By Hans Ebert
We understand that a few songs might have been going through the heads of some jockeys while sitting in the jockeys room shell-shocked after Joao Moreira’s Magnificent 8 at Shatin last Sunday. The names of the songs? Probably, “There’s A Kind Of Hush”, “The Sounds Of Silence”, and “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place”.
What no one can get away from, not even those angry illiterate “racing analyzers” on Twitter with their vitriol runneth over so much that their rants read like schoolboy petulance combined with old age shrinkage, is fobbing off Joao Moreira as just another very good jockey. He’s more than that and numbers and achievements don’t lie.
It’s nothing about him having a “very good manager” and “getting on all the good horses” despite getting a leg up in Hong Kong so he hit the ground running. It’s about being an extraordinary rider competing against the best in the world- in Hong Kong, in Japan, in Dubai, in Australia. The UK and Europe await. And if he does get on the “good horses”, it’s for one simple reason: Joao Moreira is the best. He’s Mr Stunning.
The likeable Brazilian seems hellbent on breaking old records and creating new ones. When great jockeys, who are now retired, and have ridden against the best in their time, look at Moreira in awe, it speaks volumes about the talents of this man.
Only the most churlish would look the other way and think they’re not riding against someone special- someone so special he’s rewriting all the records set by the great South African rider Douglas Whyte.
Will the magic of Moreira create a lopsided playing field in Hong Kong as some are nattering? Sure, just as Rod Laver, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods did when they were champions of their sports. When you’re the best, what are you meant to do? Lower your standards in order to fit in and be a nice guy? The more important question is what next? What next after riding a magnificent eight winners from ten rides at Shatin last Sunday? For Joao Moreira, it’s business as usual after an extraordinary day at the races.
Joao Moreira is no dummy. He’s a very savvy marketer and public relations man. He intuitively knows what makes good sound bites. He knows what makes good photo opportunities and the need to always try and make himself available to the media and fans. What’s wrong with this? It’s better than being a smart arse, hypocrite, and playing transparent petty politics. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business, and Joao Moreira is looking after his business, which, for now, is in Hong Kong. Why uproot and go anywhere else when, with Hong Kong as his base of operations from where he has access to the best of all worlds?
Many would love to follow in his footsteps. But Moreira casts a long shadow wherever he goes. He might get on “the best horses”, and more often than not, he delivers.
He also gets on non-winners and gets them home. Just ask any trainer in Hong Kong. Look at the stats, especially those on Twitter who are angry with the world for what seems their inability to succeed in life, and therefore become keyboard warriors fighting an enemy who isn’t there. Those who do do. Those who can’t become keyboard bullies like their idol- The Orange One in the White House- and criticise what’s not their business and what they don’t understand.
As for Joao Moreira, he’ll have his off days and the naysayers on social media will whoop it up. But would he care? Of course not. He’ll tell you straight: He loves the thrill of winning. And if it’s winning on some amazing horse, even sweeter the win. But all the time, one can’t help but feel that here is someone who plays by his own rules, plays to win, and as we’ve said here many times, has changed, and is changing the face of horse racing by giving the sport a huge facelift. It’s now up to racing clubs who have access to this marquee value name to keep up with Moreiramania.