The Joao Moreira juggernaut has been put on hold after a mixed day where he came away with a double and stewards slapped the record-breaking jockey with a careless riding ban that began with immediate effect.
Describing a day where a jockey rides two winners as subpar might seem harsh but what looked like being another big haul for the Brazilian early ended up falling short of expectations as a couple of short-priced favourites flopped and his big race rides failed to fire.
Wins on Forest Colours and Leading Horse gave Moreira 76 winners for the term so far and extended his jockeys’ championship lead to 50 by close of play yesterday, but he will be cooling his heels on the sidelines for the next three meetings after failing to leave room when crossing on Top Bonus in race three.
“It was my fault, it was an error of judgement and I should have taken more care,” said Moreira, who found himself in trouble with stewards during his early days as a club rider, but had only been suspended once previously this term.
“I’ve been happy so far in that way, I’ve worked very hard to stay out of trouble and it has paid off, as I have been able to get into a rhythm and not be sitting out meetings.”
After an international day double, Moreira tore through December, riding four, five, three and six winners respectively at the next four fixtures to push his strike rate into unprecedented territory.
Although a number of Moreira’s fancied runners failed to live up to expectations, including unplaced favourites Who Else But You and Team Fortune in consecutive races, the 31-year-old did win the Jockey Challenge for a sixth straight meeting with his 38-point haul, which also included a second and two thirds.
Promising three-year-old Leading Horse handled a big weight and wide barrier with both Moreira and trainer Peter Ho Leung maintaining the son of Commands “will be a better horse in six months.”
“What he did there, beating the older horses, showed what type of character he has,” Ho said. “He is a very nice horse.”
Unicorn, with Zac Purton up, clearly headed Leading Horse before Moreira’s urgings saw him catch his rival right on the line.
“He is still inexperienced and it took the horse coming up on his outside for him to find again,” Ho said.
Moreira had ridden Forest Colours for the first time last start when running home from midfield, but on this occasion the jockey sought to take luck out of the equation by sitting up on the speed.
“I knew what he was capable of after riding him last time, I thought this was his time to win and I sensed there wouldn’t be much pace, so we put him up on the speed,” Moreira said.