Joao Moreira confirmed he would be aboard local hope Seasons Bloom in the Longines Hong Kong Mile on December 10 after reports on Monday had the leading jockey booked to ride Japanese raider Satono Aladdin.
The Brazilian will still ride two Japanese horses at the Sha Tin showpiece though, reuniting with QEII Cup winner Neorealism in the Hong Kong Cup and Hideaki Fujiwara’s tough stayer Tosen Basil in the Hong Kong Vase.
When Seasons Bloom won Sunday’s Group Two Jockey Club Mile it seemed certain the Brazilian jockey would stick with Danny Shum Chap-shing’s five-year-old for the HK$23 million Group One feature in just under three weeks.
Then a Japanese media report stating the leading rider had committed to Satono Aladdin sent racing fans into a spin on social media, but Moreira confirmed his international day bookings at trackwork on Tuesday.
“Everybody is trying to get the news first, just so they can say, ‘I was first’, but then they get it wrong,” Moreira said of the speculation. “I was offered the ride, but I hadn’t confirmed.”
Satono Aladdin won the Group One Yasuda Kinen in June but after resuming with a second at Group Two level has been disappointing at his last two, finishing unplaced in Sunday’s Mile Championships at Kyoto.
Seasons Bloom still has some question marks of his own to answer with some doubting trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing can get the lightly framed gelding to bring his best form to Sha Tin on international day after such a big effort last weekend.
“It’s only three weeks between runs, sure, but he has only had three runs this season, so really he is quite lightly raced,” Moreira said.
The Brazilian will ride Tosen Basil in the Vase, with connections confirming on Tuesday they the horse will skip Sunday’s Japan Cup and have his next start at Sha Tin.
Moreira won last year’s Vase on longshot Satono Crown, who will forgo this year’s race in favour of domestic targets, and the jockey thinks he has another chance of upsetting Highland Reel.
“Like all of the Japanese horses that come here, he is tough and that was a really good run last start,” Moreira said, referring to a second to Smart Layer in the Group Two Kyoto Daishoten.
Moreira will stick with John Size-trained Thewizardofoz in the Hong Kong Sprint after a fifth in Sunday’s Jockey Club Sprint.