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(Courtesy of http://www.fasttrack.hk)


After a two month sabbatical and siesta, the gates fly open on Sunday at Shatin Racecourse and we gallop into the 2015-2016 racing season. For many, these two months have been a long and arduous wait- and not only for racing fans in Hong Kong.


Like Will Paladin introducing his “Have Gun Will Travel” name card, racing in Hong Kong travels around the world today with some of its most loyal fans being overseas.


They’re fans of Hong Kong’s United Nations Of Racing and have their own Top Ten lists as to who follow. They take whatever leads come their way, become embroiled in the various back stories that are often concocted and thrown out for public consumption while the more rabid local punters base things around auspicious dates- birthdays of jockeys and trainers is a popular one- and the gossip and innuendos dripping off the pages of the hundreds of Chinese racing publications with their trackwork spies, tips, and modus operandi of putting two and two together, and often coming up with three. It’s all part and parcel of Hong Kong racing, and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.


What might we expect this new season? Below are what we’ve been hearing and thinking about over the break with the end game always being to win. And then win some more. Or some Moore. Right, John?



*Surely- we know- “Don’t call me Shirley”- this should be the opening song for the new racing season? By the way, the band will be breathing earth, wind and fire in Hong Kong during HKIR Week- December 11, to be exact.


*We can’t wait to see martial arts actor Sammo Hung, owner of Amber Sky, and rather LOUD clothes horse, standing next to the galloper’s new rider Zac Purton. Warning: Never laugh at Sammo Hung. Or his ties. Or ask him when he left Earth, Wind and Fire.


*We’re tipping Mott32, below, and Stocktons to be the popular quinella when it comes to the favourite meeting places for the racing fraternity this season.


The Blue Bar at the Four Seasons is out of favour these days with the restaurant recommended by many jockeys being Sevva, the rather pretentious joint owned by longtime local socialite Bonnie Gokson, and where flying air kisses bounce off walls to form the Tierce.



*Caspar Fownes will front a headbanging Heavy Metal band named Gun Pit that will stand up and headbang on for more dirt meetings. A Heavy Metal cover of “Dirty Diana” and “Bang Bang” will feature- how else?- heavily at their gigs.



*Zac and Nicole Purton, the Posh and Becks of Hong Kong racing, will have their own reality series on Channel E!, home of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”, “It Takes Gutz To Be A Gutierrez- the gawdawful Philippines answer to the Kardashians- and those fish-lipped “Rich Wives of Orange County.” Name of the series? “You’re A Putz, We’re The Purtons”.



*What new records will Joao Moreira set this season and will he ride a winner for those two trainers he failed to add to his portfolio last year- Sean Woods and dear Almond Lee. The other question has already been answered. After his spectacular introduction to Japanese racing fans- and the powerful Yoshida family for whom he won aboard Baby Tapit at this weekend’s World All-Star series in Sapporo, The Magic Man has now also conquered Japan as his domination of the sport, globally, reaches new heights. The world is no longer the popular Brazilian’s oyster. It’s his oyster with a topping of the most expensive sashimi money can buy.



*If he wins the Melbourne Cup aboard Fame Game, will Zac Purton re-record a new version of the Vapors hit, “Turning Japanese”, under the name Zakoichi Pundonomuro?



**Will the John Size-trained Thewizardofoz be the new Able Friend- and will his trainer John Size, the Clint Eastwood of Hong Kong racing, actually crack a smile this season?



* Melbourne Cup-winning jockey and terrific fella Wayne Harris, who rode in Hong Kong for John Moore in the early Eighties, has thrown his hat into the ring to be part of the HKJC’s broadcasting team.


It would be good to see him be part of the new ‘look’ Three Amigos though we’re still in the dark about the final lineup.



* One understands that the annual bash in December at the Foreign Correspondents Club to raise money for the Po Leung Kuk Orphanage- a very worthwhile cause and supported by many in the racing fraternity- has hit a snag. Not many of the club’s members have heard of the act booked for this year’s event: Tears For Fear.


The British duo known primarily for their hits “Shout” and “Everybody Wants To Rule The World, follows in the footsteps of some bizarre groups booked for the event over the years-the Jackson Four (Michael is dead, ok), Credence Clearwater Revival with only one original member, the Doobie Brothers with two original members, a “supergroup” made up of a member of Steppenwolf and, we think, Foreigner.


Apart from the Beach Boys whose music lives on despite them being Beached Grandpas these days, the odds and sods mentioned above somehow worked. But Tears For Known? It could all end in tears- and a shouting match.


Despite a bit of a slowing down in their bromance towards the end of last season, and rumours of another leading rider said to have been offered- and rejected- the job of stable jockey, the partnership of trainer Richard Gibson and Douglas Whyte appears to be back on track. Having said this, don’t be surprised to see Monsieur Mosse being legged aboard a number of runners for the yard- more so than in recent years.




Horses to follow in Hong Kong- and Hong Kong horses to follow overseas: Thewizardofoz (duh), Able Friend and Aerovelocity (double Duh), any of the recent purchases for the Moore yard, Gun Pit, and Redkirk Warrior. The latter is the really interesting galloper. Who will ride it- one truly doubts it will be Monsieur Mosse, which we think is a real pity- and what distance will suit it best? Also interesting in a very different way is whether Cas-i-bah Fownes can create some divine intervention and bring the latest addition to his stable- the one-time Gai Waterhouse-trained Divine Calling- back to some semblance of what he showed at his first start in Hong Kong with a facile win.


It’s been downhill ever since and, hence, the move from trainer Tony Millard for a change of scenery- and good fung shui.



Britain’s champion elect jockey Silvestre De Sousa, certainly riding at the very top of his game, to ride in Hong Kong during Europe’s winter break? Two excellent Brazilian jockeys doing battle on the racetracks of Hong Kong? What a feast for racing fans!



Guess who’s coming to dinner? Sidney Poitier? Kanye West? Caitlin Jenner? No idea. Who’s coming to Adrenaline on September 9 for the first Happy Wednesday night of the season? Great American Jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour. Will he sit in with Jennifer Palor and the resident band? Very likely.


This entry was posted in brett prebble, casper fownes, DOUGLAS WHYTE, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, JOAO MOREIRA, JOHN MOORE, JOHN SIZE, The horse racing industry, www.fasttrack.hk, zac purton and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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