João Moreira, primeira página e longa matéria no TDN | Jockey Club Brasileiro

João Moreira, primeira página e longa matéria no TDN

Se ontem foi Bal a Bali, hoje a TDN, através de uma longa matéria (com direito a primeira página), assinada pelo australiano Andrew Hawkins mas baseado em Hong Kong, jornalista do South China Morning Post, destacou João Moreira, o Magic Show como lá é conhecido e reverenciado.

A matéria que conta a sua história, a sua ida a Royal Ascot no próximo mês, 0 compara a Ryan Moore e Christophe Soumillon, diz que agora ele será globalmente consagrado

Abaixo, a matéria no original:

Royal Ascot Awaits ‘Magic’ Show

Racing is full of Hollywood-esque stories–the inconceivable, the implausible, the unrealistic.

On a global scale, the story of Joao Moreira is right up there with the most astonishing: the jockey they call the “Magic Man”, the Brazilian-born wizard who has taken Asia by storm, now looks set to make a true splash on the world stage.

An unrivaled rags-to-riches tale, Moreira has risen from the slums of Brazil, from a destiny of poverty and crime, to the very top of his game, to become arguably Brazil’s most successful non-soccer sportsman since the champion Formula One driver, the late Ayrton Senna.

And yet, while Moreira made a big splash in Brazil, broke every record in a remarkable stint in Singapore and is now setting Hong Kong alight, he still doesn’t receive the plaudits he deserves globally.

For those who have seen the Magic Man at work, his name is one of a number bandied about as the world’s best jockey, deserving of a spot alongside Moore and Soumillon, a rider with that potent combination of balance, poise and tactical awareness that only champions possess.

His star is slowly rising in Australia, having partnered three Group 1 winners down under, and dual big-race success on the Dubai World Cup undercard in 2014 brought him further acclaim. He’s ridden in England’s Shergar Cup and partnered a number of graded stakes placegetters in two short stints in the United States. He estimates he’s ridden in about 20 countries.

But for all that, Moreira remains still somewhat of a mystery to most in traditional racing heartlands–so much so that a Google search turns up the wrong age for the rider, putting him 12 months younger than his 31 years. The relative obscurity is set to change in the next month as his association with the world’s highest ranked turf galloper Able Friend (Aus) (Shamardal) thrusts him into the spotlight at arguably the biggest turf meeting on the planet, Royal Ascot.

It is the continuation of a whirlwind journey for the Brazilian, who was once turned down for an apprenticeship and came within a nose of losing his license in the early days of his career. Anyone who meets Moreira for little more than a fleeting moment has the same story to report: the nicest man in racing, humble, gentle, kind–the antithesis of his warrior persona on-track. It’s a modesty brought about by his humble upbringing.

“I don’t think anyone would believe where I come from,” Moreira said recently. “I grew up in a small village near Curitiba, and we had very little. It was tough, and we did what we had to do to get by, but I always loved horses.”
At the age of 14, he quit his job, working in a factory, to pursue a career with horses. He worked as a stablehand for no pay and was knocked back from joining the jockey ranks in his home town before being offered the chance to join a jockey academy in Sao Paulo.

“In my early days of riding in Sao Paulo, while I was still in the academy, I was considered the worst jockey there,” he explained. “No one would give me a ride and I had some bad luck. My first two winners were both disqualified. I was told I was not born to ride and that I should be getting another job. I only just kept my license. I was almost on my way back to Curitiba and then my luck turned.”

Moreira was a full-fledged jockey by 2003, and by the time of his departure in 2009, he had racked up over 1000 winners, mainly at Sao Paulo’s Cidade Jardim racetrack. He was a two-time Trofeu Mossoro (Brazilian Eclipse Award) winner and it was his early association with champion South American three-year-old Eu Tambem (Brz) (Wild Event), the winner of the 2006 G1 Gran Premio Nacional–the Argentine Derby–and later bought by Godolphin, that catapulted Moreira to stardom. And yet, already, the young rider was looking outside Brazil.

“I knew the world was a big place and I knew I wanted to ride elsewhere,” Moreira says. “I had ridden in France, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, but I had big dreams.”

In March 2009, he left Brazil for Singapore. By year’s end, he was seen as a rising star in the Lion City, having finished third in the jockey rankings despite missing almost half the season. It was here that the Moreira myth was borne, where he was nicknamed “Magic” by former commentator Michael Maxworthy, a nickname that quickly developed into the “Magic Man.”

In 2010, he set a new Singaporean record with 116 wins, capturing his first premiership in the process. A year later, he set a new benchmark with 153 wins. And then, in 2012, he blew those two marks out of the water with a whopping 206 victories in a season. He claimed a fourth title in 2013 with 179 wins, despite leaving for his new contract in Hong Kong with just over two months left to go in the season. But as a parting gift to Singapore, he managed to win eight races from eight rides at Kranji in September 2013, a feat just as remarkable as Dettori’s Magnificent Seven.

They may not be too distant, geographically or culturally, but in racing circles, Singapore and Hong Kong are worlds apart. Hong Kong is the ultimate test for a rider. Not only is there a higher concentration of top jockeys at their peak, but the intensity of the racing community is unmatched anywhere else worldwide. There may be only two meetings a week–and only 83 across the whole season–but the level of scrutiny is extreme, especially for a jockey.

The political climate is not unlike a scene out of House of Cards as jockeys fight for rides, with every move watched by the local media and the punters who splurge, on average, US$17 million on every single race. It’s a dog-eat-dog environment that has claimed some notable scalps over the years.

And yet the Brazilian has thrived.

With last season’s champion jockey, Australian Zac Purton, Moreira has brought about the end of an era–the end of the dominance of South African master Douglas Whyte, who had won 13 straight championships before he was dethroned by Purton last season. And yet, Moreira believes he’s only starting to find his best form now, despite riding winners at a seemingly unsustainable strike rate of 23%.

“I struggled to get it right in Hong Kong at first,” Moreira admitted. “I was used to riding on left-handed tracks, so when I switched to go right-handed at Sha Tin and Happy Valley, my horses were shifting in and causing interference. I missed 18 meetings (out of 83) because of suspension last season, and I also started late, so I was really happy to finish second to Zac.”

He continued, “This season I’ve really tried to stay out of trouble and to just focus on riding winners, and now I think I’ve got it right. And it’s still getting better, although it will be hard to beat this season.”

And what a season it has been. Moreira has not only got the Hong Kong jockeys’ championship wrapped up with 13 meetings to go in the term, he’s already surpassed Whyte’s previous record of 113 wins in a season. There is talk that the 150 mark could be under threat, an achievement previously thought impossible in the pressure cooker environment of Hong Kong racing.

Moreira’s biggest moment will come in the G1 Queen Anne S. June 16, when he partners the John Moore-trained Able Friend in the opening event at the Royal meeting. It will be the 1300-pound chestnut’s biggest test against horses of the ilk of G1 Dubai Turf winner Solow (GB) (Singspiel {Ire}) and last season’s G1 2000 Guineas victor Night Of Thunder (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), among others, but Moreira seems unperturbed by the likely opposition–in fact, he is relishing the chance to test Able Friend against the world’s best milers.

“He’s the best horse I’ve ridden, he’s just outstanding,” he opines. “He’s the easiest ride, he is just so uncomplicated. He goes to sleep, and then you ask him to quicken and the response is instant. Is he the best horse in the world? I think so, he’s just a dream horse to ride–every jockey wants a horse like him. Hopefully he can take his best to England and the world can see how good he is.”

Perhaps the same can be said for his unassuming rider, with the world finally set to witness how lethal Joao Moreira can be.

Da Gerência de Turfe

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