Brilliant jockey Joao Moreira is set to leave Hong Kong racing at the end of the season in a bid to ride full-time in Japan.
Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported that the Brazilian superstar has withdrawn his application to ride in Hong Kong in the 2018-19 season.
Moreira has enjoyed tremendous success since moving to Hong Kong in 2013 and has won the country's last three jockeys' championships.
“This was such a difficult decision and I want to thank all of the people in Hong Kong racing for what has been an amazing five seasons, but it is time to move on,” Moreira told The South China Morning Post.
The Hong Kong season ends on July 15 and the 34-year-old will then focus on preparing for tests in an effort to gain a full-time Japanese licence.
It's difficult for overseas jockeys to gain full-time licences in Japan. French jockey Christophe Lemaire and Italian Mirco Demuro are the only overseas riders who currently ride in in the country on a permanent basis.
Gaining approval for a temporary stint is much easier and Moreira will also apply for a short-term licence.
Moreira will have to pass two tests - one written exam and one verbal interview - in order to fulfil his goal of making Japan his home base.
“From what I understand, it’s an extremely difficult process and I will have to be at my best," Moreira said.
Moreira, nicknamed the "Magic Man", is in the midst of a tight battle with Australian Zac Purton for the 2017/18 Hong Kong premiership.
As things currently stand, Moreira has ridden 116 winners for the season and holds a one-win lead over Purton.