Rob Waterhouse pours more than cold water on THAT speech by Jeff Kennett

Kennett,

It needs to be said, loud and clear, the Honourable Jeff Kennett’s speech at the Racing Victoria, on Monday 18th of August, http://www.racingnetwork.com.au/RacingNetworkTV/Programs/tabid/186/Default.aspx?videoid=1029522 was very disappointing.

It was particularly galling that it was made by the man who did more to harm Victorian racing than anyone in history.

Continue reading

Posted in Australian horse racing industry | Leave a comment

RAISING THE CURTAIN AND THE STAKES ON A NEW HONG KONG RACING SEASON

RACING SEASON  1

“What you have is a United Colours Of Benetton poster”.

That’s how someone on the periphery of horse racing described to us over a freewheeling lunch last week what Hong Kong has- a truly international fraternity of jockeys and trainers that includes Australians, South Africans, French, Italians, a Mauritian, an Irishman, a Belgian, and, of course, the local talent.

RACING SEASON  2

It almost sounded like the start of a joke: What happens when some Aussies, South Africans, a Frenchman, a Mauritian, a Belgian waffle, and an Irishman walk into a bar?

The HKJC hosts the International Jockey Challenge every December, yet Hong Kong has an “International challenge” every race day that includes trainers- and, more and more, equine talent from different parts of the world.

RACING SEASON  3

Continue reading

Posted in casper fownes, DAVID FERRARIS, dennis yip, DOUGLAS WHYTE, HAPPY WEDNESDAY, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, JOAO MOREIRA, The horse racing industry, zac purton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SILENT WITNESS: HONG KONG HERO AND ROCK STAR HORSE

SILENT WITNESS 1

“When going down to the barriers before the second International Sprint he won, I looked up at the grandstand and all I saw was this sea of green and black colours. I was so moved, I pumped my fist in the air, which is pretty uncharacteristic of me.

“When I knew we had the race won, the roar from the crowd- the energy from those thousands- was a feeling I can’t put into words. It was Hong Kong cheering itself on.”

Jockey Felix Coetzee about Silent Witness.

SILENT WITNESS 2

Though the mighty Co-Tack came before as did Sanford Yung’s Silver Lining and Sacred Kingdom was to follow, Silent Witness will always be Hong Kong’s favourite equine hero.

The Silent Witness fairy tale unfurled in 2003 at a time when Hong Kong needed a light to shine down on a city under a depressing cloud brought on by the SARS epidemic- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

It was a very stressful time where even the thought of venturing outdoors was fraught with anxiety, offices closed due to news of someone in the building having contacted the disease while we watched television for the latest news, and walked around wearing masks.

The tourism sector was crippled, and, along with it, the image of Hong Kong, the city, and its people almost being seen as lepers on air-flights and when trying to enter other countries.

And then, there was Silent Witness, a champion galloper that was all heart and offered many what was much needed at the time- hope and a much-needed break from the enemy and terror within.

Like Seabiscuit had given America something to cheer during the Depression Era- a broken down horse that combined with a broken jockey- to create history with its incredible heart and winning spirit, the combination of Silent Witness, trainer Tony Cruz, jockey Felix Coetzee and owners Archie and Betty Da Silva, did more to lift the spirits of Hong Kong than anything the government could come up with- like that very expensive lesson in misguided, mis-spent farce called HarbourFest aka “Harbour Farce”-a flagrant waste of the taxpayers money.

Silent Witness was a free show for Hong Kong every time it ran- and so was owner Archie Da Silva who screamed, cried and cheered his horse home oblivious to the television cameras and press photographers capturing his every mood.

It was raw emotion and great to see on a race track.

SILENT WITNESS 3

Tony Cruz had ridden the mighty Co-Tack when Hong Kong’s Champion Jockey, and though not, in any way, playing down that horse’s exploits, Silent Witness, he says, was the better horse in a different era, and with those seventeen consecutive wins to his name.

“Silent Witness lifted the spirit of the Hong Kong people,” he says. “He brought non-race-goers to the races just to see him win. He hated to lose.

“Even when going down to the barriers before a race, we had to take him out last. The first few times we took him out with the other horses, he wanted to race them.

” He was an amazing horse- extremely competitive, just kept improving all the time, and his confidence filled us with confidence”.

SILENT WITNESS 4

While the great South African jockey Felix Coetzee rode the great horse to its 17 consecutive victories, those at the Shatin racecourse were riding it with him.

SILENT WITNESS 5

When Felix would say to his partner, “Okay, pal, enough of this playing around, let’s show them who’s the boss” and click it up- never resorting to the whip- to coin a well-worn racing cliche, but truly appropriate here, Silent Witness “found another gear.” It suddenly became Usain Bolt.

SILENT WITNESS 6

“Man, he was a very intelligent horse-he had such a heightened sense of awareness of everything around him”, says Coetzee, certainly one of the most popular jockeys to ride in Hong Kong.

“When we worked him, he would be the last one onto the training track as he just wanted to get out there and show everyone that he was The Man. He was a Rock Star- and he knew it. I have never known a horse like him. Never will”.

SILENT WITNESS 7

According to TIME, the gelding was named “one of the 24 people that mattered most in 2004″.

Named The World’s Champion Sprinter in 2003,2004 and 2005, Silent Witness became the first Hong Kong horse to win in Japan by taking out the Group 1 Sprinters Stakes in 2005 and was voted Hong Kong’s Most Popular Jockey in 2004 and 2005.

“If you remember, he dumped me the day before the big race in Japan,” recalls Coetzee. “He ran a lap of the course as if to show the local horses that The Man was in town. I was worried about him taking off like that on the eve of the race, but Tony (Cruz) was unfazed. And he was right. Silent Witness blitzed them.”

SILENT WITNESS 8

Silent Witness just lost going for a record-breaking eighteenth win. “I was gutted when he lost,” says Coetzee. “He still wanted to go into the winner’s enclosure as he had always done. I had to tell him, ‘Not this time, old friend'”.

Winning streaks always come to an end, but Silent Witness had given Hong Kong something to cheer when there was only gloom and doom around.

The spirit might have still been willing, but the legs were old, and the great horse was given a brilliant send off as he proudly trotted by his huge fan club one final time before heading for a well-deserved retirement home for champion horses appropriately named Living Legends.

He was still The Man. He was still a Rock Star. He was Silent Witness.

SILENT WITNESS 9

SILENT WITNESS 10

Adds Coetzee, “I’ve gone down to Living Legends in Melbourne to see my old friend. I’d like to think he knew it was me.

“When in Hong Kong, I’d visit him in his stable, and he’d take the peak of my cap with his teeth and turn it all the way around. It was a game we played.

“When we met each other after all those years, mate, he did the same thing with my cap.

“I’m tipping he remembered me”.

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 Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, The horse racing industry, Tony Cruz | 1 Comment

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES

IF YOU’RE IN A HOLE, STOP DIGGING, JEFF, AND LET GO OF THAT SHOVEL!

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 1

Unlike many ex-Premiers and Prime Ministers, Jeff Kennett chose, almost immediately after losing the “unlosable” election that his life after politics would involve politics.

The Emperor made a conscious decision long after he was forced to abdicate his position of power that a relatively quiet civilian life with a portfolio of Board positions in the commercial world was not for him.

Jeff Kennett has always been a polarising figure, both in politics, and in his life after politics.

Never afraid to go where others would choose not to, Jeff Kennett, a kinda goofy Captain Kirk on acid, has never, ever, been afraid to speak his mind. About anything. It’s got him into boiling hot water and will continue to.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 2

Muzzle Jeff? Not on your life. He’ll bite through it and want some chianti to make his words go over smoother even if the bottle was corked.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 3

To put things into perspective, Jeff Kennett’s commitment and dedication to raising awareness and confronting the insidious and life threatening issues of mental health and depression in the community cannot be commended enough.

Beyondblue, the organization he established and chairs to deal with these issues, has performed a vital role in providing a lifeline of professional support and assistance to many in need.

The success of Beyondblue would not have been possible if it had not been for the unselfish commitment to the cause, and Jeff’s willingness to use his profile to further such a noble cause.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 4

But, to those who know Jeff personally, and as observers of his life and times, it came as no surprise to read of his ill-timed and, at times, illogical rant about much of the way the Australian racing industry operates.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 5

It would not be inaccurate to say that Big Jeff made a real sausage of himself. Big time. And with the chopped onions and mustard as The Mutt And Jeff Show was allowed to implode.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 6

Clearly, he was very, very poorly briefed- and someone should be held very very responsible for this- as he got some very very basic facts very very wrong.

No Jeff, a sheikh was not banned from British and world racing last year for administering steroids to his horses.

It was Al Zarooni, one of Sheikh Mohammed’s trainers.

And no, Jeff, the trainers in the Hunter Valley in NSW are not threatened by mining.

It’s the breeders.

A Clive Palmer senior moment, perhaps?

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 7

Big Jeff singling out of what he described as the leniency of Damien Oliver’s penalty for betting, and his commentary around comparisons with Hong Kong and jail sentences for licensed persons breaking the rules of racing, were inappropriate given his role as Chairman of such a highly profile and successful mental health support organization that is Beyondblue.

To have the Chairman of such an organization, stridently and vociferously, calling for jail sentences and career ending penalties to be applied, contradicts the fundamental principles of western democratic law, rehabilitation, and the long cherished Australian ethic of a “fair go” in giving offenders a chance at redemption and resumption of a career.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 8

In racing, many of its participants know nothing else than the profession for which they are licensed.

In Damien Oliver’s case, it can be contended that he has paid a sufficient price for a serious indiscretion committed during a time when he was confronted by some challenging personal issues.

During the stewards inquiry and during his eight month ban from racing, Oliver had to endure a distressing and protracted period of public humiliation – a humiliation brought about by himself, and which is the price paid by high profile and successful public figures.

Resurrecting this dark period of his life and career, one which he, no doubt, regrets very deeply, does little for him, or, equally importantly, his wife and young family.

To Damien Oliver’s credit, his highly successful return to race riding, winning last season’s Victorian Jockeys premiership from a shortened season, and his triumph last weekend in the Victorian racing season Jockeys Scobie Breasley Award, speaks volumes for his determination to put aside his demons and successfully re-claim his position at the top of the tree in his profession.

Perhaps, Jeff Kennett may not have travelled along such an insensitive path with his outburst if Oliver’s return to race riding had been unsuccessful and he was back in the pack trundling along with the mediocre part of his profession?

If that wasn’t enough, Big Jeff’s spray of the corporate bookmakers had more holes in it than a block of Swiss cheese.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 9

To his credit, he pleaded guilty to the glaring mistake he made as Premier to privatise the Tab, drawing the somewhat dubious parallel with the rise and rise of the corporate bookmaker, which he described as a “cancer” attacking the racing industry.

Yes, Jeff, it was a mistake to take it out of industry hands, and Australian racing has continued to pay a very heavy price for privatisation of its financial “jewel in the crown”.

But, surely, don’t try and tell anyone that your Government did not do its due diligence on the impact of the “totalisator free” model that had begun its decimation of Australian racing before you were Premier- a process which accelerated- and has continued ever since.

And please don’t tell us you weren’t warned by industry figures at the time.

After all, you were the pioneer of privatising State assets- and your blueprint has been followed in other States, and nationally, in many areas of service provision, which, arguably, has been the biggest contributor to economic pain.

Listening to an RSN podcast of an interview with Shane Anderson, Big Jeff put his big foot firmly in his own big mouth.

He had, on the day of his guest speaking engagement with Racing Victoria, placed a bet on a horse he owned a share in- but not on the Tab.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 10

You guessed it: The self-confessed describer of the corporate bookmakers as a “cancer”, placed his bet with a corporate bookmaker, thus shredding any figment of credibility to his argument against corporate bookmakers and exposing himself as more than a tad hypocritical.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 11

Worse still for Big Jeff, it turned out in Shane’s interview that while he was President of his beloved AFL club Hawthorn, Betfair was a sponsor of the club, which he- surprisingly- could not recall.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 12

It later turned out that a former Betfair CEO and present Racing Victoria Board member- Andrew Twaits- had claimed that he received a call from Jeff while President, seeking a renewal of the Betfair sponsorship of the football club.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 13

The very sad and distressing fallout from Big Jeff’s antics is that he single-handedly ambushed one of the most important mental health initiatives that was launched, collectively, last Monday by Racing Victoria, his own organization, Betyondblue and the Victorian Trainers Association.

The Trainers well-being initiative, which we have read and heard some very sketchy details about, should have been the hero of this meet and greet day with Racing Victoria.

It was not.

It’s one of the initiatives that racing should be commended for introducing. So should Beyondblue for their role in making it a reality.

Regrettably, it was hijacked and ambushed by an ill-informed, untimely and unnecessary tirade from the Chairman of Beyondblue – and a former Premier of “bleak city”.

He should have known better and he should have been bigger and better than that mad elephant stampeding through the room on Monday.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 14

It was not the appropriate forum to be a loose cannon and unleash some misplaced fury, and not carefully thought through grapes of wrath on the already battered and bruised Australian racing industry.

JEFF KENNETT HAS THE BLUES 15

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

ONLINE PROGRAMING, GAMERS AND 3D RACING. WHY NOT?

ONLINE PROGRAMING 1

“Why would someone with only a passing interest in horse racing, or with no interest in horse racing, wish to watch a programme on the sport, especially on an iPhone or an iPad or even a computer when we don’t even watch television anymore?”

It was friendly banter with a friend in marketing, who is a very casual race-goer, and both of us exchanging thoughts and ideas about brands and products and how, so many times, people on “the client side” trip up from either being unable, or refusing, to see the forest for the trees- and not being in touch with the consumer.

ONLINE PROGRAMING 2

When it comes to horse racing, what has it plod along even worse than it’s plodding along right now is navel gazing by those too comfortably numb, and way too set in their ways to be useful, but who are still kept around as they are loyal and obediently trained Yes People- a kinda Corporate Speaking Stepford Wife.

ONLINE PROGRAMING 3

As we talked, he mentioned how he goes to illegal sites like Showbox and Pirate Bay to download every new and old movie and current television series, whereas using a device known as “Jailbreak”, he can crack Apple’s security system to download any app that’s for sale.

Illegal file sharing and downloads in music, we all know about- and the catastrophic affect it’s had on the music industry’s “eco system”.

But now, we’re also seeing huge losses in revenue in the film and television industries through this ability to trawl, and keep rocking in the online world- and where everything is gettable without paying.

ONLINE PROGRAMING 4

Racing clubs- well, most of them- use their content purely to promote the sport to their audience, and not as any new business model.

Wagering is the end game, and all this free content is part of what it takes to achieve this objective.

This leads me to words and terms like “perception”, “image”, “return on investment” and the old “Why Not?” question.

ONLINE PROGRAMING 5

Sponsored racing programmes and having advertising from consumer brands won’t bring in huge revenue, but with access to advertisers’ data bases, and how, creatively speaking, this content can be made inter-active, surely means spreading its reach?

Is this being done?

Perhaps only when ‘live’ broadcasts of races are shown on terrestrial channels who use this content to sell advertising time to consumer products during slots between races and sandwiched in-between paddock parades and the start of a race.

In other words, these television channels are being paid for airtime, and, as a bonus, they have free content for their Sales teams to go out and attract advertisers.

Racing clubs make nothing from any of this advertising revenue, and maybe, they’re fine with it, because this is how it’s always been, so why bother changing this kinda lop-sided status quo?

ONLINE PROGRAMING 6

It’s scarily reminiscent of music companies once gladly handing over expensively produced music videos, EPKs- Electronic Press Kits- and other exclusive content to MTV- for free- as part of “promotion”, and the music channel saying, Thank you very much, packaging all this “good stuff” as “their” programming- and selling it to sponsors for millions.

Were music companies stupid? Like, duh, dude.

ONLINE PROGRAMING 7

As mentioned, at the moment, horse racing content is looked upon as purely promotion to bring the sport to an audience.

The question is what audience, how big is this audience- and, Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does one make an audience garden grow?

ONLINE PROGRAMING 8

In this online-driven world, why isn’t there racing’s equivalent of an ESPN- a subscriber-based global racing channel from where the industry can sing its own version of “We Are The World”?

If this is too ambitious, why don’t racing clubs create their own lifestyle channels where, sure, show the races, but realise that this “new” or “next generation” they so desperately need to attract to keep the sport ticking, ticking, ticking into the future, are, or have been, hardcore gamers, and who have a life beyond track work, paddock parades and talking heads.

ONLINE PROGRAMING 9

This leads to programming- content- that works online and on-course- as even the most hardcore racing fan, or the transfixed punter, do not wish to be a passive viewer anymore.

ONLINE PROGRAMING 10

Whether new or old, racing fans wish to participate in the sport, and which is why, for better or worse, twitter, especially, has given horse racing an added voice.

So, how does one take the inter-activity of this vocal Twitterverse plus all the excitement of Electronic Arts gaming products into the horse racing broadcast medium?

ONLINE PROGRAMING 11

Surely, this can only lead to a wider audience, which means attracting new sponsors, and forcing racing clubs to remove the blinkers and look at revitalising the sport through partnerships with other industries and creating pools of different types of programming for different customer segments as opposed to continuing to flog that one dead horse?

ONLINE PROGRAMING 12

What’s interesting to hear are some outside of the racing world, but experienced content providers, talk about producing horse racing inspired gaming, creative use of the helmetcam during the broadcast of races while acknowledging that the day when races can be viewed in 3-D is just a shot away.

ONLINE PROGRAMING 13

What all this does is heighten the viewing experience that attracts this new generation of racing fans, who can now “ride” with jockeys on the horses they’ve backed, and see, first hand, and through the POV- point of view- of those doing the steering that piloting a horse is more than the obligatory top shot, and side and head-on footage of a race where the only excited person is the race caller.

ONLINE PROGRAMING 14

Racing must be more than a “spectator sport”, and how it’s presented online and on-course, and how it can take everyone on something that’s much, much more than Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, and the creativity and innovation of every theme park ride- in all its many forms- and video game is what’s needed.

ONLINE PROGRAMING 15

After all, action speaks louder than words even if they come from the fertile mind of Jeff Kennett, and those over-reacting to the ramblings of an “outdated model” with almost hypocritical irrelevance.

ONLINE PROGRAMING 16

Hans Ebert

Posted in Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HORSE RACING: THE FALLS AND HOW TO RISE ABOVE IT ALL

THE FALLS 1

He might not be exactly the greatest jockey in the world though, very possibly, the worst karaoke singer to ever grab hold of a microphone and make whiny helium-type sounds, but the recent fall of jockey Neil “Knackers” Paine aka “Painey”, pictured below, while riding in New Caledonia has hit home- not only because he has been a trusted friend for twenty years.

But listening to him tell me the news from his hospital bed, full of morphine to ease the pain of having two broken hands and a chipped vertebrae, had me thinking, What now?

THE FALLS 2

“Painey” is what racing people refer to as a “battler”- a once-promising apprentice, who has done the hard yards in places like Macau, Mauritius and, of course, Australia, where he has won some and lost some and done the best he could with what he’s been given.

Now, at 50, and a strong family unit around him, but without the financial security that a Group 1 winning jockey has, or conducted smash and grab swoops on tracks of gold in various corners of the world known more for their “equal business opportunities” than winning on horses, “Painey’s” fall made me realise- even more- just what a thankless task a jockey’s life can be.

THE FALLS 3

There are the years of wasting, putting your life on the line every time you get on a horse for a race, the falls, the recoveries, the comebacks, the failures, the misfits, thieves, users and enablers one meets when the going is good- and who are never there if the career hits the skids- plus, of course, the constant whining and slagging off from those talking through their pockets if those fine motor skills might be off on any particular race day.

David Playford sxc (playboy)

From the outside looking in and not in the racing business, a number of things don’t make sense.

This includes jockeys almost being taken for granted and barely marketed or promoted when they are (A) part of the main attractions in the sport and (B) Jockey Challenges being the most simple way to attract new race-goers and help them understand- and appreciate- the sport- and edutaining enough to have a bet.

Sadly, the ways of “marketing” these Jockey Challenges, even to the experienced race-goer, borders on vaudeville goofiness and shows an appalling ignorance of both jockey and customer.

THE FALLS 5

Perhaps I’m being a simpleton, but if there’s no one around to ride those beautiful equine animals, where’s the racing?

Could Black Caviar or Silent Witness or Zenyatta, or even Gregers at Caulfield on Saturday with Jye McNeil up, have won for just anyone?

Listening to the post-race raving about Gregers’ win by experienced racing pundits, you would have thought that the potentially talented galloper rode itself to victory.

THE FALLS 6

Same thing after Stephen Baster’s excellent ride the race before to win on Star Rolling, where the same “pundits” applauded the efforts of the second placed horse and its trainer David Hayes.

One has to wonder the relevance of “pundits” along with the other bibs and bobs of bubba hanging on from the old school of racing trying to appear relevant.

THE FALLS 7

Despite the noble efforts of various jockey associations to help and protect their own and fight for their rights like a Beastie Boys anthem, some important pieces are missing in providing riders with clout and that security needed so they don’t get screwed over, and are not left without a leg to stand on.

THE FALLS 8

Often when this happens, a jockey is left to face an uphill task on their own where, if a David versus Goliath battle were to take place, David would be without a slingshot and not a hope in hell of getting a shot between the eyes.

THE FALLS 9

Like antiquated one-sided contracts written up by music companies and their armies of Legal Affairs goon squads that once kept many musicians shackled, official rules have never been on the side of jockeys.

One might even say that these rules are there on purpose, and have never been revisited and re-written as changing them will result in huge internal changes, and mean that all those bully boys on the one side of racing clubs, and the ineffective Yes People on the other side, being challenged- legally- and even taken to court where an entire new can of worms might be opened for public viewing.

THE FALLS 10

Will we ever see the day when a Director of Racing, or even a racing club is sued by a jockey- a jockey with not an agent to get them rides, but backed by professional management looking after their interests with access to an army of heavyweight lawyers like those the creepy OJ Simpson managed to hire, to get him off two murder charges?

Think about it.

THE FALLS 11

Meanwhile, still confusing to someone from the music industry is the rule where jockeys are not allowed to bet on their horses- but their wives, girlfriends, parents, chauffeurs, domestic helpers, apartment caretakers, favourite master sommeliers etc can, and which is so daft, at least to me, it’s Monty Pythonesque.

If any racing club seriously thinks even the most naive punter believes jockeys don’t bet as it’s so illogical why they shouldn’t, they are living in la la land and soaking up the Kool-Aid.

THE FALLS 12

Yes, it’s all to do with ensuring “Integrity in racing”- a term bandied about regularly.

But what a jockey not being allowed to bet has to do with that subject is baffling whereas in the name of complete transparency, one has to wonder who’s watching the integrity of some of those very same racing executives who drag out this old warhorse named Integrity.

Integrity. Hmmmm.

THE FALLS 13

Wheeling and dealing is something that goes on in every industry- and every sport.

Just ask Formula 1’s Bernie Ecclestone, and the equally loathesome Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA.

THE FALLS 14

THE FALLS 15

Power rules, power corrupts and power can be used to intimidate the weak who are happy to roll over and take the scraps thrown their way.

THE FALLS 16

One of the key reasons horse racing is failing to attract BIG new players to the sport is because of the perception that almost everything to do with winning and losing has come out of Dodgy City where even the Sheriff works on the wrong side of the ledger.

Dodgy City doesn’t start and end with jockeys.

You know that, we all know that, but the enemy that is the fear within of what is still a relatively small industry means there exists an unwritten code of silence.

THE FALLS 17

Perhaps, just perhaps, horse racing is its own worst enemy in its earnestness to constantly prove that integrity in the sport is alive and well.

It’s like the boy who cried wolf and the saying, Methinks Thou Protesteth Too Much.

THE FALLS 18

Of course, there are a few very good men and women in racing who are in positions of power to ensure that the sport progresses, and its image is not tarnished.

As mentioned many times before, the horse racing industry has a great “mentor” in what not to do wrong by learning from the mistakes of the music industry.

Led by the ignorance and arrogance of people like star-struck private equity blob Guy Hands, below, known for fixing up toilets on the Autobahn, and no knowledge of the music business, they bought themselves into the industry by purchasing music companies- and which they totally fucked up.

THE FALLS 19

What they refused to see was the writing on the wall as the world had entered the digital age and a paradigm shift was already taking place.

THE FALLS 20

With this shift and The Long Tail, the power went to the music fan and created a DIY world for new artists.

No one was beholden to a music company, anymore.

Artists questioned old contracts and left in droves along with the trust and support of music fans whereas Guy Hands was thrown out of EMI Music, the one-time home of the Beatles.

Like that old mantra about not trusting anyone over 30, music fans no longer trust music companies whereas a domino effect has led to not only illegal file sharing, but also the illegal downloads of movies, television series and, basically, anything out there.

THE FALLS 21

What’s here today is a generation- and they are not self-obsessed, self-entitled millennials- that believes everything that’s online is free and who have no time for old fashioned rules.

The only rule is no rules, and they are cynical, they have trust issues, they have no problems confronting authority, and it’s why many one-time popular social media platforms are under siege and confronted with serious questions into ownership of content, fake “views” and “likes”, and trying hard to find ways to soothe the savage beast as there isn’t a hope in hell of popping that genie back into the bottle.

THE FALLS 22

Many in this generation are future horse racing fans as they’re the only new generation out there. Duh.

Looking at it positively, perhaps being one of the industries that was slow to embrace technology and bring entertainment into the sport, can actually help racing clubs.

This is by always looking at where music companies went very wrong- over-spending, bad hires, being prime examples of The Peter Principle, arrogance, ignorance, indecisiveness, and by ignoring the little people- the music fans aka the customers.

THE FALLS 23

It means understanding the mood of today’s consumer, the choices available to them, knowing one’s enemy, and the need to effectively promote and market horse racing’s assets whilst never forgetting the human element.

This is where there is the need for those racing executives who adopt a master-slave attitude to realise it’s time to get off their high horses.

THE FALLS 24

Social media has made this a much smaller world from where one can run, but can never hide. There are no secrets.

As Edward Snowden has shown, it’s all out there and it can bring down entire countries.

THE FALLS 25

Those few good men and women in racing should welcome what is happening in the world as it’s helping to create a new and level playing field for the sport.

It means maintaining the basics of the horse racing, but also having an empty canvas that can be filled in with changes to all those rules and Corporate Speak that are irrelevant in 2014.

THE FALLS 26

It means better, new, more creative content available online by people in sync with right here, right now, 24/7, and not 9 to 5, then and there pencil pushers.

THE FALLS 26b

It means having the knowledge to create far greater inter-activity with racing fans and sponsors- and how to present the sport’s star attractions to these people as part of team work and not a corporate after-thought.

THE FALLS 27

THE FALLS 28

THE FALLS 29

THE FALLS 30

THE FALLS 31

It means, like a Boy Scout, to Be Prepared.

New players outside of racing WILL enter the industry with their own teams, plans and independent thinking minus committees and red tape.

THE FALLS 32

It means being open enough to work with them as it will only help bring horse racing to a much wider audience- and in new, exciting ways never previously explored.

And it means ensuring that A Day At The Races can be exciting through the excitement of horses racing with jockeys riding them, and how that time between the races can be as much fun as a Marx Brothers movie and as entertaining as a record by Queen.

THE FALLS 33

THE FALLS 34

Hans Ebert

Posted in Australian horse racing industry, DOUGLAS WHYTE, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, NEIL PAINE | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE

IS THERE A MONSTER IN THE HOUSE?

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 1

Racing’s worst kept secret – the merger between the Australian Racing Board, aka the ARB, and Racing Information Services Australia, aka RISA following their purchase of the Australian Stud Book from the VRC and the ATC, which was officially made public last week- could potentially be the long awaited first step towards the creation of a potent national governing body for Australian racing.

But will it?

Racing Australia, as we have been told it will be called, will face an uphill battle to win over the hearts and minds of a cynical, territorial and divided industry, if it is to make any impact on bringing together the disparate and self interest driven State governing bodies, race clubs and participant groups.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 2

Mission impossible it will be unless the new Racing Australia is constituted and structured as a genuinely, rolled gold independent body. And that means parachuting the present ineffective and outdated State based representative structure and, with it, he with the icky toffee tongue.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 3

From what we are hearing in NSW, the latter may happen sooner than later.

Not surprisingly, “Toffee” has failed to endear himself to the great majority of the State Governing Bodies, Race Clubs and representative Participant Associations.

As one Race Club official observed, “Toffee” still operates as though he has never left the political hothouse of Canberra, from whence he came.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 4

If there is one quick and effective way of alienating racing administrators and officials it is through the bluster and steam roller tactics that are so inherent in the political bullring.

Australian racing is crying out for an end to the division and polarisation that has successfully prevented it from progressing into a modern sporting and leisure and entertainment business that’s able to appeal to generations coming through on a national level.

The merger between the ARB and RISA and the purchase of the Stud Book, if managed and structured in the best interest of the Australian racing industry on a national scale, could be its lifesaver.

If not, it could also create a Monster – a powerful and dictatorial entity controlled by ambition, self-interest with a touch of vindictiveness thrown in for good measure.

This is the polar opposite of what Australian racing needs.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 5

To succeed, all States MUST come together and ensure a truly independent Board and Chief Executive are head hunted for Racing Australia.

Anything else would render the new entity completely impotent and inevitably result in the worst sort of patronage and appointment of Board members and Executive staff based on mateship, IOU’s and the type of insidious and corrupt behaviour that has become entrenched in the management appointment process adopted by the Australian racing industry over recent decades.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 6

———————————————–

PACKER’S BETFAIR GAMBLE

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 7

It’s been rumoured for some considerable time that James Packer has been contemplating a takeover of Betfair Australia of which he has been a 50/50 partner with the UK based betting exchange pioneer.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 8

It was always a question of when Kerry’s son and heir would expand his gaming and wagering portfolio, adding and integrating the potentially lucrative on-line opportunities that Betfair offers to his global gaming empire.

It’s a smart move, and if the takeover price of $10 million is correct, he could have secured one of the commercial bargains of the century.

Apart from the traditional on-line opportunities that Betfair- and for that matter any corporate bookmaker- can offer to a tech savvy market with an insatiable appetite for potentially rewarding instant financial gratification and gain, the potential to offer “new” fixed odds type gaming products are limitless.

And with the appetite for new products in gaming and wagering reaching binge proportions, James Packer’s coterie of highly paid and successful business strategists and advisers have bulls eyed an opportunity with the highly trained scent of a truffle dog or pig in the dense oak forests of France and Italy.

From Packer’s and his advisers perspective, they would have also concluded- quite correctly- that the fixed odds market and sports wagering will only continue to grow – exponentially in some cases.

They recognize the bleeding and bloody obvious – that traditional pari-mutuel wagering is dead in the water, in terms of not just growth, but as an increasingly outdated wagering model which has lost both its pizzazz and sex appeal.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 9

And not surprisingly the ageing, plodding, agenda driven Australian racing administrators are way out of their league when it comes to even understanding the dynamics and necessity of strategy, and the absolutely vital role it plays in the success or failure of a business.

They are driven exclusively by risk aversion and, MOTHER, a Hitchcock-like fear of failure.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 10

To James Packer’s credit, he has recognized that in this- the 21st century- if you don’t headhunt and hire the best business brains and are prepared to take calculated and responsible risks, you would be better off in a chateau somewhere in rural France pondering what might have been – if only.

It would be no surprise if the Packer team does not already have a strategy for acquisitions in the corporate bookmaking world.

Packer’s record and history suggests- conclusively- that he ain’t a fan of the “bit player” role in the corporate or commercial world.

He is a big picture man.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 11

The implications for the Australian racing industry are massive in the short and medium term.

Fasten your seat belts and get ready for a ride like no other- a ride of global proportions where many creative minds from other industries, especially from the wide world of entertainment, are being poached through the dangling of some mighty big carrots.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

———————————————–

THE STING IN THE TAIL OF THE CHAMPIONSHIPS FUNDING

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 13

Another of NSW racing’s worst kept secrets came to fruition with the $10 million bequeath by the State Government to fund John Messara’s and Racing NSW’s poorly structured love child – the Championships.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 14

The reality, despite the best efforts of the sycophantic News Limited cheering squad at the Daily “Smellygraph”, is that the Baird Government and Racing Minister Troy Grant, below, were never going to withdraw funding from the Championships.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 15

Tactically, the offer of the funding as a loan drew the response from Racing NSW which the Government, very cunningly was after.

In a poker game, it was a premature show of hands and in doing so, the public utterings of Racing NSW’s Chief Executive, and increasingly regarded as the fall guy- Peter of the Vlundies, below- sent an unambiguous message to Premier Baird and Racing Minister Grant as to what the Racing NSW agenda was all about.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 16

The “Smelly’s” editorialising, which scaled dizzying new heights this morning on the subject of the Championships, will only accelerate the deterioration of the frosty relationship between the Baird Government and the State’s racing governing body.

The blindingly naïve and misplaced advocacy of the obscenely and one sided funding discrepancies between the Championships and the sink or swim policy towards NSW country racing will not only rankle Troy Grant and his country constituency, but alienate country members of the “50,000” participants, who, to use a well worn racing cliché, have been “eating the paint off their walls”, as they struggle to eke a living and a decent existence out of NSW country racing which has been the subject of appalling neglect for so long by NSW racing administrators.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 17

NSW country racing administrators and participants will not believe their continuing misfortune at being used-again-as a bargaining tool by racing administrators to badger the State Government into submission and lower the tax take out rate on the pretext of raising country prize money and fixing up decades of neglected infrastructure in country NSW.

To treat Troy Grant and Mike Baird as the enemy is a very, very naïve and dangerous game.

Beating city hall is mission impossible, not just in NSW, but in every other state. Just ask the racing administrators in those States.

But then again the art of negotiation and compromise, of give and take has never been in the DNA of mean old bullies, MOTHER.

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 18

THE MONSTERS BALL ISSUE 19

Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, JOHN MESSARA, Racing NSW | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

ROBIN WILLIAMS, DEPRESSION AND WINNING RACING’S MENTAL BATTLES

While we all mourn the passing of Robin Williams, I was speaking to a friend about depression, and how so many learn to keep it hid just as any junkie knows how to keep their habit hid, and why we have lost so many outwardly “funny people” along the way and how no one “saw the signs”.

British comic legends like Tony Hancock and Kenny Everett, both decided that this world was not for them and checked out early.

DEPRESSION AND WINNI 1

DEPRESSION AND WINNI 2

Spike Milligan, a comedic genius who was one of the ground-breaking trio of “The Goons” with another genius in Peter Sellers, were also both manic depressives who, like Robin Williams, kept that dark side hid most of the time, and, like losing balance trying to make it up those 12 Steps, would slip and then “share” and, for a while, that shattered glass was half full again.

DEPRESSION AND WINNI 3

Sadly, it seldom stays this way, especially, when alone and there’s a bad moon rising, or one walks into that dark side of the moon.

All that positive energy dissipates, self-destruction takes over as the mind is a very brittle “thing” when it has gone through years of wear and tear and has been on overload.

It suddenly snaps as one tap dances on that precipice without a net expecting to fly, but also not caring if there’s someone there to catch you and ease that fall.

And why is it that we have lost- and continue to lose- so many who have made us laugh with that innate gift they have- that gift to lift so many up, except for themselves?

Smokey Robinson singing about “The Tears Of Clown” probably summed it all up in three minutes of “marionette pop” that we singalong to without stopping to think of those words.

These days I do and when I do, I see all those mentioned along with Lenny Bruce, John Belushi, Chris Farley and John Lennon.

DEPRESSION AND WINNI 4

DEPRESSION AND WINNI 5

DEPRESSION AND WINNI 6

DEPRESSION AND WINNI 7

Many might disagree, but Lennon was always described as having this “sardonic wit”- very clever, sensitive, creative, brutally honest, and an extremely humorous man who also kept it well hid. That dark side.

DEPRESSION AND WINNI 8

But on songs like “Help”, “I’m A Loser”, “No Reply”, “You’ve Gotta Hide Your Love Away” and “I’m So Tired”, he seemed to be crying out for help, and which finally came out of self-cathartic and primal scream exercises in “Mother”, and his smacked down, chilling recording of “Cold Turkey”.

DEPRESSION AND WINNI 9

Depression is the greatest silent disease- and killer- as it creeps up on you- only you- and where you are the loneliest person in the world despite everyone around you, or, at least, someone only a phone call away.

Depression causes all types of breakups, and what I call “misrepresented relationships” as it is also a form of escapism and running away from responsibilities and reality- constantly running away, or trying to outrun those mental hounds of hell chasing after you.

And so you see counsellors, you are taken to speak to experts, you are shown those “happy places”, but if unwilling to accept any of this, none of it works.

The pen might be mightier than the sword, and the mind has another mind feeding it all the time, which works and overworks all on its own.

Today, we mourn the passing of a brilliant and much loved comedian who was different things to many people.

Let’s also not forget those we know who are with us today, and those we have lost along the way as, perhaps, saying, “Snap out of it, mate” was not enough.

In horse racing, I have lost two friends to depression- top blokes who, outwardly, had it all, but, inwardly, felt they had nothing.

A few months ago, racing lost a trainer to depression while two others- one being a very good friend- are struggling to make sense of it all.

It’s tough out there. And it’s made tougher when we lose someone as famous as Robin Williams as it brings the problem closer to home- a problem, which we have practised long and hard to shut out.

By bringing this problem closer to home, it might even lead to solutions as only we can heal ourselves.

And if we can heal ourselves, we can heal others by what we have learnt along the way.

We owe this to ourselves and we owe this to those we know, personally, who believe no one cares and no one understands what they’re going through in silence.

DEPRESSION AND WINNI 10

Hans Ebert

Posted in Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA | 3 Comments

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS?

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 1

For decades, music companies have tried to find sponsorship for their record releases and promo tours by artists whereas promoters, who are still in this game of chance, know that without sponsors underwriting tours, their concerts will not only be bereft of cash, they’ll fall on deaf ears, and is one of the reasons why so many acts have played in so many markets and so many have asked, “They did? When?”

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 2

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 3

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 4

In a far more creative-driven industry than horse racing as there is a need to appear relevant and cutting edge to music fans and artists, so-called “sponsorship marketing” in music companies plods along.

This is for the simple reason that average promo people from, especially, music channels have been hired and given senior marketing titles, who are only capable of presenting potential sponsors with the obligatory “naming rights”, a possible after-show party, and some horrendously blatant attempts at “product placement” in music videos- far worse than all the brands that made “Sex In The City 2″ one tedious commercial.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 5

The creative gun has got rusty from not being reloaded with any new bangs for a sponsor’s buck and continues to shoot blanks.

Happiness is not a warm gun- bang bang, shoot shoot.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 6

Celebrity endorsements

The flip side is that while music companies are lost in consumer translation, and trying to find sponsors, artists with strong management and creative and business independence, have an open thoroughfare to sponsors.

Why?

They’re more creative and, literally, “more giving” in what they can offer, which is why “celebrity endorsements” have evolved from the obvious to being a fleeting trend a few years ago when artists like Lady Gaga became “Creative Director” for Polaroid, Dave Stewart, formerly with the Eurythmics named “The Agent Of Change” for Nokia- mostly, publicity bollocks to look relevant- and to where today, products- new, dying, or even dead- have a chance of survival by standing out from the clutter through celebrity branding.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 7

Is this “celebrity branding” another con? Often, it is.

A celebrity- and sporting stars are celebrities- sells their name to the highest bidder, or most hip brand, and in the cases of Beyoncé, David Beckham, 50 Cent, Gaga, Rihanna, Dhoni,Tendulkar etc, become walking human billboards for a number of products.

Does it work when there is often no exclusivity and only excess?

That’s one for Brand Managers to answer.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 8

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 9

A one-trick pony?

With all this in mind, what can horse racing offer sponsors?

Or, are “naming rights” and “branding” all that can be served up as a buffet of very meagre choices?

Or, has there been no real thinking beyond the obvious as this might actually mean having to think outside of the stables, and even, perhaps, work, in an industry where many highly-paid executives in racing clubs can only juggle one ball in the air- and even manage to drop that.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 10

Multi-tasking is like speaking in Swahili to many of these also-rans with their glib Corporate Speak and always wanting to take it “off-line”.

Still, for years, they’ve been obscenely over-paid for this no-balls-no-glory work ethic for survival. And with a golden handshake around the corner from Easy Street, why should they care?

easy street

New Thinking from new players must come into play, organisation charts need to be re-shuffled, academic approaches be “de-academised”, and pseudo intellectualism “outlawed” as every day of every week of every month or every year, sponsorship marketing dollars are going to, not only all those other industries out there, but also other sports- basketball, football, Formula 1, golf, cricket, the fight game, rugby, tennis etc.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 12

Attracting sponsors means marketing one’s self as being exciting, innovative, and knowing that being in sync has nothing to do with an old boy band.

Yet, horse racing continues to market itself to that same old captive audience and with cosmetic changes so shallow that the pock marks can be seen.

It’s nonsensical and another exercise in doing as little work as possible to maintain the status quo.

In other words, it’s The Fear Of Change, and that other paranoia of being seen to have passed the Use By date.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 13

Looking beyond the obvious

So what CAN a racing club offer sponsors and, at the same time, create new revenue streams and new ways of ensuring nothing swims upstream?

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 14

Looking at racing’s answer to “celebrity endorsements”, in Hong Kong, if one had to pick three racing personalities with sponsorship appeal, I’d definitely lean towards Douglas Whyte, Joao Moreira and Tony Cruz, the latter having actually appeared in a television campaign for local sportswear brand Giordano when Champion Jockey.

tony cruz

In Australia, Lady GaiGai stands head and shoulders above the rest, and can sell anything put in front of her. The Gai Waterhouse brand is hugely marketable, probably more so than the great Lady even realises. But who’s there in racing to tap into all this potential?

In another league is Francesca Cumani- not that she needs the money or, possibly, even cares- and standing in the shadow as his turn will come sooner rather than later is Tommy Berry.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 16

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 17

Of course, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the creative concept- and the product.

If the creative director working on Strepsils or Lozenges, who knows, using race-callers Darren Flindell or Rick McIntosh could work.

The point is to give sponsors something- one thing- that surprises them and where they see an ROI- Return On Investment- by buying into an idea that has that other ROI- Relevance, Originality and Impact.

Those ponderous, obligatory presentation ceremonies, the fireworks displays, people in horse costumes prancing around like clowns, the talking heads racing programmes etc- most have run their course. Some ran their course decades ago yet are allowed to limp along in their outdated formats and media platforms less and less people watch.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 18

As someone far more knowledgable about leading a successful racing club recently explained, there is the wagering side of the business, and then there is the need to create the experience to attract that huge market out there that still doesn’t come racing.

It’s not top of mind awareness.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 19

In Hong Kong, apart from the Happy Wednesday brand- and it must and will continue to evolve, there is world class racing in two great racecourses with their own USPs that house venues like Hay Market (two words?), below, The Chalk, Adrenaline, Millions, Gallery, the Beer Garden and more- all building blocks to create one exciting multi-faceted picture of the sport- a picture as exciting as a tight finish, and one which sponsors will look at and say, “I want to be part of all this. Where do I sign? Who’s gonna work with us in this partnership, close the deal and create some history?”

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 20

Next month in Singapore is a worldwide conference called Sports Matters where the Keynote Speaker is Sir Sebastian Coe and every sport is represented. Except horse racing.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 21

I want to be part of changing this perception that horse racing is not a sport, that jockeys are not “real” athletes and, by going it alone, beat the odds, and surprise the naysayers by staying with the tried and true, but adding all the new ingredients that have yet to be put into the blender, mixed and served.

HOW ATTRACTIVE IS HORSE RACING TO SPONSORS 22

Hans Ebert

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

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE

WHAT ODDS AS TO WHO HAS THE TOUGHEST JOB IN RACING?

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 1

The impending and surprise departure of Paul Bittar, below, from the most senior position of governance and administration in British racing – Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Board, has posed a most interesting and important question in racing circles: What is the toughest and most challenging senior executive position in global racing?

Like James Brown was the hardest working man in showbiz, what does it take to be the hardest working man in horse racing- globally- and who is it?

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 2

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 3

It was a question given more prominence by virtue of the fact that Sportsbet (aka Paddy Power), a very big and powerful global corporate bookmaking conglomerate, has opened a market on who is likely to replace Bittar.

Quirky, no doubt, as a “fun” bet to the average punter, but significantly, it had rated Hong Kong Jockey Club Chief Executive Winfried Englebrecht-Bresges at odds of 7/1 as a possible successor.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 4

There is little doubt or argument that the head role in British racing is a formidable one. And our many good racing friends in the UK have acknowledged the very constructive and positive contribution that the “lad from down under”- Bittar- has made to British racing in times of great change and challenge.

In the same hemisphere, geographically, but a jetlag flight away from Heathrow, and by far and away the leading racing jurisdiction in the new world, Hong Kong clearly presents the most complex and challenging environment for a leader of racing in the 21st century.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 5

A complex and challenging culture, Government relationship, regulation, financial and taxation arrangements and operational constraints and restrictions in the former British colony, which is now a part of the People’s Republic of China, makes Winfried Englebrecht-Bresges’ job as Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the toughest gig in world racing by the proverbial lengths of the Shatin, Royal Ascot and Flemington straights, combined.

Imagine the enormity of the task in understanding the sensitivities – cultural and political- and balancing and juggling the diverse interests of the racing, political, economic and cultural elites of Hong Kong and China?

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 6

And then there are the various stakeholders – Club Committee and Members and staff- the good, the bad and the hopeless, the useless and those from Gobbledygook- Owners, Trainers and Jockeys, punters, the well connected and seriously wealthy “wannabe” owners from the mainland, and, most importantly, the potential threats to the revenue base of racing from Vegas’ Asian “sistah” casino city that is Macau.

Get the picture?

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 7

The mere fact that Hong Kong is now firmly ensconced as the world’s leading racing jurisdiction, and its position acknowledged throughout Europe, the US, Australia, Asia and the Middle East, is testament to the leadership skills and achievements of its Chief Executive.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has to be “all things to all people”.

It is mandated to underwrite a very substantial chunk of its Government’s revenue base each year by a significant and onerous taxation take, which is immunized by any economic market forces impacting on wagering revenue.

At the same time, it is also required to play the dual roles of a philanthropic and benevolent organization signing off cheques for millions of dollars each season to a plethora of very worthwhile and genuine charity organizations without which they would be unable to provide their vital humanitarian support services to those who are disadvantaged and in need.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 8

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 9

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 10

But that’s just one part of a very complex fine line that the Jockey Club Chief Executive has to traverse.

Winfried Englebrecht-Bresges must also lead and run a racing club, which, because of its outstanding success, attracts the attention and scrutiny of the entire racing world.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 11

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 12

Using a cliché that still holds relevance in today’s commercial world, it’s tougher to stay at the top than it is to get there, and that is exactly the challenge which has faced the Jockey Club, which it has accepted and achieved with the rare brand of leadership in racing so lacking in many global racing jurisdictions.

It is the prime reason why racing is on its arse and down the crapper in so many of these countries, and which, in the most glaring example of Italy, is on the brink of extinction.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 13

It is no secret that Hong Kong under “EB” has become a blueprint for many racing clubs in both the old and new world.

How many can read or understand this blueprint is another matter altogether.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 14

Hong Kong racing’s strength is reflected and measured by the ability of its leadership to continue to reinvent and reinvigorate and grow its brand- and grow its IP whilst navigating the Club through the continual and inevitable turbulent waters that it encounters each racing season.

Being, not just the Chief Executive, but a successful one of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, IS, the toughest gig in world racing.

Even Soul Brother Number One would agree.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 15

——————————————-

THE ADDICTION TO WAR

'I'm afraid the situation is dire, gentlemen...we're running out of bogeymen.'

It is difficult to identify any sport or sporting jurisdiction or sporting authority, which is in a constant state of disputation with its own stakeholders and participant groups as Racing NSW.

If it isn’t a Race Club, it’s a Stakeholder Association, or an interstate governing body, or a Professional service sector, or even it’s own staff.

Yes, Racing NSW has a record of litigation, much of which that it can’t be proud of, particularly when many of the disputes are of its own daft creation, and instigations that could have been mediated or negotiated without the angst, the considerable financial cost and the fractured and irreparable damage to professional relationships, and to the brand and image of racing and its governing body.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 17

Does no one on the Racing NSW Board, or its Chairman, or the State Government, or any of the influential figures in racing in NSW, ever wonder and ask the pertinent question as to why Racing NSW is in a constant state of disputation with just about anyone they deal with?

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 18

It’s an observation and a very inconvenient question that is embarrassingly asked whenever the subject of the state of racing in NSW is the topic du jour with interstate racing people.

And it happened again last weekend- and this week- in separate conversations regarding the “war” with NSW veterinarians, and the ongoing dispute with jockeys over the collection of their fees on behalf of their Association.

Racing NSW’s tactics are textbook cases in bully boy tactics which must stem from penis envy mixed with low self-esteem.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 19

They are based on attrition and a willingness to resort to the costly weapon of litigation, which disadvantages most of the less financial aggrieved parties, leaving them with two unpalatable options – surrender or bankruptcy.

See what we mean about bully boy tactics?

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 20

The war with the “vets” is yet another striking example of a war, which just should not have happened, nor is the very pointless, divisive and inflammatory war being waged with NSW jockeys.

Is it any wonder why racing is just so marginalized in NSW when all you ever hear or read about relates to disputation and legal challenge?

It demonstrates a flagrant disregard for the monumental task of turning racing into a sport of choice for engagement and participation.

NSW racing makes no attempt to make the sport attractive and welcoming to the generations coming through.

What “welcome” mat? What new initiatives?

It just plods along with 6-7 horse fields and the usual suspects. Excuse us while we stifle a yawn.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 21

It continues to successfully disengage itself and drive away potential “fans” and customers- in droves.

Pretending to fight “fake” wars and turning potential allies into enemies and, ultimately, victims to paper over glaring deficiencies, and prosecute selfish and self-serving agendas, is blatantly disingenuous and demonstrates the vacuum in leadership at the highest levels of NSW racing.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 22

We can only continue to live in hope that the mercy rule is applied in the glaringly appropriate areas of NSW racing.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 23

————————————————–

GRAND FINAL CLASH WITH START OF SPRING CARNIVAL

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 24

The VRC’s Turnbull Stakes race meeting on the first Saturday in October each year is always the mouth-watering entrée to their world famous spring racing carnival.

Next year, because of the ICC Cricket World Cup commitments, the AFL season will start a week later and finish a week later with the Grand Final pushed out from its traditional last Saturday in September to the first Saturday in October.

When the Grand Final and Turnbull Stakes last clashed in 2010, courtesy of a drawn game the previous week, the VRC and Racing Victoria transferred the meeting to the Sunday, which turned out to be a financial catastrophe.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 25

So, in 2015, the Turnbull Stakes meeting will go head to head with the AFL Grand Final.

Whilst wagering is still expected to take a hit, both the VRC and racing Victoria have ample time to lessen the blow.

What did amuse us was reading in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, comments attributed to Racing Victoria Chief Executive, Bernard “The Plodder” Saundry.

If ever a racing organization and its CEO needed a top line spin doctor then this bloke does.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 26

Said The Plodder, “We have a good relationship with the AFL, who acknowledge the significance of the spring racing carnival and they have afforded a commitment to work with us in delivering the best outcome for Victoria”.

Translator required please.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 27

So is the AFL writing out a cheque to Racing Victoria and the TAB to compensate for the loss in wagering turnover? Or are they going to trial a night grand final? Or maybe they might stage the 2015 grand final on a Sunday?

Sorry “Plodder”, but the AFL does not give a flying fuck about racing or Racing Victoria, or for that matter your verbal diarrhoea when fixturing, or for that matter, when dealing with their game and its participants.

You better believe it mate, racing is not in the same league as many of its main competitors. And plodding white man speakum hokum and crap.

THE LEADERSHIP ISSUE 28

Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, WINFRIED ENGELBRECHT-BRESGES | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment