(Courtesy of http://www.fasttrack.hk)
STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH
What punters who profess to be knowledgable should start understanding about the politics of racing and how the racing media- especially in Australia- are used with some in the pockets of the usual Axis Of Evil- and “the evil that men do” as jealousy and vindictiveness come to the fore.
It’s part and parcel of racing and can easily be used when it comes to fixed odds- and fixing odds- and knowing who’s the power behind the thrones, the power broker of the sport and if, you, the punter are part of the game and those wannabes who really, really want to be big swinging know-it-all dicks of the game when not having the weenies to play in the sandbox with the big boys.
These days, the lineup for the Longines Hong Kong International Races has this Axis Of Evil throwing their toys out of their cot as it is THE best group of equine talent gathered together for a racing carnival along with the very smart marketing move to have American riding legends and Hall Of Famers Gary Stevens and Mike Smith, below, included in the lineup for the Longines Hong Kong Jockey Challenge to be held at Happy Valley on Wednesday, December 4.
To those who might not be familiar with Stevens and Smith, they are timeless and ageless jockeys with great stories attached to their legendary status.
Theirs are stories young jockeys should know about and become inspired reading.
Gary Stevens, 50, rode in Hong Kong for a few months during the Nineties, largely for Tony Cruz, and made a huge impression by banging in a number of winners in super-quick time.
His success rate here made Joao Moreira’s rapid ascent in Hong Kong today look slow and almost turtle-like.
After hanging up the saddle and taking up broadcasting and acting for a number of years, Stevens made his comeback recently- and what an incredible comeback it’s been with him winning the Preakness on Oxbow and this year’s Breeders Classic aboard Mucho Macho Man.
As for Mike Smith, his achievements with the Jerry Moss-owned mighty Zenyatta- named after the third record by Police, the band signed to A&M records- M standing for Moss- have been well-documented along with his ups and down on and off the race track and with his star on the rise again.
Having these two greats competing in the Jockey Challenge is a massive PR coup.
Do battle alongside Stevens and Smith is Belgian ace Christophe Soumillion, the UK’s Ryan Moore, South African Douglas Whyte, French whiz kid Maxime Guyon, new Japanese riding sensation Suguru Hamanaka, below, Zac Purton, Kerrin McEvoy from Oz, Italy’s Mirco Demuro and leading Chinese rider Keith Yeung.
Sidelined through another careless riding charge, Brazilian Joao Moreira, who would have represented Singapore, the brilliant Richard Hughes from the UK, completes the lineup.
This International cast along with some of the best equine talent on terra firma competing on December 8 has given sponsor Longines and the HKJC THE most International racing week in the world.
If they added Cantinflas to the list, it would be racing’s equivalent of Around The World In Eighty Days, Pepe.
Despite all of the above, Aussie racing broadcaster TVN- controlled by part of the Axis Of Evil- apparently doesn’t “see the value” in covering Hong Kong International Week though many of its executives will be here for the free dim sum ride.
With TVN out of the picture and the presence of Stevens and Smith, here’s hoping some American channels- even lifestyle channels- will see the wisdom in being here.
Oh, to have Oprah here one year for this International Week and bringing over a planeload of her Oprahmites for a Special on this event- capture the buzz around it and have it seen through different eyes and offering a different view of the sport to a far wider audience.
Never say never. If one doesn’t try, it won’t happen and racing dearly needs a facelift so it’s understood and appreciated by the next generation of race-goers.
As for the International Jockey Challenge, it’s the appetizer that whets the appetite and dovetails neatly into the main course- International Day on December 8 where racing enthusiasts, along with the casual race-goer, will be fortunate enough to watch Champions of the turf.
These include Japan’s Lord Kanaloa-the world’s best sprinter- Cirrus Des Aigles, The Fugue plus Hong Kong’s champions Military Secret and California Memory, and, key for some with their heads buried in the sand to understand, reasons why exciting three-year-old filly Sky Lantern and the incredible Moonlight Cloud have bypassed events like the Breeders Cup to target and focus on their Hong Kong missions.
Why Hong Kong? Prize money, yes, but also the prestige of being amongst the best of the best- and the prestige of winning against the best.
This year’s HKIR is what the dreamers behind NSW’s Championship Week are having nightmares about.
Why? Well, the HKIR is a confirmed event and in the pocket whereas Championship Week, though an interesting initiative hyped with a AUS$18m price tag attached to it by way of prize money, still has much drilling at ground level to be done before any of the airy fairy ideas become reality.
In some ways, it might even turn out to be as “realistic” as those various racing clubs that for a brief nanu second had their fifteen seconds of fame while guzzling down the Kool Aid and talking about “bringing racing to Mainland China.”
Talk is cheap and, like Sheik Mo and his Meydan white elephant has found out, even big prize money cannot buy everything and cannot get around basic hurdles like the timing of events, quarantine issues, racing jurisdictions unwilling to be part of any dream runs that offer free kicks to corporate bookmakers- often, the vultures and pimps of the sport- etc.
What we have now right now is an episode of Wile E Coyote and the Roadrunner plus cameos by the Keystone Cops and Dumb And Dumber with Longines being the Official Time Keeper of a very one-sided battle for racing supremacy.
Could “King” Richard Hughes be having a more permanent place in the Hong Kong riding ranks- or, at least, a three month contract during the UK winter season?
Is all hunky John Dory with the Magic Man? Or could Hong Kong be proving too much for him compared to his freestyle winning ways in Swingabore la la? Very nice guy, yes, but…
Our man in The Big Apple has been in outstanding form and whose tips and comments are being followed by some VERY big names in the racing world.
Because of time differences, we can’t always get them in right from the get go, keep checking the site from time to time. They ARE there!
SELECTIONS FROM THE BIG APPLE (@SW064351)
Race 7, No. 2 California Memory
Closed well after striking traffic in Sha Tin Trophy. Returns to pet distance, drawn perfectly, and well suited under the set-weights. The one to beat.
Race 8, No. 8 Blazing Speed
Stuck on bravely after contesting lead with Business As Usual. Will be in for a long way.
Race 9, No. 5 Cerise Cherry
Freshened after winning Chief Executive’s Cup in authoritative fashion. Ran second in Hong Kong sprint last year, each-way.
THE FAST TRACKER LOOKS AT SHATIN ON SUNDAY- AND LIKES WHAT HE SEES.
Dougie Whyte returns to the fray today after his enforced holiday spent running buck naked along the beaches of Phuket with the wind running through his jingle jangles and has a very good book of rides- including two for John Size.
He really should “pissoir” in aboard Khaya in Race 6 while the other Size runner- the very impressive Sea Dragon- might have a problem from barrier 12 over the 1200 metres in a very competitive Race 11- but will go very close.
Whyte also rides the very interesting Akeed Mofeed in the Longines Jockey Club Cup and it doesn’t take Doctor Dolittle to figure out that this is the horse the savvy jockey believes is destined for big Group 1 success.
Even a pissed off Incredible Hulk would have have trouble prying the ride from Whyte’s very big hands.
The favorites for this race will be Military Attack and California Memory- both, like Akeed Mofeed aimed for their International Day efforts.
How much their respective jockeys might ask of them- and with this being the last leg of the Triple Trio where upsets are par for the course- is the $64,000 question.
Still with this Cup race- and still with Dougie Whyte- thankfully, he has finally come to his senses and given up as the rider on the Sean Woods-trained Autumn Gold after so many unsuccessful attempts with it.
That dubious honor has gone to Gerard Mosse. Merde, indeed as the velvet voice of Nat King Cole’s brother- Charcoal- drifts past my window singing about those falling Autumn Leaves.
If “The Parrot” manages to even place on Autumn Gold, I’ll hit the track on Wednesday night wearing tight pink hot pants and with roller skates on my feet.
Meanwhile, Zac Purton has his usual good book of rides and looks like putting more winners into the back of the net whereas the usual is happening with Magic Moreira- winners, a suspension, brilliant one race, a cowboy the next, and as one jockey mentioned, “As Joao was nearly on top of me the other day during a race, I asked if he wanted my riding fee.”
Am just getting too weirded out by The Magic Man and have visions that- poof- he might just be gone and back in Singapore- though this is very hard to imagine happening.
On a more positive note, to prove that his one ride on Wednesday has not taken its toll on his body and psyche, Colm “Paddy Cake” Donoghue has FIVE rides- a couple with actual place chances- and even one more ride than “Wayward” McMarwing.
In fact, McMarwing only starts riding from Race 7 and seems to have lost some of his regular rides. Maybe not. Perhaps he chose to have a long McHappy Meal instead of going around and around and around aboard Affluence Of Rain again?
Whatever happens, it’s one of the best cards of the season and with some great racing instore for all.
As for myself, with a few small bonuses flying around, I’ll work my bets around the following- and pray like hell.
R2: SPICY SIAM/THE ONLY KID/STARLIT WARRIOR/CHANTILLY
All I know is that whenever Mosse rides The Only Kid it does well. Not a race for me.
R3: WHY WHY/REAL FIT/MALAYAN GEM
Another winner for The Zac Attack. Why why? Why not.
R4: ART OF SUCCESS/ULTIMATE WINNERS/GENUINE CHAMPION/WONDERFUL MOMENTS
Very tough race as there are so many making their debut- but it’s always interesting when Dougie Whyte rides a few pounds over and Zac Purton doesn’t have a ride in a race.
R5: HOW SPEEDY/SANTA FE GOLD
Interesting to see The Zac Attack stick with Santa Fe Gold when he had a choice of three other rides including Demon Demon.
R6: KHAYA/DYNAMIC SUPER/GERONIMO MEADOW
Kyaya should win doing hoof stands- but there is something about Geronimo Meadow that keeps pulling me in.
R7: MILITARY ATTACK/CALIFORNIA MEMORY/AKEED MOFEED/ENDOWING
R8: PACKING WHIZ/GOLD FUN/BLAZING SPEED/HELENE SPIRIT
Expect a close finish and Cas to even train the quinella
R9: STERLING CITY/FREDERICK ENGELS/CHARLES THE GREAT/TIME AFTER TIME
A John Moore tierce?
Competitive racing had Berlinski in all kinds of poopinski at its last run. Should make amendski here.
R11: MY FAVORITE/SEA DRAGON/SECRET SHAM/FIONN’S TREASURE
Will be a very close race and watch turnover go crazy. If not for its bad barrier draw and even with its topweight, I’d go with Sea Dragon, but My Favorite, though up a class, has a perfect draw and could be another winner for co-owner and local celebrity Aaron Kwok.
BEST BET: RACE 6: KHAYA(2)
NEXT BEST: RACE 8: BERLINSKI (3)
LONGSHOT: RACE 3: MALAYAN GEM (8)
SARIKA’S SIX UP AND QUADDIE
TODAY’S SELECTIONS FROM THE THIRD DIVIDEND
Day Races @HKJC_Racing
Turf (“B+2” Course)
Weather: Fine & dry. Cooler in the morning. The maximum temperature will be about 24 degrees during the day. Moderate north to northeasterly winds.
1 – Kynam (2)
2 – Speedygonzalez (3)
3 – Apollo Cavalier (1)
4 – Medic Kingdom (13)
1 – Spicy Siam (11)
2 – Dark Secret (10)
3 – Mizzen Grey (1)
4 – The Only Kid (2)
1 – Why Why (1)
2 – Teofilo Calva (3)
3 – Real Fit (9)
4 – Lucky Bonus (5)
1 – Art Of Success (11)
2 – Wonderful Moments (9)
3 – Lucky Hammer (10)
4 – Jolly Spring (13)
1 – How Speedy (11)
2 – Terrific Master (9)
3 – Demon Demon (1)
4 – Silver Dragon (7)
1 – Kissmet (11)
2 – Khaya (2)
3 – Geronimo Meadow (1)
4 – Dashing Super (4)
1 – Military Attack (1)
2 – California Memory (2)
3 – Endowing (7)
4 – Same World (6)
Race 8 (Q1):
1 – Gold-Fun (2)
2 – Blazing Speed (8)
3 – Dan Excel (1)
4 – Packing Whiz (3)
Race 9 (Q2) :
1 – Sterling City (4)
2 – Amber Sky (6)
3 – Charles The Great (8)
4 – Frederick Engels (3)
Race 10 (Q3) :
1 – Berlinksi (3)
2 – Glorious Sunday (4)
3 – Fabulous November (5)
4 – Principal (8)
Race 11 (Q4):
1 – Super Jockey (7)
2 – My Favorite (12)
3 – Sea Dragon (1)
4 – Dining World (8)
Race 1: Kynam (2)
Race 6: Kissmet (11)
Race 11: Super Jockey (7)
Race 7: Same World (6)
Quaddie ($100 gets you 39%)
Still the HKIR cheerleader in chief, eh?
Best equine talent coming to HK for the prestige?
With all due respect, I think not.
Sky Lantern’s coming to HK instead of the Breeders Cup because she’s owned by a local who wants to see her run in HK, and good on him and good luck to her.
Moonlight Cloud’s presence in HK instead of California requires only a 2 word explanation.