Anger as racing great Viva Pataca languishes in ‘dungeon-like’ Macau stable   Leave a comment

Anger as racing great Viva Pataca languishes in ‘dungeon-like’ Macau stable
Calls to move HK’s top stakes earner, owned by Stanley Ho, to greener pastures
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 May, 2015, 2:38am

kylie.knott@scmp.com

Four years after he was retired, Hong Kong’s most successful racehorse – the multimillion-dollar winning Viva Pataca – is languishing in a spartan Macau stable.


Viva Pataca in retirement in Macau. Photo: SMP Pictures
As other champions like the record-breaking Silent Witness live out their final years in plush overseas retirement facilities, the horse that won the most money in Hong Kong racing history is being kept in “dungeon-like” conditions in a stable at the Macau Jockey Club, according to people who have visited him.

Owned by 93-year-old tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, the gelding won over HK$83 million before retiring, aged nine, in 2011.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club described the circumstances in which Viva Pataca was being kept as “unconventional”. Ho did not respond to repeated questions from the Sunday Morning Post.

John Moore, who trained Viva Pataca, said it was time for the horse to be sent to a farm for retired champions. “He’s spent long enough in a stable in Macau and deserves a paddock where he can live out the rest of his life with grass up to his knees,” he said.

Archie da Silva – owner of Silent Witness, which was retired to Australia in 2007 – said: “It’s a joke, it’s disgusting. A champion like Viva Pataca should be retired to a nice home in Australia or the UK where it can live out its days in peace and quiet.”

Chris Riggs, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s head of veterinary clinical services, said it was up to the owners to do the honourable thing and look after a horse in retirement.

A racing insider said the horse had access to a sand yard about the size of a tennis court “maybe once or twice per week” and that the stables in Macau were considerably smaller than in Hong Kong. “It’s a disgrace. Being in a situation like that drains a horse’s spirit,” he said.

Repeated requests by the Post to the Macau Jockey Club to visit the horse were rejected. A spokesman said Viva Pataca’s daily schedule involved “paddock and hand walk”, without giving more details.

Bill Nader, executive director of racing at the HKJC, said the club recently became aware that Viva Pataca was in Macau but had no idea why it had returned from New Zealand, where it had been sent immediately after its retirement. Nader said Viva Pataca’s situation, for a horse of its calibre, was not “a conventional retirement”.

Viva Pataca made his Sha Tin debut on January 1, 2006. He won 13 of 44 starts, making HK$83,197,500 in prize money.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Racing great Viva Pataca ‘languishing in dungeon’

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Posted May 17, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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