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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HORSE RACING AND THE UPHILL TASK OF WINNING OVER THOSE “YOUNGER PEOPLE”

By Hans Ebert
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Those with zero knowledge about advertising and marketing and not knowing the difference between promotions, marketing and PR talking about how something or another is “reaching younger people” always sets off alarm bells. Especially when this something or another has nothing in it for them. Those “younger people”. Like horse racing.

In Hong Kong, it’s taken the HKJC around eight years for the idea of a Happy Wednesday race meeting to evolve from what was once known as “Sassy Wednesday” to what it is now. Sassy. It sounded old. Looked old. Didn’t work. Who approved this? Something that looked like a tacky escort club in Macau? Only The Shadow knows.

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JENNIFER PALOR AND THAT ADRENALINE RUSH

By Hans Ebert
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One can’t categorise Jennifer Palor. She sings songs. All types of songs. But what makes her special is that she interprets them in her own style. And what’s her style? It cannot be defined. It’s what makes her unique and the most in-demand songstress in Hong Kong. She’s also no pushover.

There’s the onstage Jennifer Palor. And there’s the extremely professional singer who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She can easily handle not just being a female in an often male dominated industry, but taking control and winning the respect of everyone. She’s no one’s fool. She’s her person. She also knows how to have fun. And win.

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WHATEVER…

By Hans Ebert
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Now this is more like it- a ten race meeting at Shatin where some of Hong Kong’s better gallopers are stepping out for the first time this season. Plus a splattering of relative newcomers who might have that ammunition for the future. Did someone mention Tianchi Monster? Bigwood? Cruising? Blue Steel?

Though much has been made out of the Group 3 Celebration Cup and the re-appearance of last season’s Horse Of The Year Beauty Generation, this is looking more like “click bit”. It’s an extremely interesting race with a number of runners from last season who might be back with a bigger bang this time around.

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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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AAAAAAAND THEY’RE OFFFFFFFFF! THIS SUNDAY!

By Hans Ebert
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“Sir, this Sunday. Your day. Finally “. It was the Manager of the apartments where I live reminding me that the new Hong Kong racing season starts up again on Sunday. I didn’t need reminding. Almost two months without horse racing in this city is like being celibate for three years. It’s tough going if stuck inside this dumpling with some wontons.

It’s more tough going when you’ve been internalizing far more important things going on in your life and seeing all the ills wreaked on the world.

Horse racing? It’s a pleasant enough distraction. It’s not all-consuming. I don’t get paid enough for horse racing to take over my life. Only the love of a good woman can do that. That’s the stress buster needed.

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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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