By Hans Ebert
The wooing process has begun in earnest. It’s been bubbling loudly ever since Joao Moreira upped and bade Sayanora to Hong Kong. The wooing process to take over from the magic man as the Go To jockey for champion trainer John Size.
Why? Size matters. He knows exactly how to play the Hong Kong handicapping system. And, more often than not, beat it at its own game. Plus he’s extremely savvy when purchasing horses for his owners. Nothing soooooo expensive and which screams out at the stupidity of showing off that exclusively Hong Kong and Singaporean vanity piece called buying “face”.
It was a combination of “face” and sheer stupidity involved in purchasing the former WA stayer Who Dat Singa for over three times its actual worth with dreams of winning the HK Derby. And with this, much “face”.
This was a few seasons ago. The galloper never had a chance. He went from trainer Richard Gibson, ran over the strangest distances before being moved to Manfred Man for better “fung shui”. This didn’t work. The confused galloper ended up in Class 4 and running in dirt races. Who Dat Singa must have finally found his voice and screamed out, “Enough.” He was retired and is apparently crooning love songs somewhere in New Zealand.
John Size wouldn’t have allowed “face” and an over-the-top price tag to get in the way of one of his owners winning a race with one of their purchases. Size buys smart. Very often when the Price is right. Buying from the equally astute Price Bloodstock. They’re like Sonny and Cher singing, “I Got You Babe”. In a manly way.
David Price, below with wife Jenny, has been in Hong Kong long enough to know not only the lay of the land, but where to plant the seedlings. I know: Whaaaaah? Deal with it.
Finding and selling an unraced galloper from Taree to owners Archie and Betty da Silva that became the great Silent Witness was the turning point for Price Bloodstock.
Success breeds success. Quiet, unassuming, David Price is the most successful bloodstock agent doing business out here. He doesn’t need “face”. The results speak for themselves. Over 570 winners in Hong Kong and around HK$640 million in prize money. There’s more to come.
As for the wooing process to win over John Size, it looks like a two horse race between Zac Purton and Karis Teetan.
The Mauritian Magician is sure to have picked up some invaluable tips on how to make the right cooing noises from amigo Joao. He seems so focused to achieve the objective of attracting Size that he has even disappeared from- good grief- Twitter. But no matter what might happen on a short term level, John Size is his own man.
There’s always a horses- and riders- for courses strategy running through his head. Nothing escapes him. It’s a long time from his days in Sydney. And the breakup of his successful partnership with Douglas Whyte. If things aren’t working out, why hang around pretending it’s all au fait?
Today, with no Joao Moreira around to work with him and his staff, what’s going through his head? Other than doing what’s best for his owners and their purchases, it’s no doubt mapping out his horses’ futures.
The jockeys? Of course, there are the regular riders for his best horses. Especially, after many years of not using him- Zac Purton. But knowing that the champion Australian rider might have previous commitments, or, like the magic man had to do, choose from his regular rides as they might be competing in the one race, there’s a need to find suitable replacements. Like in the Group 3 National Day Cup on Sunday.
Purton stayed loyal to IVictory. His other regular ride Hot King Prawn went to Teetan. Did he make the right choice? Especially as Karis Teetan won the race on Hot King Prawn?
Moving forward what could this mean? Hot King Prawn becoming a regular ride for the popular Mauritian rider? Or still very much part of the Zac Attack artillery?
There’s no shortage of riders who will be happy to jump at being offered the crumbs and do handstands to be offered a ride from John Size. We’ve seen how well these hand-me-downs worked last season for Olivier Doleuze, Nash Rawiller and Brett Prebble. Mr Stunning. DB Pins. Remember?
The other thing about John Size is that he somehow knows which riders might need the sliver of an opportunity to show that they can deliver. And these riders desperately want to prove that they can stand up and be counted on.
Think there’s not a conga line of riders trying to unseat Sam Clipperton who rode the horse on Ping Hai Star to second on Sunday in the Celebration Cup?
All going well with this extremely exciting galloper and last season’s BMW Hong Kong Derby winner, don’t think his target will be the Longines Hong Kong Vase during HKIR week in December? Think if this happens his former partner Joao Moreira won’t throw his sombrero in the ring for the ride?
Not to take anything away from the phenomenal win of Beauty Generation in the Celebration Cup, a galloper who just keeps improving and improving, but anyone who missed the extremely, er, unlucky run of Ping Hai Star, better see an ophthalmologist. Fast.
As for a Size B Team, this season he seems to be “test driving” the hard working Alberto Sanna. Offering Sam Clipperton plenty of opportunities. Matthew Chadwick who’s back riding winners regularly this season, as is new boy Grant van Niekerk.
All are sure to benefit from those opportunities when and where Size matters. It all makes for quite a fascinating back story to this Hong Kong racing season.
As for who will be the regular rider for Ping Hai Star…
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