In advertising, one of the mantras when presenting new ideas to weak-kneed clients who couldn’t accept anything new and so clung to the past as it was safe and playing it safe meant never having to making a decision was, It’s evolution, not revolution.
In Hong Kong’s riding ranks, one could say, we’re going through something between revolution and evolution and it makes for riveting theatre with almost one of those Hitchcockian twists expected for the ending.
There are three main players in this play- Douglas Whyte, Zac Purton and Joao Moreira.
As Hong Kong’s champion jockey for thirteen consecutive years and now in his early Forties, Dougie Whyte has nothing to prove to anyone except whatever might be missing to himself as far as his CV is concerned.
Right now, he is still suspended and ready for his return and close up, C.B. this weekend.
What is grey is the extent of this return and just where and when it might be- or how the final act will be played out.
With his long-time partnership with trainer John Size up in the air, or perhaps even on the rocks and sunk without trace, the razor-sharp mind of Whyte will be thinking of the next chapter to his remarkable story.
Next Saturday, the South African rider will be seen, for the first time, in Western Australia’s Super Saturday meeting at Ascot where he will do battle against Aussies Damian Oliver, Nash Rawiller and Craig Newitt.
Knowing how he rises to the occasion when many think he has been decked, Douglas Whyte could well be thinking of his next career move: To be more of a global success story.
Being a strong family man with a daughter in the UK, a son growing up fast and having always been a great ambassador for Hong Kong racing, Douglas Whyte has conducted himself as the professional that he is and like any successful businessman.
He has safe-guarded his assets and made his portfolio more valuable and must be looking at new fields- and tracks- to conquer without burning any bridges in Hong Kong.
Apart from the flying trip to Western Australia, Whyte will represent Hong Kong in the upcoming International Jockeys Series in Japan- which Zac Purton won last year- and more on this later- and one keeps coming back to words like CV, portfolio and assets.
The partnership with John Size was fruitful for both, but it never yielded an International Group 1 winner.
It’s what’s missing in that portfolio and, knowing the jockey pretty well, it must be high on his agenda- along with trainers who can provide this.
In Hong Kong, with Group 1 winners also evading a trainer as brilliant as John Size, who and where does Whyte go? To Caspar Fownes? No, that door is closed. Tony Cruz? No, too. Richard Gibson? Perhaps- and an outside chance with John Moore.
If into the punt, we’d say, he’d be looking outside of Hong Kong and, especially, towards Europe, perhaps Japan, and if he somehow manages to score ONE big home run in Australia, this could open the floodgates to opportunities during the big carnivals as he is, let’s not forget, a marquee-value name.
The story to that brilliant final chapter- the denouement- would have begun.
This leads us to Zac Purton- brilliant, a much deeper thinker than he lets on and hungry for success. We like and respect this lethal Zac Attack.
What Whyte lacks in his portfolio, Purton has: Group 1 successes in Japan, at Ascot, at Epsom in 2008 on Theseo, in Singapore and in Hong Kong.
Ironically- and illogically- what’s missing in his portfolio is Group 1 success in his homeland- Australia.
But how can he achieve this when, despite being one of the best riders in the world today, he is continually overlooked for rides during events like the recent Spring Carnival by trainers for whom he has ridden- and other trainers and owners who know all too well of his success in Hong Kong?
Is success in Hong Kong worth nothing?
Is it taken for granted?
Is Zac Purton taken for granted?
Is he seen as being a big fish in a small pond where the racing is bigger than the sport’s main attractions?
Are his t-shirts too tight?
For this fine rider with his best years in front of him, we’re willing to bet that winning thirteen consecutive Hong Kong jockey premierships doesn’t matter jack shit.
It’s all about winning the truly big races which he can certainly do, but cannot, if not asked. Duh.
Then, there are the smaller irritants like, why, as the defending champion of the International Jockey Series in Japan, has he not been invited this year? It’s baffling that Dougie Whyte has taken his place.
Rumors that he hasn’t been chosen for the Hong Kong International Jockey Challenge on December 4 is, if true, not just baffling, it’s ludicrous.
Zac Purton is currently streets ahead on the championship leader board and surely should automatically take his rightful place with Whyte, Kerrin McEvoy, American legends Gary Stevens and Mike Smith, Karis Teetan, Joao Moreira- if his appeal against another careless riding charge is successful- and others? The rumors must be wrong.
But taking this event away, since the arrival in Hong Kong from Singapore of Magic Man Moreira, the brilliant and charismatic Brazilian rider, there’s a new ace- and Joker- in the pack.
Overnight, Joao Moreira is the flavor of the day. The problem with flavors of the day is when favoritism comes into play and becomes too blatant.
It makes others feel that they are reduced to playing supporting roles- or being co-stars to the headline act.
There’s a hint of Bette Davies, Anne Baxter and George Sanders in All About Eve to all this and it’s good to see supposed “favoritism” for Moreira tempered with suspensions for careless riding charges.
Even a Magic Man can’t make wayward rides disappear.
Still, for Joao Moreira, from riding doubles and trebles regularly and even an eight-timer in Singapore, he is now in the most successful racing jurisdiction in the world and with the future of racing- China- across the border.
He is now also The Golden Child of the only racing club that can make racing in Mainland China a reality and more than an episode of Fantasy Island with Mr Roarke and Tatu.
As we saw for a short while with those tedious racing clubs and their “first steps” into “bringing racing to Mainland China” before they fell at the first hurdle, the politics of racing behind the scenes are on a much higher level than jockeys and trainers.
These politics are of global Masonic proportions and like some Greek tragedy waiting to happen.
There are the good, the bad and the ugly.
There is a racing media- despite all the tough talk- manipulated by puppet masters and their attack dogs.
Announcements are timed to undermine the enemy and all grievances grow into full-blown vindictiveness built out of jealousy and possible penis envy where one is bigger than the other- and the other just can’t take it.
This is a side of racing few see and not many understand.
It’s not where the meek shall inherit the turf.
It’s about guarding one’s turf and having the strategists who can repel the enemy at the door through evolution- and, perhaps a little revolution.
Isn’t this where we came in, Mr Lennon?
You can count us out- no, In.