SMALL DING AND DONG
And it’s- ding dong- a victory for John Moore with Joao Moreira being confirmed for Military Attack and with owner Steven Lo, said to have been insisting been that Zac Purton keep the ride, siding with the trainer’s decision. Guess the association between Moore and The Zac Attack has gone kaput.
Just a thought but as we have had races named after Hong Kong beaches and streets, electrical appliances, brands of watches etc, what about a meeting named after all the great jockeys- now retired- who have successfully ridden here- Felix Coetzee, below, Darren Beadman, Basil Marcus, Brent Thomson, Michael Kinane etc etc- and fly them out?
Surely, great for racing fans- and with huge sponsorship appeal? Huge!
Okay, now, let’s get this straight as the winds of change, rumors and just plain goss prevalent of this industry keep blowing in and from all directions: Joao Moreira is NOT riding on Melbourne’s Oakleigh Plate Day. Ok? Douglas Whyte is. Ok? But he’s NOT riding the Robert Smerdon-trained Shamal Wind. Shame. But, Ok? Why? ‘cos Ryan Maloney who won on it at its last start is. Ok? What horses are Dougie Whyte riding? No idea.
STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S DING DONGS.
There were two unusual occurrences at Happy Valley last Wednesday- and we don’t mean the dumbass yobbo wearing a horse head darting across the track after the last race- whereas we’re still wondering if the Saturday Keystone Cops meeting at Shatin really happened and if, because of some divine intervention, we decided not to serve up our full menu of ding dongs that day.
Last Wednesday, what was spookily weird was Joao Moreira not riding a winner, and the second was the crowd at the Beer Garden demanding an encore from Ben Semmens and his band almost oblivious to the last race.
The encore never happened as it would have spooked the horses which would have- ding dong- spooked the trainers and owners and which would have meant breaking one of those archaic ding dong sound ordinances, so, instead, it meant listening to the usual big audio dynamite that explodes from all directions before the dulcet tones of Brett “Lucky” Davis called the race- an action-packed race which resulted in Magic Moreira and Ollie Delouze, below, receiving three day suspensions for careless riding.
For Moreira, salt was rubbed into the wound with a $60,000 fine and to the racing pundit who told us that this is “nothing” for the jockey, don’t be a total ignoramus. Money is money.
With no inroads made that Wednesday by Joao Moreira on Zac Purton’s lead in the Jockey Premiership and the Zac Attack back in action on Saturday after HIS two-day suspension, the odds swung back in the favor of the popular Aussie- but only just.
On Saturday at Shatin, The Magic Man struck back- hard- with a four-timer whereas The Zac Attack came up empty-handed.
As seen below, Zac’s sluggish return must have been due to the effects of stuffing his face with Ding Dongs while trying to get a tan in Boracy. The tan didn’t work.
The main talk, however, was about the track condition which, when looked at head-on, made many of the races look like a battle charge from Braveheart with every inch of grass used by horse and rider.
And when the on-track commentators said they were looking forward to the dirt races so there could be some semblance of form taking place, well, what can we say? Chaaaaaarge?
As the track had been watered to give it some cushion- just perhaps, punters could have been notified about this BEFORE the races?- well, the steady light drizzle and curtain of mist made it more like a well-used duvet from too much ding donging.
Some Hong Kong old timers compared Saturday to a race day decades ago when David Brosnan rode a five-timer at Shatin and also mentioned how the track would have been perfect for a noted mudlark from those days of yore named The Joker.
Though never having seen The Joker or Brozzy when he was a rider and before he took the fall for so many ingrates during an ICAC swoop on many in horse racing in Hong Kong who are still swanning around town- and we know who some of these spineless twats are- there was a surreal sense of a time warp to Saturday’s racing.
It was a weird mixture of Charlie Chaplin slapstick, The Charge Of The Light Brigade and Jimi Hendrix singing Crosstown Traffic.
It didn’t hurt turnover with over $1.34 billion wagered and some hefty bets placed on the last race, BUT, the wins- and rides by Tye Angland and Brett Prebble on Lucky Bonus and Geronimo Meadow, respectively- were what had many gobsmacked. We were just bewildered with a ride by Mirco Demuro.
There was also the yawning five-length win of Flame Hero in the last race which Moreira brought to the outside of the track- after almost being knocked sideways- where the going was like living life in the fast lane.
Now, here’s where we have a problem: With safety being such a priority and Moreira having had to pay the piper so many times for careless riding, didn’t this track with riders criss-crossing each other to get to the supposed good going represent far more dangerous safety hazards?
And IF there were any Mr Bean-type breakdowns in fine motor school skills resulting in crash, bang, wallop, would it have been fair to point the finger ONLY at the riders?
Good gawd, how we miss the late, great Ivan Allan who would have taken no prisoners- no matter who was minding the jail- and pointed his finger directly at where he believed the buck stopped.
A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE ORDER OF THE SUN FORCE.
Boyohboy, after all the happiness of their Order Of The Sun leading all the way and winning at 9 to 1 on Saturday, there were some very long faces at Gosford on Sunday when red hot favorite Sun Force was eclipsed and darkness fell over the racecourse.
Both horses are owned by connections of Sun Racing International, the controversial Macau-based casino operator that has entered the racing industry in Australia in equally controversial manner by purchasing Eliza Farm and a number of horses with a business model reminiscent of how “businessman” Carson Yeung, below, bought himself into football in the UK.
Old Carson, who is facing FIVE big money laundering charges in Hong Kong, recently “resigned” as Chairman of Portsmouth FC.
Resigned? Oh, come on. And why is the Oz racing media so coy when writing in LARGE print about one Chinese-run horse racing organization, money laundering using racing as a channel, the Yun Yee Yong triad society, and how it’s part and parcel of the purchasing of a certain racing farm, but not naming those names known to all?
THE BRETT “LUCKY” DAVIS CORNER.
We have always said there is method in his madness and madness in his methodology and so, when asked how and why he decided to start Saturday’s plait de jour of steering Lucky Bonus to life on the fast lane- and making up eight lengths and winning the race- Tye Angland, below, was more than happy to give all credit to “Lucky” Davis.
Apparently, on the Racing To Win reality series the night before race day, “Lucky” wondered out aloud why more jockeys didn’t use the outside area of the track which always favors those in a 1000m sprint in Shatin. Or something like that as we missed this exciting installment of the horse opera.
Listening to these thoughts must have given Amigo Darren The Dragon, below, another nervous tic and had him nervously tapping on that Ikea table while Amigo Clint must have winced and checked his ticker.
So, despite there being no 1000m races on Saturday, it didn’t stop almost every jockey having a go at copying Angland’s winning strategy- and heading for the standside.
Some succeeded and others- including Angland on the appropriately named Silly Buddies and the shortest priced favorite for the day- failed dismally. Ding dong.
Silly Buddies ran more like those silly buddies in The Hangover- and Saturday will go into the peanut recesses of our minds like one of the days from the night before where everything is just one big blur like Song 2 Wooohooo!
BUT WHAT IS A TOTALIZATOR AND WHO WANTS RACING TO BE, ER, RELAXED?
One can give newcomers to racing tipping sheets, racing apps, facts and figures, but none of these connect with this market that still bet on horses they like ‘cos of colors and lucky numbers with the ONLY racing-based bit of information they care to know- kinda- being the names of the leading jockeys who they follow in the Jockeys Challenge and in every race they have a ride.
For example, we know two groups of ladies who work as executives for two different television news channels and are regulars at the Beer Garden.
They compete against each other EVERY Wednesday by spending $5,000 on the Jockeys Challenge and then another few thousands backing their favorites- Joao Moreira and Zac Purton, respectively- in every race they have a ride.
Can they read the totalizator? They can’t be bothered- and are equally bored and uninterested in reading people’s tips.
If one were to OFFER them a tip, perhaps- though, if it doesn’t win, they can make you feel like a right tool.
When asked if they look at the totalizator board, apart from asking what it was, their answer was simple: “Baby, we come racing to forget work and have a good time. All those numbers is too much hard work.”
From the mouths of babes, indeed- though one of our favorite babes- Sarika Choy, below, was seen trying to make her Finding Happy Wednesday co-host Justin Lim understand how to read the totalizator.
What many in racing clubs simply don’t get or refuse to understand is that this customer group will never ever be full-time, one-dimensional racing tragics.
It’s not for them as they have choices- many other choices to keep themselves entertained and experience the thrill of winning without the chore of doing homework.
In Hong Kong, for example, where this is a far more affluent group than any other part of the world, even owning a horse- or horses- is a hobby as is opening a club or restaurant or buying the latest Ferrari.
It’s all about aspiration and a status symbol and being able to flaunt it, baby, simply because they can.
Most in this customer group are either high-powered executives in the finance sector- especially, overseas educated females- or are running their family business.
They are a customer group that also stays clear of what their parents and uncles were weaned on and view anything from the old school corporate world suspiciously.
We have seen this, first hand, in the music industry.
Where before a music company could have been guaranteed sales of a CD by placing a few ads in some music magazines and the token television commercial, today, it’s all about streaming, downloads, and file sharing- legal and illegal- amongst music fans.
Television? Who watches television when there’s Pirate Bay to rip off whatever you wanna watch when YOU want it- onto computers, iPhones and iPads?
Do these people visit the websites of music companies? No.
What’s there for them other than to navigate their way through corporate clutter written for the corporate world?
Do they read reviews of records- or, for that matter, movies or clubs or restaurants?
No- as they wish to make up their own minds and not read the ramblings of some overnight foodie blogger looking for free meals.
Same with listening to tipsters and tips and anything tweeted or Facebooked from racing’s corporate world.
Simply put, it’s uncool- which means it’s as fake as a “Rolex” bought in Mongkok.
So, when we read about marketing initiatives in Melbourne like “Relaxed Racing”, we winced as it reeked of something incredibly boring created by another generation trying desperately to connect with the new and younger generation- and thinking they’re succeeding- but sounding like Daddy trying to prove he’s in touch with today by saying how much he likes Beyonce and that he’s now on Facebook.
Relaxed Racing should have gone with Frankie To Hollywood’s recording of Relax and, at least, brought in some camp value instead of making racing sound as exciting as a Teddy Bears Picnic.
Oh, well, horses for courses and Relaxed Racing might go like the clappers in the land Down Under- but in Hong Kong, where no one needs to be told how to dress, it would be a right royal turn-off.
Today, wherever in the world one might be, it’s all about consumer-generated content, knowing what’s going viral exactly WHEN it’s going viral, gaming, and, when it comes to racing, it’s about keeping things simple- and keeping things real- very real.
It’s nothing intellectual or something which can be taught or researched as making this connection is not an exact science as it has to do with 90% gut instinct and 10% common sense.
Some have it- the instinct and the sense- and others only end up with the gut and a sense of being, well, common.
God can be so unfair.
THE FAST TRACKER GOES OUT WIDE LOOKING FOR BETTER GOING.
With six hot pot favorites having bit the dust in the past two race meetings plus looking at how so many jockeys followed Tye Angland’s lead on Saturday at Shatin and made a beeline to the outside of the track as if riding in a 1000m scamper, well, looking for winners tonight doesn’t fill me with much confidence.
Apart from form, trackwork, odds, barriers and jockey engagements, with a sudden change in weather- it’s BITTERLY cold in Hong Kong right now with a strong chill factor in the air- there is always the possibility of a track bias which affects riding instructions and brain freeze moments during the running of a race as there’s so much to think about.
Racing to me on any Happy Wednesday is about enjoying myself with friends without any hassles, meeting like-minded people, and having a bet where, if I win, I win.
If not, it’s not the end of the world as there’s the night ahead and the chance for a different kind of winning.
R1 SPICY SHRIMP/MEGA
R2 PEACEFUL MISSION
Dougie Whyte doesn’t waste to ride at this weight for nothing.
R3 YO YO DA/LUCKY DAY/PEARL WIN
R4 ABLE MAGIC
This tackles the right distance after quite a while, owners in the Po family have been very loyal to jockey Derek Leung and this might just go off at a good price.
R5 EXPECTATOR/RED PLAIN BANNER/SUPER TEAM/OYSTER
Collagen runs in this race- and for the first time since switching to the yard of Paul O’Sullivan for more fuller lips.
One of the tougher races on the card and with so many different jockey changes and permutations that it can give one severe brain freeze.
Expectator with Dougie Whyte up is sure to be in the money- but should it? Personally, with a small triple trio jackpot at stake, sure, I’ll take it and Super Team as legs but would rather go wide and look at Red Plain Banner and Oyster.
R6 ST YAZIN/FANTASTICO/BRILLIANT PROPOSAL/
Eddie Lai riding for Gary Ng in a sprint is always a formidable team so have a go on St Yazin which showed zero zip when push came to shove at its last start. Lai on it- and he’s won on the horse- might show the St Yazin we remember.
R7 OVETT/BOTH SURE
R8 CLASSIC JEWELLERY/APPROVE/MAJESTIC ANTHEM
With Moreira up and Classic Jewellery taking a class drop, this is certain to start favorite in a race with a number of chances with Tony Cruz turning to Mirco Demuro for the ride on Majestic Anthem.
Funny how Cruzy gives Aussie jocks the cold shoulder. Must be memories when he was under their thumbs as an apprentice.
Personally, as he has been doing such a good job with Approve and John Moore sticking with him, I’d love to see apprentice Dickie Lui, below, breakthrough for a win on this very honest galloper- though drawn barrier 11 puts a dent to its chances.
BEST BET: RACE 2 PEACEFUL MISSION
NEXT BEST: RACE 8 MAJESTIC ANTHEM
LONGSHOT: RACE 4 ABLE MAGIC
SARIKA’S SIX UP
TONIGHT’S SELECTIONS FOR HAPPY VALLEY (FROM THE THIRD DIVIDEND)
Happy Valley (HKG)
#HValley Night Races @HKJC_Racing
Turf (“B” Course-Worked Back)
Weather: It will be cold. Cloudy with a few rain patches. The minimum temperature in the morning will be around 8 degrees in the urban areas, and a couple of degrees lower in the New Territories. The maximum temperature will be about 12 degrees during the day. Moderate to fresh north to northeasterly winds.
Race 1: KENNEDY HCP CL5
1 – Spicy Shrimp (11)
2 – Highland Dragon (1)
3 – Mega (12)
4 – Flying Keeper (9)
Race 2: MORRISON HILL HCP CL4
1 – Happy Champion (1)
2 – Speedygonzalez (3)
3 – Peaceful Mission (11)
4 – Demon Demon (4)
Race 3: QUEEN’S ROAD EAST HCP CL4
1 – Pearl Win (3)
2 – Yo Yo Da (6)
3 – Fresh Air (10)
4 – Friends Of Yan Oi (12)
Race 4: STUBBS HCP CL4 (SEC 1)
1 – Mighty Equus (8)
2 – Starting Over (1)
3 – King Tai Sing (7)
4 – Tai Po Fortune (11)
Race 5 (Q1): STUBBS HCP CL4 (SEC 2)
1 – Oyster (6)
2 – Expector (7)
3 – Super Team (9)
4 – Plain Red Banner (2)
Race 6 (Q2): THE VOLUNTEERS CHALLENGE CUP HC0 CL3
1 – Braveness (1)
2 – Fantastico (9)
3 – Brilliant Proposal (12)
4 – St Yazin (6)
Race 7 (Q3): TIN LOK HCP CL3
1 – Ovett (8)
2 – Step Faster (4)
3 – Both Sure (3)
4 – Rainbow Fighter (2)
Race 8 (Q4): WAN CHAI GAP HCP CL3
1 – Approve (1)
2 – Classic Jewellery (2)
3 – Majestic Anthem (10)
4 – Mr Medici (7)
Race 4: Mighty Equus (8)
Race 7: Ovett (8)
Race 8: Approve (1) – Currently, $6.10/$2.30
Race 5: Collagen (4) – Currently, $13.00/$4.60
Quaddie ($100 gets you 39%)
SELECTIONS FROM THE BIG APPLE (@SW064351)
Race 7, No. 3 Both Sure
Freshened since working home nicely on IJC day. Sound claims.
Race 6, No. 1 Braveness
Drew away for an impressive win last start. Can make it two in a row.
Race 5, No. 12 Good Luck Win
Well rated and has won a barrier trial since changing stables. Don’t dismiss.
Race 8, No. 2 Classic Jewellery
Runs his best races fresh and this is his third run back.
6,7,9,12 / 1,2,7,12 / 3,8 / 1,9,10. $50 for 52.08%.