The race meeting last Friday at Happy Valley is a tough act to follow. but follow we must as we enter 2013 and with all eyes on the battle royale between those wild and crazy Fingerers- Dougie Whyte and Zac Purton.
The Zac Attack’s brilliant four-timer on Friday and the overall atmosphere of that night was pretty poorly covered by some sections of the racing media.
It also might help if some who work for the HKJC and their media chums actually get out and see how the other half- the consumers- enjoy their racing and EXPERIENCE and see what CONSUMERS see, visit and how they have a bet these days.
Forget the big players. We know where they come from and how they whack it on. I am talking about the rank and file punter and also those newbies with long pockets and who carry handbags while attacking their favorite bets- tierces. Real men might eat quiche and real women attack tierces, don’t want any tips and rarely lose. It’s a wonderful sight to behold.
I have wonder who has yet to visit Adrenaline and see how it has evolved and why people are moving to the he IBU tables and how they are using them. Or if they have gone down to The Beer Garden and seen how entertainment and human inter-activity has led to a new understanding how the sport works. Or who has visited The Gallerie and seen what in this venue and the other click with its regulars.
It’s horses for courses and one needs to visit these venues as “market research”. If one has no interest to check them out, why not?
If I didn’t know better, I’d think there are a few wombats who actually want new innovations in racing to fail as they cling to their gigs, keep their heads down and talk from the side of their mouths while slapping people on their backs with daggers thinking no one can see through their insecurities and games.
The Shadow knows and so do a few others as there are no secrets in this city where news about racing travels to Oz faster than the speed of light and then boomerangs back on the usual bullshit train. All this “mail” from Hong Kong to Oz and back would be laughable if it weren’t so damn petty, churlish, is simply bad for the sport and shows the same old tricks of the trade played by the usual suspects.
There is a quiet revolution going on in the world of horse racing and a loud evolution, at least in Hong Kong, where the real winners will be those who see it and embrace this change.
Trying to get back to the racing and side-stepping the political dung, one still can’t escape that old “computer syndicate” warhorse. Speaking of which, watch for some familiar names to racing being made public now that fallout between the two partners in what was a ponzi scheme has made it to the courts where one partner is suing his Chinese partner and so-called computer guru for the lack of success of his promised “unbeatable” system and which has let down the “shareholders”. Pass the buck, indeed.
As I have said before and will continue to do so, there is a changing of the guard taking place and unless one plays for the same team and the same goals, put in for a transfer bid. No one can stop progress and those moving forward have no time to those who try and stop it or mess things up.
In Hong Kong, we are quickly seeing the unimportance of tipsters- Chinese and English- and with several tipping publications having already bit the dust. Racing programs might be needed, but cannot just plod along appealing to a handful of viewers in Eighties’ formats. They need some tough production overhauls so there isn’t all that empty space where inane chatter is used to fill in this time can mess up heads.
These programs might hold some interest to the dwindling group of hardcore punters, but they are not of any interest to the New Age Punter who wants more bangs for their buck and might have even something special they have created for themselves in this consumer-driven world and where technology is not some vapid tweets by The Chummy Chums. These are just the same old, same olds speaking to themselves in the Twittersphere and not realizing few are listening.
So far, the 2012-13 racing season has been a very tough one with short-priced favorites failing and all form going out the window. These results are beyond old sayings like “It was dead.” What’s really “dead” are excuses like these. What’s happening is signaling the start of a new era in racing led by a new team of punters moving in and the old one being benched and left behind.
On the racing front in Hong Kong, we are seeing the young gunslinger called The Zac Attack- hungry, ambitious, fearless- taking on the wily and experienced 41 year old Durban Demon who is not about to simply step aside and roll over. After winning twelve consecutive Jockey Premierships why should he?
There’s a hint of “The Color Of Money” to this rivalry and makes for great theatre for the racing public and is a marketer’s dream- as long as they know how to dream and market it and not in some goofy McRacing way from the past. Perhaps they should have a finger-off?
But it’s not just a two-horse race. Count Matty Chadwick out at your peril and whose recent rides have shown a young jockey who could be Hong Kong’s new Tony Cruz- finally a local riding hero with International potential for racing fans to cheer on. Dicky Lui doesn’t do it and never will and neither will Alvin Ng. These kids need a lot more practice before being allowed with the International big boys. Chadwick has many lengths on them and that off-season stint in the UK has done him wonders.
Think of the International buffet of riders- Frenchmen Gerard Mosse and Ollie Doleuze, Italian Umberto Rispoli, Irishman Tom Quealy of Frankel fame, below, other local riders who can match it with the others in Keith Yeung, Vincent Ho and Howard Cheng, Aussies Brett Prebble, Tim Clark and Tye Angland, and South African riders Richard Fourie and Weichong Marwing.
Then there are the International group of trainers- John Size, Richard Gibson, David Hall, Sean Woods, Paul O’Sullivan, home grown talent like the Cruz brothers, Caspar Fownes, John Moore and Ricky Yiu and South Africans Tony Millard and David Ferraris.
Will new names be added to this list next season? Of course there will be and I can see Peter Moody, below, Joao Moreira and, perhaps, The Huge Bowman here- in time- along with one of the very talented young female riders like Jamie Kah who are making their presence felt in Oz.
Meanwhile, with this cast, every race meeting is an International race, something which many of us tend to forget or take for granted and which is also a branding exercise and marketing strategy that could be better utilized. How many other racing clubs have such a diversity of nationalities competing every race day? Right now, there is immense Aussie pride in the success of Zac Purton- and well there should be. It’s all good for racing.
January 1, 2013, sees the return of Brett Prebble after a short suspension and adds to the competitive environment of Hong Kong racing where every owner wants to get the new year off to a winning start. It’s good fung shui. Me, I’ll wait for the last race for my dose of good fung shui- Richard Gibson’s last start winner Gold-Fun with Dougie Whyte back on board and riding two pounds over. In the same race and for strong fung shui, strong quinella bets are Bubble Chic, first-starter Chater Dream, Victory Master, and Lucky Forever.
Elsewhere, we see John Size’s Real Specialist and Packing OK clashing in the Chinese Challenge Cup with Neil Callan on the latter and Brett Prebble going onto another John Moore runner Admiration. Moore has four runners entered in the race but I’ll stick with Real Specialist and on a day when the Whyte Size Matters team could have a big day.
The best outsider on the card? For my money, this would be Ambassadorship in Race 7 which might be ignored by punters after a plodding last start fifth when in the money. I cannot see it winning, but it could add value to the last leg of the Triple Trio. On Tuesday, Ambassadorship has the blinkers slapped on, the hood removed, a shadow roll for the first time, the rubber bit removed and a feather duster up its bum. It also has Why Not, Glacier Blue, Tarrega and Sammy’s Falcon to deal with.
But I am no tipster. I just know a little bit about form but look at the barrier draws, the jockeys who keep the rides, the rides that have gone elsewhere and then put a pakora where my mouth is and hope I don’t get stuffed. So, Happy New Year, my crispy samosas, and try not to crack up by carrying too many papadums on your head.