As a racehorse trainer, Andre Fabre has long been regarded as one of the best in the world by anyone who knows anything about horse racing. But more of an accolade is that his peers share this view and the respect for this legendary Frenchman is something special.
Ironically, two of the best horses in his stable today- Pour Moi and Meandre- are owned outside his main training retainer – Godolphin, who signed Fabre as part of their global racing empire about two years ago.
Under the arrangement, as we understand it, Fabre had to bid his fond Adieus to his clients, some high profile and others who had been with him for many years.
But, Fabre was allowed to train a small number of horses for an equally small number of clients, and Meandre and Pour Moi are owned by these “outside” clients. And, to further add to the irony, both horses are two of the best of their age group currently racing in the northern hemisphere.
They are also early favourites for the Arc and widely acclaimed as contenders for the coveted world champion title at the end of the racing season- and with each to be ridden by two of the most gifted young jockeys in the world- Maxime Guyon and Mikael Barzalona- and whom Fabre guards, protects and looks after just as he does his best horses.
YES, HE KAN!
From the sublime to the kinda ridiculous: Former Hong Kong Champion trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee has been charged on corruption charges by the Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC].He has pleaded not guilty.
Kan, a five-time champion trainer and known as “Hong Kong’s Cup King” has also been known for his penchant for other kind of “cups” when up on rape charges for walking out in starkers in a valiant effort to impress his domestic helper.
“I like BIG cups!”
We think he got away with a mild tap on his old fella and told to stop being a willy.
But this new case involves the 73-year-old Kan allegedly offering a HK$130,000 bribe to a village representative to buy his vote.
His arrest came two days after the executive committee election of Sheung Shui Rural Committee in which he ran unsuccessfully.
The most influential trainer of his generation, Kan is also a power figure figure in the New Territories and one of three indigenous representatives of Tsung Pak Long Village and an outspoken opponent of efforts to win inheritance rights for New Territories women in the 1990s and of a conservation are in Long Valley in 2001.
As a horse trainer, Kan was equally controversial and outspoken. His frequent altercations with General Guy Watkins when it was the ROYAL Hong Kong Jockey Club and his two-finger salute to Stewards and rules made for some great stories.
His association with stable jockeys would blow hot and cold. The few jockeys we remember who managed to get along with The Cups King included “The Babe”- the great Brent Thomson.
These were in those days when the “The Babe” always had a babe on his arm, smoked cigars and dressed like a fop- a long way from how he looks today- The Penguin.
Brent “The Babe” Thomson, pictured last week, demanding another cheeseburger.
Always a patient man, and clever enough to know when to say No, the partnership of “The Babe” and The Man Who Loved Babes was a very successful one and where Kan showed he was no wally and bought some very good horses from Ireland.
Kan was also one of the first trainers to see the potential of South African jockeys and brought out Bartie Leisher to Hong Kong, one of the most underrated Hong Kong racing success stories.
It was Leisher who opened the doors for the incredible wealth of riding talent from South Africa who have made their home and careers in Hong Kong- Basil Marcus, Anton Marcus, the brilliant Felix Coetzee who rode as stable jockey for the trainer, Anthony Delpeche, Robbie Fradd and, of course, Douglas Whyte.
Leisher was South African racing’s own “Wonder Boy’’ in the 1980s, a riding phenomenon compared in his time to the legendary American Steve Cauthen.
Not a Bay City Roller. Jockey Bart Leisher.
Leisher was fantastic and fantastically popular with local racing fans until a cruel and near-fatal fall in Hong Kong in 1989 ended his riding career when the jockey was only 27.
Bart Leisher after winning aboard the Brian Kan-trained Flying Dancer.
In recent years, Brian Kan has been a part-time trainer in Macau- “part time” as he does not attend training sessions.
His cameo appearances at Shatin in Hong Kong are welcomed by those who respect the man’s adventures and successes and he still has a certain degree of clout with various horses under Dennis Yip- especially all those horses with “Fat Choy” in their names.
Yes, a somewhat strange man, but definitely part of Hong Kong racing folklore.
‘LUCK” AND DUSTIN HOFFMAN
What? An HBO Special and TELEVISION series on horse racing starring Dustin Hoffman AND Nick Nolte AND Hall Of Famer Gary Stevens? Very true.
“Who are all the little people? Fuck, they’re shorter than I am.” Dustin Hoffman speaks to Michael Mann on the set of “Luck”.
The writer-Producer is David Milch who, as a horse owner won two Breeders’ Cup races, once with Val Royal and other with Gilded Time, had some big-time success. and though having been “out of the game” for a while, is said to be in the thick of things again through this series.
We have to wonder, however, about a few things:
1] Why has no one produced a television series featuring all the action, drama, characters etc in horse racing- or, in the case of “Luck”, the goings-on taking place in one particular race track- before?
Hell, the goings-on at Racing NSW would have made for a television series to rival “Roots” and we all know what a Kunta the slave and start of the “rooting” turned out to be.
Our mate Pete having his ass whipped???
2] Will this high-quality Michael “Miami Vice” Mann-directed production put a dent on plans to make a movie on the Life And Times of Hong Kong’s former Champion Miler and “Dr” John Yuen- its very weird and fung-shui-obsessed owner and the Alexis Carrington of the racing world?
John Yuen all dressed up and nowhere to go
At the Sunshine Coast on the weekend, the following horses ran in the first: Throbbing, Caressable One, So Dominant, Sweet and Vicious and Gee Whilliker. It was one by Daytime Dazzler. Throbbing came last.
BITCHBACK OF THE WEEK
Derek C writes: Thanks for jogging some of our memories of jockeys and characters like David Brosnan, Ray Setches, Bill Burnett, Wally Hood, Glyn Pretty, Danny Brereton, Philip Robinson, Geoff Lane, Brent Thomson, Bart Leisher, Basil Marcus et al.
Would the Hong Kong Jockey Club have archive footage of their rides and some of the great horses that raced in Hong Kong like Silver Lining, Co-Tack, Indigenous and others plus footage of jockeys like the great Lester Piggot riding here along with others like Alan Munro, Darryl Holland, Kieren Fallon and Michael Kinane?
Surely, a DVD of these would make invaluable gifts.
It is great to see racing moving forward, but the future and the past are closely associated and one should never lose sight of history and, especially, the history of horse racing in Hong Kong with such great trainers as Nick Metrevelli and George Sofronoff plus the brilliant and controversial Ivan Allan.
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