Racing: Swords are out for Moreira

By Mike Dillon

Heroic Valour (rails) will again clash with Windspelle (N0 10) in the Tavistock Northland Breeders Stakes, the feature event at Ruakaka tomorrow. Picture / Trish Dunell
Heroic Valour (rails) will again clash with Windspelle (N0 10) in the Tavistock Northland Breeders Stakes, the feature event at Ruakaka tomorrow. Picture / Trish Dunell

World-class jockey Joao Moreira rides the favourite Omei Sword in tomorrow's A$1 million Golden Rose at Rosehill and if you think he's keen to win, you're wrong.

He's DESPERATE to win.

From the moment champion Sydney trainer Chris Waller announced he was bringing the world No 1 south from Hong Kong for the Omei Sword ride, punt-driven Australian racing got its collective knives out.

Critics pointed out Moreira was none from 14 at the Sydney Championships last year, including a number of favourites.

Sydney punters can at times be grudgingly forgiving for a jockey being beaten, but not on something as good as Winx.

The champion mare and Moreira were beaten into second behind Gust Of Wind in the Australian Oaks during the Championships, when a combination of a rain-affected track and 2400m proved too much.

Fuelling that fire is the fact Winx has not been beaten in 10 starts since.

Before departing Hong Kong, where he has become the darling of punters in the past two years, Moreira told the South China Post: "If they are saying, 'When it is a wet track, Joao cannot perform,' then I will say I was just on horses that could not perform on wet ground, so what could I do? "I don't have wings and I can't make them fly if they can't perform on that type of surface.

"People that were critical of those days don't understand that when the weather changes the conditions and the ground, it becomes like a lottery - it's unpredictable what is going to happen. If you are in the game, you might be lucky or you might be struggling - I don't even consider what they say when it comes to that."

Since the 2015 Championships, Moreira has returned to Australia on four occasions, with 19 rides yielding just the one win - the group two Queensland Guineas on Tsaritsa at Eagle Farm in June.

But by anyone's standards he is as good as it gets. The 31-year-old rose from abject poverty as a school bus driver in his native Brazil to amass a $20 million net worth in the saddle and that does not happen by luck alone.

He won his second straight jockeys' championship in Hong Kong, when he broke his own single-season record and with 168 winners in 2015-16, while he recently took Japan by storm during a summer stint, riding seven winners from seven straight rides, including six in one day.

Omei Sword, a High Chaparral filly scored a runaway 3.3-length victory in the Silver Shadow Stakes on August 20 to secure favouritism for this million dollar feature. Last night she was the clear $3.60 favourite on the Sydney TAB.

Joint second favourites Astern and Divine Prophet are ridden by James McDonald and Tommy Berry so fireworks are guaranteed.

●Unquestionably, the most interesting local race tomorrow is Ruakaka's $50,000 Tavistock Northland Breeders Stakes, with unbeaten colt Heroic Valour heading the hugely talented line-up.

The local Donna Logan-Chris Gibbs stable, which has won half of the total races from the past four Ruakaka meetings, has four runners.

Donna Logan's summation: "The Soultaker is very, very forward to resume. Astara is also forward, but she has a wide barrier to contend with.

"Not quite sure Barabas has the class to cope with a very hot race, but he will jump and run, while Windspelle is improved for his first-up race and will be ridden a fraction more quiet this time."

And a comment on Joao Moreira: "He's a miracle act to watch. Sheer class."

- NZ Herald

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