Joao Moreira will miss the start of the new racing season in Hong Kong after taking longer than had been expected to recover from a series of injuries.
The Brazilian, who will now not return to the city until September 10, will certainly miss the first meeting at Sha Tin the day after his arrival, and is likely to be unavailable for the first Wednesday night fixture at Happy Valley on September 14.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Jockey Club said a “number of ongoing injuries” had delayed Moreira’s return.
Among the medical issues that Moriera has battled recently are an irregular heartbeat, which sidelined him in June just as the race for the top rider was reaching its end.
At the time he described experiencing a “weird” sensation in his chest, and doctors said that could have been caused by a combination of stress, anxiety, dehydration and high-intensity exercise, with Moriera admitting his body was “screaming out” for a rest after a long season.
There has also been a history of hip problems, which at one stage required platelet-rich plasma therapy.
“Due to a number of ongoing injuries which have required treatment overseas during the off season, jockey Joao Moreira’s return to Hong Kong has been delayed,” the Jockey Club’s statement read.
“Moreira is now scheduled for arrival in Hong Kong on 10 September 2022, and therefore will not be able to accept race riding engagements for the Sha Tin race meeting on 11 September 2022 due to the three-day compulsory inbound quarantine requirement.
“Moreira will be assessed by the club’s chief medical officer and a further release will be issued when he is passed fit to resume race riding.”
Moreira gave everything last season as he battled Zac Purton for the jockey’s premiership – a race he ultimately lost to the Australian, who claimed his fifth title by riding four winners at Sha Tin at the last meeting of the campaign.
Purton had his injuries too, and after the win paid tribute to his rival for his performance during a “really difficult season”.
“It’s been a really difficult last three years for all of us here in Hong Kong through the Covid lockdowns, having to homeschool the kids,” Purton said. “We’ve both had our health issues, so it’s been really, really tough.”