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Recognising the very expensive and personalised number plates of the very flashy cars parked within walking distance of Hong Kong’s newest not-so-private private gentleman’s club down a quiet alleyway in Lan Kwai Fong, there appeared to be some early Hong Kong Classic Mile celebrations taking place at the uniquely named Common Place late Thursday night/early Friday morning.

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When will these people learn about enjoying le joie de vivre- but under the radar? With everyone using Smartphones and uploading just, well, stuff, onto social media platforms- or selling this “stuff” to the Chinese media- what happens indoors, doesn’t stay indoors. These good times can appear anywhere, anytime, anyhow to bite one where the sun doesn’t shine. It’s called progress. Oh, yes, and “fan engagement” while rocking in the free world.

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These are no longer the days when frequenting upmarket escort clubs in Tsimshatsui like BBoss and China City and running into Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell were really no big deal. Neither was checking into a “secret” love motel in the afternoon and parking one’s car at a supposedly hidden underground car park. Neither was being a “member” of the original Goodfellas private club down Ice House Street, and surreptitiously entering its last premises in D’Aguilar Street with some well-known horse owners ending the night by dancing in a cage- you read that correctly- in another private club down the road with ladies from Maldova. It was mild Wolf Of Wall Street stuff. And few ever were exposed. But that was then- and not that long ago.

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On the racing front, the highlight of today’s card at Shatin, or to avoid any butt jokes- Sha Tin- is the Group 1 Hong Kong Classic Mile. It promises to be a fascinating race as, at one time, many were of the opinion that this would be a stroll in the park for the John Size-trained Thewizardofoz. Over-thinking and Information Overload has been the undoing of many best-laid plans and nothing is going to steer me away from skipping up the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy, Toto, and the cast from the long-running HKJC-produced horse opera called Racing To Win- the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow- and finding The Wizard at the end of the rainbow.

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The fact that Hugh Bowman, very possibly the best jockey riding in Australia today, has been flown out by John Moore to be reunited with Werther, which won on International Day, and all the “late mail” from the land Down Under suggesting that a win by the horse is a given, is some cause for concern, but, frankly, if there were to be a fly in the ointment, my personal view would be that it would be Brett Prebble’s ride- Lucky Bubbles.

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Though not venturing into forbidden territory by asking Prebble- his $10,000 Adieu to the Starter last Wednesday for a botched start was worth every cent for audiences- where he would like his horse to be in the running- answer: Wherever it’s comfortable- the very much in-from jockey was quietly upbeat when being interviewed by Edward Sadler, the intrepid Jimmy Olsen, Cub Reporter, of the Racing To Win team. On the subject of Prebble’s $10,000 fine for “misconduct”, one has to wonder what the Starter was staring at for, what many say, was another error of his ways? After all, you know what they say about tangos…

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Let’s just pause here to mention that with Paul Lally away in New Zealand for his 50th birthday bash, the English broadcasting team today will be expanded to include young Edward and Postman Pat- Pat Cummings, the Club’s Executive Manager of Public Affairs (Racing), and Big Poohbah Of Twitter #Hashtags. As long as the serial belcher from the Chinese broadcasting team along with his colleague- the whiny female racing expert who sounds like an annoying local girlfriend pining for a new handbag from Shenzhen- don’t cross over to the other side, fasten your seat belts for another riveting tour de force of television programming travelling through time at full throttle.

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As for the greatest show on turf, as usual, Joao Moreira is paying something like $1.2 to win the Jockey Challenge, and he will win it. But there still looks to be a helluva lot of value to be had. The Magic Man just might not get his own way out in front as often as the overnight odds suggest.

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Zac Purton returns after a somewhat lengthy suspension, but some shocking barrier draws suggest that. apart from Line Seeker- despite the horror draw of 14- and General Of Patch in the last, he might be in for more of a bit part today than a starring role as Ben Hur.

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The jockey who just might make his recent knockers eat their words is Douglas Whyte despite not having a full book of rides. How weird is that: Douglas Whyte, champion Hong Kong jockey for thirteen consecutive years without a full book of rides? Though his association with billionaire owner Pan Sutong looks to have hit more than a few icebergs while his opportunities for Richard Gibson are drying up faster than prunes on a hot tin roof, the Durban Demon’s rides today like Victory Magic and Secret Weapon could see Hong Kong’s former champion jockey back in the limelight.

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Below are, gawd forbid, not tips, but some opinions about today’s races. Use them as you will, or ignore them completely. Whatever you do, enjoy yourself. It’s not life or death. It’s four hours of what promises to be some world class racing.

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Race 1
3-10-1-14-8

With the races starting at 12.30, dabble in a few quartets here, and until around race five when you can roll your sleeves up and get down to business. These early races are just some dim sum before the Peking Duck head- or its other end- is pointed your way.

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Race 2
14-12-8-2

Take you and your girlfriend’s birthdays, add them up, divide by 14 and you’ll probably do better than following any tips. This race really is Mission: Impossible.

Happy Wednesday parade 1

Race 3
8-1-4-13

See above…

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Race 4
2-12-1-6

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Race 5
4-6-5-2

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Race 6
7-9-8-5

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Race 7
8-1-12-14

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Race 8
11-2-8-1

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Race 9
2-5-9-11

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Race 10
2-3-6-1

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Race 11
7-4-12-6

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BEST BET
Race 10: Thewizardofoz (2)

NEXT BEST
Race 7: Quinella: 1-8

LONGSHOT
Race 3: Rugby Ambassador (13)

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SIX UP

R6: 5-6-7-8-9
R7: 1-8
R8: 11
R9: 2
R10: 2-3-6
R11: 4-7-12-13

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QUADDIE

R8: 1-(2)-8-(11)
R9: (2)-3-5-9-11
R10: (2)-3-6
R11: (4)-6-7-(12)-13

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PARTING SHOT

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