t 0

As Porgy sang to Bess, or maybe he was just singing to himself, “Summertime and the living is easy”. And with only eleven more race meetings to go before the curtain falls on another successful Hong Kong racing season despite the global economic downturn, there’s a sense of genteel casualness in the air with the leading riders making plans for the summer break that will no doubt include a few busmen’s holidays in Japan and, possibly, Europe or even the States.

big bong 1

What should send a shiver down the spines of his competitors is that “Jolting” Joao Moreira has applied for a short riding license in Japan during the off-season to, er, further improve his riding skills AND learn and understand the reasons for the incredible success rate and might and power of Japanese horses. This includes the training methods used. And if his application is successful- duh, you think it won’t be?- Moreira’s support system will come, primarily from Noriyuki Hori, the trainer extraordinaire, for whom the Magic Man won the 2016 Hong Kong Champion Mile aboard the magnificent Maurice.

big bong 2

Hori is also a vital part in the success of Northern Farm, the breeding monolith in Hokkaido with its state-of-the-art facilities, which is run today by Katsumi Yoshida, below, son of the late and legendary horseman and pioneer in the globalisation of racing and breeding- Zenya Yoshida.

big bong 3

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Joao Moreira is simply looking after business- his- and looking way beyond the obvious and with a longtime career strategy in mind. This is no ordinary jockey. This isn’t even about being the world’s best jockey. It’s about being the Starship Enterprise and boldly going where no other jockey has gone before, Mr Spock. Can you hear the theme music, Captain Kirk?

big bong 4

The racing world is not only Joao Moreira’s oyster. It’s his sushi and sashimi platter, McHappy Meal, bangers and mash, and, of course, the best Mott32 dim sum in Hong Kong.

big bong 5

As for the local riders, they will head overseas to fine-tune their motor skills with Matthew Chadwick choosing to ride in Singapore during the off-season while “Others” will soon know whether they’ll be riding somewhere completely different- like heading off into the sunset as the Fat Lady has sung, and their gigs in Hong Kong are up.

big bong 6

Of course, the big value-laden question is who will be the replacements- and from where- especially to, at least, come close to stopping The Group 1 Tommy The Tank Engine powered by Joao Moreira.

big bong 7

At the moment, only The Zac Attack can offer any resistance, and competition to the Magic Man with Neil Callan, Chad Schofield, Brett Prebble and Karis Teetan- the very likeable Mauritian Magician will also spend part of the off-season riding in Japan, which is terrific news- all very good jockeys, relegated to playing cameo roles and managing to upset the Brazilian apple cart once in a while against what is a freak of nature: The Moreira Factor.

big bong 8

Sure, Joao Moreira has a great support system, and some jockeys whose careers are heading South can cry about this like spoiled ninnies, but the fact of the matter is when a jockey can win on even a horse trained by the battling Sean Woods by almost six lengths, it really should quell their nattering and excuses for not riding winners- and getting lost in the bunker on what should have been winners. Just watch the last race on Sunday for a prime example of one senior jockey caught asleep at the wheel.

big bong 9b

The only time the Moreira Express might slow down is in November when we could see the return of Ryan Moore and Silvestre de Sousa in order to create a more level playing field.

big bong 10

Until then, it’s one way traffic with some jockeys needing to thank their lucky stars and fairy godmothers for still being able to ride in Hong Kong despite everyone knowing that they’re simply not good enough, and that far better riders will jump at the opportunity to ride here- and should be riding here- Kieren McEvoy, Blake Shinn, Brenton Avdulla, Dylan Dunn, Damian Lane, Ben Melham etc etc. And yes, all these riders are from Australia, but where else can one look, and who else is there apart from young Mauritian whizz kid Nooresh Juglal, below, currently wasting his talents riding in racing’s land the world forgot- Singapore?

big bong 11

Let’s never forget that Joao Moreira was courted to leave the Lion City where the racing has certainly lost its bite, and with young Juglal being described by many as “The new Joao Moreira”, it could be another poach de coup for the HKJC to grab him.

big bong 12

As for tonight, last month’s C’est Si Bon Happy Wednesday French flair theme is replaced by a definite Latino atmosphere with the wonderfully entertaining Carnivale back performing at the Beer Garden along with a conga line of Brazilian Samba dancers.

big bong 13

With all this happening, the omen bet would be to just soak in everything happening around you and back the Brazilian Magic Man. But this would be too easy. There won’t be any value- though certainly more value than following Moreira in the Jockey Challenge, or bothering with those daft “Composite Bets” that offer up nothing for anybody. If these bets were a roll up that could be placed early based on the overnight odds, perhaps there might be some stirring of the loins. But betting to win $1.30-$2.70 is hardly the stuff to get pulses racing and stop George Castanza-type shrinkage settling in for the night.

big bong 14

Where’s there any value? Perhaps in the last race. The racing pundit nehrus have narrowed this down to a race in two- Lotus Strikes Back (Moreira) and Little Island with the always competitive Neil Callan aboard. Of course, it would be idiotic to ignore both these runners, but include Sempiternal with Jacky Tong riding for longtime friend Chris So. Tong, who gives up race riding at the end of the season to be a track rider, has won on the horse before- one of his very few wins- and could easily bow out on a winning note singing the Ying Tong Song.

big bong 15b

Below are, again, not tips. Let’s leave tips for waiters, but certainly not for the new army of staff operating in slow motion at the recently renovated Coffee Shop at the Grand Hyatt.

big bong 16

Bad service aside, what you have here are personal choices based on that thing called gut instinct. Hey, no guts, no glory. And if the Grand Hyatt wishes to return to its glory days of the Champagne Bar and the now-closed JJ’s, it better find itself a more visible General Manager, someone like Gordon Fuller, who was always around to listen to all customers, and not only VIPs. Whew. Glad that’s off my chest.

big bong 17

Finally, one cannot wait to listen to race caller John “And they’re OFF” Blance take us- and those in Oz able to watch the Hong Kong races for the first time through Racing.com- through race 5 with his usual gusto where Big Bang Bong races.

big bong 18

Let’s just hope that the Bong doesn’t become a Dong, whereas one always gets a tad nervous when Amigo Brett Davis declares any race “fill up time”, which, apparently will be race 7 when numbers 2,7,9,11 are supposed to salute.

big bong 19



big bong 20


big bong 21


big bong 22


big bong 23


big bong 23b


big bong 24


big bong 25


big bong 26

RACE 7: Wah May Baby (11)

RACE 3: Winning King (1)

RACE 8: Sempiternal (11)

R3: 1-2-5
R4: 1-10-11
R5: 1-5-11-12
R6: 3-10-12
R7: 7-9-11
R8: 3-7-8-11


big bong 27