Champion jockey Joao Moreira missed out on his main assignment in Melbourne on Saturday but linked with former Hong Kong trainer David Hayes to take another Group One feature in his first appearance at Caulfield racecourse.
Moreira quickly put to bed any questions about him performing there as he finished second at his first two rides before claiming a Group Two on Savanna Amour for trainer John Meagher early in the day.
Meagher, once Melboune-based but nowadays in Queensland in partnership with his sons, had been based in Singapore for several years and knew Moreira well from the Lion City.
“I think his last three rides for me in Singapore all won, so this makes four in a row,” Meagher said after Moreira lifted the three-year-old filly over the line to win narrowly.
Moreira had been lured to Melbourne by Hong Kong-based Price Bloodstock principal David Price to ride two-year-old Property in the Blue Diamond Stakes but the youngster was unable to go on after claiming a share of the lead at the 200m. He battled on for fifth behind the winner Catchy, part of a red-letter day for Hayes and jockey Craig Williams, but Moreira bounced back to add the time-honoured Oakleigh Plate to his resume 30 minutes later in a sensational display of speed riding.
Moreira and another Hayes-trained sprinter, Faatinah, shared the lead soon after the start and gave nothing else as a look in as they cleared away at the top of the straight to fight it out.
Moreira’s mount Sheidel proved the superior sprinter giving a Group One double to her owner, Robert Crabtree, who also owns Catchy.
They just keep finding under the Magic Man! Sheidel showcases sustained speed to win the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate. pic.twitter.com/jbVxZ1WcoC— Racing.com (@Racing) February 25, 2017
“I’ve spent my whole life in racing trying to win a Group One and now I’ve had two in the one day,’’ Crabtree said.
Moreira said Sheidel was “pretty exciting” after feeling like a winner throughout the Oakleigh Plate.
“She jumped out so quick and travelled strongly on the bridle. She just didn’t give up and kept attacking the line. She’s got a big heart,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for — to ride Group One winners – but you have to have the right horse and today I did.”
Moreira said he had not been disappointed by Property’s defeat, putting it down to immaturity, and saying “he was beaten by some better horses today but I’m sure down the road he will be as good as them”.
Hayes flagged that Faatinah, owned by Sheikh Hamdan, may be headed for the Al Quoz Sprint at the Dubai World Cup programme where he will clash with a strong Hong Kong team of sprinters.
Next weekend, it’s Zac Purton’s turn to head to Australia, where he has been engaged to ride for Godolphin in Sydney.