The small stuff first: The real bummer about trying to find a winner at Sha Tin tomorrow afternoon is that Douglas Whyte doesn’t have a ride in the last. As has been proven, especially during the last two meetings, the Durban Demon has made these races all his. Saved his best for last like some of us do when playing Eyes Wide Shut. It’s kinky stuff.
Last Sunday, Whyte strolled home to win on Encouraging while on Wednesday night he made all the right moves to win the curtain closer on Dances With Dragons, a rare ride for trainer Peter Ho. And lest we forget, who won the last race of last season by “beating off” Joao Moreira and Zac Purton in one of the best finishes ever seen in Hong Kong? That is, a Happy Ending finish in horse racing.
Some people just can’t help being LOUD. And at the Champagne Bar of the Grand Hyatt, it was where many LOUD people congregated during HKIR week. Many from overseas. It was tough to take.
On Sunday, after the last race at Sha Tin had been run and horse racing’s “Woodstock Generation” was heading home came a booming voice how Hong Kong racing had “found its mojo again.” Maybe it had. Maybe it was just hiding. Often, it’s all about timing. Whatever.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Warning: This isn’t the Hong Kong that was around two years ago. Or even a year ago. A shopper’s paradise? Hardly. Those nouveau riche Mainland Chinese came in droves a few years ago, shops closed exclusively for them to overpay for luxury items before the spending was finally reined in.
Walk through the Landmark and Pacific Place and very often the staff outnumber customers. Those big name brands just lie there. Unless there’s some seasonal sale. Or an Everything Must Go Sale.
It’s like restaurants, bars and clubs. One day, they’re there. The next they’re gone. It’s all about over supply and demand. And more often than not, no demand. Other than the occasional drunk tourist being thrown out of Escape in Jaffe Road, except for Dust Till Dawn, Wanchai is dead.
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.