HORSE RACING, CRAZY RICH ASIANS AND JUMPING INTO THE GREAT UNKNOWN

By Hans Ebert
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It’s about understanding what makes anyone come horse racing, especially in this day and age where so many have a buffet of leisure activities available to them 24/7. It’s a complex question to answer to get one’s head around. And even if answered, there are more questions to answer. Inquisitive minds need to know.

Many who show up for a Happy Wednesday at Happy Valley racecourse in Hong Kong make up a wildly interesting and very different customer demographic. They’re fascinating beasts. Do they come for the horse racing or the on course experience? If a betting person, one would say the latter. They’re still learning about the racing caper and are risk averse. They’re suspicious. Integrity in racing almost needs a complete overhaul. Drop the word “almost”. Frankly, horse racing might just need to completely reinvent itself to appeal to them and hand them the reins to make the most of what will always be a pastime.

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WHY HONG KONG NEEDS A HAPPY WEDNESDAY

By Hans Ebert
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It’s always good to prove the sceptics wrong. It happened in a small way in Hong Kong on Wednesday. That it happened at a racetrack made it even more special. Maybe it wasn’t such a small deal after all.

It was at Happy Valley racecourse and the first Happy Wednesday of the new Hong Kong racing season. It’s taken around six years, but after coming up against a few hurdles, and some who could not see it happening, a Happy Wednesday has become a brand. It’s received a Certificate Of Excellence from Trip Advisor. It’s a tourist attraction. It’s a trip. It makes those twentysomething minutes between the races fly. Those breaks are filled with entertaining. As said, it’s a trip. A four trip exclusive to one racecourse situated right in the middle of skyscrapers. In the middle of the city.

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HOLD YOUR HORSES AND CHILL AT SHA TIN TODAY

By Hans Ebert
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It’s more like a dress rehearsal today. The horse racing at Sha Tin. It’s impossible to hurl one’s self into anything with any great confidence. Except stating the obvious: Champion jockey Zac Purton, below, will ride a couple of winners. At least.

Champion trainer John Size will not lead in any winners. Why? He doesn’t have any runners. These early season meetings are when Size doesn’t matter. He’s chilling with Dylan. As for the card? Ho hum. Trying to pick winners? Make it a trial run.

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LET’S HEAR IT FOR HONG KONG’S LOCAL HEROES!

By Hans Ebert
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Douglas Whyte was the first person to bring him to my attention. It was about eight years ago. “This kid is very good,” said the champion South African rider. “He’s got great hands and certainly has potential. My only concern is that he’s already a tall boy. This might work against him.” It hasn’t.

During the off season, the HKJC sent now 30 year old Derek Leung to France to gain more experience by working for the great trainer Andre Fabre. One understands that Fabre, too, commented on the Hong Kong born rider’s hands. He also mentioned the rider’s attitude. Positive and always willing to learn.

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HONG KONG RACING AND ITS COMING ATTRACTIONS

By Hans Ebert
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In every industry it’s about expanding the customer base. Retaining the current market and expanding it. Always expanding it. It’s business 101. Marketing 101. Do those in leadership roles in horse racing lose sight of this? And its importance? Too often. And the racing media? How does it help spread the word? Improve the perception? Could there possibly be a new-fashioned entertainment media waiting in the wings to take horse racing beyond where it’s going now? Hmmmmm.

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THE GLOBAL POWER OF HORSE RACING: ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL

By Hans Ebert
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Streaming. The ‘live’ streaming of any event has its pros and cons. It’s how clever one is at using streaming. The music industry considers it a blessing that has made millions for music companies. For artists, not so good, but how many realise it? Most speed read and don’t see through the fluff. Others simply don’t care. They have hulu and Netflix and life is brilliant.

Without getting into this in any great detail, how can the non-stop streaming of music on Spotify or Tidal or Tencent with no announcers- once known as disc jockeys and then VJs during the years when MTV was relevant- help introduce new talent to music fans?

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THE DAY DOUGLAS WHYTE CRASHED THE TWO HORSE RACE PARTY

By Hans Ebert
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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.

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UNTIL HAPPY WEDNESDAY NEXT SEASON…

By Hans Ebert
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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.

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HAPPY WEDNESDAY SAYS ADIOS TO THE CULT OF MOREIRA

By Hans Ebert
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Win, lose or draw, there will be six winners at the end of this Hong Kong racing season- Pakistan Star for being his own man, the brilliant training achievements of John Size and Frankie Lor, very possibly trainer Tony Cruz for never wavering from believing in the Blue Tooth Fairy, and the Joao Moreira-Zac Purton battle for the Hong Kong Jockey Premiership.

Before the twitteraratti get on their high horses and ride through the Tall Poppy Syndrome, of course special mention must be given to Zac Purton who became the lethal Zac Attack and took this season’s jockey premiership to another level and will always have this writer’s respect. Is he misunderstood by some in Hong Kong? Yes. Just as Lewis Hamilton is a brilliant Formula 1 driver, and Federer and Nadal will always win hearts and minds over Djokovic and Ronaldo will trump Messi, often, success is eclipsed by popularity. And with Hong Kong racing fans, Joao Moreira remains Top Of The Pops.

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SHA TIN, HONG KONG: 8-7-2018

By Hans Ebert
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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.

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