering winner after winner, Joao Moreira chose the first race meeting of 2018 to entertain and feed the sixty thousand at Sha Tin with another display of horse racing as both a sport and entertainment.
Winning five races on the day, four for John Size, was one thing. He was probably disappointed that it wasn’t one more. But what he also gave racing fans was showbiz.
After each win, he punched the air, he stood up on his irons to salute his followers, he hugged the outrider, threw his goggles into the crowd and high fived those who might have been hoping some lucky New Year Day magic might rub off on them.
With horse racing still looking for that magic elixir that will be its first real entrée into the big world of sports entertainment with its huge customer base and group 1 sponsors, Joao Moreira just might be the answer.
He’s equal parts horseman, rider, magician and entertainer. He’s poetry in motion and a game changer in an industry needing change in order to progress and be more than what it is today.
#HKJC #HongKong #HongKongHorseRacing #JohnSize #JoaoMoreira #FrankieLor #HKIJC #LarkinPoe