Most in Hong Kong see the glass as half-empty.
Perhaps there is a reason for this as no one really trusts the local Government and its blow-hards and , in fact, see it as part of “Yes, Minister” or “Yes, Beijing” and a team made up of fumbling, bumbling nincompoops from Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks.
So, with this complete dis-trust for the Government, Hong Kong can be quite a suspicious and pessimistic place.
As for Singapore, well, it has shed it’s nickname of “Swingabore” and is now well-and-truly Tra-La-La Land.
It has a far more invigorating Club scene, it has, yes, “robotic” people but they are trying to break out of their “Stepford Wives” mode, and Singapore, as a business city and with emphasis on creativity and technology, is constantly opening its doors to foreign companies and foreign investment- and which is why it is the regional hub for the International media: CNN, CNBC, MTV, Hallmark, FOX etc, they are all in Singapore and with fat cat expats enjoying the perks that Singapore offers.
Hong Kong, on the other hand, has bureaucratic fossils like CreateHK, InvestHK and other “HK” organisations which have no bite and do nothing except lie there- dormant, catatonic and useless.
So while Singapore Pride is everywhere- and Prime Minister Lee Kwan-yew did a magnificent job to make this happen- Hong Kong remains pissed off- all the time and staring at that half-empty glass of water.
Everywhere one goes in Hong Kong, it’s bitch, bitch, bitch. People are angry and fed up and they don’t even know why. Singaporeans are happy being in Tra-La-La land. And over the weekend when “their” Rocket Man slayed the opposition- especially, the tired old Hong Kong horses- the Kranji Roar went up.
Always under the shadow of Hong Kong when it came to music, fashion, the night scene, shopping, creativity, women etc, Singapore has been happy to knock some of its neighbours lights off.
Hong Kong might CLAIM to be “Asia’s World City”,but Singapore IS Asia’s World City because Singapore “plays” as a TEAM and with the city- and its government officials- knowing full-well that this team is only as strong as its weakest link.
So why there is a lack of Hong Kong pride? There is not much to BE proud of.
Having said this, in race-mad Hong Kong, the city has an USP- horse racing in Shatin and Happy Valley- and which one wonders if the Government even realizes and sees beyond “turnover” and “taxes”.
This is where the HKJC can do much to show up the short-comings of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the Hong Kong Government officials, and all those mealy-mouthed legislative counsellors mouthing off about something new and old everyday.
By making the upcoming Cathay Pacific International Races everything the REAL Hong Kong is and can be: Exciting, colourful, truly Cosmopolitan and “The Greatest Show On Turf” and a Cathay Pacific High Flying International Racing Carnival.
This is the time for a real partnership between Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s airline, and the HKJC, Hong Kong’s premier charity and community benefactor, and not looked at as some one-off event that’s here today and gone tomorrow.It needs to be re-looked and reviewed with new eyes. And re-invented.
This event- this carnival- needs to be promoted for at least two months and be a win-win situation for all and with both sides contributing to the end result and ensuring that the entertainment featured, the community-minded activities – on and off the track- will bring about a real ROI for both sides and which can be enhanced and expanded in the years to come. No short-term fixes.
It also cannot be a master and Kunta Kinte relationship ‘cos we all know what a kunta HE turned out to be.
Yes, it’s revenue, revenue, revenue, but this must be “blended” with location, location, location and events, events, events.
As we have said, an event billed as “The Greatest Show On Turf” and one which racing enthusiasts from around the world- and those who might be on the “periphery”- believe they MUST attend- and are happy and prepared to PAY very well for this.
IF, the International Races include a clash between Rocket Man and Black Caviar, this is a bonus and must be billed as being BIGGER than The Thrilla In Manila.
It cannot be passive, airy-fairy, tired and tried marketing and promotions from equally tired minds stuck in the Eighties and produced by the children of Methuselah.
It must all be a great SHOW- and SHOWPIECE- for Hong Kong and its visitors. It must be all about Change and a New Start.
It MUST be “celebrated” and promoted in every bar, club and restaurant in Wyndham Street, Soho, all the new areas where the 18-34 age group gather and also ensure that the rest of the world knows about how the team of the HKJC and Cathay Pacific is LEADING this event- and why they MUST attend it.
This cannot be done through boring advertising about passengers being tucked in by “Doris” or “Karia Pigeon”. The airline’s ad agency needs to wake up from its comatose, get their fingers out and create a buzz.
“Doris aka Karia Pigeon”
Cathay Pacific and the HKJC- as partners- must roll out the red carpet and position this as the greatest INTERNATIONAL racing event in the world and which needs more than goofy mascots, Chinese acrobatic teams, and men in stilts.
It needs bona fide INTERNATIONAL celebrities to make the event, well, International.
Sure, there must be some local celebs- but their budgets for “personal appearances” are now becoming ridiculously over-priced. Plus, as they have been doing these so often, no one, especially the local media, gives a damn and it doesn’t even warrant a picture on Page 5 of a newspaper.
Look towards International artists who have strong fan bases in Hong Kong and from all the other locations- artists like Kylie. Or Katie Perry. Or a power couple like the Beckhams. Or, hell, even if he has clubbed and putted one too many, Tiger Woods.
Cathay Pacific has its outlets to make this event known as does the HKJC- and both must work with new business and media partners and dangle all the right carrots in front of them. ATV Home and Cable TV are not enough. They are an embarrassment to the words “media channels”.
Now is not the time to rest on laurels ‘cos laurels have pricks and talk about what has been done in the past when last year is already the past in this now-right-here-today-world.
Sponsors are asking for more and more “added value” and this “added value” cannot come in the form of promotional videos and “games” more suited to gormless variety shows on the city’s equally tired and gormless television stations and cheap “gimmicks.”
It’s all about ROIs and “What’s in it for ME? We know what’s in it for you”- and there must be the right answers and improving and upgrading the existing product to First Class, all the way, baby.
It requires providing THE best the world can offer and an abundance of creativity. Even those who reside there know that this cannot be found at 1 Sports Road. It must be as creative as this incredible video by Beyonce.
This “Greatest Show On Turf” must also be supported by the Government and all those bureaucratic organisations it has created and show the people of Hong Kong that their existence is money well spent.
As in Singapore, Team Hong Kong must come into play. And it shall.
“THE CAT IN A HAT”, ROCKET MAN AND BOB DYLAN.
“This one’s for you, Bob”.
Some of us were in Singapore over the weekend just to watch Felix “The Cat” Coetzee simply ride. Many of us were there to watch Coetzee ride the Patrick Shaw-trained Rocket Man, the pride of Singapore, in the KrisFlyer International Sprint.
Felix Coetzee is a HUGE drawcard. If we were film producers, we would buy the Rights to his life story and make a movie of it- a jockey who has now partnered two of the world’s best sprinters in Silent Witness and now, Rocket Man.
This is someone who never wanted to be a jockey, who learned so much a few years ago when he spent time with “The Horse Whisperer”- Monte Roberts- and text us to say his win in Singapore was “inspired by Bob”, a reference to another of his idols- Bob Dylan.
“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Bob!”
When people around us said in awe, “He’s still got it” after “The Cat” had pushed-pushed and used that well-known upper-body strength to get Flying Fulton to overhaul Jose Verenvuela- a fine jockey- on U Got It and take his mount over the line and win that race, we could not help replying, “Oy, when did he ever LOSE it?”
Felix Coetzee is a genius of a jockey and with the presence of Rocket Man, Singapore Airlines International Cup Day at the magnificent Kranji racecourse meant something approaching Singapore National Pride Day.
It’s amazing the buzz that happens when the host country has a horse that is truly world class.
Sure, there are the Singapore Turf Club’s brilliant facilities, there are the hard-working teams behind the barriers, there were the gorgeous SIA stewardesses, there were the International competitors- jockeys such as Gerard Mosse, Glen Boss, now riding in Singapore, Brett Prebble, Darren Beadman, Glyn Schofield, trainers like Tony Cruz, John Moore, Herman Brown etc.
But there is nothing quite like the host country having a champion horse- and seeing a champion horse win. And win it did – by almost five lengths- and deserved more than part of the S$1m prize money for the race which we are sure will now be raised.
Nothing to Crabbia about, baby!
Where was Hong Kong’s Sacred Kingdom and Green Birdie, both of who had previously beaten Rocket Man? With Singapore horses filling the first FIVE placings, who knew? They were there, but not really.
They are now part of their own glorious past and deserve to be retired so they can enjoy the rest of their lives in a wonderful retirement home.
As for the 5-year-old Rocket Man, it has now won races in Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore, PROVEN it can travel and win, and as Patrick Shaw would say, as owner Fred Crabbia would say, and as Felix Coetzee would say, “Bring on Black Caviar!”
And what a modest and GIVING speech by Felix Coetzee and his incredible respect for the TEAM behind Rocket Man, especially, fellow jockey Barend Vorster who has helped and done so much work on the horse.
There are no flies on Felix Coetzee. He is a champion bloke and one of THE best jockeys in the world.
He is to us, THE best and watching the upside-down-and-sideways ride of Matthew Chadwick on California Memory in the Singapore Airlines International Cup, we could not help wondering if the young jockey has learned anything from riding alongside “The Cat”. Plus, never send a boy to do a man’s job.
That big race was won by Coetzee’s good mate and fellow countryman Glyn Schofield on the Herman Brown-trained Gitano Hernando and now-owned by Ramzan Kadyrov, the,er, President of Chechnya.
Gitano Hernando (Glyn Schofield) becomes the 11th winner of the SIA Cup.
As the “Kranji Roar” went up when Rocket Man crossed the winning line and came back to weigh-in, we saw the difference between having REAL fans of a horse and paying dullards to PRETEND to be racing fans.
Phoniness shows and there was something about Singapore Airlines International Cup Day that was very real.
MOST “RULES” BELONG HERE
Wednesday was talented apprentice jockey Vincent CY Ho 21st birthday and he rode a double at Happy Valley to give himself a nice little pressie.
Sadly, one of his younger fans- the daughter of an owner- and, no doubt, a future horse owner herself- and for whom Vinnie rides- was hoping to give the young jockey a birthday balloon and a birthday cake.
Even more sadly, over-zealous security people demanded to know her Membership Number, full-name etc etc.
She got so fed up, she upped and left and handed the pressies for someone to give the jockey and returned to the Owners box- mighty pissed off- as was her old man.
These are times when common sense must prevail and where “rules” need to be changed and those who cling on to them like some security blanket either made to change or leave and return to the Eighties.
It’s like not being allowed in if wearing blue jeans and yet be allowed in if wearing black jeans.
Again, we print this photo of J-Lo- in blue jeans.
Is she REALLY going to be stopped for wearing BLUE JEANS and told she cannot enter the precious Members Area???? Would the Beckhams???? Lady Gaga? Steven Tyler?
So, where does ONE set of rules for some stop, and another set of rules for others start?
Stupid and archaic stuff that turns OFF these new racegoers the industry is trying to attract must change.
If not, this group of racegoers- and future horse owners- will never return knowing they have to deal with freaking robots and mindless people who only know how to “go by the book”.
Throw that book AT them and tell them to GET WITH THE PROGRAMME.
SOME BLACK CAVIAR, SIR, OR A ROCKET UP YOUR ARSE?
“But what did he beat?” That was the question some were asking after Rocket Man’s demolition of its rivals over the weekend in Singapore.
Sure, it beat home some horses who are way past it and five horses from Singapore that are not in the same league. But, one can only beat what one has been given to be beat.
The great Silent Witness also “didn’t beat much” in Hong Kong and was never considered a truly “International star” until it went to Japan and destroyed the opposition it took on over there. And yet again, the naysayers asked, “But what did it beat?”
It isn’t what either Silent Witness or Rocket Man have beaten: It is the WAY both horses have won their races- and not just on home territory.
Yes, Rocket Man has been downed by JJ The Jet Plane, Sacred Kingdom and Green Birdie. And looking at the last two horses mentioned today, this might look like “ordinary form”. But, these losses were when both horses were at their prime and Rocket Man was still “a Rocket Boy”.
Apart from Hay List, has Black Caviar beaten “much”? Has the UK’s Frankel? And this is where taking on the best THE WORLD has to offer- and on neutral territory- is what matters.
If not, it will be like the Pakistani cricket team “winning at home.” It won’t matter and no one other than the home side will believe it.
So what’s next for Rocket Man and will there be a clash with Black Caviar? And when and where?
“He’s the best horse in the world. I’m not just saying it because it’s Rocket Man, I mean it,” said Rocket Man’s trainer Patrick Shaw after his horse’s win at Kranji. “He’ll beat her. I’ve always thought he was clearly the better horse.” Idle boast? Maybe, perhaps not. No one knows anything for sure. Not even us.
Patrick Shaw reveals his secret training methods.
Victoria Racing Club officials were in Singapore for Rocket Man’s big win and made giant, manly tracks to Shaw like bees to honey after the race to cajole him to bring his charge to Melbourne for the Group 1 $1 million Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 5.
More on this below as it has taken on a saga and horse opera all its own.
As the winner of an international leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, Rocket Man is eligible for a $600,000 bonus if he can win this race and Shaw is said to be “keen” to travel to Melbourne as soon as possible to inspect the Werribee quarantine and training facilities where Rocket Man will be stabled IF he does go Down Under for the spring carnival.
But- and it is a VERY big But-and a bigger If- as it is also known that Shaw has reservations about Oz’s quarantine laws and has also given his word that the horse WILL race in Hong Kong in the International Sprint in December. And the odds are that Black Caviar will also be there- in Hong Kong.
Before Australian and Hong Kong plans are finalised, however, Rocket Man is scheduled to go to England to run in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting on June 18 and where Peter Moody will get a good line on Rocket Man’s ability after confirming that his top three-year-old Hinchinbrook is a definite starter at Royal Ascot.
Hinchinbrook confirmed a trip to England with an easy barrier trial win at Cranbourne last week and is due to fly out on June 1 accompanied by the Danny O’Brien-trained Star Witness.
So, Black Caviar or Rocket Man?
Glen Boss has his ideas who will win: Black Caviar- in a canter- and also Hay List. Glyn Scholfield also reckons “even” Hay List can beat Rocket Man. Patrick Shaw has his opinions and we have ours.
Time will have a say in all of this. And so will the jockeys riding the horses: Luke Nolan and Felix Coetzee.
In the throes of getting their knickers in a twist, people keep forgetting this very important factor- the two jockeys involved- along with “little” things like track conditions, barrier draws etc.
CAVIAR CREATES DON KING-TYPE HEARTBURN
We LOVE it! Horse racing has needed a dose of Don King-type of hype when he was in his prime and the pre-emptive strike by the VRC to entice connections of world champion Black Caviar to compete in the Patinack Farm Classic during their Spring Racing Carnival has precipitated a potential war of words between the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the VRC.
The Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing Bill Nader has fired the first shot declaring the VRC move to ramp up prize money for the Patinack Classic to $1million and add a $600,000 bonus if the race was won by a winner of a leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, could potentially rob Hong Kong’s International Sprint at December’s International race day at Shatin of a dream clash between Black Caviar and Singapore flying machine Rocket Man.
“Mr Bill” rehearses for a Mouth Off with the VRC.
That clash could now take place in the Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington on Final day and could well send turnstiles clicking over the 100,000 mark. It would be a clash that has many in the racing world salivating. It would also validate the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival as a truly five star International racing event.
At the same time, IF this happens, it would take some gloss off the Hong Kong International Sprint as one of the great international sprint races in the 2011 calendar year.
We can understand “Mr.Bill’s” response. No one likes to be ambushed or gazumped by a competitor. But was his response over-the-top and almost Rambo-esque?
Well, he IS American and we quite liked it as it was uncharacteristic of “Mr Bill” and good to see him whack his nuts on the table and say what was on his mind.
“The Victorian Club was frustrated and desperate to make an impression”, “Mr. Bill” was quoted as saying in the South China Morning Post. And then he took aim at the VRC for linking the increased prize money to include a bonus conditional on the Patinack Farm Classic winning a leg of the Global Sprint Challenge which Hong Kong is a partner in.
“Being the anchor leg, and a responsible partner in the Global Sprint Challenge, offering a bonus to lure GSC winners or targeted horses is not, in our view, in the spirit of the arrangement”, he continued.
Perhaps not so, but as a partner of the Global Sprint Challenge, would not the VRC have informed their fellow partners of their intention to offer the bonus? Some say it did. In March. And if they did what was the response of the other partners and indeed the Hong Kong Jockey Club?
Or did the VRC casually and craftily skip this and decide to “wing it” and lay one below-the-belt when no one was watching?
Who knows and who, other than those involved in all this tit-for-tat, really care?
We think this is all great stuff for horse racing as it forces all sides to better themselves and come out fighting.
All we know is that partners of the Global Sprint Challenge meet during the year to discuss and fine-tune matters relating to the series.
It would and SHOULD and MUST be the appropriate forum where such matters should be flagged, discussed and resolved. And if such protocols are not in the structure of the Global Sprint Challenge, then clearly the structure is flawed.
If the Global Sprint Challenge is to avoid degenerating into a slanging match and a contest where obscene prize money is thrown up for grabs irrespective of the quality of the competition, then it must operate to a much more formal structure where all partners are treated as equals and decisions made and taken collectively for the betterment of both the series and global racing.
The possible outcome of the “dream race” being staged during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and not at Shatin in December, has unquestionably, not made “Mr Bill” a happy camper.
True, the spirit of global racing must be observed. But it appears that in this instance, there was nothing in place to make sure this spirit was either spelt out or even raised in the appropriate forums.
So, rather than playing the jilted partner- or maybe even being smarter than the average bear, Boo Boo, and taking the piss outta everyone and “doing a Don King”- perhaps the constructive path to take is “move on” and fix up anomalies in the Global Sprint Challenge that have allowed Hong Kong’s International Sprint to be possibly upstaged by the VRC Spring Racing Carnival.
Key word: Possibly- but we LOVE all this drama and bitching. It has been the most exciting thing to happen to horse racing for decades and makes the sport almost seem SEXY and with Executives finally growing some BIG balls and having a few hissy fits in the process.
Love it. It’s good for business, but now needs to be moved from hardcore racing people fighting their own battles to making all those people who wouldn’t know Rocket Man from Elton John and Black Caviar from Dover Sole understand what all the fuss is about.
DOES RACING POST PUT ROCKET MAN’S WIN IN PERSPECTIVE?
There would be very few racing fans that would have begrudged the outstanding win last Sunday of champion Singapore sprinter Rocket Man in the Krisflyer Sprint at Kranji.
Rocket Man is world class as he has demonstrated with his wins at the Dubai World Cup meeting and now Singapore, and, of course, his very narrow second in the International Sprint at Shatin last December.
We also understand the post-race euphoria of trainer Patrick Shaw and owner Fred Crabbia. They are entitled to enjoy and celebrate the win and indulge in having a world class sprinter in their stable.
Racing is about winners and losers – the joys and highs of victory and the pain and loneliness of defeat.
But, unless, he, too was “doing a Don King” or a “doing a Cassius Clay”, is it right for Patrick Shaw to claim that Rocket Man is the world’s best sprinter – which would make him better than Black Caviar?
Patrick, like us, is entitled to his opinion and view on a subject that is steadily building up to becoming a hot topic – a barbeque stopper as some would say.
However, perhaps to shed some cold hard logic into the debate, respected UK racing media outlet Racing Post, which produces its authoritative world class ratings, had this to say about Rocket Man’s win and Patrick Shaw’s post-race claims.
According to Racing Post’s world class ratings analyst Sam Walker “Rocket Man didn’t come close to Black Caviar on the ratings – and he didn’t even produce the performance of the week”.
Walker continued “by no measure is Rocket Man the champion of the world, and his defeat of a bunch of Singapore Group 3 horses did nothing to bring him any closer to the brilliant Australian mare who still leads the world on world class ratings”.
Walker’s summation of the relative standing of both horses puts the whole debate into perspective.
“Entitled though his connections are to be proud and excited of their star, they are shooting at the moon when they talk him up as better than Black Caviar.
Rocket man may be the next Sacred Kingdom or Absolute Champion, which is a massive accolade, but Black Caviar is not the next anything. Like Silent Witness before the bubble burst and with 18 consecutive wins to its credit, she is unique.
She hits killer, relentless sectionals, has the ability and consistency to drum out hugely impressive wins a couple of weeks apart and has never been beaten.
She is the highest rated mare in Racing Post ratings history and has produced a record equaling five 130+ runs in her career, a level which Rocket Man is yet to hit. Rocket Man ranks with the best sprinters in the world, but is behind what may prove to be an all time legend”.
Just a thought, but, perhaps, everyone needs to first take a chill pill, then some baby steps before trying to go for the jugular and getting their knickers in a twist over nothing much when no one rally knows anything for sure and when we are all still talking about probabilities?
We love all the jingoism and patriotism, however. It’s all good for racing and this same “talk” must now- as mentioned above- be picked up by those OUTSIDE of the racing world for it to REALLY matter and “go Don King viral”.
MORE SUCCESS FOR IMPORTED STAYERS
Last Saturday’s Flemington success by December Draw has again highlighted both the success and financial practicality of buying European stayers at the right prices to race in Australia.
Within a hour or so out from December Draw’s success came the narrow defeat of My Kingdom Of Fife and Glass Harmonium in the group One Doomben Cup in Queensland, further spotlighting the success and superior staying ability of the European breds in the Australian distance races.
All three horses were bought relatively cheaply in England and their performances in the UK in black type races were more than satisfactory by Australian standards. They were able to be purchased for their very affordable prices for one important reason: Europe is still the home of staying bred thoroughbreds and good stayers literally grow on tress. They are not a rarity as they are in Australia.
Well-priced and well-performed European stayers are not new to Australian racing. In recent years we have seen Australian owners and trainers increasingly purchasing such horses and racing them successfully in Australia. Melbourne Cup runner up Bauer and last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Americain are two recent shining examples.
Chris Waller now makes an annual buying trip to the UK on the back of several successful staying bred purchases in recent years.
Prominent successful owners Richard Pegum, the Werretts of Black Caviar fame, former international cricketer Simon O’Donnell and his partners, have all invested successfully in staying bred European horses.
However not all buying raids have been successful. Prominent leviathan owner Lloyd Williams has invested a small fortune buying bluebloods from the UK primarily, with hardly the degree of success that he would have either expected or demanded.
Perhaps it is the type of horses that he has been going after- well bred horses who have competed in the elite races owned and trained by high profile owners and trainers.
Many of these horses have either failed to acclimatize or have been just plain slow. Lloyd Williams is not alone.
Some of the expensive horses purchased out of Coolmore by others such as David Hayes have also failed to perform to either the expected standards or purchase prices.
We have also seen the ridiculous prices paid by Hong Kong owners and trainers for staying horses who have competed in the classics in Europe, only to see them languish in Class twos and threes and even fours, before they either break down or are retired.
It is even more paradoxical when one considers the glaring imbalance in the number of staying races in Hong Kong.
HONG KONG’S NEW HK$44M MAN NOW “SINGHS” FOR HIS SUPPER
Last week, ALL of Hong Kong was swept up in the local lotto known as the Mark Six. And with HK$100m up for grabs, Mark Six Fever grabbed the city by the nuts. Horse races? The Triple Trio? The Six Up? Peanuts compared to the HK$100 MILLION jackpot to be had.
In China, fraudulent “official HKJC websites” sprang up overnight and where gullible punters “bet online” on their lucky numbers.
Being the extremely superstitious place that it is, it was discovered that one HKJC betting shop in Central had provided the most number of Mark Six winners. And the lines outside this outlet stretched for miles as hopeful winners went in there and bought, not one or two tickets, but thousands of Mark Six tickets.
There were three winners in all, but with only one being so deliriously happy about his win that he told the media and, probably, now has a host of new “mates” and “relatives” in the process.
The next day when 32-year-old Hong Kong-born Indian, Jagpal Singh, a delivery driver, who had never bought a Mark Six ticket before, went to the offices of the HKJC to get his cheque, he was besieged by Lights! Camera! Action! The other two winners took a more softly-softly approach and remain anonymous.
Jagpal doesn’t plan to give up his HK$9,000 a month job, he has deposited a tidy sum into the back account of his Indonesian girlfriend and has promised to marry her, buy an apartment and give much of the money to charity.
Well, that’s the story so far other than the fact that Jagpal Singh has now hired a bodyguard.
As always, time will tell and stories never happen they should or are dreamed about.
THE “DUH” BITCHBACK OF THE WEEK
Bill R writes: We are not hardcore gamblers and horse racing hounds but decided to watch how Rocket Man would do in Singapore over the weekend. After watching some of the minor races we got ready for the highlight race. However, ATV cut to the news.
By the time, “normal service was resumed”, we had received calls from friends in Singapore about the result and so watched a rerun of the race.
What is the point of showing these races on ATV if they are NOT shown ‘LIVE’??????
We do not have Cable television as like I said, we are not horse racing nor football fanatics but if a television station is going to be advertised as carrying a race like the KrisFlyer Sprint, then do not cheat viewers and waste their time by showing replays.
We could have gone out for dinner and simply recorded the race. Stupid is as Stupid does.
THE ZAC ATTACK GETS EXTRA BITE
Many in Oz have been waiting for years for Zac Purton to “grow up”. It’s finally happened- in Hong Kong- and which have seen a few jockeys succeed and many more fail or else leave ‘cos of lack of support.
The great Glen Boss- and if you don’t believe he is great, just ask him- had a dismal season when last in Hongkers.
Michael Rodd did the best he could with the scraps thrown his way- and getting over a fall.
Danny Nikolic’s greatest moment in Hong Kong was winning- first-up- on Sacred Kingdom at 11 to 1. And then he unfairly lost the ride and returned home and where, say many, he has seemingly lost the plot.
“Awww, fuck, now what?”
James Winks struggled for rides and with only Caspar Fownes giving him some “able” support. Dwayne Dunn did well, Corey Brown did okay until he was found to have a “nasal discharge” and Chris Munce ended up in the clink.
Most Ridiculous Photo we could find of the Monkey Man
The history of Aussie jockeys in Hong Kong is a chequered one and which can be traced back to the Sixties and Seventies and the days of Peter “The Party Planner” Miers.
Legend and folklore has it that Miers would watch trackwork from the stands of Happy Valley while sipping a cuppa and decide who should ride what and with local punters sure that the Aussies rode in “packs” and as a “team”. Duh.
“Ma Pee-tah”, ranted the late Hong Kong horse racing television personality Tung Biu, was “controlling” other Aussie jocks riding in Hong Kong at the time- Leon Fox, Bill Burnett, even the great Geoff Lane, Glyn Pretty and a young apprentice named Tony Cruz. Tony Cruz wasn’t an Aussie.
Miers and Tung-biu had many run-ins- on the track, in court, on television…it was great theatre.
After “The Miers Years” and which were linked to Miers and the Bob Burns stable, Aussie jocks came and went- Brossy- David Brosnan, who, being the solid bloke that he is, took the fall for the sins of many.
There was Gary Moore, now training in Macau along with Geoff Allendorf and Peter Leyshan.
There was Ray Setches- a brilliant jockey when on the game-Rod Staples, Danny Brereton and a few others.
All this time, the local armchair and TV critics would still chatter incessantly about “the Aussie gangs”.
Fast-forward to today where there the Aussies riding in Hong Kong are Brett Prebble and Darren Beadman, Ty Angland and Zac Purton.
Are Prebble and Beadman “tight” and, to coin the old saying, “thick as thieves”? Many say so. Nothing wrong with that.
Angland is a loner and working hard on making his comeback after his horror fall whereas Zac Purton, like James Brown before him, is “The Hardest Working Man in the Showbiz” that is Hong Kong horse racing.
Purton rides for nearly every trainer- we don’t think he has ye to ride for Tony Cruz- but this season, apart from Douglas Whyte, he has won the hearts and minds of Hong Kong’s fickle racing public.
Prebble and Beadman have never “caught on” as, for many and varied reasons, they keep getting rolled on hot pots.
The monotony of “slow starts”, “riding tactics” etc are all very good being “reported” in Stipes Report, but as long as they keep happening, these two jocks- and they are very good ones- will never exactly be “idol” material.
“Ooooh, ooooh, I like the sound of that- anti-idols.”
Zac Purton, on the other, has made this season, the time when he has buckled down to being a very good jockey.
No more yelling, “Surf’s Up, Dude!” and hitting the beach with mate Damien Oliver as he is said to have done when in Oz.
Zac and Ollie hit the waves
No more showing only HINTS of brilliance and no longer being happy to be “just another jockey”.
Over the past few weeks, Purton has been riding winners, doubles and winning Jockey Challenges with increasing regularity.
With Douglas Whyte still on the sidelines and serving a four-day suspension, the script had it that Brett Prebble will “gain” on the ten-time CONSECUTIVE Champion Jockey of Hong Kong.
It has not gone according to script. In fact, it has gone pear-shaped and, recently, Brett Prebble has had some shocking days in the saddle.
Meanwhile, Purton keeps those winners ticking over. Plus, he has become a far more “complete” jockey made up of judgment, toughness- very tough- in a finish without bashing his mounts about and mounting regular Zac Attacks for a variety of different trainers.
Wanna follow a jockey in Hong Kong who is CONSISTENT- and this is a tough word to use in Hong Kong where sometimes it’s all about having horses go around with Terry CW Wong riding them to “get a relief in the ratings”- look no further than Zac Purton.
IF, Douglas Whyte is EVER going to get any competition, it won’t come from Brett Prebble.
It will come from a Big Zac Attack.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Nah, didn’t read the Stipes Report. What was the excuse given this time? Mucous in the trachea? Nasal discharge? Wetting the bed? Stiff arm or head not screwed on correctly?” Well-known Hong Kong racing personality commenting after hearing that the Stipes had questioned jockey Brett Prebble on the flop of another short-priced favourite which made “Happy Wednesday” last week somewhat of a “Hapless Wednesday” to those who enjoy a punt more than a beer and a leer.
“Oooooh, this Ben Peeble sounds like a Mini Me”.