By Hans Ebert

Friends in horse racing have asked what makes Hong Kong’s FWD Champions Day a champions day. Those in self isolation and glued to their television sets these days trying to get their heads around four hours of programming twice a week featuring the city’s favourite pastime for hundreds of thousands have asked what FWD is.

Well, FWD is a company that’s part of billionaire Richard Li’s business empire- Little Richard being the youngest son of Li Ka-shing, the richest man in Hong Kong.

As for FWD Hong Kong Champions Day, this will be like no other Champions Day just as Covid-19 has completely turned the world upside down and inside out. And which is why to trot out past winners of one of the most important days in the Hong Kong racing calendar is irrelevant.

The great Silent Witness carrying the hopes of this city plus its resilience and “Can Do” spirit during the SARS crisis that crippled the city in 2003 versus the champion miler Beauty Generation racing during the global pandemic we’re all staring in the face, is a no-contest.

Why? Very different times. And times change everything. Both were and are champions for their time. This is where any similarities end. Moving on…

At least for myself, other than the wagering, this Champions day has to do with how the results might affect the Longines-IFHA World’s Best Jockeys rankings.

Right now, Joao Moreira is at the top of the leaderboard. Should he win two of the three Group races- the Champions Mile is not eligible for points in the World’s Best Jockeys rankings- he’ll move further up the rankings. Confused? Anyway, it certainly looks as if Zac Purton might win all three Group races and overtake his arch rival.

Beauty Generation, already the world’s highest ranked miler of 2019 and with a HK$100 million in prize money, looks almost certain to add to its financial haul.

There’s then what’s of main interest to especially local racing fans: the battle royale for the Hong Kong Jockeys Championship between the charismatic Brazilian rider and the consistent brilliance of Zac Purton.

Though The Magic Man currently leads the Zac Attack by one winner, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the popular Australian rider finishes the day with 4-5 winners in the ten race card.

It would be a fitting achievement the day after Anzac Day.

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