By Hans Ebert
It’s Wednesday, but it’s not a Happy Wednesday. It’s a Rainy Wednesday. And, like a Carpenters song, Rainy Wednesdays without races always get me down while I walk around talking to myself and getting old. Sometimes, I like to quit, nothing ever seems to fit, yes, Rainy Wednesdays without races always get me down.
Worse: it’s going to be six long weeks before the new racing season starts again on September 3 at Sha Tin.
We were so happy last Sunday watching Joao, Zac, The Poon Train and others ride winners and then jump for joy to grab a handful of plushies. So many plushies this season with many of us waiting for Poon Train plushy and the banging of gongs to start the 2017/18 horse racing season.
Yes, as always, many of us are having the post-racing season blues, those days filled with aimless shopping expeditions where the credit card has been surrendered to her and you just schlep around to wherever she wants to go- The Landmark, Pacific Place, a flight to Singapore and more shopping down Orchard Road, catching another flight to have a curry dinner in Colombo because she’s suddenly craving for one and has become intolerably irritable. Either that or we fly down to Melbourne because she suddenly wants that horrible fish pie at The Stokehouse. She’s acting very irrational these days. It must be some hormonal thing.
Jeez, it’s not even been a week since we basked in the sunshine of the financial roll call for last season: Total turnover of HK$117.4 billion- up 10.7 percent, a tax contribution to the government of HK$13.1 billion- up HK$1 billion, attendance was 217 million- an average of 24,600 per meeting, and after tax, HK$4.777 billion to fund racing operations and contributions to charity, which was another record.
Our hearts pounded and we became one. We hugged each other and said, “I love you, man” to total strangers. It was like being at Woodstock, but without Santana performing and naked chicks dancing all around you. But there were plushies. And now? And now, it’s all about finding options- options to keep ourselves occupied.
Tonight, some of us will go to Happy Valley racecourse and watch replays of last Wednesday’s races on our iPhones, pretend that we don’t know the results and high five each other when we win every race including the 100 to 1 winner ridden by Master Chad.
But what about Sunday and all the other non race days? Same thing. Replay the races and pretend we win. It’s not much, but it’s something.
Some of us have such painful withdrawals that we’ve had cardboard cut outs made of Joao and Zac and Kei and Brett and Andrew and Jenny From The Paddock. Jenny is always the life of the party! Such a fun cardboard cutout! Andrew? Not that much fun. Stiff.
We talk about their day and then dance The Poon Train Boogie to ABBA and Bee Gees songs. It’s a little weird and the girlfriend finds it all a little disturbing, but where’s there for her to go? So we ask the neighbours over and she joins in the dancing.
Time has also been put aside to call each other and ask for tips. It’s another way of making the time pass. Five hours later, we call each other back to see how we did and are happy in knowing that we all won everything- the Triple Trio, every Quartet, the Six Up. Everything. It’s like we went Back To The Future and found a newspaper giving us all the news about what happened in the future. Know what I mean?
On other days we just follow Andrew Hawkins on Twitter. The Griffin lives and breathes horse racing 24/7 so there’s always some new news. If this is not satisfying enough, we go back and read his old tweets with his selections and all kinds of news about people grabbing plushies which is different to what Donald Trump likes to grab.
If all of this has us wanting more, we read the tweets from Pat Cummings.
Once those quickly start to give us wind problems, we go to Channel 668 on NOWTV and watch films of old track work and mute the sound to silence the serial belcher on the Chinese broadcasting team and in order to listen to the races from last Sunday.
Depending on our mood, we dial the HKJC Telebet number for old times sake, but this time to buy a Mark Six using our Six Up numbers. It’s not the same. Nor is watching or listening to the races in Australia. Who’s Daniel Griffin or Jamie Kah or Randy Tan? Or Dylan Cabouche?
The only thing we know is that William Pike wins every race in Perth, and that we really don’t want Craig Williams to win whatever championship he’s battling to win against a very good young jockey named Doc Martin’s. Nothing against Craig Williams, but many of us have lost money following him over the years, so, I guess we actually do have something against Craig Williams. Go, Doc Martin’s and beat Craig Williams and his Jimmy Choos.
Back in Hong Kong, after winning at Rainy Wednesday at Happy Valley, we’ll go our separate ways to listen to our favourite race calls of last season that we’ve downloaded onto Spotify Shuffle and remixed with various beats. Yes, yes, it’s not the same, but it’s different enough to pass the time. Bring on September 3 and some Gonging.