By Hans Ebert
Sometimes the script rewrites itself. Probably more often than we think. To those who follow Hong Kong racing, the mantra that the void left following Joao Moreira’s decision to roll the dice and try to ride in Japan on a full time basis has means “more opportunities for everyone else” has become a wee bit tiresome. It’s stating the obvious. Over and over again.
As in Seize The Day, when opportunities present themselves, it’s up to those who are ready, able and willing to step up to the plate. To hit that ball outta the park. And keep hitting those home runs.
People have short memories. They need to be constantly reminded. No one can afford to rest on their laurels. Especially in horse racing where big money is at stake. Where we see Nowhere Men and Yesterday’s Men cling on to try and be relevant. But they’re not. Not relevant. Most are old windbags. Going where they shouldn’t go. Listening to them is like wearing kaftans and sandals and using words like “groovy” and “far out.”
On Sunday at Sha Tin, a new wind blew through the track. His name: KarisTeetan. Of course, the Mauritian-born rider is not exactly a new name to the Hong Kong jockeys ranks.
He arrived with a Fan Bing Bing Bang Bang a few seasons ago by winning the first race of the 2012-13 season on his first ride in Hong Kong. It was Amazing Always for South African trainer David Ferraris. It was good fung shui. The best way of exchanging name cards. Of telling Hong Kong racing fans, “Jo sun, my name is Karis Teetan.”
As with everyone during those Joao Moreira Years, he was relegated to the role of the understudy. The second banana. There was Joao Moreira. And then there was the rest. Disagree all you want. That’s how it was. Joao Moreira rewrote the Hong Kong racing history books.
His final season in Hong Kong was more about killing time. Working on his exit strategy. But that was then…
Right now, with the arrogant ease in which Zac Purton has been riding winners, it had started to look like a one horse race.
It was reminiscent of those years when one would be disappointed if Douglas Whyte rode “only” three winners.
Such was his complete domination of Hong Kong racing. It’s what’s made and makes him so similar to the “pontiff”- Western Australia’s Paul Harvey.
These days, Harvey and his wife have got it made. The baton has been passed to William Pike. Like Whyte, Paul Harvey doesn’t need the money. He makes cameo appearances these days. He leaves riding quintets and six timers to Pike.
Until Sunday, the script was looking familiar. Possibly too familiar. Though the three apprentices riding here and Derek Leung were riding their share of winners, the perception was that the dance floor belonged to the Zac Attack. But Karis Teetan notching up five winners with one of these decided and won after a Steward Enquiry and shooting in an objection- ironically on behalf of his ride High Five- has turned everything on its head. His fifth winner of the afternoon was the aptly named Morethanlucky.
It’s meant taking a second look at the young rider. With new eyes. He’s come a very long way from being a poor kid in Mauritius. From his father working hard to get his son into the South African Jockeys Academy. And from there where he paid his dues to arriving in Hong Kong.
His ride to win on Pakistan Friend in particular showed a far more refined rider.
This was a different rider from the one who would usually drag his rides to the back of the field, pull them out wide and come with a withering run right down the outside. Hoping for the best. It was his “trademark”. A gimmick with rough edges. A hit or miss approach.
That ride on Pakistan Friend to win the Chinese Recreation Club Challenge Cup and his other winners- those on course- showed a rider who’s focused on showing versatility. Not being seen as a one trick pony. Showing all the strings in his bow. That he’s no longer the understudy. How he’s his own man. Someone who has enjoyed success at his first time riding in Japan. How he has better things to do than be on Twitter.
With his partner Xaviere, it’s now all about showing owners, trainers and the world of horse racing that he’s his own man. That it’s his time to shine. That he’s constantly evolving. Improving. Fine tuning his presentation skills. Creating a brand. He’s certainly young enough to achieve everything. To be the master of his own destiny. No favours, thank you very much.
Karis Teetan is not just filling a void. He’s no longer prepared to play second fiddle. To anyone. He’s his own man. Self confidence. Ambitious. Career objectives. New priorities. All of the above.
Who knows what’s going through his mind. It’s his future for him to shape. He’s going about things with a very impressive new found sense of maturity. Could he become the Lewis Hamilton of Hong Kong racing? Yeah, baby. Why not?
#KarisTeetan #HKracing #HongKong #JoaoMoreira #ZacPurton #DouglasWhyte #PaulHarvey #WilliamPike