THE INSIDE TRACK
CASPAR DOES VEGAS?
We’re unsure if Caspar Fownes will be at Shatin this afternoon. After training four winners at Happy Valley on Wednesday- three of them on the trot- Cas flew over to his other happy stomping grounds- Las Vegas- for a well-deserved break and to take in the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquaio fight.
Who did we want to win? The Pacman? Why? We’re hardly fans of Mayweather as a human being.
It will also lead to a rematch between the two fighters where there’ll be bigger money for bigger TV rights, a bigger purse, greater sponsorship. and with the next fight definitely taking place in Macau. Even if Mayweather wins by a knockout, there’ll be another fight- in Macau.
We’re not the least bit interested in the fight game- only the characters and games behind it that goes all the way back to when Ingemar Johannson defeated Floyd Patterson, which resulted in that famous return fight where the popular heavyweight champ won back his crown- before Sonny Liston pulverised him. It was a fairy tale ending that almost seemed scripted. Or was it?
THE RETURN OF THE DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS.
Scam artists have preyed on many as part of the dark side of the circle of life. And like every other sport, horse racing has attracted its fair share of usually loveable rogues. Who mentioned James Neale and his clairvoyant girlfriend Claire, and the late Michael Bastion, below, who lived la vida loca in Hong Kong with endless nights in the most expensive escort clubs with many in the racing fraternity, giving- with others’ money- lavish dinners with free flowing of bubbly. And when the bubble burst, he jumped off the balcony from his luxury apartment in Happy Valley.
Flim flam men are still to be found in Hong Kong with various Ponzi schemes, constantly reinventing themselves and going where the money is- jockeys, trainers, horse owners. Like the Children Of The Corn, it’s The Children and Offspring of people like Bill Vlahos- smooth talkers with sugar lips always with new products, investments, projects, and ways of beating the system, especially in this day and age of data-based technology.
A few week ago, we met one such person who fed us with so much name droppings, we almost choked on them- horses with Gai, two horses in one race of The Championships, one to be ridden by Tommy, the other by Joao, how he owned twenty nine horses etc etc.
He was introduced to us as a bit of a mover and shaker by someone who’s not the brightest lightbulb in the building. Not many jockeys are as business savvy and intuitive about people as our great mate and former champion jockey of Macau, Johnny Didham, below.
As for Mr Name Dropper, he sat down with us at one race evening, was extremely charming, never paid for anything despite, apparently, being a “very big punter” who was “close friends” with every Aussie jockey riding here, happily talked about himself for our cameras (the next day, he called to ask that the footage not be shown, and returned to him, as “Gai wouldn’t like it.” Gai???), took our name cards- he had, of course, “forgotten” his- shook our hands like a bro- and left, never to be heard from again. It was harmless stuff. Almost funny.
Making the rounds these days is another smooth-talking chappie from the land Down Under in the sycophantic James Neale mould who’s flitted in and out of Hong Kong for over five years, also name drops regularly, has tried- and succeeded- to get a few racing personalities involved in some of his projects, and when those bridges were burnt, returned to stay below the radar, and regroup.
He’s now made a comeback with new products and projects, all the time ensuring that none of his former “good mates” know he’s back in town singing a brand new song. Alas, Hong Kong is a small place. People talk and you can’t keep going to the same well trying to fool more people one more time. Often the “suckee” becomes the sucker- and a social leper.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PROFILE PICTURE ON HK RACING’S TWITTER ACCOUNT?
No, it’s not Amigo Clint photographed by the new SlimoCam.
THE MAGIC MAN HAS THEM IN HIS SPELL.
When you see a group of girls- wait, ladies- kissing photographs of their favourite jockey, there must be something to it. And so it was along the rails of the paddock area after Joao Moreira brought Win It back after his one hundredth winner this season- the fastest century reached in a Hong Kong season by any jockey.
The kissing of The Magic Man’s photos continued when the Brazilian ace blitzed the rest of the field in the next race when Shadowfaxe brought up winner 101 for the season and Moreira’s 201st winner since arriving in Hong Kong.
This time, joining in on all the kissing were a group of first-timers to Happy Valley from Japan and Korea. Weird stuff but which shows the spell Joao Joao has on racing fans…and the ladies.
ALMALAD LANDS IN HONG KONG…
We were somewhat surprised to learn that the former Gai Waterhouse-trained galloper Almalad, below, has been purchased for Hong Kong and is now with the Benno Yung stable.
Almalad? Didn’t the horse have some health problems when racing in Sydney and was a huge disappointment to its connections? Probably why, despite the silly money being bandied about for the galloper in Hong Kong- $2.2m- it is said to have been purchased for “only” $750,000 by the same connections that have done well with another Lady Gai caste-off- Romantic Touch.
FROM THE RACING TWITTERVERSE
THE FAST TRACKER GOES LOOKING FOR SOME ABLE FRIENDS
Damian Lane is reunited with Happy Chappy which gave him his first win in Hong Kong, below, and should give the talented young rider his third winner here before starting his first local suspension for careless riding- that is, IF The Zac Attack lets him.
Purton has a very strong book of rides including Highland Hammer here- an impressive second at its debut and which looks the one to make Happy Chappy an unhappy one.
Best Jade Triumph and Wednesday night’s winner Natural Eight which has a quick backup as Win bankers in a Quartet bet with a couple of roughies, kick back, inhale, and wait for something offering some value.
The first of two 1000m sprints made all the more difficult by the race attracting five first starters. Of the proven horses, those with chances are Molly’s Jade Combination, Fabulous One, and Never Better. Based on its form in Oz and trackwork, the one to beat is Bayonet, which should take this out for The Iron Man- Neil Callan. A Bayonet and The Iron Man? Makes sense to me.
Despite being drawn barrier eleven, Happy Agility, which won its last start and debut in Hong Kong like a very good galloper, should go on with his winning ways for the Ricky Yiu-Zac Purton Happy Meal that don’t get together that often.
The ONLY other winning chances are Regency Darling and the well-credentialed former Gai Waterhouse-trained galloper Thewizardofoz. Johnny Size is way too smart to buy Lady Gai Gai caste-offs, and though not done any favours with barrier 14 to overcome, this is one well worth following up the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy as it starts off his Hong Kong career in Class 4 and a rating of 52.
Finding Quartet legs is no easy task as there are a few that might improve on their first starts or could join many others here as great pretenders.
Joao Moreira replaces Ollie Doleuze on the Richard Gibson-trained Joyful Moments after a last start second over course and distance when 12-11-10-2 in the running at 11 to 1 to Athena Baby.
This might start favourite, but, despite the jockey change, I remain ambivalent about this galloper which might be looking for longer. Another runner sure to be in the market will be the HKJC’s Racing Club’s Young Ranger after a storming third at 23 to 1 when running over 1400m. Purton replaces Keith Yeung, which will mean the horse starting we banker material in a very tough first leg of the Triple Trio with a huge jackpot up for grabs. Let’s not forget the shock and awe that greeted us in the Triple Trio last Sunday. Quelle horreurs, mes amis!
Imperial Gallantry warrants consideration as a place hope based on its fourth to Archipus over 1400m two starts ago and is bred to get a mile with stronger place chances being given to Circuit Kingdom, Sparkling Sword and the dour non-winner. Asia Rising. My banker here is Golden Partners to be partnered by the very much in-form, constantly improving and very good kid- Vincent CY Ho- who rode a double on Wednesday and won the Jockey Challenge.
This is a very trappy first leg to the Six Up and be careful of some cheap cheese being put out there to lead you astray.
Zac Purton replaces Brett Prebble on Winner St Paul after two runs where the galloper has gone close without the cigar. And though Prebble is a very good jockey, Purton is something special, and, scarily, improving all the time.
Others on a win line would be Unique Awesome and the Moore-Moreira pack of M&Ms that is Bear-Pop, which should have won its last start when held up badly over course and distance.
Very good outsiders include Jolly Spring, Sumarand Dragon, Master Viking and, especially, Lightning Pegasus with Damian Lane retaining the ride after a steady seventh at his last start over 1200m. The extra 200m will suit it.
Having said all this, apart from Winner St Paul’s and Bear-Pop that show glimpses of some upside, they are all fairly moderate Class 4 types.
Being the first leg of the Six Up, which is really a Five Up when Able Friend wins Race 8, where’s the value if Winners St Paul or Bear-Pop win this and, perhaps, except for Race 9, favourites looking certain to salute?
It might be an extremely skinny Six Up if favourites dominate, so take one selection with all the favourites, and then take another selection hoping Bear-Pop fizzles along with Not Listenin’ Tome and outsiders salute.
Charity Kingdom is the logical choice after three seconds over 1400m, and tackles what should be an ideal 1600m with the Zacman aboard.
It’s a safe banker with legs including House Of Fortune to be ridden by Karis Teetan, who got Happy Rocky home on Wednesday for Team Adrenaline, below, Beauty Lead, Red Dancer, and Cash Courier that has the services of Tommy Berry, flown in to ride Dan Excel.
For those looking at taking Cash Courier as a double banker after a hugely improved last start effort to come within less than four lengths off the very impressive Packing Pins by finishing sixth for Jacky Tong at 99 to 1 a few questions: Wasn’t this heading for a class drop- the only reason to put Jacky Tong, pictured below actually WINNING a race, on a horse?
Has Cash Courier improved considerably? OR, was that last run a fluke as it had been beaten over twenty lengths at its previous start and has one of the slowest times of the runners for this race? It’s only the engagement of Tommy Berry that makes it a quinella and tierce chance.
Was all of that as our old mate Raffers aka David “I love myself” Raphael, below, prattling on? Last week, many hit the mute button when Raffers veered towards what sounded like him giving the HKJC Trackside team Gaellic lessons, something brought on by the mere mention of Packing Llaregyb. Boyo Boyo.
Let’s just repeat the following from yesterday:
John Moore can have a huge day and here, he has Not Listenin’ tome (Georgie Moore Jr, below, still can’t spell), a galloper he owned when it raced in Sydney, but fell short of all the great expectations surrounding it.
Though the jury is still out on how good the galloper is, it ran a cracker over course and distance at big odds at its first start in Hong Kong for Derek Leung. Smelling a good thing when he sees one, Douglas Whyte quickly jumps aboard for the galloper’s second start today, and with the galloper drawn a favourable outside barrier over the 1000m dash in Shatin, it must be be the logical winner though logic and horse racing make strange bedfellows.
But as these scampers are a lottery, others NOT to ignore is debutant Looks Like The Cat and Go Baby Go, and even if drawn the wrong side of the track, California Bounty, Lovely Delovely and Jetwings.
Two first starters who impressed at their Hong Kong debuts- Spicy Sure and Lucky Year- should fight this out with dangers being Strathmore, Righteous and Amber Dragon. This is a very good race with Lucky Years looking the winner and a horse going places.
This looks like a clash between last start winners Sky Hero and Dashing Fellow- another possible winner for John Moore though its last win was a tad unconvincing.
The fly in the ointment could be Secret Command with the bigger fly being Forever Accurate.
BEST BET: R3 BAYONET (4)
NEXT BEST: R1 QUINELLA: HIGHLAND HAMMER (3) and HAPPY CHAPPY (6)
LONGSHOT: R5 GOLDEN PARTNERS (10)
SIX UP (1)
SIX UP (2)