THE FAST TRACK INTERVIEWS
Paul O’Sullivan and Zac Purton
(Courtesy of http://www.fasttrack.hk)
THE INSIDE TRACK
THE MARKETING OF AMERICAN PHAROAH
If American Pharaoh was another Mr Ed, he’d be doing the talk show circuit in the US. And even though he isn’t Mr Ed, it’s a minor miracle that he hasn’t appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s show and no one has remixed “Walk Like An Egyptian” and created the American Pharoah Dance.
This is where America is so damn good at marketing any product. Even a horse, albeit in this case, a history-making horse. Whereas some might become coy, Roy, or too precious while looking at gift horses in the mouth and walking away from them, the connections of American Pharoah have opened everything up to market the hell outta “America’s horse”.
Already on the cover of Sports Illustrated without having to be Elle McPherson or Heidi Klum, the Triple Crown winner will soon also grace the cover of Vogue with a galaxy of online games and all manner of merchandising and dedicated websites ready to make their debut.
American Pharoah at the White House for a photo opp with the Obamas? We can see it. What do we think? It’s great for the sport. It brings it into the mainstream of sports entertainment. Horse racing cannot afford to be precious while over-thinking everything to death and killing great marketing opportunities instead of listening to Nike and saying, Let’s Just DO It!
GARY MOORE AND HIS ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE
It’s been quite a while since Gary Moore left Macau to return to Sydney and further his career as a trainer. He can be somewhat odd, but we like old Gazza, and some of his antics when a trainer and jockey in Macau wouldn’t even make it on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. How’s the old boy doing back home? To be honest, he’s kicked in a few goals, but nothing of a Ronaldo quality and isn’t quite the god-like figure he was in Macau to his flock.
Earlier this week he combined with the very much in-form Luke Dittman on odds on favourite Ice Bucket at a Doomben meeting. It led, petered out and came second. At Wyong, he had the raging favourite in a four horse field. It came last. But the fung shui might be about to change when, so we hear, Gazza will soon be inheriting a current Hong Kong sprinter with just three runs under its belt. The horse belongs to one of “Gazza Glitter’s” most loyal owners from his Macau days who certainly has the financial clout to give the battling trainer some decent equine weaponry.
As for the race at Doomben, Three Beers Please, ridden by former Hong Kong-based Jeff Lloyd, the real Iron Man of racing, came from last to pour cold water over Ice Bucket.
A MEETING OF THE MINDS?
It should be a colourful get-together with many stories swapped. This is when some of the legends of racing like our good mates Brent “The Babe” Thomson and John Didham get together in Melbourne next month with some of Oz racing’s more colourful characters- Neil “Mojito” Paine, Craig “Gunga” Din and others- for an Old Boys Reunion to be held at either of two pubs- the one belonging to Danny Nikolic or Steven King. Chief Stipe Terry Bailey will not be on the invitation list. Oh, to be a fly on the wall to hear the stories behind the stories.
As far as new venues for future meeting places for the more mature racing fraternity is concerned, we’re tipping it will be the excellent Oscar’s Tables in the Docklands which has reopened under new Hong Kong management. Looking at some of their dishes- brilliant stuff- we’ll be there with bells on.
FROM THE RACING TWITTERVERSE
THE FAST TRACKER IS LOOKING FOR MAGIC TO STRIKE AT SHATIN
A Griffins race over 1200m where though Circuit King is drawn barrier twelve, it has the magical powers of Joao Moreira aboard, who, somewhat surprisingly, doesn’t ride too many for trainer Tony Cruz.
After a decent second at its last start Hong Kong debut, the Magic Man, who must have had a buffet of other choices in this race, should, as always, make a mockery of barriers, have Circuit King handedly placed and, as they say, “in the thick of things when heads are turned for home” in what promises to be a very busy finish with the other big chances being Super Dragon and King Of Patch.
Aussie race caller Ric Macintosh, who was being interviewed some time ago to replace Darren Flindell- and is this interview process and the decision maker really correct?- might scream a great deal whenever he sees even a cat jump over a fence, and keeps Strepsils in business, but he always comes up with some real pearlers straight outta left field. It gives the races an extra lift. Most of the other callers? Plodders sounding even more dopey and dozy than most of the races they’re calling.
As for this race, there shouldn’t be much separating the first 4-5 past the post. Prepare for a frenzied call from Amigo Brett and a possible WTF Moment.
Absolutely no idea- and listening to the humming and hawwing from the Three Amigos on their Racing To Win extravaganzola shown on the graveyard shift, they’re just as lost.
With Penang out of this race and having to put my satay stick away for another day, this becomes a pretty open affair with only Molly’s Jade Star which has been trialling well for The Gnasher with the blinkers on- the horse, that is, the only one that does anything for me in a pretty awful race. It’s a race that I might miss in favour of grabbing some satay from Cinta-J down in Wanchai.
Brett Prebble is riding as well as anyone these days and is especially lethal in distance races where he is often tactically smarter than the average bear, Boo Boo. He seems to relish these races where he almost always out-foxes his rivals and seems to cackle with joy.
Here, over this 2000m race, he teams up with very much in-form trainer Me Tsui aboard Dragon Bachelor which could easily take this out as the band strikes up, “Chewy Chewy Chewy”. Me Tsui, Manfred Man, Almond Lee. What next? Milky Wei?
Moreira combines with David Hall on Heroic Guru, and in a competitive race can be taken as the banker in the first leg of the triple trio. It might not win, but should run in the top three which is the main thing.
An open race where, if one were to take away race favourite Unicorn, there are at least 5-6 winning chances. Bear-Pop will be in the money again as it goes for its third consecutive win for those able amigos John Moore and Joao Moreira.
Like its last start, Bear-Pop, dismissed as a winning chance by many pundits in that race, is drawn out wide, but, just to be a bore, barriers are no barriers for the Magic Man.
Bear-Pop must go in again albeit without that much confidence where an upset could easily be on the cards in the first leg of the Six Up. This upset of the apple cart could come from Snowhooves. The form might not be anything flash, but Richard Gibson has taken his time with this one, and Derek Leung, who’s riding better than ever, just could get this home at very good odds.
Away from big outsiders, consider the much-improved Indigo Way, which goes well for Alex Lai, and High Warrior, which was a Black Booker after rattling home for fifth over 1400m. Unless that effort was a fluke considering it lost the start before by 13 lengths for Moreira, though drawn barrier 14, it could finish with a flurry for “Nash For Cash” Rawiller, pictured below, fresh from taking out Wednesday’s Jockey Challenge.
Happy Place is a leading chance going on its last start fourth over 1400m with Prebble replacing Keith Yeung. One would think the extra 200 metres will suit it based on that run, and the class drop here, but its stats over 1600m are not exactly worth getting excited about.
Having said all this, I’ll be taking Unicorn as my banker- a slow, maturing type, that’s drawn well and which looks set to strike for the Zac Attack.
Amazing Kids won very well in its Hong Kong debut for Craig Williams in an astute betting coup.
Though coming up short as an odds-on favourite as its next start, it should take this out for the successful Size-Moreira team with Spicy Sure looking the one to give it a little competition.
French import Circuit Land is the interesting runner based on its debut Hong Kong run when an even third to the very impressive Sun Jewellery and unwanted in the betting.
Anyone getting whiplash following the Divine Calling merry-go-round? HKJC bloodstock agent Nick Columb must be wondering where all this is going to end with his expensive purchase for newbie Mainland China connections seemingly as Dazed And Confused as that Led Zeppelin classic.
After it’s facile win on its Hong Kong debut for Zac Purton over 1400m, the Tony Millard-trained galloper has been on a slippery slope South of the border with not even the Magic Man being able to give it that grand elixir of life.
Today, after a last-start attempt at 1200m, the former Gai Waterhouse-trained galloper, tackles 1400m with Damien Lane being the latest jockey for this equine enigma. Lane, who copped another suspension after Wednesday’s meeting in what has been a less-than-spectacular stint, replaces Nash Rawiller who replaced Joao Moreira who replaced Zac Purton. Next? Jack Wong? Who knows, but there will be no divine interception to get Divine Calling first past the winning post today. Maybe- just maybe- it needs a break and will return next season a new horse with a Batmobile engine under its hood.
The race favourite is certain to be the John Moore-trained and Georgie Moore-purchased Not Listenin’ Tome- also named by George, pictured below, which explains the spelling- after a brilliant Moreira ride which saw it win its last start. Here, it runs over 1400m with the Magic Man aboard once again and will go very close.
John Moore saddles up five of the nine runners with only Super Lifeline from the Millard yard able to break the Moore stranglehold.
Another 1000m sprint where the usual suspects are trotted out led by- who else?- Country Melody. Jeez, how many times has this John Size-trained galloper that once looked like being above average, and now just seems flat and tired, raced this season- and with little or no relief in the handicaps? It seems like every time there’s one of these 1000m sprints, Country Melody “tunes up”.
Another of the usual suspects over this Shatin dash- No Money No Talk- is also back for more, and I can’t have either. Both seem to have won their races for the season.
Accepted, one of the newer kids on the block, is a chance, but has an unfavourable barrier, whereas another relative newbie that has been working well- Chater Rock- goes in with some degree of confidence. Word is that Moreira actually went after the ride on this David Ferraris-trained galloper.
Razor Quest has won its last three starts, but as there’s no gain without pain, it’s gone up in the ratings and as topweight here, I’ll be brave, grow some balls, and pass on it.
Foodie won its last start and though up in class is a chance whereas a big watch is recommended for Albeceleste. The John Moore galloper has been absent for quite some time, which is worrying, but if over whatever problems it might have had, it would be the fresh horse on the field and could go very close for Gerald Mosse, who must be determined to get amongst the winners before the season comes to an end and then the Licensing Committee announces which jockeys will be staying and which ones will be exiting stage right.
A tough race to end the day with some of the better chances like the Dennis Yip-trained Brilliant Shine not only drawn out wide, but lumped with top weight following its last start win. Yip’s other runner in the race- Secret Weapon- makes more appeal as it goes for its third consecutive win, the proviso being whether dear Dennis, a champion trainer a couple of seasons ago, has spaced this very good galloper’s runs with the meticulous care of, let’s say, John Moore or John Size. It must go in, however, along with a freshened up Contentment on a win line with Apollo’s Choice being a big chance for Damien Lane.
BEST BET: RACE 11: SECRET WEAPON (8)
NEXT BEST: RACE 6: UNICORN (13)
LONGSHOT: RACE 7: CIRCUIT LAND (6)