Especially these days, without an emotional attachment with anything, nothing is going anywhere.

An emotional attachment is also something that’s indefinable. It’s either there or it isn’t.

It’s probably what’s ailing music these days. Very often that emotional attachment with a song or an artist is just not there. It’s something very different to popularity.

Popularity of anything on today’s online platforms creates a herd mentality. It’s like pressing that “like” button, but not knowing why.

“Liking” something has actually lost all relevance. It’s become online politeness not unlike saying, “Thank you for coming”.

When it comes to horse racing, depending on where one is in the world, there will be an emotional attachment for many with the horse. But in a city like Hong Kong with no farms, no breeding industry and no one “born to ride”, any emotional attachment with the pastime has to almost always have to do with winning. It’s all about financial rewards and a return on time and investment.

This is what all too often takes over from everything else and paints horse racing into a corner and keeps it in its own bubble.

This is what the mainstream media sees and which is then passed on to sponsors and those with a life outside of the racing bubble.

So when someone like jockey Joao Moreira comes along, there’s suddenly a new and different likability factor.

Many of us like what we see in him, because there’s something that resonates with us. There’s a chain reaction of happiness.

There will always be the prestige of being a champion, but not all champions are popular. This is what makes the Brazilian Magic Man so special. He is what he is and we like it. Even his imperfections are accepted. No one is keeping score of these.

Last Sunday at Shatin and on Hong Kong Derby day, the magic and drawing power of Joao Moreira was front and centre.

Yes, he rode three winners on the day. So did Zac Purton, who is just as brilliant a jockey while there were others who rode winners.

None, however, I am certain, made that connection with the casual racing fan like Joao Moreira.

Sure, winning the Derby and all the emotions that spilled over said much about what this meant to him and trainer Caspar Fownes- and which had much to do with the importance of family for both. There was more. Or, let’s say, there was an additional emotional layer.

Maybe, in our own ways, we identified with what was it all meant to Joao and Cas.

For myself, it made me think about my family and what’s no longer there.

Away from this, watching Joao’s personal relief and infectious celebration after the win, plus he and Cas sharing that very personal moment about the journey they had taken together to get to this point, made one think of life journeys and where they’ve led. And with whom.

Horse racing is described by many as being “one dimensional” and “parochial”. It often is.

On March 21,2021 at Shatin, something magical happened.

At least for myself, it changed how I feel about what is a pastime. There was suddenly that emotional attachment to it that I had not felt. Ever.

Some will understand what I am saying and others won’t. That’s fine.

Just as I have known Caspar long enough not to ask about what he and I already know, it’s about appreciating the various moments that happened on Sunday and making them last and matter in our daily lives.

It’s about the unspoken word. This speaks the loudest. And with greater honesty.


Photo courtesy @wallacewanck

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