Animated aid – and ‘Handy Andy’ – becomes the punters’ pal
Order has been restored, favourites are again flowing – the five short-priced winners on Wednesday matching the total at the first five meetings – and taxi drivers are now smiling instead of scowling and have enough change for a $100 note. And the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Racing Simulator predicted it all.
Well, not quite, but the interactive and animated punting aid did pick another Andy Leung Ting-wah-trained winner, which must make it racing’s equivalent of Deep Blue and beyond human intelligence.
The Racing Simulator, an iPhone and android app, allows players to watch an animation of races on mobile phones and tablets, producing a moving speed map and, in theory, helps predict “pace-dependent” outcomes of races.
The best part is that users can play around with the figures – horses’ overall ability, their condition, best distance, and just as importantly, tactics – and have some fun. Like the time we decided to find out what would happen if a 40-1 shot served it up to seemingly unbeatable 1.2 favourite Amber Sky on opening day … oh, wait a second, that was in real life.
Even though normalcy returned in betting markets on Wednesday, there was still the mischievous Mr Leung acting like some sort of evil genius, as he played havoc with punters – China Good producing a blow-out result in the first leg of the Six-Up.
We were claiming credit for championing the cause of Leung – revealing his colour-coded feng shui-inspired outfits were the reason for his resurgence – which continued last night with his third winner in as many meetings.
But it appears we were fooled and the “lucky” outfits were all an elaborate ruse, as the trainer again taunted the handicappers with the real reason for his success – “I’ve done it again, they had this horse rated too low,” he exclaimed post race, before laughing maniacally and stroking a white cat.
Leung had nine winners last term – and if he can maintain his current strike rate he’ll have around 50 in his last season of training – but we don’t need a simulator to tell you that won’t happen.
The simulator also anticipated 5-4 shot Mega Champion’s victory, but may have gone overboard in predicting jockey Brett Prebble’s whip use – in reality he was aggressive as always, barging out of a pocket and getting the most out of his mount, but if he’d hit the horse as depicted online it would have fallen over.
The liberal use of the persuader on the simulator can be comical, with the animated Prebble wailing on the computerised Mega Champion like a man possessed – hitting the animated animal a phenomenal two dozen times in the last 200m with a windmill whip action akin to that of a double-jointed baton twirler.
Luckily there are no stewards in cyberspace, otherwise the pixelated Prebble would be paying a hefty fine for overuse of the stick. Then again, the “cyber stipes” would probably be too busy chasing trainers mischievously manipulating their horse’s ratings – with a push of a button – and trying to beat the handicapper.