Thrills, spills and close shaves for ladies day
It was a day that left champion Australian jockey Darren Beadman's immediate future up in the air, but Hong Kong racing's annual day of ladies in extravagant hats was again a roaring success on Sa Sa Ladies' Purse Day yesterday at Sha Tin.
The fashion-oriented day, created by the Jockey Club in partnership with Sa Sa a few years ago, now ranks behind only the Chinese New Year fixture for attendance, with more than 76,000 people going racing yesterday on course and at Happy Valley.
Casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun brought an entourage of well-dressed ladies to appear in the winner's circle photo as he took out the feature race for the second successive year with John Moore-trained Viva Macau, despite an unscheduled change of jockey.
Viva Macau's regular jockey, Beadman, was bucked off during the pre-race parade for an earlier race, his mount Johnson hurling him to the ground and leaving him hospitalised last night with suspected fractures to his coccyx and a vertebrae.
'The good news is that the bones are not displaced, just cracked,' said Beadman. 'It's uncomfortable but hopefully I will be out of hospital soon and I'll know a lot more then.'
Meanwhile, fellow Australian Zac Purton, without a ride in the race after being sacked from David Ferraris-trained Fearless, was plucked from the jockeys' room by Moore to take the reins on Viva Macau and nosed out, you guessed it, Fearless, in the afternoon's feature event.
Though the crowd was up by some 10,000 on last year's figures, economic turmoil continued to take its toll on betting turnover, with the Jockey Club reporting a drop of more than HK$66 million on the 2007 holdings for the same day.