“They do it because they can”.
This was the Quote of the Day when we asked someone well-versed with the latest case where Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC] raided the homes of at least two Voting Members of the HKJC as part of a bribery probe said to be related to applications to join the club- meaning being paid some big bucks for finding “short-cuts” to joining the club.
We understand that there are around 4-5 others who might be hauled in, some of whom are pretty much household-names in racing circles and one of the names mentioned being from one of Hong Kong’s best-known- and richest- families.
According to the Chinese press and at trackwork this morning, also said to be caught-up in this mess is an “established expat jockey” and who is said to have “referred” wannabe members to those involved in “opening doors” in return for some “favours”.
Then again, how much credence does anyone place on news from the Chinese racing press? Perhaps this time, where there’s smoke an ass is to be roasted.
Our question is simple: Some of these people said to be involved with selling memberships can buy and sell the HKJC, so why should they bother with a few hundred thousand here and a million there?
“They do it because they can” was the reply, how this has been “the LOUDEST secret” in Hong Kong racing circles for years and that today, one is looking at a very different “profit centre” for these memberships: China.
Says our source, “The asking price for these memberships are now four to even ten times what they used to be and no matter how wealthy these people are they still want more”.
Sounds almost Dickensian to us and perhaps this is what was needed for the HKJC- and, let’s get real here- every other “members club” in town- to review its archaic “vetting” rules as to who and what should be “qualified” to join and now, with cash-rich punters from China involved and wishing to own horses in Hong Kong, rules should change and rules must be broken. “The old boys network” must be expanded.
For the ICAC, it’s not been a good week. TVB’s General Manager- Stephen Chan- who has been arrested on corruption charges and is out on bail- was re-instated by the television station yesterday- almost bitch-slapping the ICAC with that move.
Chan- we are not fans of the man- came out [sadly, not out of the closet] swinging at a press conference, thanked the god person and looked like he was about to burst into a Carmen Miranda Victory Dance.The man really is creepy.
Meanwhile, there is the ongoing case of former taipan [and cricketer, which is neither here nor there] John Hung, another voting member of the HKJC and facing one charge of soliciting an advantage and three charges of accepting an advantage of HK$450,000 from a middle man.
To us, much of this reeks of the days of the much-loathed SIU and its relentless pursuit of homosexuals in Hong Kong.
Perhaps to move the battering it has been receiving in recent times for going after windmills and small fish when piranhas are at play, and with many of their cases and charges not going their way, they are flexing their muscle to show that they are needed and not toothless.
Sure, all publicity is good publicity, but it can also be much ado about nothing.
Now, if these ICAC chappies really wanted to be seen as the bastions of the law and upholding the integrity of Hong Kong racing, perhaps their time would be better spent looking into where all these successful last-minute plunges are coming from.
If trainers throw their hands up in the air and say it wasn’t stable money, then, surely, there’s some instability going on.
GABBY, WE’VE MISSED YOU, MATE!
While all of the above was going on in Hong Kong, in a small town in Spain, our old mate and Accountant extraordinaire “Gabby” Azedo, one of the nicest, most soft-spoken and honourable gentlemen we know who just happened to skip town with over HK$91m- money that was not his, was, well, being arrested. He had managed to keep a low profile for over six months.
Well-known in the Portuguese community and a close friend of one of Hong Kong’s well-known racing families, “Gabby” kept his mouth shut and played the horses without any fanfare.
In fact, everything he did was low-key. Like quietly leaving Hong Kong with that HK$91m, six milion of which belonged to his long-time mate, horse owner Archie Da Silva and wife, Betty.
Will anyone see any of this money ever again? We doubt it. “Gabby” is said to have had a wild time in Brazil- especially in Rio. Plus extraditing him from Spain to Hong Kong could take years.
Right now, “Gabby” is probably reading this while having a siesta and thinking, “What do I do with the remaining eighty million bucks?”
THE MOORE, PREBBLE, IRIAN AND BEADMAN COLLECTION
When the John Moore-trained Irian, ridden by Brett Prebble, won the newly named Cathay Pacific Jockey Club Cup at Shatin over the weekend, we huddled together and went through all the goss that had been forwarded our way and our own line of thinking.
With Darren Beadman aboard the hot pot Collection, Irian was “in the money” at around 5s. All the pre-race hype had been about Collection and with John Moore giving a cursory mention to Irian as having a “very good chance” and which is like asking a trainer if he fancied anything and him answering, “Yes, all”.
After the win, Moore was quoted as having told the press, the horse’s work had been “outstanding”. “Outstanding”, John? Hmmm, really?
Irian, once being kept “complete” for a stud future by its owner, the obscenely rich Siu Pak-kwan- a German-bred horse standing in stud in Australia????- and then, saw the light and agreed to have it gelded as it kept not running “to form”. Mr. Siu also owns the David Hall-trained Algarve which Prebble has ridden and won on and no doubt had much to do with the jock getting the ride.
As for Collection, it was revealed after the race that the horse had blood in the trachea- again- and- again- after flopping in a big race. Has the horse had it? Was it the rock-hard track which seems to be “befalling” so many in recent races? Was it the pace set by the other Moore runner Mighty High?
The talk now is that many of the syndicate owners behind Collection are not of a collective mindset involving the future of the horse. Some of the more vocal members are using the old “fung shui” warhorse and saying that Collection needs a “new environment”- meaning a stable change.
Let’s not forget this is what happened to their horse Carthage and which is running like a pig for Derek Cruz.
What might John Moore be thinking? Who’s to know how the Moores think- it’s a generational and DNA ‘thing’- but if we were to hazard a guess, he could be saying, “Thank gawd for Irian coming through and winning the way it did. If that mob want to move Collection, here are the keys”.
And who will ride Irian in the future? If Collection stays with Moore, we assume it will be Brett Prebble. If Collection were to leave the stable, well, then things are open to discussion. But with Prebble and Beadman being mates, they’ll sort something out so that no one loses out on anything.
MATTHEW CHADWICK, TAKE OFF THE BLINKERS, MATE!
Should Matthew Chadwick be going all out to find rides outside of the Tony Cruz yard? We say, Yes. Loyalty is one thing. Blind loyalty is another.Why say this?
We reckon, “Putha Man” aka”Johnny Bravo” will, more and more, be calling on the services of Derek Leung- suddenly going through a lean patch and not getting on some good ones- and Alex Lai whose win aboard Ultra Fantasy in Japan has turned him into a confident and extremely good young jockey.
Matthew Chadwick certainly has the talent, but after his whiz-bang start to his riding career in Hong Kong, he gives the impression that he is happy to just schlep around.
That hunger to win which we saw last weekend from Apprentice Vincent Ho, who has been slapped down by the Stewards and had been riding placings before his brilliant treble on Sunday, well, that seems to be missing.
We could be wrong, but it’s time for young Chadwick to grow up and move away from the long shadow of being known forever as “Apprentice to Tony Cruz”. Those days are over.
“Well, what a change in form!” exclaimed a somewhat startled and shell-shocked Darren “Dazza” Flindell, the HKJC’s racing commentator for the evening after Healthy Manner led from Goa to Whoa- and that other place called Woe- to many punters- as it was crunched from 38 to 13s in another of Hong Kong’s now familiar betting plunges made so frequently and with such pinpoint accuracy.
The comment was an understatement considering the horse had never won before and, as emphasized- this time by the Trackside team’s Brett Davis- was “beaten 11-and-a-half-lengths at its last start.”
Perhaps to quickly change the subject and save her colleagues from sinking into political quicksand, Jenny Chapman sprang to their rescue and flicked off the “form reversal” with a polite, “I guess they were waiting to step it up in distance”- another understatement.
This was greeted by a few seconds of radio silence and which probably occurred when Jenny started to whack “Dazza” and “Brettisms” over the head with her handbag and tell them to stop biting the hand that feeds them.
Us, we were amused by the explanation for this “healthy change” in form by the horse’s trainer, Danny Shum, who explained to the Stewards that “many jockeys” had told him the horse was “one paced” and, basically, crap. Also, how he, himself, had ridden trackwork on the horse, was “not satisfied” with it and gave it “no chance of winning.”
“Hello, I know nuttin’.” Trainer Danny Shum who is seemingly clueless how his horses will perform.
Well, what we saw was no “one-paced” horse. Aggressively ridden out of the barriers by Darren Beadman, it simply bolted in and won with a leg in the air and by over four lengths.
Since Shum explained the stable had no money on it, someone must have spoken to the horse that night who had said, “Back me, my son, I am going to absolutely s*** it!”
On the subject of “Brettisms”, we had whiplash again when we heard this one blurt out: “We’ll be joining Darren in the third for his tips for race 5”. He must have still been thinking about Healthy Manner’s 11-and-a-half length defeat at its last start and now, over 4 -length win.
THE “KING AND I” STOPS DANCES WITH PLUNGES [FOR A WHILE]
Sometimes, it goes astray and tits up. After the first race at Shatin over the weekend started off with one of those now all-too-familiar Hong Kong last-minute betting plunges from gawd knows where- the stables claim it’s not their money which makes these even more mysterious- getting the chocolates, there was another late-minute plunge in the next race.
This one- for the horse King And I and which was backed from 7s to 3s- came undone, but it was good to see trainer Paul O’Sullivan finally post his first winner of the season in this race, thanks to a “punishing ride” by Zac Purton- his 14th winner of the season- with the use of the whip which would have had him suspended, fined by the Stewards and bitch-slapped by the Animal Rights groups.
As for the plunges, they continued throughout the day- and very successfully. Yes, this is all very good for “turnover” and short-term thinking. But, let it continue and many will take their various balls and go home with them leaving the big boys to play by themselves- and with themselves.
With all this happening, now is possibly the best time in the history of the HKJC to make all the changes it should have made almost twenty years ago and to raise the bar in many areas of how it operates.
The bar has fallen to a new low. It can only get higher.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Who is the wife of the Hong Kong trainer with so many connections with Macau and former Hong Kong trainers, Assistant trainers and jockeys- plus dodgy Macau “owners”- that she is like that song by Police which ends with the refrain, “I’ll be watching you”? Watch this space for more.
RACINGBITCH GUEST TIPSTERS
CHLOE’S HOT TIPS
RACE 2: 9-12-5-2
RACE 3: 11-12-7-3
RACE 4: 1-5-7-3
RACE 5: 7-8-1-12
RACE 7: 6-2-11-5
RACE 8: 8-10-12-7
NAP: RACE 5: 7
NB: RACE 3: 11
MAGIC STALLION’S TIPS
RACE 1: 10-1-7-12
RACE 2: 9-2-3-10
RACE 3: 12-3-2-5
RACE 4: 1-7-6-9
RACE 5: 7-8-12-4
RACE 6: 6-3-11-10
RACE 7: 5-10-2-6
RACE 8: 10-5-12-9
NAP: RACE 5: 7
NB: RACE 6: 6
WHO NEEDS TIPS AND “SYSTEMS”?
Our mate Mr. Karki runs Guru, the best damn Indian Restaurant in the world and located in Elgin Street, Hong Kong and the Soho area of town.
We are regulars whenever we are over and is also a a frequent dining place for many of Hong Kong’s racing crowd. Al’s Diner, this ain’t and ask for the Mushroom Samosas and pan-fried Eggplant as Starters. Mmmm hmmm! Mr. Karki hears all that is discussed, but never has a bet.
Last Sunday, he had his first-ever bet. Ever. In Race 4 at Shatin over the weekend, he saw the name Kharu and it caught his fancy. Firstly, the word “kara” apparently means “spicy” in Japanese.
Then, “Kharu” sounded to him a bit like “curry” and “Karki” plus he was on his way to have a spicy lunch with his family.
So, he wandered down to the local betting shop and placed a thousand dollar bet on the horse and forgot about it. The next day he checked to see how it had done: He had won at over 50 to 1.
To keep with his winning streak, a few days later, there was one helluva commotion near his restaurant. There was security all around. The whole place was tighter than a you-know-what. Someone very famous was visiting one of the nearby art galleries.
Mr. Karki walked past the security people, asked if he could take a picture with the famous person who shooed away his handlers and below is the result…
PARTY ON, HKJC DUDES!
Who on earth at the HKJC picked that AWFUL voice over artist with the BOOMING American accent and the type of “read” typical of radio spots more at home during the early days of radio advertising?
“Racing heroes always like to win!” Have you heard that one?What does it mean? Plus, that spot with the copy that BOOMS out, “Bottoms Up! Party On”? Good grief! Party on???? What next, “Dude, where’s my car?”