Hong Kong has something to cheer on next month and it’s... a horse. Named Golden Sixty, not since the great and now happily retired Silent Witness has a horse offered hardcore racing fans in the city an emotional attachment that goes beyond a game often built on winning and money.
In 2003, the combination of the legendary Silent Witness and South African Jockey Felix Coetzee, Trainer Tony Cruz and larger than life owner Archie Da Silva combined to give hope and a fighting spirit to a city locked down and fighting the SARS virus. Some of us remember those days very well. Many offices had closed including the Regional Office of EMI Music. As Executive Director of the music company in the region and written and recorded a song called “We All Stand Together” about the exploits of Silent Witness, nothing stopped us from being productive. Archie and Tony loved the recording, gave it their blessing, and along with a Cantonese version of the song recorded by Ronald Cheng, the track, with an accompanying music video, was released on a DVD. It sold exceptionally well.
On April 1, 2003, some of us were at the lobby of the Conrad Hotel in the afternoon talking about future plans when receiving news that the iconic Actor and Singer Leslie Cheung had jumped from one of the top floors of the Mandarin Oriental.
Each of us knew or had worked with Leslie years before he became a star. All we could do was order a round of drinks and say a quiet prayer to Hong Kong’s most famous gay icon and probably known best for his role in “Farewell, My Concubine”.
Last Sunday when the Francis Lui trained and Stanley Chan Ka leung owned Golden Sixty with regular partner Vincent Ho aboard got the better of rising star California Spangle- ironically, trained by Tony Cruz- in the Group 2 Jockey Club Mile, there was a mighty roar from the crowd on-course. That roar was for the win, yes, but it could also have been many at the races cheering on Hong Kong to not look back, and break through the roadblocks of the Covid-19 pandemic that’s hobbled the city and has kept it from moving forward. Hong Kong is taking baby steps to start up again by slowly opening up and ensuring that there’s a solid financial platform from where good things can grow. Golden Sixty extending his winning streak on Sunday to a Hong Kong record of 22 and taking his winnings to over HK$116 million, showed a horse and rider in total harmony with each other and getting ready for the main event.
This main event will be on December 11 at Shatin Racecourse when Golden Sixty takes his place in the Hong Kong Mile and goes for more golden glory and his third successive win in the race. It promises to be a roaring success louder than Katy Perry’s Roar whatever the result. One hopes that Cruzy- and The Cat- will be there cheering on Golden Sixty and Vincent Ho despite the presence of California Spangle with The Zac Man aboard. Let’s not forget that we’re also one team cheering on the resilience of Hong Kong. Carrots, anyone?