THE ENIGMA THAT IS TONY CRUZ (AND HIS EAR PIECE)

By Hans Ebert
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While many are second guessing who will be John Size’s Go To jockey next season after Hong Kong having said sayonara to the magic and charisma of Joao Moreira, let’s not forget Tony Cruz and all the strings in his bow.

Perhaps not overlooked so much as sometimes being taken for granted as a champion trainer despite everything he’s achieved with champion horses like Bullish Luck, Egyptian Ra, California Memory and the great Silent Witness while waiting in the wings right now are Time Warp, Exultant and Pakistan Star, here’s someone both respected and feared by jockeys, because he’s been there. He set the bar. He knows the ins and outs of the game. He’s been in it and at it long enough.

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Opportunities knock for Douglas Whyte?

By Hans Ebert
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The fire in his belly might have never left as he’s certainly not someone to roll over and become another Yesterday’s Man, but the Chinese racing media has been abuzz of late about the persuasive powers of jockey Douglas Whyte working overtime during track work these days.

As anyone who’s watched his winning rides of Star Shine and on Kiram on Wednesday will testify to, the Durban Demon has woken up from, most likely, a self imposed hiatus where he stood back and checked out the lay of the land. Timing is everything.

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JOAO MOREIRA BIDS ADIOS TO HONG KONG. WHO’S SURPRISED?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It was always on the cards, but it’s still tough to absorb and accept. Around two years ago or a bit longer, one heard about Joao Moreira studying reading and writing Japanese, prerequisites to obtaining a permanent license to ride in Japan as a foreign jockey, something Christophe Lemaire and Mirco Demuro had to do before being accepted by the JRA.

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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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HONG KONG CHAMPIONS DAY: THE DAY WE SAW STARS…

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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It’s needed time for everything to sink in. Plus, when hosting friends from overseas with zero knowledge of horse racing, there’s always something new to learn, absorb and think about. “I never realised horse racing could be so enjoyable,” said one very good friend. “The races I’ve been to have been all about what to wear and which milliner to use.”

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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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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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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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HORSE RACING AND WHY WE LOVE COMEBACK STORIES

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
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Just when thinking we’ve regressed even further by taking music down a well trodden path of banality through a reboot of “American Idol”, there suddenly appeared David Byrne being interviewed by Stephen Colbert- sharp, well read, always the musical iconoclast talking about perhaps writing a musical about Jared Kuchner before taking viewers on a new take on everywhere music has yet to travel with “Everybody’s Coming To My House”.

The track catches you off guard. But you go for the ride and the further you do, there’s the feeling, Virginia, that really is a Santa Claus and all is not lost. There’s the flicker of light at the end of the tunnel.

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