Champion Brazilian-bred now Hong Kong-based jockey Joao Moreira has picked up a host of Group 1 rides down under this spring and will be chasing the mount on the Gai Waterhouse-trained young gun Almalad in the 2014 Cox Plate next month.
Al Maher three-year-old Almalad improved his stocks heading towards his major Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival targets with a tidy one and three-quarter length victory over Moonovermanhattan in the Group 2 Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley last Friday night.
Already a Group 1 winner against his own kind during the winter in Brisbane when holding off Brazen Beau in the J.J. Atkins (1600m) at Eagle Farm, he attempted to secure a second Group 1 victory in the Golden Rose this month.
He boxed on well when travelling on the worst part of the track at Rosehill in the 1400m Sydney showdown to run fourth behind Hallowed Crown.
Golden Rose winner Hallowed Crown is entered to race again this Saturday in the Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes at Randwick, the James & Bart Cummings-trained colt heading towards the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, November 1.
Almalad meanwhile goes down a different spring path and races next-up Saturday week, October 11, in the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m).
He’s currently occupying the second line of Caulfield Guineas betting at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $5 behind the clear $2.80 favourite Rich Enuff who also won over the weekend in the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m).
The $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 is also on the agenda for Almalad this season where he’ll be looking to emulate last year’s winner Shamal Wind who won as a three-year-old.
Futures Cox Plate odds at Ladbrokes are led by fellow Group 1 winners Fawkner ($8), Dissident ($9) and Sacred Falls ($9) while Almalad is a little further down the markets at $19.
He’s been ridden by Tommy Berry for his past four runs but former four-time champion jockey of Singapore Moreira, who moved to Hong Kong last year, could throw his hand up for the Cox Plate ride for Waterhouse.
“I want to take some trophies home and I have the right rides to do it,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
The jockey has secured a number of earlier rides for the stable including Hampton Court in this weekend’s $100,000 Listed Dulcify 3YO Quality Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick.
“I’m excited to be riding for Gai Waterhouse on Saturday and I will have a talk to her about the Cox Plate,” Moreira said.
His Epsom Handicap Day rides read very well as he is also booked to ride the Chris Waller-trained He’s Your Man in the meeting’s marquee event – the $500,000 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m).
Getting in on 53.5kg, the imported six-year-old won the Group 3 Kingston town Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on September 13 and is a top chance on the weekend to break his Group 1 duck.
“To get a call from the champion trainer in Chris Waller was great,” Moreira said.
“You have to be riding for the right people and the right horses, it is no different to Hong Kong or Singapore.
“My main ride is He’s Your Man and he has had the right preparation for a race like this one.
“I have seen him over 2000 metres last start and he has a great engine. He drops a lot in weight and I think if he brings his ‘A game’ we will be in the finish.”
Moreira is also already locked in to partner Waller’s veteran seven-year-old Our Voodoo Prince in the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18.
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