Racing: Moreira bows out but the samba continues

Racing: Moreira bows out but the samba continues
Jockey Manoel Nunes’ (above) record has been impressive.

Joao Moreira is gone but he signed off with flair, riding nine winners on his last weekend, including one at his final ride for the man now known as John "last-race" O'Hara.

This prompted an ice-bucket and champagne shower after which he was chaired back to the jockeys' room, a level of honour and respect rarely seen in the hardened world of turf professionals.

He has not gone far and, judging by the betting pools, his army have followed him to Hong Kong which has made for some lucrative pickings for those who play the "overs".

The Magic is still there and, while he will find it a different world against the Zac Attack and the Demon, his start could not have been better. He won the Jockey's Challenge on his first day, getting a winner at Happy Valley on the Wednesday and then riding a double at Sha Tin including the winner of the Group 2.

The local punters have found difficulty sorting things out since he left. In the four meetings since, only six favourites have saluted in 40 races, way below the normal strike rate of 30 per cent. This is not surprising as, during Moreira's time, 70 per cent of his mounts started by punching home eight winners, six at the last two meetings, and is now well into the 90s where winners are concerned.

There will be a remarkable situation in the jockey's premiership this year when two riders get over a century of winners, a feat never before accomplished, and a whiz of an apprentice may well ride 80 winners, a record that will be very hard to top.

We should also note that despite having been here for only a short time, Corey is up to sixth in the premiership with strike rate second only to Nunes.

It is very clear where trainer's preferences for riders lie and the results are a confirmation.

The trainer's premiership is totally different with a mini TriNations happening.

There's Laurie Laxon, Patrick Shaw, Michael Freedman and Mark Walker, two Kiwis, a South African and an Australian fighting it out.

As with the rugby, the smart money is on the Kiwis.

- Asia-based Graeme Carey, aka The Oracle, is a form analyst and regular contributor to racing publications, including the Singapore Turf Club's Winning Post. A true enthusiast, he believes the most important thing in racing is having a sense of humour.

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