Why the races at Sha Tin can be a game changer

By Hans Ebert
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World Cup Fatigue had struck as hard as the three goals the night before by Ronaldo, so we never made it to the races at Sha Tin.

Truth be told, we extremely rarely go to Sha Tin- and especially if there’s racing across the Big Waters on a Saturday. It’s hard to imagine these days that once upon a barren rock, there was only horse racing in Hong Kong on a Saturday- and only at Happy Valley.

Kowloon was where the nightlife and everything else throbbed- the clubs, the nightlife, the gorgeous dancers back from the USSR and working at upmarket escort clubs Club BBoss and Club De China.

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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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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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SERENDIB: KEEPING IT SIMPLE AND SRI LANKAN

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Many talk about there being only one Sri Lankan restaurant- AJ’s in Sai Kung, which is okay, and serves its version of lamprais- rice, curry, sambals and a hard boiled egg served inside a banana leaf- but being a Burgher from what was Ceylon, it’s not exactly what mother made. Maybe Hong Kong is lacking in the proper ingredients needed. Pepper is no substitute.

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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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WHY (JOHN) SIZE MATTERS

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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The remarkable thing about the news that John Size has been inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame is that most of his success has taken place in Hong Kong. But for a born and bred Australian to succeed so magnificently on “foreign soil” and having started his career here with only 19 horses yet went on to beat the great Ivan Allan by two to win the Hong Kong Trainers Championship in his first season, says much about the man wherever in the world he is.

As then Chief Steward of the HKJC John Schreck aka “The Sheriff” commented at the time, “I think what Mr Size has done reflects greatly on Australian racing people, for which I am very grateful.”

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LET’S ALL JUMP FOR BURGER JOYS!

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Many have tried and many have failed: to give Hong Kong the best burger. There’ve been attempts at the Haute Cuisine Burger, The Great Veggie Burger, the Fitness Burger, the Curry Burger, the Great Gatsby Burger, the Flying Saucer Burger etc etc with, in the end, most returning to that old faithful McDonald’s Big Mac.

Having been the Director of Creative Services when in advertising and part of the McTeam that launched the Golden Arches in Hong Kong led by my wonderful client, friend and eccentric and wacky as a fox late Daniel Ng, below, and with a Degree in French Fries from Hamburger University in Oakbrook in Chicago- seriously-I have seen just about everything to do with hamburgerology.

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HORSE RACING IN HONG KONG ON A SATURDAY AND THOSE CH CH CH CHANGES

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It’s strange to think there was a time when Hong Kong only had racing on a Saturday- and only at Happy Valley racecourse.

Night racing at the city track was introduced later and had its surreal moments like the time when local rider Louis Ho simply stopped riding How Good, the 9.5 favourite, when having the race shot to bits. Think he was disqualified for six months. But it were those Saturday afternoon races in the mid Seventies and when Hong Kong was still a British colony that were big days for my family, especially my Aunt and Uncle who had their favourite jockeys and all kinds of conspiracy theories. When having seen local jockeys practice the art of jumping off horses in case they might have actually won a race, of course there were conspiracy theories.

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LET’S MOVE AWAY FROM THE SHEEPLES, SHALL WE?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It really doesn’t matter. Nothing really matters, because there’s nothing we- you and I- can do about any of it- Facebook, all the many ills plaguing what was baptised “social media” and which all the time was Rosemary’s Baby grown up and in control of malleable minds feeding them with more and more and more clutter until priorities became lost in the shuffle.

The Bill Cosby trial, Trump, the Russians, the Chinese, Fleetwood Mac. Whatever it is that interests others are doing, but which might not be on the same page as the hymn book from which you’re singing is often just more clutter- if you choose to allow all this randomness in. It would be boring as hell if we all fell in line and became lemmings following the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. There’s a necessity to move away from the sheeples. It’s called survival and it took a houseguest to remind me of all this. It was the wake up call needed to still “belong”, but also remain detached enough to focus on individual thinking. Leave the sheeples behind. They’ll be fine. Like misery, mediocrity loves company.

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LEADERSHIP, TRUST ISSUES AND THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF HORSE RACING

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Instead of him working the room, some of us watched the room work the CEO of the HKJC on Wednesday. The room was the venue Adrenaline at Happy Valley racecourse and we were headed for the home stretch. The excellent band led by singer Jennifer Palor was performing a mix of old school and new school music and we waited to say our Hellos.

As is now part of his Happy Wednesday “schedule”, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges arrived after the last race had been run. Even CEOs need to chill out and just settle into the music being performed.

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