By Hans Ebert

There must have been a helluva loud whoop of delight from his muchos supporters in Oz and Hong Kong when Sam Clipperton won the second race at Rosehill yesterday on the Snowden-trained Artistry, beating favourite Dothraki in the process.

There was an even louder whoop when his ride on Silent Sedition had to settle for a very close second at pretty big odds to the Tye Angland ridden Heavens Above in the Group 1 Rosehill Coolmore Classic, Angland being another name well-known to Hong Kong racing fans after his successful seasons riding here around the same time as The Hobbit- Tim Clark, below, who’s riding at the top of his game.

It was Clipperton’s first flying trip back home since his extended move to Hong Kong some months ago, and where he’s been a revelation. Has riding in Hong Kong improved the young rider? Absence always makes the heart stronger, and the competitiveness of riding here makes men out of boys. And when you’ve got señorita Morgan with you, it makes one’s stay that much more bearable.

Despite no one having anything bad to say about the young rider, a rarity in racing, the only doubt by some in Sydney was that Clipperton wasn’t ready for Hong Kong. When is anyone “ready for Hong Kong”? It’s all about what you’re willing to put into making it work for you. No one does you any favours. You learn to walk the walk, and talk the talk in a city where knowing/recognising at least some Cantonese can open up many doors with the Chinese trainers. Just ask Nash Rawiller, who’s persevered despite the early suspensions, despite his wok fried rice stirring riding style picked up by the Chinese racing media always out for a punchline, the lean patches, and the focus to win over the Chinese trainers, and, in turn, their owners. Caramba, it’s all come together like an enchilada with melted cheese and hot tamale sauce.

Today, he’s the new, improved Señor Gnasher. He’s happy, he’s confident and he’s riding winners with help from his support system led by son Campbell, below, and the rest of his family. It’s good to see.

Ask Neil Callan about riding in Hong Kong and who’s as just competitive going after rides as he is competitive in a race. Hell, ask Zac Purton and even Douglas Whyte. Receiving a license to ride in Hong Kong is one thing. Adapting to the surroundings, not continuing to be a stranger in a strange land, and making a success of this opportunity is another. The road to Hong Kong is littered with those who simply couldn’t and didn’t try to make things work for them in one way or another.


Sam Clipperton pictured with some very stiff people…

Sam Clipperton has adapted to Hong Kong, the city, and the racing- superbly. He has worked damn hard at proving himself. Getting off the mark in Hong Kong by riding a treble fast tracked the opportunities. It made owners and trainers sit up and take notice of the young rider. John Moore became his biggest supporter. The winners have come regularly.

Still, not even the gift of the gab of Moore could talk owner Peter Law out of replacing Sam Clipperton with Ryan Moore on his galloper Booming Delight in next Sunday’s BMW Hong Kong Derby.

Clipperton, likeable, and not a smart arse, has done absolutely nothing wrong with Booming Delight. In fact, if not for his winning rides on the galloper, it would not have gained a place in the Derby. As a “reward”, he loses the ride in the big race. One assumes owner Peter Law doesn’t think Sam Clipperton is “ready to ride in the big races.” Please, Peter. If correct, that sucks, but that’s racing, especially racing in Hong Kong where many have short memories, and you’re only as good as your last win.

What’s impressed us is how Clipperton has accepted this setback- with maturity, wry humour, and a positive attitude to put it down to one of those things. Instead of looking back, he simply wants to get on with riding more winners. And he will.

Many see El Clippo as the next El Zaco. Maybe. What might be better put is to say that Sam Clipperton will be the new, improved Sam Clipperton. The ride on Booming Delight is now history, but that winning ride on Artistry yesterday no doubt helped remove some of the hurt.

While Sam Clipperton was being the prodigal son at Rosehill, Joao Moreira was making his presence felt at Flemington. He might not have ridden eight winners as he did last Sunday at Shatin, but he wasn’t about to leave empty handed either. He donned on those famous Godolphin blue silks and won on Circular for the stable of John O’Shea.

It was a reasonably good cameo performance amidst some very good training efforts and rides from a name more and more people are mentioning- Regan Bayliss, who won the Group 1 Newmarket aboard former Hong Kong galloper Redkirk Warrior.

If the name sounds familiar it’s because this is the horse involved in that rather controversial enquiry that had Gerald Mosse being asked some tough questions and then given a long holiday. After about seven more starts, Redkirk Warrior was quietly retired from Hong Kong racing due to health issues. It’s taken co-trainer David Hayes and his team in Australia, below, to figure out the key to the horse- and which was backed in late in Hong Kong as “the green lamp of Go” came on and shone brightly during the simulcast of the races from Flemington.

The old guard of Australian racing might be winding down, but young guns like Regan Bayliss, and Damian Lane (and that kid Jeffrey Lloyd, pictured below) are blazing new trails.

On the subject of young guns, Hong Kong racing fans will soon be making tracks to back everything The Poon Train is on- ten pound claiming apprentice Matthew Poon, who has won over thousands of racing fans in South Australia with his will and ability to win. In 17 months with the very good Adelaide-based trainer Richard Jolly, the 23-year-old Hong Kong-born rider had ridden a phenomenal 116 winners.

“Boom Boom” Poon arrives before the end of this month and will be indentured to the yard of David Hall, which, apparently, had another expat trainer known very well for his temper tantrums, throwing his toys and Millie’s handbag out of his pram. The old dear was sure that The Poon Train would be pulling up at his station.

Meanwhile, we had to roll our eyes when told around a month ago that the connections of Who Dat Singa, runner up in the 2016 WATC Derby run over 2400 metres, and purchased for a fairly expensive price, was bringing Western Australia-based jockey Pat Carberry, below, to Hong Kong to ride the galloper when he finally steps out over a distance.

There’s been so much discussion about this galloper, and the mention of Carberry, a good, strong rider, who struck a successful partnership with the very impressive former Alan Matthews trained galloper when racing in WA, just added to all the other la la land talk while we wondered who on earth dat singer could be.

Now, after a somewhat unorthodox preparation with trainer Richard Gibson, where the galloper first ran over 1600 metres, then 1400 metres, then 1400 metres again before a very disappointing run last Sunday over 1800 metres where he finished down the track, Who Dat Singa has gone to a new vocal coach: Manfred “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” Man.

It will be interesting to follow the Hong Kong adventures of this galloper purchased rather optimistically with the Hong Kong Derby in mind, and which has, unfortunately, had a few setbacks after arriving with the potential to go much further.

In fact, Who Dat Singa was very close to being sold to different local connections for a far less expensive price tag. This, however, was before him having one extra run in WA, winning it, and with the purchase price going up by a reported extra AUS$250k. Trainer Matthews was quoted as saying that the original owners didn’t wish to sell the galloper, but “the offer from Hong Kong was too good to pass up”. Well, at least there’s one happy group involved in the career of this Singa.

As for today’s racing, it’s always dangerous when people say finding winners looks “easy” though Joao Moreira really should win the last on NothingIlikemore, something even the night watchman in your building who’s asleep, will tell you. Take this “tip” out of calculations, and Moreiramania might not be a screaming hit today. In fact, we’re giving him a miss in races 1, possibly race 2, and definitely in races 3,4,8 and 9. Frankly, apart from race 10, we’re not exactly exuding confidence about any of his rides being winning ones. Stab us with your steely knives for saying this, but we believe Dylan “Delay No” Mo might even ride a winner and be amongst the place getters today. Stop screaming, girls.

There are many of his rides that, logically, should win, but, as we all know, horse racing is not an exacting science. This is why we shall continue to whine like ninnies about the point-and pointlessness- of producing those awfully tacky looking tipping shows, where the panel of pundit nehrus offer up an average buffet of six different selections a race- and, more often than not, none of them win. Or else, the selections are no different from what a mug punter would pick by themselves based on those always interesting “overnight odds” that get the blows come race day.

The best analyst of Hong Kong racing we know, who listens to no one, and almost always ends up in front by betting small and winning big? Alessandro, the passionate, knowledgeable, and always entertaining owner and chef of the very popular- and pricey- Italian restaurant in Causeway Bay called Da Domenico. There’s some secret method to the man’s successful madness, and he really should have his own Cooking While Racing To Win show.

PARTING SHOT