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Like Hong Kong, Happy Wednesdays might be in the lap of the weather gods these days, but nothing can dampen the spirits of all those who make the time to turn up at Happy Valley racecourse.

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Last Wednesday, despite the rain and amber alert storm warnings, it was like water off a duck’s back as many took advantage to try all the new virtual racing technology from Samsung that put them in the driver’s seat- and jockey’s saddle- with the special VR Goggles as the first of three Digital Nights took everyone to where few have gone before- competing in a horse race.

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If anyone thinks it’s “easy” to be a jockey and compete in races where one needs to make quick decisions, keep away from harm’s way, and ride to win, this virtual racing application showed all the skill sets needed.

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This Happy Wednesday, the same activities are there for everyone to find out for themselves what it’s like to be riding in a race, whereas there’s, of course, all the real racing action featuring Hong Kong’s United Nations Of Racing for you to cheer on- Brazilian Joao Moreira, Aussies Zac Purton, Brett Prebble, Chad Schofield and Nash Rawiller, champion South African riders Douglas Whyte and Gavin Lerena, Irishman Neil Callan, and top local riders Derek Leung, Keith Yeung, Matthew Chadwick, Vincent Ho and boom female apprentice Kei Chiong.

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READY TO COME FUNTING?

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There are people we know who shudder whenever the word “punting” is mentioned. And if at the races, and amongst a throng of rabid hardcore punters, the word ricochets all over the place- and you have to duck if not wishing to be struck down.

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Punting is part and parcel of horse racing and there’s nothing wrong with it it. Live and let live, we say. But if just easing into horse racing and with absolutely no interest in knowing handicapping, weights and measures and thinking the huge totalisator board is a starship from another space in time, we, well, one of us-and he owns all Rights to the name- have created FUNTING. Why? Because times and terminology change, and horse racing should be a FUN pastime for those still trying to work out how it all works.

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So, instead of punting, FUNTING keeps it all simple. It tries to make horse racing fun. Remember fun? How, for example, when at the races, how do you choose the horse or horses you wish to see win? Maybe you like the name? And remember that horses in Hong Kong have very different Chinese and English names. It’s like local trainer KL Man known in English as Manfred Man. Yes, like the old pop band Manfred Mann.

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Perhaps you like one of the names? Perhaps a horse’s saddlecloth is your lucky number? Perhaps you’re Brazilian and like the fact that a horse is ridden by Hong Kong’s champion jockey- the Magic Man from Brazil- Joao Moreira. Or if Irish, you follow horses ridden by Irishman Neil Callan? And with Hong Kong being the only racing jurisdiction in the world with jockeys from France, Mauritius, Australia, South Africa, and, of course, right here from home base, you get the drift.

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Without giving too much away right now, watch out for more ways to come to the races and start Funting. It’s a fun thing whose time has come.

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KEI CHIONG: HAPPY WEDNESDAY PRINCESS

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With every stable clamouring for her services, 23-year-old boom female apprentice Kei Chiong is, apart from Joao Moreira, the jockey to follow. Kei is riding winners regularly, and is riding with far greater strength and determination. But let’s not forget that she has a very long way to go before becoming a top jockey. Everything happening to her is still all very new as she remains a work in progress.

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Right now, being the flavour of the day, the odds on her horses are starting much lower than they should be. So, yes, support our Happy Wednesday Princess, but realise that Kei Chiong cannot win on everything she rides. Neither can the Magic Man- Joao Moreira, or the Aussie Zac Attack- Zac Purton.

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Whatever are your Funting methods, make them diverse, and leave out extremely good jockeys like Karis Teetan, the extremely underrated Derek Leung, Chad Schofield and Neil Callan at your peril. They’re worth Funting on.

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