Less than a year after Joao Moreira began what he thought would be a global farewell tour, retirement plans have been put on the backburner as another Australian Group One target beckons.
Moreira feared his days of riding were numbered when he struggled with an ongoing hip issue last year, prompting him to hand in his Hong Kong jockeys’ license and embark on one final hurrah before hanging up his saddle.
But after jetting into Sydney this week ahead of his Golden Rose bid aboard Militarize, Moreira said a combination of medical assistance and a daily routine of stretching and strengthening work had helped to stabilise his hip to the point where the issue was now manageable.
“If you asked me this time of the year last year if I would be riding now, I would have said ‘no chance’,” Moreira said.
“Now I’m feeling good.
“I’ve been working with a doctor who has been spending a lot of time with me making sure I feel not too bad.
“It’s good that I can change the story now. I’m feeling good and I’m just going to ride as long as I can.”
Moreira returns to Sydney for the first time since the autumn when he combined with the Chris Waller-trained Militarize for a brace of Group 1 wins.
The pair will shoot for the trifecta in Saturday’s $1 million Golden Rose (1400m) in which the colt will sport blinkers for the first time.
Moreira has been kept updated on Militarize’s progress by connections and is looking forward to reuniting with the exciting three-year-old, who put the writing on the wall first-up when doing his best work late for fifth to Cylinder in The Run To The Rose (1200m), beaten three-quarters of a length.
“He’s pretty much the reason why I’m back,” Moreira said.
“He was such a nice horse for me earlier this year.
“He’s been working well, he’s been trialling well. Chris (Waller) seems to be very confident about him performing again as he did at the end of his last campaign.”
Moreira has seven rides at Rosehill, six of them for Waller including high-class mare Atishu in the Group 2 Golden Pendant (1400m).
He will stick around for the Epsom Handicap meeting next weekend before heading back to South America for a ride in the continent’s biggest race, and after that a return to Australia looms.
One item still missing from Moreira’s resume is a Melbourne Cup and he would dearly love the chance to win it this spring.
“If I do get a good ride for the Melbourne Cup, I’ll be around,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the last couple of years I wasn’t able to get a ride and also the pandemic stopped a lot of jockeys travelling.
“Anyway, we’ve got plenty to look forward to before the Melbourne Cup so I’m just thinking about these races coming up.”
– RAS NewsWire