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In a perfect world, where we knew what was coming next and the product personality of Hong Kong in 2024, it might have made sense to have the iconic Beijing-born diva and fashion icon in singer-actress Faye Wong be the opening act for the HKJC’s FWD Champions Day at Shatin.

Having, however, worked with the very independent minded Faye a few times, would she even want to be associated with horse racing? 

So with the choice of these opening acts being something very subjective and also, apparently, having to be Chinese, singer-actor-chef and businessman Hins Cheung, 43, was wheeled out with the usual rent a crowd fan club for, one guesses, the entertainment pleasure of the city’s racing uncles. 

Would they have cared for all the limp wristed waving and ponderous formulaic Cantonese ballads by Hins from the days of yore and woe?

One really doubts if entertainment fare like the warbling of Hins Cheung brings anything to those who still go horse racing. 

Of course, only a fool would disagree with the marketing bells and whistles of the HKJC’s world class marketing and promotional team and all the numbers that have probably already been trotted out about whirlpools, free t-shirts and attendance and turnover numbers.

One can guess the narrative that was trotted out: “This was a phenomenal Champions Day that had it all and more and showed the world why horse racing in Hong Kong is the best in the world and why I am so proud of our racing product that my very tight shirt almost ripped open and showed everyone my great manly pride”.

Despite the dodgy weather that has been raining down on Hong Kong for the entire week, there were three Group 1 races starring the three champion Hong Kong equine athletes- Golden Sixty, Romantic Warrior and California Spangle- co-starring up and coming pretenders to the thrones and ridden by world class riders.

With the three Hong Kong equine heroes starting at very prohibitive odds, no one was going to get rich or enjoy travelling to Shatin to watch Hins Cheung dressed in orange and white and looking like a FWD logo.

Though nothing really went according to script and while Hong Kong, China won the three Group 1 races, each ridden by a world class Australian rider- Hugh Bowman, Zac Purton and James McDonald- it was extremely hard to watch the mighty Golden Sixty not even running into a place though it would be churlish not to acknowledge the superb wins of Invincible Sage, Beauty Eternal and especially Romantic Warrior. 

Rider James McDonald being lost for words after the race said it all.

Here was the raw and unscripted emotional attachment between the audience and the event I have been mentioning about for almost a decade, especially when it comes to the gambling fixation many have with horse racing.

One wished that the Chief Executive of Hong Kong could have been on course just for this one moment, but as usual, he had better things to do.

This says much.

Writers will write, poets will dream and words can flow like an endless stream of unconscious consciousness, but if I were the Hong Kong Jockey Club, I would bottle what James McDonald said after the win of Romantic Warrior and wake up every morning and chant Om to it.

As for the owner of Golden Sixty, retire your brave and loyal soldier, sir, instead of literally running this equine athlete into the ground.

Whatever positivity you have brought to the table of racing over the years because of your horse pretty much went up in a glutinous ball of tacky greed.

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