A local saying that typifies the speculative nature of Hong Kong people says: No one – tycoon Li Ka-shing included – can ever get rich without betting on a jackpot in the city where money rules.
Spare a thought for the punters who wanted to get rich quick on Sunday at Sha Tin racecourse; they must have felt hugely disappointed after a record winning streak by Brazilian jockey Joao Moreira shortened the race odds.
Moreira left his rivals eating dirt after winning all eight of the 11 races he’d entered, and that was out of the 11 that were on the card. Previously only two other jockeys had won six races in a day, but apparently Moreira, known as “God of Thunder” by the Brazilian’s fans, put the record in no-man’s land.
He was hot off the mark, winning four races in a row before sitting out the fifth. Then the 32-year-old took the next two races and sealed the day with the final two for a record finish. All this from a Brazilian who made the leap from Singapore to Hong Kong just three and a half years ago.
“I didn’t expect it to happen, to be honest. To ride eight winners in a day here in Hong Kong is more than special,” said Moreira. “I really don’t have words to describe it, it’s amazing. We know how tough it is to make it here in Hong Kong.”
Wait – not everyone is happy about his dominance.
My review of the odds for the horses Moreira rode on Sunday showed the biggest margin was 7-1 (Race 10, Mighty Maverick), which was much lower than the average of 10-1 based on my calculation from seven years of betting on the races.
In the last race, the odds slipped to 3-1, possibly because punters realized the Brazilian was on a hot streak.
In my view, Hong Kong provides the best combination of odds for risks and returns compared with other horse racing jurisdictions. Singapore odds are just too low, so is Canada and the United States. The odds for Britain, Australia and Japan are comparable, but they usually have up to 20 horses in a race, compared with 12 to 14 on a normal race day in Hong Kong.
In other words, one has a better chance to win more in Hong Kong, with money from Chinese tourists and other markets a sign of this appeal.
So while those who consider Moreira a sure bet may be laughing all the way to their betting account, perhaps not all punters looking for that big long-odds jackpot are happy.
In fact, I bet many of them would hope that the star rider takes a little sick leave.