By Hans Ebert
When he rode the first winner on the first day of the 2012-13 season with his very first ride in Hong Kong aboard the David Ferraris-trained Amazing Always, Karis Teetan signalled his arrival in the most competitive racing jurisdiction where nothing is ever handed to anyone on a silver platter. Suddenly, despite being South Africa’s leading apprentice in 2008, which meant nought to Hong Kong racing fans who have seen too many overseas success stories bite the dust out here, a relatively unknown rider had made his mark on the world stage of international racing in remarkable fashion. This young Mauritian rider, another graduate from South Africa’s highly respected Apprentice Academy had taken a short cut to the big time.
“He’s a lovely kid”, says David Ferraris, the Darth Vader of Hong Kong racing, and not exactly generous when handing out compliments. “Karis rode winners for my dad back in South Africa”- Ormond Ferraris recently trained a Group 3 winner at 84-years-young- “and he’s got such a positive attitude- always smiling, listening, learning, humble. He’s a super kid”.
Last season, Karis Teetan rode a disappointing 29 winners, and though it had been a slow start to this new one, his wins at the two previous meetings, and the three winners last Sunday at Shatin- a brilliant achievement- is even more spectacular when digging a little deeper and looking at things away from the obvious.
Yes, Joao Moreira and Brett Prebble also rode three winners apiece with some exceptional rides, but the treble by Karis Teetan was topped off with some extra relish- and, in some quarters, underrated and unrecognised relish as here’s a jockey who doesn’t run with the pack. He simply puts his head down and gives it his all and which is probably why he’s always had the support of two hard taskmasters in trainers John Size and John Moore- and Ricky Yiu, easily the best and most astute Chinese trainer we have- let’s never forget what he achieved with the great Fairy King Prawn and Sacred Kingdom- and with a very good eye for a young horse with potential that doesn’t cost the sun, moon, stars and the earth.
Karis Teetan’s first winner of the day was for trainer John Size- Sergeant Titanium, which won like a good thing belying its odds of almost 90 to 1. The second winner was far more significant. This was the comeback win of Able Friend. “The Beast from the East” as he’s been dubbed in the UK, and which leaves us cold as he is more “The King Of Kong, had been wrapped in swaddling clothes and kept in a manger by his trainer John Moore. That defeat at Ascot was a distant memory, and to local racing fans, a mere blip in the career of their favourite racehorse. One thing about Hong Kong racing fans is that though they might be passionate and vocal about their racing, they don’t dwell on the negatives.They get on with life knowing things have a habit of working out. It’s that well-known Hong Kong resilience. It’s that Can Do factor.
On Sunday, Able Friend with Teetan on his back returned to racing in the Group 2 Premier Bowl run over a distance known to be too short for him- 1200 metres, with John Moore declaring the horse to be 90 percent fit and regular jockey Joao Moreira booked for another ride.
While Moore talked up the chances of one of his other runners in the race- Not Listenin’ Tome- he wisely hedged his bets by reminding everyone about the sheer class factor of Able Friend. Everyone’s Best Friend was sent out at the luxurious odds of almost 11 to 1, something we will never ever see, or get, again.
While the Richard Gibson-trained and Douglas Whyte-ridden Gold Fun owned by billionaire businessman Pan Sutong looked like being all but home after a perfect ride by the legendary horseman, there, having taken him from last to the outside, came Karis Teetan and the giant strides of the incredible Able Friend for owner Dr Cornel Li. It was a win of sheer arrogance and authority by both horse and jockey and all credit to John Moore and the connections for entrusting Teetan with the ride. It was a classy thing to do and the jockey repaid their faith in him.
For Able Friend, it was answering the question, Who’s The Boss? whereas there was more than a touch of The Sorcerer and the Apprentice about the jockeys involved in the finish with the young Teetan looking over at all the guile and experience of Douglas Whyte as if to say, Sorry, mate, there’s a changing of the guard taking place and I am part of the charge.
The contrasting expressions on the faces of the two duelling jockeys was priceless- dismay from Whyte and total elation from Teetan with his third win on this very special horse. Able Friend? He was laughing all the way to the winner’s circle and where he belongs with now a Timeform Rating of 131. A missing piece to elevating the lead up to December and the Longines Hong Kong International Races had just been found. The Champ was and is back.
There was more Karisma to come in the next race when Thewizardofoz was supposed to win this Class 2 event over 1400 metres with contemptuous ease. Teetan had other ideas when he hooked the Ricky Yiu-trained Blizzard out wide, and swamped the red hot favourite with Moreira in the saddle and stopped it going up that Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy and Toto.
It doesn’t happen often, as he’s the one that comes from the clouds to ruin the party for many, but this time, The Magic Man was trumped. The rabbit didn’t appear, and he couldn’t guess the right card.
The win of Blizzard- and Contentment, The Wizardofoz and, perhaps Packing Pins- might give the HKJC some extra bullets in their promotional arsenal for International Week.
But, there’s another bullet- a young gun jockey named Karis Teetan, the Mauritian Magician with more than a few tricks up his sleeve along with a rags to riches back story where no one can begrudge this extremely likeable and positive thinking young jockey, who is thoroughly enjoying his job, and with his legion of fans cheering him on his every ride.
THE GREAT ADRENALINE-FUELLED NEIL PAINE COMPETITION
The funniest caption received for the photograph above of former jockey Neil Paine and now the Willy Wonka host of GaiTV taken at Flemington yesterday wins a dinner for FOUR on December 9th, the night of the Hong Kong International Jockey Challenge, at Adrenaline, Happy Valley Racecourse.
Deadline: December 5, 2015
Entries with contact details should be sent to email@example.com
The judges decision will be final.
FROM THE RACING TWITTERVERSE
IT’S JUST ANOTHER HAPPY VALLEY SATURDAY
After life and rides in the fast and red hot inside lane at Flemington yesterday, we turn to the far more sedate surroundings of a day meeting at Happy Valley. There are no Tarzinos or Dispositions- what a brilliant ride by D.Oliver- or any Excess Knowledge, but there are huge million dollar Six Up and Triple Trio jackpots up for grabs.
Of course, with jackpots floating about, expect the unexpected. We received the unexpected at Flemington yesterday when some very familiar names to Hong Kong racing vigorously tipped Sweet Bean in Race 1, a lowly Class 5 event we wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. We will, however, attack the Six Up feeling that the major hurdles will be in the first and last legs- especially, Race 10 while ignoring favourites Happy Survey and Speedy Longwah. For an outsider, First Sight Love could go close.
We’ll definitely be including the rides of Ben So and Howard Cheng into our bets. Cheng-So and Alex Lai could be the jokers in the pack on a day when some of the lesser-known lights in the riding ranks could shine.
The rides are pretty evenly spread with Moreira, of course, looking to have the best book, and Richard Gibson turning to a rampaging Brett Prebble instead of Douglas Whyte. Then again, take billionaire owner Pan Sutong out of the equation and one doubts that this trainer-jockey relationship will travel much further.
Frankly, today at Happy Valley is just a day to chill out and watch a few races before playing the Fame Game on Tuesday in the Melbourne Cup while working out the first four past the post at Bondi Beach.
THE CAT AND THE KAT IN THE HAT
Generation gaps are wonderful things because the new generation doesn’t always have to follow the generation before it like some rite of passage, or like having to marry the girl you’ve been banging for five years cos your parents and her’s will hang you by your nuts if you don’t, and all that does is have you end up living unhappily ever after and producing a food chain of ingrates to keep the parents happy.
And so while Felix Coetzee aka The Cat will always live on as one of the greatest South African jockeys who, during senior moments, wants to become Bob Dylan, his daughter Kat has said, Screw the whole riding thing, and is now out there- and I mean, really out there- fronting her band called Crooked and unleashing their voodoo jambalaya of darkish Gothlike Medusa Rock.
Have a listen. Don’t be scared. It won’t bite, but the music has bite and once bitten, well, you go back for more. Yeah, it’s something like once you go black, you can’t go white. Or something like that.
THE HAPPY VALLEY FOODIE: LOST IN TRANSLATION
The HKJC website never fails to amaze us with its treasure trove of hidden gems. Part of a blog attributed to the “Happy Valley Foodie” was forwarded to us as a small example of the site’s overwhelming sea of content. It was enough to make a reader drown in their own tears and, again, make us ask, Who’s minding the store?
“The long-awaited Oktoberfest made a huge comeback on 23 Sept. I believe many die-hard fans of Happy Wednesday couldn’t wait to party themselves out on the first night of the event! Of course, as being the Happy Valley foodie, I was also there to get tipsy!”
“Two attractive men were refreshing themselves with cups of foaming beer! I rushed to the Beer Garden to gulp down a bottle at once. There are 12 varieties of German beer waiting for you. Let’s drink till all’s blue!”
“No fear, “Hold the Beer”! A bunch of “warriors” participated in the “Hold the Beer” contest. See, they were gritting their teeth and hanging in there. I only have a “muscular” tummy, yet being part of the audience was still very exciting. Beer warriors, break a leg!”
EXCLUSIVE! HKJC REVEALS NEW RACING TEAM
After months of auditions, negotiations, and skipping the light fandango while doing cartwheels across the floor, the HKJC has finally revealed its new racing team. Yes, there’s no Mark Shean, no, Anthony Manton, no Wayne Harris, no Ric Macintosh, no Ritchie Bell, no Adam McGrath- huh? Adam McGrath, the Kermit of WA racing?- but in their place are Angry- who looks extremely similar to a certain racing Metal Racing Guru from the land Down Under- Dopey and Cheesy. “Racing With Emojis” will debut soon on a number of channels that will be impossible to find. Can’t wait. Can’t find.
HAS RICHIE CALLANDER’S MOUTH RUNNETH OVER AGAIN?
Our ears pricked up when Richie Callander, Oz racing’s Big Whopper, and now finally with a new gig as part of something called G1X Racing, mention on Perth’s Big Breakfast radio programme how Fame Game winning the Melbourne Cup would not be good for racing. Our ears started to burn up so much we had to bring back the Ice Bucket Challenge. We still have no idea what it was all meant to mean though the Big Bopper mentioned how he had actually shown Zac Purton videos of his Caulfield Cup rides this year and the year before when he won on Admire Rakti. All this was news to Zac, who we managed to have a few words with before he boarded his new toy- a helicopter.