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Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, and it’s understandable why the HKJC has introduced Twilight racing with its “sunset vibes”, man. 

Though the timing might be inconvenient for some, especially as it might interfere with dinner or a Saturday night out with friends and family, for a racing club, during these days of global climate change, there are equine and human welfare concerns to think about.

Though there are those who give these Twilight race meetings a wide berth saying that they have better things to do on a Saturday night than take in horse racing, nothing is perfect and no one can please all of the people all of the time. 

For example, for someone who follows the horse racing throughout Australia on a Saturday including racing in Western Australia that coincides with Hong Kong racing, it comes down to choices and bowing to “majority rules”. 

If the head of the household wants to spend the weekend in Sri Lanka or Bali, she calls the shots and all horse racing is cancelled for a trip to the airport. 

At Shatin on Saturday, we were both told by those who know about these things to watch the eighth race of the Twilight meeting and follow the run of Ballistic Win.

Trained by Benno Yung, ridden by Ben Thompson and starting at 8-1 before blowing out to 9s, the win of the three year old New Zealand gelding was well worth watching.

Though a Class 4 race, and not exactly a win of Berkshire Breeze proportions at Flemington on Saturday, the three-year old ridden patiently off the pace and coming down the outside with almost consummate ease, thanks to an excellent and very patient ride by Ben Thompson was easy to watch to those who backed the galloper.

With the limited opportunities that’s come his way since being granted a license to ride in Hong Kong, the Queensland based rider who’s ridden in Singapore, the Emirates and a couple of other places, is definitely catching the attention of nearly every stable and has placed on rides given no chance of running into the money. 

On Saturday, amongst his five rides in the ten race programme, Thompson came extremely close to beating the favourite ridden by “King”Zac in one of the earlier races on a 45-1 chance trained by John Size. 

It’s interesting to those who have a life outside of horse racing to see how horse racing’s “young guns” are doing- Lyle Hewitson, Harry Bentley, Angus Chung, a very much in-form Luke Ferraris and now, Ben Thompson. 

These young riders have their own growing fan bases and it’s something that might offer something new to a younger audience instead of the Meghan and Harry type games being played out and the usual grenades being lobbed because they can.

It’s become embarrassingly contrived.

As for Ben Thompson, whose partner and wife is the very good rider Stephanie Thornton, he is taking a softly softly approach and with no diva turns.

Here is a rider known back home to do his homework, appears to understand a horses for courses strategy and gives every ride every possible chance.

No one can accuse him of “not trying”.

As for his new partnership with Ballistic Win and owned by the Ballistic Racing Syndicate- they sound a tad unhinged and dangerous- here’s hoping it lasts.

From watching the expressions of the owners who have had to retire a couple of their “Ballistic” horses who didn’t do much, Ballistic Win looks to be something special and travels very well for Ben Thompson.

As for these Twilight race meetings, perhaps the HKJC should go the whole hog with the branding and advertising promises of, er,“sunset vibes”?

Why not make these long days journey into the night really out there by having customers and those uptight looking racing executives enter a new dimension- and the races on surfboards and swimming trunks?

Another thing: Isn’t Hong Kong already on the goofy side of The Twilight Zone?

Perhaps the HKJC should allow everyone to wear shorts, let things hang out and have the type of ‘live’ plonking heard at the Beer Garden last week?

This was when a couple of “fly high” guys sounded to be groaning and moaning and jamming to a drum machine and a few loopy beats with the cameras showing an audience doing their best to get with the programme- and dancing like something out of The Night Of The Living Dead.

Rod Serling would have approved.



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