By Hans Ebert
It’s tough out there these days. It seems like there’s no room for error. In every aspect of life. Like jockey James Doyle being criticised in many quarters for coming second on the Hong Kong owned Sea Of Class in the Arc at Longchamp despite others believing it was one of the best rides seen in a long time. And making time to look at matters closer to home base.
This World Gone Very Wrong and just what a tough audience to please no matter what one’s career might be was something brought home recently. This was when watching my friend Maricel perform at the Champagne Bar of the Grand Hyatt hotel in Hong Kong. It’s thinking just what a tough gig it is.
Once the favourite meeting place for the movers and shakers in the city before closing out the night by hitting the very popular club that was JJ’s in the same hotel, the Champagne Bar can often be a very lonely place. It’s certainly not what it was. Nothing is. But this never stops Maricel doing her best to entertain. To do her best. There’s never the thought of kicking back and taking it easy. Even if performing only to the staff. It’s all about being a professional. Doing the best she can with what she has. And no matter how few people are in the audience.
As Donna Summer once sang, she works hard for the money. So do many in horse racing. Especially those jockeys and trainers who are not in the upper echelons. Not in demand.
With these riders, it’s about constantly looking for opportunities. All the time working extremely hard to stay fit. Watching what they eat. Making it known to trainers and owners that they’re out there. That they’re ready, willing and able to do what they were born to do: Ride to win. And one cannot win when watching races on the sidelines.
Of course, this can be said of every jockey everywhere in the world. The need to constantly watch their weight. Go through being dehydrated. Push their bodies as far as possible. Always having to race to win. But to be very careful not to injure themselves in the process. Like Neil Callan coming off Chater Thunder at Sha Tin on Sunday. Then dusting himself off and returning to ride an outsider into second place behind the very impressive winner Pakistan Friend. They don’t call him Iron Man for nothing.
For those jockeys looking for opportunities to prove themselves, there’s the added pressure of worrying what the future might hold. For them and their families. And here, it must have been tough for a hard working jockey like Alberto Sanna. It’s hard enough to be given winning rides. But to win a race and lose it in the Stewards Room? This is what happened to the very likeable Italian jockey on Sunday.
In a tight finish with another Italian rider in Umberto Rispoli, Sanna rode a very tough race to be first past the post on Let Us Win. The euphoria of winning didn’t last long. He lost the race ten minutes later in the Stewards room. Apparently, he had caused interference to the runner up. This meant the positions being changed. Was it a fair decision?
It must have been a terrible body blow to the popular rider who’s done very well- better than anyone- with the scraps thrown his way. Like being able to win on a 150 to 1 no hoper last season. And placing on some real slow ones.
Alberto Sanna aside, Derek Leung not only lost his winning ride on Endearing, he received a six meeting suspension.
Again, it must have been tough to stomach: Six meetings to sit out for trying too hard to win. No one is saying that he didn’t cause interference to the runner up in another tight finish. But did it warrant a six week suspension? Maybe Mr Elbows came into play?
It’s been a funny few weeks for horse racing. On Sunday saw the legend that is Frankie Dettori win the Prix de la Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Enable. It was a remarkable training feat by John Gosden. It was part of the latest comeback by the irrepressible Italian rider.
Legend is not a word used loosely. But Frankie Dettori is a legend. A fantastic rider who’s gone through many career and personal highs and lows. Including cheating death. But he’s still there mixing it up with those half his age. He’s an inspiration to everyone. Not only those in horse racing.
Meanwhile in Australia, there’s been the onslaught of publicity revolving around the race called the Everest. Enough has been written about this event. It’s become boring. The ageing shock jock Alan Jones, the Rush Limbaugh of Australia, entering the fray and demanding that the barrier draw for the constantly changing Everest be projected onto the Sydney Opera House- a horse race that means diddley squat anywhere else- has added to the column inches. In Australia.
Jones’, playing to the peanut gallery with a tacky bully boy outburst. This was aimed at the somewhat befuddled female head of the Sydney Opera House.
It was vile stuff. Disgusting. Stuff that would have seen him sacked immediately in the US. The #MeToo movement would have seen to that. But as we all know, Jones has friends in very high places. Several IOUs. His below the belt and unhinged on-air verbal assault on this lady has done nothing to enhance the overall tackiness behind this much hyped race. And bad news travels. Good news rarely does.
The barrier draw was supposedly to be “broadcast internationally” to showcase and promote Sydney. At least according to Racing New South Wales’ Man Who Would Be King.
It’s a silly mantra echoed by his loudmouth mate who’s completely lost the plot, and those compliant cheerleaders in the media.
“Broadcast internationally”? Where? Facebook ‘live’? Alan Jones’ buttocks? The moon? There’s no other racing jurisdiction anywhere in the world even showing this race. Remember?
Sorry, Pete, but the world is not watching. And if they are, they don’t like what they see. Let’s hope this doesn’t reach the ears of global sponsors. Those possibly looking at getting behind horse racing.
Does anyone even know how the “trading floor” behind the EverBeast really works? What’s behind the serving of waffles? Who exactly makes up the slot holders known as the Yulong Group?
The questions meekly raised on the subject of these “slots” and how it all works by hosts on racing radio stations and the airy fairy meandering answers received by slot holders only shows a weak, compliant and, well, gullible racing media. Extremely gullible. If not owners of the horses running. Or the trainers. The jockeys participating. And those slot holders. Other than “the punt”, what’s in it for the widdle people?
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if there’s any possible fallout after the running of this slotty race. And if there is, could it be Peter V’lundiepants first visit to the Twilight Zone? With Alan Jones in tow?
It would be a big time dose of karma if this is the “legacy” of the Everest. #MeToo. And who and what’s behind the inner workings of those mysterious slots.
All publicity is good publicity? Don’t be silly, Haysey and Lady GaiGai. Not in these sensitive times. Not when the past is always revisited and dredged up.
Meanwhile in Hong Kong, the last of the Happy Wednesday Oktoberfest celebrations continue this evening. And thank gawd for that. It’s a long long way from the Monty Pythonesque Game Of Thrones being played out in racing in Australia.
Some of us have lives outside of horse racing. Like going to the Champagne Bar and supporting someone like Maricel. Like being around good people. Positive people. And getting back to life’s priorities. With a smile on your face. And a sense of humour. It’s all too serious out there. And for what?
#Horseracing #FrankieDettori #TheArc #Enable #JamesDoyle #TheEverest #AlanJones #HKracing