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?
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.
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.
“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.
Maybe it was the weather. The hard rain that lashed across the Flemington racetrack. Maybe it was a hard act to follow the superb Cox Plate Day. Maybe it was the lack of Winxmania.
Maybe, like sex, the build up was more exciting than the main event. Maybe it was the early start? And the glut of racing across Australia. On tracks where the going was Good. It seems to make winning that much easier. Like at Ascot in Perth where William Pike didn’t let down the forty thousand and turned water into wine.
For whatever reason, viewing this year’s Melbourne Cup Day on television and from afar just didn’t do it for some of us. There were moments when we actually nodded off.
SaSa Ladies Day was a strange little meeting. Not bad. But just somehow the pieces didn’t seem to fit. It made kinda strange viewing. And whoever is handling the HKJC’s Twitter feed these days adds to the goofiness of it all.
Of course, though much was made of the “sibling rivalry” and some Cain and Abel type competition between brothers Time Warp and Glorious Forever in the big Cup race, Big Brother put the younger of the two in place.
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.
Too often they get lost in the shuffle. Lost in the column inches and tweets and talk and innuendos given to the the current jockey merry-go-round. But this season in particular, the equine talent in Hong Kong has never been better. Never has there been a better crop. They’ve come of age. A crop of extremely good young gallopers. Gallopers who could be anything.
There was the facile win of Glorious Forever at Sha Tin last Sunday. Glorious Forever. The younger brother of English import Time Warp who came into his own last season.
While reading the SCMP’s chief racing writer Tom Biddington put forward his question as to why or when James McDonald isn’t or might possibly ride in Hong Kong, the talented young New Zealander was busy arguing his case after the running of the Ladbrokes Coongy Cup. This was yesterday on Caulfield Cup Day.
It's been called a dead heat between Best of Days and Mask of Time.
Originally called a dead heat between The Big Mac ridden and Godolphin owned Best Of Days and the Kerrin McEvoy ridden Mask Of Time, the latter fired in a protest. It was a justifiable one. As the protest dragged on, it didn’t look good for the connections of Best Of Days. The galloper seemed to slightly shift in on the other dead heater. James McDonald’s oratory skills must match his prowess in the saddle. The protest was finally overthrown.