PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 April, 2013, 7:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 April, 2013, 8:31pm

Postcards from Macau Hong Kong Trophy Day at Taipa (Macau Racing - Part 2)


Australian journalist Michael Cox had considerable experience as a writer and radio broadcaster in his homeland, covering thoroughbred and harness racing as well as other major sports, before making the move to the Post in 2011. Michael has adapted seamlessly to writing and reporting on Hong Kong racing and his blog, Happy Lucky Dragon Win, has become a popular feature of the Post’s online coverage.

Brush with fame

For a moment we thought we’d snared a world exclusive with Kim Jung-un until we found out it was actually MJC CEO Thomas Li. He is only one bad haircut away from looking like a body double for the North Korean leader, which would have to rank as one of the least desired jobs in the world. Li is a good sport who has been known to play up the uncanny likeness at racing conferences.


One-eyed wonder

When the jockey on third-placed Giant Steps, Panamanian Louis Corrales returned to scale he noted that when his horse looked like it would win it veered away when challenged by Gary Moore-trained Sino Brilhante. After Sino Brilhante returned to scale, it became clear why. Sino Brilhante is missing an eyeball – so it’s no surprise Giant Steps didn’t want to go near him, it does look kinda freaky. He didn’t lose the eye to a casino loan shark, but in a paddock accident as a youngster. Moore reckons Sino Brilhante is a serious horse - he has now won eight of 11 - but his overseas options will be limited because of a ban on horses with one eye racing in many major racing jurisdictions.


Another Aussie racecaller abroad

The day wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the top of the grandstand and a perilous scamper across the rooftop to the broadcast booth perched on its edge to see Macau’s English language racecaller, Australian Harry Troy.

Troy came to Macau as a jockey on a three-month riding contract, which has turned into a 16-year stint as racecaller.

Before Troy, and his Kiwi predecessor Bruce Sherwin - now the manager of Raffles Farm in Cambridge, New Zealand – there was another Australian, Rob De Courcy, whose colourful calls are still recalled by many. The most famous was calling a horse named Goldfinger, actually not so much calling the horse’s name, but singing it in the manner of the Bond theme song. On other nights, he would decide to call a race in an American accent, giving it the full treatment – “and herrrrre they come, at the top of the stretch.”

Troy had a job-and-a-half to do in race seven when seven of the 10 horses were wearing the same colours, with only different-coloured caps to differentiate them, and with the same prefix to their name - Sunshine - contested the two- and three-year-old race. Given owner Cheng Ting Kong seems to own half of the young horses in Macau, maybe it is time he invests in at least a second set of racing colours.


How to boost crowd numbers

While the grandstands weren’t over-flowing, at least there were plenty of officials there to support the day. If you think the HKJC can produce an over-the-top presentation ceremony, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve been to Taipa for the races. Everyone gets a personal intro too.



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