JAMES MATHERS WRITES IN ABOUT HIS BEAUTIFUL DREAM FOR CANTERBURY RACECOURSE

I went to bed earlier this week somewhat confused. I was having difficulty understanding the ATC’s decision to spend about $3 million on a synthetic track at Canterbury racecourse, a racecourse where the only horses trained are those in quarantine….only the odd horse, primarily from Japan..

I woke up the next morning and realised that I had a dream, a nice dream. There were lots of familiar faces in the dream, a number of fabulous horses such as my favourite Chautauqua, a number of well-known trainers and jockeys, a number of prominent racing officials and owners, just a number of people. Michelle Payne featured as did my old mate Guy Walter with his chirpy but suspecting smile.

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GOT THE HONG KONG POST RACING SEASON BLUES, MAN?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

It’s Wednesday, but it’s not a Happy Wednesday. It’s a Rainy Wednesday. And, like a Carpenters song, Rainy Wednesdays without races always get me down while I walk around talking to myself and getting old. Sometimes, I like to quit, nothing ever seems to fit, yes, Rainy Wednesdays without races always get me down.

Worse: it’s going to be six long weeks before the new racing season starts again on September 3 at Sha Tin.

We were so happy last Sunday watching Joao, Zac, The Poon Train and others ride winners and then jump for joy to grab a handful of plushies. So many plushies this season with many of us waiting for Poon Train plushy and the banging of gongs to start the 2017/18 horse racing season.

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PETER V’LANDYS AND HORSE RACING’S OWN GAME OF THRONES

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

It’s taken a long and winding whirlybird route to get to where it is now. From being a copy of America’s Pegasus race, and through numerous changes that continue today, Peter V’landys, the Racing NSW supremo, honorary Sherpa, and Sir Edmund Hillary of Australian racing, has made his (?) Everest race a slot machine reality. We must applaud this effort. We’ll also gladly eat humble pie along with our initial cynicism and suspicion about the race. Wait: the cynicism remains.

Though The Everest, where the goalposts are constantly being moved, and, to some. still has more holes attached it than a spin wheel dryer in a Macau-based Chinese laundromat, the race will attempt to scale lofty new heights with the end result- a three year climb- definitely going to be interesting as The Man Who Would Be King continues his Long March to control all of racing in the land down under.

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WHERE ARE HORSE RACING’S DEFIANT ONES?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

Whether we want to or not, social media has not only entered our lives, in some instances, it’s taken them over with seemingly no end in sight. We’re becoming, or have already become slaves to technology without even knowing it.

The music industry, for example, never saw it coming despite file sharing site Napster rearing its head and testing the waters some decades ago. Being part of the industry as a senior executive with one of the four major music companies, to us, Napster was a minor blip in the wall. Napster was nipped in the bud.

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THE VODACOM DURBAN JULY

By Robyn Louw

Starting with Bartie Leisher, Hong Kong has had a long and fruitful association with South African jockeys, trainers and horses. Bartie Leisher was champion jockey in 97/98, Basil Marcus topped the log 7 times between the 1991/92 – 1998/99 seasons, Robbie Fradd won the title in 1999/2000 and then came the 13 year domination of Douglas Whyte. And that’s not even counting the contributions of Felix Coetzee, Anthony Delpech, Weichong Marwing, Kevin Shea, Piere Strydom, Jeff Lloyd, Greg Cheyne, Anton Marcus, Richard Fourie, Bernard Fayd’herbe, the SA-trained Karis Teetan, Gavin Lerena, Chad Schofield and now Callan Murray. SA trainers to have left an impression on your record books include Alec Laird, David Ferraris, Tony Millard, Mike de Kock and Lucky Houdalakis. Our equine visitors may have been a little more sparse, but the few that have made to your shores have done us proud and include London News, Irridescence, J J The Jet Plane and Variety Club.

As such, it was interesting to find out that South Africa’s Vodacom Durban July, dubbed ‘Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event’ does not generate a lot of coverage in Hong Kong. Hans Ebert asked me to try and explain what makes the race so special.

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THE AUSTRALIAN CHINESE JOCKEY CLUB: THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

This might surprise those who talk and write about “gambling mad Asians,” but not all Chinese- and Chinese are Chinese and don’t even consider themselves Asians- get weak in the knees to be part of horse racing.

As has been written here before, Hong Kong Chinese, the Chinese from Mainland China, Singaporean Chinese, Malaysian Chinese, Canadian and American-born Chinese have other priorities and very different and diverse investment portfolios.

Not all are big spending Hong Kong-born horse owners like Albert Hung, the Siu family, Julian Hsu, and a few others who have everything it takes to be part of what is a small and very exclusive racing club for billionaires.

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AND WHAT ABOUT A STYLISH SUNDAY AT SHA TIN?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

The recent bout of booing and “diuuuuing” by the usual group of hardcore local “racing uncles” stupidly aimed at Joao Moreira when the enigmatic Pakistan Star dug his hooves in and decided that Sunday wasn’t the day he wanted to race, was not a good look for the image of racing. These supposed racing fans threw the sport under the bus. It took it back to the Neanderthal age.

This type of boorish behaviour is something we have been seeing a little too often these days- like the baying and haranguing at Douglas Whyte last season when winners for the champion rider were thin on the ground.

Again, the same imbeciles who, not knowing what had happened to Rapper Dragon, decided that the blame for the galloper not finishing his last race lay with Joao Moreira, possibly one of the most caring horsemen we’ve seen and not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.

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Posted in DOUGLAS WHYTE, HAPPY WEDNESDAY, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOAO MOREIRA, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE CHANGING PHASES OF THE HKJC’S HAPPY WEDNESDAY BRAND

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

Courtesy of wwww.fasttrack.hk

When it comes to the ‘live’ entertainment served up every Happy Wednesday, unless actually being at Happy Valley racecourse, and knowing, first hand, the drawing power it has with regulars, and a constantly expanding customer base, no one will understand just how much things have evolved over the last 2-3 years. Attendance last Happy Wednesday, for example: Over 20,000.

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ZAC PURTON: MASTER BLASTER AND THE SEASON AHEAD

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

In cricket, scoring a century- a hundred runs- is also known as making a ton.The word is weighty because scoring a ton requires concentration, discipline, a thick skin to take the now obligatory sledging, especially when stuck in the nervous nineties, and, of course, talent. A ton of talent.

Transfer a cricket pitch to a racecourse, and a batsman for a jockey, and there’s a helluva more pressure needed to reach a ton in one racing season in Hong Kong. There was a time when the Jockeys Premiership here were won by Englishman Philip Robinson, below, with less than sixty winners on the board.

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CASPAR FOWNES AND HIS TOP 20 CHAMPION HORSES OVER THE PAST TWENTY YEARS

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

It’s hard to think that he almost didn’t receive his license to train in Hong Kong.There are vague memories of those days when his father Lawrie went to bat for him along with the racing media before the HKJC made a right U-turn and granted Caspar Fownes his trainer’s license. That was for the 2003/4 season. As if to prove that he deserved it, the first runner he sent out won.

Over the years, Cas has proven over and over again that he’s one of the city’s leading trainers with his association with champion sprinter Lucky Nine and that galloper’s string of Group 1 wins probably being the highlight of his career though the successes he had with The Duke and Green Birdie must rate right up there.

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