Joao Moreira remains a hero in Hong Kong but his reputation in Australia has taken a battering over the past two years and he heads to Randwick for the second day of The Championships on Saturday determined to make amends.
Moreira is in Australia for the first time since his Melbourne Cup day fall five months ago and returns to Randwick for the first time since a zero-for-seven day that included a forgettable ride on Comin’ Thru.
The Brazilian has not won in Australia for more than a year and is riding a 40-race run of outs, with just one win from his last 54 rides.
In 2014, Moreira endured a horror two days at The Championships that drew scathing reviews, with one senior columnist calling his riding “D grade”.
“That is why I am going back, I’m keen to turn that form around,” Moreira said. “It’s tough going there because sometimes we can’t get on the best horses, but I can only change that form around if I go back. It’s certainly not going to turn around if I stay in Hong Kong.”
Moreira will face an ominous, nigh on impossible, task when he rides Irish visitor and outsider Success Days against wonder mare Winx in the Group One Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Winx is chasing a record-equalling 25 wins and will again be sent out a short-priced favourite.
“Obviously that looks pretty tough,” Moreira said. “My horse probably needs some rain and give in the ground to show his best and we certainly are not getting that. The weather is beautiful and the track will be good.
“But my other rides are good – the people who book my rides have worked hard. It is a competitive day but I’m feeling pretty confident.”
Moreira has seven rides including Japanese stayer Prestwick in the Group One Sydney Cup.
“I’m excited to get on him,” Moreira said. “His form is strong enough to win this I think, and he goes very well on right-handed tracks.”
The lure of racing clockwise, as well as getting away from the tough competition of top-ranked stayers in Japan, was what brought trainer Yoshinori Muto to Australia.
“Five of six wins were right-handed and we know he goes better this way,” Muto said. “That is why we came because we know he is very strong at 3,200m and it is right-handed.
“The horse is in great condition and he did really well in the Diamond Stakes [in Tokyo]. We would like to see him midfield and relaxed and he will be very competitive.”