Paul Mulrennan column: The Magic Man Joao Moreira is simply a natural

By Paul Mulrennan
Fri 10 Aug 2018

Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup is something a little different and gives the public the chance to see some of the top riding talent in the world.

And Ascot have secured one of the best, if not the best, in the shape of “the magic man” Joao Moreira.

I did ride against Joao in a South African jockey’s challenge a few years back and the first thing to say is, what a nice fella he is; absolutely charming.

On the track, he came across as a complete natural. So, what makes him stand out? In answering that, you just need to look at other great sportspeople. What makes Ronaldo so special, for instance? Well, it’s difficult to put your finger on one particular aspect other than he looks like he has a gift and was born to play football.

Similarly, Joao looks like he was born to ride. Of course you need hard work to complement natural talent, and I have no doubt he works as hard as anyone, but just look at Joao’s balance and poise on a horse. It’s great to watch.

He’s bulletproof. He’s great from the gates, has a precision-like clock in his head, and is as strong as anyone in a finish. He’s also got the perfect temperament. He’s a cool customer, who doesn’t get ruffled, much like Ryan Moore.

Gerald Mosse is another rider on show and we’ve been treated to some great displays from the Frenchman. For any apprentice learning his trade, please take a look at his ride on Sir Dancealot at Goodwood last week in the video below.

He never panicked and never picked up his stick. It was perfection. He’s 51 and riding as well as ever. It shows what you can do if you look after your body and mind.

I’ll be watching on from Ireland where I’m spending some time with family, and it’s typical that Michael Dods’ horses are running out of their skin while I’m injured!

It’s great for the yard though and he should have some winners this weekend.

Mister Belvedere is a horse Michael has always rated and he gave him one of his best days as a trainer, when daughter Sophie won the Queen Mother Cup on him at York in June.

I rode him subsequently at York, where he was second to the useful Pacify, and he’s back in a lady riders’ race – the Smarkets Ladies' Trophy Handicap at Haydock Park – which will suit him.

Kolossus runs in the QTS In The Community EBF Novice Stakes at Ayr. He’s had two runs on the all-weather and shaped with real promise. He’s a nice big horse with a bright future and looks like he’ll be a better horse on grass.

Later on the card, look out for Reinforced, who lines up in the Gas Sure & James Frew Handicap. He loves it at Ayr and won there last time. He’s only been raised 3lb and he’d have as good a chance as any.

Finally, Mark Johnston is fast approaching the landmark of winning-most trainer in Britain. What an unbelievable achievement. I’ve always enjoyed riding for him although we’ve only really teamed up in recent years.

Mark likes to keep it simple with his horses and the directions from him are just to ride the horse where he’s at his most comfortable and happy.

He keeps his horses fit and healthy and lets them run on the track rather than at home on the gallops, which is what owners want to see. It’s a great set-up and business and the perfect blueprint for a successful training yard.

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