Fitting farewell for the King of Kranji

Fitting farewell for the King of Kranji
Champion jockey Joao Moreira being "doused' with champagne by fellow jockey Jose Verenzuela (L) and trainer John O'Hara (R) after his final win on his final Kranji ride.

SINGAPORE - He flashed the V-sign at the weigh-in after winning his final race.

The Kranji crowd roared in approval for the champion who has captured the imagination of not only Singapore racegoers but the racing world with his mastery in the saddle and possible world-record eight-from-eight feat last month.

As "The Magic Man" Joao Moreira stepped down from the scale, he must have expected a bottle of champagne to celebrate his crowning glory after almost five years, like those magical moments when he broke record after record.

Instead, he got the unexpected.

Fellow Kranji-based jockey Jose Verenzuela walked up and poured a pail of ice water over the stunned three-time Singapore champion.

The bottle of champagne was in the hands of John O'Hara, trainer of his final winner, the aptly-named Superb Success. O'Hara popped it, shook it hard and sprayed the bubbly over Moreira, who was still recovering from the shock of the pail affair.

In joined Verenzuela, with another bottle of flowing champagne.

That was the surprise celebration, but the champion took it all in his stride.

He smiled. He wept.

After all, he was all-conquering in his final moment - six wins in all, which was half the 12-race programme.

"You see, I've got so many good friends, these two blokes and, all those people who are here, they will be in my heart forever," said an emotional Moreira, tapping his left chest.

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