By Hans Ebert
Win, lose or draw, there will be six winners at the end of this Hong Kong racing season- Pakistan Star for being his own man, the brilliant training achievements of John Size and Frankie Lor, very possibly trainer Tony Cruz for never wavering from believing in the Blue Tooth Fairy, and the Joao Moreira-Zac Purton battle for the Hong Kong Jockey Premiership.
Before the twitteraratti get on their high horses and ride through the Tall Poppy Syndrome, of course special mention must be given to Zac Purton who became the lethal Zac Attack and took this season’s jockey premiership to another level and will always have this writer’s respect. Is he misunderstood by some in Hong Kong? Yes. Just as Lewis Hamilton is a brilliant Formula 1 driver, and Federer and Nadal will always win hearts and minds over Djokovic and Ronaldo will trump Messi, often, success is eclipsed by popularity. And with Hong Kong racing fans, Joao Moreira remains Top Of The Pops.
Yes, there’s been wavering from certain quarters that the magic man has either lost his mojo or is more focused on succeeding in Japan than here, if and when he receives a full time riding license. But, his legion of fans in Hong Kong and Japan have remained steadfast in their loyalty. In the very short time he’s got left here, Joao Moreira has given as good as he’s got.
The man is, simply put, likeable. And he will win the Most Popular Jockey Award again this season because of this likability. One season, female apprentice Kei Chiong was a pleasant diversion and rode off with the award, but she came, saw and disappeared after calling time on her career. One understands she might return hosting a cooking programme on television.
Everybody Loves Raymond and everyone loves Joao. Ask any of the local riders and they’ll talk about the magic man’s modesty and how he’s always been there to advise them. How he’s always been approachable. How he’s a solo act who’s a team player.
Having flirted with a Facebook page before opting out as having a “presence” there is not a life priority for me, seeing the effort by fans to keep his page in Chinese constantly updated, and the exclusive content he’s made available to them, shows and says much about Joao Moreira- and how he safeguards his brand.
He’s always been giving of his time, he makes the fact that English is not his mother tongue work for him and which keeps him well away from the petulance and petty politics played out by adults who really should know better on that psychologists’ dream social media platform known as Twitter.
Tonight at Happy Valley many will make the effort to be there to see and say Goodbye to the mercurial Brazilian. He’s given Hong Kong racing a conga line of good times.
Though he still has the race meeting at Shatin on Sunday before saying his final Sayonara, Kowloon is an area of Hong Kong that remains alien to most Happy Wednesday regulars.
Will Joao Moreira bow out with a bang tonight? One doubts it. But who cares?
Happy Valley is where many of us first saw the pretty much unknown Brazilian in action representing Singapore during one of the Hong Kong International Jockey Championships…and which he won. Of course.
Some thought he might actually do pretty well here IF ever received a license. He did more than pretty well. He rewrote Hong Kong racing’s history books, something conveniently forgotten by those by those with short memories. And this is what makes Joao Moreira unique: He wins people over by not having to work at it. Think about that one.
He might have been given the nickname of “the magic man”, but there’s no sleight of hand stuff going on in the background.
More importantly, there’s no need to worry about standing with your back turned to him.
We’re definitely going to miss Joao Moreira. He’s much more than being a brilliant horseman.
As he once corrected someone when asked about the magic man tag, “I’m not a magic man. I’m a blessed man.”
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