By Hans Ebert
Drinking from that half full glass of milk tea, what can one take away from Sunday’s race meeting at Sha Tin? Well, there was the very well-deserved treble by the often overlooked Derek KC Leung, his first in six years- and on the birthday of girlfriend and television racing personality Kit-along with the double by the hard working Vincent CY Ho.
This meant two local riders with reasonable strike rates rode half the card including winning the day’s major races on two outsiders for John Moore- the gallant old boy Dashing Fellow at 25 to 1 with Ho aboard taking out the National Cup and spanking youngsters like D B Pin and Magic Legend in the process- and in the next race- the Celebration Cup- Moore’s Beauty Generation being taken to the front by Leung and allowed to run its own race and bolt in at almost 19s. It was a very clever ride and not something handed to the rider on a silver platter. It was also a good day for the small local punter looking for value.
Whatever the outcome and with some ridiculous conspiracy theories flying all over the place, Sunday offered race goers a very different scenario to the one featuring the dominance by the usual suspects.
Of Leung’s three winners, it’s interesting to watch the finish of the last race, where he dropped his whip after 200 metres, but still managed to get a win out of the promising Pingwu Spark with the creative use of his right hand. With Nash Rawiller storming down the outside on Southern Legend and trying to run him down, Derek Leung kept him at bay by literally giving his galloper a very good hand.
Joao Moreira, “fresh” from a cameo appearance at Moonee Valley on Friday, and a commoner’s waste of time at Royal Randwick on Saturday, chipped in with a winner on the short priced favourite A Beautiful, Zac Purton rode a double including an unconvincing win on the much-hyped Jing Jing Win, Seasons Bloom weak second placing in the Celebration Cup had much of its gloss taken away while it was good to see Sammy Clipperton ride a double while his father was in town for trainers other than his former main support system in John Moore.
Though unfortunately copping a short suspension for careless riding, interesting was Clipperton’s decision to forego riding the Moore trained Werther in the Group 1 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy on October 22, and instead take his suspension so he could return to ride what he believes are possible winners. These are apparently waiting for him in the lower grades and offer more hope than the top weight and former Horse Of The Year, who the rider feels would find it difficult to beat some race fit opponents.
This decision made me think about something many forget when pursuing the punt: Surely, the punt should be all about winning? If one can win on the races at Belmont or Kalgoorlie, or Port Lincoln or Townsville, what’s the point in anguishing about trying to find winners at usually difficult and competitive meetings like Mornington, Echuca, Caulfield, Happy Valley or Royal Randwick?
Watching the racing at these racecourses- and enjoying seeing good horses run at any racecourse anywhere in the world- is one thing. The decision to throw money away to try and find winners in highly competitive fields is something that’s difficult to comprehend. It’s often almost as stupid as listening recently to some “form expert” on the dead people’s racing and sports radio station offer 5-6 choices in each leg of a “flexi”‘Quaddie at a meeting in Musselbrook. Please, Einstein.
Add to this, something else that often happens in all the frenzy: Brain freeze and thinking that one has some form of “ownership” of a Group 1 horse wins. Er, no you don’t. You’re only another pleb who might have had some chump change on it, but are seen by the racing hierarchy as just another discardable brick in the wall. It’s about being bedazzled by bollocks and everything that really shouldn’t concern or bother you. Same if you were to lose backing one of these horses and immediately turn into an angry keyboard warrior. You know what they say about the heat in the kitchen…
So, Joao Moreira doesn’t ride a winner at Randwick. And so? Know what The Magic Man is worth? Sure, being the professional that he is, his pride would be dented coming up empty handed, but life goes on. What’s the point in bagging him or any other rider? They’re out there doing the best they can. And you, Mr Armchair Critic? What have you contributed to this messed up world recently?
If horse racing is only about winning on the punt, why not look to greener, and often, safer pastures by following Jamie Kah or Ryan Plumb or Lucy Warwick or William Pike, and the absolutely amazing Comeback Kid Jeff Lloyd whose winning ride on Soyoutoo at Moonee Valley last Friday was truly magical? And if you could have afforded to have $10k on him and Houtzen in the next race at $.35 cents, why not? You would have made a profit of $3,500, so a good time to close up shop and chill out with another glass of milk tea.
It’s probably why, personally speaking, the much-touted race in New South Wales called The Everest holds zero interest for me. Apart from seeing more holes in it than a June bride as a three year long racing event, and having no vested interest in any of the runners despite being approached to invest in a slot from a group based in Macau- the kind offer was turned down after reading the fine print- it reeks of just another side show dependent on smoke and mirrors and wagging that big carrot called Daddy Warbucks prize money. I still feel for that June bride.
As there are those who have truly wanted to be part of this race- and purely for a slice of the million dollar prize money which is their prerogative- let the best horse win and see what happens after the race has been run. Hopefully, Jeff Lloyd will ride Houtzen, win this race and give this hastily cobbled together event something positive to write about. If not, well…
The Everest has been a constantly changing la la land concept- a pre-emptive strike when the neighbours in the South were tripping over each other like the Keystone Cops on crack- and, hopefully, won’t run into the same problems that some say are plaguing the race it copied from The Stronach Group – The Pegasus, which returns with an even BIGGER prize money price tag of US$16 million.
Bigger is not better though size matters. Think about that one. And if everything in horse racing keeps getting bigger and bigger except for attendances, turnover, sponsorship dollars and a customer base, it’s going nowhere. It’s back to being The Sport Of Kings, Sheikhs, billionaires and “colourful characters” from places like Malaysia, Macau, Singapore, and the Philippines.
All this throwing of prize money in the same direction and to the same players is getting as tacky and gauche and choreographed as an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. It does nothing for horse racing except turn it into an elitist sport which is peddled to us mere commoners as something we should support. But what’s in it for us? Some misguided sense of pride? Have we become so addicted and blinkered to being this gullible? We have no bananas, people. We have no voice.
Still, The Everest seems to have hoodwinked many in Australia into believing that here’s the blueprint for the future of international horse racing. Except for people like Matt Stewart. Forget Stewart’s role as a “tipster”. As a racing journalist, it’s been obvious from Day One that he’s always seen the potholes when looking at the long term picture of this all-Australian AUS$10m carrot that has seduced a handful of cashed-up slot holders, some of whom have nothing whatsoever to do with horse racing except to exploit it for other means. You dig?
What The Everest hasn’t done is attract even one International entry, something it boasted would happen when the copycat concept was a nervous tic in the eye of its ambitious and power crazed chief Sherpa who has always marched to the beat of his own bongos.
For those who are not part of the elitist slots machinery of The Everest and with only a passing interest in who the winner might be- unless it’s Jeff Lloyd on Houtzen- who cares? Really. If Jamie Kah might be riding a $1.70 good thing at Morphetville, well guess what I’d be watching? And backing. The Everest? Let it belong to the legacy of Sir Edmund Hillary.
Getting back to Hong Kong and last Sunday, the moment the rains came, everything changed and it was just another race meeting and time to have a little nap and wake up in time to land a sizeable bet on Enable in the Arc.
If in it to win it, make sure you work that. There’s no point spending hours knowing everything about horse racing and still being an also ran. There’s something wrong and sad with that picture. Read up on Celina Lin, at 35, Mainland China’s most successful poker player and who plays to win. She’s a fascinating beast.
As for racing this Happy Thursday at Happy Valley and the start of the annual Oktoberfest promotion, the weather gods seem to be at odds with each other so expect a sunny afternoon, but extremely muggy conditions and with possible rain in the evening. As Tom Petty would have sung, things might be free falling.
Chill out with a German beer maid and try to snag the Six Up Bonus. Winning one of those could pay huge dividends for a very small outlay. And if you don’t win, you would have had a great night out. And let’s look to the sky and toast Charlie T Wilbury Jr.
DerekKCLeung #VincentCY Ho #JohnMoore #DashingFellow #NationalCup #BeautyGeneration #NashRawiller #JoaoMoreira #ZacPurton #HappyValley #TheEverest #JeffLloyd