It was like the day after the Big Storm, at least to us foreigners who have been following the recent comings and goings of Hong Kong racing, and some here, but those mainly overseas, thinking Quasimodo was ringing the bells of doom.
To the thousands of local racing fans, Sunday was business as usual with a turnover of over HK$1.6 billion. The clouds had disappeared and the sun was out. It was a revealing dose of reality bytes and how racing is viewed by the masses: a chance to make money. Period. All the back stories? No interest. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and whatever happens in horse racing is not anyone’s business unless a race meeting is called off. Then there’s cause for handwringing.
Zac Purton leading the jockey premiership by one after yesterday’s meeting? Fine. But nothing to get excited about unless one backed his two winners. Joao Moreira back riding next week before leaving for Japan at the end of the season? It is what it is. And though Joao fans will be sad, what’s really important to everyone is that nothing and no one is bigger than the racing itself.
When the day began with Zac Purton beaten on $1.30 favourite Quadruple Double in a seven horse race by 18 to 1 first starter Thanks Forever for what is looking more and more like a full time partnership between jockey Douglas Whyte and trainer John Moore, it was pause for reflection.
The win for Whyte, his 29th for the season as he continues to fly below the radar, answered the question as to why he received a license to ride for the next season: Douglas Whyte is riding winners consistently and for a variety of trainers though he’s still to receive any support from his one-time partner and pal John Size.
Compare his stats with those of Brett Prebble- 23 winners- and Olivier Doleuze- 15 winners with ten of these being for Size- and it says much without having to spell things out and overthink something obvious to death.
In the next race, that man from Sardinia- Alberto Sanna- rode his 15th winner of his short stint in Hong Kong- Soccer Brave- and underlined that he could well be the jockey to watch and follow next season.
There are shades of Karis Teetan in how quickly he’s settled into Hong Kong racing. Speaking of the Karismatic One, he ended the day with a double. Alberto Sanna and Karis Teetan could very well be the Batman and Superman of Hong Kong racing next season in the Popularity Stakes.
Meanwhile, to continue with the changing face of Hong Kong racing, apprentice Jack H.N.Wong graduated to becoming a senior rider by taking out the third race aboard Exponents.
Wong, who must have found it difficult to play second fiddle to all the attention given to now retired female apprentice Kei Chiong, has battled falls, self-doubt, and with the help of Felix Coetzee’s mentoring skills, become the most improved rider this season. When Exponents crossed the finish line, young Jack had every reason in the world to stand up in his stirrups and enjoy the moment. The hard work had paid off.
Rocketeer ridden by Zac Purton, having his first start for the Frankie Lor stable, went off as the $1.70 favourite in the fourth race but could only manage fourth in the nine horse field. The winner was the very honest Pikachu and given a good ride by ten- pound claimer Victor Wong and bringing up a double for very much in-form trainer David Ferraris whose Soccer Brave had taken out the second.
Impressive was the run of first starter Stimulation for big spending owner Hui Sui Fan. Formerly with the great Andre Fabre and the first Deep Impact progeny to race in Hong Kong, it was a very good run for second despite hardly being ready and needing longer. How many at Sha Tin cared? A few. Most were busy figuring out their next betting strategies. It’s how Hong Kong rolls.
One might call it selfish, but it’s more to do with looking after número uno. This city is going through many changes. It’s trying to find its mojo again or else trying to create a new one. The horse racing is a much needed break. A diversion. It captures the mood of the city.
On Sunday, most important to this racing fan was how good it would have been if someone gave the hardworking Jenny Chapman, pictured below, a microphone and earpiece that worked.
#HKracing #HKJC #Hongkong #ZacPurton #JoaoMoreira #AlbertoSanna #KarisTeetan #JackWong #DavidFerraris