WHYTE LIGHTNING, A RAINBOW FIGHTER AND A PAIR OF SWEATY GOGGLES.
Any doubts we might have had about Dougie Whyte losing the plot and perhaps even losing his fine motor skills as a rider were dispelled when he made us choke on our words with two completely different- and brilliant- displays in the saddle on Wednesday at Happy Valley – first on Call Me Achiever where he gave a brilliant rail hugging ride to take out the third race and then timed everything to perfection on Rainbow Fighter which took out the 1010 Million Challenge.
Quite frankly, if we were 1010, we’d be on our knees thanking Whyte for finally bringing excitement to what remains a drab event called The Million Challenge which desperately needs a Joan Rivers-type facelift if it is to continue, along with far more creative marketing of what is a flawed idea as it has zero interest to race-goers.
Why? It’s a “concept” that does not involve them which is Marketing 101. What’s in place now is Marketing 1010 and where branding is there- visually- but irrelevant.
As for the champion jockey, he brought back memories of his derring do on Call Me Achiever and returned with a classic patient Whyte ride on the Derek Cruz-trained Rainbow Fighter to win the Million Challenge for connections.
When Pleasure Gains won the third race and leap-frogged to head the Million Challenge, it looked as if The Fat Lady had sung.
Rainbow Fighter HAD to win its race to overturn this result and it took a tactical Whyte ride to achieve this.
Even if they had no idea about the significance of the race to trainer Cruz, his family, and the connections of the horse, they knew something important had happened and roared their approval as Whyte timed his ride to perfection.
The show- and it was great race course entertainment, something racing tragics will never ever understand- didn’t end there.
As a bonus to a group of his mates standing near the stage at the Beer Garden, Whyte made it a point to have the outrider allow him to make his way all the way over there instead of making his way to the winners circle and where he threw his goggles to them.
It was a class act and discussed by them even at 7am at the Flying Pan in Wanchai where the lucky recipient of the flying gift sat wearing those goggles in stunned silence.
It was one helluva night of celebrating starting with the Ben Semmens band tearing up the Beer Garden with three great sets, then hitting Club 97 and its Salsa dancing land of the golden milfs, slamming into nirvana which built up an appetite that needed to be satisfied even if it were with some horrible corn beef, hash brown, sausages, a couple of fried eggs and a few Red Bulls.
Thanks to Dougie Whyte, seldom has the 1010 Million Challenge done so much for so many- on and off the track.
EB’S “NOW WE CAN” SHOWS IT CAN CAN CAN FOR THE SHEEMA CLASSIC.
On Tuesday at the Polytrack at Chantilly, Now We Can staged a withering last to first win as its prep run before heading to Dubai and tackling the Sheema Classic.
Owned by HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Now We Can won the Prix Meydan Hotel over 1900m- short of its ideal distance- and against some very strong competition including Cirrus Des Aigles, Zazou and Mortga when given a peach of a ride by regular jockey Thierry Thulliet on the Nicholas Clemente-trained 5-year-old galloper.
To us, it’s a real pity that this win which, in so many ways is part of Hong Kong racing and enhances the global image of the HKJC is not even shown on a program like Racing To Win or is on the Club’s website which has even the kitchen sink in there.
Why? Because it might be seen as chest-pounding because it’s a horse owned by the CEO of the HKJC?
Perhaps only to the very petty-minded.
To us, it’s something to trumpet- not be shy about.
By the way, if Now We Can does well in Meydan, we can say with a certain degree of certainty that it won’t be heading Down Under for The Championships and with – ding dong- zero chance of its straight-talking owner burying any hatchets with “the enemy within” while making nice and singing Nice Nice Baby.
SHORT CUTS AND DING DONGS
FIVE OF THE BEST FROM DUPLESSIS.
One of the real nice guys of racing- Mark DuPlessis- who rode in Hong Kong a few seasons ago with success, pictured below, had a brilliant day at the office at Ellerslie yesterday by racking up a QUINTET of winners including the day’s big cup race aboard Vespa.
CHAD SCHOFIELD: RACING’S NEW YOUNG LION COMES OF AGE
While his former boss- David Hayes- shrugged off various rumors making the rounds in Melbourne that all is not going well by saddling up a double yesterday at Flemington, young Chad Schofield, son of Glyn Schofield who rode in Hong Kong for many seasons, stole the show by winning the Newmarket on Lankan Rupee- a much-improved horse since being gelded- on a superb day’s racing that brought in over 28,000 people.
Schofield, who has had his fair share of problems with suspensions and a very public spat and permanent split with Hayes which he has handled with great maturity, delivered when it mattered most.
When Craig Newitt pulled the wrong rein and decided to ride Samaready instead of Lankan Rupee, Schofield got the call up to be the new jockey for the recent Oakleigh Plate winner which blitzed a very good field.
In fact, the trifecta in the Newmarket was the exact same trifecta as in the Oakleigh Plate.
We’re betting that Hong Kong racing fans will be seeing the young jockey riding in the city in the not-too-distant future.
COMMINGLING AND STIMULATING THOSE SIMULTANEOUS BROADCASTS
With the future of commingling in mind and no time like the present to start putting those building blocks in place, surely background stories like those about the win of Lankan Rupee plus post-race campaigns about a brilliant running of the Darley Australian Cup that saw Gai Waterhouse and Damien Oliver take it out with the brilliant Fiorente are what the HKJC should make part of a CAMPAIGN for its simultaneous broadcasts- a campaign across various media featuring racing edutainment for local fans of the sport?
Right now, other than atrociously produced one-off programs with irrelevant guest panelists followed by a roaring silence, these fans are in the dark about the big International races and their main attractions while these simultaneous broadcasts barely scratch the surface of everything they can and should achieve.
HORSE RACING IS NOT A SPORT?
In one of its many dire promo spots- one featuring jockeys Chris Symon and Katelyn Mallyon is particularly awkward and awful- RSN states that the Australian radio station is about “racing and sport”.
Why the differentiation?
Racing is not sport and jockeys are not athletes?
Hell, Ben Hur- or Charlton Heston- was probably the world’s first jockey.
Surely, it’s old fashioned thinking like this that keeps horse racing in the Dark Ages and being perceived as a mug’s game- and an addiction by the anti-gambling lobby.