By Hans Ebert

Though the last couple of meetings were a bit like Superman being struck down by kryptonite, at least looking at his book rides, January 1, 2019 looks to be the day when The Magic Returns and Joao Moreira wins back his flock. Please, no more kryptonite!

Last Wednesday, two of the favourites he was on- sizzling hot favourites that many refused to believe could be beaten were. One was going off at $1.4.

On Saturday, two more favourites- the unremarkable Remarkable at $1.6 and the hugely unlucky favourite Raging Blitzkrieg which ran into more dead ends than a blind man whistling Dixie in the dark- had many banging their heads against the moon.

Since his return to Hong Kong after a shortened stint riding in Japan which never turned out to be the longtime career move most expected, the Brazilian Magic Man seems mortal. It’s almost as if he’s lost his mojo. While Zac Purton, Silvestre de Sousa and- hello?- Douglas Whyte are riding winners with supreme confidence with apprentices Victor Wong and Matthew Poon chipping in regularly with winners, Joao Moreira is yet to be seen as the fantastic rider that he was before that hasty exit to Japan- equal parts Houdini, Moses and the Cisco Kid.

It was interesting to listen to a now retired world famous jockey describe many riders in Japan as “cowboys”, how Christophe Lemaire made an error of judgment on favourite Rey de Oro in the recent running of the Arima Kinen, and that Joao Moreira is back to face the reality of riding against some of the best in the world instead of only competing against Lemaire.

Everyone to their opinion. What’s very noticeable, however, especially in that strange place called Twitter, is the sudden drop in interest in news about racing in Japan by many in Hong Kong. Guess this interest was to eavesdrop on how the popular magic man was doing over there- and which was very well.

If, however, a book of rides is anything to go by, this afternoon should see the return of The Cult Of Moreira. Some of the wide barriers won’t help, but since when did these prove a problem for the Brazilian?

Looking back at the races on Saturday, there were some strange results at the start of the day and some pretty pedestrian racing as the day progressed, but at least there was flamboyant Canto-pop idol and horse owner Aaron Kwok sporting new blond hair on track to lead in his latest purchase Dancing Fighter and have many at Sha Tin go into groupie overdrive.

All that screaming and swooning from Zac and Cas, below. Wow. Perhaps the HKJC should forget about giving away 40th Anniversary Photo Frames and go for Rent A Celebrity?

As for the rides and the jockeys, the LOUDEST whisper is that after he wraps things up in Britain, Silvestre de Sousa will be back in Hong Kong on a permanent basis. And what about the recent run of form of Douglas Whyte? The man moves in mysterious ways. Keeps everyone on their toes.

He and John Moore have formed a potent combination- 11 winners for Whyte from 55 rides for Jungle John- and no doubt already in the planning stages even when Tommy Berry was in Hong Kong, supposedly as John John’s stable jockey.

The Moore Whyte bromance has yielded regular winners- and always at decent odds. Of course, all this is leading to something and word is that The Big Scoop will apparently be revealed in April. The choreographed moves have been superb and executed with Hair Trigger precision.

Whyte should be amongst the winners again with Lakeshore Eagle, Born In China, Monica, Summer Passage, Encouraging and- hello- Hair Trigger. They might not win, but could add value to Quartet bets. Who would have thought? Backing Douglas Whyte for value like we once did…Ben So when he rode anything for David Hall???

Elsewhere, being masochists, we watched the HKJC’s own version of Thunderbirds Are Go- Racing But To Where?- on fast forward. Still we did notice that Amigo Brett is somewhere in Margaritaville leaving race caller Tom Wood to deputise for him. Woody, a New Zealander, is making the most of it and seems to be auditioning for the role of Roger Moore playing James Bond.

Visions of Roger Moore and that genteel and veddy veddy Pom de Garçon accent cut through the air. It made for quite a strange aural juxtaposition with Amigo Paul mentioning a few times how Yichun Blitz (7) in the fourth likes to have his legs in the air.

Octopussy, anyone?

Happy New Year! Make it count. Make it matter. Always carry those special memories with those no longer with us. Be grateful for knowing them. They’ll never pass this way again. Neither will we.

#HKracing #HKJC #JoaoMoreira #ZacPurton #DouglasWhyte #JohnMoore #HappyNewYear #2019