THE NO BRAINER AND S*** FOR BRAINS ISSUE

THE NO BRAINER 1

BREEDERS LEVY AND THE FUNDING ‘NO BRAINER’.

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Buried conveniently underneath the carefully staged campaign conducted by Racing NSW and its official propaganda unit – Rupe’s Daily “Smellygraph”- ranting and railing like hyenas in heat against the State Government for a lower tax rate to help fund racing, is one of the most obvious- and potentially lucrative sources of dosh for NSW racing: the Breeders Levy.

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Remember the Breeders Levy? We do. It was such a no-brainer that even the Druitt Street kitchen cabinet were forced to acknowledge that breeders, just like owners, trainers, punters, totalisators, betting exchanges, corporate and the “not so corporate” bookmakers, should be required to make a financial contribution to the racing industry.

The NSW Breeders, aka the “Hunter Cabal”, have been freeloading off the thoroughbred since the “big bang” created the racing industry.

But, because the NSW breeders, aka the “Hunter Cabal”, are a protected species, there’s been fuck all done about getting a levy in place to help fund the NSW racing industry.

It’s, of course, an industry that, according to its Zena-type leader- fearless, peerless and, we hear, with great legs, is in a funding black hole, with the State Government turning off its hearing aid to the deafening cries for help from this fearless- and leggy- protector of his very own and very precious “50,000” brothers and sistahs with back up editorial support from Sister Ray and his arfing junior Corona-swigging running dog.

THE NO BRAINER 4
Protector of Racing NSW

Imagine for one moment if roles were reversed and the dastardly corporate bookies were in the firing line?

Yes, all the heavy artillery would have been rolled out in a conga line from Druitt Street to the NSW Supreme Court or whatever legal jurisdiction is around to force the freeloaders to cough up.

All the well-worn and tired clichés and one-liners would have been dusted off and reprised to mortally wound the enemy.

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But you just could not do that to a protected species could you?

So why hasn’t the Breeders Levy been introduced in NSW?

Perhaps the Premier Mike Baird and Racing Minister Troy Grant should ask the same question of Racing NSW and the public face of the campaign to bully the State Government to lower the tax rate?

Ironically, the Championships were originally proposed as the southern hemisphere’s version of the Breeders Cup.

What an absolute fucking give away.

And when, in a further twist of the most delicious irony, the jewel in the crown of the Championships – the Queen Elizabeth with its obscene $4 million prize money- finished up in the pockets of the patriarch of the Hunter breeders cabal – Arrowfield Stud supremo and Racing NSW Chairman John Messara, thanks to the magnificent victory of his champion racehorse It’s A Dundeel.

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Knowing Messara’s passion for all things racing and breeding- and he’s certainly no idiot- he would have been embarrassed by the coincidence.

If a Breeders Levy were in place, it would relieve any embarrassment and talking-from-both-sides-of-the-mouth rambling, and go a long way towards answering the question being asked with increased frequency as to why the Breeders are excluded from making a financial contribution to the industry that they make a handsome profit out of.

THE NO BRAINER 8

Yes, we do recognize that some of the smaller breeders are, and have been doing it tough for a long time, but the Hunter farms have been making what can only be described as obscene returns from stallion fees and yearlings over many years, a substantial portion of which winds up in the off-shore tax havens and bank balances of well-known global breeding conglomerates.

Perhaps funds from the Breeders Levy could underwrite the Championships, leaving whatever contribution from the State Government to fix up the absolute disgrace that Sydney race tracks are in these days- despite all the money spent on “renovations”.

Something’s wrong, very wrong, Sherlock.

THE NO BRAINER 9

Surely the Racing NSW Board with its commercial expertise and basic marketing knowledge would understand the damage that is inflicted on the brand and image of racing by the justifiable complaints about the state of Randwick, the Inner Kensington Track, Rosehill and Warwick Farm?

You’d think so, unless that deaf, dumb and kid- Tommy- is too busy playing that mean pinball.

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If racing was a mainstream sport- and why it still isn’t is a moot point- you could bet your last dollar something decisive would have happened- and swiftly.

But racing marches to the beat of its own drum, oblivious to missed opportunities and professional management.

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We’ll say it again: It’s time to apply the scorched policy to the management and administration of racing in NSW.

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Start at Ground Zero, throw open all the executive and board positions, and remove WAR from the vocabulary of horse racing in NSW.

THE NO BRAINER 13

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ROBBIE’S TRACK SENSE WITH NO HORSING AROUND.

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Robbie Waterhouse has long been recognized across the racing industry (and even by his detractors) as one of its most important intellects.

When it comes to racing issues, Robbie has often enriched the debate offering a refreshing clarity of discussion and argument, and not blindsided by the tunnel vision and cover-up mentality of many of the self-interest driven decision makers.

Robbie has articulated his views on the preparation of tracks in the 21st century for some time now.

We heard them again after last weekend’s fiasco with the Kensington track when trainers and jockeys alike exposed the abominable mess that the poor old Randwick course proper and the Inner Kensington track are in.

It makes so much sense not to pour- and waste- millions of megalitres of water into tracks, which, with the help of moderate overnight rain produces something resembling the Kensington surface last Saturday, or at worst, a quagmire, as has been experienced in Sydney all too frequently.

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Racing needs to listen and respect the wisdom of analytical thinkers like Robbie Waterhouse who have contributed to the debate on many important subjects in racing- from tracks, to handicapping and programming, just to name a few, which have delivered bucket loads of angst to every participant layer of racing.

Perhaps then, and only then, will there be an industry that operates on a foundation of rational and logical thinking, and not blinkered by the loud and irrational public utterances of those who can only offer knee jerk reactions on any racing issue.

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ELITES FLEX THEIR MUSCLES IN EUROPE. AND NOW WHAT?

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THE NO BRAINER 18

Some very interesting statistics compiled by British bloodstock economist John Lynam, who also happens to be the brother of Ed Lynam, the well-known English trainer, who has got plenty of mileage out of this year’s European flat racing season as the trainer of champion European sprinter Slade Power.

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Analysing the 2013 Tattersalls yearling sales, John Lynam noted that there was a “massive increase at the high end of the market” with 92% of growth in the increased aggregate coming from sales of over 100,000 guineas.

Interestingly, the emergence of the Qatar royal family into racing has proven to be a major plus for European racing and breeding, and their presence, on a global scale, is growing.

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At the 2013 Tattersalls Yearling Sales, Sheikh Joaan Al Thani’s Al Shaqab operation accounted for 12% of turnover, second only to the well-established Dubai Maktoum family and their separate operations which accounted for 20% of the aggregate.

To use John Lynam’s words, these two Middle Eastern royal families have been basically “bailing out” the British bloodstock sector in recent years, demonstrating conclusively how heavily dependant British racing is on Middle Eastern money.

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Whilst racing does- and must always- welcome investment in the industry with open arms, there is always a flip side to a “skew” in large scale investment from oligarchs whose power is based and exercised purely from wealth.

Racing needs to be constantly reminded of the dangers of unfettered power, and oligarchies have a track record of, sometimes, strangling an industry and a commercial market if their intentions and principles are not benevolent or honourable.

It can leave an industry (which racing is these days), vulnerable and, at the behest of vested interests whose agendas often don’t align with the industry or its participants.

British racing, and for that matter European racing, is unrecognizable from what it was just a few decades ago.

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And while there are many positives in racing’s contemporary landscape and its evolution, the erosion of its grass roots base and participation is in great danger of becoming irreversible.

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It’s a process that racing, irrespective of which hemisphere or country it is conducted in, can ill afford.

Yes, we’ve banged on about this before, but it cannot be emphasized enough: The development of elitism in Australian, and, particularly, NSW racing, is something which we rang the alarm bells about some time ago.

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The next- and immediate challenge- is for racing to have an open conversation about the subject and debate the threats and opportunities that elitism poses to racing- and how investment should not only be welcomed and actively sought, but also managed for the benefit of the investor and the industry.

Having said that, it’s an area that racing is not very comfortable with or adept at handling.

Maybe everyone- even the bully boys- suffer from shrinkage and become girlie men incapable of winning a debate as they’re just not good enough negotiators.

THE NO BRAINER 25

Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOHN MESSARA, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

CHAR SIU BAO BAO (叉燒包包): THE ONLY MAN TO BRING HORSE RACING TO MAINLAND CHINA LIKE ONE GIANT DUMPLING

CHAR SIU BAO BAO 1

Char Siu Bao Bao (包包) is a big man- a very big man resembling a Chinese Fat Bastard from the Austen Powers movies- and a multi-billionaire from the Ho Lee Fook province who owns vineyards in Bordeaux, Petrus, Napa Valley, Mudgee, Hawkes Bay, Wanchai and Tsimshatsui with plans to open up anything that’s, well, BIG.

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He thinks so BIG, he makes every other multi-millionaire in Mainland China with plans- and there are so many with so many plans- look like Mini Me.

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Bao Bao (包包) has a magnificent obsession with horses and BIGGER than BIG ideas involving horse racing in- where else?- Mainland China- and which is where he whisked me to on his private Baojet and showed me around his multi-billion dollar complex from where he plans to completely change the face, body, ass and hooves of horse racing.

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In his Forties and with interests in also changing the movie business with 6-D movies screened in special cinema complexes he is building in Boracay, Bao Bao (包包) mentioned how he wanted to buy Gai Waterhouse, Aiden O’Brien, the Ascot and Meydan Racecourses, Macau, former Hong Kong trainer Andy Leung and Billy Nader, Executive Director of Racing with the HKJC.

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As his guest, and not wishing to dampen his enthusiasm and quash living his dream, I had to tell him that Gai Waterhouse was off the market. He was disappointed and shed a little tear. It was tough to watch the big man cry.

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Still, as we toured his property- it took three days- his mood picked up and he pointed out to a long, dildo-shaped building in purple that would be his breeding area for jockeys. You read that correctly the first time.

He clapped his hands as we entered the building and an entire milk bubble hidden by concave mirrors for good fung shui opened up like a bud flowering to reveal what he told me was his amateur boom boom breeding room for future jockeys where several short, stocky, muscular women sporting beards exercised on hobby horses.

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Bao Bao (包包) playfully whipped them on their Kardashian-sized buttocks as he walked past: “They no move fast”, he said, and then let out a blood curdling laugh which scared all the wild animals around his property as a murder of crows flapped around in fear.

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My host then asked if I could help him with another of his ambitious plans: To clone a list of jockeys he had hand-picked and whose faces stared down at me from a huge billboard lit up with their names, giant photographs and videos- Joao Moreira, Ryan Moore, Hugh Bowman, Douglas Whyte, Gary Moore and Nash Rawiller.

“You can get for me?” he asked. “Billion, okay? Only want DNA. Have top McDonald’s scientists to create super nuggety jockeys.”

“Maybe Gary Moore,” I replied meekly.

“Ahhhhh, Botox Man!” he thundered and those animals again ran for safety.

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Hearing that getting his hands on a Gary Moore DNA was possible, pleased him. He hit the concrete desk in front of him, split it in two, split his pantaloons in the process, cleared his throat, spat, snorted, passed some gas, and stuffed a million dollars- in cash- into my mouth as, what he said, was a sign of good faith.

I was gobsmacked. I was also nearly choking to death.

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I thought I had seen and heard it all until we arrived in a room marked “Transformers”.

MCDTRAN EC065

Bao Bao (包包) pressed his left cheek onto an electronic safety door pass, which opened into a giant laboratory where flying horses- the BIGGEST, most muscular horses I have ever seen- danced in the air like Mick Jagger on strings before suddenly changing shape- one time a tank, then Oprah Winfrey, then a rocket, then Le Cirque De Soleil, and then back to another muscular horse that looked like The Lone Ranger’s Silver on steroids even unknown to Lance Armstrong and Madonna.

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“You like?” asked my host. “You like movie? Transformers? My idea! Mark Wahlberg. We build him here. Before he only Mark Wah Wah. Small balls. We give him new balls. We make him General Transformer. Next, maybe we give Bieber big balls. Already give Kardashian women super big asses.”

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Right next to the Transformers room, which took us a day to reach was a truly spectacular race track unlike anything the world would have ever seen.

As we drank bottles of Chateau Lafitte and toasted the future while dining on dishes of Peking Duck, Bao Bao (包包) talked openly of his feelings about all those other Chinese entrepreneurs and their plans to bring horse racing to Mainland China.

“They small Ningning dim sums he said” as he pointed to his BaoBao racecourse which had four different courses next to each other to suit mudlarks, horses that are dirt freaks, those that performed best on a firm track, and those that need a track with some give.

“This way, everyone has fair chance,” he explained. “Trainer pick what track for horse. Every horse race at same time on four separate tracks.”

I wondered what my old mate Caspar Fownes would have said if he was there with me.

caspar

It was an amazingly unique idea: A racecourse for all seasons- and one that was indoors to ensure the weather gods would never bugger up a race meeting.

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As it had now been six days since I first arrived and had seen enough to last me a life time, I told my host that the time to leave had arrived.

He had one last weapon in his arsenal to show me.

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As we opened another bottle of Chateau Lafitte and toasted the future while stuffing our faces with another dish of Peking Duck while the cast of Glee sang gay songs for us, a familiar face approached us.

It was Luis Suarez, the hard-tackling, hard-biting footballer.

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Suarez smiled. He had no teeth, however. “My secret weapon”, explained Bao Bao (包包). “Scientists making him bigger molars and bigger teeth.”

Suarez was his new racing manager and chief negotiator. “If people argue, he bite! He my bitch!”

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And with that, Bao Bao (包包) laughed out aloud again as birds fell from the sky, animals around us howled in terror and Luis Suarez stared at me, licking his lips and smiling.

My host and I hugged like girlie men. He lifted me off the ground, twirled me in the air and threw me into the Baojet for that trip back to Hong Kong.

Jon Landau might have written about seeing the future of Rock’n Roll in Bruce Springsteen. I had seen the future of horse racing. I was blessed.”

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CHAR SIU BAO BAO 20a

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Hans Bao Bao Ebert

Posted in casper fownes, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing | 1 Comment

HOW TO ATTRACT THE NEW RACING CLUB MEMBER AND HORSE OWNER

HORSE OWNER 1

One of the biggest challenges for any racing club anywhere in the world is ensuring that wagering keeps ticking over as holding race meetings is an expensive business- something too many racing tragics forget.

It’s not some little Teddy Bears picnic for a rabid few to have a tuppence bet when one thinks about all the costs involved- staff, catering, sponsorship costs, merchandising etc- in staging one of these events.

HORSE OWNER 2

Thinking of how much the cancellation of the race meeting at Sales must have cost the racing club involved- and riding fees for the jockeys, the pressures placed on trainers who would have had their charges prepped for this day, well, it must be a dark afternoon in hell for many over there.

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The bigger challenge is ensuring that the sport constantly evolves and is seen as relevant and attractive to the new and next generation of race-goers.

This challenge also includes persuading Members who are interested and also cashed up enough to invest and partake in what once was the “Sport Of Kings” through the ownership of horses, either on their own or by forming syndicates with friends or like-minded racing fans.

In very simplistic terms, someone has to purchase horses for there to be horse racing. And the better the equine talent, the better the racing and the more attractive sport.

If the usual suspects purchase the best horses, is there a reason to cry foul and talk about “elitism” or how there’s a “monopoly situation”?

Why? How? They’ve succeeded where others have failed.

If Gai Waterhouse and Chris Waller in Australia, Mike De Kock in South Africa and in Dubai and John Moore, Tony Millard and Richard Gibson in Hong Kong manage to attract those owners who are prepared to purchase potential Group 1 winners, well, racing clubs need to re-look at their business strategies and find ways to work with these trainers- and owners- as it’s all good for the business of racing.

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Money talks in any industry- even in relationships and marriages- just ask Hugh Hefner- and jockeys, trainers, racing clubs follow the money trail as it’s called survival and results in a healthy ongoing business.

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After all, like the demise of Kings and the decline of the Roman, Greek and Ottoman Empires, racing clubs can’t move forward by clinging to the past and dependent on that loyal group of race-goers who stopped being spring chickens when, like sands in an hourglass, those Days Of Their Lives started to blow an ill-wind their way.

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Nothing stays the same and one has to wonder what horse racing will look like in 2266 and if we’ll see flying iron horses ridden by space cowboys.

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But, looking into the Now, how can racing clubs attract this new generation other than stop being known as a “racing club”- and the negative connotations and baggage that this term brings to many outside the inner circle of galloping horse hooves.

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Holding get-togethers and slowly easing in those new to the horse racing is fine, but what’s nagging is if these people- business people investing in an expensive hobby that can be lucrative as they do when opening a restaurant or club, or property, the entertainment industry, or playing the stock market- understand the business side of racing and what it takes to keep a racing club solvent?

And if not, surely this is Strategic Marketing 101- this need to understand, appreciate and support a business they’re jumping into without eyes wide shut?

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Being in Hong Kong, we recently gathered around that hole in the ground at Happy Valley Racecourse past the winning post, which is quickly being re-filled and turning into the spanking- ouch!- new course it will be in October, and wrote down these ideas with input from those who wouldn’t know a Six Up from a 7-Up, and would prefer a good rack to racing on a good and fair track.

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* Change those seemingly endless presentation ceremonies that haven’t changed since the days when Methuselah went racing and which no one watches as they’re so boring and irrelevant to everyone except the winning owners.

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Give the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and all those other quasi celebrities something useful to do by having them present a few Cups other that than their D-Cups on the ubiquitous “leaked” sex tapes.

If “The Rich Kids Of Beverley Hills” could have recently filmed a few episodes of their stupid reality series in Beijing, bring Kim Kardashian and her huge posterior to Shatin Racecourse and give the swarm of photographers REALLY something worth photographing- with a special wide lens.

Sex sells. Always has, always will. Racing is still not sexy enough.

The Kardashian sisters dazzle fans at their Nordstroms jewelry opening and then fly out together, Orange County.

* Remind potential horse owners that owning a horse is cheaper than keeping a mistress though not as flash as driving the latest Bentley, Ferrari and Lamborghini through the Cross-Harbour Tunnel.

Having said this, riding your horse downtown- buck naked- and parking it outside the Four Seasons Hotel is sure to turn heads.

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Listen up, if one-dimensional local actor, horse owner and Canto-warbler Aaron Kwok, who shows up for the opening of an envelope, can bring his horse onstage during his concerts, you can ride your horse down Queen’s Road Central like Lady- or Monsieur Godiva.

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* Have first-time Champion jockey Zac Purton, and tremendous ambassador for Hong Kong racing, perform “If I Were A Rich Man” and “Hey, Big Spender” at the Beer Garden before every Happy Wednesday race meeting and repeat, as he recently rapped to the Sydney media, just how rich Hong Kong racing has made him- and how much even richer it will make him in four years time.

Gauche or aspirational? You decide.

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* As a horse owner, you can give orders to trainers and jockeys PLUS design your own silks and, perhaps, even change silks from looking like pajama tops by including logos, tassels and a cloak.

Sure, try and have your jockey wear a mask and look like Batman or have your silks inspired by your favourite super hero and bring a certain

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* As a horse owner, you get to name your horse. Have fun with the name. Forget names most of the older owners choose that always have words like “golden”, “fortune”, “king dragon” or “fishking” in them.

Name your horse something weird like “A Horse With No Name” after the song, or, if a gelding, “Mr No Balls” or “Nutcracker Sweet”.

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* Let’s get serious here.

At least in Hong Kong- and in Mainland China- let’s not kid ourselves when we say that many women wear the pants in the family.

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In racing, the very attractive and super savvy Canny Leung is not the token co-horse owner of an equine star like Military Attack.

With husband Steven Lo, no more and No Lo a member of the HKJC as he waits to appeal various corruption charges emanating from Macau, wife Canny has taken over his racing interests- and one of her first moves has been having the horse switch stables.

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Female Racing Power is very much alive and very well and becoming more and more powerful as can be seen by all those in Australia and Hong Kong running after Desiree Chang, a key Executive with the powerful Eliza Park setup.

Why? Desiree Chang has the decision-making power to purchase some of the very best equine talent around and decide which jockeys will ride them for which trainers.

The female horse owner, new and young female-driven ownership syndicates is part of a business strategy that can still be enhanced. It has to as, at least in Hong Kong, it can be the future before one can blink and which is where venues like The Chalk and Hay Market and their private rooms come into play as these ladies play to win and don’t suffer fools gladly.

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Add to this the star appeal of this very important customer group meeting a George Clooney, a David or Victoria Beckham or a Faye Wong, and there’ll be a sure winner and ensuring great ambassadors for the sport.

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Posted in Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing | 1 Comment

FERRARI, THE HKJC AND EXTRA HORSEPOWER

HORSEPOWER 1

Walking into the Four Seasons hotel in Hong Kong on the weekend, there were FIVE Ferraris parked almost next to each other.

In fact, it’s said that Hong Kong has the most number of Ferraris per capita, and with the most loyal fans of Founder Enzo Ferrari’s super luxury sports car being businessmen who happen to be racehorse owners as well as a number of jockeys and trainers.

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In fact, former Champion Hong Kong jockey and leading trainer, Tony Cruz, collects Ferraris like some of us collect Dinky toys.

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For the past few years, I’ve always wondered why this magnificent brand with its famous and distinct “prancing horse” logo that has that out-of-this-world playground Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi where there is The Fastest Ride in the world, isn’t part of Hong Kong racing.

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Belissimo! Ferrari and the HKJC where one type of horsepower meets a different type of horse power.

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Why hasn’t this yet happened?

Is it because the brand wishes to only be associated with Formula 1 racing, or does it have to do with Chairman of the company- Luca di Montezemolo and his team- not being pitched a good enough answer to every sponsor’s question: “What’s in it for us?”

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If the latter, the days of “naming rights” for one race day including a Cup race named after a sponsor with a “gala dinner” thrown in- and this only restricted to horse racing news- is just not good enough.

Simply put, it’s not enough bangs for their bucks, especially for Ferrari and its prancing horse branding.

Everything must be bigger, bolder and as daring in thinking as Juan Manuel Fangio in full flight.

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So, imagine, a complete- and ongoing campaign and partnership- that includes horse racing in Hong Kong along with a link with the HKJC’s Charities Trust, the Central Police Station Revitalisation Project and where it is in this city is announced The Ferrari Award for the World’s Best Sprinter.

Of course, the Bigger Picture is having Ferrari being the trailblazer it’s always been become the name behind what I have been revving the motor about for months on end: The World Racing Hall Of Fame Awards.

Add to this, the Annual Ferrari World Racing Awards- a red carpet event held in Hong Kong and horse racing’s answer to the music industry’s Grammy Awards, the film industry’s Oscars, the television industry’s Emmys, horse racing’s answer to the Laureus World Sports Awards, Broadway’s Tony Awards etc.

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The sponsorship of horse racing and bringing in other brands apart from the tremendous support of, especially, Longines, Emirates and BMW is vital to the future of the sport- the prize money, perception, adding glamour, bringing in new owners, providing added appeal for new ownership syndicates- who knows about Hong Kong’s Ferrari Owners Club?- broadcast rights, merchandising et al- and where Ferrari can lead this new charge.

This is a very smart brand- a brand that’s as aspirational as being a horse owner or being part of a racing syndicate with a great Group 1 winning horse like Hong Kong Horse Of The Year- Designs On Rome.

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With its Ferrari Fanatics and other presence on social media, and despite its “Princelings” image that rears its head once in a while in Mainland China when censors wish to put in place the super-rich who flaunt their wealth with the ownership of the Prancing Horse, Ferrari will never ever go out of style. Or be silenced.

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Like a Katy Perry song, Ferrari was born to roar- and, gawd knows, it would be great to have the brand roar and drive horse racing in Hong Kong to even even greater heights with that super-Italian horsepower.

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Hans Ebert

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Posted in CHINESE HORSE OWNERS, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

REN NINGNING, BREEDING JOCKEYS AND DING DONG HORSE RACING

Perhaps it was reading that Mainland Chinese multi-millionaire Ren Ningning wants to “breed the best jockeys in the world” as part of his China Dream, but something’s not right, and I just can’t put my finger on what it is- this feeling that horse racing is so splintered, misunderstood, often goofy, and insignificant as a sport of global proportions.

REN NINGNING 1

Chinese Millionaire Bets On Horse Racing – Sky News

If one doesn’t face this- head on- by racing administrators- racing clubs will continue to be run in a half-cocked manner, drinking the Ren Ningning Kool-Aid from their ivory towers and ignoring the wants and needs of current race-goers and what more is needed to “replenish” these depleting ranks.

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Sometimes, I think what racing might be without the sponsorship of Longines, Emirates and BMW, and become overcome with the chilli willies. It’s a scary thought.

What if these sponsors, needing more than “naming rights” and the obligatory black tie dinner, pulled out in mid-stream like when one is in the throes of sex?

What are the options other than looking down, seeing shrinkage, and wondering what went wrong and how no one saw this coming?

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Perhaps all this thinking and questioning has to do with going through cold turkey and not having any racing in Hong Kong until a few more months when the new season starts up?

Perhaps it’s seeing just how quickly racing in Macau has all but disappeared into a giant vortex of nothingness far bigger than Gary Moore’s face after his new shot of Botox?

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Perhaps it’s seeing horses plodding through heavy 8,9 and 10 tracks in many racecourses in Oz, the irrelevance and question marks about the racing in Singapore and Malaysia, the bankruptcy of racing in Italy while racing in Japan takes place like Zorro on a midnight run and there being no Big Picture in sight for the sport?

Ren Ningning’s Big Picture idea for racing in Mainland China and breeding jockeys doesn’t count. It’s a fake Mona Lisa with a twisted smile.

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One glimpse of hope has been the brilliant crop of young equine talent in the UK. What about that recent win of the John Gosden-trained filly Taghrooda? It helps give racing over there a much-needed make-over.

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Adding to this incredible wealth of equine talent, it’s good seeing my old mate Stephen Halden and company contracted to bring entertainment- everyone from Tom Jones to the Kaiser Chiefs and Jessie J- to nearly every racecourse in the UK with their various Music Markets.

It’s working. And it’s increasing wagering AND widening the appeal of the sport as has been achieved in Hong Kong.

REN NINGNING 7

This is great for the present and future of racing and a world of difference to looking back and longing for the good old days which, in hindsight, might not have been that good at all.

That’s the good news. But, when hears about and sees young riding talent like Lucy Warwick in Western Australia, Winona Costin in NSW, Rory Hutchings from New Zealand, and Chris Casarta and Jessica Payne in Victoria- brilliant talent- one is left wondering, And now what?

Lucy Warwick moves to Melbourne, perhaps. Yes, and then what? Rides better horses for better trainers against better riders than Willie Pike? And?

REN NINGNING 8

(Lucy Warwick)

REN NINGNING 9

(Winona Corsten)

REN NINGNING 10

(Jessica Payne)

REN NINGNING 11

(Chris Casarti)

REN NINGNING 12

(Rory Hutchings)

And so we tune in to the same old racing pundits and listen to the usual suspects talk and talk and talk about the same old things as everything worth saying has been said.

REN NINGNING 13

We read tweets by totally inconsequential people who have ticky boo influence or understanding of the business on where and how and why and when horse racing will take those twelve steps and find its Higher Power.

REN NINGNING 14

Racing in Hong Kong will continue to be the world leader with the best venues to provide race-goers with a better on-course experience- Haymarket, The Chalk, Adrenaline, Millions, The Beer Garden…

REN NINGNING 15

Meanwhile, Champion jockey Zac Purton is already proving himself to be a great ambassador for the HKJC by promoting his new lifestyle comprising the domestic helper, the chauffeur, the four bedroom apartment, guzzling Cristal champagne and paying chump change in taxes to a fawning Corona-drinking groupie racing journo in Sydney who thinks Hong Kong is still a colony and that there exists a Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club. So much for gonzo racing journalism.

REN NINGNING 16

As Peggy Lee sang, Is That All There Is?

Horses are beautiful animals, horse racing is a wonderfully exciting sport made more exciting by great athletes riding these proud thousand pound beasts while there’s always that thrill of winning- but none of this is still to be effectively captured and presented in ways other than the usual shoddy three-camera setups and tired formats- talking heads nodding off, the post-race pontificating and endless paddock parades over inane waffle.

REN NINGNING 17

As mentioned earlier, it’s appalling that there is still no World Racing Awards- truly mind-boggling, Einstein, that something so obvious and key in the business model of every industry to honour their best and sell the Broadcasting Rights to broaden the appeal of the sport has not happened.

Lack of vision? Lack of chutzpah? Insular thinking? Or, simple lack of leadership?

REN NINGNING 18

That horse racing still cannot attract a global brand like Ferrari with its prancing horse logo as a worldwide sponsor makes no sense other than showing up a lack of creativity and presentation skills.

REN NINGNING 19

Then think about it: With all this emphasis on technology, there is still not even one FUN horse racing game a la Angry Birds to download as an app for those who can’t be bothered to study form as if in bible class.

There is no global Horse Racing YouTube Channel, let alone ONE global racing programme.

And, the sport wants to reach a wider audience- and attract a new generation of race-goers and owners?

Pray tell me, with what? Wishful thinking?

REN NINGNING 20

Horse racing merchandising, meanwhile, is still stuck in the barriers with old Black Caviar silks items along with numerous caps and key chains.

REN NINGNING 21

Maybe, I’m just going through Happy Wednesday withdrawal symptoms and waiting for October 22 when the Happy Valley Racecourse reopens and hoping to invite Ren Ningning to take a look at racing where the “prize money” isn’t pots and pans and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Perhaps then we can get this sucker off the ground and create a brave new global world of horse racing instead of the sport being stuck in the mire of racing pages with dwindling readership problems, and sad sack one-dimensional thinking without any of that Nike World “Just Do It” inspiration.

REN NINGNING 22

Hans Ebert

Posted in Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BITCHES AND PIECES

WALLER’S POLITE NO TO SHEIKH MO

BITCHES AND PIECES 1

Did Chris Waller walk away from a $2 million carrot plus Group race and stallion making bonuses from Sheikh Mohammed to be his exclusive Australian trainer?

Was the stumbling block, Waller’s insistence on having a smaller and select group of hoses and outside clients?

BITCHES AND PIECES 2

BITCHES AND PIECES 3

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JOCKEYS WIN VICTORIAN SUPPORT

BITCHES AND PIECES 4

The mail from local jockeys is that their Victorian counterparts have won the support of Racing Victoria to collect fees on behalf of the Victorian and Australian Jockeys Associations.

BITCHES AND PIECES 5

This will, of course, further enrage Racing NSW and the Australian Racing Board in their attempts to flex their muscles against the jockeys and their Association.

And get this: Don’t be surprised if NSW jockeys resort to some form of industrial action against Racing NSW in the near future unless a back down is not forthcoming.

BITCHES AND PIECES 6

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ANOTHER FIGHT LOOMING WITH THE BOOKIES

BITCHES AND PIECES 7

The Australian Wagering Council and their members – the corporate bookmakers- are less than impressed with the “spin” from Racing NSW on its attempts to introduce new rules forcing fixed odds bookmakers with turnover exceeding $5 million to bet to lose a minimum $2000 with each bet taken in the metropolitan area and $1000 in the country and provincial sectors.

The Council says that despite Racing NSW claims to have consulted extensively and while they presented a submission, the first they heard of the details of the new rules was in the press release that was sent to the media by Racing NSW.

BITCHES AND PIECES 8

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WALLER SLAMS RANDWICK INNER TRACK

BITCHES AND PIECES 9

Expect more trainers to join Chris Waller’s swipe at the Kensington Inner Track at Randwick.

Their gripe – the Kensington track which was renovated at great cost following a swag of complaints from trainers and punters- has regressed and the same problems have resurfaced (pardon the pun).

Is NSW ever capable of getting anything right?

BITCHES AND PIECES 10

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COOLMORE RECLAIMS STARSPANGLEDBANNER?

ALLFAIRFAX

Has Irish global breeding giant Coolmore reclaimed the breeding rights to hot new Australian bred stallion Starspangledbanner?

Starspangledbanner, who has fertility issues, was banished by Coolmore to the property of up and coming Victorian stud Rosemont, a significant shareholder in the son of Choisir and who have patiently imp[roved the stallion’s fertility after Coolmore even tried- unsuccessfully- to return him to racing.

His first small European crop has thrown two black type winners including one of the early favourites for the 2015 2000 Guineas in The Wow Factor.

Going on recent history, it is unlikely Rosemont will stand the boom stallion again.

———————————————–

GREG SWANN TAKES BRISBANE AFL GIG

AFL Media - Carlton CEO Announcement.

The nervous nellies in Victorian racing don’t need to rush to the Valium cabinet: It has been confirmed that Greg Swann, who rated himself a chance at landing the VRC Chief Executive position, has correctly read the “tea leaves” and landed the CEO position at the Brisbane AFL Club.

Just as well: the Club was seriously looking at another candidate from AFL Greater Western Sydney Giants.

———————————————–

JESSICA PAYNE: ANOTHER FEMALE APPRENTICE ABOUT TO TAKE OFF?

BITCHES AND PIECES 13

Remember the name Jessica Payne. Apprenticed to a Victorian country trainer Wayne Nicholls at Wangaratta, Jessica is a raw riding talent who is starting to be noticed by some of the State’s better trainers.

BITCHES AND PIECES 14

Jessica recently rode in an apprentices representative series in France – no mean feat for a young inexperienced- but very talented young apprentice jockey.

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UNDER THE PUMP (1)

BITCHES AND PIECES 15

Which senior and prominent NSW-based racing administrator has the noose dangling over his head resulting from his arrogant, abrasive and bully boy attitude towards State racing bodies and stakeholder groups?

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UNDER THE PUMP (2)

BITCHES AND PIECES 16

What is the REAL reason for a very noticeable drop off in the winning strike rate of a prominent Flemington stable?

Posted in Australian horse racing industry, CHRIS WALLER, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, The horse racing industry | Leave a comment

MACAU RACING AND THE DIDHAM YEARS

THE DIDHAM YEARS 1

Sammy Hyland sending me the photo below of Johnny Didham had Mary Hopkin singing “Those Were The Days” over and over in my head.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 2

It had me thinking about a time when the Macau Jockey Club looked like finding its feet and being this smaller and more “boutique” version of Hong Kong racing in what was still a Portuguese complex and where many of us would take that jetfoil from Shun Tak Centre for the weekend- and never ever knowing what to expect on “the dark side”.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 3

Some of us, like racing journo and damn fine pace bowler Chris Collins, never came back after a tragic- they’re all bloody tragic- accident when the car he was traveling in threw him out and over the Taipa bridge.

We also lost a friend in lawyer Gary Alderdice, below, when he and his Russian girlfriend whom he tried to buy out of the clutches of gangsters, were both killed in Vladistock in a horrific way that remains fresh in many memories.

Though there was always an underlying element of danger as one never knew who, at that time, some of the Eastern European operators and Chinese “brothers” who befriended us really wanted, going to Macau for the weekend was never about the races nor the punt.

There were strong friendships built along the way and we were all big kids in a candy store in this non-stop adult playground- and, often, circus- that made the lifestyle of The Wolf Of Wall Street look like an episode of Leave It To Beaver.

Anything and everything happened in Macau and what happened in Macau stayed in Macau.

It was The Hangover before The Hangover and how some of us are still alive to remember those days and talk about them is a minor miracle.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 4

At that time, most of the talking and making plans to Do The Hanky Panky at Darling, Club De China, The Mandarin Bar, the arcades at the Lisboa when slumming and lost along the way, always began at the Hyatt Regency on Taipa island.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 5

For those from Hong Kong who checked in to the hotel, it was the start of a few days of total relaxation- a million lifetimes away from the business of Hong Kong and all the stresses of that city across the bay.

For around a thousand bucks, we had penthouse suites large enough for a party of ten, never-ending room service and a revolving door of characters. And what characters.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 6

There was my great mate Neil Paine who remains a great mate and one of the worst singers known to mankind whose karaoke sessions has nearly got us beaten up by the triads many times.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 7

There was the very talented rider Colin Dean who, at that time, was riding for Singaporean trainer Charles Leck and eventually saw his career fall through the cracks, especially after crossing a group of gangsters during a riding stint in India with fellow jockey Mark Gallagher.

Riding with them at the time was average jockey Simon Jones, who had the knack of undoing some of the best laid plans during a race.

There was the larger-than-life trainer John Gilmore, former trots driver Joe Barnes, Gordon Benson, track work rider Fergus Gallagher, former amateur Hong Kong jockey-turned-trainer George Williams, jockeys Geoff Allendorf, Bobby Vance who married the stunning Swedish rider Jenny Moeller, Harry Troy before he became the Club’s resident race caller, Philip Waldren and Robert Heffernan.

And then there was the very colorful owner Tony Morias aka “The Black Rat” whose punting “skills” were as legendary as all that bling he wore around his neck.

Yes, Tony’s punts were that big- and that bad- mainly because of his trust in one particular con man who would give him “last minute tips”- last minute tips that kept coming through for around ten minutes.

When the race was on, Tony had made around six bets with the bookies.

Even when he won, he lost and the sight of a confused Tony Morias sitting at his table counting his many betting slips after a race- and then playing catch-up- was not a great sight. It was a warning to all.

Those on “the other side” and not part of the group most of us moved with were the American Murphy brothers- Joe, the trainer, and Declan, who rode with some success in Hong Kong- a nice enough guy though his brother was an acquired taste who had- gawd forbid- been Assistant Trainer to Natalis Chan, the well-known current photo hogging owner in Hong Kong who never ever loses on the punt.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 8

Once the lead singer with a band christened The Loosers by then-manager Pato Leung, who also races horses in Hong Kong, Chan was a flamboyant character who, for some weird reason, was given a trainer’s license- perhaps for his roller deck of owners- whereas Joe Murphy did all the donkey work.

Perhaps that’s why he was pissed off most of the time.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 9

Danny Brereton rode for the Chan/Murphy duopoly until Chan gave up his training career, but still ran to be in any winning photographs whenever one of “his” horses won, and the result of the first MJC Derby where Joe Murphy trained the race favourite- Rock’n Roll- remains a recurring nightmare.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 10

My friend and fellow music company executive Norman Cheng owned Rock ‘n Roll which was the 2 to1 favourite for the big race after four consecutive wins- facile wins- and after weeks and even months of discussing what was to run the tierce- Rock’n Roll just could not be beat- we arrived in Macau that weekend, had a pre-race celebration party, and finally made it to the course on that eventful Sunday afternoon.

Joe Murphy was bullish, we looked at the quinella odds with the only horse capable of running second, Norman made his bets- openly- with the “banned” bookies, Martell was served from the moment we sat down, photos were taken and it was then down to the paddock.

Months of planning riding tactics, months of obtaining information from trainers, riders, mafoos etc about the other runners at the restaurant called Portico on Hong Kong side- a popular meeting place when Macau-based jockeys and trainers would come over- had now arrived.

As cameras swirled around my friend Norman and the posse he had brought with him, someone, who should remain anonymous, mumbled that something was “not right” with the horse. I had whiplash.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 11

My friend had practically bet the grandstand on his horse, but this being Macau and this being the MJC where many who could never ever even get into the HKJC carpark ran things as Executives, I heeded the warning and watched the race- only pretending to have had a bet.

Rock’n Roll came fourth. It was never ever going to win. The race went to the 35 to 1 outsider Royal Knight trained by Johnny Gilmore which Rock’n Roll had comprehensively beaten when they had previously met.

As my owner friend turned a whiter shade of pale and looked to wobble in his chair, us around him really didn’t know what to say.

Joe Murphy rushed to our table to offer him those explanations trainers do to all owners when a “sure thing” gets beaten: All the blame was heaped on the shoulders of jockey Danny Brereton.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 12

What had happened? Who knew, and until this day, no one is saying though the rumours persist, but that day, the ferry ride back to Hong Kong- plans for the celebration dinner and karaoke session were abandoned- was a very quiet one- almost reflective in a sad, loss of huge face way.

Soon afterwards, Joe Murphy and Danny Brereton parted ways and what next happened to Rock’n Roll is hazy.

Life in Macau continued to the sounds of two of the worst race-callers in Franco Lau and some Indian bloke and pretty average racing until the Moore Circus rolled into Taipa- a huge coup for the MJC which was starting to see its image cheapened through openly illegal bookies on-course, odds changing while races were being run and jockeys having their licenses revoked- if they won.

So, when the Club made the legendary George Moore an offer he couldn’t refuse, there was a glimmer of hope that racing would be on the up and up as no one dared screw with the Maestro.

The offer was for George to be trainer, son Gary would be stable rider with son-in-law Peter Leyshan- such a good jockey- riding second string. And here, the fun started.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 13

THE DIDHAM YEARS 14

Say what you may about Gary Moore, but I like him. Yes, he’s strange, he’s surreal, he’s prone to bouts of bizarre behavior, but he is never ever vindictive or political. He takes the knocks with humour, he works hard, and he’s seen the very highs and lows of racing.

So, when a trainer, he kissed jockeys- on the lips- when they would win on his horses?

He would also jock them off and jump on them after training a winner.

He once emulated Sir Walter Raleigh by taking off his jacket and laying it on the ground so that his most important owner- casino magnate Stanley Ho- wouldn’t step into a puddle of water.

Weird? Sure- but perfectly normal for Gary Moore.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 15

As a jockey, he would throw his whip into the crowd- and, after the races, he could be seen searching for it in case it hadn’t been caught by his fan club.

All this, well, STUFF, continued until old George retired, Gary became a trainer- Macau’s Champion trainer many times- changed jackets, changed wives, but, to this day, lives in Gary World with his new family, his old family, severe Botox and soon off to Sydney for the next chapter of his life.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 16

As for Macau racing, we saw the reign of Jose Corrales as Champion jockey- he never made that transition to successful trainer- the great “Babe” Brent Thomson made a cameo appearance before deciding that even Peter Pan must grow up, Tony Ives arrived from the UK, Johnny Roe did his best as a trainer, Mick Dittman made a few guest appearances, but nothing took off like The Didham Years in full flight.

Stevie Arnold was riding in Macau at that time as were Sammy Hyland and David Taggart, South African MJ Odendahl, Robbie Burke, Michael Cahill, Christian Reith and the hugely talented but wayward Eric Saint Martin, Olivier Doleuze, Fausto Durso, Brent Stanley, Alan Calder and Manuel Nunes were to follow, but Johnny Didham was the best.

THE DIDHAM YEARS 17

He really was the Dougie Whyte of Macau- quiet, watchful, clever in a race, financially savvy off the track, strong in a finish and with great staying power, something also seen to great effect at our legendary lunches that lasted 24 hours, starting at noon at California in Lan Kwai Fong, winding its way to Post 1997, ending at TOTT’s at the Excelsior and, along the way, thinking we just might have something in manufacturing tongue scrapers.

It’s a long story.

So has been this one.

Hans Ebert

Posted in Macau Jockey Club, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE COAL REALITY ISSUE

THE COAL REALITY 1

HUNTER BREEDERS PUSHING COAL UPHILL

If there is one glaring deficiency in Australian racing, it is its abysmal lack of peripheral vision, and in a broader sense, its inability to read the writing on the wall. And again it sounds very much like an “I told you so” response to last week’s news that the Baird State Government had decided to allow a Planning Assessment Commission to re-assess the possibility of expanding the Anglo-American open cut coalmine, which just happens to be the across the road neighbour of Coolmore and Darley Stud farms, two of the biggest and most successful thoroughbred breeding operations in Australia.

THE COAL REALITY 2

Last week’s decision is another road block to the Hunter breeders who have fought a long battle in their bid to keep the powerful mining industry out of any new mining development in the Hunter, which is widely and overwhelmingly acknowledged as Australia’s premier breeding nursery and increasingly one right up there with some of the most successful breeding hubs anywhere in the world.

GLADSTONE QUEENSLAND INDUSTRY FEATURE

But, as we have written before, it’s a losing battle. Sounds pessimistic, but reality bites and bites very hard.

The mining industry and its mining lobby is one of the most powerful industry and lobby groups in Australia and have the “ear” of all the right people in the right places.

They are particularly well organized, cashed up, and their communications and PR campaigns are par excellence.

They have been known to take on the scalps of Governments – State and Federal- so much so that, these days, Governments choose to run proposals by them rather than run the risk of being taken on by multi-million dollar advertising and PR campaigns and ending with coal dust on their faces.

THE COAL REALITY 4

The mining industry makes compelling arguments for their cause of continuing to leave vast stretches of Australia like it’s been hit by a gigantic crater – a quarry that has the mineral wealth sapped out of it.

Mining has very astutely made itself Australia’s new “untouchable” industry- spruiking loudly and in carefully constructed language with all the right clichés, and how it has been the foundation of modern Australia’s economic prosperity.

It’s an argument that is extremely hard to dismantle considering the vocal and powerful cheering squad that it has in its corner in the form of a very compliant media led by Rupert’s News Corp Limited.

Yes, its all about who you know not what you know.

THE COAL REALITY 5

And its hard to blame Federal and State Governments for daring to not take them on.

Remember the outcry over the Mining Tax?

For the Hunter breeders, its an uphill battle that they will struggle to win.

After all, mining investments- and the economic benefits to the Australian economy, the Miners and State and Federal Governments- far outweigh the economic benefits and investments that a bunch of global heavyweights in thoroughbred breeding can deliver to Australia.

And besides, the Hunter breeding operations can always re-locate their operations across the border to the north east of Victoria, which is not bestowed with the same “black gold” riches of the Hunter.

Governments, like Boards of Racing Governing Bodies, are driven by one thing and one thing only – self interest. And self interest is the one certainty on any racing programme.

Betting against and taking on the power of the Miners is almost mission impossible.

THE COAL REALITY 6

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WALLER? HE’S NOT THE PROBLEM WITH SYDNEY RACING

THE COAL REALITY 7

The knee jerk response to Chris Waller’s impact on Sydney racing masks a wider and much greater problem which none of the decision makers and powerful sectional-vested interests in NSW have the balls to confront.

THE COAL REALITY 8

The “tall poppy” syndrome, embedded in Australian DNA is all about penalizing success, and it is no different in racing.

THE COAL REALITY 9

It is a short sighted and dangerous path to go down, and any restrictions will push even further the very nail in the coffin that is hanging over NSW racing.

Chris Waller is not the problem with Sydney racing. Uh uh. It is its administrators and the accumulation of a litany of poor decisions, and, at the other extreme, a decision-making vacuum, which has been the catalyst in the decline of NSW racing in all sectors.

The most striking evidence is the decision taken by the only remaining Sydney metropolitan race club – the ATC- to introduce performance-based criteria for training at Randwick, taking yet another important step towards elitism in Sydney racing.

THE COAL REALITY 10

In contrast, those dastardly Victorians have their three premier training centres, all within easy access from their CBD, and bulging at the seams with a diversity of established, emerging and newbies to the ranks of training. It has a point of difference and variety.

THE COAL REALITY 11

Is it any wonder their field sizes each Saturday, make those in Sydney akin to the numbers making up a swimming or athletics relay team?

THE COAL REALITY 12

How embarrassing- yet again- this weekend when Caulfield- and in the dead of winter- can boast a total of 108 acceptances while at Randwick, on the Inner Track, they can rustle up a mere 76 acceptances for the eight race card – an average of less than 10 per field.

THE COAL REALITY 13

Three of the races have seven starters, and another eight. The three seven horse fields immediately wipes out a significant portion of the place and exotics betting pools.

NSW might have the sexier names in the jockey ranks and some of the numerically big training establishments compared to Victoria, but where has that taken NSW racing?

On the slippery slide towards irrelevance. That’s where NSW racing is heading.

THE COAL REALITY 14

And when the likes of Joe Pride, Jason Coyle and Clarry Conners- well-known names in the training ranks- publicly comment on “capping” Chris Waller’s dominance, it clearly suggests that NSW racing is not being conducted on a level playing field.

THE COAL REALITY 15

Whilst it can only be reiterated that Chris Waller is not the problem and should NOT be penalized for his success, the inconvenient truth for Racing NSW is that many metropolitan trainers strongly believe that there is no level playing field in Sydney racing, and quite wrongly perceive Chris Waller’s success and dominance as the problem.

THE COAL REALITY 16

Sadly, and not at all surprisingly, the pathetically lame duck racing media just don’t have the balls to ask the difficult questions and put the blow torch way up the backsides of the Druitt Street hierarchy.

THE COAL REALITY 17

If metropolitan NSW racing is is bogged down in struggle street, imagine the state of the provincial and country sectors.

We were reminded last Saturday at Rosehill of the “grand tour” of the provincial and country sectors by NSW racing’s version of Dumb and Dumber soon after Racing NSW’s triumphant court challenge win over the corporate bookmakers on the product fee. Remember?

THE COAL REALITY 18

It was like a rock’n roll tour- packed city halls and telephone booths with the country and provincial sectors portion of the bright eyed “50,000” participants, eagerly lapping up promises by Milli and Vanilli to spread the lurve, babies, and fix up prize money levels and decades-long neglected infrastructure. Yawn.

THE COAL REALITY 19

Who said there was no place in NSW racing for good old fashioned pork barrelling politics?

Is it any wonder that the country and provincial participants are either struggling to survive or queuing up to make a bee line to the nearest exit sign to get the hell out of NSW racing?

THE COAL REALITY 20

Cunningly and cleverly, in the absence of any scrutiny by a compliant- meaning, girlie men- racing media, the hard and essential questions are never asked and instead the blow torch is applied to the State Government over its perceived failure to forgo tens of million dollars in tax collected from the industry, which, according to the Druitt Street spin doctors would be used to pull the provincial and country sectors portion of the “50,000” participants out of the poor house. What a load of unadulterated bullshit.

THE COAL REALITY 21

If Druitt Street was serious, it would have spread the product fee windfall more evenly- as it should have done across all sectors- so that the problems of the country sector could have been addressed.

To say that the Baird Government is unimpressed is a gross understatement- and which is another story for another day.

THE COAL REALITY 22

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VRC EXECUTIVE SEARCH SENDS APPENDAGES WAGGING

THE COAL REALITY 23

When Australia’s most successful racing club embarks on a search for a new Chief Executive, not surprisingly, it is the subject of much conjecture and rumour.

THE COAL REALITY 24

The rumour mill crosses borders as well into Sydney and one of the intriguing rumours about a “leading” candidate centres around an out of work former AFL Club Chief Executive Greg Swann, below, who recently “resigned” (?) from the Carlton Football Club and was previously in the same role with arch rival Collingwood.

THE COAL REALITY 25

Swann’s candidature has been canvassed in both the Fairfax and News Limited press, but according to an AFL mate, who also happens to be a Carlton tragic, he does not rate at all.

Our Carlton mate pointedly observed that during Swann’s tenure at Carlton, the best he could do with membership was take it to just under 50,000 from which it has slipped back to around the 45,000, which, for a Club of Carlton’s stature, is a fail, and fair way off some of its power house contemporaries in the AFL.

THE COAL REALITY 26

The VRC, on the other hand, with its over 30,000 membership is the envy of all racing clubs in Australia.

Australian Race Clubs struggle to get to low five-figure numbers in their membership, and the VRC strength- having witnessed it first hand as a member’s guest- is that it prioritizes its members and services them very well.

The VRC simply cannot afford to not get it right when choosing its next Chief Executive as it has worked too damn hard to achieve its pre-eminent status as one of the most respected racing clubs in the world.

It has a strong membership base and commitment to its members, as it should.

It must choose carefully and avoid the risky strategy of chasing a high profile candidate without either the commitment to the highest level of member and customer service, or an understanding and respect for the unique beast that thoroughbred racing is.

THE COAL REALITY 27

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SEPARATED AT BIRTH

Some Russian comrade dude

THE COAL REALITY 27a

Caspar Fownes, Hong Kong’s Champion Trainer

THE COAL REALITY 27b

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RACING’S PETER PRINCIPLE

THE COAL REALITY 28

As we should all know by now, Peter V’landy’s, the fearless leader of Racing New South Wales, is a complex character- often combative like Tony Montana in “Scarface”, sometimes dripping in humility like Anthony Perkins looking after Mother in “Psycho” and, often, a Walter Mitty character who marches to the la la beat of his own drummer beaten by his fawning band of Yassir People.

THE COAL REALITY 29
Peter V’landy’s and his little Yes People?

For reasons known only to him, the Hannibal Lechter of Australian racing, has taken it upon himself to- yawn- wage another of his frequent wars, this time against the NSW Jockeys Association, which, we hear, he’s already calling a victory. But hold that Chianti.

After the events of the recent races at Ballina, and the signatures of jockeys gained, it looks as if Blue Peter might be in for a rude shock on or before his D-Day of August 1.

THE COAL REALITY 30
Peter V’Landy’s at dinner and waiting for his Chianti?

Seemingly loving the smell of napalm in the morning, Hannibal The Cannibal is said to have gone and had another of his hissy fits- it’s way too mind numbing to get into here- and which is the reason for the- ta dum- “inaugural Racing NSW Awards” which will be held at Rosehill on August 2, and has all the signs of self-promotion and another Rocky Moment for the Donald Trump of Australian racing.

THE COAL REALITY 31
Peter V’Landy’s???

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THE GNASHER TO SHOW HIS CHOPPERS IN HK?

THE COAL REALITY 32

With the drums beating very loudly that Nash Rawiller will FINALLY be granted a license to ride in Hongkers next season, we thought we’d share this video of one of The Gnasher’s recent wins in Japan.

This was on 11.5 pop Reign Over which won at Hakodate.

Meanwhile, nothing whatsoever against Christian Reith, but it’s all a bit, well, Duh, when he gets a six month license just like that ( snaps fingers) and a very good, tough as old boots Champion jockey like Nash Rawiller has been overlooked way too often.

THE COAL REALITY 33

——————————————-

PARTING SHOT

THE COAL REALITY 34

Posted in Australian horse racing industry, casper fownes, CHRIS WALLER, Horse Racing, Peter V'landys | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE HKJC: WHEN A RACING CLUB BECOMES MORE THAN “JUST A RACING CLUB”

There’s a herd movement taking place, especially on weekends, where, like the hippies winding their way to Woodstock to embrace Cocker Power and hold up peace signs, many local “tribes” make their way to the old Police Married Quarters (PMQ) in Central.

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Unless living under a rock for the past few months, PMQ was being touted by some as being Hong Kong’s answer to NYC’s The Village or Camden Market and a creative outlet for local entrepreneurs.

Perhaps it might morph into something like this in time, but, right now, it’s a long and winding road that leads one here, there and everywhere and a bit of a buffet with no real identity or “good vibes” to hold it together.

Again, perhaps it needs time to find its feet and a personality other than being somewhat on the bland of pedestrian even with its 1600 pandas.

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Enter the CPS Mothership

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Whatever it might be or become, PMQ is like the pod sent to test the waters before the arrival of the Mothership- the Mothership that will be the Central Police Station Revitalisation Project.

Opening in 2016, it promises to become something Hong Kong has never “hosted” or had ownership of before- a cultural hub without the Hooray Henry snobbery and one that safeguards the remaining heritage of a fast-disappearing old Hong Kong yet marries it with contemporary aspects of the city.

With space for exhibitions, contemporary arts, specialized retail space, ‘live’ street musicians- echoes of Covent Garden- themed/branded bars, restaurants, but not of the Lan Kwai Fong/Soho/Wyndham Street variety as do we really need more of the same that’s actually even MORE of the same?- the Revitalisation Project goes beyond revitalizing this wonderful site. If those walls could talk…

The fact that this project is a partnership between the Hong Kong Government and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, which the latter will manage, has raised a few eyebrows along with some questions, but let’s step back for a minute and rein in any thoughts that might lead us off the beaten path.

The words, “Jockey Club” and its association with the taboo word, “gambling”, is an all-too-easy, follow-the-numbers “answer” to jump to until one “does the maths” and takes the blinkers off.

Somewhat sadly, the HKJC is still perceived as being a one-dimensional organization to those who either refuse to acknowledge the Club’s funding of so many of Hong Kong’s much-needed projects through its Charities Trust, or, look at that “Racing For Charity” come-on under the rapidly clicking Little Shop Of Horrors man-eating plant type of totalizator board on race days and wonder, WTF? Racing for WHAT charity?

Here’s where the HKJC, which celebrates its 130th Anniversary in September of this year, continues to be misunderstood, and where perception versus reality is yet to be answered. And it should be answered as loudly as Joshua blowing down the walls of Jericho.

Sometimes, to avoid nice guys coming last, or good things getting lost in the shuffle, there is a need to blow one’s own trumpet.

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Changing mindsets

How can a “jockey club” manage an ambitious plan like what the old Central Police Station will become?

Well, not by managing how it does horse racing- incredibly successfully with the highest turnover in the world- but, instead, with a very different business strategy that’s included years of careful planning regarding “brand personality”, the “right” tenants, the hiring of Euan Upston, the former CEO of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, as Director of the project, below, and a deft understanding of the word, Revitalisation- and the process to make this happen.

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Smaller, but still relevant to this Revitalisation Project- and process- is the HKJC’s experience in managing the venues that the two racecourses house in Shatin and Happy Valley, and with each one opened to provide different customer segments with a better on-course experience.

Is there, for example, a better venue in any other race track anywhere in the world than Hay Market at the Shatin Racecourse?

With an incredible interior design by Joyce Wang, one really doubts it.

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Add to this the venues Adrenaline, Millions, The Gallery, Moon Koon, the soon-to-be-opened upmarket Members Only restaurant called Chalk, and, of course, The Beer Garden at Happy Valley, what you have is a food and “entertainment court”, with the HKJC, no doubt, having adopted a horses for courses strategy.

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Being more than a jockey club

Have these venues- and the Club’s expertise in running them- been effectively marketed to those outside of the box- and the Private Boxes at both racecourses? Possibly not.

It’s like the HKJC Charities Trust where a token quarter page advertorial on page 7 of a new project or initiative is hardly going to gain much awareness, and which is why, I’ve always advocated for there to be some form of “More than a jockey club” strategy in place, both internally and externally.

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The hardcore racing fan will always be there as their Field Of Dreams has been built and they will come as long as there are races to be wagered on.

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However, captive markets are just that: captive.

As the world turns, along with stomachs depending on where you dined the night before, the need to look beyond the obvious and attract new consumers and where rebranding comes into play is one that should excite and inspire the HKJC.

That challenge to take the Club from being part of that misguided mantra of “Just a racing club” to “More than a racing club”, and bring in all the new elements to meet this objective, should be embraced.

Location, location, location and positioning, positioning, positioning, and knowing something about horse racing, marketing and the HKJC, the timing seems to be reaching that bewitching hour.

This has to do with timing when a “racing club” can no longer be afforded to be fobbed off as being “one dimensional”- certainly not in Hong Kong and, definitely, not a Club like the HKJC that has a proud history attached to it, but with an even brighter and greater future.

There is a new Field Of Dreams to be built as a new generation of consumers- yes, including race-goers- is looking for and needing in a restless city undergoing great change.

Hans Ebert

Posted in Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA AND WILL IT WORK?

Some of us closed our Facebook accounts for many reasons; grandparents started to have their own pages, others read the small print and found out that all personal content belonged to Team Zuckerberg, accounts were hacked, trolls started to follow you and become creepy, plus, like Hotel California, you can check out anytime, but you can never leave.

WORK 1

You might close your Facebook account- but you’re still there- and there will always be updates via email trying to have you return.

One click and you’re back and, again, swimming with sharks- unless you really know how to ensure that what happens on your Facebook page stays on your Facebook page.

Small businesses have entered the Facebook World to promote themselves and gain “likes” via what’s cutely described as “Facebook Ads”, and which no one can really explain how these work as, just maybe, they don’t.

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The problem here is that like “YouTube Ads”, no one has any control of what they’re buying and one has to take what is given despite being the content provider.

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For example, a number of bars and restaurants in Hong Kong that have bought into “Facebook Ads” are seeing ALL their “likes” coming from two countries- the Philippines and Indonesia- despite having extremely few customers from either country. Another big Duh.

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The big business behind social media

Who benefits from all these meaningless “likes”? Facebook, of course, that builds up numbers for its big business clients wanting the social media platform’s massive data base including major investors like billionaire Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man with all those retail businesses that need to market their goods to clearly defined consumer groups?

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As for YouTube Ads, many buy into these and see their “views” increase- but how real are these?

Are 30,000 more “views” from Moldova- and from those who have never ever been on YouTube before and never will again- cause for celebration when you know they’re fake?

There are also a series of new YouTube “laws” that seem arbitrary with videos taken down for what seem like no real reason, and no explanation given.

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Twitter seemed like a 140 word answer- and still could be- except when having THIS social media platform accept so many selling “followers”.

Who would want fake “followers”- and for what reason?

To show “popularity”?

The problem with “YouTube sensations”

It all reminds me of various high-profile “overnight YouTube sensations” like Usher supposedly finding some kid named Justin Bieber while trawling through YouTube, Susan Boyle, who had been knocking around the UK for years, suddenly being “discovered” on Britain’s Got Talent, Adam Lambert being “new” when discovered on American Idol despite failed recordings years earlier.

The list of background stories like this and other “YouTube sensations” is endless and once kept publicists busy.

At least for one of these “YouTube sensations,” it was revealed some years ago that their “views” were manufactured outta Bangalore via a hired Search Engine Operative and with SEO’s being more out there and persistent than ever these days by spamming you with emails guaranteeing more of everything, but, especially, “higher rankings on Google”- and which is increasingly becoming another scam.

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Buying ANYTHING to create false popularity is wrong, wrong, wrong and gives, especially, businesses, a very wrong and warped view of the popularity of their products.

It also shows how so many are out of touch with social media- but so eager to be part of it ‘cos, well, everyone else is and, like lemmings, they follow with no questions asked and very often duped by so-called “social media experts” without any idea about the rudiments of basic, traditional marketing.

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Horse racing and social media

This leads to horse racing and racing clubs and how and where and when social media is used as despite reservations about various business practices, it’s the new version of newspapers and television.

Recently, a certain jockey was being interviewed about having been “active” on social media- past tense as, perhaps, it’s just become a habit-forming waste of time for him with no real returns for his time and efforts.

Many are “active” on social media for one reason and one reason only: Self-promotion and to create a brand for themselves with a business in mind.

Nothing wrong with this. But if it’s only all-too-transparent self-promotion, hmmm.

That’s a personal decision and one to think about when having a lie-down in the shrink’s office.

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Riding on social media

So, what about racing clubs and social media?

How does this work- and where and when and why?

Is it like music companies having corporate websites and Facebook pages and twitter accounts which music fans avoid like the plague as these are “the enemy” and irrelevant when they have direct access to their favourite acts?

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By the same token, how would “messaging” from a racing club about any of its activities be “accepted” on the much younger looking social media?

Would those who these clubs wish to communicate with buy into any of this “messaging” as the medium of the message is coming from someone they view as “Mother” played by Anthony Perkins in “Psycho”?

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The soft-shoe selling of horse racing

Of course, this consumer group is the NEW, YOUNGER generation with very varied interests that racing clubs need to attract for it to continue as a valid business- new race-goers, new horse owners, new horse owner syndicates, new sponsors, new business partners, the new New- and how social media, even with its faults, must come into play with everything relevant to ensure that the connectivity is there.

Do racing clubs have the people to make this happen- and, if not, are those briefing and outsourcing this work coming from the old hardcore school of racing when many new to the sport don’t even know what a totalisator board is, let alone read one?

And think of this: How many of the “social media experts” hired at great expense truly understand even the rudiments of horse racing and those who make the sport run?

Perhaps the answer is closer than many think.

A young jockey like Tommy Berry, for example, is very active on twitter- he has over 8,000 followers- and whatever he finds interesting enough to retweet- recently, it was how trainer Robbie Lang’s Daughter had made it onto the Aussie version of The Voice- reaches many and considered relevant and credible as it’s come from Tommy.

Do the maths and retweet

If one does the maths, the retweets of his original tweet, the numbers are high, and then the retweets of the retweets make the numbers grow until the message reaches completely new consumers and might even get translated into Chinese.

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Meanwhile, an extremely popular jockey like Joao Moreira is not on twitter, but, if, somehow, the HKJC can persuade him to start up an Instagram account- far more popular than twitter these days as it is purely visual communications- the Brazilian rider can be a highly effective member of the Club’s street marketing team, especially to the new- and established Chinese racing fan and media.

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Racing clubs and street marketing teams

Social media in horse racing is still only finding its feet, but looking outside of that tight, rigid box it always seems more comfortable being in, the sport seems to be forgetting the team it has at its fingertips- all those YOUNG riders and trainers and trackwork riders and strappers and all their boyfriends and girlfriends- all of whom can become so important in getting out photos, videos, non-hardcore messages to do with promotions and create a very new way of looking at the marketing of the sport.

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Racing’s independent online world would have taken a major baby step and with new content and new programming of the sport just a shot a way.

sports balls

Posted in HAPPY WEDNESDAY, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment