Fiery Flier; Evenest Events
1950s, there was a famous Australian grey pony branded as R003 and named as CIGARETTE 17, LONDON 17, then FIREFLY.
Controversial stories around this legend were dramatic about a Derby, the naming system and two objections.
Mr Cigarette, as a registered racing name for owner Mr Tai Wing-kwong, was in the tobacco business.
Shen Kut-shing (Lo Kut)’s【30 Year In Racecourse】reported that CIGARETTE 17 was named to R003 as commercial promotion.
After the first two runs before being ordered to change as LONDON 17.
However, referring to documentation, LONDON 17 had been the name used from the very beginning.
1951-02-24_3-1 Hsu on LONDON 17, Hopeful Stakes
Official Result: Hsu, carrying 147 lbs, had an easy inaugural win on the First Day of the Annual.
1951-02-28_6-1 Hsu on LONDON 17, Pearce Memorial Cup
Official Result: of the 1 mile race with a photo-finish, he won the Pearce Memorial Cup ahead of GOLD MEDAL.
LONDON 17, running the second race in career, won again after the inaugural victory four days ago.
1951-03-26_6-2 Hsu on LONDON 17 against Kwok on GOLD MEDAL, LaiChiKok Handicap
Official Result: he was beaten by his nemesis, the top favorite GOLD MEDAL, 4 lengths, on 6 Furlong.
Mr Li Tse-fong, Manager of the Bank of East Asia, started racing in 1931 as L.T.F. who was the father of Mr LI Fook-Wo.
1951-05-12_6-0 Hsu on LONDON 17 was disqualified, Tao on GOLD MEDAL 74th Derby
Official Result: the 74th Derby in the Whitsun Meeting was officially won by GOLD MEDAL, L T F,, P Leskoff, B L Tao 1-1/2 miles.
On a protest lodged, LONDON 17 was disqualified owing to interference at the bend approaching the 1-1/2 Mile Post.
Either GOLD MEDAL or DYNAMIC VIEW or both might raise the objection, due to different sources of information from the Chinese press.
1951-05-13 a lead-in Derby photo was published by《Wah Kiu Yat Po》with also the dramatic news and racing results.
1951-06-02_6-2 Hsu’s LONDON 17 defeated by Kwok’s SQUADRON LEADER, Griffins Champion Stakes
That year the Champions was run late, not as usual but in June.
Official Result: Hsu on LONDON 17, the favorite was beaten easily in 4 lengths, by Kenneth Kwok on SQUADRON LEADER.
It was the season finale on heavy going. SQUADRON LEADER was the outsider with good odds.
According to Shen Kut-shing (Lo Kut)’s【30 Year In Racecourse】:
In October, CIGARETTE 17’s ownership was changed (at the record price of $45,000), passing into the stable of Mr Fred Elias, who also owned FIREFLASH C006.
The new owner was a rider himself in Shanghai.
1927, Spring Meeting in Kiangwan, Fred Elias made his debut as a winner riding his own FIREFLY.
But his mount was not the FIREFLY which later being raced in Hong Kong.
LONDON 17 was renamed as the Hong Kong FIREFLY thereafter.
FIREFLY beat GOLD MEDAL in the St. Leger.
Then accounted for SKYMASTER in the Autumn Champions, in which the loser carried 34,686 of the 47,212 Win bets.
Over the whole year, in ten starts he was first five times, second three times and unplaced twice.
Despite his failures, for his first year he earned $21,500 in stake money for his two owners.
P Leskoff was the trainer in those early victories.
The Annual Meeting was held in the last week of March, the Derby being the feature again of the Whitsun Meeting.
The Champions provided a good race. FIREFLY (Mr Ostroumoff) beat SKYMASTER by a neck in a record 2.09.2.
1952-10-11_5 Ostroumoff FIREFLY, Waterloo Handicap
Official Result: FIREFLY still in Class 1, Ostroumoff 159 lbs, was defeated by H K Chuang’s STRAIGHT FORWARD, a neck , in a 1-1/2 miles race.
FIREFLY, carrying top weight defeated Pote-Hunt on FlRE-GLO by 2-1/2 lengths.
FIREFLY was the hot favorite, while Chun Kit’s Panda was the second favorite, also carried the top weight.
1952-10-11 FIREFLY, carrying top weight was defeated by Pote-Hunt on FlRE-GLO, a neck, but ahead of the favorite and top weighted SKYMASTER.
FIREFLY was the second favorite, while FlRE-GLO the third favorite, with dividends of $27.90.
New racing season after the summer, Autumn Plate was held on the Second Day for Class 1 on a mile.
FIREFLY rested enough but had to carry the top 159 lbs by Ostroumoff.
He was defeated by Boycott’s BEN LOMOND and Kwok’s FlRE-GLO, due to the big weighing difference.
BEN LOMOND was carrying 147 and FlRE-GLO 149.
1953-12-12_4-2 Pote-Hunt FIREFLY Autumn Champions, placed 2nd.
Official Result: on 1-1/4 miles, it was won by BEN LOMOND (Mr Boycott) who accounted easily for the well-backed FIREFLY (Mr Pote Hunt, 149 lbs, 2 lbs over the set-weight), 3 lengths.
Over the whole year in six races, he scored twice, second twice, third once and unplaced once.
1954-01-23_7-1 Pote-Hunt FIREFLY Chinese Club Cup, a field of six.
Official Result: Raining was heavy and going was heavy by the time Pote-Hunt on FIREFLY winning the Chinese Club Cup, carrying 157 lbs.
1954-04-17_6-1 Samarcq FIREFLY Sassoon Cup
Official Result: on the second day of the Tenth Meeting, this time with Samarcq on FIREFLY again and landed the Sassoon Cup. His veteran jockey Pote-Hunt was retired.
Carrying 151 lbs, the distance was 1 -1/4 miles which was not 1 mile run in later era.
FIREFLY was a sure favorite, which got more than half of the 61,000 winner tickets.
The jockey who became journalist, Mr Wei on BABSIE was defeated by 4 lengths, 2.14.3.
1954-05-22_3-4 Samarcq FIREFLY Stewards Cup
Official Result: the successive jockey was on board, carrying 159 lbs for a 6 Furlong race.
It was a disaster, as he got more than 33,000 tickets (out of the total of nearly 48,000), just in a Place of the fourth.
1954-10-09_3-1 Samarcq FIREFLY Kwungtung Handicap
It was the 3rd race on the first day of the first meeting after the summer.
Samarcq 159 lbs on FIREFLY was defeated by Kwok 148 lbs on FlRE-GLO, a neck.
After hearing the testimonies by those two jockeys, the verdict of interference was substantiated with the blue light signaled a disqualification.
An announcement confirmed that FlRE-GLO was removed and FIREFLY became the winner.
The dividends were $12.60 for those who nearly trashed their tickets and those backed on FlRE-GLO were totally sadden.
1954-11-13 Extra Meeting
It was deferred from 1954-11-06 due to the continued storm and flooding two days before the races.
The going turned soft, FIREFLY and FlRE-GLO were both not entering.
It was the final year of triumph for FIREFLY.
1955-04-23_6-1 Samarcq FIREFLY Champion & Chater Cup
The Champions, linked appropriately with the Chater Cup, was run after the Derby and added to the glory of Mr Elias’s FIREFLY.
Official Result: due to the construction of a new grandstand, the season Finale was held earlier in April.
The distance was 1-1/2 miles, surprisingly FIREFLY only the third being backed was not the favorite as JINGLE BELL which was the Derby winner owned by David Sung.
Getting only above 10,000 tickets, the winner dividend was $27.70 which was out of expectation.
FIREFLY was happily led in by owner Mr. Fred Elias and his daughter.
There were many retirements that season, including the great FIREFLY.
Totally he had won $59,000.
FIREFLY was beaten in the Stewards Cup, 6 Furlong in 1955.
This was the distance not favored by the horse.
Nearly all the HKJC distances, such as half a mile and 170 yds., a mile, a mile and 171 yd.,1-1/4 miles were won by him, even more than once.
This was so sorry that he missed just the 6 Furlong, very spooky!
1/2 mile 170yards = 960 meters, 6 Furlong = 1207 meters, 1 mile = 1609 meters, 1 mile 171 yards = 1766 meters, 1-1/4mile = 2012 meters, 1-3/4 miles = 2816 meters.
Acknowledgement to Mr Peter Yuen and HKJC Racing Registry for offering record data.