Racing: Perfect eight for magical Moreira

Racing: Perfect eight for magical Moreira

Week after week, Joao Moreira suits up in brightly coloured jerseys and saddles up on horses. To the incessant demands of the thousands of punters who line the Kranji racecourse galleries, the jockey searches for victory after victory - seeking perfection.

On the afternoon of Sept 6, he finally found a little piece of it. The 29-year-old Brazilian, hailed in the stands as "Magic" Moreira, rode to a flawless eight-for-eight win performance to cement his place in racing folklore.

Singaporean Saimee Jumaat had previously held the highest number of wins in a day at Kranji with seven out of 12 races in 2009. But as Moreira's feat was a perfect streak, many have compared him to Italian Frankie Dettori's "Magnificent Seven" wins in Britain in 1996.

Said Singapore Turf Club vice-president (racing) Mike Wanklin: "I have been in racing for over 30 years and I have not - nor ever will again - witness what Joao achieved.

I am gobsmacked at what was achieved. "Eight, and to do it from eight rides, it's just phenomenal. From an athletic and human viewpoint, and whether it is racing or any other sport, it is just incredible someone can have the focus and drive to perform such a faultless score."

The accolades run deep, but Moreira, despite also having won the jockey premiership title for the past three years, humbly rejects the suggestion that he is the best jockey in Singapore.

"I'm not the best. I don't think I'm the most skilled rider nor am I the smartest," said the champion, who is leading the standings this year with 150 wins.

"I've just been making good use of my opportunities, and probably, no one else has done as good as me in this aspect." He believes he has been able to better his winning percentages and make good of the rides that have been offered to him because of his thorough preparations.

The local races may be held on weekends, but for him it all starts as early as Monday. He spends most of the day going through the entire race card accessing all the horses' forms and their previous performances.

Then, after discussions with the horse owners, he finally decides on his rides before formulating his game plan by running several race scenarios in his head. Said Moreira: "You don't go in and just ride. You must always have something in mind and know what to expect.

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