Hong Kong’s Champion Jockey Joao Moreira will fly to Dubai later this week for three rides at the Dubai World Cup meeting on Saturday, 31 March and the Brazilian ace has nominated Satono Crown in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m) as his pick.
“I would be most confident about Satono Crown,” said Moreira, who will also partner Neorealism in the Group 1 Dubai Turf (1800m) and Taiki Ferveur in the Group 2 UAE Derby (1900m, dirt). All three are trained out of Japan.
Moreira is seeking a fourth win at the meeting, having steered Hong Kong’s Sterling City (Dubai Golden Shaheen) and Amber Sky (Al Quoz Sprint) to Group 1 sprint wins at Meydan in 2014, and, last year, the Japanese filly Vivlos to victory in the Group 1 Dubai Turf.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club will simulcast seven races from the Dubai World Cup meeting, starting at 8.50pm Hong Kong time.
Moreira has partnered Satono Crown once before, to win the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin.
That was 15 months ago, and since then, the Noriyuki Hori-trained entire has annexed the Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) and placed second to the mighty Kitasan Black in October’s Group 1 Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m).
The six-year-old has also disappointed, when down the field in the Group 1 Japan Cup (2400m) and Group 1 Arima Kinen (2500m) at the end of the year, but heads into the Dubai showcase a fresh horse having not raced since. Moreira, though, believes the form of his Sha Tin win over a Coolmore heavyweight would be enough to see off his weekend rivals.
“When I rode him to win the Hong Kong Vase, that was a very impressive performance and ever since then I’ve had a high opinion of him,” Moreira said.
“If Highland Reel was in this race, he’d be favourite, and Satono Crown beat Highland Reel in the Vase, so that ability that he has, I’d have him as my best ride.”
Moreira believes his mount in the UAE Derby, Taiki Ferveur, could be something of a dark horse. The Mitsunori Makiura-trained three-year-old is a two-time winner over 1800m on dirt in Japan, and prepped with a smart second at Listed level over 1600m at Tokyo in February.
“Usually, the UAE Derby is suited to the local horses because they’re so used to that track,” Moreira said. “But what I like about the horse is that he’s used to the deep sand in Japan. Horses have to be tough to race on that sand in Japan because the tracks are very tough, and he’s been running consistently well. I have good hopes for him.”
The Brazilian ace is also looking forward to partnering Neorealism again. The rider took out last year’s Group 1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin aboard the Hori charge, and was in the plate when the chestnut placed third to Time Warp in December’s LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
But while he expressed that he will head to Dubai with confidence in all three of his Meydan mounts, he is also remaining grounded.
“We all have our feet on the ground knowing that we’re going to face some of the best horses and some of the best professionals in the world. It’s nice to be part of the game and I know I’ve got some really nice horses,” he said.
Before then, Moreira will be in Hong Kong action at Happy Valley on Wednesday (28 March) night, when he will attempt to increase his lead over Zac Purton in the title race, with his rival sidelined through suspension.