It’s been said here before, and it will be said again: To date, this has been a dress rehearsal for the latest Hong Kong racing season. Who also knew we’d actually say that we’re racing today in the post-Hugh Hefner era? One thought he’d live forever. And do you really think that with the lifestyle he led, Hef thinks heaven is all that it’s cracked out to be? It never is.

Getting back down to earth and this Hong Kong racing season, all the trainers- even Almond Lee- have a winner on board. Joao Moreira has seemingly, at least up to now, decided to have a siesta on Happy Wednesdays nights. Not one to keep score, but after last week’s last of three Happy Wednesday Boomerang nights for the year, it was the third consecutive Happy Wednesday where the Magic Man did not pull any winning rabbits out of his sombrero. Sometimes they’re just not there, possums.

Does he really care? What’s really going through his head? We’re not talking about just another world class jockey here. Joao Moreira is lengths ahead of everyone else including the HKJC when mapping out his future career plans. He’s outgoing and inwardly thinking which adds to his charisma and mystique. Only The Shadow Knows for sure what he’s really thinking.

As has been said to anyone within earshot, these midweek meetings on Wednesdays where the same Class 3,4 and 5 battlers race against each other almost every week are when Joao often rides horses with little chance of winning and start way under the odds. He kinda chills out, doesn’t over-extend himself and almost looks as if he enjoys watching others steal his thunder. It’s olé olé and pass me a burrito, please, time.

This trend continued when Joao made a cameo appearance at Moonee Valley on Friday night where many backed his first ride at the meeting- Kobayashi- into outright favouritism. The neurotic galloper missed the start badly, ended up around fifth with the Magic Man drawing a blank that evening. He can’t make the impossible happen. Those who think he can need to put that remote control down and get out more often.

The next day, there was Joao, this time at Royal Randwick, and creating quite a Pandemonium on another book of relative no-hopers. But haters gotta hate as they say in this social media seduced world. There was then the oddity of the Waterhouse-Bolt-trained Pandemonium starting as short as 2s in Hong Kong. Seriously now, just how much in the dark are Hong Kong punters about the form of Australian horses? Surely they were advised about the erratic behaviour of this galloper? And they STILL climbed aboard to be taken for a ride? Despite all the verbal diarrhoea about commingling, Something.Is.Just.Not.Right. It just might be missing the obvious.

As for Joao Moreira, is riding in Australia really worth all the time and pressure and carpet bagging from those tweeting through their chump change pockets? As a huge fan of this brilliant Brazilian horseman, it hurts his brand, and, no matter how one tries to sugarcoat it, it’s also not good for Hong Kong racing. These flying visits by the city’s leading rider to get on top of horses that don’t belong to them are not embraced by a number of Hong Kong owners. This number is growing.

As for today, look at the card as the time to get serious about this racing season. Entered are some of the big guns with potential big guns making their seasonal debuts, or else returning after prep runs and with almost all eyeing HKIR week in December. Some may shoot blanks today in the process, but that’s racing. Unpredictable and, at times, kinky and dominating. Do you like…feet?

The fields today are good, and competitive with the jockeys to follow looking like the holy trinity of Moreira, despite a very busy few days riding here, Melbourne and Sydney, the consistently very good Zac Purton, and the very much in-form Karis Teetan, but with others like the ultra competitive Poon Train and the hugely underrated Derek Leung lurking in the background and capable of springing more than a few surprises.

RACE 1

FANTASTIC SHOW (1)
Value Bet: MULTIMAX (2)

* RACE 2

JOLLY GENE (1)
GORGEOUS AGAIN (5)
GORGEOUS KING (4)

RACE 3
SUPER EURO STAR (5)
STAR OF PATCH (2)

RACE 4
A BEAUTIFUL (1)
STARLIT KNIGHT (2)

RACE 5
THE SHOW (5)
MORE THAN LUCKY (2)

RACE 6
STARSHIP (8)
PRIMERO (9)
SUPER JUNIOR (12)

*RACE 7

Though a Group 3 race, this, the National Day Cup over the straight 1000 metres really looks like a Group 1 race led by top weight Mr Stunning. John Size has three runners in the ten horse field, and despite being way out of the handicaps, it’s D B PIN (6) for me, a proven up and coming sprinter that has had nine starts for five wins and four seconds. Of course, one can’t ignore Size’s other two runners- MR STUNNING (1) and AMAZING KIDS (5), but don’t leave out STRATHMORE (9) in your Quartets, a galloper that’s always promised so much and just might be close to delivering the goods.

*RACE 8

With Tony Cruz having five runners, John Moore having four and John Size two, these three trainers have eleven of the thirteen runners in the Celebration Cup. And one of these trainers could be celebrating like it was 1999 with Prince and Kool And The Gang after the race.

As can imagine, this will be a race of tactics with Cruz Control’s TIME WARP (12) certain to go straight to the front for regular rider Alvin Ng for whom the galloper goes so well. Not many do for the battling Ng though having said this, The Chipmunk is on some outsiders throughout the afternoon that could extra spice into Quartets.

Time Warp keeps surprising by now having strung together three consecutive wins, but it’s racing up a class here and might have to settle to holding on for a place. Better winning chances are afforded to BEAUTY ONLY (1), especially SEASONS BLOOM (4), and BOOMING DELIGHT (8), which has Chad Schofield aboard for the first time despite Sammy Clipperton having done so well on the galloper. Guess he couldn’t make the weight? With the arrival of new stable rider Tommy Berry, Clipperton’s rides for trainer John Moore for whom he did so exceptionally well last season have been somewhat sparse. Pity if this trend continues. But Sammy Clipperton is an extremely good, level headed young rider, and is already attracting interest from a number of other stables. He deserves the support.

RACE 9

What first grabs one’s attention is that after carrying top weight at its past two outings this season, EXPERTO CREDE (13) is racing up a class and carrying only 115 pounds with Tommy Berry riding two pounds over. If nothing else, the John Moore-trained galloper doesn’t lack race fitness. But is it good enough to win what is a very open looking race? Doubt it. He looks like a real grinder with no zip nor zap. He’s the equine version of the HKJC’s Mr Bubbles.

APOLLO’S CHOICE (3), DARING FIT (7), which could be at decent odds with Douglas Whyte aboard, and RELENTLESS ME (12) are given strong chances. The interesting runner is WHO DAT SINGA (9), the former West Australian stayer purchased for a stupid price with last year’s Hong Kong Derby in mind. The Manfred Man trained galloper backs up from running a respectable fifth over 1200 metres last week to a far more appropriate 1400 metres though it still needs further going on its overseas form. But this one WILL be backed. Trust me on that, but not with any of my money despite having the services of Karis Teetan. The connections’ Rent-A-Crowd is in town.

It shouldn’t be left out of any Six Ups, but one still can’t help feeling dat dis Who Dat Singa needs to find its voice and rhydm, mon, before being followed with any confidence.

*RACE 10

JUMBO LUCK (10)
PINGWU SPARK (12)
SHAMAL (2)

*Betting races

And here’s to some good Joss Stone to all, especially if the following Six Up Bonus sashays in…

R5: 1-2-5-6
R6: 2-8-9-12
R7: 6
R8: 4-8-9
R9: 4-7-9-12
R10: 2-10-14


ONE OF THE BEST PIECES OF MARKETING FOR HORSE RACING…

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