A QUIET BEGINNING WITH A STING IN THE TAIL

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
Visit Hans-Ebert.com

The sudden rain bucketing down probably helped turn what looked like a fairly predictable race meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday into a mixture of weirdness, definitely plenty of surprises and the continuing adventures of John Size and The Comeback Kid- Olivier Doleuze.

The weirdness was seeing all the dignitaries gathered to present the CUHK Alumni Cup, but with there being no winning trainer and jockey. With no one there any the wiser, an objection had been lodged by the rider of the runner up- Tommy Berry- against the horse and rider first past the post- Karis Teetan on favourite Namjong Plus. And so the HKJC executives and everyone else who were part of the presentation party kinda hung around for what seemed an inordinate amount of time. One almost expected someone to break into a soft shoe shuffle.

By now, the horses for the next race were already in the parade ring to keep the natives from getting too restless before there was the news that the objection had been overruled and winning jockey and trainer- Karis Teetan and Almond Lee- bolted towards the podium for what must have been one of the quickest trophy presentations. Perhaps they should all be like that?

The surprises? Plenty, beginning with the facile win of first starter Styling City in the first race. One will probably never get odds of 7 to 1 again on a Joao Moreira ride in a seven horse field.

“Catchy” Joao Moreira went on to ride a double though the day’s biggest tip- first starter Hezthewonforus- ran a respectable second to a galloper we’ll no doubt be hearing much more about in the Paul O’Sullivan trained Win Beauty Win which was given a perfect ride by Chad Schofield who was deputising for suspended regular rider Zac Purton.

Here’s a horse that’s really flown below the radar and whose true potential has yet to be tapped. Owners Simon and Eleanor Kwok have a real new Beauty on their hands.

The other surprise were the wins of 20 to 1 outsider Rainbow Gold ridden by by Matthew Chadwick with the riding rubbing salt into the wound of punters still reeling from the the result of the second race by taking out the fourth on Golden Effort at around 26 to 1.

It might not have been raining men, but the skies opened up with more upsets causing thunderbolts of surprise- Douglas Whyte getting in on the act and downing $1.90 favourite Mr Lumieres on Wayfoong Vinnie ($203) and Keith Yeung scoring narrowly aboard the extremely well ridden Go Public which paid $387.50.

Yee haw? Not really. More like, “Who saw THAT coming other than the weather gods of mischief?” Rosemary?

The biggest surprise of the day, however, was in the Centenary Cup, which to almost all the racing pundits except perhaps for Alan Aitken of the SCMP was meant to be a race in two between Exultant and Ruthven. Aitken had put his hat and balls on the line by writing in the Racing Post that the John Size trained Prawn Baba could upset the best laid plans. He was right and Baba did the rest.

With Olivier Doleuze being given the ride, we saw the Frenchman at his tactical best. Sure, he was following instructions, but, as in music, sometimes the beat changes in the middle and there’s a need to adlib and go with the flow.

Once Doleuze got Prawn Baba into his rhythm and take up the running, well, the galloper ran off with the race. And the dish ran away with the spoon. He gave nothing else a chance. The win also added to the incredible strike rate of around 20 percent between jockey and trainer. More incredible has been the “Renaissance” of Olivier Doleuze.

At the start of the season without having to read the tea leaves, this looked for all the world like the likeable Frenchman’s last season as a jockey. But then Size intervened offering the veteran jockey with rides that had winning chances including DB Pin who took out the 2018 Centenary Sprint for the trainer-jockey combination. And now, they had taken out the Centenary Cup. What’s next, indeed?

As for what’s next for second favourite in the race, the John Moore prepared Ruthven pulled up with blood in the trachea with connections still upbeat that he’ll go onto the QE 11 Cup along with second placed Exultant.

Away from the on course action, there’s been plenty of talk about the shares in billionaire Pan Sutong’s company Goldin and whose runner Consort ran his usual honest race in the Centenary Cup.

This is nothing, however, to the battle warming up for the inheritance of the ailing Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho between the families of two of his four wives and their families.

It should see a bigger cat fight and legal wrangling than what made the television series “Dynasty” and “Dallas” such compulsive viewing. Prepare to sit back and take in “The Battle For Macau”. It won’t be pretty but shoulder pads might be back in vogue.

Away from all these being played for extremely high stakes, social media from the land Down Under has been all abuzz with rumours that a racing “media man” from Hong Kong is being “wooed” by a racing club in Australia and also the JRA following his reportage during the Japan Cup. Wow.

Honestly, nothing will surprise as horse racing seems set for an almighty big paradigm shift- and not a minute too soon.

Racing clubs that have resisted change thinking everything was ticky boo and can afford to plod along the same path will be faced with not who might be departing as many are past their Use By date and others are limited at best.

Far more important is exactly how to keep those Few Good Men and women and attract good new executive talent from other business sectors offering a new business and management perspective instead of going back to the same old well to see who in horse racing might still be hanging in there.

These are challenging times for the world with mad men ruling countries, each with their personal business agendas and nothing and no one exactly what they seem.

We are all witnessing a fight for total global supremacy at the highest levels of power.

Where does horse racing fit into all this? This is what’s going to separate the men from the boys and those who can see the Big Business Picture.

It’s knowing where in this crazy world this future lies and looking beyond silly childish games that only makes the sport look old, decrepit, way behind the eight ball and with no future.

Horse racing needs a massive facelift.

#horseracing #HKracing #Conghuatrainingcentre #HKJC #OlivierDoleuze #JohnSize #Macau #StanleyHo

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