Two years ago, racing journalist Andrew Webster wrote this in the Sydney Morning Herald about jockey Joao Moreira: “If he's not the best in the world, he’s at least on the podium.” Of course, at the time that was no more than conjecture. There was no realistic way of proving such an assertion. Times, though, have changed. There is now - and this week Moreira has ascended to that podium.
The Hong Kong-based Brazilian has risen to number three in the latest edition of the world jockeys’ rankings - joint number three to be exact, sharing that slot with another Far Eastern expat, Japan-based Italian Mirco Demuro.
Now only current world leader Hugh Bowman, of Australia, and England's Ryan Moore, who is second, stand ahead of ‘Magic Man’.
Moreira has moved up an astonishing four places from last week after a gain of ten ranking points week on week. (It’s astonishing because, in all four categories in the TRC Global Rankings, the higher an individual is positioned, the more difficult it is to make major points gains. You have to be performed pretty well just to hold your position.)
Group races are rare jewels in Hong Kong (indeed Moreira rides in more of them in Australia) so when they do take place, the TRC algorithm values them very highly. Last week there were two, and Moreira won them both - on Eagle Way in the G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup and, in the ride that sealed the deal just over an hour later, on Neorealism in the G1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
There’s potential for the 33-year-old to rack up a few more points this weekend as well, with two important Group 1s at Sha Tin, the Chairman’s Sprint Prize and the Champions Mile, in which he rides hot favourite Rapper Dragon.
Of course it’s not only a big weekend in Hong Kong - there are events at Churchill Downs and Newmarket that could have just as much currency in the TRC rankings. Moore, particularly, has a great opportunity to improve his position as he rides the favourites in both the 2,000 Guineas (Churchill) and the 1,000 Guineas (Rhododrendon) at the British track.
Click here for a list of the week’s biggest points gainers.
Click here for a list of the week’s group and graded winners.