Most of Hong Kong can breathe a slight sigh of relief for at least four hours this afternoon. Why?After two months of being bombarded by fresh new hashtags to go with another round of protests, not always peaceful, about something new- and, most recently, the arrest of a number of pro democracy activists and what can only be described as a “turbulent night” yesterday- the city can welcome in the first day of the new racing season.

It’s a huge respite to hundreds of thousands who have had to endure Hong Kong’s long hot summer of discontent that shows no signs of cooling off.

With, no one from the “lame Peking duck” government being present, notably the much reviled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to bang the gong and officially have the new racing season start, the show will, of course, go on- one way or another.

Of course it will be a “challenging” season for the HKJC as, apart from a global economy on a downward spiral which will, not surprisingly, affect turnover, there’s another beast of burden called Betfair Australia.

Those in Australia and the UK, for the first time, being able to “lay” runners in Hong Kong races- meaning, betting on a horse to lose- has all kinds of implications, especially how the notoriously suspicious Hong Kong racing fans whenever a favourite loses, will accept the Betfair factor into their betting strategies.

How many times have those of us who have been around here long enough to know the inner workings of racing in this city heard the words, “Rubbish race! (Name any jockey) not trying!”?

The sudden entry of Betfair as an independent and legal competitor doesn’t also augur well for commingling along with how far local racing fans will will go to indulge in scrutinising every race, every ride and every betting fluctuation before coming up with their own conspiracy theories.

For Betfair, it’s business and another betting option, but, personally, it’s not something to which we subscribe.

For a sport where integrity has always been an issue, having the opportunity to bet on any horse to lose surely makes a mockery of the basic concept of horse racing- and which is for a horse to win. Right?

Of course for the big bettors and professional gamblers, the ironically named Betfair is manna from heaven. To the average racing fan, it’s a pox.

Try explaining how Betfair works to anyone new and thinking of being part of the horse racing community. Listen to their reply- if they even bother to reply.

As for today’s racing, it’s a very competitive card with plenty of unknown factors to take into consideration, especially after days and nights of rain.

For us, today’s races is more of a dress rehearsal or starter before the main courses are delivered. But it’s still racing, it’s a stress buster, and thank goodness for that.

Of course, many eyes will be on former multiple winning champion Hong Kong jockey Douglas Whyte’s seven runners as a trainer while, especially racing fans in Australia, will be cheering on Blake Shinn who’ll finally be making his debut as a rider in Hong Kong.

Knowing something about Douglas Whyte, he won’t be in any hurry to prove himself as a trainer. He’s been around too long and achieved too much to rush into things and suffer from premature great expectations.

Of course the Zac Attack and the Durban Demon, once supposedly mortal enemies, combining in the eighth race on the former John Moore galloper Easy Go Easy Win will have many believing that this will be the first in a long line of winners for the new double act.

We believe that restraint might be the best approach here. We don’t subscribe to the adage of easy come, easy go when it comes to backing horses that might not only start under the odds, but come with a watching brief.

If Whyte were to have a winner today, we’d recommend taking a look at Adonis (13) with Regan Bayliss up in the second race. Barrier 12 isn’t ideal over the 1200 metres it tackles, but Adonis could be finishing handsomely and in a manly manner over the top of them.

Of course, the first race of the season should see good turnover despite there being only nine runners. There will be those all over Whyte’s first runner as a trainer- Le Panache, racing down a class, and to be ridden by Alberto Sanna who looks like receiving considerable support from the new stable.

Others will be hoping that talented young South African rider Lyle Hewitson emulates quite a few of his countrymen by winning the first race of the season whereas there’ll be plenty of money on the rides of Purton and Moreira.

With him on Gold Velvet (1) for South African trainer Tony Millard, IF deciding to have some interest in this race, we’d be backing Lyle Hewitson to win. The horse to beat will be Good Runners Way (3) with the lethal Zac Attack aboard.

Very quickly, our pretty rough thoughts:

R2- a Class 5 race where anything can win without surprising but we’ll stick with Adonis (13) in a boxed quinella with 1,5, 8,12.

R3- Regency Legend (5) Styling City (7)

R4- Another Venus Flytrap of a race. Blake Shinn has a good chance to get off the mark on Lucky Guy (10). Another with a strong chance is Falcon Turbo (2) with Vincent CY Ho riding for Whyte.

R5- Another nightmare of a race with at least seven winning chances.

R6- There’ll be plenty of backing for Dancing Master (1) which is owned by Chinese superstar Aaron Kwok and ridden by the Zac Attack. It can win and result in another love fest between owner, jockey and trainer. The horses to give Dancing Master most to do will be Allied Agility (2), Ka Ying Master and leave out Winning Ways (13) at your peril.

R7- What’s interesting is Joao Moreira seemingly choosing Summer And Shine ahead of the John Size trained Infinity Endeavour which will be ridden by Karis Teetan. This is not to say either have a chance of winning. Pass us some Golden Sixty Croissants, will you? Geddit?

R8- 4-9-1-2-11
R9- 7-8-11-9
R10- The best race of the day.
We might box up 5-8-9-10-14. Or use Beauty Day (10) as a banker.

Have a good day. Try.

#HKracing