(Source: Fan Pop)
It might be hard for some to believe, but racing in Macau once had legs- of course nothing like Hong Kong- but still legs, perhaps on the skinny side, but good enough to make the trek over on a weekend and even on a Tuesday evening for the night races.
Again, hard to believe when one sees the Noddy, Big Ears and Camptown Doo Da racing that goes on there today like last weekend’s Macau leg of the incredibly stunted Hong Kong-Macau interport, where horses plodded through Cowabunga, dude, quicksand.
No, when the MJC started and despite some very dodgy executive hires, one accepted the good with the bad and welcomed jockeys relatively new to this part of the world like Colin Dean, definitely the best jockey who was riding there in those early days, but who just disappeared down Alice’s hole and was lucky to later leave India in one piece.
(Source: NT News)
Riding alongside him were Simon Jones, Neil Paine, the mightily well-hung Claude Piccione, Mark Gallagher, Steve Burridge, Jose Corrales, former Hong Kong-based jockeys- Geoff Allendorf, Tony Ives, Declan Murphy, Rob Heffernan and Danny Brereton, plus the gorgeous Swedish female jockey Jenny Moeller who ended up marrying Bobby Vance and are now the parents of the talented Maija Vance.
(Source: Punters Paradise)
There were trainers like Singaporean Charles Leck for whom Colin Dean rode, the weird training Double Burger combo of Natalis Chan and Joe Murphy, the Beavis and Butthead of racing, former trots driver Joe Barnes, Gordon “The Bear” Benson, former amateur jockey George Williams, one-time champion Irish jockey and full-time leprechaun Johnny Roe, below, John Gilmore and others whom I can’t recall.
(Source: Daily Mail)
These were the days before the arrival of the Moores- George and Gary Moore- quite a coup for the MJC and which was greeted like the Second Coming of the Messiah.
Following them were a number of jockeys who’s time and gigs were up in Hongkers, Johnny Didham,personally, speaking, the most financially successful jockey to ride in Macau, Rob Heffernan, Brent Thomson, Sam Hyland, Danny Beasley, Steven Arnold, Michael Cahill, the very gifted Christian Reith who was going through a dark period in his career, along with trainers who were given a second lease of racing life and a license in Macau.
This second generation of racing personalities in what was still a Portuguese enclave might have helped tart up the joint in one way- especially having the the mighty Moores there- but it also ushered in- VERY LOUDLY- the term “orders from upstairs” and when the odds on a horse at, let’s say, 8 to 1, would change to 2s – 400 metres from home.
This totalisator “malfunction” occurred when bookies were alleged to have received their “orders from upstairs.” Jockeys who had problems following orders had their licenses taken away and banished forever.
Still, when the Macau Jockey Club opened its doors and track, it allowed in a rabble of characters who became owners and others, sensing an easy buck, became friends of owners with others supposedly “representing” various jockeys.
The ubiquitous Cosmo Chan must have been in that mish-mash of sycophants. And good grief, Macau racing attracted sycophants with a deft understanding of the saying, There’s a sucker born every minute.
(Source: Bit Strips)
The racing was okay despite two of the worst race callers heard anywhere- an Indian bloke and his sidekick Franco Lau who made today’s MJC race-caller Harry Troy sound like Richard Burton, and what made that trek over on ferry and sitting next to chicken farmers gagging on phlegm, was hooking up with mates before the races at the Hyatt Regency, having some cod fish balls, African Chicken and Portuguese fried rice while making plans to go out.
(Source: V Tourist)
(Source: Food Marks)
Well, there was not much planning per se as it was either hitting the cattle market called Darling and seeing if you got lucky by picking an attractive girl parading her wares with a number pinned on her or going “upmarket” and seeing what new Ruskies were at BBoss, Club De China and the freelance menagerie from the United Nations of Streetwalkers trawling through the arcades of Hotel Lisboa.
(Source: Photo Bucket)
The night always ended one way: Meeting up at the club at the Mandarin Hotel where jockeys, trainers, owners, off-work ladies and bug-eyed black performers did their fifth-rate Vegas funk schtick and which was lapped up by those too drunk to care.
(Source: Macau Resorts)
Often, especially for those from Hong Kong, these night outs happened the night before race day and many would struggle to get to the races by 1pm and try to blow the cobwebs from their eyes.
It was The Hangover- and it was a far more surreal plot with a far weirder cast of characters.
There was also a dark side to Macau- trainers forced to carry guns for protection and the tragic case of lawyer Gary Alderdice who left for Moscow with US$5,000 to try and buy out his Russian girlfriend from the gangsters for whom she worked. Both were found bound, gagged and shot dead.
At the races, the more brave- and stupid- would bring their conquests from the night before to the track which would send shock waves and looks of horror from the wives of trainers and jockeys. And, man, all those girls could eat- with their hands- and had never heard of a serviette.
(Source: Best Horror Movies)
Memories of a jockey currently riding very successfully in Oz inviting his Russian trophy girlfriend to the races- she was dressed in a gold mini dress and white go-go boots- while his pregnant wife was back home, created more squawking by the other wives than a scene from Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. The jockey truly had shit for brains.
(Source: SOD Ahead)
At this time, the two most colorful owners from Hong Kong were The Man In Black- Tony Morias- and the suave music executive Norman Cheng, below, two very different personalities.
Cheng, who still races horses in Macau and has had horses with George Moore, Jose Corrales, Beavis and Butthead, MC Tam, Peter Leyshan and, currently, Gary Moore, was urbane and played his cards close to his chest.
(Source: Funny Fidos)
Morias was far louder, had more gold around his neck than Mr T, plonked himself at his special lucky table and surrounded himself with tip sheets from every trainer along with a posse of random runners who would provide him with “last minute information” and “mafoo tips” for money and worked 3-4 mobile telephones at the same time.
Finding out if he won a race would take twenty minutes with more new information from his sycophants coming in all the time.
(Source: Cartoon Stock)
Whenever his horse- Call The Police would run- a regular ride for Philip Waldren- the whole series of sequences resembled a Marx Brothers movie on steroids and with Tony usually ending up being Groucho. Call The Police was a crap horse.
(Source: Fan Pop)
Was he ever up at the end of a season? This is debatable as he was constantly on Information Overload. He wasn’t relaxing to be around.
(Source: Copy 2 Contact)
As for Norman Cheng, he came close to tasting glory twice- once when the best horse he owned named Rock’n Roll was the red hot favorite to win the first Macau Derby.
After months of meeting jockeys, checking and cross-checking and possibly even cross-dressing, it was simply a question of which horse would come second.
(Source: Images BN)
Alas, we all know what they say about the best-laid plans when standing in the paddock area and the one-time optimistic regular jockey of the horse looking a tad uncomfortable.
(Source: Punters Paradise)
For whatever reason, Rock’n Roll came a plodding fourth, a 35 to 1 bolter won the race and everyone licked their wounds as they took that ferry ride from hell with the chicken farmers.
(Source: One Step 4ward)
These days, looking forward to going racing in Macau can only be taken in small doses- even smaller than what the turnover is though there are those who still enjoy the weekly experience.
(Source: Racing Write)
Membership has shriveled like George Castanza after a cold swim and the same handful of owners keep buying very average horses.
(Source: Mikew Chan)
The jockey-merry-go-round continues which has seen abrupt departures by jockeys Brent Stanley, below, Manuel Nunes and others and has also seen riding stints by Robyn Freeman, Bernadette Cooper, Lisa Cropp and others who came and went.
The Macau marriage-merry-go-round makes Desperate Housewives look tame and trainers Gary Moore and MC Tam rule the roost with jockeys Luis Corrales, Stanley Chin and “Fred” Durso, below, having survived “orders from upstairs.”
As Dr Hunter S Thompson would have written, What a weird and strange trip it’s been and one has to wonder what the intrepid Angela Ho has in mind to make what is a good racecourse with all the necessary hardware and facilities, a club that can either compete with or become a partner of casino-mad Macau. And what goes on in her pretty head is the $64 question.