We don’t quite know what Brian Stevenson, Chairman of the HKJC, Wini and Mr. Bill- and the horses, jockeys, owners and trainers- will think about it all, but when “Music Rocks The Valley” tonight at Happy Valley racecourse as part of its ongoing Happy Wednesday campaign at the track’s Beer Garden, that “bridge too far” between current and hardcore race-goers and the next generation of POSSIBLE race-goers will take one mighty big leap for racingkind.
It will be like the Moon Landing, but underneath the stars and with galloping hooves as percussion.
Already, this Happy Wednesday has turned into a MUST ATTEND event. Remember the saying, Be there, or be square? Okay, now forget it, daddy-o.
AlivenotDead, the hip Hong Kong social networking site behind the event has assembled its troops and the troops have assembled their troops and social network marketing has caused a viral and ripple effect: Tweets have been sent, and tweets about the tweets have been re-tweeted.
Bloggers have blogged about the event with at least one blogger- local singer Race Wong- having over 1.5 million followers. Get that new record out, Race- an apt name to blog about this event.
Race Wong ponders:”I am Race and I might go to the races, so what should I blog about?”
As for the HKJC, it is getting all of this promotion and marketing for FREE and without resorting to poxy ads no one in this age group will look at once, let alone, twice.
Yes, and that’s ‘cos they are, indeed, more alive than dead and “ads” are a thing of the past.
We are not sure about some of the music and musicians as Hong Kong does not exactly have a “thriving music scene”, BUT we admire the balls to create an event like this- there are two more to come over the next two Wednesdays- and not some annual carnival for old codgers to perv at a few pretty young things and then leave the rest of the racing calendar barren and besieged by cobwebs.
Events staged by old codgers FOR old codgers are turn-offs to the very group of people racing clubs are trying to attract: All that leching by the pervs old enough to be their grandfathers means these newbies will never return to race-tracks- even on an irregular basis.
What for? They have more and more choices every day where their own age groups hang out and racing clubs better wake up,smell the horse dung, understand this, work with those who understand this and DO something about it other than lob a few soft speeches here and there.
The HKJC might do a some things very wrong, but with their Happy Wednesday events and with “Music Rocks The Valleys” and how the Happy Valley track and its Beer Garden is being used to attract this younger demographic, they are winners and not wieners.
It is smart, strategic marketing which can only grow- and MUST now be taken online and with apps created around all this “good stuff”.
The Happy Valley track can be seen as being a willing “guinea pig” in an effort to woo a target market which few- even themselves- can figure out.
So, while racing at Shatin remains “serious” and for the “form followers”, Happy Valley is all about positioning horse racing as a fun place to be and be seen and understanding that horse racing does not just attract old men with a toothpick between their gold teeth, a radio to their ear and reading “form” from a crumpled old newspaper while gnawing on a fried chicken wing.
Sure, they still exist, but they stay in their own “space” and horse racing, today, is about attracting all sorts and keeping the good, younger sorts in a class and place of their own as they slowly- or quickly- understand the intricacies of horse racing and make up their own minds if they wish to be part of it.
They cannot be force-fed. Do that and they’ll spit it out.
If they like what they see- and hear- they’ll be back every week and with more and more of their mates.
OUR HAPPY WEDNESDAY TIPSTERS SIX-UP FOR THE NIGHT
Apart from snagging the over HK$12,000 Six Up last week for an outlay of only $640, what readers who followed our picks were quick to point out is that the bets also included winning doubles plus the winning treble.
What can we say except onwards and upwards.
According to our fledgling group of tipsters- and who are quickly learning about form and handicapping and which jockeys suit which horses and why “horses for courses” is an appropriate saying as some horses are real duffers in Shatin, but LOVE the Happy Valley track.
One of these “Happy Valley specialists” is running tonight- Noble Conqueror in Race 7.
Though carrying the top weight and drawn barrier 10- not usually a good barrier- the horse hates being crowded for room and always runs its own race- from any barrier. It is a MUST to include in all bets.
Also, remember that Hong Kong’s Champion Jockey, Douglas Whyte, starts a suspension after today’s races and he’ll be out trying to sniff out a winner.The aptly named I Smell Money might just be the one.
There is also a horse going around and which was fancied a few weeks ago called Just Chill.
With just-turned 21- top apprentice Vincent CY Ho on it, it could very well make amends for its flop last start.
Tonight’s Six Up should pay over $12,000 and could be, as they say, “a trappy affair”.
Remember now, a Six Up is in six designated races, starting with race 3, and where any of the horses picked MUST run first OR second.
If all run first, you win the Six Up Bonus- and which can be muchos dolleros.
If on the other hand some run first, the others run second or they all even run second, you’re in line for the “regular” Six Up payout- and which can still pay muchos dolleros.
RACE 3:2,4,5,6, 8; RACE 4: 4,11 RACE 5: 3,5;RACE 6:5,7; RACE 7:1; RACE 8:1 12.
TOTAL: $800 FOR A $10 SIX UP TICKET/$400 FOR A $5 SIX UP TICKET.
NOTE: YOU CAN EVEN TAKE THE BET FOR AS LOW $2 IF YOU JUST WISH TO SEE HOW THIS “GAME” IS PLAYED.
POUR MOI?MORE LIKE, POURQUOI, MATE?
Perhaps Ryan Moore had a right to be aggrieved at some of the rides in the Derby and which might have put a dent on the chances of his ride on the Queen’s horse and Epsom Derby favourite Carlton House.
Moore is probably the best International jockey in the world today and he should know what he had to deal with during a race.
“Harry, are you looking at Grandma’s horse?” “Nah, Will’s, I am studying the form of that French filly in the mini”.
As for the latest controversy involving the enigmatic Kieron Fallon and with a court injunction stopping him from taking his place and on a ride in the big race, well, what can we say?
Was it his competitive spirit getting the better of him? Or his Irish temper? Or ego? Or just like another brilliant jockey who has turned in his silks- Eric Saint Martin- was it his I-can’t give-a-flying-fuck-cos-I-am-Kieron-fucking-Fallon attitude?
Fallon is a brilliant jockey and love him or loathe him, one cannot ignore him and he is the closest person horse racing has to Rock’n Roll. And like many in Rock’n Roll, the man is self-destructive and with an addictive nature.
For the record, we are huge fans of Fallon, the jockey and the “bad boy” personality he brings to a sport made up of mainly pretty dull jockeys severely lacking in IQ and EQ levels over, let’s say, 40.
“Fook ’em all.”
But in all of this drama, let’s not forget the win of the French raider Pour Moi, the training efforts of Andre Fabre to win his first Epsom Derby and the ride of 19-year-old Mickael Barzalona.
It was a superbly confident ride one which one would expect from Ryan Moore. Or Fallon- when on song.
Sure, there was the youthful exuberance when he stood up in his irons right before the winning post, but, hell, he had just won the Epsom Investec Derby- at such a young age.
Is he already “the new” Maxime Guyon? As Fabre is concerned, we would have to say, “Oui, oui”.
In recent months, something about the Guyon-Fabre relationship seems to have soured or gone slightly wobbly.
As for the coverage of the races at Epsom, they were, as always, shockingly bad.
Nothing has changed in decades in UK horse racing when it comes to camera angles, providing race-goers with information etc. It has remained “The Sport Of Kings” despite many monarchies either dying or a dead species.
People wearing silly hats is all fine, but in an age where technology is so important and has impacted all sports, the coverage of horse racing in the UK trudges along like some tired old jumper barely able to make it over the first hurdle.
Watching the races from Hong Kong and with some of us watching them in Oz, there were no numbers at the bottom of the screen, for example, to tell us who was where in the race, who was who and what the hell was winning or losing, and what the hell was happening.
This, we understand is the fault/negligence/stupidity of the broadcasters in the UK.
However, at least in Hong Kong, having ZERO information on the odds of the horses in the UK and which REALLY mattered when wondering how “the home side” was betting, well, this was sloppy stuff and not the least bit helpful to anyone.
It could have been an old dears’ knitting club watching telly and having a cuppa and saying, “Oooooh, I like that horse” or, “Oooooh, isn’t Ryan Moore supposed to be good AND he’s riding the Queen’s horse, so let’s have a bet on him.”
Back in the ATV studios, Jerry Greene and Clint Hutchison- are they TWINS?- seemed just as lost: The audio from the UK kept dropping out, there were confusing stills of the photo finishes with lines across them which even they had a hard time understanding – and then, right before a replay of the big race- the channel- as usual- cut to the news.
Again, we ask, what is the POINT of showing these big races on this local terrestrial channel when, by law, it needs to cut to the news for 15 minutes, and racing enthusiasts ALWAYS lose out on seeing what they stay home for or stay awake to watch- the main race?
Who wants to watch it 15-30 minutes AFTER the race has been run? There’s the internet for that and with the entire race already uploaded onto YouTube or the results tweeted or sent via text.
Doesn’t anyone “do the maths” and check on this BEFORE these “simultaneous broadcasts” are aired and paid for?
It’s all a bit like closing the barnyard door after the horse has bolted.
After these few amateur hours and some guest “tipping”- well a slide with a few numbers from David Oughton and, jeez, Wendyl Woods- came the local programme, Racing To Whinge aka Racing To Win.
Seriously, it looked like it was filmed in a hangar- and with a junior “design” student responsible for the “set”.
Hosts Darren “The Tin Man” Flindell and Brett “The Scarecrow” Davis were seated with a chasm between them as wide as the Atlantic Ocean as they screamed out their tips to each other.
Perhaps they’d had a tiff? One might have been having a serious bout of body odour? It just looked “Monty Pythonequely” weird.
“I like the grey one in race 3. Okay, then- the brown one”.
At least, we woke up when “The Scarecrow” blurted out, “I guess we’ll be seeing a lot of new flesh tomorrow”- sadly, only a reference to the new horses running in Hong Kong the next day.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT…
The next day, watching the Yasuda Kinen and where the camera-work- the tracking shots of horses. the split screens etc when compared to the coverage of the Epsom Derby was like comparing the work of C Grade film director Ed Wood with the epics of Steven Spielberg- we doffed our hats in the way of “The Scarecrow”.
For days, the old boy was crowing about being a fan of Real Impact, the eventual winner of the race- a 3-year-old taking on the 4-year-olds and for the first time in the history of the running of the Cup beating them and at odds of over 40s in Japan. In fact, “The Scarecrow” tipped the over 100 to 1 quinella.
“Dorothy, come sit on my face and let me tell you about the deep impact I have on people?”
And what about the two Hong Kong “raiders”- Thumbs Up and Beauty Flash- both well under the odds in Hong Kong compared to what they were paying in Japan?
Well, nothing really. Thumbs Up was more Thumbs Down and Beauty Flash was more of a Beauty Flush, both horses not exactly ridden to perfection or to compete with the “Japanese style of racing” and both coming up empty-handed as the cupboard was bare.
Perhaps, they are and were simply overrated as, to be frank, we didn’t give either any chance, neither did the Japanese racing fans, and we never saw them anywhere in the race.
MOSSE, LE GRANDE SWORDMAN, SCORES BIG [AGAIN]!
While his regular Hong Kong ride- Beauty Flash- with Weichong Marwing on its back struggled to finish ninth in the Yasuda Kinen, Gerard “The Parrot” aka “The Swordsman” Mosse must have had a wry smile on his face and would have been thinking, ” Oui, mon petit choux, I made the right choice to stay here and not go all the way to Japan to come ninth, bab-aaay.”
No, Mosse, stayed home in France to ride Reliable Man at Chantilly in The Prix du Jockey Club- the French Derby- for Alain de Royer Dupre and which gave the trainer his sixth win in the Classic. Tres formidable, indeed.
It was a magnificent ride by Mosse, still one of the great Big Race jockeys in the world, though, having watched replays of the race, the horse we will be following outta it will be third place-getter and the favourite for the race- Beraan- which missed the start and thundered home.
If it were to meet Reliable Man again, we are betting that the tables will be reversed.
As for Mosse, what more can we say?
The jockey is, very simply, tres magnifique- and we reckon he knows that as he exudes such French flair and confidence and it is there to be seen in each of his rides- on and, we hear, off the track.
ONLY A SONOFABITCH WILL SUPPORT THE MACAU CANIDROME
We have to admit that with all the casinos in Macau and the little bit of horse racing it continues to toss out, greyhound racing in the former Portuguese enclave must have closed down.
But a very revealing- and sickly- portrayal of the Macau Canidrome in the Sunday Post shows that the venue is still continuing with greyhound racing and attracting just a handful of rabid punters. The story turned our stomachs.
The story and its revelation about the culling of perfectly healthy greyhounds- up to one a day- being put down after not winning their first five or six races was wretched stuff to read.
Right now, petitions from Animal Rights Groups in China, Macau and Hong Kong have been sent to Prime Minister Julia Gillard asking that the export of greyhounds from Australia- the main source of “product” for this sport- be stopped immediately.
Hong Kong’s antiquated anti-rabies laws prevent these dogs from even being adopted and Macau has now taken over three years to come up with some form of law, but Macau being Macau, nothing ever gets done in that sorry little place in the world. So, the greyhounds get anaethesised. Or far worse.
We visited the so-called Macau Canidrome many years ago and were shown how the greyhound handlers made sure some dogs were made to limp out of their stalls like cripples and how to “win”- a transparent attempt for us to become greyhound owners. We declined.
The Macau Canidrome is owned by “Doctor” Stanley Ho, the Macau casino magnate, and horse owner who was recently embroiled in a huge lawsuit against his family and quite a few past wives and their daughters who were, allegedly, trying to swindle the old man outta his billions.
He and his lawyer even resorted to going onto YouTube to fight the good fight and which, eventually, fizzled out.
Stanley Ho is in la-la-land and one has to wonder if he even knows that he still has this canidrome and knows what goes on behind its tacky walls. Or if he really cares.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
It was good to see former apprentice Derek KC Leung- he only lost his claim last Wednesday- ride the first winner of the day on Sunday as a senior rider- at odds of over 20s.
Leung is an apprentice we rated very highly and despite all the media space given to Matthew Chadwick, this was the kid we have always expected good things from. And like the immortal Adam Ant once sang, he will “Stand And Deliver.
What was interesting about this race was that Leung won it, and other kids filled the next three places- Chadwick, new kid in town Alvin “Chipmunk” Ng and Keith ML Yeung.
With over 800 rides behind him in New Zealand, the ten-pound claiming Ng has had more experience than any other apprentice in Hong Kong- and it showed when he won his first winner of his career in Hong Kong in race 2 for Dennis Yip, the trainer to whom he is indentured, and with a good ding-dong battle with Darren Beadman, no less, for part of the way up the straight.
The media mobbed the jock when he entered the winning stall and it was good to see his mentor in New Zealand- Lance Noble- and his wife- there to share in the celebrations.
“Chipmunk” aka Alvin Ng was back amongst the winners a few races later when he led all the way on another one.
“He’s led on both,” said some. “He can only ride this way and make use of his claim. ”
Please, give the kid a bloody chance. It was his first race meeting, plus his first-ever ride- and win- on a dirt track, so, let time and experience do the rest.
HEAVY IS THE HEAD THAT WEARS THE CROWN
The same race meeting was not so kind on Champion Jockey Douglas Whyte. On paper, according to the pundits, Whyte had at least 5 winning chances, maybe even seven, and was sent out a HK$1.25 favourite to win the day’s Jockeys Challenge.
He did manage to scrape home with a win in the last race aboard the VERY good Real Specialist for John Size. But other hot pots like Unique Jewellery- UNBEATABLE to most- and Mandarin which we potted- capitulated and dropped out like deflated balloons as millions of losing win tickets made that sad trek to that loser’s stairway to heaven.
Worse, Whyte copped a two-day ban for this ride on National Treasure whereas Darren Beadman was questioned so many times by the Stipes over his rides that it made our heads spin.
What did surface in the Supreme Jewellery race was that the favourite over-raced- fiercely- and with Whyte trying to settle it and lead at all costs so as to get to the fence.
While all this was sending shock waves amongst the punters who took the short win-odds on the horse, came the run of a first-starter for trainer Michael Chang named Longwah Supreme.
Ridden by Olivier Delouze, it toyed with the opposition like a cat would a dead mouse and won by a yawning five lengths and seldom have we seen such arrogance in winning a race. This is some horse.
After all the agony and ecstasy the very popular Delouze has gone through because of the weirdo whims of that idiotic owner of Good Ba Ba where was on the horse, then off, then on, then off, then on, he deserves to hold on to this one.
Olivier Delouze- apart from many claiming him to be the best-groomed and, er, “best smelling” jockey riding in Hong Kong- Brett Prebble is in a photo-finish for this award- when he’s on song, his French chansons are very sweet and he racked up a double with another great ride later on in the day on John Moore’s Able Speed.
“Racing heroes always like to win!” What the hell does this MEAN and has anyone who speaks English at the HKJC listened to this and other horrific radio spots the club produces?
The one where a strong American voice-over talent was used to promote the recent “J’aime France” French promotion and listening to a drawl yakking about “GEM” was truly, as the French would say, merde.
DAVID FERRARIS AND ALL ABOUT HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW
If trainer David “The Hoarse Whisperer” Ferraris didn’t have such a great head of hair, we’d be advising him to follow the fung shui practice of shaving it all off to get rid of his bad luck.
This season has been one helluva one for the straight-talking South African trainer: His legendary father- trainer Ormond Ferraris suffers a heart attack in South Africa, David quickly jets out to be by his bedside and while all this is happening, the Hong Kong rumour mill revs up: “David Ferraris is not returning”, “He packed his bags and has done a runner” etc.
Hong Kong owners, like the lemmings many are, then started to move horses with him to other stables and with the bigger stables picking and choosing what they wanted. All the while, in the background, Pat Boone sang, “The Theme From Exodus”.
It’s racing and it has happened everywhere and will continue to happen to everyone involved in the sport and David Ferraris has taken it on his chin- and his fine crop of hair- though his disdain for many can be felt and heard when speaking to him.
“It’s like me having to prove myself all over again and if this is what it takes, so be it,” he told us- this from the same trainer who once trained champion Hong Kong galloper Vengeance Of Rain and whose owners also became part of the exodus and moved their new horse Affluence Of Rain to Caspar Fownes.
The funny thing is that though some trainers and those associated with certain stables have talked about how former Ferraris-trained horses now in their care were going to be “s**tting in”, this has not happened- not even with class drops and which their former trainer had been working on.
Noble Vision, for example, now trained by John Moore was meant to “s*** in”- three times- now that it’s down a class. It hasn’t- all three times.
All it’s done is throw egg in the face of young Georgie Moore who has a habit of motor-mouthing far too much. Call it naivety. Or, call it sheer stupidity by a kid desperately needing a tongue tie.
Kyara, another horse to move to Moore was another meant to “s*** in.” It managed to stagger in at odds of less that 2 to 1 and is certainly not the horse many thought it to be. Moore certainly had not, as some have rambled on, “improved it by lengths”. It won by a fucking pimple.
We understand, meanwhile, that the outspoken Ferraris has told the BROTHER of the owner of Kyara to move his “useless horse”outta his yard. He has. It, too, has gone to Moore.
As for David Ferraris, he has a potential champion in newcomer Bear Hero that has won two of his two races in Hong Kong- and in blistering fashion.
How this horse progresses and another very good young one in Sweet Orange just might be the tonic the “fung shui man” ordered to turn-around the fortunes of the trainer and have new and old owners banging down his door.
Hong Kong is a very strange and fickle place- especially, the racing world and where the memories of many local owners are short and one is only as good as the last winner trained- or ridden.
“But I still have a wonderful head of hair”.