In a rather sombre video to create an almost film noire mood for the upcoming Hong Kong Longines International Jockeys Championships, over what sounds like the soundtrack to “Taxi Driver”, appear the words, “Champions collide while darkness falls”. Easy chaps. And lighten up. One hopes no one collides with anyone. It could get a tad messy.
What’s interesting about this evening’s races, other than trying to snag a couple of the huge jackpots up for grabs, is wondering who will fill that last berth to represent Hong Kong in the “darkness”. Chad Schofield or Douglas Whyte?
It wasn’t just good to hear. It had to be heard. It was inspiring. One seldom cheers on an interview on radio. But listening yesterday to Michael Felgate interview jockey Jason Maskiell on RSN about how one of the most promising riding talents in Melbourne- a champion apprentice- has pulled himself out from the abyss of self-destruction spoke volumes.
There was something Dickensian to his story. One kept waiting for a Fagin to appear. Or to be mentioned. Horse racing is littered with Fagins. The invisible ones are the most dangerous. They feed on the weak. And no one is strong all the time. We may think so. But we’re not.
“You missed the best ride I have seen by a jockey.” It was a message sent by someone relatively new to horse racing. A female in her late Twenties. French Chinese. A regular at a Happy Wednesday meeting. Someone met around three years ago for the first time at Adrenaline when helping her fill out a Six Up ticket. She was talking about Douglas Whyte’s winning ride last night at Happy Valley on the John Moore trained Good Beauty.
Though out of Hong Kong, I had watched a replay of the race. To say it was vintage Douglas Whyte wouldn’t be doing the ride nor the rider justice. And certainly not to those still learning about the incredible career of the legendary South African rider. About how very very few ride the idiosyncratic city track better. Possibly no one.
Douglas Whyte rode his 1800th winner in Hong Kong on Sunday. The name of the horse: Good Omen. The ride was vintage Whyte. Second last for much of the journey. Watching everything in front of him unfold. Then, with perfect timing, taking Good Omen out wide. Gathering in the leaders. Never resorting to the persuader. Riding the gelding to the line. Hard held. Easing it down. Made it look so easy.
Good Omen. His 1800th winner. What an incredible accomplishment. What a great Feel Good story. Good Omen. Trained by one of his main support systems during those Whyte Years. Dennis Yip.
Sometimes the script rewrites itself. Probably more often than we think. To those who follow Hong Kong racing, the mantra that the void left following Joao Moreira’s decision to roll the dice and try to ride in Japan on a full time basis has means “more opportunities for everyone else” has become a wee bit tiresome. It’s stating the obvious. Over and over again.
As in Seize The Day, when opportunities present themselves, it’s up to those who are ready, able and willing to step up to the plate. To hit that ball outta the park. And keep hitting those home runs.
Tweeting is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see…Sorry, where was I? Right. I was at a club straight out of a David Lynch movie where one of the worst singers absolutely butchered “Rolling In The Deep” while a buffet of Russian nymphets were marched in, sat there and waited for the local Tony Montana to walk in along with his tattooed posse, before doing whatever it is they’re paid to do.
Either it was Sunday or bust or, at first, without even a ride in the last tonight, it seemed as if he was rushing home to watch the second World Cup match of the night.
One cannot remember Joao Moreira having quite such an El Yawno book of rides as he has tonight at Happy Valley since arriving in Hong Kong and dominating local racing, rewriting the history books and, lest one forgets, winning a few Jockey Premierships.
It wasn’t meant to be the race meeting that it became, especially with many still suffering from World Cup fever, and it’s tough to know what was the highlight of the races on Sunday at Shatin.
Was it the complete mastery and domination of riders Zac Purton from Australia and Brazilian Joao Moreira who rode four winners each and battled out four Quinellas? It was much more than a “battle to the wire”. That would be too easy. It had to do with the pursuit for perfection and competitiveness taken to another level. Both riders should be applauded.
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.
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.