The season is not even at the half-way mark, but there has been so much happening, it feels like three seasons- combined- and as if we have been in thirty real life versions of The Hangover.
Of course, as with any other season, apart from what’s happened where it matters most- the race track- there have been the usual quota of petty politics and jealousies, the cliques, the quacks, the twats, the daggers in the back from anonymous quarters- but as obvious to even an intellectual midget as a fully clothed person in a nudist colony as to the name of the culprits.
Still, that’s racing around the world and, in a small pond like Hong Kong, big fish are spawned overnight and become legends in their own lunchtime without realizing how irrelevant they are in the grand scheme of things.
Oy, it’s only horse racing. It’s not about receiving a Nobel Peace Prize.
On a more positive note- and let’s Giddyup to this part- there have been some pretty amusing things happening behind the scenes which just can’t be written about to protect the guilty from even more ridicule, so let’s just fast-forward to what’s listed below and look towards a great 2014- and gallop into the Lunar New Year of The Horse.
ABRACADABRA! THE MAGIC MAN APPEARS!
Out of nowhere- well, actually outta Swingabore-Magic Man Joao Moreira turns up in Hong Kong in October almost like, well, magic and hypnotizes trainers, owners and racing fans with an amazing strike rate- and an equally amazing number of suspensions for careless riding.
Still, nothing can dent Brazilian Joao Moreira’s tremendous confidence, enthusiasm, and self-belief with almost every trainer queueing up to offer him rides almost like those wanting to get blessed by a holy man by the River Ganges.
Chief Steward Kim “The Wrath Of Kahn” Kelly and Moreira develop a relationship rather like Eliot Ness and Al Capone or Sheriff Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid or, better yet, The Road Runner and Wile E Coyote.
No matter what, it’s great theatre to the local racing crowds. And in soccer mad Hong Kong with Brazil a particular favorite, Magic Man Moreira becomes the Ronaldinho of racing with every win greeted by the sound of “Gooooaaaaaal”.
Makes a difference to a spray of “Diiiiuuuus” saved for some other riders when they fail on hot pots.
THE CHINA HORSE CLUB GOES TO INNER MONGOLIA- AND GETS NOTHING OUTTA IT.
Prior to his Hong Kong move, the Magic Man, the talented Danny Beasley and a couple more jockeys from Swingabore participate in some farcical race meeting in Inner Mongolia organized by The China Horse Club- supposedly, an important small step into bringing horse racing into Mainland China. Yawn.
With no gambling, one horse dropping dead and other horses from Coolmore not even fit to race, this supposedly “historical meeting” is quickly forgotten, the hype outta Australia is quelled and reality bites those involved in this non-event on their collective arses.
Where’s the China Horse Club today? Probably somewhere licking its wounds along with that other mob who were going to bring racing to Chengdu in Mainland China along with some dumplings. Yawn yawn.
MCLOVIN’ IT STRIKES HONG KONG RACE TRACKS!
While it was Love On The Rocks for a few romances amongst the racing fraternity that we thought would go the distance like a good stayer, the affair d’amour of Umberto Rispoli and Kimberley Mosse, daughter of Gerard Mosse, blossoms with the young Italian jockey making a heart-shaped I Love You sign to his girlfriend with his hands every time he wins a race. Awwww.
TYE ANGLAND EMBARKS ON SOME HAIRY ADVENTURES!
Tye Angland grows a mustache for charity, rides even taller in the saddle, and becomes one of the best riders in town.
He then shaves the “mo” and rides even more winners.
One wonders what might happen if he decides to stay half-clean shaven and half-shaved- kinda like a weird version of Face/Off.
HONG KONG RACING FINDS ITS OWN NOT-SO- LITTLE DRUMMER BOY.
Word has it that race-caller and one of the Three Amigos- Darren Flindell- has taken up a part-time gig as a drummer.
Apparently, he wants to march to the beat of his own drum and be known as Bam Bam from now on.
THE FLINTSTONES, THE JETSONS AND…THE PURTONS?
The Zac Attack becomes even more lethal and leaves the rest in his wake in the Jockey Premiership by riding a series of doubles and trebles.
Not to be outdone, wife, Nicole becomes a bigger drawcard at those Happy Wednesday Nights by becoming a regular on Finding Happy Wednesday, dancing onstage with the Ben Semmens Band, going onto twitter plus receiving an offer to make a Dance track with the equally cute Sarika.
JOJO AND GULLIVER’S TRAVELS.
JoJo McKinnon does a sterling- and stirring of the loins job presenting all simultaneous broadcasts despite being asked to sit in a Barbie Doll set which makes the poor girl look like Gulliver in Lilliput.
BIG TEETS MAKES AMAZING DEBUT!
Karis Teetan aka Teets makes a huge impression in his debut season in Hong Kong by winning- amazingly- at his very first ride on the David Ferraris-trained Amazingly.
He is also one of the best and most frequent interviewees on The Three Amigos’ Ready To Win spectacular- forthcoming and saying something that aren’t blurred lines that make the 21 viewers nod off.
CHADWICK SMILES! CRUZY PREPARES FOR MARS ATTACK!
When not in the wars being kicked by horses, having clogs of dirt bashing him on the face and kicking buses, Matthew Chadwick is spotted actually smiling while mentor Tony Cruz continues to communicate with aliens through that blue-tooth cockroach clinging to his ear.
WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN?
Colm O’Donoghue and Nina/Nico/Nuno/Nana Penna make cameo appearances at the races leaving many wondering, Who ARE these masked men, why are they happy being thrown the scraps and for how much longer will they be pottering around here?
GIBBO AND HIS BIRDS.
Trainer Richard Gibson- a damn fine trainer- has girlfriend Karen focus on teaching his pet parrot to communicate in an unfamiliar Chinese dialect spoken by powerful owner Pan Sutong.
Still with birds, for some reason, the Dr Dolittle of Hong Kong racing, reminds us of an ostrich. Just saying.
BEN SEMMENS MAKES THE BEER GARDEN GROW.
The arrival of Wales-based singer-songwriter Ben “Dude” Semmens last season saw- and heard- a new sound- and a new audience at The Beer Garden of the Happy Valley Racecourse- something extremely different to makeshift local acts- most being blah at best.
Now a regular at Adrenaline and The Beer Garden with a band comprising some of the very best musos in town, the Ben Semmens Band- known to some local fans as Ban Semen- are writing and producing their own music for Universal Music, the world’s biggest music company, and giving The Beer Garden a new buzz which makes all that chatter clutter meant for television audiences at home fall on deaf ears.
Please make it stop, Quasimodo- it’s like those goddamn bells- those bells!
DING DONG! CSL 1000 CONTINUES TO CONFUSE PUNTERS.
CSL 1010 rings that gawd damn bell again though, alas, longtime bell ringer and the company’s marketing supremo- Mark “Quasimodo” Liversidge- has left for Hilton pastures, and another baffling 1010 Million Challenge starts up at Happy Valley which is about as relevant to punters as some goofy entrepreneur thinking selling Coppertone to Africa will make them rich.
A WHYTE SIZE HORSE OPERA.
The long-time marriage of trainer John Size and Dougie Whyte falls apart while Neil Diamond and Babs Streisand sing, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers- and You Don’t Give Me Rides- in the background.
THE ANNUAL FREELOADERS CIRCUS ROLLS INTO TOWN.
They came from Oz, Europe, the UK, the States for The HK International Races on the usual “media packages”, attended the free lunches and dinners- the bogans, the loudmouths, the country bumpkins- and we still don’t see where the HKJC gets a return-on-investment from the majority of these tiresome hacks.
Most bring nothing to the table other than a half-empty glass from Parochialville.
THE INTERNATIONAL OOMPAH LOOMPAHS STRIKE BACK!
Aussie Kerrin McEvoy takes out the International Jockeys Championship- but not before being paraded around Happy Valley with the other competing jockeys in golf carts like Willy Wonka’s Oompah Loompahs.
Next season, the riders are tipped to either drive bumper cars onto the Beer Garden or be presented to the public while going up and down on horses in a merry-go-round.
THE WHYTE MAN POUNCES WHEN IT COUNTS!
Japan’s Lord Kanaloa blows minds with a Usain Bolt-type of win in the Hong Kong International Sprint giving serious wind burn to his rivals whereas Douglas Whyte keeps a low profile before making his presence felt by taking out the Group One HK International Cup and International Mile for trainers Richard Gibson and John Size, respectively.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING NOT SO SO-SO AT ALL.
Rookie trainer Chris So steps up to the plate and proves he’s no so-so training talent by turning former also-rans into winners.
As for the other rookie trainer this season- Benno TP Yung- after a slow start, he remains a work in progress to some while, to others, he’s starting to hit his straps. Or his straps are hitting him.