THE INSIDE TRACK
FINDING YOUR CALLING IN LIFE
Some liked Casey Kasem, others liked Rick Dees until he stopped being a Deejay and brought out that horrible record called “Rubber Duckie”. And ever since video killed the radio star, Ryan Seacrest is the hardest working man in showbiz and the new Dick Clark.
In horse racing, the current talk in some circles is whether former Hong Kong caller Darren Flindell is the new Matt Hill or Mark Shean and where in the world is Carmen Santiago and Mark Shean?
Miss Santiago, we don’t know, but where Mark Shean, below, will pop up next- and soon- is the loudest secret around and, seriously now, all too obvious.
On the subject of race callers, we like Brett Davies, below, who does the best he can and enjoy his repartee with whatever number of Amigos are still left in Hong Kong. That old gang of mine seems to be expanding with new Amigos tipped to gather around the fireplace soon and chow down on those Blazing Saddles baked beans.
As for Amigo Brett, while he suffered a serious bout of brain freeze on Wednes he screamed out that swamping them out wide was Fresh And Fresher, which was ridden by the somewhat unfashionable Jacky Tong, when it was in fact eventual winner Buddy Buddies, cleverly ridden by Brett Prebble with that very unique style, pictured below, it really wasn’t as bad as some of the calling heard in certain parts of Oz and New Zealand yesterday. Some had many of our heads turning around faster than Linda Blair’s did in “The Exorcist”.
What we take outta all this is that race calling truly is a calling, and even the most experienced caller is always learning on the job. Mistakes are part of anyone’s learning curve.
Let’s not forget the on-course interviewer at Meydan yesterday who interviewed the owner of Rich Tapestry, all the time thinking he was speaking to the horse’ “So, Michael, how does this race compare to its win in the US?” “Thank you, Michael.” Huh?
In an earlier gaffe, the same interviewer decided that former Hong Kong galloper Joy And Fun take on a Shades Of Grey persona and kept referring to it as “Joy And Pain”.
Meanwhile, though the guest female caller at Doomben yesterday sounded a tad breathless, it did make us wonder, why there aren’t any full-time female callers. Is horse racing such a macho sport? Just asking.
FINDING MAGIC FROM BIG MAC AND GODOLPHIN
There was another Magic Man at Rosehill yesterday- James McDonald- with the young jockey riding a superb quintet of eing his wins on the John O’Shea-trained Hauraki along with UK import Hartnell taking out the Tulloch Stakes and the BMW, respectively, for Godolphin Racing.
Ironically- and in a spooky example of Instant Karma- what was regarded by many as one of Big Mac’s best rides of the day- raging favourite First Seal- was beaten into second place by Blake Shinn on outsider Fenway- Shinn being the regular rider of First Seal, who was sacked off the ride on the John Thompson-trained galloper, but came roaring back to take out the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes for his stepfather and turning the win into a family affair.
FINDING CHANNEL 668 IN A HAYSTACK
One never stops learning- even when it comes to finding a television channel.
To those expats who wrote, called and screamed to us as to where to watch the simulcast from Dubai, take note regarding future simulcasts: Yes, according to the programme guides in the English newspapers, there was no coverage on ATV World or ATV Home and, despite being told that these races could be watched on one of ATV’s HD free-to-air channels, if your building doesn’t have a signal for these, you need to find Channel 668 on NOW TV.
The three hosts, dressed in shirts that look to have been designed by a carpet salesman, waffled on against a trippy backdrop and kinda off-kilter carpet in Cantonese with interviews with trainers and jockeys plus footage of previous races and t the main attraction goes ‘live’ and the three local amigos appear in snappy beige suits and yesterday conversed via the phone to an Amigo who was in Dubai. The names of everything? All in Chinese. If you didn’t understand Cantonese, tough dim sums. You grabbed some kebabs and watched whatever visuals are fed your way despite being lost in translation and wondering how to make a bet.
But WAIT: During a commercial break some of us decided to check out terrestrial channel ATV and- presto- there were Amigo Clint Hutchison and the very knowledgable Paul Lally hosting the simulcast- and in English! But knowing that this channel cuts to the Main News at 11pm which means losing out on watching a key race, as it’s done for the past two years, one needs to be at the ready to switch back to Channel 668. Still awake?
If meant to only be a reminder, believe us when we say that very few racing fans- local and foreigners- know that the elusive Channel 668 exists. And trying to find it on a Saturday night when those around you are screaming to give it a rest, go out for dinner, and just find out the results on your iPhone, takes away the thrill of deciding to stay in and enjoy a night at the races on television. And Channel 668.
FROM THE RACING TWITTERVERSE
FROM THE DUBAI WORLD CUP TWITTERVERSE
THE FAST TRACKER PLANS TO TACKLE SOME WINNERS ON RUGBY SEVENS SUNDAY
Let’s pretend Wednesday’s races never happened. Many of the trainers were focused on making their midnight flights to Dubai and Sheikh Mo’s annual garden party at Meydan. And with rain forecast- the skies never opened up- the track had been readied for this weather report, which resulted in some unreal fast times on a night where it was impossible to have a bet.
From a spectator point of view, it was great to watch Zac Purton weave his own brand of magic with a superb treble including a win on dirt freak and topweight Gun Pit. So much for the pundits who left him out of selections and thought weight would stop this A Train. Pardon me, boy, but was that the Chattanooga Choo Choo? Yes, it was.
A sole winner for Joao Moreira took his tally to 94 wins with three more months left in the season and Dhere’s a hundred winners fast approaching.
The Magic Man did the best with what he had, but all his rides are starting way under the odds, and is becoming part of the silly season.
As for today, Zac Purton and Team Purton will not be at Shatin as he’ll be partnering Aerovelocity in the Group 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen in Japan.
This leaves the gates open for Moreira to add more to his Nineties and, who knows, even ride a Six Up- I counted five very real winning chances-whereas it might be worthwhile knowing what The Zac Attack might have been ridden had he been here. The boy from Coffs Harbour wouldn’t bother going around on some also-rans, so, who benefits most as far as rides go from his absence today?
New boy Damian Lane, meanwhile, has made a low key arrival to Hong Kong, he has a decent book of rides and will, of course, be going all out to get off to a winning start and make an immediate impression with trainers, owners and the Chinese racing media.
This kid can ride and is worth following before local racing fans jump on the bandwagon when the winners start to happen. Today, at his first big day out, his main chances look to be in the last three races- Wild Boy, Rewarding Hero and Let Me Go.
Meanwhile, flown in to Hong Kong and under the radars to prop up the wafer-thin jockey ranks hit by suspensions and injuries is Craig Williams, who has a full book of rides, and is almost certain not to leave Hong Kong without riding a winner- and chattering to the media.
Williams is a very good jockey who has created an extremely smart globe trotting business model for himself that others are trying to emulate, but jeez, does he go on and on and on, or what???! Whew!
A Class 5 race for horses rated 15-40 doesn’t exactly scream out, BACK ME, but if pottering around the buffet table before all the oysters, lobster and sashimi and sushi disappear, play around with a Quartet bet -and throw caution, whoever she is, to the wind.
A Class 5 race called the Crooked Harbour Handicap doesn’t exactly fill me with an abundance of confidence. I’ll just play around with a small Quartet bet taking Elegant Frames with Moreira aboard as the banker while getting the shivers thinking of that ride on California Chrome at Meydan yesterday.
There are THREE “Unique” horses running today and this is the first of them- Unique Joyful- and which is not without a winning chance.
The Magic Man will be on what will most likely be the race favourite- the John Moore-trained One More World- which will be having its second start in Hong Kong after finishing a fair fifth the last time out. I can’t have it- not today, anyway.
My choice is Diamond Mysterious, which is getting close to a win, and has the extremely low key Nash Rawiller aboard who can never ever be left out of selections.
Brett Prebble has been going close with Unique Joyous at its last two starts and could break through here with the main danger looking to be Master Mind with Douglas Whyte aboard.
There are a number of other runners, however, looking very close to breaking through for wins in a typically tough first leg of the Trio Trio, namely, Short Squeeze, Solar Kingdom, How Speedy and the interesting Tones for the Yiu-Callan, Me, Tarzan combination, below.
Moreira won on the lightly raced Strathmore when it beat the very impressive, but still green Packing Pins- the Magic Man won on this Ricky Yiu galloper last weekend- over course and distance.
That’s great form to take this out with quinella chances given to Thor The Greatest which backs up from last week and the first starter Amazing Kids, a ride for Craig Williams from the John Size yard which always supported the rider during his time riding in Hong Kong.
QUARTET SELECTIONS (3-7)-5-8-9-11-12
There’s nothing here that stands out so expect a very close finish and, quite easily, an upset where something that has shown nothing before pop up at huge odds and makes knobs of us all.
Bossee stands out and should be another winner for the Joao Moreira Brazilian Express.
For the quinella, I’d be looking at Too Fast, Five Up High, Red Peony and Ultimate Glory.
QUARTET SELECTIONS: (4-5)-2-6-10-12-14
Superoi was unlucky not to finish closer when apprentice ridden. In a significant riding change, trainer Derek Cruz has called on Douglas Whyte who takes over from claimer Dickie Lui which is a tip in itself.
The other main chances looks to be Damian Lane on Wild Boy, an impressive last start winner for Zac Purton, and Whyte’s former nemesis and now mate Brett Prebble, below, who is riding as good as anybody other than Moreira and Purton, two of the best riders in the world.
SELECTIONS: (2-12)- 3-6-7
The Premier Plate and the best race on the card where Tony Cruz, below, has three runners with Blazing Speed (Callan) and Helene Super Star (Whyte) looking the main chances.
The interesting runner is another Damian Lane ride in Rewarding Hero, another ride that will go close for the young jockey, and Packing Llaregyb which has been set for this race- and which, had he been in town, Purton would have been on it for battling trainer Andreas Schutz.
QUARTET SELECTIONS: 11-7-3-1
Who can forget Darren Flindell’s last race call in Hong Kong when he bellowed, “LET ME GOOOOOOH!” He did- to Sydney- and today, Damian Lane takes over piloting the John Moore-trained galloper which won its last start for Tommy Berry.
Let Me Go is, again, not without a chance in a good betting race where Eroico is certain to start favourite for the Size-Moreira Happy Meal combo.
Multivictory races down a class and Tony Cruz has booked Craig Williams for the ride with the three aforementioned horses looking to be the leading chances.
Caspar Fownes has three horses entered with only Formula Won looking to have a chance of even placing. The other two, like quite a few in the race, seem to be going around to lose some rating points and then, eventually, strike at Happy Valley so we can make a song and dance when they do.
QUARTET SELECTIONS: (1-6)-2-3-4-6-8-13
BEST BET: RACE 10 EROICO (6)
NEXT BEST: RACE 7 BOSSIEE (5)
LONGSHOT: RACE 3 DIAMOND MYSTERIOUS (9)