THE HKJC AND THE UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON.
Often, the grass seems greener on the other side until you decide to move to the other side and discover that it’s all barren land with someone wailing, Where Have All The Flowers Gone.
With the Hong Kong International Week upon us soon and which will, most definitely, be The Greatest Show On Turf, let’s not lose sight- nor track- of what race-goers in Hong Kong take for granted each race day: Some of the best jockeys in the world riding for world class trainers on two totally different race tracks attracting very different consumer groups.
Put them all together, stir, shake, rattle and roll and it’s the most International racing buffet around.
We were reminded of all of this when watching the races at Shatin on Sunday.
Right from the get-go, sparks flew when Tye Angland and Zac Purton dead-heated in race 1.
Good friends off the track, these two athletes are fierce competitors on the track and refuse to give each other an inch. It’s every rider for themselves and damn good for the sport.
Much has been written about the lethal Zac Attack and much more will be written about it as we are seeing, possibly, the best rider in the world today.
The total confidence and sheer arrogance that is borne out of confidence is there to be seen in the trebles and doubles he keeps racking up each race day- and in the way he almost sashays to the weighing room a la Mae West wiggling down a stairway.
If in the wild west, Zac Purton would be Billy The Kid, calling other jockeys “varmints” and challenging them to gunfights just for the hell of it. He would also laugh to himself as if barking mad while taking over the town and having his way with Miss Kitty.
As for Tye Angland, who, these days, with his mustache and beard, resembles a lost knight from the court of King Arthur, well, he has come out this season with all guns blazing and is going toe-to-toe with Purton. He is Lancelot to Purton’s Mordred.
Trainers are suddenly sitting up and taking notice of “Tyeger” as he delivers- over and over again- and comes over as a modest guy with huge untapped potential that has not been lost on the top trainers in town.
What’s ironic is the support Angland receives from John Size and which Purton doesn’t- not even one ride which, surely, must go back to their days in Sydney?- whereas the latter is very much part of Team Moore and the former isn’t.
The two Aussies apart, there are the new boys- South African Karis Teetan and rookie trainer Chris So while never forgetting local hero Matty Chadwick.
Chadwick, who often looks like he’s swallowed a turd, brought in a winner for John Size- a rare ride for the master trainer- and then showed his more experienced rivals how to ride a horse to victory from an outside barrier when he gave Multi-Victory a great front-running ride for mentor Tony Cruz.
In the words of that great poet Cher, Bang Bang, he shot the others down.
“Teats” Teetan, meanwhile, gave two copybook rides to win on Destined For Glory and Able Friend, both for Team Moore- part of a treble for the Champion trainer who has come a long way from playing second banana to Brother Gary and riding Harrington and Carrington for Herbert Kees.
Karis Teetan might still be a “work in progress”, but this progress is happening in leaps and bounds and seen in some beautifully timed runs. “Teats” brims enthusiasm and enthusiasm is addictive. His appreciation to be riding in Hong Kong is easy to see and is certainly no whining prima donna.
Chris So, meanwhile, is rewarding those who had the faith to grant him a trainer’s license this season after his years as Assistant to Caspar Fownes.
So has his own ways of training his horses- and it’s working, something reflected in his impressive win percentage- which is not at all so-so.
After the end of the races, it dawned on us, that we had witnessed a great day’s racing- another International day of racing which takes place every racing day and where we saw the best- even with Douglas Whyte drawing a rare blank and Magic Man Moreira on the sidelines through a suspension.
Bring on Hong Kong International Week and where the world’s champions of the turf will meet to do battle and the racing world will come together as one.
It really promises to be a meeting of the United Nations of racing.
THE DARLEY BLARNEY AND THE TAIL WAGGING THE DOG.
Talk about backing the wrong horse. While many are pontificating, and some even offering odds as to who will replace Peter Snowden at Darley, the more immediate and interesting question might be the trainer’s next move- and if it would even be in Oz.
Peter Snowden has an impeccable record, he has an easy going personality and a solid CV. He would add star appeal to the trainers ranks of any racing club.
As to who might replace him at Darley, well, hats can be tossed into the ring- and where Sheik Mo might do a Mexican Hat Dance around them with his camels.
If the Darley team hasn’t already found their man, we’ll eat our burkas while juggling twenty falafels.
BRAIN TEASER- AND MIND FIELD.
Try and follow this: Remember us fawning over young Kimberley Mosse, daughter of the great Gerard Mosse?
Well, when at the races, Kimberley must be in a dilemma whether to cheer on her Dad- or boyfriend- Italian jockey Umberto Rispoli.
The model is also managed by BMA, the entertainment company run by high profile owner Steven Lo who owns Military Attack, Dominant, Military Secret and an absolute stunner of a wife- beauty and brains.
BMA also manages Sherry Legrix, formerly jockey Sherry Kwong and wife of French jockey Eric Legrix, both of whom rode in Hong Kong during the days of the Pepe Le Peu of racing- Patrick Biancone. What’s there to manage in Sherry Kwong? Beats us.
Being the very small and often vindictive circle the Hong Kong business world is with its long-time bad personal relationships between powerful owners, any artists signed to BMA are boycotted by one of the leading Chinese newspapers. No photos or articles on any of them in that newspaper.
Why? The Publisher and Steven Lo are mortal enemies which means military and PR attacks off the track.
What a tangled web we weave. We now must have a lie down and take a chill pill.
AN INTERNATIONAL BIG BREAKFAST OF DIM SUM, BANGERS AND MASH AND CROISSANTS.
In Hong Kong for its first International broadcast will be TABradio’s Big Breakfast team- the only racing show worth waking up to- and from Perth.
Yes, “Shorty” aka David Shortte and Wes will make the pilgrimage to Hong Kong, setup shop at both the Shatin and Happy Valley race tracks and be on the spot with interviews, observations and a huge serving of news, information and poets and clowns who’ll do tricks for you.
Word has it that the boys might do a very special Walk On The Wild Side in Memory of Lou Reed and host THE VERY EARLY BIG BREAKFAST ‘live’ from the gonzo surroundings of Players in Wanchai- which opens at 3am and closes at 10am.
THE DOH PARTING SHOT: HOMER SIMPSON AND THE FISHES.