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Joao Moreira fighting fit for New Year’s Day after virus left him ‘struggling to breathe’

Joao Moreira was the toast of world racing on international day on December 8 but it’s been tough going for the Brazilian since, with a stretch that can be considered lean by his standards culminating with the virus that kept him out of Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting.

After five winners at the Hong Kong International Races, Moreira has ridden only four since and is keen to hit the ground running on New Year’s Day after returning to full fitness.

“I had a virus that infected my lungs and I was struggling to breathe and throwing out so much mucous,” said Moreira, who admitted he felt progressively worse throughout last week before seeing a doctor after Saturday morning’s Happy Valley trials.

“I had headaches and fevers. Even sitting home and doing nothing I was tired. When the doctors put me out of the races obviously I wasn’t very happy but when it got to Sunday and I was feeling the way that I was, I realised that he had done the right thing.”

Four winners in the last six meetings is well below Moreira’s usual prolific output and the jockey had to sit back and watch one of the rides he forfeited on Sunday coast to victory, with Big Party producing an impressive Group Three win.

“It goes that way always. One day you have a lot of luck, another day you don’t. I’m sure there will be other days where I ride a lot of winners,” Moreira said of his recent form.

“Only one of my rides won and it was the one I thought was going to win. Big Party won as impressively as he did the start before and he seems a good horse.”

Headlining Moreira’s book on Wednesday are exciting four-year-old Champion’s Way in the Group Three Chinese Club Challenge Cup (1,400m) and Voyage Warrior in the Class Two Cherry Handicap (1,000m).

Both have been well short of their best so far this season and Voyage Warrior is yet to prove himself in Class Two after an electric start to his career saw him win three of four starts in his debut campaign.

Moreira admits he’ll have his work cut out aboard the son of Declaration Of War but he will have all the favours from gate 14 and believes the horse has plenty more to give.

“We haven’t seen the best of him yet,” the Brazilian said. “He doesn’t seem to be an easy horse to ride and manage his energy

“If I’m lucky enough to keep him calm and cool and if he brings his best, then he is definitely a winning chance.”

Champion’s Way is on a classic series path and set tongues wagging with six wins from his first seven starts last season, but has only produced a seventh and a ninth this term.

“I think he can bounce back. He seems a horse that needs a couple of runs to really regain his best form,” Moreira said.

“I’m looking forward to the race because he is a good horse and it’s just a matter of time before he puts it all together and shows how good he is.”

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