By Hans Ebert

The master of space and time Frankie (Dettori) was giving Hollywood a miss in order to turn Royal Ascot into his very own turf show. It was a magnificent display of horsemanship, showbiz, exuberance and inspiration. It was Frankie being Frankie. He owns all Rights.

In all this Frankiepower and the excellent marketing of the Royal Ascot brand to racing fans across the world, it’s easy to overlook successes like the recent winning rides of, like Frankie Dettori, the equally ageless Damien Oliver. But don’t. Please.

Olly’s ride at Flemington yesterday on Chouxting The Mob showed a remarkable rider with an even more remarkable career continuing to turn back the clock.

With an ongoing series of brilliant rides in the past few weeks, Damien Oliver practically willed and lifted the promising stayer over the line. He never gave up doing everything possible to get his ride home.

Still with Flemington, exciting young apprentice Michael Poy was continuing to make a name for himself with a brilliant winning ride on Milwaukee.

Fellow young gun Theo Nugent is someone else displaying everything it takes to soon be making a mark in the major league.

Sometimes it looks like one is witnessing a changing of the old guard, but this old guard keeps showing everyone that old dogs don’t need any new tricks.

Away from Royal Ascot and Flemington, it certainly looks like Blake Shinn is getting in as much “rehearsal time” as possible before joining the Hong Kong riding ranks next season by winning and winning and winning races over the last couple of weeks. This included adding to his tally at Eagle Farm yesterday with another treble.

It all augurs well for, as if it isn’t already, an extremely competitive 2019/20 season with the very good Australian hoop competing for winners against, especially Zac Purton, Joao Moreira, back as a Club jockey, Karis Teetan, Vincent Ho and two relatively new riders to Hong Kong in South Africa’s Grant van Niekerk and Aldo Domeyer, below competing against each other. This time, the latter won.

There’s something of the X Factor about both riders. Having learned through trial and error this season about avoiding careless riding charges and the differences in riding at Happy Valley and Shatin, they’re riding more winners than others far more used to Hong Kong racing. They’re doing far better than some might have thought they would when first announced as being licensed as Club jockeys.

Van Niekerk and Domeyer have also very quickly built up good support systems with trainers that can only become stronger. And this support is coming from a number of different stables.

Variety is in the spice of rides and there’s nothing better than throwing the net out as wide as possible and see who bites.

Right now, many are biting and with both riders again having more than average winning chances this afternoon.

Like last weekend where Domeyer rode a winner for him with Van Niekerk placing second for the same trainer, both have rides for John Moore today. Domeyer, below, riding a couple for Ricky Yiu, especially My Winner, also catches the eye.

Sure, it’s coming to the end of the season, and while some already have one foot on the plane and ready for a really good break, one cannot help thinking what Douglas Whyte’s plans to kickstart his new career as a trainer might be.

For example, which horses racing today will move to his stable? Uncle Steve? Styling City?Both? And, like horses for courses, has he already decided which riders would suit his runners?

Douglas Whyte never leaves anything to chance. He didn’t as Hong Kong’s champion jockey for thirteen consecutive years, and it won’t when he starts this new chapter in his career in the horse racing industry.

Without getting too ahead of ourselves, one cannot ignore the various protests taking place in the city. Depending on how long these last, and with no one none the wiser about when and where these will end, there’s the nagging question as to how these might affect the future of Hong Kong.

The longer these protests drag on, the more difficult it is to know who exactly are wearing the black hats. The constant reportage by the usual suspects has become tedious and confusing with more than a whiff of political naïveté. Hey, it’s social media where, like assholes, everyone has an opinion.

After a huge march last Sunday- a peaceful example of solidarity and demands for the government to scrap the contentious extradition bill which would give Mainland China the rights to apprehend anyone it believe to be criminals, and calling on the city’s befuddled Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down, these protests have morphed into a multi-headed beast.

More protests on Friday showed that these are now disrupting daily life and the livelihoods of many. What this has done is create an overnight divide between mainly the young student protesters and those now raging against the machine and fed up with their antics. They’re getting ready for a showdown. It had to happen.

Have the original reasons for these protests been lost in the shuffle? Yes. It’s also not helping Hong Kong’s image as a global brand. Mainland China cannot afford for this to happen, especially when facing an threat of a trade war with America.

None of this should affect the racing. But if these protesters become “Oliver Twisted” and continue to demand for more and more, the fallout might just put off those riders, especially from the UK and Europe, who regularly come to Hong Kong during winter with their families on extremely lucrative working holidays. Or it won’t. Who knows? The two below?

Having said this, Hong Kong is and has always been resilient. The HKJC is in sync with Hong Kong and is a well-oiled machine. It works understanding the mood of the city- and the role horse racing plays in Hong Kong’s “Can Do” spirit.

Personally speaking, protests and just plain ugliness along with goofiness has created a dysfunctional world comprising The Big Orange in the White House twitching like the trigger of a gun, to Brexit or not to Brexit, a Slim Shady economy, senseless terror attacks and self-serving agendas at work.

Hong Kong will be fine. CNN and all the other regional news media offices based in- hmmmm-Singapore might already be tiring of covering what’s happening here. How many ways can one say the same damn thing? And why continue to believe everything that’s thrown out there for public consumption without understanding that there just might be some very sinister reasons for these?

Right, Bob? Got it.

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