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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.
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.