By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

It can’t be said often enough: Derek KC Leung is the most improved rider in Hong Kong. Now let’s lose the term “local” when describing him as he really deserves some opportunities overseas, perhaps starting with a chance to ride in Perth though some who know good from average when it comes to riding believes he can hold his own with the top five riders in Sydney.

That’s a big call, but maybe this should be shouted loud while losing that “local” tag which can often be an albatross.

If into stats, Derek Leung’s strike rate in October is close to 18 percent and watching him ride, he gives everything he’s onboard every possible chance. On Wednesday, he rode another winner- a very good ride to win on Ho Ho Feel on a night where there were some rides that looked to veer towards the strange side of the Blue Velvet fence.

The other success story in the riding ranks so far this season is that of Sam Clipperton. After getting an important start to his riding career in Hong Kong through solid support from the powerful John Moore yard, Clipperton has had to go Goodwill Hunting elsewhere this season following the arrival of Tommy Berry to take up his position as stable jockey for Moore. And as each race meeting presents itself, the very likeable young rider delivers- and for an increasingly growing support system.

On Wednesday, he rode his first winner for trainer and former champion jockey Tony Cruz. This was when he scored on the very expensive purchase, but disappointing Gold Land, owned by billionaire Pan Sutong, someone not too shabby to have on side. And neither is a tough task master like Cruz.

Racing in Hong Kong on Saturday is always a little odd- odd in that the perception is that this is an inferior product to a Sunday race meeting.

Today’s races with a couple of all-weather meetings thrown in add to that inferior product perception. It almost makes one want to watch all the shuck and jive that has elevated the race known as The Everest from being something of a patchwork quilt job into The Most Important Race Ever Run In Australia. And with its $10 million carrot dangled since day one, and its only real USP, we wait with bated breath for the less than two minutes it will take to run the 1200 metre race and then have the social media jury tweet the verdict.

Still, one must give Racing New South Wales’ Chief Sherpa huge props for getting this one trick pony wrapped in all kinds of swaddling clothes and with the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure off the ground.

How this race is “good for racing” is something that is still confusing to many outside of Australia as have some of the bizarre articles hyping the BIG race. But like any mantra, one can only guess that if one says it often enough, it’s to be believed.

What will be interesting to follow is whether this initial burst of Rahs Rahs can be sustained. Yes, sustainability, something that The Pegasus, the father of The Everest, appears to be struggling with as there are only four slots sold. Let’s just also count our lucky stars that the Chief Sherpa, The Donald, and South Africa’s Racing Association CEO Larry Wainstein, below, don’t ever get together. The latter’s well known corporate mantra is, “It’s good for the game!” It can all become as tiresome as fake news.

Just to end on a thumping great chord, one would have thought that with ALL the money thrown around, the organisers of The Everest would have found a better performer for this monumental event than the moderately successful Jason Derulo. Guess it could have been worse. It might have been Nelly or Chris Brown. Or Michael Bolton.

Having said all this, as a friend in Sydney so succinctly put it, “Mate, who cares if something or another wins anywhere as long as we win somewhere?” And here, my friend and I must thank Damien Oliver for an absolutely brilliant ride last night to win on Falika at Cranbourne. That’s already made it a winning weekend.

Truer words have seldom been spoken, so looking at today’s Sha Tin card, it’s not an easy one. In fact, it’s fraught with danger.

With Joao Moreira still sitting out a suspension one has to wonder what he would have been riding. A couple of Zac Purton’s rides jump off the page, but so did a number of his rides on Wednesday, but which crashed and burned around many.

Though it won’t surprise to see a lethal Zac Attack launched this afternoon, there’ll be no value, which means having to look elsewhere, Sherlock- especially on those all-bother and all-weather races that always light up any race card.

RACE 1
LIGHTNING AND GOLD (5)

RACE 2
EMPIRE STAR (4)
DIAMOND LEGEND (3)
LET’S TAKE IT EASY (7)
THE FULL BLOOM (5)

RACE 3
JE PENSE (6)
KING BOUNTIFUL (3)
HIT A HOME RUN (8)
INDUSTRIALIST WAY (1)

RACE 4
FANTASTIC FABIO (12)
STRATHCLYDE (2)
VIVA COUNCIL (11)
BEEKELY (9)

RACE 5
BINGO (5)
CREME BRÛLÉE (8)
THE LEGEND (11)
ASSOCIATION FANS (4)

RACE 6
CONSORT (5)
ROCKETEER (4)
CLASSIC EMPEROR (10)
CITRON SPIRIT (7)

RACE 7
AMAZING MOMENT (10)
NUCLEAR POWER (2)
STAR SUPERIOR (10)
HAPPY SURVEYS (5)

RACE 8
SAUL’S SPECIAL (3)
FORTUNE BOBO (1)
BEAUTY MASTER (5)
TRAVEL EMPEROR (13)

RACE 9
LITTLE GIANT (7)

RACE 10
BRING IT ON (14)
BRAVE LEGEND (3)
KINGSFIELD (2)
PRETTY BAUHINIA (10)

SIX UP
R5: 4-5-8-11
R6: 4-5-7
R7: 10-12
R8: 1-3-5-9-12-13
R9: 7
R10: 2-3-8-10-14

PARTING SHOT

#DerekKCLeung #DerekLeung #SamClipperton #JohnMoore #TommyBerry #TonyCruz #PanSutong #ZacPurton #HongKongHorseRacing #Shatin #AllWeatherRacing