In his weekly column, On The Rail in the South China Morning Post, Alan “Hats” Aitken tackled- head-on- the rumors that John O’Shea from Oz aka The Knuckle Dragger to close mates and Charles LoPresti from, er, America, both pictured below, were going to be or might be granted trainers licenses in Hong Kong for next season.
An Englishman In New York and an American Trainer In Hong Kong?
That will set the cat amongst the pigeons and even more rumors will start up.
And yes, we heard you: No mention of Danny O’Brien this year? Maybe in March- once he catches his breath.
As we collected ourselves off the floor at the names mentioned and as this was the first we had heard of either being associated with Hong Kong racing- at least for this year- “Hats” poured some very cold water on this water-cooler talk whereas between the lines, one could read, “Get real” and “Who’s been drinking the Kool Aid”?
Discussing rumors in racing about the often weird and wacky business strategies of racing clubs and racing figures take up way too much time in some countries and one has to wonder if there’s a booby prize for those who guess the right answers.
It’s like the current fixation for some in Oz to NAME THAT NEW DARLEY TRAINER- The Knuckle Dragger’s name is entered into that name game as well- following Peter Snowden’s decision to jump camels and look at going it alone.
Other names? Too silly to mention, except, perhaps, for that of Tony McEvoy.
As for Snowden, from where we sit- and despite him being sixty- the father-son combination of him and son Paul would, we think, be a great addition to the Hong Kong training additions- but, as “Hats” asked, Who’s leaving? Or is anyone being shown the door and getting the old heave-ho?
Well, there’s another laundry list of rumors to that question- Paul ‘O Sullivan, Sean Woods, Andreas Schutz, and David Ferraris.
Though not an expat trainer, throw in the name of local trainer Francis Lui into the ring- but, from what we hear, an Aussie trainer will only be granted a trainer’s license in Hong Kong if and when another Aussie trainer leaves. And we can’t see John Size leaving, nor David Hall retiring to his palace on the Gold Coast- not yet, anyway.
In the entertainment world, publicists are paid more than record producers and songwriters- but not as much as hairstylists- to churn out vapid stories about, for example, Simon Cowell being a real ladies man, that the Kardashians are normal American kids with normal sex lives and that Tom Cruz and John Travolta are real life macho action stars with nothing hidden in their closets.
That’s all part of showbiz and one either chooses to believe the crap or not.
In the racing game, the stakes are much smaller, there are no publicists other than a small racing media.
With the sport looking decidedly unhealthy in some major racing jurisdictions from the financial forecasts we’ve seen, there’s a whiff of understandable paranoia in the air and many in the sport wondering what to do next.
What often happens next is self-promotion as many- in all forms of racing- try to create “brand value” with the end game being to be noticed and create a demand for themselves.
It’s rilly rilly wanting to be Lady GaiGai, but can’t as she has that damn traveling Cup and the surname that has brand value.
Hong Kong will always be a great magnet and the next port of choice for many in the racing world with its lifestyle, two race meetings a week, convenience and ABBA singing Money Money Money.
To try and get to Hong Kong, there is an urgency to get noticed and try and become a brand, which leads to self-promotion, phony friendships, and with these, rumors are started from “within” with fingers firmly crossed.
All these rumors are boring and the only Rumours we like is that classic album by Fleetwood Mac which helped finally bring the talents of our mate Lindsay Buckingham onto centre stage- and where it belonged.
FOOL’S GOLD AND DUNADEN.
It’s been here, it’s been there and now, the Sean Woods-trained Autumn Gold is suddenly out of The Hong Kong Vase.
Why it was there in the first place baffled us.
Apparently, Woods and the owners came to their senses and had a change of heart as they were disappointed with its Trial run.
Like, Duh, dudes, it came an inglorious last. Disappointed??? We would have been banging our heads against the nearest concrete wall- over and over again.
Autumn Gold’s surprising late withdrawal from the Vase so late in the innings- it’s all a little too pat for us- has- presto- opened the door for Dunaden to run in the race it won in 2011.
This comes after an extremely good run in last weekend’s Japan Cup- and a sudden change of course regarding scheduling by the connections of this great stayer.
Curiouser and curiouser, Alice, but a far better choice to take its place in the Longines Hong Kong Vase.
As for Autumn Gold, we very much doubt we have heard the last of this galloper that arrived in Hong Kong with talk of so much potential. Perhaps, it will finally be realized.