By Jon Lees
Singapore: Brazilian rider Ruan Maia, runner-up in last year’s Singapore jockeys championship, is joining the exodus of top talent after securing a “dream” move to Hong Kong.
Maia, 32, has taken an early lead in the 2021 premiership at Kranji but revealed Saturday would be his last day in the saddle there having been granted a licence by the Hong Kong Jockey Club from March.
“It’s always been my dream to ride in Hong Kong one day, but my goal was to stay at least two to three years in Singapore and hopefully become champion jockey one day,” he said. “I wanted to build up a strong CV and hoped that would help me get into Hong Kong.
“But it’s the Hong Kong Jockey Club who has invited me instead! I was pleasantly surprised of course, and there was no way I could say no to such an opportunity. This is the place where I have always wanted to end up, and it’s come up sooner than I thought. I would be silly to turn it down now.”
Maia was dual champion in Macau before securing a one-year licence in Singapore last year where he rode 62 winners to finish three behind Vlad Duric in the jockeys’ title race. He rode two G1s on Aramaayo, another horse who is relocating to Australia.
In August he rode a seven-timer, one victory short of the record eight-timer recorded by fellow Brazilian Joao Moreira in Singapore before he switched to Hong Kong.
Maia is one of a raft of departures from Singapore where the racing programme has been badly impacted by the Covid pandemic. Leading jockeys Michael Rodd, Alysha Collett and Daniel Moor left last year, while top trainers Lee Freedman and Cliff Brown have announced they are quitting in March. Brown will be reuniting with the region’s champion sprinter Inferno in Australia.
Duric has yet to ride in 2021, leading to speculation about his whereabouts, but he has addressed that by revealing he has been undergoing treatment for a throat issue and expects to return at the end of January.