Why the races at Sha Tin can be a game changer

By Hans Ebert
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World Cup Fatigue had struck as hard as the three goals the night before by Ronaldo, so we never made it to the races at Sha Tin.

Truth be told, we extremely rarely go to Sha Tin- and especially if there’s racing across the Big Waters on a Saturday. It’s hard to imagine these days that once upon a barren rock, there was only horse racing in Hong Kong on a Saturday- and only at Happy Valley.

Kowloon was where the nightlife and everything else throbbed- the clubs, the nightlife, the gorgeous dancers back from the USSR and working at upmarket escort clubs Club BBoss and Club De China.

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Opportunities knock for Douglas Whyte?

By Hans Ebert
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The fire in his belly might have never left as he’s certainly not someone to roll over and become another Yesterday’s Man, but the Chinese racing media has been abuzz of late about the persuasive powers of jockey Douglas Whyte working overtime during track work these days.

As anyone who’s watched his winning rides of Star Shine and on Kiram on Wednesday will testify to, the Durban Demon has woken up from, most likely, a self imposed hiatus where he stood back and checked out the lay of the land. Timing is everything.

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The night the sky turned pink and another Zac Attack was launched…

By Hans Ebert
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A rainstorm warning had been raised in the afternoon and I managed to make it to the Grand Cafe of the Grand Hyatt for a bowl of chicken congee, the best remedy when needing to steel one’s stomach when unsure where one might end up after the races on a Happy Wednesday and eat anything placed in front of you without thinking. It’s been the ruin of many a poor boy’s stomach. A hot bowl of congee with all the trimmings is an anatomical Great Wall of China.

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DOUGLAS WHYTE: ONE CANNOT PUT A PRICE ON PROFESSIONALISM

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Horse racing has been around since the chariot race between Judah Ben Hur and Messala. Probably even earlier.

These days, this pastime has become a spectator sport where the best- the riders, the trainers, the owners of the champion horses- are worth many millions and even billions. “These days” really wasn’t that long ago.

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SUNDAY AT SHA TIN AND BUSINESS AS USUAL

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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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.

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SAYONARA, JOAO MOREIRA, HELLO NEW BEGINNINGS

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Apparently, his heart is not in it anymore- being in Hong Kong. Guess he’s outgrown the city. Stone, paper, scissors and the heart wins over everything else including money. Joao Moreira has more than enough. He’s dead set on making his dreams come true in Japan and he’ll keep trying to pass all the tests including being able to speak and write Japanese to become only the third foreign jockey along with Christopher Lemaire and Mirco Demuro to ride in Japan on a full time basis.

It’s something he’s being trying to master for almost two years. So this has hardly been a shock move. The tea leaves were there to be read and from everything we know, he stayed on for an unplanned extra season.

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JOAO MOREIRA BIDS ADIOS TO HONG KONG. WHO’S SURPRISED?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It was always on the cards, but it’s still tough to absorb and accept. Around two years ago or a bit longer, one heard about Joao Moreira studying reading and writing Japanese, prerequisites to obtaining a permanent license to ride in Japan as a foreign jockey, something Christophe Lemaire and Mirco Demuro had to do before being accepted by the JRA.

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WILL IT BE A HAPPY ZACDAY TONIGHT?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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“When they asked for his support, he almost always turned them down because he had better options. Now when it’s coming to the end of the season and there are many tired horses going around and some good new ones, and he needs good rides, many won’t or can’t support him.” Oh what a tangled web we weave.

A friend in the Chinese racing media was trying to explain the sudden shift away from the usually much in-demand Joao Moreira and many trainers throwing their support behind Zac Purton as this season’s Hong Kong Jockeys Premiership comes down to a two horse race between two superb athletes.

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WHY IS HORSE RACING TAKING SO LONG TO GET TO WHEREVER IT’S GOING?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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There was an extra spring in his step as Zac Purton sashayed out of Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday. After basically calling Joao Moreira a bit of a cry baby in a freewheeling interview the day before for blaming the lack of his usual sombrero of winners on not having enough stable support due to his own inability to choose the best rides, the Australian Zac Attack managed to keep the Brazilian Magic Man’s lead to just three as the Batman and The Joker of Hong Kong racing continue to stir the pot and play mind games with each other.

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HAS HORSE RACING ON TWITTER RUN ITS RACE?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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There was a time when terrestrial television station HKTVB Pearl had an animated character named Freddy to tell viewers what to expect the next day.

Why? Who knows? But every day, Freddy would either melt, or his teeth would chatter and to symbolise a drop in temperature, clouds would fall down over Freddy who would squeal that “It’s faaaaaaaaliiiiing”.

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