THE CURIOSITY PIECE THAT IS “RACING TO WIN”

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Yeah, yeah, Pakistan Star won his 1000 metre trial with Tommy Berry aboard earlier today, and with Silvestre de Sousa set to ride the galloper in the 1600m QE11 Cup. We’re not going to be part of another round of hype. A trial is not a race. Okay? How many trials has Pakistan Star won or passed? How many races has he wanted to win?

What we have always wondered out aloud is instead of these bans, tedious trials and jockeys merry-go-round, why, undoubtedly a talented galloper with a mind of his own, couldn’t just be reunited with his original jockey- Matthew Chadwick? Did Chadwick ever have to resort to flogging Pakistan Star? Don’t think so.

Surely all his antics AFTER Chadwick lost the ride following an unexpected loss has seen the galloper become so erratic and stubborn that even a chain reaction of so much of everything to mend his waywardness including The Horse Whisperer being brought to Hong Kong to work the oracle, has NOT brought about any real change. If it had there would have been no need for today’s trial in order to receive another passing grade to race again.

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AND NOW, ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF HORSE RACING AND REAL LEADERSHIP…

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Perhaps racing writers have realised by now that apart from being pigeonholed with this label, horse racing is a very specialised field. It’s also a very narrow one when it comes to readership. And like newspapers moving almost completely into the online world and hoping to be a subscriber-based product where content is king and competing for readership in a crowded information highway, it means being about diversity. Really diversifying.

Continuing to play a role in horse racing could mean looking at adding more strings to one’s bow. Just as Rock journalism suddenly disappeared after less than a decade, horse racing writers are most definitely needed, but newspaper editors and others will and have become more selective in who they use. And how. Many don’t know because it’s not a personal priority.

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A QUIET BEGINNING WITH A STING IN THE TAIL

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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The sudden rain bucketing down probably helped turn what looked like a fairly predictable race meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday into a mixture of weirdness, definitely plenty of surprises and the continuing adventures of John Size and The Comeback Kid- Olivier Doleuze.

The weirdness was seeing all the dignitaries gathered to present the CUHK Alumni Cup, but with there being no winning trainer and jockey. With no one there any the wiser, an objection had been lodged by the rider of the runner up- Tommy Berry- against the horse and rider first past the post- Karis Teetan on favourite Namjong Plus. And so the HKJC executives and everyone else who were part of the presentation party kinda hung around for what seemed an inordinate amount of time. One almost expected someone to break into a soft shoe shuffle.

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THE MANY DIFFERENT FACES OF HORSE RACING AND DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It’s basic psychology: When good things happen to good people there’s a feeling of happiness that’s contagious. It’s been mentioned here many times: It’s The Likability Factor.

So when popular Italian jockey Alberto Sanna won the first race of the Happy Wednesday Goes Korean night- his tenth winner during his short term riding stint in Hong Kong, which has now rightfully seen his license extended until the end of this season- we cheered him on. The Italian girls in the Beer Garden screamed loudest for “Mambo Italiano”. He seems a good man, grateful to be here and knowing there’s always room for improvement.

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WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE AND WHAT’S AFFECTING RACING IN AUSTRALIA?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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“Horse racing in Australia is its own worst enemy”. I’ve been carrying these words with me now for over a week. They keep playing in my head with me thinking when’s all this going to end, where’s it going to crash and burn, when’s Humpty Dumpty going to be an omelette, how did it all become so much of everything, who’s minding the store…

During a recent whistle stop trip to Singapore and then to Sydney for business, I managed to meet up with a longtime friend in racing. He’s given up being in the game, but remains close to some youngsters coming up the ranks who he believes in. More importantly, he understands their need for counselling and mentoring to face what lies ahead. He’s seen it all before- all those one meets on the way up and the sudden lack of a safety net on the way down. As he put it, “That trip to hell is when you’re dancing with the devil because he’s the only company you have.”

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THE UPS, DOWNS AND THE LUCK OF THE IRISH IN HONG KONG RACING…

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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When owners get involved in giving trainers and jockeys instructions on how to ride their horses, especially in a big Group race, the odds are that things are going to go horribly wrong. And which is what happened in the running of the Chairman’s Trophy at Sha Tin last Sunday. Too many cooks spoil the broth and all that other puff pastry stuff.

The moment one saw Karis Teetan bustling Fifty Fifty out and trying to get the usual back marker to lead at all costs, one just sat back and watched a comedy of errors take place. Forget the oddity of seeing stayer Time Warp starting the 2 to 1 favourite and the usual backing by the loyalists of Pakistan Star.

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HORSE RACING’S EASTER PARADE. ALL IT WAS CRACKED UP TO BE?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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For those who attended Sheikh Mo’s annual garden party in Dubai on Saturday or who watched the coverage of the races on television, well, it went according to script. The Sheikh’s Godolphin brand was to the fore all night, especially when their Thunder Snow won the Group 1 World Cup thanks to another brilliant ride by Christophe Soumillon and quite a phenomenal training effort by miracle man Saeed bin Suroor. It was an upset win? Really? It was absolutely flying! Godolphin was flying with five winners on the night.

There was the win on the dirt of the Aiden O’Brien trained Mendelssohn ridden by that man Ryan Moore and the quite extraordinary win of Mind Your Biscuits that had many choking on their kebabs.

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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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MARKETING THE LIKABILITY OF HORSE RACING

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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By now, some of us look at racing at Happy Valley as one big party- ‘live’ music, food, beer, and eight horse races every half hour and where one might wave to champion jockey Joao Moreira, but seldom, if ever, follow him at the idiosyncratic city track.

Forget what the professional tipsters say. Even magic men need some time to chill. And with Happy Valley very seldom being his happy hunting grounds, one lost count of the favourites on which Moreira didn’t even run in the top two on Happy Wednesday. Maybe not even in the top three. But Joao Moreira is likeable and likability is a major asset in success or failure in Hong Kong. One doubts it’s something not lost on horse racing’s new kid on the block- Alberto Sanna.

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HONG KONG RACING AND THE MEDIUMS FOR THE TRILINGUAL MESSAGES

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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What many following Hong Kong racing from overseas often forget, or perhaps don’t even know, is that this is a bilingual and, more and more, a trilingual market made up of Cantonese, Putonghua and English.

Trying to explain this to musicians not in this region has always been an uphill task- the different tastes of music fans in Taiwan compared to those in Mainland China, how Chinese don’t consider themselves Asians, and just how irrelevant Hong Kong is these days as a music market other than being a celebration to narcissism, navels and kitsch.

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