Despite not winning on Khaya and the troubles in running encountered by Akeed Mofeed- he just might be pining to be a stallion like some of us humans-in the running of The Gold Cup, Sunday at Shatin, it was a great day at the office for champion jockey Douglas Whyte.
Riding three winners after four races and then SIX close seconds plus winning the Jockey Challenge must have been a welcome fillip after an inglorious Whyte-wash at Happy Valley last Wednesday when none of his hot pots saluted.
Hell, we all have our off days, and if at Shatin, the chorus of DIIIIIIIIUS- the national anthem of local punters when leading jockeys fail on favorites and their chasing and more chasing end in huge holes in their pockets- would have reached a crescendo like a murder of crows.
However, with Happy Valley night racing being less frenetic and frequented by a very different and more International group of race-goers, Whyte was spared the combined Wrath Of Khan, Chan, Cheng, Wing, Wang and Wong.
But as we watched The Magic Man Moreira ride away with the Gold Cup aboard Military Attack, we couldn’t help but think about The Zac Attack and what must have been going through his mind other than, Et tu, Brutus.
In the topsy turvy world of horse racing where only a few months ago Zac Purton could do no wrong, the fallout with trainer John Moore who holds all the aces- and horses- when it comes to the big races could mean that the talented hoop might not even have a ride in some of Hong Kong’s biggest races- which is what happened- or didn’t happen- in the Gold Cup.
With Tommy Berry and Hugh Bowman on their way to Hong Kong soon, competition is only going to get keener and nothing can ever be taken for granted- especially in horse racing where you’re only as good as your last winner. And even that’s not good enough.
Just ask Douglas Whyte about the ups, down, sideways of racing and having to constantly get off the canvas with a new game plan. It’s what’s made him the champion he is: Take a knock, come back swinging- and fuck the rest.
As Sinatra sang, That’s Life.
Where does this leave Zac Purton who, a short time ago, looked certain to win his first Hong Kong Jockey Premiership?
He still can despite what some who were in his corner yesterday might say these days.
Then again, that’s the fickleness of the sport and it’s very own revolving door policy.
Plus, when knobs like former trainer Andy “Dopey” Leung, below, somewhat of a legend is his own lunchtime, and now a racing writer and tipster for a Chinese racing newspaper, takes regular pot shots at the jockey- in Chinese- and where it matters most with owners- it doesn’t help anyone. Alas, this is where freedom of speech has to be entertained.
Having said this, it’s hard to swallow as this criticism is coming from one of racing’s stranger characters, unfortunately, still involved in Hong Kong racing, undeserving of the attention he gets for playing the token Charlie Chan like Jackie Chan once did when Hollywood wanted a Chinese buffoon, and, say our friends who attend track work, someone who still talks about “his” horses.
As for Zac Purton, this is the time for him to show great resolve and talk softly- or, best, not talk at all- carry a big stick and leave the talking for the track.
Apart from Dougie Whyte- and he’s now got his back up along with his mojo and not ready to roll over and make the battle for the Jockey Premiership a two-horse race- Purton knows he has to compete for rides against the likes of Tye Angland, Karis Teetan, Neil Callan, who is quickly building up a solid power base, especially with Ricky Yiu, to an extent, Brett Prebble, Mosse, Chadwick, Suborics, soon, Berry and Bowman, and, of course, Joao Moreira whose world is his oyster and, despite all his suspensions and late arrival to Hong Kong, is, currently, only six winners behind The Zac Attack.
The Zac Attack is, of course, still as lethal as ever as his double on the weekend proved.
It just doesn’t get the headlines it once did in that all-important Chinese racing media which, like what is written about those in the local entertainment world, has a very important domino effect on one’s image.
It’s why so many local celebrities have Chinese entertainment writers on their payrolls and where paparazzi “exclusives” are carefully choreographed.
Talent is talent, Zac Purton has it in spades and let’s just hope wrong perceptions and the game of Chinese Whispers that can so easily happen here don’t rob us of seeing a great tussle for the Jockey Premiership on a level playing field.
Frankly, this season’s Premiership race would make for a great quartet bet or an even better Top Five if the HKJC were to think just a tad outside the box- and while at it, turn the Jockeys AND Trainers premierships into a quinella or even Double Trio bet.
Wanna bet it won’t work- across the board and different customer segments?
COULD TWO NGS MAKE A RIGHT?
Yikes!!! Coming to tonight’s races, Alvin Ng has gone winless after 144 rides while Gary Ng has not trained a winner after sending out 113 runners- not exactly pretty figures.
Perhaps, the two Ngs should team up- but only after shaving their heads to get rid of the current bad karma and bring about some good fung shui?
Fung shui-obsessed owner John Yuen, below, of Good Ba Ba infamy, can join the Ngs as his latest galloper-Good Hong Kong- is still struggling to win a race and becoming a jinx horse for Zac Purton just as Autumn Gold was for Douglas Whyte.
What’s happened to Autumn Gold, anyway?
After seemingly racing almost every other week, it seems to have gone into hibernation and might be waiting until autumn to fall with the leaves.