Jenny - Clean


THEY are two of the best jockeys in the world but punters could be forgiven for thinking that they were watching a pair of raw apprentices hell-bent on destroying each other’s chances in a feature race in Hong Kong on Sunday.

As the South China Morning Post correctly reported, Zac Purton and Joao Moreira barbequed each other in front on full brothers Time Warp and Glorious Forever in the G2 Jockey Club Cup and in the process destroyed the winning chances of both.

Despite the suicidal early pace, which played into the hands of the back-markers, including the winner, Eagle Way from the John Moore stable, stewards concluded inquiries into both rides without taking any action against Purton or Moreira.

Hong Kong stewards, drawn from the cream of the crop in Australia, are renowned for their no-nonsense approach and to be fair they were in a no-win situation. Purton had signaled his intention to lead (with the Cruz stable adamant those were the winning tactics adopted when a last start winner) and Moreira on Glorious Forever under instructions to ensure Time Warp got no picnic in front and to apply more pressure than at their previous clash. In adopting these instructions to the letter, punters could argue that these two champion hoops destroyed their chances.         

Stewards Reports on both rides read:

When questioned, Z Purton (TIME WARP) stated that the tempo of the race throughout was strong as a result of GLORIOUS FOREVER challenging TIME WARP in the lead. He said as TIME WARP must lead in its races and preferably on the rail in order to produce its best, he therefore was reluctant to allow GLORIOUS FOREVER to improve its position forward of TIME WARP despite the race being run at a very strong tempo. He said TIME WARP came under heavy pressure rounding the Home Turn and after being headed by GLORIOUS FOREVER weakened noticeably in the Straight. The performance of TIME WARP, a last start winner and which finished tailed out, was considered unacceptable. Before being allowed to race again, TIME WARP will be required to perform to the satisfaction of the Stewards in a barrier trial and be subjected to an official veterinary examination.

When questioned, J Moreira stated that he was asked to ride GLORIOUS FOREVER positively in the early stages to take up a forward position. He said he was given the option of either racing outside the anticipated leader TIME WARP, however, if that horse slacked the tempo in the lead, it was acceptable for him to allow GLORIOUS FOREVER to improve into the lead. He said in accordance with his instructions he was able to obtain a forward position in the early stages and shifted in to race outside TIME WARP approaching the 1700m. He said after the 1700m GLORIOUS FOREVER improved to be racing about a neck in front of TIME WARP and he elected then to continue pressing forward to see whether GLORIOUS FOREVER would show sufficient speed to be able to cross TIME WARP. He said passing the 1600m TIME WARP was niggled along to maintain its position to the inside of GLORIOUS FOREVER and therefore he elected to steady GLORIOUS FOREVER and sit off TIME WARP. He said along the Back Straight he sat at the hindquarters of TIME WARP and then commenced to improve his position to race on terms with that horse at the 700m. He said it had been explained to him that GLORIOUS FOREVER was out-sprinted by TIME WARP at its most recent start and therefore he elected to improve at this time which was earlier than would normally be the case as he had sat off TIME WARP in the middle stages and he wanted to ensure that TIME WARP was not able to quicken and again out-sprint GLORIOUS FOREVER. He added after improving to race outside TIME WARP, GLORIOUS FOREVER then came under pressure rounding the Home Turn and did not finish off the race over the final 200m. Trainer F C Lor confirmed the instructions given to J Moreira and stated that he was of the opinion GLORIOUS FOREVER had been out-sprinted by TIME WARP when that horse was allowed to have an unchallenged lead at its previous start. He said accordingly he instructed Jockey Moreira if GLORIOUS FOREVER was not able to lead today’s race, he must ensure that TIME WARP was not able to establish a break on GLORIOUS FOREVER approaching the Home Turn.

Top trainer Tony Cruz lamented the ‘crazy’ speed used to attack Time Warp on Sunday saying his horse never stood a chance against the onslaught from younger brother Glorious Forever.

Cruz was livid post-race after stablemates Pakistan Star and Time Warp tailed off to finish a combined 40 lengths behind the winner, while his other runner Exultant benefited from the on-pace stoush to run second by a length in the Group 2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup (2,000m).

John Moore’s Eagle Way (a Queensland Derby winner) took full advantage of the speed battle to come from last and win, putting him in a great position to go on to next month’s Longines Hong Kong International Vase (2,400m).

Time Warp surprised punters last start by winning over 1800m after finishing at the tail of the field in his three previous runs. However, the dual Group 1 winner showed he is still ‘rocks or diamonds’ depending on how the speed of the race pans out.

While Pakistan Star’s jockey, Karis Teetan, sat behind the leaders, the usual crowd favorite was uncompetitive in the straight, with stewards slapping both him and Time Warp with ‘failed’ runs. This means they need to trial successfully before racing again, putting their Hong Kong International Day preparations in jeopardy.

Cruz was understandably angry and frustrated after the feature in which he had three runners – the well-backed Exultant which stormed home only to be overhauled by Eagle Way; the enigmatic Pakistan Star which threw in another shocker to finish at the tail of the field with stablemate Time Warp, which is quickly becoming the most inconsistent big race contender in Hong Kong.

Cruz, a one-time top jockey in Hong Kong, didn’t hold back and let his feelings about the tactics used by Moreira on Glorious Forever be known to stewards following the race.

“They all went bonkers in front. It’s just crazy,” he said. “It was a stupid race. How can you ride a race like that? Zac (Purton, riding Time Warp) said it’s just ridiculous like that. The pressure was on and the horse never had a chance to recuperate and run his race.”

With Pakistan Star now flopping three straight times this season – all at single-figure odds – Cruz said he would inspect the horse this week to see if there was anything wrong with his star galloper.

“I can’t say too much until I get him checked out. There could be something going on so I’ll have the vet check him as well. I think they went too hard on him, chasing those two other leaders and they went bloody bonkers.”

For punters around the globe, who love a bet on the Hong Kong races, the only surprise was that stewards didn’t see fit to give Purton and Moreira some penalty or at least a dressing down about the tactics they employed which one could argue gave both their fancied mounts next to no chance of winning.    



IF racing authorities – especially stewards – are determined to ensure there is no conflict of interest in jockey managers operating tipping services then many punters will raise a far more important issue that they believe should be addressed.

That is overcoming the increasing problem with big stables having multiple runners and the second string hopes scoring upset wins over the ones that are more fancied in the betting or by the ‘experts’.

How many times do we see this happen, especially with the Chris Waller stable in Sydney (especially in staying races); Darren Weir in Melbourne (he could have seven starters in Saturday’s Ballarat Cup; and to a lesser extent with Tony Gollan in Brisbane (where he had three runners in the opening Summer Carnival feature last weekend)?

There was a time when stablemates were bracketed for betting purposes. These days some of the corporates even frame a separate market offering a ‘special price’ when big stables have two good chances in a feature race.

Most would agree that with the numbers that Waller and Weir have in some races it would be impractical to bracket stablemates in the betting. Just imagine the Saturday middle distance farce in Sydney where on occasions Wallers has half or three quarters of the field.

Stables will argue that horses race for different owners and it would be unfair on them to have their runners bracketed with other starters. Owners are the lifeblood of the sport but so too are the punters and rarely a week goes by when fancied runners are beaten by lesser fancied stablemates.

Some might say it isn’t a good look. It certainly puts the microscope on how the beaten favorite was ridden, what the trainer said about its chances before the race and a comparison with the second string stable runner that saluted.

Unfortunately when it comes to predicting the chances of his runners pre-race, Chris Waller, is a pretty poor judge – or at least that’s the opinion of those punters who bet on Sydney racing.

Weir is regarded as more of a ‘foxy character’ and punters are wary of what he says in pre-race interviews. Racing media identities who interview him regularly refer to Weir as ‘glass half full’ when rating the chances of his runners and even joke about him playing down the chances of some stable fancies.

Gollan, who started the Queensland Summer Carnival with a bang on Saturday, had three runners in the Listed Keith Noud Quality at Doomben on Saturday and the roughest of the trio – Most Important – duly scored an upset win at $19.

It coincided with the release of a new Video Series from the Gollan Stable, which is distributed to owners, previewing chances in the lead-up to the main meeting of the week. To be fair to the leading Brisbane trainer he did not totally rule out More Important as a winning chance, warning that although his fresh form was not that great on paper he horse did run a terrific race first-up last time in.

Top trainers should be commended for the time that they allocate during a busy schedule to informing the public through the racing media on the chances of their horses each week.

Imagine the massive interruptions that Waller endures whenever Winx is preparing for another start. And it has to be remembered that Weir has over 800 horses on his books so satisfying the demands of those involved with the stable sounds like mission impossible without considering media requests.

Perhaps the answer to the problem that arose in Sydney on Saturday when a jockey manager showed good judgement in selecting another runner (for his tipping service clients) to upset the hot favorite ridden by his client (in a manner that rightly caused stewards to launch an inquiry) is to ban this conflict of interest and ask him to choose which service he wants to survive.

From a punters’ perspective the conflict of interest for a trainer trying to juggle the chances of multiple runners in races is just as big a problem but they can hardly be asked to start only one in a race.

Spare a thought for guys like Waller and Weir who have in the back of their minds the demands of owners who enjoy a punt and the need to inform the public without breaching any confidentialities or telling porkies that will get them in strife with the stewards.

At least the situation is a far cry from the days before SKY and RACING.COM were heard of when a newspaper racing scribe would phone up a trainer and ask about the prospects of his favorite the coming Saturday to be greeted by a less than  courteous: ‘Fuck off’!



IN the eyes of the general racing public the new All-Star Mile planned to be run in Melbourne next March will have much more appeal than The Everest, the Sydney blockbuster that caused its creation.

The absurd amount of prizemoney offered for runners in The Everest - $13 million – is seen by most as pandering to racing’s rich and famous. The $5 million All-Star Mile will arguably have just as much public appeal but more importantly the field will be chosen by the fans.

While The Everest has ridden shotgun with controversy from Day 1 – where it was claimed Racing NSW simply ‘pinched’ the concept from the Yanks then used every media tart they could source to publicize it, even creating controversy by lighting up the Opera House sails for the barrier draw.

Two things are certain with the Victorian counterpart. It won’t take cheap publicity stunts to win the fans over. The crowd will be bigger no matter what gimmicks they continue to offer in Sydney. And, heaven forbid, it might even pinch the limelight from the planned NSW farewell for super mare Winx.

The inaugural All-Star Mile will debut at Flemington on March 16 next year with super mare Winx at the top of the wish list of starters. She is set to have her final campaign through the autumn in Sydney, but the $2.25 million winner’s purse could entice connections to divert to Melbourne.

The big winner of the Victorian concept is that a fan vote will determine 10 of the 14 runners in the weight-for-age event with RV retaining four wildcards to complete the field.

The fans will also get a slice of the winnings with each horse in the field having a voter attached, who then becomes a nominal owner for the day. If their All-Star is successful, the lucky punter could snare $250,000.

Key to the new concept is getting the three Victorian metropolitan clubs on board which shouldn’t present a problem with the plan to rotate the race annually between Flemington, Caulfield and Moonee Valley.

The fan-voting concept has been used successfully in Japan with the G1 Arima Kinen over 2500m, known as the “people’s race”.  It has 10 runners selected by public vote with six added by the racing authorities. Since 2013, it has attracted more than one million votes each year.

The All-Star Mile will overtake the Hong Kong Mile ($4.29 million prizemoney), which is run in early December, as the richest 1600m event in world racing but standby for the HKJC to counter with extra stakes (and they have a huge betting turnover purse to fall back on).



JOAO MOREIRA (pictured in a SCMP caricature depicting the weight of money bet on him whenever he rides) might by arguably the best jockey in the world, but he wasn’t smart enough to pass the ‘written test’ required to ride permanently in Japan.

There loss was Hong Kong’s gain – and although Moreira didn’t endure a saloon passage ride back to his old happy hunting ground – behind the scenes punters and officials can’t wait for his return.

The Brazilian shocked Jockey Club officials – and his fans worldwide – with the sudden announcement that he would be leaving Hong Kong after five seasons and three championships to try his luck in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The decision to jump ship caught the Jockey Club off guard and when there was talk about Moreira returning, Chief Executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges made it clear that Hong Kong ‘is not a place you can walk in and out of’.

Champion trainer John Size basically had to move ‘heaven and earth’ to secure the official green light for the Magic Man’s comeback to Hong Kong. His decision to bring Moreira back to the fold by applying for a stable-retained license ensured that the Jockey Club would not lose any face after feeling disrespected over the manner in which he departed.

Under Jockey Club rules, Size needed to get at least 85 per cent of his owners to agree to support Moreira as a retained rider, and those owners need to contribute at least $HK1,000 per month for each horse they own in the stable.

The Magic Man now needs to ride at least 75 per cent of those supporting owners’ runners, otherwise the retainer breaks down, but that shouldn’t be an issue given his ability to ride light.

It also means that if Size has a runner in a race, Moreira cannot ride for an outside stable unless the trainer uses an apprentice or a freelance rider with a claim. Sadly, this situation will almost certainly close the door on another epic finish to the Jockeys’ Championship with arch rival Zac Purton.

Sunday saw the Magic Man win a feature on the Size-trained Hot King Prawn at his first meeting back riding in Hong Kong since the announcement of his comeback. A story by TOM BIDDINGTON in the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST summed it up under the headline: ‘From Cheers to Boos & Back Again – Welcome Home Joao Moreira’. It read:

THE famously fickle fans who huddle around the Sha Tin parade win gave Joao Moreira a spontaneous cheer before his first ride back in Hong Kong – but that appreciation turned to condemnation just a handful of races later.

Welcome back, Joao.

The ever-gracious Brazilian acknowledged the support, bowing and giving the thumbs up – and when the crowd turned he kept his eyes fixed forward to block out the noise and focus on the task at hand. In those moments, Japan – where he has plied his trade since departing – must have felt a lot further than 2700km away.

But after failing to collect a placing with his first six rides, the Magic Man Hong Kong knows best turned up, taking out the last three races on the card with Hot King Prawn, Raging Storm and Noble Steed to reiterate why he is one of the best jockeys in the world.

Of course, those grizzled punters stung after the Magic Man was beaten on a couple of favorites – they were particularly vicious after Glorious Forever went under – turned those jeers into cheers with a winner (or three).

As Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges noted: “It is a tough crowd, but this is Hong Kong.”

Even after that rough patch in the middle, the 35-year-old had plenty of praise for the fans, but he did want to provide a reality check.

“Hong Kong has received me in a very, very nice way. I couldn’t be any more pleased with the warmth that the people has passed onto me and I’m very much looking forward to it because I do want to respond to their expectations,” Moreira said.

“One thing I have got to say is their expectations may be a little bit too high, in particular being locked into John Size’s stable.”

While Moreira was keen to pour cold water on how many winners he will be riding once he resumes at Sha Tin for good on December 9, expectations cannot get any higher for Beauty Generation after another incredible performance in the traditional lead-up meeting for the Longines Hong Kong International Races.

John Moore’s superstar has a mortgage on the Hong Kong Mile – a third-straight victory this season in track-record time despite not having things go his way will do that.

He has lengths on the locals and given Sha Tin-based horses have won 12 of the past 13 renewals of the Group 1, all you can say to the visitors is good luck.

The latter two barbequed each other in front early, setting it up for backmarkers like Eagle Way and Exultant, while it looks to be back to the drawing board with the former, who looks a different horse to the one who claimed two Group 1s at the end of last season.

From a Hong Kong Sprint perspective, Hot King Prawn led from go to whoa, while Mr Stunning was gallant in defeat. They look the leading two local hopes.

It was fitting Moreira claimed the final feature before going on to complete the treble. For the past five years he has been synonymous with Hong Kong racing, and this was a firm reminder on what everyone has been missing out on.



GREG BLANCHARD, a regular contributor from NUDGEE, sent this email:

‘I recently wrote about the lack of jockeys and enforced scatchings in the bush and included some statistics.

Last weekend was lower on numbers with six without riders at Julia Creek and one at Gold Coast.

That followed an amazing total at bush tracks of 20 on Cox Plate day and nine at Cloncurry the following week along with a total of 21 on Melbourne Cup day.

One horse, Romani Star, was scratched on August 18 from Mt Isa, at Cloncurry on November 3 and again last Saturday.

What I found surprising last Saturday at Gold Coast in Race 5 was that Bloomin Arry was scratched because there was no suitable rider.

I believe that this problem involving a lack of jockeys in the bush will only get worse. Urgent action needs to be taken.’



CONTROVERSIAL cartoonist Larry Pickering has died, aged 76, following a long illness. His interest in horse racing has been well documented and featured in many of his illustrations (like the one above published in the wake of the Damien Oliver betting scandal).

Pickering died this week on the Gold Coast surrounded by family after a two-year battle with cancer.

The father of 11 checked himself out of hospital late last week to spend his final days with his family.

The four-time Walkley Award-winner became well-known in the 1970s for his work during the Whitlam and Fraser Governments, which was collected into best-selling books.

His work appeared in The Australian, The Canberra Times, The National Times and the Sydney Morning Herald.

He retired from his political work in the early 1980s before making a comeback in 2011 when he took on then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard who branded the right wing views expressed on his website as 'vile and sexist'.

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