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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FELIX COETZEE AND HIS TOP 20 CHAMPION HONG KONG HORSES (AND NEARLY MEETING AXL ROSE)

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

They would always say that he had a built-in clock in his head, which is why he was such a master of pace. Like his fellow South African jockeys -Jeff Lloyd, almost South African, and Basil Marcus, once Felix “The Cat” Coetzee was allowed to bowl along in front and dictate the pace of a race, it was Vaya Con Dios for those doing the chasing. And Hong Kong racing fans saw it time and again, especially on a leader like Egyptian Ra, which provided the affable yet disciplined tough task master with a Group winner at 50 by leading all the way in the 2009 Silver Jubilee Cup.

“Tony (Cruz) promised me a Group winner after I turned 50 which I thought was an impossibility, but he delivered,” says the rider, who still regrets just missing seeing his idol Axl Rose of Guns and Roses fame. “I was sitting in the hotel lobby for hours hoping to get a glimpse of him and I didn’t see him walk right past me.” This from a racing legend who has won in front of hundreds of thousands…At least I got him up onstage with Deep Purple.

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DOUGLAS WHYTE AND HIS LIST OF HONG KONG’S TOP 20 CHAMPION HORSES

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

When Douglas Whyte rode the first winner of the day at Sha Tin yesterday, it was one of those moments in time that made my mind wander. It was a lowly Class 5 event, but it was a reminder of not only everything Douglas Whyte has accomplished as a Group 1 winning jockey, but everything he has seen and quietly carries with him along with the way he has always conducted himself- with great professionalism. It’s a quiet dignity from a class act.

So, with the twentieth anniversary of The Handover being on July 1, when it came to asking someone to name their top 20 champion Hong Kong horses, the first person that came to mind was Douglas Whyte, the winner of the Hong Kong Jockey Premiership for thirteen consecutive years- a record that will stand forever- and who has ridden for the legend that was trainer Ivan Allan, plus David Hayes, John Size, John Moore,Tony Cruz and many others.

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HOW IS RACING REALLY GOING TO WIN?

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

“Racing To Win”, that Cecil B DeMille of a production from the HKJC starring the Kim, Kourtney and Khloe of racing, is hardly riveting viewing, but, apparently, the programme has a loyal audience. Probably around 28, give or take five, as from what we know, those “racing uncles”, who are supposedly its staunchest fans, run for cover whenever they hear its name being mentioned for fear of being led astray.

As for the new generation of racing fans, they have zero idea of its existence as they no longer watch television whereas even navigating their way through websites has become too time consuming.

“Racing To Win” is not the Must View programme it once was when hosted by Robin Parke- and one day Parkie will be given the recognition he deserves for everything he brought to Hong Kong racing- and my old friend Lawrence Wadey, below, someone who’s always been burdened by his years of intellect at Cambridge.

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NIKE AND HORSE RACING: ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTE

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

Some have said to just let it slide. Others have jumped up and down, done a little dance, and believed that this line of t-shirts to be the real deal and that Nike has, in some small way, entered the world of horse racing. Please.

Anyone who knows anything about Nike and its commitment to creativity would know that is not an authorised Nike product. It’s utter crap. Hopefully, having its brand equity ripped off will not deter Nike from breathing new life into horse racing through the marketing and sponsorship of the sport.

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Posted in Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOAO MOREIRA | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

HAPPY FATHERS DAY AND “GAMBLING MAD ASIANS”

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

It’s Father’s Day. And so the paternal thing to do is not mention to the family- the former or the current one- that this special day will be spent at the races in Shatin, or the more politically correct, Sha Tin.

This is where so many people get so many things wrong about Hong Kong, horse racing in Hong Kong and us “gambling mad Asians”. How many years have we read about “gambling mad Asians”? This writer has seen this term for over twenty years. It’s not only insulting, it’s a journalistic cop out, and, somehow, associated mainly with horse racing. And that’s just wrong.

The truth is that “Asians”- and Chinese are not “Asians”, ok?- might be driven about making money, and once this is done, turning money into more and more money, but through investments, particularly in property, locally, and always with some owned abroad in Canada, Australia, and, more recently, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. Like the hostility between Hong Kong Chinese and Mainland Chinese, and the difference between being from Beijing and being from Shanghai, it’s something that won’t be understood by those who don’t get out much and smell the dim sum.

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WHY ONLINE LAWS WILL BAR HORSE RACING’S CYBER BULLIES

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

Andy Warhol predicted that in the future, everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame. Turns out the Future is now.

Not that Katy Perry and Taylor Swift want more fame, but there they were earlier this week with the former promoting her new record whereas Ms Swift, known for her conga line of celebrity boyfriends, and then writing about them when inevitably dumped, was making news that she had made peace with music streaming service Spotify and was releasing all her product through them. In other words, she was hijacking former bestie Katy Perry’s moment.

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THE HKJC AND THAT ADRENALINE RUSH

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

Sitting there last night, one couldn’t help thinking that with all the technology available, why there couldn’t be a virtual tour of Adrenaline, the venue at Happy Valley Racecourse, which, since its re-opening a few short years ago, has answered the question of what to do during those twentysomething minutes between races.

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