HONG KONG RACING: KEEPING THE HONG KONG DREAM ALIVE

By Hans Ebert
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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.

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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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THE HKJC COMES UP WITH A BEAUTY…

By Hans Ebert
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Rightly or wrongly, the word “malaise” was used by me recently to describe the state of horse racing. Horse racing everywhere.

This had nothing to do with the exploits of Winx, Enable, Cracksman, Beauty Generation, the brilliantly produced Cox Plate Day presentation for overseas consumption and the derring do in the saddle of riders like James McDonald, Tim Clark, Brenton Avdulla, Hugh Bowman, Kerrin McEvoy, John Allen, Ben Thompson, Damien Oliver, Craig Williams etc and outside of Australia, Frankie Dettori, Oisin Murphy, William Buick, Ryan Moore, Zac Purton, Joao Moreira and Christophe Lemaire.

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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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MAKING A SONG AND DANCE ABOUT WINNER 1800 IN HONG KONG FOR DOUGLAS WHYTE

By Hans Ebert
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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.

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THE HKJC AND ITS OWN PROJECT: RUNWAY

By Hans Ebert
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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.

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JOAO MOREIRA AND HOW FAMILY COMES FIRST. NOT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND. REALLY.

By Hans Ebert
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True. It’s a little off kilter. A tad random. Joanna Lumley hosting a TV Special on 20 Years Of Black Eyed Peas.

Ok, let that sink in for a minute. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Why, right? And why this weird combination? Something that’s come right outta Left Field. Personal thoughts? Absolutely fabulous. Daring to be randomly different.

It’s kinda like those Pop and Rock albums turned to mush by ageing celebrities like Telly Savalas. William Shatner. Pat Boone. Leonard Nimoy. Those recordings all had a certain kitsch value. Joao Moreira returning to Hong Kong to be stable jockey for Champion trainer John Size after leaving to fulfil his lifetime dream to ride in Japan, doesn’t have kitsch value. But it’s certainly caught many off guard.

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WILL JOAO JOAO GET BACK TO HONG KONG (AND JOHN SIZE)?

By Hans Ebert
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Though one Joe- jockey Kanuchiro “Joe” Fujii, below, who racing fans in Australia, Korea and Singapore might remember, is believed to have passed the first hurdle- the extremely difficult written exam- towards being granted a full time license to ride in Japan, the Brazilian Joao- Joao Moreira, failed.

Joe Fujii really shouldn’t have a problem getting over the second hurdle: Spoken Japanese. He’s Japanese. Duh. Kanuchiro “Joe” Fujii has been trying to return home to his family and a full time JRA license from around 2015. It proves that gaining one of these licenses is no walk in the cherry blossom park.

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