THE HKJC RAISES THE BAR AGAIN, THANKS TO TWO INTERNATIONAL MEGASTARS

By Hans Ebert

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Some of the natives were getting restless on Sunday. The usual May Day protests- this time against parallel goods traders- were about to get into full swing until it was aborted at the last minute. These days, organised protests in Hong Kong that, too often, deteriorate into organised chaos is something of an everyday occurrence in a very fractured city waiting for someone or something to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

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What’s always extraordinary to many who live here is that horse racing continues as if in some parallel universe. At Shatin on Sunday, it was about two different kinds of imports- the equine kind where two of the best horses in the world competed on the eleven race card.

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By now, the devastating win of Australia’s Chautauqua to come from the clouds- some watching the race on television didn’t even see the Team Hawkes-trained and Tommy Berry-ridden champion descend on its hapless rivals until it had crossed the line- to take out the Group One Chairman’s Sprint. Berry is at one with the horse as he is with Hong Kong’s Designs On Rome, and his timing- his ability to temper his own excitement and time his run to perfection- must be applauded.

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Posted in GERARD MOSSE, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, JOAO MOREIRA, Tommy Berry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

HAPPY VALLEY AND HORSES FOR COURSES

By Hans Ebert

If anyone needs to understand what makes horse racing at Happy Valley so special, they really should have been at the races last night. Yes, most know and have seen the unique venue where there exists a racecourse in the middle of skyscrapers that’s always been something for the riders and their horses to conquer, but this track brings much more to the sport- almost a magical feeling.

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Whereas longtime Hong Kong Belongers remember the days when Australian jockeys like Peter Miers, Glyn Pretty, Ray Setches, Geoff Lane and others ruled the track along with local Champion jockey Cheng Tai-chee, before him, Kenny Kwok, and a young gun named Tony Cruz was starting to make a name for himself, going racing at Happy Valley is a completely different experience to at least two generations in Hong Kong.

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To the new generation trying to understand a sport that might at times be something they feel has no place for them, or has no upside, Wednesday night- Happy Wednesday- would have made believers of them.

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Posted in HAPPY WEDNESDAY, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOAO MOREIRA, The horse racing industry, Tony Cruz, zac purton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

THE COMMON SENSE ISSUE

By Keyser Soze

OUTBREAK OF COMMON SENSE OVER WHIPS RULES!

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It’s not often when the tail wagging the dog is welcomed, but in this instance, the refreshing and bold admissions coming out of the National Stewards Conference earlier this week that a rethink of the confusing and unworkable whips rules introduced last December is a huge and very positive step in the right direction.

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Racing has always been averse to putting its hand up and admitting it’s cocked up. It has an unhealthy and terrifying fear of failure, which plays out in much of what it does and is one of the major contributing factors to it being left at the starting gates behind every other sport in an environment of dynamic change. Fear of failure is also rampant with so many hires in racing- a reason for daft ideas and petty politics.

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Racing’s ultra conservative approach to everything it does marginalizes and isolates itself as an out of touch sport which is incapable of advocacy and defence, exposing it as hopelessly lacking in self-belief and confidence in what it does and should do and must stand for.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

THE HONG KONG RACING COVERAGE ISSUE

By Hans Ebert

It’s at the Emerald Hotel that many of the Melbourne racing crowd meet, and the joint has a certain, well, lived in atmosphere. It’s rustic- and a little rusty, but no one seems to mind. It’s a meeting place where anything and everything is discussed with nothing really making sense as, most important, is to ensure you don’t fall off the barstool while complete strangers sometimes wander by, stand in front of you and speak in a language known only to those from the planet Blotto.

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It was at the Emerald on Saturday that we found ourselves after a “shunting” session following the races at Randwick and Caulfield. Still wanting to have a bet, apart from the hot trots and greyhound racing, the only thoroughbred races left were from Ascot in Western Australia, where jockey “King” William Pike, below, rules the roost, but the very good, competitive racing is allowed to flounder through rampant politics-and Hong Kong- the last four races in Hong Kong.

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We must admit to shedding a little tear after finally finding the Hong Kong races in a small corner of a bank of television sets blinking away lonely, and with the sound off, which, sometimes, can be a blessing. Some of the race calling these days raise more than eyebrows. It drags Hong Kong racing down a few classes.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOAO MOREIRA, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

THE REVOLTING HEADACHE ISSUE‏

By Keyser Soze

A REVOLTING HEADACHE FOR RACING AUSTRALIA

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The strong and vocal opposition by the breeding sector to proposed moves by Racing Australia to bring them under the control of the rules of racing, similar to all licensed persons, threatens to escalate into another all out brawl, which Australian racing can do without.

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If there was a caste system in racing, then the breeders would regard themselves as “high caste” – elitist and demanding respect and kinda worthy of being almost above the rules of racing. Their compliance with protocols, rules and regulations would never be open to question. They are racing’s very own self-styled law abiding citizens. To bring them under the same rules under which trainers, jockeys, strappers – aka all licensed persons- would be demeaning. Would you dare call the Queen, Betty Windsor?

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So it was somewhat baffling that Racing Australia, whose Chairman, John “the messiah” Messara, is the “emperor” of the elitist Hunter Valley breeders, with the support of Racing NSW, which, unsurprisingly, he also Chairs, is proposing such a groundbreaking change to herd Australian breeders under their expanding tent.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, Racing NSW, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

GARY MOORE: UNDERRATED AND MISUNDERSTOOD

By Hans Ebert

Following him training a treble at Hawkesbury today, we thought we’d publish this piece on Gary Moore again for those who might have missed it the first time around. Well done, Gazza!

Zac Purton calls him “the most underrated Australian jockey ever with an amazing CV”. Zac is right. Too often, his sometimes bizarre antics on racetracks have, sadly, eclipsed his incredible feats and accomplishments in the saddle. At 62, Gary Moore has had more ups and downs than a yo yo in need of exorcism, but he continues to drink from that half-full glass. And there’s no Kool-Aid in it either.

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The son of the Little Maestro- the all-conquering George Moore- “Gazza” was always groomed to be the heir apparent of the Moore dynasty. And for a long time, he looked to be well on his way to being exactly that- a naturally gifted jockey who had to grow up fast, no doubt lost his youth in the process, and quickly became an international success story. In Hong Kong, he won the Jockey Premiership seven times, there was a championship win in France, where he took out the 1981 Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe aboard Gold River as well as winning almost every major race in the country. These are credentials no one can take away from him. Ever.

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All was going according to plan with life in the fast lane being a smooth ride, and a future so bright one needed shades to see it. All this came to a screeching halt on February 20, 1986 when the now well-documented “Shanghai Syndicate” race fixing scandal blew wide open. It was front page news for weeks, and went through a number of very interesting and confusing twists and turns that continued until 1989. In the end, three local jockeys were jailed, with a number of characters playing important cameo roles proving that there’s no honour among thieves and cheats.

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TEN QUESTIONS WITH BRENT “THE BABE” THOMSON

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Following Michael Felgate’s excellent interview today on RSN with our great friend Brent Thomson, we thought we’d publish this post on “The Babe” again for those who might have missed it the first time around. Enjoy!

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The first time I saw, who turned out to be Brent Thomson, was at the Kato Bar at Shatin Racecourse, everyone’s favourite watering hole at the time to meet after the races and celebrate or wallow in the miseries of losing. What made me do a double take was actually the stunning and statuesque blonde on his arm before checking out her companion- a short, handsome gentleman wearing a long scarf and an even longer overcoat. “Isn’t he bloody hot in all that gear?” I thought to myself before asking someone whether that was Darren Gauci or Alan Munro. It was the early Nineties and my embryonic days as a racing hobbyist, and was yet to know who was who and just what a Who’s Who of Racing Brent Thomson aka “The Babe” aka “BT” aka “The Wanganui Wiz Kid” was. Of course, this was not to be the last time, I’d see “Uncle” Brent with a stunner on his arm and dressed like Al Capone.

At that time, BT was riding for the most powerful stable in Hong Kong- that of Brian Kan Ping-chee, a character as colourful as he was controversial, and who struck fear in the hearts of jockeys, owners and racing administrators.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

CO-MINGLING: WHAT’S IN A WORD?

By Hans Ebert

Gawd knows, it’s been written about enough- sometimes as “commingling”, other times as “co-mingling”- but, other than the really hardcore punter, or Ye Olde School mainstream racing writer, what does this actually mean? Has this strange word, galloped off into more Racing Speak without all the homework and groundwork been done so that it doesn’t become another very niche, or else, confusing product that will never reach its true potential? Or will it have to make a strategic U-turn, start again, and educate that big old racing world out there what co-mingling/commingling is all about? The racing media can devote huge numbers of column inches on the subject, but inches rarely penetrate some fundamental problems about how this is all meant to work.

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Let’s cut to the chase. Co-mingling is a confusing and difficult to understand concept to the average punter. It has its place in corporate speak and in the board rooms of racing governing bodies where such concepts are digested as easily as porridge. The average punter doesn’t give a toss about how pools are mingled, co-mingled, expanded, joined together, bet into between racing nations. Confusing, isn’t it? Get the picture?

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This is where the KISS principle needs to be applied. Keeping it bloody simple, stupid and uncomplicated to the average punter. Develop a saturation awareness campaign on the many strengths of Hong Kong racing and the wagering products available to Australian punters to bet into domestically, and support it with two non-negotiables – extensive quality information and Vision. The information age has focussed more than ever on the availability and ready access at providing these non-negotiables at no cost to the customer (Punter). For vision, certainty of access through delivery free of charge on ONE channel rather than the existing and deplorable guessing game facing punters as to which of the three Sky Channels show different races on the ten or eleven race card on a weekend.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, brett prebble, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, Racing NSW, The horse racing industry, zac purton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

KEI CHIONG AND HER SUPER SHATIN SUNDAY: AND NOW WHAT?

By Hans Ebert

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The Amber Alert storm warning might have been a giveaway. Maybe it was the heavens opening up, and some even wondering if the race meeting would go on. But the show went on with the star being Kei Chiong, the first female in fifteen years to be licensed to ride in Hong Kong.

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Where does one start and end about what this ten-pound claiming apprentice, still very much a work in progress, accomplished at Shatin on Sunday without going overboard, and giving the young girl unnecessary pressure? How does one temper the fact that Kei Chiong rode four winners, and came so close to riding a quintet of winners?

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Posted in HAPPY WEDNESDAY, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOAO MOREIRA, The horse racing industry, Tony Cruz, zac purton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE AUSTRALIAN TURF CLUB FROM ROB RIGG

writing letter

Dear Racing Bitch

Just my thoughts on the ATC.

With the Championships done for another year let me firstly congratulate all those involved in putting this wonderful event together with particular mention to the equine athletes, the jockeys and trainers who displayed courage, professionalism and good grace to make it a huge success.

With that deserving congratulation out of the way now let me address the dead hand of the ATC Committee and officials who have ensured that racing is now a television only event as evidenced by the poor crowds attending such a great carnival. The racetracks under the ATC, and in particular Randwick, have lost all “atmosphere” and that feeling of crowd participation which has always been integral to a day at the races. Gone is the excitement of the crowd cheering the horses down the straight, the roar of the crowd as the favourite wins in a tight finish and even those scholarly opinions about a losing favourite’s rider. Gone also is the feeling of expectation as horses come into the parade ring and punters watch their trainers and jockeys consult on tactics, the enjoyment of mingling in the betting ring and the laissez faire attitude of the crowd who have learnt that racing is the great leveller, that all are equal on the track.

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