He’s not exactly the fly in the ointment nor the third wheel, but one sees him more and more being the resident party crasher of the Zac And Joao Show and photobomber extraordinaire.
Yes, while The Zac Attack has raced away with this season’s Hong Kong Jockey Premiership like the dish ran away with the spoon, and the Magic Man comes up with his always dazzling repertoire of party tricks, there’s Karis Teetan, always smiling, always happy to ride another winner. And these days, that smile is becoming broader and broader.
Before returning to Sydney for family reasons, Tye Angland was seen by many as being a future champion Hong Kong jockey.
A surprise choice to many in Australia to receive a license to ride here- the doubters thought he was too young, an unknown, and wasn’t ready to cope with the goldfish bowl world of Hong Kong racing and the sharks and tadpoles swimming around the seaweed- the real surprise was how quickly the tall former rodeo rider adapted to everything going around him.
Hong Kong racing and the speed in which the city moves, like it’s done to many in every industry who have moved to Hong Kong over the decades, force people to grow up. Leave the innocence of country life behind and become more “international”. It’s kinda like being a Gloria Gaynor song. Change and learn to play the game or be prepared to be thrown under the bus.
In a rather sombre video to create an almost film noire mood for the upcoming Hong Kong Longines International Jockeys Championships, over what sounds like the soundtrack to “Taxi Driver”, appear the words, “Champions collide while darkness falls”. Easy chaps. And lighten up. One hopes no one collides with anyone. It could get a tad messy.
What’s interesting about this evening’s races, other than trying to snag a couple of the huge jackpots up for grabs, is wondering who will fill that last berth to represent Hong Kong in the “darkness”. Chad Schofield or Douglas Whyte?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes the script rewrites itself. Probably more often than we think. To those who follow Hong Kong racing, the mantra that the void left following Joao Moreira’s decision to roll the dice and try to ride in Japan on a full time basis has means “more opportunities for everyone else” has become a wee bit tiresome. It’s stating the obvious. Over and over again.
As in Seize The Day, when opportunities present themselves, it’s up to those who are ready, able and willing to step up to the plate. To hit that ball outta the park. And keep hitting those home runs.
The wooing process has begun in earnest. It’s been bubbling loudly ever since Joao Moreira upped and bade Sayanora to Hong Kong. The wooing process to take over from the magic man as the Go To jockey for champion trainer John Size.
Why? Size matters. He knows exactly how to play the Hong Kong handicapping system. And, more often than not, beat it at its own game. Plus he’s extremely savvy when purchasing horses for his owners. Nothing soooooo expensive and which screams out at the stupidity of showing off that exclusively Hong Kong and Singaporean vanity piece called buying “face”.
In every industry it’s about expanding the customer base. Retaining the current market and expanding it. Always expanding it. It’s business 101. Marketing 101. Do those in leadership roles in horse racing lose sight of this? And its importance? Too often. And the racing media? How does it help spread the word? Improve the perception? Could there possibly be a new-fashioned entertainment media waiting in the wings to take horse racing beyond where it’s going now? Hmmmmm.