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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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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TIME FOR HORSE RACING TO GET REAL

By Hans Ebert
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It’s like music festivals. There are so many around these days that music fans are spoilt for choice. There’s also a pecking order attached. The bigger the flapjacks appearing on the bill, the greater the magnet to be there. Very often just to say that you were there. An Instagram moment.

Glastonbury, Ibiza, Roskilde- it’s about the music and the vibes and the people and the location. And in what is a downturn in the economy, it’s also about value and who provides music fans with more bangs for their buck. More of everything, please, but without that price tag to attend ever becoming exorbitant. Pricing out the good times.

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HORSE RACING: FFS, JUST CHILL, HAVE FUN AND ENJOY THE RIDE…

By Hans Ebert
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Before returning to Sydney for family reasons, Tye Angland was seen by many as being a future champion Hong Kong jockey.

A surprise choice to many in Australia to receive a license to ride here- the doubters thought he was too young, an unknown, and wasn’t ready to cope with the goldfish bowl world of Hong Kong racing and the sharks and tadpoles swimming around the seaweed- the real surprise was how quickly the tall former rodeo rider adapted to everything going around him.

Hong Kong racing and the speed in which the city moves, like it’s done to many in every industry who have moved to Hong Kong over the decades, force people to grow up. Leave the innocence of country life behind and become more “international”. It’s kinda like being a Gloria Gaynor song. Change and learn to play the game or be prepared to be thrown under the bus.

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GET BACK TO WHERE YOU ONCE BELONGED

By Hans Ebert
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There’s that opening chord to “Hard Days Night”. That “naughty chord”. Some of us are still trying to figure it out. Same with the chords to many of their other songs.

Being left handed, McCartney tuned his guitar differently. Strung his strings “upside down”. Was this how he was seemingly able to pluck such wonderful melodies out of thin air?

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THE HKIJC AND ROLLING OUT A NEW RED CARPET

By Hans Ebert
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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?

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SOCIAL MEDIA: HOW EFFECTIVELY IS HORSE RACING USING IT? REALLY.

By Hans Ebert
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There was a time not really that long ago though time often flies on unexpected wings at a worldwide music conference in Munich when us executives listened to a panel of young Facebook execs explain how we could use the social media platform- very new at the time- to sell more music. To work closer with music fans. Introduce new music much more cost effectively. And with more pinpoint accuracy. How MySpace was finished. But never ever thinking that this thing called “social media” would get off the ground, we never listened.

Ignorance and arrogance came into play and most of us saw their presentation as a break to grab some chocolate muffins and chat up one of the Facebookers.

We -the music industry- had successfully sued illegal file sharing site Napster and co founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning and believed that nothing was going to change our world. The six star lifestyle was going to continue. So much for that dream.

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Joao Moreira is returning to Hong Kong: Anyone care? Really?

By Hans Ebert
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Remember that old saying about striking while the iron’s hot?

So, for about a week, there were the Chinese whispers that Joao Moreira would be back. Riding in Hong Kong. A Sayonara to Japan. And there were hosannas from the high! The Brazilian Magic Man was coming back! It was gonna be a conga line of Carnivale de Rio!

That was around September. And where are we now? Not much further from September.

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THAT BEAUTY OF A RIDE BY DOUGLAS WHYTE (AND ABOUT WINNING OVER NEW FANS)

By Hans Ebert
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“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.

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