“Comfortable” in the knowledge he has done enough to secure a fourth jockeys’ premiership, Joao Moreira admits he’s looking forward to signing off on a campaign like no other.
After most participants were locked down in Hong Kong during the last off-season, Covid-19 has had an impact on every single day of the 2020-21 term.
Life in the “racing bubble” has been trying for many as the Jockey Club has done everything possible to keep the sport going – most notably limiting social interactions for key participants for months on end.
“Honestly I’m looking for the finishing line because it feels like two seasons have blended into each other and I’m coming to the end of my energy,” Moreira said.
“Of course we have another seven meetings to go and I want to ride as many winners as possible, but I’m looking forward to some time off and a freshen up.”
Moreira holds an all-but unassailable 25-win advantage over arch-rival Zac Purton with seven meetings remaining and while reluctant to rest on his laurels, the Brazilian acknowledged the strength of his position.
“I have got to be comfortable because the numbers I am ahead put me in that spot but I am a winner and whatever winner is there to be collected, I want to get it,” he said.
Barring the mightiest of miracles, Moreira will stop Purton from winning a fourth consecutive title and draw level with the Australian on four championships apiece after an eight-year period of dominance from the pair.
Moreira has 144 victories to his name so far this campaign, putting him six ahead of his tally last year and coasting towards his third-largest Hong Kong total, although hauls of 168 in 2015-16 and a record 170 in 2016-17 look well out of reach.
He has nine rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night and looks poised to continue his march towards 150 winners, with Alcari in the Class Three Caine Handicap (1,200m) among his better chances.
The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained six-year-old finished second at the course and distance under Harry Bentley last month and Moreira hopes he can give the handler a boost as he recovers from recent heart surgery.
“I hope Ricky recovers quickly and I hope I can help to motivate him to get out of hospital and come back into the racing environment,” Moreira said.
“Alcari’s form is there, he has been working very well and I believe this is a winnable race for him. If he gives his best he will surely be right there at the finish line.”
Moreira jumps aboard the consistent Green Luck in the best race on the card, the Class Two Bowen Handicap (1,650m), after partnering the six-year-old to a win and two placings from his past three starts.
“Caspar [Fownes] has got this horse going so well this season and placing him so well in his races. It looks a very suitable race for him and from [gate two] he should have every chance,” the jockey said.
“He has gate speed and he can place himself close. It could be an unpredictable race meeting because it’s raining today and it should be raining tomorrow and sometimes the track becomes a bit tricky and biased. Whichever way the track is playing, I just hope it suits him.”