By Hans Ebert



Gawd knows it’s tough out there. It’s called life. And living it. And never giving up. Easy to say, but extremely difficult when it seems that the odds are always stacked against you. It’s another version of the Haves and the Have Nots.

When Neil Callan won the Hong Kong Football Club Centenary Cup on London Master at Happy Wednesday last night, many of us cheered. We were cheering for the gritty Irish jockey, South African trainer David Ferraris and, just maybe, ourselves.

It was a win for that thing called Hope. And faith. Maybe even fate?

This horse racing season has been extremely tough going for many. It’s often like the more you give of yourself, the less you receive. Life and living is not meant to be like this.

In the goldfish bowl that is horse racing in Hong Kong, there are more downs than ups. It comes in waves.

That win on London Master was a much needed win for jockey and trainer. Both needed a winner. And especially in Hong Kong, one is only as good as their last win.

It’s something tough to do if opportunities don’t come knocking on your door. Or if you’re not a Zac Purton, Joao Moreira, a successful trainer like John Moore, John Size and Tony Cruz, or thrown a new career lifeline.

As a jockey, it’s impossible to ride winners when no one offers you rides.

Callan Murray, Sam Clipperton and my good friend Alberto Sanna, below, must often feel that they’re banging their heads against the moon.

That despite all the hard work, all the rigours of fighting off horrendous injuries to get fit enough to keep going, something the iron man from Sardenia has done, doors slam shut on their faces and one has to even endure entire race meetings without a ride. It’s extremely tough to absorb. It shakes one’s confidence.

That very human emotion called jealousy mixed with a sense of despair and failure come into play. It’s there in every career making decision.

Think it’s easy being a singer or musician and having to be fit enough to perform every single night? Think it doesn’t take great effort not to catch a cold or come down with a sore throat?

Think it’s not tough being an Asian like myself who has fought racism from kindergarten and had to work doubly hard to prove myself?

Think it’s easy to watch mediocre and lightweight talent be given those wonderful expat packages?

In advertising, this city once saw the invasion of what were known as FILTHs- Failed In London, Try Hong Kong. Because of good hair, a winning smile and the colour of their skin, these opportunists sold themselves to those impressed with superficiality and The Art Of BS. It was sickening. It still goes on and where incompetence and the gift of the gab is rewarded.

Think of the American restaurateur who marketed himself as a “celebrity chef” by hoodwinking investors in Hong Kong. Over and over again. Where’s he today?

The truth always catches up with flim flam people. Truth always wins out. So does talent. Real talent.

Look at the great breakout season being enjoyed today by Hong Kong rider Vincent CY Ho and rookie trainer Frankie Lor. And let’s not forget South African Grant van Niekerk, below, who many thought would never ever make it in Hong Kong.

At least to this writer, their successes should be celebrated. Their successes have that emotional involvement with racing and perhaps even non racing fans which the “marketing” overkill for Beauty Generation- of course an exceptional horse- just does not have. How many ways can one say that this is a very good horse before the message becomes tedious?

That winning ride last night by Neil Callan should be seen as something positive and inspiring. That while we’re still here, it’s about fighting the odds and winning.

It’s about pushing those shoulders back, pulling up one’s socks and looking forward instead of looking back.

Opportunity knocks when least expected. That home run is just a shot away.

As Stevie Winwood sang, While you see a chance take it. And if you drag your sorry ass and think there’ll be other chances, well, there aren’t.

#NeilCallan #HKracing #winning #BeautyGeneration #VincentHo #FrankieLor #CallanMurray #SamClipperton #AlbertoSanna #ZacPurton #JoaoMoreira #life #GrantVanNiekerk