Champion jockey Joao Moreira lucky to escape injury after horror fall in Happy Valley opener
Brazilian in hospital overnight for observation but will be declared for rides on Saturday
Champion jockey Joao Moreira showed his magic extends beyond riding winners when he escaped injury in a horror fall at Happy Valley on Wednesday night while Douglas Whyte also a had a lucky escape from a nasty incident less than an hour later.
Moreira was thrown heavily as the field straightened for home in the opening race, where he was probing for a clear passage coming off the back of the leader, King Of Smarts, with race favourite Funny Fortune.
Funny Fortune clipped the leader’s heels, stumbled badly and Moreira was hurled to the turf with most of the field behind him. Several horses went over the top of the stricken rider and, with the incident in full view of the grandstand, a hushed crowd feared serious injury for the Brazilian.
Moreira was loaded into an ambulance to be taken to Queen Mary Hospital, but the news was immediately positive once in the ambulance, with Moreira telling the medics and club officials that he was sore but without serious injury.
Whyte’s incident took place as the runners went on to the track for the third race and Noble Buddies got rid of the South African by the rail at the 100m mark.
It looked fairly innocuous but soon revealed itself as anything but, as Whyte remained motionless lying on the track.
Noble Buddies had clipped the fallen Whyte as he took off to gallop a lap of the track, striking his knees and Whyte later complained of leg pains.
Both men were stood down for the rest of the night, Moreira staying in hospital overnight for observation, but remarkably both walked away without significant injury – late last night, Jockey Club racing stewards said it was expected both jockeys would be declared on Thursday for rides at Sha Tin on Saturday, without standby riders being required.
However, with injuries to Chad Schofield and Richard Fourie this week, Singapore-based Corey Brown has been asked to be in Hong Kong on standby on Saturday in case he is required.
Moreira missed one winner, with Nash Rawiller taking over on Top Bonus to give John Size his first double at Happy Valley since October 2013, after impressive debutant Mr Stunning (Karis Teetan) took the third in sensational fashion.
Mr Stunning had been trialling brilliantly up on the pace but was nearer the tail before unwinding a huge finish to score.
“He had trialled here at the Valley and got around the track well, so I thought he’d be OK to come here for his first run,” Size said.
“Although he did have pace at the trials, there looked a lot of speed in the race, which can be daunting for a young horse, so I asked Karis to sit back and not compete with that early pace.
“But they came back to him and he was able to finish strongly and just get up on the line and got the job done.”
Whyte also missed out on a winner, with Howard Cheng Yue-tin the beneficiary in the night’s trophy event, taking over on Dashing King for Chris So Wai-yin and scraping home by the barest margin.
“He had been in sprint races in his first two starts but looked very one paced so I thought we would step him up to 1,650m and put the blinkers on so he could put himself into the race, instead of being out the back,” So said.
“The blinkers were Brett Prebble’s idea and he could have ridden the horse as he had done a lot of work on him, but he was already committed. So I booked Douglas, ended up with Howard but he did a good job.”
The nine-race card saw doubles to Ryan Moore and Silvestre de Sousa, as well as Karis Teetan.
However, de Sousa was suspended for two separate incidents, including his winning ride on Vara Pearl in race four, and will miss four Hong Kong race days from February 24.
Gerald Mosse was also fined HK$15,000 for inappropriate use of the whip on well-beaten Trump after the post.