Joao Moreira has put his faith in master Japanese trainer Noriyuki Hori and will reunite with Sha Tin Group One winners Neorealism and Satono Crown on Dubai World Cup night but the Brazilian will not have a ride on a Hong Kong-trained horse.
Only D B Pin, with Frenchman Olivier Doleuze booked to ride, will represent Hong Kong in Dubai on March 31 after trainer John Size said stablemate Amazing Kids would not make the trip and Chris So Wai-yin’s miler Classic Emperor failed at Meydan last weekend.
That leaves Hong Kong’s leading rider to team with Japan’s feared raiders and the country’s most respected horseman, Hori.
Moreira won the 2017 Group One Audemars Piguet QE II Cup on Neorealism just months after he had captured the 2016 Hong Kong Vase on Satono Crown and he will be back aboard as both horses make their Dubai debuts.
The decision to ride Neorealism in the US$6 million Dubai Turf was a difficult one given the Brazilian could have gone for two straight wins in the race on the Yasuo Tomomichi-trained mare Vivlos.
“That was such a special moment in my career, but there really isn’t much between these two at all and I can only ride one of them,” Moreira said. “But I know what Neorealism can do on his day and I am confident the race distance and the way the race is usually run will suit him.”
Swaying things Neorealism’s way was an underwhelming first up eighth by Vivlos in last month’s Group Two Nakayama Kinen.
“She just doesn’t look as ready to do what she did last year,” said Moreira. “She had a lot of things her way last time, both conditions on the night and the way the race was run.”
Still, making the decision more complicated was Neorealism’s disappointing display in the 2017 Hong Kong Cup, in which the feisty chestnut over-raced behind a fast tempo set by all the way winner Time Warp.
Neorealism hasn’t run since then but Moreira believes he has learned from that experience, where the jockey’s efforts to avoid missing the start caused the seven-year-old to over-race.
“I’ve ridden him twice now and I think that experience will count, he is a tricky horse to ride and I hope I have worked out the key to him,” Moreira said. “He shakes his head around in the gates and that was a concern – I didn’t let him do that again and he jumped, but then he pulled. If you don’t know him that well he can pull hard. Now that I know him a little better I think I can get him to relax.”
Satono Crown’s upset win in the 2016 Vase was one of three Group One wins Moreira has had for Hori at Sha Tin out of an extraordinary overall strike rate of 44 per cent (14 wins from 32 starts) for the trainer.
The next 12 months for Satono Crown included a Group Two win and victory in the Group One Takarazuka Kinen, plus a second to champion stayer Kitasan Black in the 2017 Tenno Sho Autumn.
Satono Crown was subsequently unplaced in the Japan Cup and Arima Kinen but word is that six-year-old is thriving ahead of a first up tilt at the US$6 million Sheema Classic.
“I trust in Hori, he is one of the best trainers in the world, and if he is bringing the horse to Dubai he will be there to win,” Moreira said.
Moreira will also ride Mitsunori Makiura-trained three-year-old Taiki Ferveur in the Group Two UAE Derby, lining up against fellow Japanese raider Ruggero.