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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THE HAPPY WEDNESDAY RACING BUZZ AND UNDERSTANDING PAKISTAN STAR

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It was a four timer for Zac Purton at Sha Tin on Sunday including, below, the first win in Hong Kong of the former Bott/Waterhouse trained Montreal, which means he’s only four wins behind Jockey Premiership leader Joao Moreira.

With the Brazilian Magic Man forced to sit out two upcoming race meetings after pleading guilty to a careless riding charge, the rampaging Zac Attack can afford to chillax a little bit and smell the dim sum. Not that he will. There’s too much at stake to drop his guard. Joao Moreira is no pushover.

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HORSE RACING IN HONG KONG ON A SATURDAY AND THOSE CH CH CH CHANGES

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It’s strange to think there was a time when Hong Kong only had racing on a Saturday- and only at Happy Valley racecourse.

Night racing at the city track was introduced later and had its surreal moments like the time when local rider Louis Ho simply stopped riding How Good, the 9.5 favourite, when having the race shot to bits. Think he was disqualified for six months. But it were those Saturday afternoon races in the mid Seventies and when Hong Kong was still a British colony that were big days for my family, especially my Aunt and Uncle who had their favourite jockeys and all kinds of conspiracy theories. When having seen local jockeys practice the art of jumping off horses in case they might have actually won a race, of course there were conspiracy theories.

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THE CURIOSITY PIECE THAT IS “RACING TO WIN”

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Yeah, yeah, Pakistan Star won his 1000 metre trial with Tommy Berry aboard earlier today, and with Silvestre de Sousa set to ride the galloper in the 1600m QE11 Cup. We’re not going to be part of another round of hype. A trial is not a race. Okay? How many trials has Pakistan Star won or passed? How many races has he wanted to win?

What we have always wondered out aloud is instead of these bans, tedious trials and jockeys merry-go-round, why, undoubtedly a talented galloper with a mind of his own, couldn’t just be reunited with his original jockey- Matthew Chadwick? Did Chadwick ever have to resort to flogging Pakistan Star? Don’t think so.

Surely all his antics AFTER Chadwick lost the ride following an unexpected loss has seen the galloper become so erratic and stubborn that even a chain reaction of so much of everything to mend his waywardness including The Horse Whisperer being brought to Hong Kong to work the oracle, has NOT brought about any real change. If it had there would have been no need for today’s trial in order to receive another passing grade to race again.

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THE MANY DIFFERENT FACES OF HORSE RACING AND DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It’s basic psychology: When good things happen to good people there’s a feeling of happiness that’s contagious. It’s been mentioned here many times: It’s The Likability Factor.

So when popular Italian jockey Alberto Sanna won the first race of the Happy Wednesday Goes Korean night- his tenth winner during his short term riding stint in Hong Kong, which has now rightfully seen his license extended until the end of this season- we cheered him on. The Italian girls in the Beer Garden screamed loudest for “Mambo Italiano”. He seems a good man, grateful to be here and knowing there’s always room for improvement.

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THE UPS, DOWNS AND THE LUCK OF THE IRISH IN HONG KONG RACING…

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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When owners get involved in giving trainers and jockeys instructions on how to ride their horses, especially in a big Group race, the odds are that things are going to go horribly wrong. And which is what happened in the running of the Chairman’s Trophy at Sha Tin last Sunday. Too many cooks spoil the broth and all that other puff pastry stuff.

The moment one saw Karis Teetan bustling Fifty Fifty out and trying to get the usual back marker to lead at all costs, one just sat back and watched a comedy of errors take place. Forget the oddity of seeing stayer Time Warp starting the 2 to 1 favourite and the usual backing by the loyalists of Pakistan Star.

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HORSE RACING’S EASTER PARADE. ALL IT WAS CRACKED UP TO BE?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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For those who attended Sheikh Mo’s annual garden party in Dubai on Saturday or who watched the coverage of the races on television, well, it went according to script. The Sheikh’s Godolphin brand was to the fore all night, especially when their Thunder Snow won the Group 1 World Cup thanks to another brilliant ride by Christophe Soumillon and quite a phenomenal training effort by miracle man Saeed bin Suroor. It was an upset win? Really? It was absolutely flying! Godolphin was flying with five winners on the night.

There was the win on the dirt of the Aiden O’Brien trained Mendelssohn ridden by that man Ryan Moore and the quite extraordinary win of Mind Your Biscuits that had many choking on their kebabs.

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MARKETING THE LIKABILITY OF HORSE RACING

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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By now, some of us look at racing at Happy Valley as one big party- ‘live’ music, food, beer, and eight horse races every half hour and where one might wave to champion jockey Joao Moreira, but seldom, if ever, follow him at the idiosyncratic city track.

Forget what the professional tipsters say. Even magic men need some time to chill. And with Happy Valley very seldom being his happy hunting grounds, one lost count of the favourites on which Moreira didn’t even run in the top two on Happy Wednesday. Maybe not even in the top three. But Joao Moreira is likeable and likability is a major asset in success or failure in Hong Kong. One doubts it’s something not lost on horse racing’s new kid on the block- Alberto Sanna.

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