Well, no one can say that horse racing is pedestrian or predictable- especially after all that did and did not transpire at sun kissed Shatin on Sunday.
Of course, the Dark Star of the day was when $1.20 favorite for the Champions and Chater Cup- Designs On Rome- an over-the-line special to so many so many days in advance and set to be one of the best stayers in the world, knocked up faster than a Kardashian by a basketball player.
It ran like a tired horse simply needing a break much like us human beings needing a break from all that Kanye West-Kim Kardashian wedding ballyhoo.
Designs On Rome was so over it, it didn’t even run a place; it plodded home fifth looking for the nearest bar with Blazing Speed taking out the race for the unlikely team of Tony Cruz and Neil Callan, which is as weird sounding as talking about a song written by Michael Jackson and Rolf Harris.
But win the new C team did, and it was a huge coup for the Macau-born trainer and former champion Hong Kong jockey and the tough Irish jockey to take out this Group 1 race.
Did they receive the deserved kudos? Not really. It was a Rodney Dangerfield moment.
The parochial pettiness of some in the peanut gallery of horse racing never fails to amaze us, but all kudos to Cruzy and, especially, Callan whose tough, give-no-inch style of riding has won him supporters, has had him incur the wrath of the Furio Stewards, and on Sunday, the sun bathed him in Group 1 glory.
It’s been one helluva riding stint in Hong Kong and we’re glad Callan’s stuck it out, taken the good with the bad and, on Sunday, produced a VERY good ride- as good as anything produced by Hong Kong’s top three riders.
Elsewhere on the card, Aussie Zac Purton rode like a man possessed and pursued by the zealousness of Kim Kardashian and racked up a brilliant four-timer including the fifth consecutive win for the Paul O’Sullivan-trained Aerovelocity before copping a two-day suspension showing how the yin and ying tongs of racing work their own weird karmic interludes.
As for Magic Moreira, well, for the first time since arriving in Hong Kong, the popular Brazilian’s mojo was not working and he had the dubious honor of not only not riding a winner, but not even riding a runner-up.
Let’s just hope that- poof- the magic hasn’t dissipated like Alice disappearing down the rabbit hole.
Of course with the no-show by Designs On Rome- too good a horse to write off after one bad run- there is a Six Up Bonus to look forward to next Sunday.
It was meant to be a “fill up” day that started so well when those in the money saluted in the first six races before the rot set in and all those tipsters-for-hire with their loud BOOM BOOMS and BANG BANGS and slap-happy back-slapping got curiouser and curiouser mute, Alice, as if overcome by shrinkage.
As in football, as in cricket, as in rugby, patriotism, jingoism and whateverism is great for any sport.
But, in horse racing, perhaps it says much about a sport in the middle of change, that often- and very noticeably in cosmopolitan Hong Kong- how there’s a strong imbalance to all this rah rah ranting which reduces grown men to fawning Plaster Caster-type groupies desperately seeking acknowledgement and a free entry to Groupies Anonymous while having a knock-down effect on those they’re supporting.
Still, to each their own and, at least, this shows some form of passion, albeit, on social media, passion in a kinda funny/sad sycophantic manner.
HAY MARKET AND THE IMPORTANCE OF VENUES TO ENHANCE THE CONSUMER EXPERIENCE.
It might be called Hay Market as opposed to Haymarket, but this new HKJC venue located at Grandstand 11 at the Shatin Racecourse is no barn for George Orwell’s Animal Farm refugees.
In fact, when tweeting a few photographs of its magnificently designed interiors, a twitter Klout Moment was scored.
Simply put, Hay Market- we’ll continue to call it Haymarket- is a venue not really seen on many race courses- a combination of rustic England and a contemporary environment, all part of the HKJC’s continuing strategy of catering to different customer groups- a strategy that should be made known so that race-goers realize all that’s being done to enhance the consumer experience.
Though, for the moment, these HKJC venues are only allowed to be used on race days due to prehistoric government rules and regulations, here’s hoping that sanity rules and that the bureaucrats understand that there’s a word other than No.
It’s called Yes.
Yes, Minister, Don’t Say No.
CHRISTIAN REITH: ROLE MODEL
There aren’t many, but every so often, horse racing throws up a very real Feel Good story- and Sydney- based jockey Christian Reith is one of them.
We first saw this gifted young rider when a young gun riding in Macau- enormously talented, very much in demand, but like our friend Sethi Katsidis, below, who we lost way too soon, was haunted and burdened by the usual demons that find their way into the lives of so many young riders.
Whereas Sethi lost that battle, Christian Reith has looked the devil in the eye, the devil blinked first, and the jockey is, today, seen as being a great role model to those riders coming up the ranks.
In a surprising, but welcomed and interesting move, Reith, a close friend of the Berry family, and who flew to Singapore to be with Nathan Berry during those dark days, has had the call-up to ride in Hong Kong for three meetings in June.
This follows a shortage of riders through injuries and suspensions, and Reith was at Shatin on Sunday absorbing and observing racing here.
In a sport where the likability of a jockey is key with Chinese race-goers and the local racing media with “success rates” acknowledged- but almost taken as a given- a back story like that of Christian Reith is something that should be talked about and admired.
Also, at a time when those new to the sport are finding their feet and getting their heads around racing, having Christian Reith meet and speak to these novices about where he was- and where he is today- should be considered part of a long-term strategy to understand and appreciate the human side of things instead of being pummeled by the “importance” of the punt.
THE FAST TRACKER LETS THE SUN SHINE IN.
Zac Purton held a riding clinic on Sunday with his Fiery Four winners, and with strong chances in almost every race tonight, he should make it impossible for Joao Moreira to catch the tearaway Jockey Premiership leader.
With many of the Zac Attack’s rides certain to be at short odds and with a few small jackpots up for grabs, if playing tonight, one cannot just back the favorites.
Look what happened to “sure thing” Designs On Rome on Sunday! I’m still wiping the egg off my face.
So, while adding a few outsiders which definitely have chances of sneaking in with how I’ll play the races tonight, one cannot forget the way in which Brett Prebble rode Distinct Commander to victory in race two on Sunday.
Prebble rode like a man on a mission in a low class event, which underlined the fact that a winner is a winner, and how horses have no idea about any “class distinctions” in one of the most interesting races on the weekend which should be studied very carefully.
I’m betting that the connections of Distinct Commander were the day’s big winners while the the owner of Ongoing Volatility and his missus, who fired in that futile objection against Aerovelocity, were the big losers on the day.
Overdue congratulations to Paul O’Sullivan for getting five consecutive wins from this never-say-die galloper.
Well done on a magnificent training effort- the training effort of the season in these books.
R1 FORTUNE BRAVO/MASTER GUNNER/BILLION GAINS/CAREFREE PEGASUS
R2 WINE LOVERS/COSMO ONE/JOLLY POSH/TANG PALACE
Tommy Berry should have wine lovers raise their glasses after this race.
R3 YOU KNOW I WIN/MY CUP OVERFLOWS/MEDIC SWORDSMAN
An extremely tough start to the Six Up with some of the better chances drawn out wide and a number of horses that can be on the speed and win without surprising. Looks like a field job just to stay in for maybe only 25 minutes.
R4 BEAUTY KING/GUN PIT/INDIGO WAY/OYSTER
Take Gun Pit and Beauty King out, and what’s left? Not much and there can be some value here in Indigo Way- an unlucky third to Beauty King at its last start- and the lightly weighted Oyster in the first leg of the Triple Trio.
R5 STARTING OVER/KING’S STEED/GOOD GOOD
Despite a class rise, Starting Over should be too good for this lot and another win for the Fownes-Purton Happy Valley hunting grounds. Horse to watch: Danewin Express.
R6 BOTH SURE/CHOICE TREASURE/MERIDIAN TREASURE
Those in the market SHOULD score though when Chris So legs up old friend Jacky Tong on one of his runners, watch out. And in Meridian Treasure, here is a galloper with a good chance of running a place at good odds.
R7 AMBASSADORSHIP/REAL GENEROUS/RIYADH
Going out a little wide here as it’s a pretty confusing looking lineup of runners and with Real Generous with Eddie Lai up looking a very good outsider.
R8 BUNDLE OF JOY/EXCITING DREAM/COUR VALANT/MULTI VICTORY
The John Moore-trained Exciting Dream ran more like A Nightmare On Elm Street at its last start where, maybe, the going of the track and some competitive riding played against it.
Dougie Whyte, below last week with good mate Felix Coetzee, sticks with it and with a two meeting suspension looming over him, one has to wonder why he’s not taken his enforced holiday immediately.
One key reason is his career strategy this season to ride better horses and stay loyal to those trainers with Group 1 equine talent- and no one has this market cornered better than John Moore.
Having bored you with all this, I won’t be backing Exciting Dream to win. Instead, I’ll be taking Bundle Of Joy with Moreira up as my win banker onto the following legs- 1,2,4,5,8,10.
BEST BET R8 BUNDLE OF JOY
NEXT BEST R5 STARTING OVER
LONGSHOT R7 REAL GENEROUS
SARIKA’S HOT SUMMER SIX UP
SELECTIONS FROM THE BIG APPLE (@SW064351)
Jockey Challenge, Z Purton
Has a solid book of rides from the Fownes yard. At $2.70 he looks value.
Race 4, No. 3 Gun Pit
Broke through for brave maiden win last time. Sound claims.
Race 5, No. 2 Horse Aplenty
Lack of pace and should be prominent at the end. Each-way.
2,6,9 / 1,2 / 1,2,3,6,7,9 / 2,4. $50 for 69.44%.
Selections for Happy Valley from Third Dividend 28.5.14
Happy Valley (HKG)
#HValley Night Races @HKJC_Racing
Turf (“A” Course)
Weather: Sunny periods and isolated showers. Hot with a maximum temperature of around 32 degrees in the urban areas, and a couple of degrees higher in the New Territories. Moderate west to southwesterly winds.
Race 1: BLACK’S LINK HANDICAP, 28/05/2014, 19:15, Class 5, Turf, “A” Course, 1650m, Good To Firm
1 – Fortune Bravo (3)
2 – Red Adventure (10)
3 – Rising Power (4)
4 – Casa Junior (2)
Race 2: HONG KONG TRAIL HANDICAP, 28/05/2014, 19:45, Class 5, Turf, “A” Course, 1200m, Good To Firm
1 – Wine Lovers (3)
2 – Flying Keeper (9)
3 – Shanghai Pioneer (4)
4 – Cosmo One (7)
Race 3: SIR CECIL’S RIDE HANDICAP, 28/05/2014, 20:15, Class 4, Turf, “A” Course, 1200m, Good To Firm
1 – You Are The One (5)
2 – Silver Dragon (8)
3 – The Prince (3)
4 – Super Plus (2)
Race 4: TAI TAM COUNTRY TRAIL HANDICAP, 28/05/2014, 20:45, Class 4, Turf, “A” Course, 1650m, Good To Firm
1 – Gun Pit (3)
2 – Indigo Way (1)
3 – Beauty King (6)
4 – Dragon Pins (2)
Race 5 (Q1): MOUNT NICHOLSON HANDICAP, 28/05/2014, 21:15, Class 3, Turf, “A” Course, 1650m, Good To Firm
1 – Danewin Express (3)
2 – Starting Over (9)
3 – Good Good View (6)
4 – Horse Aplenty (2)
Race 6 (Q2): VIOLET HILL HANDICAP, 28/05/2014, 21:45, Class 3, Turf, “A” Course, 1200m, Good To Firm
1 – Choice Treasure (1)
2 – Seasons Star (5)
3 – Both Sure (2)
4 – All The Best (6)
Race 7 (Q3): THE CRICKET CLUB VALLEY STAKES (HANDICAP), 28/05/2014, 22:15, Class 3, Turf, “A” Course, 1800m, Good To Firm
1 – Best Show (2)
2 – Ambassadorship (7)
3 – Real Generous (6)
4 – Medallist (1)
Race 8 (Q4): WONG NAI CHUNG GAP HANDICAP, 28/05/2014, 22:50, Class 2, Turf, “A” Course, 1200m, Good To Firm
1 – Exciting Dream (2)
2 – Cour Valant (10)
3 – Happy Yeah Yeah (9)
4 – Bundle Of Joy (12)
Race 2: Wine Lovers (3)
Race 8: Exciting Dream (2)
Race 5: Danewin Express (3) – Currently, $5.20/$2.30
Race 6: All The Best (6) – Currently, $9.70/$2.30
QUADDIE ($100 get you 39%)