Star jockey Joao Moreira has been “stood down until further notice”, with the Jockey Club confirming the Brazilian is not fit to ride because of an ongoing hip injury.
The 38-year-old struggled through his eight rides at Happy Valley on Wednesday night after his troublesome left hip flared up again. He will be absent from Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting, while he could miss both of next week’s fixtures as well.
“Following last night’s Happy Valley race meeting, the stewards interviewed jockey Joao Moreira in the presence of the club’s chief medical officer,” Jockey Club licensing committee secretary Terry Bailey said in a statement.
“It was established that jockey Moreira has an ongoing hip injury issue and is not fit to ride. Accordingly, he has been stood down from riding on medical advice until further notice. A further release will be issued at the appropriate time in relation to jockey Moreira’s availability.”
It continues a stop-start few months for Moreira, who spent time on the sidelines in June after suffering from an irregular heartbeat and missed the first two meetings of the season after undergoing surgery in Brazil during the off-season.
He returned to the saddle at Sha Tin last Sunday but was unable to hit his straps in his two meetings back, failing to open his account from 15 attempts and enduring three runner-up finishes and one third.
After losing out to Zac Purton on the final day of the season in the race for last year’s jockeys’ premiership, Moreira finds himself eight winners behind his famous rival four meetings into the new campaign – a buffer that is more than likely to increase during the Magic Man’s absence.
Moreira, who has opted not to comment on his most recent setback as he assesses his options, has had to forego a full book of 10 rides for Sunday’s meeting, which features the biggest race of the season so far – the Group Three Celebration Cup (1,400m).
Moreira was booked to ride Duke Wai for Pierre Ng Pang-chi in the feature but has been replaced by Matthew Chadwick, while Vagner Borges steps in for his countryman aboard the John Size-trained Fantastic Way for the Class Two Cheung Hong Handicap (1,200m).
The Celebration Cup is one race where Purton - who is still carrying a number of niggles of his own – looks all but certain to increase his advantage over Moreira, with the Australian partnering returning Tony Cruz-trained star California Spangle against only five rivals.
Moreira is not the only big name missing from the jockeys’ ranks for the fifth meeting of the campaign, with Karis Teetan to miss a second consecutive race day after being found to have a thyroid condition early in the week.
In their absence, Silvestre de Sousa joins Purton with a full book and Lyle Hewitson heads to Sha Tin with nine rides, while Vincent Ho Chak-yiu, Chadwick and Alexis Badel have eight.