The small stuff first: The real bummer about trying to find a winner at Sha Tin tomorrow afternoon is that Douglas Whyte doesn’t have a ride in the last. As has been proven, especially during the last two meetings, the Durban Demon has made these races all his. Saved his best for last like some of us do when playing Eyes Wide Shut. It’s kinky stuff.
Last Sunday, Whyte strolled home to win on Encouraging while on Wednesday night he made all the right moves to win the curtain closer on Dances With Dragons, a rare ride for trainer Peter Ho. And lest we forget, who won the last race of last season by “beating off” Joao Moreira and Zac Purton in one of the best finishes ever seen in Hong Kong? That is, a Happy Ending finish in horse racing.
Some people just can’t help being LOUD. And at the Champagne Bar of the Grand Hyatt, it was where many LOUD people congregated during HKIR week. Many from overseas. It was tough to take.
On Sunday, after the last race at Sha Tin had been run and horse racing’s “Woodstock Generation” was heading home came a booming voice how Hong Kong racing had “found its mojo again.” Maybe it had. Maybe it was just hiding. Often, it’s all about timing. Whatever.
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.
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.
There was a time not really that long ago though time often flies on unexpected wings at a worldwide music conference in Munich when us executives listened to a panel of young Facebook execs explain how we could use the social media platform- very new at the time- to sell more music. To work closer with music fans. Introduce new music much more cost effectively. And with more pinpoint accuracy. How MySpace was finished. But never ever thinking that this thing called “social media” would get off the ground, we never listened.
Ignorance and arrogance came into play and most of us saw their presentation as a break to grab some chocolate muffins and chat up one of the Facebookers.
We -the music industry- had successfully sued illegal file sharing site Napster and co founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning and believed that nothing was going to change our world. The six star lifestyle was going to continue. So much for that dream.
SaSa Ladies Day was a strange little meeting. Not bad. But just somehow the pieces didn’t seem to fit. It made kinda strange viewing. And whoever is handling the HKJC’s Twitter feed these days adds to the goofiness of it all.
Of course, though much was made of the “sibling rivalry” and some Cain and Abel type competition between brothers Time Warp and Glorious Forever in the big Cup race, Big Brother put the younger of the two in place.
Too often they get lost in the shuffle. Lost in the column inches and tweets and talk and innuendos given to the the current jockey merry-go-round. But this season in particular, the equine talent in Hong Kong has never been better. Never has there been a better crop. They’ve come of age. A crop of extremely good young gallopers. Gallopers who could be anything.
There was the facile win of Glorious Forever at Sha Tin last Sunday. Glorious Forever. The younger brother of English import Time Warp who came into his own last season.
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”.
It’s really all about reading the mood of the city. Any city. Who’s prioritising what and trying to figure out where you fit in. In Hong Kong, restaurants, shops and clubs are opening and closing. Consumers demands are forcing them to make their decisions. The old business mantra of “We’re breaking even” makes no sense. Why work to “break even”?
As has been written here many times before, horse racing twice a week is more than enough. It’s an affordable pastime or hobby. A weekend and mid-week break from a city that’s constantly changing. That’s always on the move even when standing still to catch its breath.