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.
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.
Not to sound corny or come across as if alien fairies abducted me to visit Never Never Land before returning me to Planet Earth, but after a somewhat low key start to this racing season in Hong Kong, it’s suddenly blossomed into a field of dreams happening in the real world.
While Adele once lamented how “we could have had it all”, someone’s suddenly pressed the On button and the show has begun in earnest with almost every meeting over the past few months giving racing fans something new to cheer about.
Two days earlier, a key player in sports entertainment, but with little or no interest in horse racing was offering their thoughts on the future of the sport- the main point being that the format has to change, or else there needs to be more options other than what’s offered today. This might sound sacrilegious to the old school and hardcore racing crowd, but his first thought was that there will be the day when there might be less races in a meeting without the thirty minute intervals. Of course, this is something asked by many who are new to a day at the races: Why can’t there be less time between races?
He next asked if a race meeting could “mix it up more” by having some races where only female riders competed against each other and other races where they would ride against their male counterparts. He wasn’t being sexist. Just thinking that this might have sponsorship appeal and create more on-course interest. There were other ideas, but ideas remain ideas unless being able to jump over various rules firmly in place, ignoring the joys of over-thinking and that refusal to change.
After Wednesday’s all-weather meeting at Sha Tin- we gave it a miss for a darn good meal at the always reliable Manchu China in Elgin Street- there’s some interesting Group 1 action this afternoon with the running of the Centenary Sprint Cup over 1200 metres metres and the Stewards Cup.
The last race, where there are 4-5 very good new prospects led by Sacred Ibis should sizzle as much as one of Manchu China’s signature dishes- the Sizzling Cumin Lamb. Yes, the race is that good.