THINGS TO DO AT TONIGHT’S BUDDA-BING-BUDDA-BANG RACE MEETING…
*Get to the races early. Traffic is usually hell between 4-6pm when taxis are sparse, cars and vans and snails crawl up to through Causeway Bay to Sports Road, and remember that Race 1 is at 6.30pm with entertainment at the Beer Garden starting at 6pm.
* Do something/anything to try- begging usually works- and get one of these United Nations Of Racing posters autographed by all jockeys competing in the International Jockey Challenge. There are around twenty available.
* With a HK$2.28 million Six Up jackpot up for grabs- it should swell to around HK$5 million- throw caution to the wind and try to win it. How? By picking the winners from races four to nine.
What will it cost? Use this quickie guide: If you were to pick two horses in each race, this will be 2x2x2x2x2x2, which equals 64 combinations and will cost $640 for 100 percent. You can take it for a half or a third etc. The more combinations, the larger the outlay, Einstein.
* If in the Beer Garden, feel free to jump onstage with Ben, Jay, Anna, Shimika, Marcus, Kenny and Ricky and dance your ass off to “Pumped Up Kicks”, or anything else that moves you.
* Head to Adrenaline- Second Floor, Entrance C- and chillax. The gorgeous Jennifer Palor, below, fresh after her Amy Winehouse tribute show, performs. She is excellent.
* Try and get to meet any of these lovely ladies at the post-race party at Adrenaline. Firm favourites from the pundits are Miss Ireland, Miss France and Miss New Zealand.
THE FAST TRACKER TAKES ON THE CHALLENGE
Trillion Treasure (7)
Rugby Diamond (4)
Triumphant Jewel (11)
Brilliant Proposal (12)
One Of A Kind (5)
South China Command (11)
Win It (6)
Fire Starter (9)
Glorie Horsie (8)
Jolly Posh (5)
Flashing Guy (12)
Harbour Master (2)
Sunny Ying (1)
Willie Invictus (10)
Noble Deluxe (4)
Southern Springs (4)
Vara Pearl (9)
Cool Bean (10)
Starting Over (5)
Wah May Baby (9)
Bespoke Collars (9)
Twin Delight (8)
Lucky Day (12)
Race 9: Bespoke Collars (9)
AND ASIDE FROM SHATIN ON SUNDAY, WHAT THERE TO DO THE REST OF THE WEEK…
Like the Champagne Bar at the Grand Hyatt, the Captain’s Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, was THE meeting place for the racing fraternity, especially during Hong Kong International Week.
Both were, and still are, conveniently located, and one can always expect to meet someone you knew before there’d soon be a posse around you with all kinds of “mail” from, supposedly, the trainer, the owner, the jockey, the foreman and Dave Dee, Dozy, Mick and Titch.
As always, “mail” has already started to fly around, but the Champagne Bar, even though refurbished, and the Captain’s Bar have seen better days. People make any venue and, these days, most people in Hong Kong have far better options, the most popular being The Blue Bar at the Four Seasons.
If going to the Captain’s Bar for lunch be prepared for a sparse menu and a Lamb Curry made out of what seemed like leather that we recently had to wrestle to the ground before giving up the fight.
As for the crowd? Mainly businessmen talking business and as boring as their ties and suits- relics from the colonial days who can also be spotted propping up the bar at the Foreign Correspondents Club talking about the good old days and the Vietnam War. Oh, please gawd, no.
As for the Champagne Bar, there is an eerie Le Rue Morgue vibe to it. Gone are the East European and Mainland Chinese ladies and the regular characters that gave the place a personality. What’s left is a crappy lounge singer, service without a smile and a feeling of moribund emptiness.
The Blue Bar, however, is bright, there’s an outdoor smoking area, the service is impeccable, the drinks list is extensive, its mini burgers and Peking Duck snacks are some of the best in town, and the free buffet of dips and dim sum served during Happy Hour is great value. Well, anything free is good value.
The bar also serves an excellent and very popular lunch buffet whereas the hotel’s Chinese restaurant is very good. Ask trainer Caspar Fownes what to order. He might even own the restaurant as no one we know can order dishes not even on the menu.
Away from the five-star hotel scene, find time to dine at Restoration (No 63 Wyndham Street / 1st Floor), the only restaurant serving real New Orleans cuisine and other dishes that are always creative- but not “creative” in a weird way where you bite into something and think, “Cheese, pork belly and broccoli with a cream sauce? WTF, it just made my stomach do a rumble in the jungle.”
As we have said before, Guru (G/F, 13 Elgin Street, Central) is our first choice for Indian cuisine that’s not the usual river of Southern Indian curries floating downstream in ghee and oil. The vegetarian dishes, especially, plus the kebabs, Tandoori Prawns and Tandoori Chicken, and Fish Curry are excellent.
For very different “Chinese” food, there’s Ho Lee Fook (G/F, 1-5 Elgin Street Central)- try the dumplings- and, if you can take it- the very Spicy Shredded Chicken Salad.
Also highly recommended is Manchu China (G/F, 33 Elgin Street, SOHO, Central)- formerly known as Bistro Manchu- with standout dishes being the Sizzling Spicy Cumin Lamb or Beef, the pan-fried dumplings, Chilli Prawns and the Minced Pork with Green Beans. Ask for Tom- the manager- to help you with the ordering.
If needing a numbing fix of Sichuan cuisine, hunt these down:
28/F, 1 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Great decor and extremely good, spicy food and an excellent wine list.
TOU YUEN DELICACIES
3/F, Shek Tong Tsui Cooked Food Centre, 470 Queen’s Rd. West, Shek Tong Tsui, Hong Kong,
Whatever else you might order, do not leave out their Saliva Chicken. What’s in a name? As Russell Peters would say, Be a man. Find out. Keep a few Tsingtaos handy and an ice pack for your tongue.
7/F, M88, 2 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
The Bashu Prawns will leave you hot and bothered and breathless. You have been warned.
For Italian cuisine, you will never go wrong at Niccolini’s at the Conrad Hotel, and, if longing for a steak, head to the Steak House at the Grand Hyatt.
PEOPLE TO MEET…
This Hong Kong-born Indian former investigative journalist who speaks fluent Cantonese, worked in Washington politics for almost a decade, and is now a television personality whose expertise is the city’s business and political arenas- pretty much inter-related. He is a fascinating beast.
The man has friends and Deep Throats in extremely high places- here and in the Motherland- and other friends in the Middle Kingdom and the underground and can tell you, with pinpoint accuracy, as to when, why and who started Occupy Central, Hong Kong’s fakers, fakirs and realists, the politicos and their puppet masters, the wannabe Gandhis amongst Hong Kong’s student leaders, how Chief Executive CY Leung became this city’s Chief Executive, and what he calls the Umbrella Movement Baby Boomers.
Once the Director of Racing- and very much still is in many ways as, like Tina Turner sang, he was Simply The Best in this role- nothing escapes the German-born CEO of the HKJC, and pity the fools who think that his now familiar line of “nearly fine” actually means he is “nearly fine” about anything.
“E.B” is equal parts world class racing executive, businessman, breeder, horse owner, entrepreneur, politician and Batman whenever he gets into his BMW i8 EBmobile and says, “Home. EB going Home.”
The former “King Of Lan Kwai Fong” with business interests in Macau’s “downsizing Macau casino economy” has moved his LKF franchise to Chengdu, China.
Once, a horse trainer in Canada who raced a number of “California” horses in Hong Kong trained by David Hayes until realising this was a losing proposition, Zeman, a teetotaller, who turned a dumping ground into what became the city’s trendiest area, plays his cards close to his chest. Though he might have cashed in his chips seeing “no future” in Hong Kong- or that this city’s best days are behind it- Zeman will never ever close the door on it. Not really, not when he’s about to open Lan Kwai Fong Towers which just might give the area a facelift- but we doubt it. Lan Kwai Fong is a very different area these days infiltrated by Filipinas and their pimps, fleece joints, crappy clubs and bars and legless expat yobs also found in the Soho area.