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There was a spring in the voice of HKJC racing analyst Paul Lally on Wednesday night at Happy Valley racecourse. And why not? The New Zealander had just tipped something like a 10-1 winner and is going through quite an impressive conga line of winning tips. The old Q/QP betting strategy is working. 

What was also working was the racing, which on this night was particularly and fiercely competitive- more so than usual.

Perhaps “the boss” had spoken to the troops about how monopoly situations can get a little boring and how racing should be a lovely cabaret of funski things.

Keith Yeung regularly falling off horses and also horses being euthanised is not exactly funski monkey and cannot be kept a secret no matter how carefully Stewards reports are worded and by a disgracefully passive racing media lacking les meatballs.

What happened to integrity and complete transparency?

Moving along, Hugh Bowman, who has had a rather strange rollercoaster of a ride during his latest stay in Hong Kong- injuries, falls, a series of suspensions and winners- answered certain rumblings by riding four winners on the night. Hugh really needed to.

It’s not saying anything new to say that the horse racing in Hong Kong is not what it was around 5-6 years ago whereas the city itself is nowhere near being the vibrant heaving international dim sum burger that it was.

Like pretty much everywhere else, those lockdown and “racing bubble” years have taken its toll on Hong Kong and a rather wobbly HKJC.

Another thing: Some people in horse racing who don’t live here need to do their homework and try and understand today’s Hong Kong, especially before going on radio and saying daft and crass things like how the HKJC provides “very good nannies” to those overseas jockeys licensed to ride in Hong Kong and enjoy those low taxes.

These were the pearls of wisdom passed on by the Felgate person with the Dead People’s radio station in Melbourne to Ben Thompson, the latest lightweight jockey to get a call up to ride in Hong Kong on a short term basis. 

Thankfully, Thompson didn’t seem to care less about ninnies and nannies.

As a longtime Hong Kong Belonger, writer, observer of life and entertainment executive, I would love to see Hong Kong back at the peak of its powers, but this isn’t going to happen anytime soon. 

With the government often resembling the Keystone Cops as they bumble around trying a bit of this and a bit of that with nothing really working to attract international tourism and pump up the economy, what we have is a community that’s not exactly happy. Far from it.

As for the racing community in 2024, it veers towards a home for the aged while the racing somehow remains rich pickings to those “superstar” jockeys who fly in and out “plundering” away and leave with more “loot” than the pirates of the Caribbean. 

If there are those willing to throw lucre their way when Hong Kong is going through a financially bleak period, who can blame them? 

Is it fair? 

Of course not, but who said that life is fair?

Time now for a pirate’s song, mateys, as a plundering we-will-go before the ‘live’ band at the Beer Garden murders music one more time.

Altogether now!

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