For a minute there, we were a little taken aback: had trainer David “Darth” Ferraris, below, decided to also embrace the world of showbiz, specifically, by managing a new boy band?

Why the reason for all this buzz? Former One Directioner Liam Payne, in Hong Kong for that confusing and chaotic E Prix/Formula E fizzler where there was a winner for about half an hour before being disqualified etc etc, apparently photographed with the happy-go-lucky South African trainer.

Alas, it wasn’t dear “Darth” in rather colourful threads. “Darth” apparently didn’t have a happy ending to the races at Sunday. He was caught between the moon and Shatin Heights and not in a happy place.

Other “Darth” doppelgängers?


Of course what matters most to Hong Kong owners are the names of their names in Chinese. Often, these names have to do with feng shui and with even feng shui masters brought in to consult as to those names bursting with good joss.

As for all those English names for horses overflowing with words like “Lucky”, “Dragon”, “Champion”, “Happy” and references to prawns, Baba, Monica, the name of a gelding, by the way, Lucky Girl, also a gelding, and other weirdness, these seem to have been plucked out of thin air or taken from the Good Book Of Google.

This evening, what really stands out in the What’s In A Name category is first starter Fat Turtle in the last and to be ridden by the Zac Attack.

Formerly raced as Butchoy in Oz and trained by co-owner Matt Griffith, the four-year-old’s biggest win was taking out last year’s 1600 metre Tab Highway Plate by a yawning 15 lengths when ridden by Hugh Bowman.

Now with the powerful Frankie Lor yard, it tackles 1200 metres, and, for the first time, the Hong Kong city track.

With the combination of Lor and Purton and their exceptional strike rate, Fat Turtle won’t be at any juicy odds. The galloper is bound to have his admirers. Especially, these guys.

Other first starters tonight: Duke Wai, no doubt owned by a fan of telephones and the late John “Duke” Wayne, Baby- yes, just Baby, Kingfumaster Panda and Ballistic King, who could have been inspired by a character from “Game Of Thrones”.


We were saddened to hear the news that former champion Hong Kong sprinter Sacred Kingdom is no longer with us. He was only 15.

Trained by Ricky Yiu, it seems like only yesterday that we still can’t believe the brilliant galloper easily the won his first race in Hong Kong under jockey Danny Nikolic and at the extraordinarily good odds of 11 to 1.

The partnership with Nikolic and Ricky Yiu yielded five consecutive winners before it ended abruptly when the galloper started and came fourth as a long odds on favourite to Medic Power.

It was one of those uncertainties of horse racing. Though not found guilty of any misdoing, the rumour mill went into overdrive and the jockey found himself singled out for the loss. It left him out in the cold with the ride on Sacred Kingdom going to Gerald Mosse, Brett Prebble and possibly a few other riders before the champion sprinter retired in 2012 and left to be with his mother (Courtroom Sweetie) at Kornong Stud Farm in Victoria.

As for Danny Nikolic, he left Hong Kong in 2007 after riding at one meeting of that racing season. He returned to the land Down Under where, despite being a talented rider, and a resume that included winning the 2005 Caulfield Cup aboard Mummify, below, he was dogged by one controversy after another.

Where’s he now? Where’s Waldo? Who knows, maybe he’ll pop up in Singapore and into the waiting arms of Terry Bailey?

Victoria Racing’s former Chief Steward resigned last year to take up a similar post with the Singapore Turf Club after a particularly testing time with Nikolic and a tsunami of problems, loose ends like drive-by shootings that drew a blank and a raft of unanswered questions that are now part of a murky past inedibly stamped in the history of Victorian racing


He came extremely close to riding a treble on the weekend, but Regan Bayliss has just four rides today- nothing exactly that jumps off the page.

It shows how tough it is out there to win over trainers, yes, but also owners- and their wives and girlfriends and enablers and, often, the extremely critical Chinese racing media.

Of course, rides for today would have been confirmed before the Bayliss double on Sunday and he’ll no doubt have a good book of rides on Sunday. But with Joao Moreira back from his stop-start suspensions and Zac Purton and Silvestre De Sousa being able to pick and choose many of their rides, especially those in the higher grades, many other senior jockeys are handed the leftovers.

Travelling under the radar and riding winners regularly are the claiming apprentices Matthew Poon, Victor Wong and- hello- Dylan Mo. Only Jack Wong is finding it tough to find his rhythm. But he works hard, he’s got his head screwed on right and will be back amongst the winners.

About to enter the local riding ranks is 10-pound claiming apprentice Alfred Chan.

Having seen him ride in Adelaide, he’ll more than measure up. Indentured to the hugely successful Frankie Lor yard, he and his ten pound allowance will soon be seen leading from the front and sure to rack up a number of winners in double quick time.

It could look like those glory days when then-apprentice Matthew Chadwick combined with his master in trainer Tony Cruz and had winner after winner. It was like a medley between hits by ABBA, Queen and Jefferson Airplane.

People have very short memories. Matthew Chadwick and Derek Leung, who won three successive top rated races including a Group 1 aboard Beauty Generation are two very good riders.

Do they get the opportunities they deserve? Think about it. Then think how one is only as good as their last win.

To deliver consistently and with the same level of quality is something probably only McDonald’s can do. Sometimes even they get it wrong.


#horseracing #DavidFerraris #LiamPayne #ReganBayliss #horsenames #FatTurtle #Chelthenham #MatthewChadwick #SacredKingdom #DannyNikolic #TerryBailey #AlfredChan #HKracing