By the end of the fourth race at Shatin this afternoon, changes in the trainers and jockeys premierships had happened: Tony Cruz had trained a double bringing him within only three behind current leader Ricky Yiu. His winners included the quinella in the fourth. Tony isn’t going anywhere. He’s right in this to the end.

Being Reunification Day, the anniversary when Hong Kong was returned to Mainland China, the protesters were out in force despite Beijing passing the controversial National Security Law late last night that outlawed these gatherings. Still, there was also a race meeting going on…

Joao Moreira had booted home his own double. The magic had returned as both of his winners- one for Cruzy- had done it the hard way by having to come across from barriers fourteen.

The day earlier, Zac Purton was being interviewed on WA’s Tabtouch radio. He was under no illusion that the Hong Kong Jockeys Premiership was in the bag and that the Fat Lady had sung. She might be clearing her throat, but, as he explained, if he could win 3-4 winners today, this might provide him with more breathing space.

Interesting was listening to Zac talk about this racing season and how long it seems. It does for everyone.

Having seen Hong Kong go through months of often very destructive protests and where much of this city including its underground system was left battered and bruised and resulting in it coming to a full stop, this morphed into the coronavirus. It’s been a very draining and stressful time.

In recent weeks, a number of riders have suffered from dehydration, stomach ailments and injuries. It’s been like watching the walking wounded. This afternoon, apprentice Alfred Chan had to give up the rest of his rides after also suffering from dehydration. And with travel restrictions meaning no time for a summer break after months of being under lockdown, it made one realise that being a jockey is no walk in the park.

It’s not only about riding horses. Doing this is tough enough. But any added pressures that go with wasting, watching one’s diet, keeping fit and the constant pursuit of trying to win over trainers and owners for rides doesn’t help. It’s draining.

There’s then this titanic duel between two of the best riders in world. It might be entertaining for us watching from the sidelines. But, surely, it’s added pressure on the Zac Attack and the Magic Man to go through this twice a week?

Back at Shatin, Karis Teetan won the fifth race bringing up his own double and just managing to deprive Joao Moreira of his third winner for the day. It might prove to be a costly miss. Riding Monkey Jewellery, he looked home and hose. But Karis Teetan, who’s having his own brilliantly successful season, is a very very deceivingly tough rider to get past.

With Vincent Ho, like Karis Teetan, having his own very successful season, combining again with Francis Lui to take out the sixth race on Thou Shall Sing meant that the race for the trainers title was equal. Francis Lui had caught up with Ricky Yiu.

Zac was on the shortest priced favourite on the card in the next- MIG Energy for trainer Tony Cruz. This was not to be. Karis Teetan brought up a treble, something we’re getting used to by now, winning on the well backed Douglas Whyte trained Falcon Turbo.

He denied The Magic Man of another winner who had to settle for an agonisingly close second. Again. And again on a John Size runner.

Almost on cue, in the next, The Zac Attack winning the Reunification Cup on Columbus County for the in-form Caspar Fownes stable wouldn’t have helped ease the pain. That win meant a comfortable five win lead for Zac, especially with Joao missing next Wednesday night’s meeting through a suspension.

The ping pong match for the jockeys premiership took a break when Ricky Yiu returned serve when his Precise Express, given a brilliant ride by the extremely under-utilised Matthew Chadwick saluted at odds of over 30 to 1.

Coming to the last race, the hot favourite for the 1000 metre sprint was Vincent Ho’s ride Winning Dreamer trained by Frankie Lor.

This was the three year old galloper’s second start in Hong Kong after winning at its debut and big things are expected of him. And after today’s win, we could easily be looking at a very special galloper destined to go much further up the grades.

The win meant a double for Vincent Ho and also Frankie Lor. Both should be reuniting for more wins with this very exciting young purchase.

Meanwhile, away from the races, protesters were protesting, police were policing, social distancing was distancing and life in Hong Kong was going on…

#HKracing #ReunificationCup #ZacPurton #JoaoMoreira #KarisTeetan #VincentHo #TonyCruz #FrancisLui #RickyYiu