The night the sky turned pink and another Zac Attack was launched…

By Hans Ebert
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A rainstorm warning had been raised in the afternoon and I managed to make it to the Grand Cafe of the Grand Hyatt for a bowl of chicken congee, the best remedy when needing to steel one’s stomach when unsure where one might end up after the races on a Happy Wednesday and eat anything placed in front of you without thinking. It’s been the ruin of many a poor boy’s stomach. A hot bowl of congee with all the trimmings is an anatomical Great Wall of China.

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DOUGLAS WHYTE: ONE CANNOT PUT A PRICE ON PROFESSIONALISM

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Horse racing has been around since the chariot race between Judah Ben Hur and Messala. Probably even earlier.

These days, this pastime has become a spectator sport where the best- the riders, the trainers, the owners of the champion horses- are worth many millions and even billions. “These days” really wasn’t that long ago.

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SUNDAY AT SHA TIN AND BUSINESS AS USUAL

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It was like the day after the Big Storm, at least to us foreigners who have been following the recent comings and goings of Hong Kong racing, and some here, but those mainly overseas, thinking Quasimodo was ringing the bells of doom.

To the thousands of local racing fans, Sunday was business as usual with a turnover of over HK$1.6 billion. The clouds had disappeared and the sun was out. It was a revealing dose of reality bytes and how racing is viewed by the masses: a chance to make money. Period. All the back stories? No interest. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and whatever happens in horse racing is not anyone’s business unless a race meeting is called off. Then there’s cause for handwringing.

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SAYONARA, JOAO MOREIRA, HELLO NEW BEGINNINGS

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Apparently, his heart is not in it anymore- being in Hong Kong. Guess he’s outgrown the city. Stone, paper, scissors and the heart wins over everything else including money. Joao Moreira has more than enough. He’s dead set on making his dreams come true in Japan and he’ll keep trying to pass all the tests including being able to speak and write Japanese to become only the third foreign jockey along with Christopher Lemaire and Mirco Demuro to ride in Japan on a full time basis.

It’s something he’s being trying to master for almost two years. So this has hardly been a shock move. The tea leaves were there to be read and from everything we know, he stayed on for an unplanned extra season.

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WILL IT BE A HAPPY ZACDAY TONIGHT?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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“When they asked for his support, he almost always turned them down because he had better options. Now when it’s coming to the end of the season and there are many tired horses going around and some good new ones, and he needs good rides, many won’t or can’t support him.” Oh what a tangled web we weave.

A friend in the Chinese racing media was trying to explain the sudden shift away from the usually much in-demand Joao Moreira and many trainers throwing their support behind Zac Purton as this season’s Hong Kong Jockeys Premiership comes down to a two horse race between two superb athletes.

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WHY IS HORSE RACING TAKING SO LONG TO GET TO WHEREVER IT’S GOING?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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There was an extra spring in his step as Zac Purton sashayed out of Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday. After basically calling Joao Moreira a bit of a cry baby in a freewheeling interview the day before for blaming the lack of his usual sombrero of winners on not having enough stable support due to his own inability to choose the best rides, the Australian Zac Attack managed to keep the Brazilian Magic Man’s lead to just three as the Batman and The Joker of Hong Kong racing continue to stir the pot and play mind games with each other.

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IF THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE, HOW MANY MEDIUMS REALLY WORK FOR HORSE RACING?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Twitter has made everyone think they’re a “writer” though many still don’t know the difference between “they’re”, “their” and “there”, which, one supposes, is no different to many calling themselves “musicians” because they can tap a few keys on their laptop to “create” some sounds.

It’s become a push button world where everything has been reduced to being accepted by those with a minimum attention span as there’s just so much of everything and this voracious appetite to inhale it all in and damned the torpedoes of selectivity and exclusivity.

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THE DAY A NEW STAR SHONE BRIGHTLY ON HONG KONG RACING

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It was after the races at Sha Tin and I was at a hotel lounge surrounded by mainly expats wearing bow ties and talking loudly about “the locals”. Nothing wrong with this and power to the bow tie and the expat lifestyle enjoyed in Hong Kong with its expat packages and fringe benefits. Or is there?

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THE SUNDAY RACING BUZZ ROUNDUP

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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“It’s a given”. “It’s a moral”. “All Tommy needs to do is just sit on him”. “He just needs to be ridden on a long rein.”

For the last week, that’s all many have heard about how Pakistan Star will win the Champions and Chater Cup this afternoon with new race rider Tommy Berry aboard and who’s twice trialled one of the fascinating horses we have come across.

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A TRIP THROUGH RACING’S FIELD OF DREAMS

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It’s not so much that he’s lost his mojo, but realising that even magic men run out of tricks or that others learn new ones which work better.

Happy Valley has never been happy hunting grounds for Joao Moreira and he’ll be the first to admit it. And though he rode a double, at least to someone who’s written about him being “poetry in motion” and “being one with the horse”, what at least I saw on Happy Wednesday looked like a desperate chihuahua zig zagging all over the place and getting two winners, but, overall, looking nothing out of the ordinary. He must have been having an off day.

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