The Magic returns this afternoon when Joao Moreira, like the Beatles’ JoJo, gets back to where he belongs- the race track- after three meetings spent in the wilderness sitting out a three meeting suspension.
No matter what turnover might say, the marquee value of this brilliant Brazilian rider and his ongoing battle royale for his first Hong Kong Jockeys Premiership with Zac Purton has been missed recently by those who wish to see more theatre to the sport. Add, the experience and guile of Douglas Whyte, the rambunctious fighting spirit of Irishman Neil Callan, and the youthful exuberance of Umberto Rispoli into the mix and racegoers can expect the unexpected- five sportsmen from five different parts of the world, each with their own personalities to match their unique riding styles. What you have is one melting pot of jumbo gumbo.
No matter who won what at Shatin on New Year’s Day, one missed the presence of Moreira and Purton and that competitiveness they bring to the game which has a domino effect by bringing out even more of that will to win from the others, especially, someone like Douglas Whyte who, with thirteen consecutive Hong Kong Jockey Premierships to his name and a unique place in racing’s history books, seemingly has nothing more to prove.
Only a fool, however, will think that Whyte, the consummate professional, is on “cruise mode” these days. That hunger to win is very much intact as seen at Shatin on Thursday.
Meanwhile, in an age where the management of sportsmen has become big business, something my long-time friend and sports and entertainment world game changer Simon Fuller has proven by successfully guiding the careers of David Beckham, Andy Murray and Lewis Hamilton, the day when a jockey lets go of agents to secure them rides and wishes to becomes a global brand is around the corner. But , at the moment, there’s only room for one.
Amongst jockeys, Frankie Dettori probably had the most appeal to become a brand.
But naming his chain of upmarket Italian restaurants “Frankie’s” as opposed to something more prestigious and recognisable such as “The House Of Dettori”, which would have also lent itself to a line of clothing, wines etc, showed why he needed good management.
Hell, with good, creative management, his dismount could have been named and patented!
Today, from those still watching horse racing from the sidelines, their one choice for management is Joao Moreira. Simply put, he is the total global package- affable, hugely popular, articulate, stylish, professional, a brilliant young rider to watch with savvy people skills.
Today, there’s Brand Beckham, and a former footballer who could bend it like no one else, well on his way to being knighted with his former Spice Girl wife becoming a Dame.
Brand Moreira? It will happen. And with Brand Whyte- or the Whyte Brand- a closing second.
THE INSIDE TRACK
THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
It’s been interesting to see businessman and horse owner Steven Lo in two winning photos at two consecutive race meetings and, on both occasions, leading in horses recently moved to the stable of Paul O’Sullivan.
On Saturday, Lo, who has appealed against his conviction for fraud and corruption, and now has his horses, including Military Attack, racing under the name of his glamorous wife Cannie, flew in from Bulgaria to be on hand to watch Racing Hero win last Saturday.
Backed from 16s to 6s, Racing Hero is raced by the CAAC Syndicate in which Lo is a member.
On New Year’s Day, Lo, who has his own tribe following him wherever he goes, was at Shatin to see hot pot Why Why, ridden by Umberto Rispoli, win its race for the Hong Kong Pegasus Racing Syndicate. Yes, Steven Lo is also a charter member of this syndicate.
What’s also interesting is that Lo’s entertainment management company looks after the modelling career of the young Italian jockey’s glamorous girlfriend Kimberly Mosse- and former Hong Kong jockey Sherry Kwong Legrix. Sherry Legrix get many modelling assignments???
Most interesting to us, however, was seeing the gorgeous Mrs Lo in a short, tight-fitting dress that showed off some of her best assets to eye-popping advantage.
That cold weather suddenly became bloody hot when Cannie Leung struck a winning pose for the cameras and put those fabulous legs forward. Vogue Vogue, indeed.
CELEBRATING 130 YEARS OF EXACTLY WHAAAAAT? THE VILLAGE PEOPLE???
The HKJC does many things very well, but then, out of the blue, comes a bizarre and confusing piece of goofy communications like this one below- and for an important campaign to remind the people of Hong Kong of the club’s many charitable contributions that, over the past 130 years, have helped improve the lives of so many.
But what does all that positivity have to do with the strangely Photoshopped poster above?
That a GIANT horse, reminiscent of Barney, the cornball singing purple dinosaur- anyone on Planet Earth realise that this is actually former champion world and Hong Kong sprinter Silent Witness?- has helped bring together children, plumbers, firemen, doctors, construction workers, Bob The Builder and Douglas Whyte?
We have no idea what this odd buffet of people and the horse Silent Witness means to the public other than the whole thing being reminiscent of those horrendous Government Information Services Public Service Announcements that Hong Kong was force-fed in the Eighties. Let’s just hope that the Club’s other 130 Anniversary Celebration activities don’t continue down this path where the public are asked to be mind readers and figure out what we’re meant to be “celebrating”.
THE THREE AMIGOS’ WTF MOMENT
We really don’t know what to say. Do you???
TAKE A BOW, KIM KELLY!
Dickie Lui being handed down an eight meeting suspension after suffering brain freeze and riding Número Uno into the ground against the riding instructions given is not a surprise. The champion (?) apprentice is very fortunate to be slapped with only a lucky eight meeting ban. But, with all the various statements taken from the jockey and trainers, it was a very good- and clever- call by Chief Steward Kim Kelly to bring in orthopaedic specialist Dr Peter Tio Man-kwun to the adjourned enquiry.
Dr Tio was asked his professional opinion if the MRI scan taken of Lui’s painful right shoulder, reported immediately after his bizarre ride, might have played a role in the brain freeze. After all, the left bone is connected to the thigh bone etc. Dr Tio poured cold water on this being a mitigating factor for the not exactly Número Uno ride.
Plus, on Thursday, didn’t Umberto Rispoli ride two winners despite excruciating pain after being hit on his shoulder by a stray hoof in an earlier race?
IF BOB DYLAN WENT RACING ON JAN 1
The lights weren’t so bright
Still the revellers laughed
As they tried to hide their fears
Who was The Joker and who was The Thief
As we welcomed in
Another New Year
The road ahead might be rough
But that can wait for another day
And so we headed to that magic land
Where the princes and paupers play
That land where the horses run
Under a blanket of blue
Where we can lose ourselves like Alice did
While The Mad Hatter said
“This way to somewhere new”
But what was missing was the Magic Man
He didn’t come out to play
Neither did the Zac Attack
Would it be a Like A Rolling Stone kinda day?
The Donkey Man had other ideas
He turned things upside down
Paddy World screamed out “Yeeehaaa, baby”
And proved rewarding heroes
can still be found
The Durban Demon and The Spaghetti Kid
put on their very own freaky show
And a Celestial Smile brought the curtain down
While The Kid brought up
winner number four
That Mona Lisa smile disappeared
When DaVinci let the side down
And even a Mastermind couldn’t quell
All those familiar “Diu Lay” sounds
Those Subterranean Homesick Blues
They were heard loud and hard
At the starting gates
were a chorus of “Diiiiiius”
The people were getting mighty restless, baby
They thought they had been screwed
We got another Steven Lo down
And some asked Why Why Why
But Cannie stepped in to take away the heat
She was Visions Of Joanna
With a sense of style that’s hard to beat
I went down all the way to Soho
To find that Trendy World alone
But it turned out to be Desolation Row, baby
The answer wasn’t blowing in the wind
And there was no direction of home
The Spaghetti Kid and the Donkey Man
The Durban Demon and The Magic Man
And The Zac Attack waits in the wings
One never knows what’s Blowing In The Wind
The Times They Are-A-Changing
But Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright
Even if going down Positively Fourth Street
There’s always a rainbow in sight
We’ll go back to where the horses run
And where the jokers and princes play
Along with those one trick ponies
There’ll also be another brand new day.
FROM THE RACING TWITTERVERSE
THE BEAUTY OF HORSE POWER