By Hans Ebert
While reading the SCMP’s chief racing writer Tom Biddington put forward his question as to why or when James McDonald isn’t or might possibly ride in Hong Kong, the talented young New Zealander was busy arguing his case after the running of the Ladbrokes Coongy Cup. This was yesterday on Caulfield Cup Day.
Originally called a dead heat between The Big Mac ridden and Godolphin owned Best Of Days and the Kerrin McEvoy ridden Mask Of Time, the latter fired in a protest. It was a justifiable one. As the protest dragged on, it didn’t look good for the connections of Best Of Days. The galloper seemed to slightly shift in on the other dead heater. James McDonald’s oratory skills must match his prowess in the saddle. The protest was finally overthrown.
As to why James McDonald isn’t riding in Hong Kong- and he would be a great addition to the jockeys ranks- is timing. The timing for him to be considered for a license would probably be too early following his 18 month disqualification for having a $1000 bet on one of his rides in Sydney. A thousand bucks? That was it? And 18 months for this minor misdemeanour? Something that’s given as a token Bonus Bet by a corporate bookmaker?
It always seemed a ridiculously long banishment into the wilderness. Please don’t say jockeys betting in races is something that never ever happens. Their friends, and family can bet, but jockeys can’t? Please. Does this even make sense? James MacDonald’s biggest mistake was being caught.
With the rider back after his enforced holiday and riding with great success in Australia and also riding winners for Godolphin in the UK, James Macdonald is a hot property. He probably knows that his future now lies in riding for Godolphin in the UK. It will happen sooner rather than later.
If not James McDonald, who from Australia might be coerced to come out to Hong Kong? Definitely not Tim Clark and Tye Angland. Both left Hong Kong some years ago for family reasons. They’re happy being exactly where they are. And Clark especially is riding out of his skin. Plus he’s Lady Gai Gai dahling boy these days. He bounces out her and Botty Boy’s charges straight to the front, stacks them up and scoots home. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Who else? Jason Collett? Josh Parr? Kerrin McEvoy? Brenton Avdulla? No, and no, no, no.
William Pike from WA who rode in Hong Kong for a few months a number of years ago? Doubt it.
If Pike rides like he usually does by keeping them at the back and playing the waiting game according to instructions from powerful WA owner Bob Peters before cutting loose and winning right on the post- or loses by a nose as he did with the “unbeatable” Galaxy Star in The Northerly at Ascot yesterday- there won’t be many trainers and owners rushing for his services.
Hong Kong is hardly a forgiving place when it comes to losing. There’s no margin for error. And no patience for seeing Bob Peters’ type instructions taking people’s money down the gurgler with a roaring silence from the usually vociferous peanut gallery. Power corrupts.
Though William Pike has the best of all worlds exactly where he is and isn’t going to uproot his young family to go anywhere, perhaps the HKJC Licensing Committee should take a chance on Chris Parnham. He rode a very good double at Ascot yesterday and remains an underrated rider who will deliver if and when given an opportunity.
Chris Parnham is far better than at least two riders from abroad currently riding here. Just saying what everyone else is saying. They’re just not good enough.
Any possible guns for hire from Melbourne? The more mature jockeys have had their fun in the sun in Hong Kong. Several made plenty of hay when here. Some were lucky to get out in time. Intact.
The good younger riders like Regan Bayliss, Ben Allen and a couple more have bright futures ahead riding for stables like Hayes, Hayes and Dabernig. Why come out to Hong Kong to ride horses for the likes of a Manfred Man? Or a Michael Chang?
Meanwhile, what was Caulfield Cup Day like? Let’s just say that it was good to see Irishman Pat Casgrove win the Caulfield Cup on the Saeed Bin Surror trained Best Solution. How jockey and trainer might communicate between themselves is something quite interesting to think about.
There were some close finishes throughout the day between the leaders and with Tim Clark playing catch me if you can with two winning rides by- what else- leading. In fact, if not leading, it was very tough for most to make up ground.
At the other Ascot- the one in Angleterre and on British Champions Day, to the fore were Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore and Oisin Murphy.
The irrepressible Dettori who never lets the cretins on social media and criticism get to him- the hallmarks of a confident champion- rode a double by winning on Stradivarius and Cracksman, both for John Gosden.
Ryan Moore won on Magical for Aidan O’Brien. It was a terrific ride made to look easy.
Oisin Murphy saluted with another Gosden runner in the QE 11 Stakes- the highly touted Roaring Lion. It was a tough win. Oisin Murphy has hit his stride and is going places very fast. He’s the complete package.
The takeaway from the entire day of horse racing was just what a winning Irish flavour it all had. Pat Cosgrave, John Allen, Oisin Murphy, Aiden O’Brien. One almost expected the Corrs and U2 to show up and burst into song with Neil Callan doing a little jig. Yes, Irish eyes were smiling.
Looking at the card for Sha Tin today- and it’s a very good one- what had us reeling were the number of “Beauty” horses running. How many of these do owners Thomas and Eleanor Kwok aka Mr and Mrs Sa Sa and their brood actually own? Especially in the upper grades?
Along with the Siu family and their familiar red and black hooped colours, they must own half the good horses racing in Hong Kong.
Strangely, they don’t seem to have any with John Size. The two racing dynasties share the wealth with the stables of John Moore and Tony Cruz. It’s all a bit like a scene that should have been included in the movie “Crazy Rich Asians”.
The Kwok’s Beauty Generation with the Zac Attack aboard is the favourite to take out the Shatin Trophy. Hong Kong’s Horse Of The Year last season could, but we’d rather side with Pakistan Star, Singapore Sling and Rise High. It’s an intriguing little race, Sherlock.
The Premier Bowl is a showcase for Hong Kong’s top sprinters. Again, Zac Purton is on the early favourite- IVictory for John Size. Actually Size has three runners in the ten horse field. They could run 1,2,3.
The two Cup races aside, the most open race is the last with there being around six winning chances. Not being tipsters, we know nutting. But we’re getting there.
We leave this part of the puzzle to the HKJC’s resident Three Amigos and their Touch Screens and speed maps. Olé! And happy Funting!
#horseracing #CaulfieldCup #PatCosgrave #ChampionsDay #FrankieDettori #HKracing #Funting #OisinMurphy #WilliamPike #ChrisParnham #RyanMoore #funting