CAPTAIN FANTASTIC AND THE BROWN DIRT COWBOY STRIKE GOLD IN CALIFORNIA-AND WIN A BIG ONE FOR DRUGS-FREE RACING!
That now-familiar globe trotting team of trainer Michael Chang, jockey Olivier Delouze and dirt specialist Rich Tapestry combined again on the weekend, this time to take out the Group One Santa Anita Sprint Championship on early Monday morning, Hong Kong time, in California, and kept hopes more than alive for a repeat in the Breeder’s Cup Sprint next month at the same course.
Like a duck takes to water, the very popular Delouze- the French “Brown Dirt Cowboy”- can never ever be ignored when riding in any race on the dirt, a surface on which he holds an incredibly successful record. And what a brilliant achievement for “Captain Fantastic”- Michael Chang, the quiet, unassuming trainer, who almost didn’t receive a visa to attend the race until HKJC Executive Director Of Racing- Bill Nader- intervened and ensured he would be there- and who had learnt part of his trade in Santa Anita.
As for Rich Tapestry, well, he proved he didn’t need the anti-bleeding drug Lasix- perceived by many as a disadvantage to the Hong Kong horse- to take out the race against last year’s Breeder’s Cup Sprint Winner, Secret Circle, and Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile winner, Goldcents, who dominated the betting in the small five-horse field.
Bravo to the connections of the horse for supporting the HKJC in sticking to its guns, not wavering from its firm stance against Lasix- and winning its fight for drugs-free racing.
MOREIRA’S MAGNIFICENT MAGICAL SEVEN!
Joao Moreira, the Harry Potter of Racing, had his wand working overtime on the weekend by winning a magnificent seven races- three at Randwick on Saturday, and four at Shatin.
Not even giving a talking down by RNSW Chief Steward Ray Murrihy for excessive use of the whip on the Gai Waterhouse-trained Hampton Court under the rules of Australian Racing along with a $500 fine could wipe that infectious smile off the brilliant Brazilian jockey’s face.
Though he had won and ridden in Oz before, mainly for Nathan Tinkler when the Fat Boy of racing was the Big Cheeseburger Down Under with his Patinack Farm before his business went horribly wrong and he disappeared into the bowels of Singapore, The Cult Of Moreira was not what it is today, and one doubts all that magic we see today had reached Kriss Angel proportions.
By riding a treble and taking out the Group 1 Epsom Stakes on He’s Your Man for leading trainer Chris Waller and winning over the racing media with his effusive Mr Nice Guy personality, the charismatic Joao Moreira has more than endeared himself with the Australian racing fraternity including that notoriously fickle breed of animal called The Punter.
To say that he has the whole world in his hands- the global racing world- would be an understatement and questions like what rides he’ll be offered for the Melbourne Cup- they’ll come- and, especially, his plans- and offers to weigh out from many quarters-after his six month riding license in Hong Kong runs out will be interesting to say the least.
L’ART DE PRIX DE L’ARC DE TRIOMPHE.
When pointing out the creativity of the work, the popular reply has been, “Well, when you have all the money in the world, everything is possible”. Right and also very wrong.
The video presentation screened on L’Ecole Militaire could not have been inexpensive, but there was an IDEA there, just as there was a simple, yet effective IDEA behind the advertisement for the big race. Technology nor the technique was the idea.
The idea was a standalone and not some of the embarrassments seen recently like the commercial promoting the daft oxymoron called “Relaxed Racing” and throwing in the kitchen sink to advertise Sydney’s “chumpionships”.
These were “fine” examples of committee decision prattle no doubt cranked out to please only those arbiters of creativity on committees- which sank without trace unlike a brand like the HKJC’s Happy Wednesday that is ongoing and evolving as is the Club’s strategy to heighten the customer experience at both Shatin and Happy Valley through a variety of venues for different demographics.
The creative work for The Arc had racing and non-racing fans see how exciting the sport can look- how it’s more than plodding paddock parades, talking wobble-heads on television and gibberers, fawning groupies and know-it-alls on social media with zero clout.
It’s all about horses for courses and, yes, appealing to the hardcore punter, and, also yes, providing them with all the data needed to win, is very important.
But there’s the bigger picture: Looking beyond this captive and ageing market, there’s the need to pull the boot strings up, and show the sport in a different light to being perceived as a game for racing tragics with absolutely no flair, excitement or aspirational value.
And when the Criquette Head-trained and Thierry Jarnet-ridden Treve defied the odds to win the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, all the pieces fit. It was a fairy tale ending to the greatest horse race toute le monde.
THE FAST TRACKER KICKS BACK AT SHATIN TONIGHT.
The two “sure things” of the day on Sunday when working out Six Ups- Terrific Master and Sensation- flopped in the first two legs, which means a good jackpot for this weekend, but what we saw at Shatin on Sunday was some of the best racing in the world- competitive, great riding by Whyte, Moreira and Purton, the return of Designs On Rome and some very smart first starters- Tony Millard’s South African import Secret Command and the Italian import from the Tony Cruz yard- Beauty Only.
When Beauty Only left a field of reasonable gallopers looking as if their hooves were glued to the turf, one couldn’t help but recognise the fact that Neil Callan is no longer here to just make up the numbers.
After a slow start and what momentarily looked like a Straight Gold partnership with John Moore, and then fighting city hall with barrister Kevin Egan by his side and winning his appeal against a long suspension for careless riding, Callan has not let the spate of suspensions after that victory slow him down.
He’s riding with supreme confidence, he was won over a tough task master like Tony Cruz, who is relying on him more and more, and has a strong affiliation with the Ricky Yiu stable.
Away from the track, he has also proven himself to be an extremely good judge when having time-off and being a guest of the HKJC team during their ‘live’ broadcasts, and is known as a straight talker- and a never-say-die rider who might not be the most stylish, but gets the job done.
What do I think about tonight’s races? With Moreira having started a three meeting suspension and Nash Rawiller starting his Hong Kong stint this evening, there’s an open look to a card dominated by all-weather, all-bother races.
Apart from saying wait for the weekend, suggestions for the night are:
Race 1: 5-7-1-3
Race 2: 1-6-7-2
Race 3: 3-1-10-7
Race 4: 9-10-2-3
Race 5: 2-8-9-11
Race 6: 8-1-6-2
Race 7: 7-3-5-1
Race 8: 12-4-9-1
SARIKA’S SIX UP