THE MAGNET THAT IS HONG KONG RACING

By Hans Ebert
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In the end, it’s always about the money. And there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s nothing personal, it’s only business, though we now know this to be just a tag line and how, as Dylan once sang, “Even the President of the United States must sometimes stand naked.” Now there’s an awful visual.

Getting back to money, it’s what drives every business. At least today it is. Even the business of love and marriage. And horse racing. What’s the business model to horse racing? Create a race or races between a group of horses- a game of chance and consequences, where there’s big money up for grabs…if one wins. And there are various ways of winning. Some, not so obvious.

How one tries to get a slice of the winning pie is a form of business because there’s work involved. Even hobbies can become businesses. It’s about the money money money and millennials and oldsters and hipsters and more money money money and entitlement. And it works in different ways for different customer demographics. It involves the entire racing industry. Some racing clubs can be The Good Ship Lollipop. Others are The Titanic.

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TIME TO CHANGE FREQUENCIES, HKJC. PLEASE.

By Hans Ebert
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It was one of those rare- and often, Old Mother Hubbard’s bare cupboard- an all weather race meeting- at night and at Sha Tin- on a Wednesday. Yesterday. Golly gosh, Gee, I don’t know. Remember yesterday?

Those of us who live in Hong Kong, well, most of us, know what this means- eight races that one can either take or leave and, unlike a Happy Wednesday at Happy Valley racecourse, something that, especially on bilingual Channel 668 on NOW TV, takes one back to living with the folks and watching programmes like “Highway Patrol”, “Laramie”, “Bonanza”, Mrs Steed and when Roger Moore starred as Ivanhoe.

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IS HORSE RACING READY FOR IGNATIUS WOLVERINE-CHEUNG?

By Hans Ebert
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Ignatius Cheung, below is a little man, perhaps a little strange to some, with big plans. Plans to revolutionise horse racing, worldwide.

Known to friends as Iggy, the American born Chinese-Mongolian entrepreneur plans to become the racing world’s first horse owner, trainer and jockey with his own stables located wherever there’s horse racing.

Having been a child stunt rider in movies ranging from “The Black Stallion” to “Ben Hur”, and describing himself as a “hoarse whisperer” able to communicate with horses through a special technique learned when living with the nomadic tribes in Inner Mongolia and studying Mongolian throat music, Ignatius Wolverine-Cheung, the only son of billionaire and controversial Forex trader Augustus Wolverine-Cheung, below, came into his own when creating Wolverine Enterprises and its privately held computer chip business.

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AND NOW WHAT, KEMO SABAY?

By Hans Ebert
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The small stuff first: The real bummer about trying to find a winner at Sha Tin tomorrow afternoon is that Douglas Whyte doesn’t have a ride in the last. As has been proven, especially during the last two meetings, the Durban Demon has made these races all his. Saved his best for last like some of us do when playing Eyes Wide Shut. It’s kinky stuff.

Last Sunday, Whyte strolled home to win on Encouraging while on Wednesday night he made all the right moves to win the curtain closer on Dances With Dragons, a rare ride for trainer Peter Ho. And lest we forget, who won the last race of last season by “beating off” Joao Moreira and Zac Purton in one of the best finishes ever seen in Hong Kong? That is, a Happy Ending finish in horse racing.

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FOR PETE’S SAKE, PETE…

By Hans Ebert
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Pete,

New horse races, bigger prize money, being disruptive to be competitive, bringing in more and more elitism to horse racing, playing another round of Game Of Thrones, fine. It’s your gig. Doesn’t bother me either way. But when you prattle on about “younger people” and horse racing…

“Younger people” is not some alien race, Pete. They’ve been around since the world was round.

All of us were once “younger people”- inquisitive, difficult, belligerent, demanding change, making change happen. And then we grew up. And as grown ups, it was felt there was a need to act like grown ups. Most failed miserably. Look around.

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AND SILVESTRE THE BRAZILIAN CAT RAN AWAY WITH THE SPOON…AND THE 2018 HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL JOCKEYS CHAMPIONSHIP

By Hans Ebert
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First things first…It might have been drizzling, but Irish eyes were smiling. This was when young Colin Keane, champion rider of Ireland, ran away with the first leg of the 2018 Longines International Jockeys’ Championship. Literally ran away with the race.

Despite drawing the outside barrier- supposedly not exactly ideal on the very tight Happy Valley track, especially over the 1000 metres of the race- Keane patiently allowed his mount to find its feet and the John Size trained Special Stars won eased down.

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HAPPY WEDNESDAY: WHAT A STRANGE TRIP IT’S BEEN GETTING HERE

By Hans Ebert
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It used to be only about the Beer Garden. It was actually a friend in horse racing from Melbourne who first told me about it. About its “vibe”. What more it might be.

He had visited it during one of his HKIR pilgrimages and was, quite rightly, impressed with its unique setting. The unique setting of Happy Valley racecourse. Especially under the lights.

These were during the days when Wednesday night racing at Happy Valley was named Sassy Wednesdays.

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WHAT’S COMING DOWN THE PIKE IN ONE SWIFT MOVEMENT?

By Hans Ebert
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A friend in horse racing describes him as “the Winx of riders”. Another calls him “freakish”. A racing executive, one of the few I respect, teases me that “The Cult Of Moreira” has, at least to me, become “The Cult Of William Pike”. He doesn’t share what he thinks is the “man love” for the Perth-based rider. Thinks. Following him in a race can be heart stopping stuff.

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HAVE A HAPPY WEDNESDAY AND ‘SCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY…

Of course, we’re creatures who are riddled with quirks- like petty annoyances that have to do with, well, stupidity. A particular peeve is hearing someone say, “it’s raining outside”. Of course, it must be raining “outside”. When does it ever rain inside? Anyway, it’s been raining outside most of the day. More rain is forecast. For outside. On, by the way, what would have been Bruce Lee’s 78th birthday. Maybe the sky’s crying for Bruce and Brandon.

Today’s also a Happy Wednesday at Happy Valley racecourse. Some enjoy hanging out at the Beer Garden and singing and dancing in the rain. Everyone has their own bouts of weirdness. Maybe some will still be celebrating what would have yesterday been the 76th birthday of Jimi Hendrix. We sure don’t consume music like we used to when music kept that long train running. That’s for sure. That long train has been derailed. Even The Marathon Man has stopped running. Still, great music by great musicians live on. It keeps us honest. To ourselves.

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