By Hans Ebert
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A rainstorm warning had been raised in the afternoon and I managed to make it to the Grand Cafe of the Grand Hyatt for a bowl of chicken congee, the best remedy when needing to steel one’s stomach when unsure where one might end up after the races on a Happy Wednesday and eat anything placed in front of you without thinking. It’s been the ruin of many a poor boy’s stomach. A hot bowl of congee with all the trimmings is an anatomical Great Wall of China.

While filling myself with the congee and looking at the names of the horses running on what looked like being a rain sodden night, there were four that could have been “omen bets”- Storm Signal, Lightning Missile and Thunder Storm.

Having decided at lunch that I needed to pry myself away from the bewitching charms of Lady Twitter that night and get back to life in the real world, a sense of F*** It came over me. I wanted my privacy back.

A Happy Wednesday is always fun and irreverent and, like Strawberry Fields Forever, nothing to get hung up about. There are plenty of greater problems afflicting the world- social media being one a them- to get tangled up in blue about something that’s meant to be a fun experience- a day, or in this case, a night at the races.

So, looking at the rides of Zac Purton, five of his rides stood out as having names that would not have been out of place on a Village People record- Buoyant Boy, Hot King Prawn, Super Hoppy, Aeroluminance and Fantastic Feeling. The last one came third. The other four won and a rather strange pink colour painted the sky. The rain disappeared. And Rock Smurfette Kat Coetzee sang about having a Zac Attack onstage at the Beer Garden.

The Happy Wednesday theme for the night- the Brazilian themed Carnivale Of Action- was hijacked by a rampaging Australian, who, in recent weeks and months, has been raining on the parade of Joao Moreira, the magic man from São Paulo.

Sure, the often brilliant rider who’s rewritten Hong Kong racing history books will leave for Japan at the end of this racing season on a three month contract with the ultimate goal being to pass various tests to do with understanding, speaking and writing Japanese before being granted a full-time riding license, with some saying he’s given up competing for the Hong Kong Jockey Premiership. Really doubt it.

Joao Moreira is way too competitive to roll over and be Zac Attacked. There’s pride at stake. And Japanese racing fans plus influential owners and trainers watching. So are other riders. There’s a lesson to be learned from how ALL this plays out. It’s a fascinating version of horse racing’s game of thrones.

What they saw on Thursday was another Zac Attack Master Class- four winners on the eight race card with another very good double from former champion jockey Douglas Whyte, below, who’s suddenly riding with renewed vigour and confidence that’s good to see.

Perhaps not having ridden for two meetings had not shaken off the mothballs and maybe he didn’t have the horsepower to deliver the goods on the city track which has never been his happy hunting grounds. But nothing is ever how we want it and one must play the cards the person upstairs has given us.

Despite a full book of rides, Joao Moreira’s runners couldn’t even run into a placing. They just plodded home while the Zac Attack was firing on all cylinders.

It’s been a strange old racing season highlighted by the competitiveness of Zac Purton to turn things around and go after the magic man like Mad Dog Morgan on steroids and overhaul him when it looked like being a procession and another premiership to Joao Moreira.

The procession lost its way around three months ago along with the magic man’s mojo. He was picking the wrong rides, he looked all at sea, the winning machine slowed down to a walk and local racing fans vented their fury when favourites got rolled.

With that familiar Cantonese slang word that rhymes with “few” ringing in his ears, Joao Moreira looked shaken and stirred. Sensing he had a nervous chihuahua in his sights, the Zac Attack went in for the kill and is now four ahead with only seven more race meetings left before the end of the season.

Of course, Joao Moreira can never be counted out, but looking at his book of rides on one of those rare Saturday afternoon meetings, it’s nothing to get one’s enchilada even humming. He MIGHT come away with four winners, or he could return home empty handed.

As for Zac Purton, he looks almost certain to ride at least a double and which just might seal what may never materialise- a ding dong battle for riding supremacy which some had hoped. We’ll know for whom the bell tolls at around 6pm tomorrow.

Quasimodo, please get ready.

#HKracing #horseracing #HKJC #ZacPurton #ZacAttack #JoaoMoreira #HappyWednesdayHk