I'm keeping my options open, says Joao Moreira
'Magic Man' opts for half-season licence but, if all goes well, he's likely to apply for an extension
Touted as the champion jockey in waiting, Brazilian ace Joao Moreira has taken only a half-season licence.
But the "Magic Man" was quick to cool renewed speculation that Godolphin, the world's most powerful stable, might have come calling, or that he will not be completing next season.
"I only applied for a half-season licence because I want to make sure I have options, for the sake of everybody," Moreira said.
"When I was getting suspended constantly earlier this season and things weren't working out, I was upset and did think about whether I wanted to leave. But I knew that if I did that and broke my contract, I would never be invited again.
"So I want to be in a position to see how everything is going. If it is going well, I'm sure the Jockey Club will be happy to give me an extension, and if everything is going wrong, then they may not want me to stay anyway, and I could leave without anybody being upset."
Hugh Bowman and Tommy Berry had previously flagged that they would not apply for licences, but familiar faces will still fill the jockeys' room, with full season licences for championship leader Zac Purton, Neil Callan, Olivier Doleuze, Brett Prebble, Andreas Suborics, Karis Teetan and Douglas Whyte, while Australian Christian Reith has been licensed until February 1.
Moreira's ticket will run from the start of the term until March 15, and part-season licences have also been issued for Gerald Mosse (October 7 to season's end) and Mirco Demuro (November 1 to February 28), while emerging star Andrea Atzeni will be the latest Italian jockey to ply his trade in Hong Kong next season. He will come from November 15 until February 28.
Atzeni, 23, transferred his apprenticeship from Milan to trainer Marco Botti's Newmarket base in 2007, and has made a growing impact since the move to England. He scored his first Group One in Italy in 2012 and has since added two more, including the Racing Post Trophy in the UK. Atzeni has won over 400 races and finished second in the Epsom Derby last week on Kingston Hill.
There were no changes to the line-up of local Chinese riders, but Jacky Tong Chi-kit was again reminded his licence may be reviewed if he does not improve his performance, while Ben So Tik-hung was warned he has been too often found guilty of "running and handling offences" and may have to "show cause" for his licence if that trend continues.
The committee extended the apprenticeship of Alvin Ng Ka-chun until the end of next season or until he rides his 70th winner.
Meanwhile, the Jockey Club has received independent confirmation of arsenic positives for David Hall-trained Hit A Home Run and Berlinski from Laboratoire des Courses Hippiques in Paris.
Stewards will reconvene their inquiry into the positive tests on a date to be fixed, and it was also announced that an out-of-competition urine sample from Peter Ho Leung-trained Funny Fortune, taken on May 13, has also revealed an arsenic level above the prescribed threshold.