GET BACK JOAO JOAO TO WHERE YOU BELONG: THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Coming to the last race at Shatin on Sunday, punters and the fanatical Joao Moreira Fan Club piled their last gasp money onto Khaya hoping that “Thor” would get his magical mojo back and ride, at least, one winner on the eleven race card.
Alas, the moment the gates opened, it was adios, amigos and Khaya became Aiiiyaaa when, unlike its last start, below, where Moreira bustled the John Size-trained galloper out of a wide draw, and drove it to the front, got it to the inside rail, and, first past the winning post, this time it suffered from one of those unfortunate things that appear in the Stipes Report as the horse “getting away to a slow start”. Yawn.
These “slow starts” were something that became habit-forming a few seasons ago when Brett Prebble somehow managed to miss the kick- over and over again- especially when on a David Hall runner- and which certainly didn’t endear him to racing fans and the Chinese racing media which, all too often, comes up with some of the strangest conspiracy theories. With great power comes more and more weird theories.
As for Joao Moreira, the bubble burst badly on Sunday. Everyone has an off day, but, for a rider the calibre of Joao Moreira who’s been regularly riding doubles and trebles and winning The Jockey Challenge with such consummate ease, having only one of his rides run a placing has tongues wagging in city where racing is followed as reverently as a Korean soap opera.
His flops on Sterling City and Designs On Rome were not entirely surprising to those who subscribe to the Don’t Believe Everything You Read school of thought.
Whenever John Moore tries to come across as being engaging and earnest about the chances of his horses in any Cup race to the media before the International Races in December, do yourself a favour: Don’t read any of this waffle. It’s utter bollocks. It’s only all about his horses date with destiny in December and not prep races.
In the case of Sterling City, the news that the trainer is considering entering it for the TJ Smith Stakes in Sydney was a huge red alert to cross the horse off your selections. It was the kiss of death and the horse- how good is it, anyway?- ran accordingly. It put in a shocker.
John Moore’s mojo whenever sending his horses to race in Oz always endsin tears. The fung shui is so bad that even the good luck charm of his Jungle Jim khaki safari suit has not helped.
Yes, there’s now Brother Gary, below, based in Sydney, but so what? Being champion trainer in Macau and training in Sydney is like chalk and cheese, and like Bolinos de Balcalhau and a shrimp on the barbie.
A flamboyant character, there is a reason why Gary Moore who loves the spotlight, and loves to boogie even more than Evelyn “Champagne” King has been conspicuous by his absence: lack of success. His mojo is not working either.
As for Joao Moreira, sure, he will bounce back and might even ride eight winners on the one day. But, that unusually barren Sunday has put a dent in The Cult Of Moreira.
Hong Kong punters are an unforgiving lot who live by the code of once-bitten, always suspicious.
For Moreira, who before Sunday could walk on water and turn water into wine, riding only one placing in an eleven race card was too bad to be true.
He will need to pull one helluva lot of rabbits out of his sombrero to win back the racing fans he lost on a day when he had to even take a backseat to battling local rider Jacky Tong who managed to ride a winner.
THE INSIDE TRACK
THE SAD TALE OF THE TRY HARD MELBOURNE TRAINER.
“He dazzles them with bulls*** until they see through it very quickly and then drop kick him.”
That’s been the word about a one-time reasonably successful Melbourne-based trainer and ageing Lothario with a penchant for making moves towards any attractive young thing that crosses his path- female jockeys, stable hands and, most recently, a vet.
Alas, she dumped him, no doubt bored with hearing about his greatness despite not having trained a decent looking winner in what seems like aeons and which he manages to cover up with utter waffle muttered in that familiar basso sotto drone.
HONG KONG RACING’S VERY OWN BONEY M.
It starts off with visuals of Hong Kong’s leading jockeys and trainers over which three anonymous voices take turns waffling on about what it takes to be a successful jockey, a trainer, a mafoo, yada yada yada.
Frankly, we were so busy trying to figure out the faces behind the voices that we tuned out of what was being said. Then came The Big Reveal: It was our mates from Racing To Win- The Three Amigos!
Amigo Brett, Amigo Clint and Amigo Darren were then directed to take turns and each read a few words of one sentence. There’s more. This was followed with them folding their arms in a moment of bizarre choreography, and adopting a stance that brought back memories of the little bloke from Boney M doing his Cossack dance to “Rasputin”. Strange, very strange.
THE AWARD WINNING ART OF RIPLEY
“Racehorse On Newmarket Heath With A Rubbing Down House” by Ripley 2014
The British fine art photographer and artist known as “Ripley” creates large-scale portraits of thoroughbred horses through the use of ultra high resolution digital photography – with cameras capable of shooting up to 200 megapixels – combined with extensive work in post production.
The picture shown is Ripley’s homage to the English painter George Stubbs (1724-1806), Stubbs was renowned for portraying the many Rubbing Down Houses in Newmarket within his compositions in the late 18th century.
Ripley’s portrait features the last surviving Rubbing Down House on Newmarket Heath which he has extensively renovated in post-production. In the distance we can see the modern day Millennium Grandstand on Rowley Mile.
This picture has just won 2nd place in the Fine Art category of the 2014 International Photography Awards, which is worldwide competition based in the USA.
Ripley: “I am incredibly proud that my image came second in the IPA awards – in a horse race 2nd place is alright, but when it is out of 27,000 entries from 104 countries around the globe, and a huge variety of subject matter, I feel I have done my little bit to put equine portraiture back on the international stage”.
“I photograph all the elements separately – the horse is photographed in the training yard with people who are used to handling it which allows for a very relaxed shoot, as are other elements such a skies, grass, tracks, buildings etc. This gives me the freedom to compose the picture like a painter, but rather than being an artists interpretation of the horse, it is actually the horse”
Owners and trainers really appreciate this realness as they know every nuance and detail of their prized thoroughbreds. Over the next 5 years Ripley hopes to create imagery of the best horses around the world, including horses in the UK, USA, Dubai to Hong Kong & Japan, with the view to redefining how thoroughbred horses are portrayed and represented.
THE BEAUTY OF HORSE POWER
THE FAST TRACKER LOOKS FOR A HAPPY ENDING
After all the great theatre over the weekend- Zac Purton’s five winners, the magnificent return to racing by Military Attack and, especially, Ambitious Dragon, the debut of the ultra-impressive Packing Pins, the exuberance of Jacky Tong riding his first season of the season, the very odd lack of magic and winners from Joao Moreira, and the weird and awkward Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner-type of appearance onstage at the presentation ceremony of the Shatin Trophy by businessman Steven Lo- his wife Canny now owns Military Attack- who’s facing a slew of serious graft and money laundering charges, tonight’s meeting is a subdued affair.
Apart from a $9 million Triple Trio jackpot, it’s an average Happy Valley meeting with nothing really popping out like a zit waiting to be squeezed.
Goodness knows where the magic has suddenly gone, but Moreira has a tepid book of rides, and with Dougie Whyte and Nash Rawiller serving out suspensions, it looks like being another “fill up” day for The Zac Man who could easily gallop off with, at least, a treble.
After last week’s rain that sent the Beer Garden crowd home early, it’s Take Two tonight to try and bring some much-needed joie de vivre to a Hong Kong now absolutely pissed off with these student leaders and their Oliver Twisted demands.
Go home, you numbnuts. Whatever support you might have had has gone for good.
The triads are back, “rightfully” occupying their Mongkok “businesses” whereas those brainiacs behind Occupy Central are looking like the clueless showboating poseurs they always were.
Apprentice Ben So who is usually associated with big betting plunges carried off with pinpoint accuracy, should take this out on Kim Glory which is sure to start a short-priced favourite.
It’s interesting that Purton has chosen first-starter Great Toplight from the Fownes yard and Dennis Yip finally giving a ride to his favourite jockey a few seasons ago- Brett Prebble- who rides Joy Together. Great Toplight might start favourite and could be good enough to beat an average field, but I just don’t think it’s that much good as yet and would prefer to see it after a few runs on the board.
The first leg of the Six Up and, time in and time out, there is an upset. Last week, this first leg saw- quelle horreurs- an Almond Lee QUINELLA! Almond Lee has a hard enough task training a winner, let alone a stable quinella.
So, despite form, tips, course specialists etc, take the entire field and go as skinny as Twiggy on some of the other legs.
Though The Zac Attack’s ride Dual Happy has an extremely good chance, it will be even shorter than its jockey. I’ll have it as a banker in this first leg of the Triple Trio and take Dragon Pins, Spirit Soaring and Oxford Charley- it must be dizzy going around and around almost every week- and keep Smart Union VERY safe and which Brett Prebble is riding two pounds over. Namjong Turbo (12) is another lightweight place hope at good odds and racing up a class with Karis Teetan on board.
A tough looking middle leg to the Triple Trio and I would go wide looking for value. Oriental Prosper with Moreira might start favourite, but after watching some of his rides on Sunday, I’ll wait for the Magic Man’s hocus pocus to return before using him as a banker in any bets.
Smart Ball was backed for a stack at its last start- the money turned to confetti- is one I will be including despite the booking of Alvin Ng who rode a shocker on Mega Champion on Sunday. Call me a glutton for punishment.
The one, however, that I’ll take as a banker will be All Win Boy. Andy Suborics, below, has won and come second on this though this was some time ago, but I like the rider being reunited with the galloper in what is a very open race.
These days, whenever Caspar Fownes and The Zac Attack combine everything clicks into place and here, Starting Over has an excellent chance of keeping the dynamic duo’s strike rate on the up and up.
The only other horse I am looking at is Purton’s golfing buddy Neil Callan’s ride. Callan partners the Ricky Yiu-trained Oscar Miracle, and, these days, this jockey-trainer combination must be followed.
Another point: This season, and last season have seen a number of Purton-Callan quinellas and quinella place combinations coming in. It’s trending, chitlins, so hop aboard the bandwagon.
If local celebrity and horse owner Aaron Kwok is at the track, his Calling With Love will be a short-priced favourite. Monsieur Mosse rides the Caspar Fownes-trained runner for the first time and it will be amongst the placings though I can’t see it winning.
I would rather be calling with love on Zac Purton to get Choice Treasure home.
Both Key Witness and Charity Joy are drawn out wide in this 1200 event, but with racing being on the “C” course, it can usually favour horses running on from the back. Both horses have won on the Valley track and with Joao Moreira taking the reins on Key Witness for the first time, tonight will be the night to see if the horse is as good as trainer Tony Cruz thinks it is.
Some astute judges believe the horse to be overrated, and is sure to start under the odds despite two disappointing runs. Still, Cruzy is no amateur when it comes to the merits of horses, and it can’t be left out of bets.
Interestingly, Matty Chadwick, in many ways, Cruz’s stable jockey, sticks with Charity Joy, which is racing up a class after coming a very good third at its last start when again drawn out wide and can run into a placing at big odds.
BEST BET: RACE 1: KIM GLORY(3)
NEXT BEST: RACE 8: KEY WITNESS(7)
VALUE BET: Race 5: ALL WIN BOY (4)
HKJC RACING EXPERT SARIKA CHOY’S SIX UP