THE INSIDE TRACK
LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE LOCAL BOYS!
With Zac Purton enjoying his enforced holiday in Koh Samui, and Joao Moreira, having ridden the first winner of the night on Shatin Wednesday forfeiting the rest of his rides through a lower-back muscle spasm, one was reminded that there are actually others who can deliver the goods- and with their Made In Hong Kong labels.
While some wait for Matthew Chadwick to return from an injury to one of his fingers, and the career of apprentice Dicky Lui, below, on thin ice after his SEVENTH suspension this season for riding like Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, thankfully, other local jockeys, notably Vincent CY Ho, Derek Leung, Ben So, and Keith Yeung, are showing that they’re more than capable of holding their own against some of the best and, again, underlying the depth in the Hong Kong riding ranks.
There’s a depth to it that recently has some wondering about the need for new jockeys- and many unable to ride light, which is what’s really needed in Hong Kong- on short-term licenses, and the steep learning curve they need to go through- and never reach- before their time’s up.
Yeung and Leung, the latter, always mentioned by Douglas Whyte as a talent with potential, but his height being his biggest problem, has really come into his own this season. He’s been seen at his best when riding for his former boss, Paul O’Sullivan- and what a phenomenal season he is having- with his three wins aboard the trainer’s Fay Deep being a key success story.
Keith Yeung, below, is another local rider who’s come into his own with more and more support from some of the bigger stables. Winning the Jockey Challenge on Wednesday raised his stock.
Add to this the sudden new support for another local rider- Ben So- from a great horseman like John Size for whom he delivered on Wednesday with a very good ride when substituting for the Magic Man no less aboard Sichuan Vigour, a “renewed” Brett Prebble back to riding as the Group 1 Melbourne Cup winning jockey that he is, and Nash Rawiller using this season to understand the ins, outs and sideways of riding in Hong Kong, showing just how strong- and what a tough shop it is right now to break into if coming in straight from the cold.
Sometimes, it’s best to look internally and improve the local crop instead of casting that net to the usual places and never ever being sure what the end results will be- for all parties.
THE INS AND OUTS OF NEXT SEASON
Who will be riding here next season? Could there be any surprises in the way of Sayonaras and Adieus?
After watching some of the rides in race 7 on Wednesday night by, for once, NOT the Mr Bean-like fine motor skills of battling apprentice Dickie Lui, but some senior expat jockeys, one has to wonder. Even the always very professional and excellent Jenny (From The Paddock) Chapman, who keeps her personal thoughts in check, was heard to blurt out, “Gee, there were some ordinary rides there” whereas going through the race replay, Amigo Clint seemed to want to jump aboard Horse Aplenty and teach apprentice Jack Wong how, when there’s an inside run all the way down the home stretch, bloody take it!
ENTER THE YOUNG ONES
On the subject of new jockeys- and younger ones as opposed to the obvious we’ll eventually see in Hong Kong- Hughie Bowman, Tommy Berry, Blake Shinn and, possibly, James McDonald- we’re tipping the following- Chad Schofield, Chris Parnham and Patrick Moloney, below.
Parnham, below, and Moloney are still at least two years off being ready for Hong Kong- some might feel the same way about Chad The Younger- but these two boys are going places with very short odds that they’ll succeed beyond Oz.
They’re all very very good, have great pedigree and, importantly, strong family support systems. Oh, and the odds of one of these lads landing in Hongkers sooner rather than later could well be on the cards.
MELBOURNE’S RSN CONTINUES TO KEEP ALIVE THE SPIRIT OF MONTY PYTHON
As many know, we are huge fans of Melbourne radio station RSN- Radio Shane-O Nation- with its non-stop onslaught of surreal commercials for bloody idiots, and funeral homes while celebrating the lives of dead people from the Woodstock era.
Sure, in the midst of Nards, JT, and the various Shaneothons, these spots can be a tad creepy and downright depressing.
Still, never a station to lay down and die on their dead laurels, RSN has recently outdone itself with a brand new commercial that asks listeners to understand those suffering from Tourette Syndrome. It’s a perplexing little commercial where a female appears to play the role of someone suffering from Tourette’s before becoming a voice-over artiste as she solemnly asks while dripping in insincerity something along the lines of, “Help us to understand them.”
Us? Them? How? We can’t even understand what this spot is about- and it’s objective. Who writes these scripts? Has Shane-O got this gig as well- the same Shane-O who will, very likely, be the new face on an Oz racing television channel. Why not when he’s everywhere else?
Bernard “The Plodder” Saundry better watch out. His gig might be on Shane-O’s bucket list- a testament to the recent birthday boy’s relentless ambition to be the voice, face and steering wheel of Oz horse racing.
THE RUMOUR MILL
While he was peddling away on his exercise bike, texts and WhatsApp were on overdrive on Friday: “Has EB had a heart attack?” Hardly, as once off his bike, the CEO of the HKJC, who had undergone surgery on Thursday for a small problem with one of his legs- the right one- was at 1 Sports Road alive and kicking ass.
Yes, rumours of his heart attack were vastly exaggerated along with another game of Chinese Whispers making the rounds, especially in Perth.
With race caller Mark Shean deciding to stay put in Sydney after being taken on a tour of possible shoeboxes in the city as his accommodation here, WA caller Darren McCauley’s name has been bandied about as the latest target by the HKJC to replace Darren Flindell.
Really? We’d love to see- and hear- that, but can’t see it happening. The search just might have moved right away from Oz. That Yellow Brick Road was leading nowhere, Toto. The days of Taipan and Noble House expat packages left the building with Elvis and James Clavell.
HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH HEH
To our dear old mates at RNSW- Beavis and Butthead- a free kick: The marketing and creative product of your brand remains one big yawn fest- and, perhaps, that’s how it will plod along despite all those buzz phrases about being “customer centric” and “talking to the customer.”
But if all the “customer centric” talk is to become reality bites, the starting point and the best person to “speak” to your customers in a well-executed multi-media communications campaign: Gai Waterhouse, the First Lady of Australian Racing.
If your marketing gurus cannot see the impact of a holistic “Have a Gai Day” campaign- and how this can work via mainstream advertising, social media and an app, the light is definitely not switched on in the Think Tank.
FROM THE RACING TWITTERVERSE
THE FAST TRACKER HOPES IT DOESN’T RAIN ON HIS PARADE
A Class 5 race over 1600m for horses rated 15-40 doesn’t exactly make my heart go Giddyup like a Millie Small song.
Having said that- and with the uncertainty of the weather gods and a steady drizzle overnight, this looks like a Quartet race worth having a flutter on as the odds are that it will pay big. Keep your powder dry for some of the later races and use this race as a form of punting foreplay.
Bayonet was a very impressive winner at its first start here, and despite barrier 5 not being ideal over the 1000m it tackles here, this should hold no concerns for pilot Captain Canny Callan.
QUARTET SELECTIONS: (1)2-5-9-10-12
A Watching Brief is recommend as these staying events have everything to do with tactics and, usually, Brett Prebble outfoxing most of his rivals. He must have been a whiz playing hide and seek as a kid.
Here, he rides Happy Rocky which was disappointing at its last start at Happy Valley, but could easily land a knockout punch without surprising in an extremely open looking race with no standouts.
QUARTET SELECTIONS: (9-11)-12-1-13-14
* RACE 4
Trainer Danny Shum didn’t do punters any favours last week when his Hello Kimberley fluked it at 250 to 1 while making mugs of us and the horse’s sour looking owners at the same time. It’s a minor miracle the horse hasn’t had a stable change.
Shum WILL make amends here when his Rouge Et Blanc- it looks better than Class 4 material- takes this out with Superking Dragon, certain to be ridden on the pace, as a double banker, and a perfect ride for Brett “Rubick” Prebble.
Looking at the rest of the field, it fills my heart with joy to see Dougie Whyte finally giving up on Asia Rising which might stop the Three Amigos talking about it- again- and describing the plodder- again- as being “dour”. It’s not “dour”, Amigos. It’s pretty useless and cannot win- but can plod into a place.
G-One Leader will be some people’s idea of a banker, but the booking of Gerald Mosse doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.
Perhaps he’s rusty with a bit of Krusty The Clown thrown in following his return to riding after spending so many months in the suspension wilderness as some of his comeback rides have hardly been worthy of this great Group 1 winning jockey.
Glacier Blue won- finally- at its last start for owner Dr Simon Ip, current Chairman of the HKJC, on Stewards Cup day when sent out a raging favourite with Dougie Whyte aboard. Karis Teetan is aboard this time- Whyte goes onto Atomic Blast, which can win this- and is a minor place chance in this, the second leg of the Triple Trio that could easily see a value chance like Ah Bo, Best Fighter, or Acumen with the Donkey Man up saluting. Show me Neil Callan, below, riding even a fish, and I’ll back it as the Irishman gives nothing less than 300 percent.
* RACE 6
Soul Achiever and Secret Weapon appeal as bankers and here’s hoping Karis Teetan, who rode three runners-up on Wednesday, rides a winner today before starting a suspension.
Perhaps Soul Achiever can do the trick- but one doubts it. Leading chances are last start course and distance winner Secret Weapon- he looks something special- and Prebble tipped to go close on the free-striding Victory Master.
Cheeky Too is a good value chance whereas California Cherish improved at its last start under Joao Moreira who seems to have chosen Red Dancer over it. Pity. Vincent CY Ho takes over and though he might not possess any magic tricks, he’s not chopped liver either.
Only eight starters take their places in the running of the Standard And Chartered Champions And Chater Cup with John Moore having four of the runners.
Though a huge fan of his Helene Happy Star even before it ran here, and tipping this galloper to be a future champion, I can’t see it beating the Tony Cruz-Neil Callan McHappy Combo with Blazing Speed for its dysfunctional group of bitching owners currently going through a Quiet Storm.
If there is to be a real Ho Lee Fook blowout, Batman, look no further than the very well handicapped Mr Gnocchi, now with the Tony Millard yard and to be ridden by The Wok Man- Nash Rawiller.
John Size unveiled a very good one in Thewizardofoz, another Lady GaiGai “escapee”, and should make this its second win in Hong Kong.
Sizey is way too smart to purchase any Lady GaiGai caste-offs whereas the competition here doesn’t look as it can get anywhere near Dorothy as she skips up the Yellow Brick Road.
* RACE 9
With the big money sure to go onto Rad and Not Listenin’Tome, don’t give up on the “forgotten horse” in this race- Divine Calling.
Twitter followers of The GaiLays will be well aware of their total aversion to what they term Gai Waterhouse “escapees”, and, gawd knows Divine Calling has been an unceremonious flop despite the expensive price tag and facile win at its first start in Hong Kong when it won-hard held-over 1400m for Zac Purton. And that’s been about it. Humpty Dumpty-type failures followed as the favourite at all its next starts with Moreira taking over, then the ride going back to Purton when it finished last to Able Friend in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup.
Now it drops back in distance to an unsuitable 1200m with this time Nash Rawiller aboard who’s worked hard stirring the wok to get down to 120 pounds to ride this.
The Gnasher has ridden the horse twice when it raced as a promising three-year-old in Oz, so knows it quite well, and if there isn’t some divine intervention here to stop Divine Calling leading as usual and then tippy toeing when seeing the winning post, well, wait for it to run over 300m. But don’t leave it out of your Six Ups. It could run well fresh.
As for the two that are sure to be favourites, Rad is a freak over 1000m- very speedy, but tackles 1200m for the first time. Even regular pilot Dougie Whyte must be wondering how it will fare and if it might set up something to come from off the pace and swamp it. Not Listenin’Tome, once owned and raced in Oz by John Moore, has the Magic Man aboard, is a very good looking galloper, and Moore- now its trainer- a genius at winning these Cup races- has been talking up its chances. That actually worries me. History has proven that pre-race hypola by Moore is usually a bit of showbiz- shades of Lady GaiGai- and this one can win without me. I never ever followed it in Oz, and I’m not going to change my “strategy” now that it’s here.
As a VERY worthy outsider include Smart Volatility, a horse that could be so much more with a change of scenery and a better team behind it, and Exciting Dream. It might make you look like a genius.
Packing Pins is probably the best horse in the Ricky Yiu stable, and despite having drawn barrier 14 as its “penance” for winning its last two starts, it should win this. Maybe as it will have to be ridden for luck.
Moreira is on it again, and apart from parting the Red Seas and feeding the forty thousand, the Magic Man turns outside barriers into inside runs.
If there are any dangers, these would be Lotus Breeze and, perhaps, topweight Pikachu which will be ridden by “Donkey” Callan, once the regular rider of Packing Pins, whose competitive and determined streak, will get the best outta the David Ferraris-trained galloper.
A good value bet is Tableaux, the one that many- me- still keep going to the well too many times hoping it will do something after the incredible hype when it first arrived here. Put it in as a Quartet chance as this “tableaux”, once looking a wooden, rickety and empty type, will definitely improve now that it’s with Paul O’Sullivan.
QUARTET SELECTION: (8-11)-1-2-6-11-13-14
BEST BET: RACE 2 BAYONET (1)
NEXT BEST: R6 SECRET COMMAND (3)
LONGSHOT: RACE 9 SMART VOLATILITY (4)