*The #Hashtag Award: This goes to the HKJC’s Executive Manager of Racing Communications Pat Cummings, and all his hashtags during #HKIR Week twittered by twelve relatively young, #enthusiastic and Bambi-like “influencers” from #America. It was a very good initiative, and well done to Postman Pat. Where it all kinda didn’t make sense, however, was when the #HKIR races were not broadcast in the U.S. by media partner #TVG. Both #Xpressbet and #TwinSpires broadcast HKIR in the US, but #TVG apparently had better things to do. They chose that particular week to upgrade their software. #Mindboggling
* The “There’s No Business Like Show Business” Award: The circus surrounding the history-making achievements of the brilliant American Pharaoh- everything from the Monster Girls, Burger King, the on/off love affair with Sports Illustrated, Vogue magazine and all those photo opportunities where owner Ahmed Zayat and trainer Bob Baffert, two polarising individuals in racing, decided to sleep with the wonder horse. Over-the-top? Hit it, Ethel Merman!
* The I Am Woman Award: To Michelle Payne for changing the face and makeup of The Race That Stopped A Nation forever.
* The Most Awkward Moment Award: Richie Callander meeting Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of the HKJC, for the first time during HKIR Week at Adrenaline as memories of this little rant about Hong Kong racing- and its CEO- by The Big Whopper swirled around our heads. The punchline: “EB” had never heard of Richie Rich.
* The Party Of The Year Award: The HKIJC Post Race Party at Adrenaline. Just some of those present: Ryan Moore, Joao Moreira, Mr and Mrs Zac Purton and Mr and Mrs Purton- Zac’s folks, Mr and Mrs Neil Callan, Hughie and Christine Bowman, Silvestre de Sousa, Gavin Lerena, James McDonald, Victor Espinoza, a dozen stunning IJC Racing Ambassadors and HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges and others dancing to the music of the Jennifer Palor Band.
* The Most Meaningless Racing Award: Longines World Best Jockey Award. All that pomp and ceremony and a Gala Dinner for an event few wanted to attend- even the “winner”- for fear of Dave Dee, Dopey, Mick and Titch taking over. And all for this for what???
* The Inaugural Shane-O Award for his Humanitarian Efforts and wild and whacky sense of humour: To Shane Anderson, the Dame Edna, Mahatma Gandhi, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Dorothy of horse racing in the land of Oz.
* The Acquired Taste Award: To John Wall, Andrew Demetrio and their funding of that old G1X gang currently flying by the seat of their pants before the bogey man of website Private Policies and usage of personal information comes knocking.
* The Cold Sore Award: For the sudden irritant of cold calls from corporate bookmakers in Oz to Hong Kong residents looking for new clients and dangling various carrots- referrals, rebates, free bets etc. Apart from approaching Hong Kong residents to open betting accounts with them being illegal, the question is whether various databases with personal information overload have been sold- and how and by whom?
* The Marbles, Mumbles and Electric Prunes Award: The HKJC’s racing interviewer Edward Sadler and race caller extraordinaire John “White Lightning” Le Blance whose dramatic calls, though, shall we say, enthusiastic, are hardly accurate or helpful, and quite a turn off. Their baptism of fire is over, and there is still no improvement. We fully appreciate that whoever decides on these hires for the HKJC’s English Broadcast team, apparently, has chump change for a budget, and is going for “value” by paying as little possible for talent undergoing on-the-job training as “no one watches English programming”. This thinking might just be too clever by half when mediocrity is seen and heard halfway round the world in the name of co-comingling. Or the shingles.
* The Merry Xmas (War Is Not Over) Award: To Racing NSW and Racing Victoria. Their petty and grossly harmful jealousies continue to undermine Australian racing. 2016 will again witness two Guineas races run on the same day in Sydney and Melbourne. Give Peace A Chance? Never.
* The David Blaine and Criss Angel Magic Man Award: To Joao Moreira. The Magic Man of racing is creating records we never knew could even exist, and has Hong Kong racing fans totally mesmerised. For his next trick, he will walk across the harbour from Shatin to Happy Valley, and turn water into mojitos.
* The Days Of Our Lives Award: The ponderous and long-running Australian horse opera involving those bastions of integrity issues, My Gal Sal, cheaters, weepers and three-time users, convictions, appeals, The Plodder, the Rules of Racing versus The Court of Public Appeal, vets- male and female, backstabbers, threats, non-threats, cobalt, vitamins, the protection of legacies, and a series with more twists than Chubby Checker that will meander along like sands in an hour glass for another three years by which time a new cast of characters would have taken over with the original cast members having been killed off while escaping Alcatraz with golden parachutes strapped to their backs.
* The Gene Krupa and Banging Their Drum Loudly Award: The HKJC for having people banging gongs and drummers from here, there and everywhere, bashing, well, drums at every single major event. Coming up we understand: Traditional Japanese- wait for it- drummers at the Beer Garden.
* The “Say It Ain’t So” Award: Did the geniuses behind racing.com REALLY shell out a six figure amount for the domain name? If so, whoever rubber-stamped that decision needs some lessons in marketing and how Google, as a search engine, works. HORSEracing.com wasn’t for sale?
* The Moore The Merrier Award: To Ryan Moore. He has been a world class jockey for some years now, but 2015 proved that not only could he sustain his wonderful achievements of 2014, but he is now arguably the best in the world, something underlined by his wins and riding at last week’s International Day in Hong Kong.
* The Amnesia Award. To a dirty laundry list of Trainers, Veterinarians, Stable employees and staff who have played starring roles in the various cobalt cases and who have invoked the “I can’t recall” defense at the hearings into the charges in Victoria and NSW. Gotta come up with better alibis, boys and girls, as the Sword of Damocles gets closer to ending careers and livelihoods, as has happened in “sin city”.
* The Ka-Ching Award: Australia’s mining boom might be over, but for the lawyers associated with the prosecution and defence in the cobalt cases, the money tap keeps flowing. And with the inevitable Appeals processes about to begin, the cash tills for the legal fraternity fortunate enough to be chosen to cash in on another ‘lottery moment” in racing, will keep ringing and ringing.
* The Durian Durian Award: To the Singapore Turf Club for calling time on their International races. The reason for taking their ball and keeping it home was obvious: The successful annual raids by their closest neighbour Hong Kong with its horses, trainers, jockeys, owners, mafoos etc. To rub salt in the wound, Hong Kong managed to also win over their Magic Man and made Joao Moreira their own.
* The Keeping Tabs Award: And the winner and only nomination is Tabcorp for its dismal failure to properly market and promote co-mingling of the Hong Kong and Supertab and NSW Tab pools.
* The Einstein Award: To the HKJC Stipes for handing down suspensions to Zac Purton, Neil Callan, Brett Prebble, Nash Rawiller, Ryan Moore and now, Karis Teetan, and then wondering why there’s a shortage of senior jockeys. Perhaps Tony Cruz should get back in the saddle? And Manfred KL Man. And Jenny Chapman.