(Courtesy of http://www.fasttrack.hk)
LIFE’S PRIORITIES AND NATHAN BERRY.
Why does it take something like the extremely upsetting news about talented young jockey Nathan Berry being suddenly stricken with a virus while in Singapore on a riding contract before so many of us realize our priorities in life and how uncertain life can be?
One day, young Nathan Berry was flying in Singapore riding winner after winner, the next, a virus- and, one day, just how many in Singapore have been stricken with a very similar virus will finally be made known- decides to stop that winning run- in every sad sense of the word.
We have never met Nathan Berry, but what’s happening to him, his closely-knit family, his friends, his new wife, is something that hits home- that life’s priority is to enjoy, support and love real friends and family while we still can- and how so much of our time is spent on, well, actually nothing compared to what- and who- truly matter- and remembering why we’re here.
From a horse racing point of view, the punt, the tips, the gossip, the petty-minded racing “writers” clutching at straws, the tedious pontificating from nickel and dime punters, the totally ineffective- but overpaid- racing club executives who would never get a job in any other industry, and all the transparent politics, pale in comparison while we sit here and think of Nathan Berry, those closest to him, and realize just how fleeting life can be- and what’s REALLY important and who and what’s not.
AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE!
Being patriotic in sports is fine- as long as there are no racial slurs and it’s all good humored sledging between fans- friendly banter on the cheeky side.
We see it in football when rival teams play and we see it in cricket whenever England play Australia and, perhaps, gets a lot more vocal when India play Pakistan.
We also see it in racing via social media when the wearisome battle cry of “Aussie Aussie Aussie” is twittered and twattered every time an Aussie rider wins on a day when a South African like Dougie White rides a treble and a Brazilian like Joao Moreira rides a double and wins the Jockey Challenge as he had been doing week in and week out. Last Wednesday was an exception to the rule.
“Aussie Aussie Aussie” is fine- in small doses- but tweets like, “The Magic Man has lost his wand to Zac” goes down very badly with local punters- and even a trainer like local boy Tony Cruz- and where many of the older generation still have short memories of the shenanigans that have gone on in Hong Kong over the years by a series of “Aussie Aussie Aussie” jockeys and trainers.
It’s probably why, despite being a fine jockey, Brett Prebble has never won over Hong Kong punters and why Aussie trainer David Hall, rightly or wrongly, is looked at suspiciously with the Chinese racing media.
Frankly, it wasn’t until the exploits last season and this one from Tye Angland and Zac Purton have Aussie jockeys managed to shake off the ghosts of the past- Peter Miers, Rod Turvey, Roy Edwards, Bob Burns, Ray Setches, Danny Brereton, Danny Nikolic and a very long list of other Aussie trainers and jockeys who were part of Hong Kong racing- but always under a cloud and under the scrutiny of outspoken and highly-respected local racing personality Tung Biu aka Uncle Bill.
Uncle Bill’s constant finger-pointing at what he thought were “Aussie gangs” and horses being pulled- to him, always by Aussie jockeys- and showing patrol film footage of races in slow-motion and banging his table for effect is not only local racing broadcasting folklore, but is a “baton of thought” passed onto many horse owners weaned on his programs.
It’s also one more reason, why Brazilian Joao Moreira has been so welcomed in Hong Kong and why all those South African jockeys like Bart Leisher, Felix Coetzee, Basil Marcus, below, and a then unknown Dougie Whyte became so much in-demand: They broke whatever “Aussie racing cartel” might have existed those days when Hong Kong racing was taking baby steps.
So, when it comes to tweeting “Aussie Aussie Aussie”, though meant well, it could be doing a massive disservice to the very riders one is cheering on by patriotism coming off as racism and creating a Them versus Us chasm which could mean losing the support of the Chinese racing media that can make or break many careers and whose “reportage” has seen many horses move stables- and jockeys lose rides.
TALK IS CHEAP
Talk at trackwork earlier this week reached a crescendo about Chief Stipe Kim Kelly’s family having, apparently, left for Oz, and that Hong Kong’s Eliot Ness of Racing is set to leave for a new gig with Racing NSW.
Kim Kelly leaving to work alongside Peter V’Lundies when he and his Untouchables run the show on Hong Kong race days?
We can’t see it, and agree with his decisions or not, Kelly is respected and tough, so let’s hope this talk of him leaving is just that- talk- as it will be a loss to Hong Kong racing- and just more talk emanating from that notorious- and often vicious- Hong Kong’s racevine where one never knows who wears the white hat.
ZAC TO SHOW HIS WIZARDRY IN OZ.
Good to see that The Zac Attack has FINALLY been offered a decent ride back in Oz- the first he will ride in his home in almost six years- when he partners the Chris Waller-trained Sacred Falls in the George Ryder Stakes in Sydney on March 29,
We must confess that the headline- “Purton to ride for Chris Waller” did make us go, “Oh, gawd, NOOOOO!”
Mercifully, it’s just for the one ride- and which The Fawning Fat Kid, below, will, no doubt, talk up as he does every single Waller runner while our old mate Christian Nichopropandalus will make loud sucking sounds while fuming inside that he can’t be in Hong Kong.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
It’s good to see our old mate Mark Read, below, back- healthy, VERY wealthy and wise- and promoting and advertising on Best Bets his offers on Hong Kong and “Better odds than the Hong Kong Jockey Club”.
Of course, as most of us who know the ins and outs of Aussie racing, the very astute Mark Read- described as being a “serial entrepreneur” and well-known for a massive plunge on his unknown three-year old Getting Closer- 200 to 1 to $2.90 and which won by three lengths- will always remain dubious about Sydney racing as old Fine Cotton wounds will never heal and with some of yesterday’s results at Rosehill bearing this out.
It’s also interesting to see the old boy on twitter with his profile stating that he is, “Hong Kong’s premier bookmaker,” something that raised more than our eyebrows.
The astute Mark Read never does anything in halves and must have a very interesting Big Picture plan in the works, especially when commingling begins and how the Hong Kong tote can be used.
GOOD GRIEF! THE FAST TRACKER THINKS ALVIN NG MIGHT RIDE A WINNER TODAY!!!
With Dougie Whyte serving out a two meeting suspension, the competitiveness between The Three Musketeers of Hong Kong racing- Whyte, Moreira and Purton- will be sorely missed at Shatin today and next week when The Magic Man starts HIS three meeting suspension.
Sure, races are races and Hong Kong punters will even bet on which cockroach- not human cockroaches- will run up a drainpipe first, but since the arrival of Joao Moreira last October, like it or not, he has single-handedly changed the face of Hong Kong racing by giving the city its first pinup jockey.
Looking at today’s card, take a look at which horses Dougie Whyte- probably sleeping with Akeed Mofeed these days- might have fought to get on.
Whoever is on them is certain to be on some very fit horses with winning chances so let’s hope that the god person has been kind and thrown apprentice Alvin “The Chipmunk” Ng, who seems as if he hasn’t ridden a winner in years, one of these bones. Or, at least, a boner.
Looking at the card, the first thing I noticed is that Purton, especially, and Moreira might have the pick of the rides, but they also have some horror draws to contend with while “The Chipmunk” just might crack his long day’s journey of outs today- and at good odds- on a very tough looking card.
R1 JUST ACE
Quite a few here that need more distance or more time, but the Japanese-bred Just Ace looks primed for this.
Manipulation was working well, but has been going backwards recently whereas Bullish Smart could make it a Just Ace/Bullish Smart quinella.
R2 BEAUTY KING/POWER BLITZ/SPECTACULAR AWARD/LOTUS LOVE
A truly awful race made a little interesting with Joao Moreira riding a horse for Tony Cruz- Beauty King- which is racing down a class along with the awkwardly drawn Power Blitz which joined the very much in-form Richard Gibson yard only recently.
The rest of the runners are a weak lot and, again, if at the races at Shatin, I suggest giving this race a rest and, instead, elbowing others out of the way, hitting the buffet table and making a pagoda by dumping everything you can onto one plate- Hong Kong-style.
If at home and watching the races on ATV Home- the Chinese channel and not ATV World, the English channel-try and find this “ATV Asia channel” that keeps being mentioned where we need to switch, too, every time the broadcast of the races run past 6pm and ATV Home cuts for the Main News leaving many racing fans lost.
R3 GIDEON/STAG KNIGHT
Gideon ran a decent third at its last outing and should go close to taking this out for the Paul O’Sullivan-Zac Purton combo whereas John Moore unveils debutant Stag Knight, a son of Lohnro that has been working well and could turn out to be something special depending on what we see today on race day. Matty Chadwick on Red Courage can run into a placing whereas the lightly-weighted Golden Gunners could add value into tierces.
R4 GUN PIT/FASTER MORE/THANKSGIVING/TELECOM PRINCE
Alvin Ng riding Thanksgiving for John Moore??? And, what’s more, definitely not without a chance.
R5 INFINITE COURAGE/OPTIMIZATION STAR/PUBLIC FIGURE/NAMJONG TURBO
The first leg of the Triple Trio and let’s not forget that shocker of a result in the first leg of the TT on Wednesday.
Public Figure which used to go so well for Greg Cheyne a number of seasons ago, has been slowly finding some semblance of form and will be my banker for value.
R6 LONGWAH AMBER/REGENCY HO HO
There has been so much written about the incredible bias of drawing the outside barriers in these 1000 metre sprint races in Shatin that it will be interesting to see how the much-touted $7.5m purchase and first-starter Longwah Amber from the sprinting team of Gary Ng and Eddie Lai, and Regency Ho Ho- which Dougie Whyte would have ridden- fare from barriers 3 and 4, respectively.
It’s a tough race because of the barriers and many runners with any exposed form so, if taking a Six Up Bonus which I reckon will pay VERY well today, throw in Sugar and Trendiful.
R7 KYNAM/SPURS ON/SUPER TEAM/HECO RIDER
R8 TANGO FIRE/SUPER ABUNDANTE/TOUCH GO/DANE PATROL
If The Magic Man on Super Abundante flops, this could very easily be a quinella featuring the two apprentices.
R9 ARCHIPPUS/WONDERFUL MOMENTS
A duel between the Zac Attack and The Magic Man- both drawn outside barriers? But their horses should be too good for this lot.
R10 BULLISH FRIEND/FLASH KNIGHT/MAJESTIC FALCON/HARD BALL GET
Down a class PLUS apprentice Alvin Ng’s allowance, Bullish Friend just might be his new mentor- Tony Cruz- serving him up a winner.
The former WA galloper Hard Ball Get could be the big improver in another tough race with nothing exactly SCREAMING out, BACK ME and John Moore having three runners in a Class 2 race with two of these racing down a class- so, BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH!
If my new mate- Alvin “The Chipmunk” Ng- can get a soft lead on Grimmy, it just might hold on for a win.
Sure, sure, High Chapparel as an outsider on Wednesday and now tipping so many of The Chipmunk’s rides?
Hey, High Chapparel didn’t run THAT badly in a race where a 100 to 1 pop came within a short head of winning it. Perhaps if the owners gave High Chapperal its correct spelling, it might give the poor thing the will to win.
BEST BET R1 JUST ACE (5)
NEXT BEST R3 GIDEON (3)
LONGSHOT R10 BULLISH FRIEND (1)
SARIKA’S SIX UP
Today’s Selections for Sha Tin from Third Dividend
SHA TIN (HKG)
Day Races @HKJC_Racing
Turf (“C+3” Course)
Weather: Cloudy and cool in the morning. Mainly fine and dry during the day. The maximum temperature will be about 22 degrees. Moderate to fresh easterly winds, occasionally strong offshore at first.
Race 1: AZALEA PLACE GRIFFIN RACE
1 – Bullish Smart (1)
2 – Just Ace (5)
3 – Manipulation (6)
4 – Exaggeration (3)
Race 2: CINERARIA HCP CL5
1 – Powr Blitz (1)
2 – Lotus Love (13)
3 – Solar Dragon (3)
4 – Beauty King (2)
Race 3: DAFFODIL HCP CL4
1 – Gideon (3)
2 – Stag Night (8)
3 – Red Courage (7)
4 – Golden Gunners (12)
Race 4: DENDROBUIM HCP CL4
1 – Telecom Prince (7)
2 – Thanksgiving (2)
3 – Gun Pit (3)
4 – Faster More (5)
Race 5: FRESIA HCP CL5
1 – Infinite Courage (10)
2 – Public Figure (12)
3 – Optimization Star (5)
4 – Mobile King (4)
Race 6: THE 18 DISTRICTS HCP CL4
1 – Regency Ho Ho (4)
2 – Real Fit (3)
3 – Horse Supremo (5)
4 – Well Fit (1)
Race 7: HYACINTH HCP CL4
1 – Kynam (7)
2 – Island Garden (5)
3 – Mighty Equus (8)
4 – Heco Rider (1)
Race 8 (Q1): KALANCHOE HCP CL3
1 – Super Abundante (11)
2 – Pure Force (10)
3 – Tango Fire (5)
4 – Berlinski (3)
Race 9 (Q2): THE KOWLOON CROCKET CLUB CENTENARY CUP HCP CL3
1 – Archippus (5)
2 – Wonderful Moments (6)
3 – Jaeger Bomb (11)
4 – Giggles Forever (10)
Race 10 (Q3): PEONY HCP CL2
1 – Dundonnell (2)
2 – Majestic Falcon (7)
3 – Flash Knight (3)
4 – Bullish Friend (1)
Race 11 (Q4): PRIMULA HCP CL3
1 – Swift Shadow (2)
2 – Formula One (12)
3 – Principal (5)
4 – Sun Pins (13)
Race 3: Gideon (3)
Race 10: Swift Shadow (2)
Race 5: Infinite Courage (10) – Currently, $11.00/$3.50
Race 6: Well Fit (1) – Currently, $12.00/$3.60
Quaddie ($100 get you %)
SELECTIONS FROM THE BIG APPLE (@SW064351)
Race 8, No. 5 Tango Fire
Excels down the straight and gets a handy claim. Take beating.
Race 10, No. 8 Sea Dragon
Has been slightly disappointing of late. Drops back in journey and can bounce back.
Race 11, No. 11 Divine Diya
Consistent type who is drawn well and is returning to his pet distance. Worth thought.
Race 10, No. 2 Dundonnell
Had a tough run last weekend and is on a quick back-up.
2,5 / 5,6 / 1,3,8,9 / 2,5,11,12,13. $50 for 62.50%.