With Joao Moreira and Zac Purton serving out their suspensions, there’s an open look to some of the races on this first meeting of the new year with, perhaps, only Douglas Whyte, below, looking to have two real BACK ME standout rides.
As he showed with his brilliant ride to win aboard Lucky Omens there’s life and guile in the old dog yet. But these are very different days to when he and John Size ruled the roost.
Today, there’s competition from Neil Callan, Umberto Rispoli, Matthew Chadwick, Karis Teetan, there’s the arrival of Maxime Guyon, a renaissance period for Mosse, Doleuze, and Prebble, and, of course, The Magic Man and The Zac Attack plus radical changes in stable support to ensure a very level playing field.
The jury is still out on where Nash Rawiller fits in despite an extension to his license- but he will- while we anxiously await the arrival of Hughie Bowman probably next season. But racing in Hong Kong is no longer a one or even a two-horse race from a punting point of view.
Sure, Joao Moreira and Zac Purton are always amongst the winners, but apart from that successful late plunge last Saturday on the Purton-ridden Racing Hero raced by a group of owners that includes the controversial Steven Lo, both offer little value with their winners and with many of their rides always being under the odds.
Neil Callan, especially- tough, feisty, cocky, confident, competitive- has been this year’s revelation and is currently breathing down the neck of Whyte for third (“turd” in Irish) place in the Jockey Premiership. He has also been the fly in the anointment- and at value- to many of the best laid plans.
Where will other flies settle today? I am tipping upsets in races 1,3,6 and 8.
May luck ride with you!
To get the New Year off on the right foot, it’s imperative for stables, jockeys, trainers, owners and the small and big punter to win this first race of 2015. It’s good fung shui. Expect some brain freeze rides and a crowded finish with not much separating the first 4-5 horses. It could get messy. But, hey, it’s only horse racing.
In Sydney, this would be a big field, but just seven runners go round here in the first of two 1000 metre dashes down that spooky straight course. Apart from Sight Believer, I have no clue who else could win this. The other exposed runners are average and one doubts the only newcomer is ready. There are more important things to worry about.
A Class 5 race over 1400 metres with fourteen runners and a punters nightmare though, jeez, many of these last minute plunges have been bang on the money. But how, why and where from? No matter how hard they try to steer us towards winners, tipsters and The Three Amigos are whistling Dixie compared to those behind late plunging totalisator light shows.
The So-Ho combination of jockey Ben So and trainer Peter Ho and last start winner Trendy World should run the quinella with Umberto Rispoli aboard the in-form Paul O’Sullivan stable’s Why Why.
The first leg of the Triple Trio with a Big Whopper of a jackpot- $16 million which is tipped to reach $32 million- to be won.
The front running Sunny Pearl that’s racing down a class and which goes so well for Matty “Smiley” Chadwick and is solid banker material.
But, as in life, finding good legs that are not bandy, dumpy, skinny or flea-bitten are tough to find. All the good legs seem to be in Shanghai and Lithuania.
Maxime Guyon, below, is back for a short stint and will go close on the consistent Rugby Ambassador in a race that can throw up a wobbly.
This being the first leg of the Six Up, a Quartet race, and second leg of the Triple Trio, alarm bells are going off in my head like those damn bells that made Quasimodo go barking mad.
If a horse has been backed and beaten as a good thing and he hasn’t been on it, then, Douglas Whyte will go after the ride like Mel Gibson looking for revenge in “Ransom” or Charles Bronson in “Death Wish”.
After a fair third for Nash Rawiller when in the red at its last start, the Durban Turban has won over trainer and owner and is the one to beat in the last leg of the second Double Trio that has a small jackpot. And in Hong Kong racing where too many talk in millions, a “measly” million is “small”. We’re either greedy bastards or spoilt rotten or have lost all sense of reality.
John Size backs up Country Melody which goes for its third successive win over the extremely “fickle” 1000 metre dash which is often a lottery.
Country Melody will start favourite, but its low barrier draw could put an end to its winning run. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it might not even run a place.
Frankly, the sooner these 1000 metre sprints where luck comes into play along with outside barrier draws being so advantageous are canned, the better. These are not real races. They’re pot luck for racing aunties.
The Group 3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup and easily the best race of the day. And being a Cups race, John Moore has four of the nine runners. Which of these would Moreira have been on? Sterling City? I doubt it and think he would have stuck with the John Size trained Wonderful Moments. The ride has rather surprisingly gone to Matthew Chadwick- I thought Karis Teetan would have been on it- with Tony Cruz turning to old pal Gerald Mosse for Beauty Flame after its last start failure as the 2 to 1 favourite when ridden by, well, Chadwick.
With owner Kwok Siu-Ming being a huge supporter of the Cruz yard, it’s obvious that the trainer is trying to make amends by taking out this $2.75 million race. Like life, it won’t be easy.
Caspar Fownes sticks with bon ami and all-round good guy Olivier Delouze for Da Vinci which came a decent second for the Frenchman at its first start in Hong Kong. Include Silly Buddies, Choice Treasure and Let Me Go in your bets.
Perhaps it had to do with its last start defeat when favourite, but Keith ML Yeung who has won on it, seems to have lost the ride on the promising Benno Yung-trained Ishvara to, yes, it’s him again, Douglas Whyte, pictured below.
Ishvara should go very close to winning this with only Celestial Smile, Verdane and, possibly, Kirov, giving it any competition. The two horses that could spice up the Quartet payout are None Other and Why Not.
QUARTET SELECTIONS: BANKER (8) LEGS: 2-7-9-11-12
BEST BET: RACE 7 SUPER TALENT (3)
NEXT BEST: RACE 11 ISHVARA (8)
VALUE BET: RACE 6 KEEN TACTICS (2)