MOREIRA NOW BECOMES THE WIZARD OF OZ
He might have drawn a blank at Shatin on Sunday, but Joao Joao got back to where he belongs- the winner’s circle- by taking out The Lexus on the Darren Weir-trained Signoff at Flemington on Derby Day.
He not just won the race which takes Signoff into the Melbourne Cup, Joao Moreira treated Australian racing fans to that almost balletic riding style that Hong Kong racing fans know so well.
It was poetry in motion also seen with another winning ride on Brazen Beau, and was then involved in a thrilling finish in the Mackinnon Stakes between Moreira on He’s Your Man and Damian Oliver on Happy Trails- two great riders with very different riding styles and the brilliance of Ollie winning this round.
THE HAPPY WEDNESDAY SCHOOL OF LEARNING
When after winning the night’s feature race on Choice Treasure, Zac Purton bushwhacked singer Ben Semmens by coming into frame and yelling out, “YEAH, BOY!” straight into his new GOPRO camera with which he was “documenting” the evening, it, again, showed the bon homie at these Happy Wednesday race meetings where one cannot help but get to know the main attractions, the supporting cast and what horse racing is all about.
If there ever was a Dummies Guide To Racing in one highly entertaining on-course classroom, this is it- nights where jockeys smile and make wry comments to their mates as they go by in the parade ring, make sure they throw their goggles to who they know in the crowd, and check out the female scenery backstage of the Beer Garden on the way to the start of the 1800 meter races. On Wednesday, it was the Oompah Girls direct from Berlin.
Even before the first race has been run, the different attractions at these mid-week meetings have met up and “co-mingled.” It’s then showtime.
On Wednesday night with potential sponsors present along with visitors from Melbourne who were taking in a Happy Wednesday night for the first time, the recurring theme was how they had attended other race meetings- but nothing as remotely as much fun and down-to-earth without any of the pomposity- and loutish behaviour- that weighs down and sinks many racing carnivals.
Of course, as with anything successful, it can’t carry on without the creative envelope being pushed, and here, perhaps there should be something to “officially” start these Happy Wednesday nights- something to warm up the crowd like ‘live’ music while the venues are being filled up?
With a strict Noise Ordinance to adhere to along with some party poopers living in apartments overlooking the racecourse, the ‘live’ music that works like a magnet in drawing crowds from everywhere to the front of the stage, ends after race six, which really is like unfulfilled sex, and losing many in the Beer Garden crowd to Dust Till Dawn and other parts of Wanchai.
Even if the Happy Wednesday party could continue as a semi-acoustic ‘live’ music set, or even a full-scale party at Adrenaline, it would mean more two more races and two more opportunities for racing’s newbies to “hone” their unique betting techniques- like the young French lady we know who bet her $5000 profit for the night on Happy Yeah Yeah in the last race as she was at a Happy Wednesday night and netted over a Happy Happy hundred thousand grand.
Some guys might have all the luck, but some girls don’t do too badly- and who needs tips, speed maps and racing knowledge as the $5000 profit was made by backing Matthew Chadwick’s three winners as her ex was named Matthieu. Go figure.
ASPIRATION: IT’S WHAT MAKES HONG KONG RACING ROLL. AND ROCK.
“There’s a thirty year WAITING list to join the Hong Kong Jockey Club???”
“Did you see the watch that trainer was wearing?” “That jockey and trainer has the latest Ferrari AND BMW model?”
These were just some of the questions asked with genuine incredulousness by a group of visitors from Melbourne attending their first Happy Wednesday race meeting earlier this week.
From the outside looking in, this might sound like crass materialism and self-indulgent posturing. In Hong Kong, many will shrug their shoulders and say, If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Aspiration- it’s a key word associated with Hong Kong advertising strategies and campaigns for so many decades for almost every product. And horse racing is a product.
To become a member of the HKJC, to race a horse, to win a race with your horse is all about aspiration. And if the HKJC forgets this, or the word falls through the cracks- well, no, it wouldn’t.
Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of the HKJC, would not allow this to happen. He understands that aspiration is what makes life in Hong Kong roll- and is also what other racing clubs aspire to be as this strategy is what sees the HKJC in the Premier League- a racing club that has set the standard when, yes, it comes to turnover, venues, new technology, and, in recent months, added clout with its trio of racing ambassadors- Zac Purton, Joao Moreira and Douglas Whyte- winning races overseas and Hong Kong horses winning in Dubai, Singapore and the US.
If all goes according to script, some of the finest equine heroes will be doing battle on Longines International Day in December for nationalistic pride and a substantial boost in prize money.
Dubbed “The Greatest Show On Turf”, this is when the racing world comes together to Occupy Shatin as the HKJC produces a cast that’s racing’s equivalent of The United Colours Of Benetton- an international array of talent as cosmopolitan as the city itself.
And though this has been written before the running of The Breeders Cup in Santa Anita, what a great story it would be if Hong Kong Chinese trainer Michael Chang would combine with French jockey Olivier Delouze were to win this race for its Hong Kong owners with Rich Tapestry.
THE INSIDE TRACK
THE PLEASURE AND PAYNE OF WINNING.
When she’s good, she’s very very good, and when she’s bad, she can be a menace, and the latest suspension incurred by jockey Michelle Payne- a 20-meeting suspension for her winning ride on Prince Of Penzance that “helped” bring down Chad Schofield though, fortunately, nothing serious- have, we hear, many of her fellow riders- even those closest to her- thinking she should take a permanent holiday.
THE RETURN OF THE RODD.
On the subject of holidays, after a strange few weeks playing hide and seek with race-goers, it’s good to see our good mate Michael Rodd back amongst the winners- many winners- in recent weeks.
Let’s hope the short stint in Swingabore where, to most Singaporeans, there is no racing, is only an extra refresher course, and not something more permanent. Like Corey Brown, once named “Hong Kong’s Sunshine Jockey” by the Chinese racing media for being able to smile despite the lack of stable support when he rode here a number of years ago, “Hot Rodd” is too good a jockey to lose permanently to the Lion City.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Oompah Girl: “You’re putting words in my mouth.”
Racingbitch: “Nah, I’m not going to put anything in your mouth.”
Ben Semmens: “Man, Zac’s not arrogant, he’s just confident and is out there having a good time. He couldn’t give a f*** what anyone thinks.”
We were quite taken aback/puzzled/ to be sitting at Adrenaline after the last race on Wednesday night, stare up at the television monitors and watch a new HKJC production extraordinaire that takes reality television to another level. Probably the basement.
For an hour we watched in almost tripped out disbelief as three hosts- no, no, not The Three Amigos- go through the ritual of readying themselves to film, we can only guess, a wrap up of the night’s races. Cameras zoomed in and out, chairs were moved this way and that way, the hosts played with each other’s, well, hair- all totally oblivious that everything going on was being watched, ‘live’ and uncut to a somewhat bewitched, bothered and bewildered audience at Adrenaline.
THE BEAUTY OF HORSE POWER
THE FAST TRACKER AND UNBEATABLE GUTS!
It’s been lean pickings so far this season for Matthew Chadwick, and so, it was good to see him come roaring back by riding a treble on an extremely tough to figure out Happy Valley track on Wednesday night.
What wasn’t good to see was notorious photo bomber Nat Chan- he with the skunk coloured hair- leading in Let’s Goal as owner Ricky Ma was not on track as, at over 25 to 1, he probably thought the only goal his horse would score would be an own goal, which, in a way, it did.
Winners on Wednesday were coming in from all over the place- out wide, the inside, the middle- and Chadwick rode his three winners for luck and kept out of harm’s way while many other riders kept getting caught up in various traffic jams where favourites bit the dust and that Queen song kept playing in one’s head, and why there was no winner of the Six Up Bonus.
It was one of those days- and what a night for the sweet young thing, who, coming to the last race and $5,800 up, put it all on Happy Yeah Yeah as she liked the name and because it was a Happy Wednesday night. Happy Yeah Yeah won at a little over 20 to 1. Yeah Yeah Yeah.
As for today, on a card with a few of those all-weather-all-bother races, my feeling is that Joao Joao will get back to where he belongs whereas The Zac Attack, with not a strong book of rides, might be thinking of his date with destiny on Tuesday when he partners Admire Rakti in the Melbourne Cup- and which he should win- with Moreira on Signoff set to run a very big race.
Even if Monsieur Mosse were to take Triumphant Dragon six wide and make a pit stop at McDonald’s for some McFries and then join the race, he should still win this race.
The rather funky named UNBEATABLE GUTS should score here for that funky wild boy Zac Purton. YEAH, BOY!
Take the 6-10 quinella.
The first leg of the Triple Trio with The Zac Attack having one of his better rides aboard Money Cafe which will start favourite. I prefer Flying In, Prince Haradasun and The Only Kid, which always goes well for Monsieur Mosse who, so far this season, is showing a strange aversion to riding anything along the rails preferring to keep his horses three and four wide. Extraordinaire.
Fingers crossed that Natalis Chan aka Skunk Man doesn’t photo bomb the winning picture as the only horse he owns- Kharu- is in this race.
Away from the favourites- Startling Power, Fair Wind, Mellifluent and Confucius Elite- keep an eye out for Getaway Guy which has yet to show the potential it is meant to have. It’s been working well and could place at good odds and add value to the first Quartet of the day.
Neil Callan is on topweight Top Act which might stop its winning though it should run a placing and is the logical banker in the last leg of the Triple Trio.
Could be a tricky one with two value chances set to show big improvement- Selkirk Star and Medic Master.
Despite an impressive strike rate and a reputation amongst the hardcore racing fans as a jockey they always can bank when on a horse with a winning chance, Neil Callan still flies under the radar as far as column inches are concerned.
One doubts the tough Irishman and knowledgable horseman gives a toss as long as he rides winners and should add to his tally ho here, chaps with his regular ride- the Derek Cruz-trained Lovely Delovely. Drawn barrier 13- such a plus over the 1000m it competes in here- this impressive sprinter should rack up another win and looks headed for better things.
A tough race as are most Quartet races where there is always a fly in the ointment that comes in at huge odds and has made this a very popular bet.
Here we have a minefield- good chances drawn out wide, last start winners running up a class, eye-catching jockey engagements etc- in a very tough race to finish up the day.
Selections: Quartet: Multiple bankers: 2,13. Legs: 3,4,5,6,9,12
BEST BET: R8 LOVELY DELOVELY (2)
NEXT BET: R2 UNBEATABLE GUTS (6)
VALUE BET: R9 GREAT SPIRIT (7)
JOCKEY CHALLENGE: NEIL CALLAN
HKJC RACING EXPERT SARIKA CHOY’S SIX UP