By Hans Ebert
Visit: www.fasttrack.hk

Well, this was a somewhat different dinner conversation- my lady friend and I discussing whether he should be dubbed the Magic Man or simply Aura Man.

He, of course, is star Brazilian jockey Joao Moreira who won six of the ten races at Shatin on Sunday.

To say that it was a one act affair would be doing what the rider accomplished a disservice. It was a brilliant horseman conjuring up everything from his bag of tricks. It was exciting and entertaining stuff. It was magic.

One has come to expect the unexpected from Joao Moreira. He has ridden six timers before in Hong Kong. There was even an eight timer whereas before arriving from Singapore, at one race meeting over there, he won every single race on the card. That’s real Field Of Dreams stuff.

Though not a fanatical horse racing enthusiast, my friend is a devoted Joao Moreira fan. To her, he’s a combination of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lewis Hamilton and Enrique Iglesias with some members of Menudo thrown in.

On Sunday, she had backed all six of his winners in a roll up and was explaining to me that, being a man, I didn’t understand the aura around him. Possibly true though she got the man part right.

I have met and spoken to Joao many times and find him to be charming, very charismatic and the most marketable jockey in the world bar none. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Born in São Paulo, his rags to riches story underlines Nike’s corporate ethos of Just Do It.

Yes, there’s always Frankie (Dettori), but he’s in a different league and comes from a different place. He’s like that Joni Mitchell song about seeing both sides now. He’s stared death in the face- and Dr Death blinked first- and he’s been to the top of the mountain, slid down, stayed down, raised himself up and, almost miraculously, continues to set the bar higher and higher. The man is a legend who continues to challenge himself to do better. And he does.

As for Joao Moreira, he is a brilliant rider. He is personality personified and much admired. There’s also an emotional attachment with racing fans that’s undefinable.

This was the major topic of discussion over dinner. How there’s an aura around the Magic Man and that any fung shui master would be able to see it.

My friend insists that she saw this aura the first time she met him- and which was before she met me. Good thing. There could have been a clash of auras.

Being feisty and needing backup, she called around six of her girlfriends, all around 35-37, so they could describe to me what The Joao Moreira Effect has on them. After all, I am just a man.

Simply put- but also complex- there are certain maternal instincts to The Joao Moreira Effect mixed with them liking, well, everything about him- his very much trademark low and “streamlined” riding style which is easy to pick during a race.

There’s then his open smile, his infectious joie de vivre, and the little things that mean a lot to spectators and television audiences- throwing his winning whip into the waiting hands of someone from the stable. Never being too busy to take a selfie.

On the way home, my mind was computing what it had absorbed for the past few hours. It was also me coming back to the realities of life beyond horse racing. Thinking about tomorrow. Prioritising next steps, but unsure what these might be. Or are allowed to be.

Make music? But, these days, who cares enough to listen? Make a movie? Who’ll remember it the next day? Invest in real estate or the stock market? What for, in what is pretty much a cashless society? Succeed in business? But what business? Producing designer masks? Hand sanitizers? How much money is enough?

What I was also thinking about was how this respite during dinner- all the positivity and pleasant conversation about a very special person in horse racing- had made us forget about the world in which we’re trying to survive. And just maybe how similar positivity could somehow help cure the world from everything that is ailing it at the same time.

Whether the Magic Man or Aura Man, Joao Moreira makes horse racing much more it is-and much more than winning at the track.

There’s much in what he does along with every other rider and trainer and horse that takes us to another place in space and time.

It helps us remember what good times feel like.

Horse racing should find a way to bottle this feeling. It’s in short supply.

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