THAT GUYON AND AMBITIOUS DRAGON DRIVE THEM
AROUND THE MERCEDES-BENZ
The HKJC’s Tracksider Clint Hutchison called it a “nice ride”. Talk about an understatement! And what on earth was that reference to its sire- Pins- all about??? It almost sounded like a put-down of a very good sire and a loopy and uninformed comment.
As for the “nice ride”, mate, it was an AWESOME performance by both jockey and horse- truly awesome, amazing and also cheeky with a certain degree of sheer “likeable” French arrogance to it.
When the John Moore-trained Xtension, drawn barrier one, hit the front and jockey Jeff Lloyd put everything into getting it home, Maxime Guyon on Ambitious Dragon- and from barrier 14- almost ambled next to it. There was no wild Yahoo-ride-em-cowboy-wild-whipping involved at all.
It was all very je ne sais quoi and almost nonchalant- despite many of us at Shatin feeling the after-shocks of a major earthquake that hit the Philippines.
While the experienced Lloyd grimaced and gritted and whipped his charge, Guyon, who flew in earlier that morning and flew out later that night to ride more winners in France, almost dismissed his fellow jock’s determination and was already half-standing up in his irons and looking towards the grandstands as if to say, “See? I told you so” and when, a month ago, he declared that this horse WILL win the Hong Kong Derby.
Now, with the horse aimed for the QE Cup, Guyon has declared it a truly International Group One horse- “200%”. He might look like a baby-faced assassin, but Maxime Guyon is a truly 200% International class jockey- and unassuming.
In fact, someone no less than master trainer Andre Fabre is said to believe that Guyon is the best riding talent to emerge in the past twenty years- and how Hong Kong is the best “breeding ground” for this incredible young talent and where he has to compete with the world’s best, each with different riding styles. That’s one HUGE call from Andre Fabre, and who’s to argue? He has seen and worked with the best.
When Guyon and Ambitious Dragon blew his rivals away on his way to winning the Hong Kong Derby and stood up in his irons, it somehow reminded us of the sheer arrogant brilliance of Eric Saint Martin- when he was in the mood.
Saint Martin was part genius and part chip-on-the shoulder and a totally loopy character. He could have been anything.
As for Hong Kong’s “most open Derby”, it was suddenly a one-act affair and with many, in hindsight, perhaps, over-thinking and over-rating the ability of some of the others horses in the race: They were and are in a different class to this magnificent racehorse trained to the minute by the somewhat underrated- and also unassuming- Tony Millard, aided and abetted by his closely-knit team and which goes so well for this jockey.
The local press better start giving Millard his just dues as the man is a VERY smart trainer and we are big fans as to how he uses the best possible jockeys to suit his horses.
The partnership of Guyon and Ambitious Dragon is One and has the same type of mutual respect there was between Felix Coetzee and Silent Witness, Glen Boss and Makybe Diva, and Mick Kinane and Sea The Stars.
Some have come up with a few sad stories about some of the runners, but, apart from what happened to Jackobee, these sound like clutching at straws that don’t exist.
Apart from Xtension, they were simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH and Little Bridge taking its place in the Derby was a ridiculous move by the owners of the horse and the trainer. It borders on animal cruelty. The horse lost by OVER 45 LENGTHS and let’s hope all is well with the horse. If not, someone should pay for this shameful display of greed.
Sure, it would have been interesting to see how John Moore’s Destined For Glory might have gone, but being first reserve, we never saw what it MIGHT have been able to do. So, those in the Moore corner who keep telling us how he would have given the winner a “real race”, stop: We’ll never know and one doubts very much it would have even made a dent on the force and acceleration of Ambitious Dragon.
Some have also told us how Guyon had to make a few decisions and how it could have gone “the wrong way”. Exceptional jockeys are able to make split-second decisions- often the right ones. It’s part of racing and so is “good luck”- especially in a race such as the Derby.
To us, Guyon knew exactly what he was doing and any “decision” he made during the course of the race and if someone gave him “a cart into the race”, so be it. He wasn’t “lucky”. He was smart- very smart and this was not a “lucky win” or “lucky ride”.
The truth is that the jockey knew EXACTLY what he had under him, which buttons to press and when to go into over-drive. He didn’t HAVE to go into over-drive. He went into Coast Mode and the horse and jockey made the others look ordinary.
At no point was the horse going to lose the race. If the horse was a car, yes, it would be a Mercedes-Benz and with probably a Ferrari engine inside.
If Mercedes-Benz, the sponsors of the race, need a new advertising campaign, well, it’s staring them in the face: Style, acceleration and horse power is alive and well with Maxime Guyon and Ambitious Dragon.
The same experience, professionalism and pushing the creative envelope that has gone into training this champion race horse has gone into producing every new model of a Benz.
MOORE NOT SO MERRY
Derby Day started out in shambles when three horses were withdrawn in race 2 and with John Moore’s stable jockey Darren Beadman injuring his ankle behind the barriers and having to forfeit his rides.
It was a cruel blow to the champion horseman who, on paper, had a stranglehold on the Jockeys Challenge plus the plum Derby ride on Xtension.
Xtension lost nothing in defeat with Jeff Lloyd jumping on it as a last minute replacement. The horse and rider simply came up against a freak. Wait, two freaks- Ambitious Dragon AND Maxime Guyon.
As for the John Moore stable which was expected to come out with all guns firing as they normally do on these big racing days, it largely shot blanks. Nothing seemed to go right though the stable did have two winners, one ridden by apprentice Vincent Ho and the other by Damien Oliver who was in town for the ride on Military Moves in the Derby.
For a few minutes there we thought that John Moore needed to do what jockeys are “requested” to do by superstitious owners when luck is not on their side: Shave their heads. Then we thought about it again: John Moore HAS no hair to shave. At least on the top of his head.
Moore had also shot himself in the foot by going on television and declaring that two of his runners- Mighty High and Captain Sweet- WILL win their respective races. The two hot pots didn’t.
Confidence is one thing- and we admire this trait in people. But, we are talking about horse racing and where “sure winners” are an oxymoron.
Talk softly and carry a big stick, “Jungle” John. Only younger brother Gary, pictured below, can come up with lofty talk and which is always forgiven ‘cos, well, as we all say, “Gary is Gary”.
INTRODUCING…CLAMBO, THE RACINGB*TCH TIPPING MACHINE.
Racingbitch is expanding its horizons and we have had requests for wannabe tipsters. One of them wishes to go by the name of Clambo.We have no idea why. A liking for clams? And Rambo?
The reason we like this person is that he is the NEW breed of punter racing needs.
Clambo is not based in Hong Kong- yet he follow Hong Kong racing. And knows it inside out and is passionate about it.
Below is what he sent us before the Derby Day meting and which we had no time to publish.
Yes, some of his tipping might have been a little askew, but the guy knows what he is talking about and will become part of the Racingbitch Global Team.
If you have anything to say, something to tip, talk to us, baby. Okay? Meanwhile, over to Clambo…
Race 3 The Premier Plate: #2 MIGHTY HIGH may look unbeatable at first glance but I think there are a few chinks in his armour. Mighty High disappointed some when he only ran 3rd in the G1 Gold Cup.
The high expectations were inspired by Mighty High’s performance in the G3 Jebsen Centenary Vase, when he cleared out to beat #3 SIGHT WINNER by 3 lengths. But horses found it difficult to make ground that day, which combined with the slow pace to help Sight Winner (who pulled and was wide without cover for 600m) stick on for 2nd and doom horses like King Dancer, Jamesina, and Jacobee.
I suspect Mighty High ran similarly in the two races, but simply didn’t get conditions to suit in the Gold Cup.
On Sunday, Mighty High has an awkward draw and meets Sight Winner worse at the weights. Expect the John Size runner to put up a fight, but he will likely find it tough to win anyways.
The small field means that lightly weighted back-markers #6 SAPELLI and #7 JAMESINA won’t have as much ground to make up. Sapelli always has a withering sprint but Jamesina is also capable if the pace is on, which it might be here.
Just three races ago Jamesina was half a length behind Mighty High (who did pull in the run), and the start prior he carried top weight to beat Sapelli and finish a neck behind the winner Jacobee.
The query horse is #4 MULTIGLORY. He seemingly had no excuse last race, but Tony Cruz has stepped him up in trip regardless. Perhaps there was a minor issue that the stable has been able to keep quiet.
RACINGBITCH: Mighty High was John Moore’s “sure thing” and was beaten by the lightly weighted Sapelli.
Race 4: #3 DISPATCHER is a quality horse who will be very hard to beat but there are many place chances, including a few interesting ones who may fly under the radar. #7 GOLD WINNER ran well behind a runaway winner last start. He was 3 wide the whole race and stuck on to finish only 2 lengths off second-placed Fortune Together.
Gold Winner was a miler in Ireland (he ran 3rd in a 2 year old race where Mr Medici ran 2nd, and beat home Euro Swiftly as a 3yo), so the step up in trip will suit. #14 POLYGOLD is a bit unreliable, but he ran his last 400m in 22.8s last race, and should be a chance. The race should be run to suit as well. #1 SAMMY’S FALCON has been wide his last two races.
RACINGBITCH: Dispatcher won.
Race 8 The Hong Kong Derby: This is an intensely difficult race to forecast as it’s filled with run-on horses and unknown quantities, so I’ll just talk about a horse that particularly interests me. #12 TREASURE LANDS doesn’t have a great turn-of-foot but he has shown early speed overseas and in trials here. He should be handy and run strongly to the wire if he gets a decent run.
He didn’t get a clear run in the Derby Trial, but has good 2000m form from overseas, beating hot favorite Wigmore Hall fair and square in the G1 Newmarket Stakes.
Wigmore Hall, as some of you know, recently beat two world class horses in Presvis and Poet’s Voice in Dubai, and is on track to take part in this year’s QEII Cup.
Race 10: #1 CAPTAIN SWEET is obviously the class horse but #2 FLEET COMMAND is worth a look. Last race he was 3 wide without cover, and the race prior he was held up and then severely checked when Cerise Cherry dumped Tye Angland onto the track.
Fleet Command fires up badly unless he gets cover and a decent pace, and he’ll get both this time around. The last time Fleet Command got a good run (three starts ago) Captain Sweet demolished him, but there will be a 17 lb weight swing and we know Fleet Command stays the mile so he might be worth a pop.
A LITTLE BRIDGE WAY TOO FAR
Hong Kong’s top jockey – Douglas Whyte- told the trainer of Little Bridge that having the horse attempt to run out the 2000 metres of the Hong Kong Derby was not a good idea. He trialled and horse and didn’t want a bar of it in the big race.
The horse’s regular rider- Zac Purton- was jocked off it after doing some superb work to make Little Bridge the success it has become. Perhaps the reason for losing the ride was for telling the truth: Do NOT race it in the Hong Kong Derby.
Yet, the owners and trainer Danny Shum played Mutt’n Jeff and had it go around.It came MORE than last- if that’s possible.
Hell, it had NO chance of even running in the first TEN places. Also, if it didn’t take its place in the race, First Reserve- Destined For Greatness- could have got a start- and a horse with a proven record of running out this distance.
Okay, one can say, “if it you’re not in it, you cannot win it”, but watching Little Bridge struggle to keep up with the other horses bordered on cruelty to an animal. It came stone, motherless last and you should see the emails we have received on this subject.
The owners and the horse’s trainer should hang their heads in shame. It’s events- and people- like this that give horse racing a bad name.
JENNY CHAPMAN IS A TWIT
Yes, after years of trying to fight new technology, the HKJC’s Paddock Parade expert- Jenny Chapman- can now be followed on Twitter. Her nomme de twitter is jftpaddock.
Yes, the name reminds some of us of mandyfromthe boardroom and bambifromstilhettos, but jftpaddock is a damn fine tipster and following her could rake you some winners at real value prices.
Daniel Ng writes: Over the past few months Hong Kong racing has been plagued with many problems occurring behind the barriers. It is high time that us punters had this sorted out by the jockey club.
In recent weeks, horses definitely not afforded a fair start were declared as runners and no doubt to safeguard turnover as withdrawal and refunds affect business. However, turning a blind eye to all this means highway robbery to the average punter!
On Derby Day, it was like the gods smiled on us for weeks of barrier rogues not doing their jobs properly behind the barriers. How can a horse BEHIND the barrier drop the jockey and take off WITHOUT its saddle? How many incidents WERE there behind the barrier?
How can a superb world class organisation like the HKJC have so many things go wrong on one of the most important days of its racing calendar? Someone should be fired for these amateurish mistakes one expects from a picnic race meetings!
MORE J.LO JELLO
For those who have asked for more pics of J-Lo’s mighty fine derriere, here we go, PLUS the video for her new single.
OH DEAR! JOHN YUEN AND ANOTHER ANABAA BAA
Oh, dear, owner John Yuen bought a new horse- by Anabaa- at the ultra-successful Hong Kong Sales over the weekend.
Wonder who will have the dubious “honour” of training this one.
For those who don’t know, Yuen is the fung shui-led owner who changes jockeys and trainers as often as he changes his underpants- if he DOES change his underpants, of course.
Meanwhile, we really hope the loon does the right thing and retires former champion Good Ba Ba.