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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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”?


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.

WORK 12a

WORK 12b

WORK 12c

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.


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.



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


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“Mate, you forget. He’s only an f-ing jockey! What do you expect?”

It’s something that’s been said many times and will continue to be said many times as it’s been said for so many decades that it’s become a mantra and only re-enforces that speaking “on behalf” of the sport is an out-of-touch racing community and racing media- two key reasons why horse racing remains an also-ran in the very wide world of sports entertainment.

It’s also where many of the sport’s star attractions- jockeys and trainers- are often taken for granted and relegated to token co-starring roles and seen as the Rodney Dangerfields of racing.


If there are exceptions to this rule, they are Douglas Whyte, Joao Moreira, below, perhaps Hugh Bowman and Ryan Moore, despite not exactly the most charismatic and marketable personalities in the world, Frankie Dettori- still, a Rock Star jockey with star appeal though in the twilight of his fantastic career that is a movie waiting to be made, trainer Gai Waterhouse- and not many else.


Sure, there are some very good riders, but who’s to know other than the handful of racing tragics with a zero global view of the sport?

And how many of these riders have personalities and interests beyond trackwork, barrier trials and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and misfortune?


Who’s to appreciate their talent other than those reading the racing pages- and, after all these years, probably nodding off or unprepared to accept if a new name is mentioned?

And how does ALL this expand the base of the current dwindling racing audience looking at the sport globally? It doesn’t.

In Italy, many winning owners have waited over three months for their prize money- another problem plaguing some racing communities- bankruptcy- whereas the coal mining industry could have a VERY serious affect on the Australian breeding industry.

Why hasn’t there been more written or discussed or fought against this? Gawd knows.


Then imagine how the lack of a market- or a diminishing market- affects words like “reach” and GRP levels- Gross Rating Points- when it comes to television coverage of the sport, sponsorship value and trying to give these sponsors more bangs than they currently receive for their bucks?


Naming rights? Boring and part of the T Rex Bang A Gong dinosaur age.


A sponsored black tie event? For whom? That same old audience, now older and ready to clutch their hearts, get on their knees, “do an Al Jolson” and sing, Mammy?


Another fireworks display?

Only if the racing executive with his lazy pyromania tendencies is launched into space with fireworks up his bum as a sweet Adieu.


And here lies the problem with racing: Racing “personalities” with very little mainstream marquee value or the thinking to attract that next generation of racing fan- the horse owners, the NEW thinking racing syndicates wishing to reinvent that broken wheel, the race-goer new to a racecourse- and those paid millions in racing clubs who think- or can’t be bothered to think- everything can coast along with no changes, no new initiatives, and no new incentives to keep jockeys and trainers in the sport.


So, just to make it an even playing field, we’ll be speaking to a number of jockeys, trainers, owners, strappers etc to get THEIR thoughts on an industry that cannot survive without them.

Racing administrators are, of course, necessary- EFFECTIVE racing administrators and not those making up the numbers- but, as with any industry, only the team that plays together and understand all sides can win and where there should be no tail wagging the dog.

Today, our Ten Questions go to Luke Dittman, hardly a household name- yet- but a young rider- and he’s smart- who is part of that “new generation” the racing media keeps going on about- and really not different to the new and next generation of race-goers and horse owners.

After all, jockeys and trainers are people, too.

Perhaps there are some answers here that might ring a few new balls and bells, and offer up some new thinking to an industry becoming increasingly outdated because of too many leading it into that giant abyss, and believing that no change is still change. Duh.

Q: Any pressure being the son of the great Mick Dittman?



LD: I think there is. There is always a level that you are expected to achieve even before you start riding when you have a family member who was very successful. And the public are less likely to accept it if you don’t reach that level. I think it’s the same for any jockey’s son- Nick Hall, Mitch Beadman etc.

Q: A lot of people think you where born with a silver spoon in your mouth? Is that the case? Or maybe you were born with a gob stopper instead???


LD: No, I don’t believe it is. Although having a father in the game has allowed me to meet many people that I probably wouldn’t have so early, they are not going to give you a chance unless you prove you are good enough.

Having the last name Dittman has allowed me to shake a lot of hands, it has never put me on the back of a horse.

The racing game is a difficult one at the best of times and unless you can show there is something special about you, owners and trainer will not want you on.

That’s the same for anybody, whether you’re from a racing background or not.


Q: What would you do if you where head of marketing for a racing club?

LD: I think racing has turned into more of an older generation sport- especially for the viewing public. I would be looking to put events on that would attract the twenty and thirtysomethings to the races- something to entice the younger generation to want to get involved with horses, something to make them want to buy yearly members’ tickets and, perhaps, own a share in a race horse.

These are the people we’ll need to keep the industry alive for the next 30 or 40 years.

Q: Favourite jockeys riding today?

Frankie Dettori
Christophe Soumillon
Joao Moreira
James McDonald
Damian Oliver

Q: Young owners looking to get into racing: What do you think would make them make that move?

LD: I think there are a couple of different reasons to get involved as an owner these days.

One is the fact that you can join one of the syndicates that are having outstanding success at the moment where it’ll only cost you a fraction of the price.

Two would be the prize money and the fun that is involved in owning a horse.

Although the prize money for the owner may not be entirely perfect at the moment, it is always on the rise. There is also the enjoyment factor you get from watching a horse you own win.

After all, most owners are in racing as a hobby and know it’s not going to make them a fortune. What they are after is the thrill of being at the races with their friends and watching a horse they purchased run well.

Q: What if you had the chance to have your own racing show on television or radio?

LD: I’d definitely produce and present these similarly to most racing shows today with the black bookers and the upcoming race form as well as carnival news.

I would also keep it a bit more relaxed in terms of the way the show was presented.

Instead of it being full-on about racing, I might bring in guests from other sports who could talk about tennis, golf, soccer etc- something to bring in the racing fan who is not quiet a die hard yet and doesn’t understand all the lingo.

Q: What would you do in the area of marketing with regards to getting racing becoming more mainstream and having sponsorship appeal?

LD: I think the key with keeping the industry alive for the future is about attracting the younger generation- being able to relate to them and having on-course events that would interest them. These are events such as the Friday nights they have at Newmarket in the UK where, after the races, they have well-known acts like Jessie J, Labrynth etc. It means that the twenty and thirtysomethings will want to come for a day at the races, stay and watch the concert- and return.


Q: Where do you want be in two years?

LD: I’ll just be coming out of my apprenticeship by then, so I’ll look to be able to say I’ve out-ridden my claim, or at least be getting close to it.

Having my weight firmly in check and being able to establish myself as a regular city jockey would be the goal and from there it might be looking at a small stint overseas, if it was possible.

Q: What incentives can racing clubs offerjockeys to keep them in the game and for new apprentices to be part of the sport?

LD: I think anyone who does this job is because they have a passion for it. Us jockeys, we sign up because we love horses, and that’s what we’ve wanted to do since we where kids.

The system they’ve got at at the moment for jockeys is pretty good. There is money one can earn at a young age and there’s the buzz you get from a winner is second to none.

If I was going to change anything, it would be the training as an apprentice. Perhaps more mentoring where we hear from senior riders on how we can get better, what we are doing right and wrong in races and how we can get more polished.




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




This won’t be sweet music to the many decent and reputable people who are on the payroll of TVN, but the warbling coming out of there, and the media reports in the News Limited media in Sydney suggest that the writing is well and truly on the wall for TVN.

Not only is it a very distressing development for TVN, but for Australian racing itself.

Ever since a “truce” was loudly and publicly proclaimed some two and a bit years ago by the governing bodies for racing in the two warring states of NSW and Victoria, the “peace process” has, just like the Palestinian peace process, proven to be total dud- and like the Palestine question itself, almost beyond solution.

And just like the Palestine peace process, it could turn out to be racing’s own Israel against the Arab world scenario, juxtaposing Victoria for Israel and the remaining States led by NSW juxtaposing for the Arab world.

The rumblings are getting louder and louder with even the NSW country and provincial clubs fuelling the waves of discontent, pointing to what they perceive as a Victorian bias. And they can’t be blamed.


The whole media rights saga is straight out of a Fawlty Towers script. And the more cynical, and realistic observers in the racing community can sense the smell of a proverbial “rat”.


Considering the history of the TVN/Sky war since its inception, the legal proceedings initiated all those years ago by “you know who”- this was dealt a crushing and mortal blow by the courts- and the various parties which are, to this day, still involved and waiting their day of vengeance, one wonders whether the derailment of the “peace process” has been very carefully stage managed?


Could the present impasse and threats to the future of TVN be all part of the bigger picture to weaken the position and relative strength of those nasty “Mexicans” south of the border?





It appears the war between the Australian and NSW Jockeys Association and Racing NSW escalated a notch or three last Thursday with the release of an “URGENT Message from Paul Innes”, the Chief Executive of the NSW Jockeys Association, to all NSW jockeys.


The gloves, it appears, are finally off, with the Jockeys Association urging all NSW Jockeys to defy a request contained in a letter from Racing NSW to “sign a form to give authority to have your NSWJA Membership fee deducted from your riding fee”.


According to Innes’ message, the Racing NSW letter to NSW jockeys details a “so-called increase in your riding fees”, which he disputes: “Let me make it quite clear, there is NO increase in your Riding Fee from 1 July 2014!!”. And “It is untrue to suggest you will receive an increase in your Riding Fee”.

Sounds very, very familiar doesn’t it?

Innes goes on to point out to Jockeys that “from 1 July you will receive the Superannuation Guarantee Levy of 9.5% on top of your current Riding Fee”, and “This is not a Riding Fee increase, but the payment of the Superannuation Levy that the NSWJA and the Australian Jockeys Association have been fighting for the past 2 ½ years to be introduced by Racing NSW and other state racing authorities. This is an entitlement that everyone else in the general work force receives, but Racing NSW and other State Authorities have until recently opposed this benefit for you”.

Innes also challenges the notion that Racing NSW pays for Public Liability and Personal Accident Insurance for Jockeys, asserting that “these insurances are paid from industry money, generally from Owners out of 1% of prize money”.


Yet reading the letter from Racing NSW, you would come to the inescapable conclusion that most of the Riding fee increases and superannuation and public liability insurance payments have been paid for out of the largesse and generosity of the caring, sharing, movers and shakers who call Druitt Street home.


The battlelines in what we have previously described as a War waiting to happen have now clearly been drawn.

Quite clearly and obviously, the Jockeys Association believes that by directing the Jockeys to sign over an Authority to Racing NSW to collect their membership fees, it would undermine- and eventually destroy- the Australian Jockeys Association.

The reality is that it probably would in that it could deprive the Association of its revenue- and the jockeys, ultimately of a representative organization independent of the governing body Racing NSW.

This most recent “War” has an all-too familiar and pathetic ring to it.

The absolute waste in human and financial resources that are devoted to fighting such unnecessary and pathetic wars of attrition driven by an obscene lust for power and control- and which is the major reason why there is such a stagnant, dysfunctional and disunited racing industry- beggars belief.


It also beggars belief that the Boards of Governing Bodies turn a blind eye, or choose to allow their organizations to engage in these war games and take their eye off the ball in securing a prosperous and viable racing industry for- oh, for fucks sake- the “50,000” participants on whose behalf they profess so frequently to martyr themselves.


This “war” with the jockeys has a long , long way to play out. And being in a wagering industry, we’re putting our money on the jockeys, and hoping that the fallout will be- deservedly- felt on the other side.





So the NSW trainers are pissed off with the domination of the big stables in Sydney are they? Really? We make no apologies for our “told you so” response.

It’s been so clear in recent times that the NSW racing industry is heading down the European path of French and UK racing dominated by the big powerful stables backed by the breeding conglomerates and private billionaire breeders.

It’s clear enough for the NSW powers that be to do fuck all about finding a constructive solution.


It is one of the major reasons for the decline of Racing in Europe.

The re-emergence of the racing elites has returned racing to the bad old feudal days when racing was “the sport of kings”- pre-suffragette days when the fourth, fifth and whatever estate you could find, and women were treated like they are today in Arabic countries.

It is clear that racing in NSW is in freefall despite the valiant efforts of the Druitt Street spin doctors to tell its “50,000” participants otherwise.

The infrastructure and state of the metropolitan, provincial and country tracks, country prize money, the exodus of owners and trainers out of NSW racing because they just can’t make a quid, the financial state of the clubs across all three sectors, tell a very damning story and reflect very adversely on management and administration of an industry that once had a spring its step and was relevant.


Like a proverbial amoeba, the problems in racing have morphed and spiralled out of control.

It has become an industry which has the “no vacancy” sign illuminated brightly for the smaller owner, trainer and breeder.


It’s a very exclusive club and it won’t be very long at all before Saturday metropolitan race fields will be dominated by the elite stables – the owners and trainers.

It comes as no surprise that the Jason Coyle, Joe Pride and Clarry Conners have come out publicly and proposed a number of options ranging from a “cap” on the size of stables to the number of starters that a trainer can have in a race.

It appears that NSW racing has suddenly had its own seminal moment: It’s taken them a bloody long time to realize what is happening right under their noses. And it’s simply not good enough to suggest that if a trainer has half the field in an eight horse race, or five in a nine horse field or even three in an eight horse race that punters would not factor this in when making their decision to wager on the race or not.


Besides, evidence suggests that when this has happened in recent times, the lesser fancied or non-favourite of the stable, gets up – another disincentive- and worse- it tongues wagging sending the rumour mill into overdrive about the integrity of racing.


It poses a very interesting question for the “guardian” of the 50,000 participants and champion of the underdog: Will he have the balls to step in?

Think we all know what the answer to that question is, don’t we?





He had many fooled with his tweet last Wednesday, did Brent Zerafa, Racing Network’s intrepid newshound excitedly tweeting “Good day of racing at Warwiick Farm, but expecting biggest news from Darley press conference at 11am”.

Sorry Brent, but what fucking wombat do had you smoked?


The earth shattering news that the Godolphin name would replace Darley and the colours would be the Godolphin royal blue did not need Sheikh Mo’s global head of operations John Ferguson to fly all the way down under to make the announcement.


It needed nothing more than a standard press release with all the tired old clichés to get the few column inches that it deserved.

Ironically, it turns out that the Godolphin blue will clash with the royal blue colours of Melbourne’s Aquanita group.

Interesting will be how the Racing Victoria people will handle the problem which will arise when both stables have runners in the same race.

And on the Darley/Godolphin changeover, we expect Papa Smurf John O’Shea to come out with all guns blazing.


With the 200 plus new season two year olds to boost the older horses in the stable, you would expect nothing less.

At the same time, we hear murmurs that not all staff have come to terms with the changeover from Peter Snowden to O’Shea.

Surprised? Really, Smurfs? Really?


Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, Peter V'landys | Leave a comment



When the new racing season starts up in mid-September, the HKJC has an interesting horse opera on its hands starring Joao Moreira, voted Hong Kong’s Most Popular Jockey, Zac Purton, who won his first Hong Kong Jockey Premiership last season, and Douglas Whyte, who, after winning thirteen consecutive Jockey Premierships, was finally dethroned this year.

It’s like the start of a joke: What happens when a Brazilian, Australian and South African walk into a bar- but with no punchline. Not yet, anyway.




Though there has been the expected sledging between Whyte and from a naturally pumped-up Purton fanned by a nationalistic and parochial Aussie racing media who, somehow, wish to be part of his Championship victory- the first by an Australian jockey since 1991 when it was won by the late and very much liked Noel Barker, below, which is another story for another time, this is small potatoes. It’s kids stuff.

While this Aussie, Aussie, Aussie euphoria continues, Moreira, the smiling Brazilian assassin, watches from the sidelines knowing he holds all the aces for next season- if he decides to go the distance by extending his six month riding license and staying in Hong Kong.

Moreira is the Joker in the pack with his own ace in the hole: Career options in Hong Kong or Japan or, perhaps, Godolphin, or being a free agent and a globetrotting jockey for all seasons and every major racing carnival anywhere in the world.


That incredible opening run he made when, in a surprise move, he arrived in Hong Kong and, after giving everyone else a head start, which had many making side bets that it would be him who’d not only win the Jockey Premiership, but also break Whyte’s record 114 winners haul for a season, might have been derailed due to numerous suspensions as he tried to adjust to the tight Hong Kong style of riding, but, to Chinese punters and the big Chinese owners, Joao Moreira was the big drawcard and success story.


Not to take anything away from Zac Purton’s superb riding displays throughout the season- and it would be foolish to forget many vintage Whyte rides- Moreira handled his success better. Plus he was likable and savvy.

Everybody Loves Raymond and Everybody Loves Joao- then and now.


Moreira knows how to play the game and, like Whyte, would, for example, never in a million years have appeared on an HKJC-produced racing programme and say that the highlight to his year was winning The Doncaster. In Sydney.

That one line by Purton has raised more than a few eyebrows with readers here- Aussie readers- and many at the HKJC.


Sometimes, candour needs to be tempered with humility and unfortunate trip-ups like these will come into play as the signs are already flashing that the next season will be a big game changer for Hong Kong racing.


How the partnership of John and Gary Moore will work between Hong Kong and Sydney, and how it might be “accepted” by the Club, will be interesting to follow as it’s a move that’s come outta left field.

It’s something that could go here, there and everywhere with a mind all its own- like Gary Moore after another botox shot.


Far more importantly, next season will, I believe, see the HKJC make everyone understand that horse racing and running a racing club is a business like any other industry.

And this must mean creating an internal Big Picture scenario- a global big picture where the sport does not appear to be some ragged weekend activity being put on for a rabid few.


Racing in Hong Kong is VERY big business where the HKJC is seen as much more than a “racing club”.

Through its unique association with the government, its monopoly on racing and football wagering plus being Hong Kong’s largest taxpayer and with a somewhat under-valued and forgotten role for its charity initiatives and funding, the HKJC is set to be even more of the game changer it is right now through its record breaking turnover figures and world class racing twice a week.


Looking at it this way- and, if wishing to see horse racing be more than tipsters, the usual suspects and an increasingly outdated racing media talking to its dwindling captive audience- ageism is a bitch- there must be the ability to constantly evolve that business strategy- and better those record-breaking figures of the last season.


One is only as good as its last hit and with a new Chairman running the HKJC ship, he’ll be looking for a few quick homeruns whereas CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges is a world class leader, who, many believe should be running the World Racing Federation, an organization which seems to be plodding along with no new ideas to expand its horizons.

It’s almost the end of 2014 and there isn’t even a World Racing Hall Of Fame which, with an effectively marketed accompanying dinner to name the inductees, would have such huge sponsorship interests and coverage from everyone like CNN to ESPN and CNBC.

There are the Grammys, the Oscars, the Golden Boot- a very Messi award this year- so why not the Golden Hoof of racing- and which MUST be announced in Hong Kong?

Where else?

Who’s driving this global WRF train- and where’s it heading?


Meanwhile, on a much smaller scale, John Moore and David Boehm have begun to change the way things have been done previously through an “exchange programme” with brother Gary in Sydney.



Joao Moreira changed how the game would be played the moment he arrived to ride in Hong Kong, and by then asking-and receiving- a six month license in order to weigh out his options and see what’s best for Number One.

The next moves by the HKJC to continue to be the master of its domain, offer its players initiatives, and not have the tail wagging the dog, and be beholden or held to ransom by anyone, will be fascinating to watch- especially the Club’s China strategy.

From the outside looking into Mainland China, here’s where there is a need for a different type of “racing” media not saddled with any old baggage.

This must be a “new online International media” that needs to work independently or as partners with the HKJC and underline its global presence to make horse racing look attractive and a glamorous- and International- sport to people like all those nouveau riche entrepreneurs in China investing in businesses like wineries around the world.


This is the ONLY new market that’s cash-rich enough to also invest in horse racing by buying into the best that money can buy- yes, equine talent, but also potentially big players in the area of prize money through sponsorship, new ways of looking at racing syndicates, and business strategies that have still to be thought through.

But how many are thinking?

There’s a Jack In The Box that the horse racing world has yet to open and go, “Quelle SUPRIS, mes amis!” instead of regurgitating the same old merde.


There is already a new online lifestyle media introducing the sport- in Chinese- from a global perspective to the growing group of potential investors in Mainland China looking at entering the horse racing world.

What this new media will evolve into is more than just dismissing it with the word “interesting”, especially in a world that, today, has access to so many different online platforms for content.


Also, as mentioned before, if possible, a partnership with Simon Fuller and his X1X Entertainment that understands this online world through its launch and ownership of the “American Idol” juggernaut, and manages, amongst others, David Beckham with his pulling power in China and star appeal with the Mainland Chinese government and hierarchy, is something that can be a huge game changer.

It can give horse racing the pizazz it currently lacks and the kick up the bum it definitely needs.


Imagine, for example, celebrity racing syndicates- and with “EB’s” connections in Japan with the powerful Yoshida racing family, below, and friendship with the Japanese Racing Association- how it can bring the sport into the mainstream world of sports entertainment and all the different revenue generators.


If certain racing clubs in the world get lost in the shuffle, well, like that classic Avis commercial, it would mean them having to try harder.

Trying harder is a key objective.

Many in racing have coasted for far too long and been paid huge salaries for a few soundbites and token gestures to show they’re doing something.

Those gigs are up- and not a minute too soon.

The gravy train has come to a screeching halt and playing Mr Nice Guy no longer works.


To move forward, it means new players and new teams comprising those who, yes, understand the inner workings of the racing industry, but also know that if this industry doesn’t change its tune and think outside of the box, it’s talking to itself and galloping nowhere all by itself.


Hans Ebert

Posted in DOUGLAS WHYTE, HAPPY WEDNESDAY, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOAO MOREIRA, The horse racing industry, zac purton | Leave a comment

AT HOME WITH THE WATERHOUSES (And a sense of humour)

It was a simple tweet sent out this morning with tongue firmly in cheek and going through a bout of boredom.

Come now, a reality show starring Gai, Robbie, Tom, and Kate Waterhouse with comparisons to the whiny Keeping Up With The Kardashians??? Oh, please.



Though Lady GaiGai has flirted with her version of “reality TV” via her Gai TV videos with supposed plans for another online series, some understood the daftness of the tweet and responded accordingly.


Well, they emphasized what continues to go MIA in horse racing: A sense of humour.























Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Gai Waterhouse | Leave a comment



Thank you for your incredibly insightful and thoroughly resourceful ‘Racing Bitch and Fast Track Posts.

I write to say that tomorrow will be Racecaller Brian Baldwin OAM ‘s 40th call of the Mungindi Cup and at the age of 78 has called as we understand it 40 Warialda Bundarra and Bingara Cups, 40 plus Texas Cups and Goondiwindi Cups and has always been the caller of battling Clubs refusing as the Chairman of Inverell jockey Club to accept a fee.

He is a great friend of Leon Fox and John Schreck and brought to our area some great riders including Barry Stein, and Danny Frahm.

Kind Regards
Peter Baldwiin

Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing | Leave a comment




Surfing the News Limited Melbourne rag the Herald Sun earlier in the week, it was interesting to read of a push by the jockeys down in bleak city to hold dual licenses to both ride and train.


The best that could be said about this “thought bubble” is that it was concocted in a very senior and senile moment by the Jockeys Association.


It makes zero sense. Here are the Jockeys in bleak city, their image battered by typhoon strong winds through a series of scandals in recent years relating to breaking the rules of racing which prohibits them from betting on their own mounts, let alone those of their fellow jockeys in races where they are riding, and for which they have been apprehended and penalized, seeking a major change in the rules of Australian racing which would open the door to a minefield on integrity issues which racing just simply can do without.


Need another compelling reason why the Jockeys and their Association are out of touch with reality?

Hark back to the serious race-fixing allegations aka Smoking Aces where Stewards and crime force detectives carried out extensive investigations which, ultimately, for a raft of legal reasons, were not able to be pursued.

Racing folk from Bleak City are quick to point out that the Smoking Aces race and allegations was not the only race under investigation by Stewards and the Victorian Police Crime Squad.

They also remember the “unannounced” visits to the home of two prominent jockeys last year on the trail of evidence of race-fixing – visits which came to nought.

And what about the well-publicized allegations of jockeys consorting with prominent hierarchy from the criminal underworld in various Australian States- allegations which, in some instances, have been substantiated by jockeys themselves.


So, what in heaven’s name were the Jockeys and their Association thinking in pushing for dual licenses?

Are they unaware of the very basic fact that a Trainers Licence does not include a prohibition on betting? Or on tipping?

And how would they address their relationship with owners and their fellow jockeys?

How would they handle one of their owners who is a big punter or likes to have a bet?

Simple, they might say, we’d just have to tell them that, as jockeys, we can’t really advise you to have a bet or “declare” your horse a “moral”


We can just imagine how aghast Victoria’s Racing Police headed by its Chief Commissioner Terry Bailey would feel about this half-baked idea.


Sorry, Jockeys and your Association, Racing does not need yet another potential Integrity meltdown. It does very bloody well trashing its own brand by its chest thumping, record breaking run to the wire to prove its Integrity code and procedures are the best there is.

It has given itself endless heartache by its own indecent haste to be better than any other sport.

It does not need the Jockeys to give it a leg up to further perpetuate the overwhelming perception that racing is asphyxiating itself from the stench of its own scandals.




Yes it’s unusual for us to spend so much time down south in bleak city, but the podcast of an interview with Racing Victoria Chairman Rob Roulston caught our attention.


Roulston, who, according to many in NSW racing is regarded as a “lightweight”, is best known as the bloodstock agent who purchased both Melbourne Cup winner Americain and cups aspirant Puissance De Lune for racing enthusiast and successful business man Gerry Ryan.

Roulston, we are told, is well-known in bloodstock circles and does plenty of business with the leading players in the NSW breeding scene in the Hunter Valley.

To say that his comments on the Victorian breeding industry were far fetched and exaggerated would be letting the bloodstock agent off lightly.

The gospel according to preacher Roulston promises that within the next decade, the Victorian breeding industry could challenge NSW as the pre-eminent breeding state in Australia.

Really, Rob? Your very own senior moment, perhaps?


Do you seriously think that Victoria with its “C” grade stallion roster and a predominantly small-picture thinking collection of breeders and wannabe cottage industry type stud masters and mistresses could challenge the cash-rich international heavyweights and their disparate “ozzie, ozzie, ozzie” Allies – the wolves in sheep clothing?


The Hunter is unchallenged as the hub of the Australian breeding industry and the cold hard and irrefutable fact is that they have been bloody good at what they have done and are doing.

They have collectively put the Australian breeding industry on the map- and on the world stage- as a major player, much to the dismay of the European powerhouses who have dominated world breeding since the breeding industry first got going.

While the Hunter is still a long away from seriously challenging the Europeans, the inroads have been significant, and opening up Australian racing to the world and the bold steps taken by pioneering Australian trainers and owners who dared to dream and challenge the traditions and the carnivals and Group One races successfully, has forced the European racing community to stand up and take notice of the boys and girls from down under.

Roulston’s “dream on little dream” moment was largely based on the long-running threat to the breeding operations in the Hunter by the avaricious and mega/powerful mining industry lobby, which has not only sniffed the underground black gold in coal deposits that lie under the fertile soils in the Hunter, but also the dangerous- but lucrative- coal seam gas deposits.

But, even if the Miners win out- and they probably will/ it is a bit rich to think that the Hunter studs will up and leave NSW and migrate to Victoria.


Wishful thinking, Robbo. Reckon you have more pressing problems to deal with in Victoria than engage in navel gazing.

Come to think of it, you don’t sound too flash at that caper either, matey.





Racing NSW’s bestie Ray Thomas from Uncle Rupert’s “ozzie” version of News of the World – the Daily “Smellygraph”- had a tantalizing piece in Friday’s edition.

Titled “Minister delivers a message of hope”, it opened with the all too familiar spin: “Racing NSW’s mantra has always been centred around the long term financial sustainability of the NSW racing industry and not just simply a State Government handout for the Championships”.


Really, Raymond? If that was so, why did Racing NSW put all the money into obscene and completely unjustifiable and excessive prize money for races that would have attracted the same fields, instead of putting that money into fixing up the racetracks at Randwick and Rosehill and some of the key provincial centres?

And what about the product fee money from the High Court win over the corporates?

Yes, we know where that all went. don’t we? Towards bankrolling the top end of town and the pathetically small Saturday acceptances- something faced with again this Saturday at Randwick.


How can Racing NSW justify the $85,000 minimums for these appallingly small fields, two of which are dominated by Chris Waller with 50 per cent of the starters?????


Compared with your mates over the border, it continues to be a major source of embarrassment and a key contributor to declining wagering revenue.


Later in Raymond’s piece comes the cruncher: Mr Grant (the Racing Minister), said the Government wanted a better understanding about “how and why money is going to be invested”.

Troy Grant has hit the target. He should do what his Victorian counterpart Premier Napthine has done with his Racing Development Fund and take total control over the distribution and allocation of any additional funding that is allocated to Racing NSW.

It is the only way that the country and provincial sectors- NSW racing’s new “rural poor”- can be guaranteed that funds are not splashed and splurged around the Championships.

Everybody Loves Raymond? Hmmmm.


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


Last season, we did our best to try and make you see that blindly betting on win/place bets was not exactly the way to enjoy those Happy Wednesday Nights at Happy Valley Racecourse.

Following your favorite jockeys- mainly Brazilian Joao Moreira in every Jockey Challenge- paid off dividends.


Some of you also discovered that there is life at The Beer Garden- and life AFTER it in venues like Adrenaline and the Gallery at Happy Valley and, especially, the superb Millions on the third floor of Entrance C which was opened for three Happy Wednesday Nights where one could cross-bet in a style never had before.

Long may the Millions Cross-betting Experience Prosper.



With a few months left before the 2014-15 racing season starts up, below are some tips on how to learn more about the sport while for those who wish to improve their experience at the track and hold a winning advantage, provided is riveting information that might make your head spin faster than Linda Blair’s did in “The Exorcist”.


*Don’t go to the races in Happy Valley or Shatin this week, next week, or next month, ok? There are no races.

The new racing season starts on September 14 at Shatin while racing at Happy Valley revs up at the revamped city track on October 22.

If the mood strikes you and you’re lost as what to do on a Wednesday night, you can always go to the Happy Valley track and stare at this great big gaping hole just past the winning post.


* Learn how to read and understand that very BIG board in the middle of the racetrack with all those numbers all over the place that looks like an arrival and departure board at the airport.


These numbers are the odds for all the different ways you can pick horses to try and win, and, yes, if you have no idea what these ways of winning are and how they work, this board lit up like the alien starship from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is only good to stare at and trip out on into the unknown.


This big bright board is NOT called Field Of Dreams. This is called a TOTALISATOR board, the first one being created by William Brownie Garden when, we guess, he had too much time on his hands, and, no, we have no idea either why it couldn’t be called Field Of Dreams though Mr Garden built it and many come to stare at it as if it had magic powers.


* Spend the next few months studying all betting slips, how to fill these out, and then find a friend to pretend to be a Telebet operator and practice how to place your bets by speaking calmly and clearly.


* We’ve told you this SOOOOO many times, but as you still ask, if a horse you’ve picked to come first, comes second, you win nothing despite how close it might have been.


Similarly, if you pick, let’s say, number 4 to win, and either numbers 3 or 5 win, you get nothing for picking a number “close to 4″.

* A Six Up has nothing to do with a 7-UP. A Six Up is trying to win often very big money by picking horses to come first or second in the last six races of a race meeting.

A 7-Up with a triple vodka is usually needed if your horse comes third in the last race of your Six Up.


* Try and get the private numbers of every top racing executive.

These will come in handy if completely lost at the races about what to bet on, where to bet, needing to know why jockeys wear such LOUD looking blouses, where to get a decent pizza etc.

But be careful: Some racing executives we know are more clueless than you are about almost everything except where to find a pizza. And a beer.


* Jockeys are not allowed to bet. This is a Big No No- but their wives, girlfriends, aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, children- if over 18- can.


No, jockeys are not allowed to bet because they’re too busy riding horses. Au contraire. They’re not allowed to bet as this is Against The Rules Of Racing. Yes, these Rules are like The Ten Commandments, but, no, God did not create them.

God doesn’t have such a goofy sense of humor.


* We’ve told you this before- and we’ll tell you again: What you think are blouses or pajamas are called SILKS and, apparently, goes back to medieval times when knights jousted wearing armour emblazoned with various emblems.


Why are they called SILKS? No idea. Maybe because they’re made from silk?

Every horse owner has their own “colours”, or silks, which jockeys MUST wear when riding that owner’s horse or horses.


No, they cannot refuse to wear silks they might deem to be unfashionable, uncool or just plain tarty and offensive to Joan Rivers and The Fashion Police.

Can you redesign an owner’s silks? No.


* Know that space-age looking table at the venue called Adrenaline at Happy Valley Racecourse that looks like something outta the Starship Enterprise?

Don’t lie on top of it, and expect Scotty to beam you up.


This is an IBU table and is stored with information to help you understand various ways of winning at the sport.

There are always some very nice ladies around these table who are Racing Experts and able to answer questions and show you where to insert your Smart card.


* Unlike football, biting during a race is not permitted though it must be noted that some jockeys have nicknamed tough Irish jockey Neil Callan, pictured below with wife Trish, “Suarez”.


* Jockey are, sometimes, known as riders, but, no, the term “jockey” has nothing to do with Jockey underwear.


Jockeys are usually between 4′ 10″ and 5’6″ and weigh around 108 to 118 lbs, and need to control horses weighing around 1,200 pounds and traveling at 40mph.

Riding in Hong Kong until late last season was one of the tallest jockeys in the sport- Tye Angland- who dwarfed over many horse owners and often looked like author Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver in Lilliputh.


Alas, he never rode a horse named Jonathan Swift, which, we think would be a great name for a stallion, or, okay, a gelding- a male horse that has been castrated to make it better-behaved and focused during a race instead of running after fillies.


* Spend the next few months trying to be a race-caller by watching replays of all races with the sound switched off. When the new racing season begins, impress your friends with this new talent.


* Riding in Hong Kong are jockeys from Brazil, South Africa, Mauritius, Austria, Italy, the UK, France, Hong Kong and, yes, from Australia.


In fact, Brazilian jockey Joao Moreira was voted Hong Kong’s Most Popular Jockey for the 2013/2014 season.

Yes, Australian jockey Zac Purton- and a damn fine jockey, he is, too- won his first Hong Kong Premiership last season- and thoroughly well-deserved.

darkness 21

South African riding legend Douglas Whyte had previously won this title for thirteen consecutive years- with little or no fanfare- and before him, another long-serving Hong Kong champion from South Africa named Basil Marcus- something seemingly lost to some swept up in the din of the “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” chant of parochial chest pounding and trying to create unnecessary childish bad vibes. Bummer, man, bummer.


* Spend an afternoon with champion trainer Caspar Fownes listening to his bang-on impersonations of trainers David Ferraris, Tony Millard, Tony Cruz and John Moore, jockeys Douglas Whyte, Karis Teetan and The Zac Attack, HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges and the local Chinese punter looking for “sooo-er weeens”.


Hans Ebert

© Racingb*tch 2014
All Rights Reserved
No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials.

Posted in brett prebble, casper fownes, dennis yip, DOUGLAS WHYTE, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, JOAO MOREIRA, JOHN MOORE, The horse racing industry, WINFRIED ENGELBRECHT-BRESGES | Leave a comment

Who’s going to lead the horse racing out of the darkness?

darkness 1

Douglas Whyte always reminds me that one can count your friends on one hand minus a few fingers.

This is a Life Lesson and nothing to do with his career as a legend of racing, though, more and more, one sees it being relevant to an industry without real friends, which stops it from being a truly global industry and weakens its pulling power and marquee value when compared to other sports.

darkness 2

Why? It’s still very much a one-dimensional industry made up of the same old players- an old boys club with outdated rules like the one where jockeys can’t bet, but their wives and girlfriends can. Oh please.

There are also other old rules and outdated wheels attached to a business model that hasn’t changed- or been looked at being changed in decades- and why it plods along covering all-too familiar terrain that’s irrelevant to the new racing fan- be it the new race-goer or horse owner.

People power

darkness 3

People make an industry and no racing club- just like a music company or ad agency- is capable of real Change as opposed to cosmetic changes if there doesn’t exist those who understand what it takes to bring about this change, and see where this sport fits into that buffet of choices available to consumers today.

Don’t get me started: I can go through a list of the vapid, inept, hangers-on in an industry few new talent wish to join.

darkness 4


Apart from the pedantic politics that often keeps one from thinking outside of the stable box, there’s the stigma and constant guilt from those outside the sport that, if in horse racing, or thinking of entering it, one is “promoting gambling” and “corrupting young minds”.

There’s no “gambling” attached to other sports, let alone gambling on the stock market, the various property markets and even love and marriage?

darkness 5

Yet, horse racing is always left to be the fall guy.

darkness 6

In the Land Down Under

In Australia, most know who’s behind what and in what state and how, when there is racing every day of the week, it can be so easily manipulated.

If you’re not following me here, switch off and listen to Bananas ‘N Pajamas and whistle a Jason O’Donovan song.

The Australian racing industry is almost beyond repair, and it’s not all the fault of Peter V’Landys.

The self-proclaimed Saviour of Australian racing would hate to hear it, but he’s looking more and more like a stooge and not a leader.

darkness 7

Who owns and why?

When someone in Perth has registered the domain name and is there to be bought by the highest bidder, it shows a scenario to racing which, in many ways, is not exclusive to that of the land Down Under.

It might seem trivial, but is not the only domain name of interest up for sale involving the racing industry- and it would be foolish to shrug this off as an “isolated case”.

darkness 8

Who owns and why?

In Hong Kong, high-profile Chinese horse owner and one of the biggest investors today in the global wine industry- Pan Sutong- has had registered- in Pakistan.

Why? Who knows? But it’s not been done for fun.

darkness 9

Does TVN own its own YouTube channel? Does it know? Really? And if not?

How many Facebook pages to do with racing personalities- and not belonging to them- have already been setup with future plans in mind?

There is much more happening in the lawless online world to do with horse racing that few know about- the subject of ownership of content, Copyright issues, new online platforms, the ‘kive’ streaming of races via apps etc etc.

All this goes on while too many racing executives spend their time trying to get their heads around that constantly evolving beast known as “social media”.

darkness 10

What does all this mean?

Opportunists from other industries are moving into the horse racing business- and not the usual suspects whom we all know only too well.

In other words, there is a non-racing world becoming more “adventurous” and “creative” about business opportunities offered by the sport that many in it those have no idea about as those blinkers remain firmly fitted along with a false sense of power.

darkness 11

Take us to racing’s leader…

darkness 12

So, who in racing- as a global sport- has the foresight and insight to look into all of this and ensure that sloppy management doesn’t give it a worse image than it already has?

Who is there to improve the image of the sport in order to attract those in the bigger pantheon of entertainment who remain uninterested in becoming involved in horse racing as the perception is that here is the black sheep of sports?

darkness 13

While one reads about the corruption within FIFA, the questions about Sepp Blatter, the very strange performance of Brazil against Germany yesterday, the fixed cricket and soccer matches, the constant questions about Bernie Ecclestone and the power he wields over Formula 1, the Lance Armstrong embarrassment to the Tour De France, all the drug cheats in baseball, American football and even the Olympics, somehow, somewhere, all is forgiven.

One goes on Oprah, cries, repents, checks into rehab, and the mainstream media does the rest by brushing it under the carpet so it’s back to Business As Usual.

darkness 14

In racing, one indiscretion and the stench lingers on.

Is it to do with the world of horse racing- despite all that camaraderie shown earlier this year at Noah’s ARC- the Asian Racing Conference- being an industry that has few real friends within, but, instead, a common distrust and petty rivalry that stops the sport coming together and seen as a unified industry?

darkness 15

And where to now?

Racing administrators through the years, and even today, have failed in their fundamental obligations and responsibilities to their industry and those involved in it- and the community at large, the decision makers and opinion shapers- to thump their chests and boast in loud voices from the hills and rooftops this fact: RACING WAS THE FIRST SPORT TO ENACT ITS OWN CODE OF INTEGRITY.

darkness 16

Think about it: Racing was ahead of the times- and yet remains its own worst enemy, something that that has everything to do with the quality of its leadership – a leadership which is timid and risk averse; a leadership that is afraid and lacks the courage to promote its strengths, acknowledge its weaknesses and come out of the closet in which it has been hiding in for decades, and, for once, eyeball the community and have genuine conversation about what makes racing the great sport which it unquestionably can be.

darkness 17

While racing continues to bare its soul in all matters relating to integrity, where does soccer, cricket, cycling, athletics, tennis, swimming, basketball, or, for that matter every other mainstream competitive sport stand?

darkness 18

Not a day seemingly goes by without one of these sports being scandalized by match fixing and drugs.

Are they demonized and nailed to the cross like racing is?

Isn’t it time racing’s leaders stood up for the sport- as one unified team- to which they claim to have an overwhelming passion for and commitment to see it progress?

darkness 19

The racing season that ended on Sunday was THE most successful in decades for the HKJC- and the sport on a global level.


How many racing clubs are proud of this feat- and have expressed It to Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of the Club, or his team?

Too shy to do so?

What can other racing clubs perhaps learn from this Hong Kong success?

Could it have a rub-off effect- with new sponsors, new partners, new talent, those new to racing and watching from the sidelines of a market like Mainland China?

darkness 20


darkness 21


With the right promotion and media coverage beyond the racing pages, could this help turnaround and improve the image of racing?

Or will this be another missed opportunity through jealousy, insular thinking and a refusal to see The Big Picture because some don’t wish to, or cannot, or are consumed with jealousy despite the usual shows of harmony and camaraderie?

darkness 22

Hans Ebert

© Racingb*tch 2014
All Rights Reserved
No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials.

Posted in Australian horse racing industry, casper fownes, DOUGLAS WHYTE, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, WINFRIED ENGELBRECHT-BRESGES, zac purton | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment



It was a very different time when Peter Miers landed in Hong Kong in the early Seventies and horse racing, caught between staying an amateur sport and turning professional, could have zig-zagged its way around the Mercedes Bends and ended up a million lengths away from the powerful, all-conquering industry it is today.


Now, 71 and with a memory as sharp as a tact- names, dates, blinkers first time- and having been part of the many faces and facets of racing in the UK, France- and where he almost rode for George Moore- Australian-born Peter Miers has an international perspective of the sport which very few probably knew he has.

He’s paid his dues, he’s played the game, he’s also changed the game, and he’s no one’s fool- instead, pragmatic, realistic and open.

He talks candidly about those days when a jockey in Hong Kong did what they were told- and how these orders didn’t come from trainers.

Jockeys were “bought” like hired guns, and brought to Hong Kong where they failed and succeeded depending on how well their bosses fared on the punt.

Peter Miers, aka “Ma petah”, was one of the best operators around- an astute horseman who knew more about the horses he rode than any figurehead trainer.

Though vilified every week about many of his rides by outspoken Chinese racing personality Tung Biu, below, on the post-race Turf Talk television show produced, I was reminded, by one Circle Ho, the jockey survived the slings and arrows of outrage and conspiracy theories where most others would have failed- or thrown in the towel and sang, Vaya Con Dios.


Asked about Tung Biu, Miers shrugs him off as a “bigot” who saw what he wanted to see and shared his thoughts with his huge following of local racing fans. No big deal to him.

Tung Biu was adamant- and obsessed- that an “Aussie Gang” was controlling Hong Kong racing with Miers being the captain of the team and deciding who did what in a race at a time when most of the jockeys riding here were, well, Australian.

The “internationalism” of the sport in Hong Kong had yet to happen and become the United Colors of Benetton poster that it is today.


He keeps names to himself, but is open about his relationship with what was then the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club and his sometimes volatile dealings with an “untouchable” like Major Bernard Penfold, the General Manager, below, whom he enjoyed calling “Bernie” to “bring him down a peg or two”, and then “wiped off a few stripes from his uniform by demoting him and calling him Captain.”


Though when the Club refused him a riding license in 1994 and Miers took his case to High Court, flew in a QC from the UK, and has some revealing facts about the judge who presided over his case, the former jockey bears no ill-feeling towards Hong Kong racing. Far from it.

He follows it, he knows who the new players are, he tries to visit whenever he can and seems proud to have played whatever role he might have done in shaping it.

What many forget are Peter Miers’ accomplishments in Hong Kong as his reputation as “The Organizer” of the “Aussie Gang” is a more colorful story to hear about and “adorn”.

Was he “The Organizer”?

In any business, someone needs to keep things ticking away, and if this means “organizing” things, maybe.

But his five wins outta six rides on a seven-race card in Shatin is a phenomenal achievement- all the horses being under the care of “his” trainer Bob Burns, son of Perth racing’s famous Robert Burns Snr, and with their sixth runner coming second.

When he talks about one of his winners being “pole-axed” by Irish jockey Christy Roche seventeen days earlier when ridden by Kevin Moses, and how he told the trainer to slap on blinkers and had it go off at 40s, but backed in the quinellas, “The Organiser”, or just a very smart jockey comes to the fore. Riveting stuff.

Listening to Peter Miers is a history lesson and with everything said being an entertaining buffet where one can choose the best dishes to dig deeper into and keep the others fresh and on ice for another day.

Looking back about those plans for a second racecourse, he’s open about how the jockeys riding in Hong Kong at that time felt it: “Never in a million years did we ever think that piece of reclaimed land would become the Shatin racecourse, let alone how quickly it opened for racing.”

As for the quality of riders in Hong Kong at the time, he’s modest: “We were all about the same- Eddie Cracknell, Peter Gumbleton, Ray Setches, Christy Roche, and Geoff Lane, who always thought the crowds of 48,000 had all come to see him”. He laughs thinking about Lane.


He remembers the Terry Hore episode when the Sydney-born amateur jockey disappeared on a race day before being found in a bar in Wanchai saying he was suffering from amnesia.

“That was triad related, wasn’t it?” he asks to someone who wouldn’t ever go there.

He talks about winning on Scotch Mist for owner Sir Sydney Gordon on that first day of racing at Shatin and those days when John Moore was a jockey- he is a huge fan of Moore as a trainer and targeting the Group 1 races- and when the season ended in May and there were around only 34 race meetings.

He mentions racing journalist Matthew Oram writing an unflattering piece about him for a Club magazine naming all the high-priced winners he had ridden compared to the favourites on which he had been rolled, his final winner in Hong Kong- Hidoon Fashion for owner Lamson Kwok- and his thoughts about the best Chinese jockey at the time- Cheng Tai-chee, below- Irish jockey Wally Hood (“Wally was no idiot”), trainer Eric Collingwood (“He had no idea what he was doing”) and just how much they tried to give Johnny Cruz, the late father of Tony Cruz, a winner, but how, “He just couldn’t win!”


Where I heard a different side to Peter Miers was when we talked about his fellow rider Ray Setches, below, who took his own life in 1999 after running into debt and which led to the free-fall into depression that has seen us also lose Neil Williams, Sethi Katsidis and too many others.


“If we’d known what Ray was going through, we could have easily taken the hat around and bailed him out of his troubles. Ray helped many whom I see on television these days being big men to the public- but they are not. They never repaid Ray, they turned their back on him- and are not for me”.

“The Organizer”, a great jockey- a hugely underrated one and trail blazer to many Aussie jockeys who have made Hong Kong their home at one time or another- and a great friend to those who have remained friends with him over the good and not-so-good times- Brent Thomson immediately comes to mind and who put me in touch with him- Peter Miers is a gentleman- straight-forward, perhaps a little misunderstood, and, I am tipping, with far more fascinating racing stories than Dick Francis could ever write.

Hans Ebert

© Racing Bitch 2014
All Rights Reserved
No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials.

Posted in Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment