THE INSIDE TRACK
IS RACING GEARING UP FOR MORE “HAPPY DAYS” WITH POTSIE, PATSIES, AND PONZIE?
As most of us should know by now, ponzie schemes feed on the greed of many through the promises of guaranteed financial riches and the opportunity to be seen as a big swinging dick through partnerships and shares in various clubs and other types of investments- movies, musical productions, new inventions etc.
In the racing world, the entire sorry Bill Vlahos and the now-dulled Edge punting syndicate soggy saga plods along with no end in sight for lack of any possible legal wrongdoings, and also coming up against brick walls as all those taken for that ride- very well-known names in the Aussie sports world- are embarrassed at having been well and truly had by frontmen, invisible men, a Nowhere Man and probably those pulling the strings under the very noses of the law.
Whereas Vlahos and his “Oceans 11/Swimming With Sharks” gang of thieves continue to laugh their way to and from various banks from Oz to Dubai and Bahrain, could another horse racing ponzie scheme be in the works- and gathering steam and hype every day involving purchases at various sales, “marquee value” names for legitimacy, Middle Eastern backers and money and- wait for it- the promise of an “upcoming IPO listing”?
This supposed IPO listing- and where it’s supposed to take place- is the real carrot being dangled now that, after 2-3 years, all the “backend” work into building up this “brand” is almost complete.
Watch this space, especially space in squeaky clean Singapore which has a very dark side to it that makes the city’s global football fixer Dan Tan look like the boy next door.
Curiouser and curiouser, Malice and Alice.
DANIELLE JOHNSON FOR HONG KONG? WHY NOT? LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE GIRL!
While a number of names are being bandied about as full-timers in Hong Kong for next season’s riding ranks, a small, but vocal choir of respected racing men, are calling out for New Zealand’s premiership leading rider Danielle Johnson- a strong, determined and extremely good young jockey, who happens to be female but can match it with any male rider around today.
But is Hong Kong gun-shy about introducing a female jockey into its ranks?
The pro-Danielle Johnson camp believe times change and this talented hoop- her father is former jockey Peter Johnson who some might remember from his time in Macau, and her partner is top New Zealand jockey Opie Bossum- will be a big attraction.
With the growing interest and power wielded in Hong Kong racing by female owners, we don’t see why not.
The story of female jockeys in Hong Kong, and when their time came to a close is an interesting one- even movie material.
Though Sherie Kong, below, who married fellow jockey Eric Legrix and became Sherie Legrix was Hong Kong’s first professional female jockey whose first ride was in 1993, the story of another Hong Kong-born female jockey- Willy Kan Wah-Yiu- is one that’s rarely talked about.
A promising apprentice nicknamed “Little Sister”, Willy Kan was indentured to Brian Kan and won her first race for the trainer in 1998 aboard Sir Galway.
She also won the Queen Mother’s Cup on the Kan-trained Fat Choy Together and was the first and only female to ride in the Hong Kong Derby when legendary trainer Ivan Allan legged her aboard Man Of Honour.
Willy Kan tragically lost her life in a race fall on a rainy day at a Shatin Meeting in March, 1999 when her mount Happy King clipped heels with another runner which caused her fatal fall, and brought to an end female jockeys riding in Hong Kong.
That’s the past, the future is Now and Danielle Johnson is all about the Now.
FRIED RICE, MAGIC MEN AND PETER PAN SUTONG…
After its soft win on Sunday when it easily over-hauled a desperately ridden, furiously wok-stirring Nash Rawiller on $1.80 favourite Contentment, thanks to another cool as ice ride by Joao Moreira, the question is whether the Magic Man will stick with the Jenny Tam-owned Redkirk Warrior as it heads to the Hong Kong Classic Cup Trial?
There’s the other scenario where, whether win, lose or draw, and after his Appeal is heard on the 13th following being handed down a fifteen meeting suspension for his ride on this very impressive galloper’s first start in Hong Kong when it rattled home from last to fifth, Frenchman Mosse will retain the ride? Non? Oui? Merde?
This is where Joao Moreira has it over every other jockey riding in Hong Kong at the moment- very good riders like Zac Purton, a re-energised Brett Prebble, Douglas Whyte, Maxime Guyon and, well, Gerald Mosse.
Everybody Loves Raymond, Everyone Loves Joao and the Brazilian ace is spoilt for choice as the Magic Man is in demand by all those owners who pay all those bills to all those trainers as he delivers- over and over again- and which has made almost every Jockey Challenge a one-act affair.
After his win on Sugar City, again on Sunday, this time his first-ever ride for Richard Gibson, tongues were wagging that Moreira will be the new rider for all horses raced by the stable’s somewhat mysterious multi-billionaire owner Pan Sutong, below, who, one hears, apart from purchasing vineyards in Napa Valley and Bordeaux, and opening golf courses and polo and lawn bowls clubs in Australia and China, is busy buying up prime real estate in New York and will be a major player at Royal Ascot as a sponsor. Yes, sponsor.
As for the businessman’s portfolio of equine talent with Richard Gibson, one can’t at all see Moreira switching horses mid-stream, especially when booked and loyal to proven Group 1 winners and winners-in waiting, and “doing a Nathan Tinkler.” The Magic Moreira phenomenon has come a long way from those days when the then-Singapore-based rider was at the beck and call of the fat Aussie pie man whose racing empire fell apart worse than Humpty Dumpty.
With the LOUDEST whisper that Pan Sutong was looking for a change of pilot for his horses- and are his expensive new purchases REALLY any good?- Christophe Soumillon, below, will be flown in on the owner’s private jet to ride Gold-Fun in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize on February 15, a regular ride from almost Day One for Douglas Whyte, and Obliterator on the same day in the Hong Kong Classic Cup with Derby prospect Giant Treasure also tipped to go the way of the Belgian ace.
Why the seemingly sudden Adios to Whyte? There are no certainties and even less loyalties in racing. One hears that Mr Sutong- “Peter Pan” to close friends- was extremely disappointed that his above average galloper Gold-Fun didn’t beat the phenomenon that is Able Friend in the Stewards Cup. Really? Seriously?
If true, “Peter Pan”, a fascinating man who’s had an almost miraculous rise as a mega-successful entrepreneur, has been playing way too much polo and golf with the fairies and goblins in Never Never Land while drinking too many bottles of Chateau De Kool-Aid.
FROM THE RACING TWITTERVERSE
FROM THE RACING GALLERY
RIP HAY LIST
THE FAST TRACKER GOES LOOKING FOR A TOP ACT AND A HAPPY WEDNESDAY
Oh, dear, a few weeks ago, when Kharu miraculously won the first race of a Happy Wednesday for noted serial photobomber Nat Chan- the bloke who insists on wearing a raccoon on his head- it was a real bummer, man. The galloper is also in tonight’s curtain raiser.
Despite his mantra that he never loses, one detected a somewhat subdued- and stunned- Nat The Nut, once, good grief, a trainer in Macau, when Kharu managed to scrape in at over 12s.
Can he repeat this fluke? Gawd, I hope not. I couldn’t take all the preening and cantering and kicking of heels by Nat Chan and knocking over Jenny Chapman in the process. Happy Wednesday will become a very Darth Vader day.
No, my pick to win this Class 5 race over 1650 meters on the A Course, which will not mean the one-way, all-the-way leaders track of last Wednesday that killed off any chance Soul Achiever had of even running a place, would be Everyone’s Choice with Douglas Whyte up and who appears to have a very book of rides on a night where I can actually see Joao Joao getting back with Sweet Loretta and NOT winning yet another Jockey Challenge.
Apprentice Alvin “The Chipmunk” Ng has almost become the champion of the sprint races recently where he, like fellow apprentice Dickie Lui, gets his mounts to the front, closes his eyes and holds on for dear life.
Hey, whatever works, and here, despite getting aboard one of those confusing “Jun” horses- Jun Ju which has a quick back up after a disappointing seventh on Sunday when handled by Douglas Whyte- can’t be ignored.
Though Moreira’s ride Trillion Treasure is sure to start favourite, watch out for an upset, especially with that unpredictable jockey Ben So, known for those Class 4 and 5 plunges, reunited with regular ride Mr Award.
QUARTET SELECTIONS: 10-5-7-6-3
I’ve said it before and will bore you with the same thing: this season, favourites in the opening leg of the Six Up on the city track seem jinxed and victims of Santana’s Black Magic Woman.
Here, Joao Moreira’s ride, Sea Ruby, will start favourite- again- and- again-could easily not even run a place whereas Forever Accurate, easily the best horse in this field, and despite the wide barrier, could be sailing down the outside- or inside- for Douglas Whyte, who must surely be looking at a more permanent linkup with Tony Cruz now that owner Pan Sutong has thrown his toys outta the cot and handed over the riding chores for his expensive purchases with the Richard Gibson yard to Christophe Soumillon. Surprised at this turn of events? Most saw it coming over three months ago.
The Smokey The Bandit in this race might be Laughing Lord from the very much in-form Paul O’Sullivan yard.
The horse was purchased for connections by former trainer Peter Ng whose son, Pierre, below, assistant to O’Sullivan, has brought the likeable trainer a helluva lot of good fung shui and is someone whose career is definitely on an upward spiral. Maybe the trio should form a folk group- Peter, Paul and Pierre?
Loving Star with Douglas Whyte will be the logical banker to many, but when has Steely Dan’s Pretzel Logic had anything to do with horse racing?
I will have it as a leg with my bankers being Endorsing, which will appreciate the step up to 1800 meters, and bottom weight Go Sandy Go though it’s again becoming tough following horses from the David Hall yard based on consistency.
When not trying to get his flush at Shatin Gardens fixed, trainer David “Darth” Ferraris, pictured below, has been trying to fix whatever has been ailing Navel Orange by fitting the one-time Derby hope with blinkers.
With Guyon trialling the horse in blinkers and retaining the ride, the galloper is extremely hard to leave out, especially after its last-start second over course and distance to Dragon Pins- despite bombing the start very badly.
Smart Union cannot be ignored as a place hope whereas Cruise Control was given such a derring-do ride by Mirco Demuro at its last start that Caspar Fownes has given Jacky Tong a chance to see what he can do with it. Yin Tong will probably do nothing with it while Demuro jumps on board another Sean Woods voodoo horse in Oxford Charley in a race that Amigo Brett described as being “easy” and which nearly made Amigo Darren fall off his chair with laughter.
Those Three Amigos, what WILL we do without them…
QUARTET SELECTIONS: (5-9-12)-4-2
Despite being promoted after its last start- and first-ever win in Hong Kong- over course and distance when ridden by Douglas Whyte, Monte Costello will be all the rage with its light weight and Moreira taking over. But, beware of strangers bearing gifts from Monte Costello.
Regency Ho Ho, despite its wide draw, looks to have a better winning chance- and hope it does. Win, that is.
QUARTET SELECTIONS: (4)-8-10-2-6
John Moore’s Grand Harbour will have the usual furiously stirring chow fan spitting ride from Nash Rawiller, below, where it will be up on the speed, and though running at Happy Valley for the first time, should, at least, be in the top three.
It can be taken as a double banker with either the lightly weighed Safari Magic or, for odds, Winning Mascot.
Howard Cheng is yet to ride a winner after serving penance for a weak ride aboard one of those “Jun” horses, but could break his duck at good odds on Buddy Buddies. Keep this one safe as Howard The Duck just might not lay an egg with this ride.
The obvious winning chances are the two at the top of the weights- Choice Treasure which I prefer over Gorgeous Debut- and, maybe, Ollie Doleuze on All The Best in a race where a Whoopsie Quelle Supris would not surprise.
When Tony Millard turned to Maxime Guyon to partner Top Act after a less-than-enterprising ride at its start before, we saw an extremely good horse deliver the potential it had promised.
That was a few weeks ago in Shatin. Can Top Act repeat that win on the tight Happy Valley track? Why not? And on the subject of top acts, a group of us will give the magicians in the Beer Garden the cold shoulder tonight until Kriss Angel makes it. Instead, we’ll be taking in the vocal talents of Jennifer Palor, pictured below with Tony Cruz, who she thinks is named “Tom” Cruz, at Adrenaline. This girl is all class. And can sing.
BEST BET: Race 8: TOP ACT (8)
NEXT BET: Race 3: FOREVER ACCURATE (3)
VALUE BET: Race 7: BUDDY BUDDIES (10)