Dubai: ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira misses Meydan owing to HK restrictions

Joao Moreira at HKIR - HKJC
No Meydan magic: Joao Moreira won’t be riding on the Dubai World Cup card. Photo: HKJC

Dubai: Hong Kong’s leading jockey Joao Moreira will miss the Dubai World Cup meeting owing to coronavirus restrictions imposed by the Hong Kong authorities.

The ‘Magic Man’, a regular fixture at Meydan on World Cup night over the years, was looking forward to an attractive book of rides for Japanese trainers on March 28 headed by Glory Vase and Win Bright in the Dubai Sheema Classic and Dubai Turf respectively.

The superstar Brazilian rider was also due to partner Japan’s Master Fencer in the Dubai World Cup, Right On Cue (Al Quoz Sprint) and Serein (UAE Derby).

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Moreira leads the Hong Kong jockeys’ title race with 87 winners, four more than arch rival Zac Purton.

He misses out on Meydan after the HK chief executive Carrie Lam announced a two-week quarantine period of home isolation for anyone coming into the region from elsewhere.

Although Moreira had received assurances from Dubai that coronavirus-inspired restrictions on visas for the UAE would not prevent his riding at Meydan, the rider told the South China Morning Post that the HKJC move had “forced his hand”.

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The HKJC was also set to impose a two-week ban on racecourses to anyone who had been outside the region. “It’s just a pity, a big frustration,” said Moreira, who enjoyed a World Cup night double in 2014 with Hong Kong pair Sterling City and Amber Sky. 

“It’s disappointing that I don’t get to ride the horses, but it’s even more disappointing letting people down because they were counting on me.”

Two weeks of home quarantine for Moreira would mean missing five meetings in Hong Kong, where racing is taking place behind closed doors – a situation set to continue for Sunday’s BMG Hong Kong Derby card at Sha Tin.

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Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-trained pair Big Time Baby (Golden Shaheen) and Elusive State (Godolphin Mile) are still reportedly heading to Dubai, with Ryan Moore approached to ride.

Japan, which has enjoyed notable success on the Dubai World Cup card in recent seasons, could field as many as 20 horses on March 28, when Meydan will be closed to paying spectators.

Japanese probables for Meydan

Godolphin Mile: Derma Louvre, Mogiana Flavor
UAE Derby: Derma Onyx, Full Flat, Serein
Al Quoz Sprint: Mr Melody, Right On Cue
Dubai Golden Shaheen: Gold Queen, Matera Sky
Dubai Turf: Admire Mars, Almond Eye, Persian Knight, Win Bright
Dubai Sheema Classic: Curren Bouquetd’or, Glory Vase, Loves Only You
Dubai World Cup: Chrysoberyl, Chuwa Wizard, Gold Dream. Master Fencer

• For more Hong Kong racing news, visit the South China Morning Post

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