THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE FUGLY ISSUE

By Keyser Soze

IS RACING IN AUSTRALIA CAPABLE OF REINVENTING ITSELF?

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Simply NO. The evidence in the “form guide’ suggests the odds of reinventing itself to expectations of a very much more demanding and unforgiving demographic in today’s socio-economic jungle are as distant as from where we are to Land’s End.

Whilst every other sport – from the larger mainstream to the minnows- have consciously succeeded in challenging themselves and reinvented their appeal and offerings, racing does not know how to extricate itself from the time warp which it has entrapped itself in, to its own detriment.

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The recent news that the AFL is about to launch its own version of 22/20 cricket or rugby sevens – a shortened and faster version of Aussie Rules called AFL X, should send shivers down the spines of every racing administrator in Australia. That is unless they are still hibernating in their purpose-built igloos.

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AFL X will take Aussie Rules fans and fanatics into a unique state of nirvana, satisfying their craving and hunger for their sport to extend it’s annual seasonal shelf life beyond the traditional six months. AFL X could well be the nail in racing’s coffin in the football crazy states of Victoria, West Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. Remember Tasmania? It still supposedly has a racing industry. And with the inroads that the AFL is making in New South Wales, Australians will most certainly vote with their feet as they have done with 20/20 cricket and embrace the hybrid Aussie Rules format.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, BLACK CAVIAR, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOAO MOREIRA, NASH RAWILLER, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WHY TABCORP DESERVES TO COP IT

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Technology is a wonderful addition to lives and to different industries and companies- so long as one knows how to use it. And it appears that Tabcorp are still grappling with the very basics. We have no idea how many people they have manning their telephones, but it’s painfully obvious that they’re woefully understaffed. Their current staff- usually, some very lovely ladies doing their best- deserve a bonus for hanging in there under what must be very trying conditions.

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Especially when trying to place a bet on the weekend on a city race in Victoria, the odds are that you will be put on hold for so long that you’ll never get on. This problem persists even on mundane weekday meetings. There’s then the inordinate amount of time taken for winning bets to be paid into accounts and a snail’s pace when it comes to the flow of information. On Wednesday, customers knew that the Morphetville meeting had been abandoned after race two before the phone operators at Tabcorp. Please.

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Add to these Fawlty Towers, their “revolutionary” voice-activated programme to take bets, especially early on a Sunday, seems to have been developed to test a caller’s patience. Speaking to a recorded message that doesn’t understand what you’re saying isn’t exactly fun. It’s bloody irritating- more so when when you haven’t got on and it turns out to be a winning bet.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

RACING IN KOREA: A GANGNAM STYLE INTERNATIONAL SURPRISE

By Hans Ebert

After the facile win of Hong Kong’s eight-year-old dirt specialist Super Jockey last weekend in the inaugural running of the US $700,000 Group 1 Korean Sprint, one cannot help but think that this could be the the start of a beautiful friendship and greater “diplomatic” racing ties between the HKJC and the Korea Racing Authority (KRA).

HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, pictured below, wasn’t making a token gesture by attending the event. If betting on it, we’d say he was endorsing, supporting and cementing a partnership with the KRA with an eye towards the future.

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As for the win of Super Jockey, ridden with supreme confidence by the very popular Mauritian Magician Karis Teetan, the Tony Millard-trained galloper was in a class of his own. In fact, Teetan, now known as Seoul Brother Number 1, had to look over his shoulder a number of times to see where the rest of the field was. Nowhere in sight, baby.

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Posted in Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, The horse racing industry, WINFRIED ENGELBRECHT-BRESGES | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“WE’RE HAVING A HAPPY WEDNESDAY” SINGS MELBOURNE-BASED JIMMY CUPPLES

Each new racing season, the HKJC’s successful Happy Wednesday brand that comes alive at Happy Valley Racecourse in Hong Kong keeps evolving. This season will be no exception with a new song especially composed and recorded for these Happy Wednesday nights. But this new track is different in that it was recorded in Melbourne and features session singer and recent contestant on The Voice Australia Jimmy Cupples, pictured below.

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Written and produced by music executive Hans Ebert, and part of the Happy Wednesday creative and marketing team, the reason for recording in Melbourne was quite simple: “Though Hong Kong has some technically good musicians and a handful of good performers, there’s not really an abundance of original recording talent”, explains Ebert, below in the studios with Cupples and producer/engineer Trevor “The Wizard” Carter.

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THE NO LAUGHING MATTER ISSUE

By Keyser Soze

CLEAR UP THE DAVID MOODIE ALLEGATIONS. PLEASE.

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Can the albatross hanging around the neck of Australian racing from the spate of cobalt positives get any murkier? If the scandals in NSW, which claimed the training careers of Darren Smith and Sam Kavanagh, and led to lengthy bans on veterinarian Tom Brennan and embroiled and derailed the careers of many others across a variety of sections of the NSW and Australian racing fraternity, were not enough, then the allegations concerning the leaking of information by Racing Victoria Chairman David Moodie in last Saturday’s Herald Sun, surely has turned the murky world of Victorian racing murkier.

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The allegation was contained in a story by racing journalist Daryl Timms and published in the Herald Sun newspaper last Saturday, with the headline “Spilling the Beans – Moodie leaked test results claim”. The headline and story refer to an allegation raised at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) by counsel for trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh that Moodie had told trainer Peter Moody of the positive tests returned by horses trained by Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh before the two trainers had been informed by Stewards. The stewards informed the two trainers of the positives the next morning.

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According to Timms: “After being told by Moodie (David)), it is claimed Moody (Peter) phoned O’Brien to tell him of his cobalt positives”. Timms also states that: “It is believed Stewards discovered Moodie’s phone call to Moody and the subsequent calls to the Flemington trainers when they examined mobile phone records as part of their probe into the positive urine samples”.

Timms further states that the Racing Victoria Integrity Council did not recommend action against Moodie, and neither did the Board of Racing Victoria which “considered the matter and did not censure him”.

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

HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA: AN OXYMORON?

By Hans Ebert

Could it really be happening? Might this actually be good for the perception and future of horse racing? Could this separate the wheat from the chaff? Freedom of speech aside, might this help rein in the negativity? Could this see the creative envelope being pushed when it comes to marketing the sport to a younger and new customer demographic? For all the talk of “customer engagement”, could this open the minds of hardcore racing executives to how social media can be a powerful marketing tool and not 140 words or less of clutter and Corporate Speak ignored by many? Could this help racing clubs understand that insular thinking only leads to navel gazing and nothing to do with expanding their current customer base- and attracting new players like sponsors with strong databases to the sport?

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A media analyst with a major music company and head of one of the biggest international social media agencies were sharing their thoughts with us regarding digital marketing, how to possibly reach millennials, and, mainly, the present and future of  Twitter- and how, according to their numbers and customer research, its popularity is on the wane- and how, as a marketing tool, this social media platform has become clutter that is either ignored or else “liked” and “retweeted” almost outta habit. It’s click bait.

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If true- and why not?- it’s certain to cause celebration amongst some we know in horse racing who refuse to “engage” or be part of the racing twitterverse, which, to them, is rampant with “bottom feeders”. Maybe. We just have a problem with those who don’t know the difference between “you’re” and “your”, the really bad grammar, the transparent serial self-promoters, and the roaring silence when it comes to creativity. Throw in the fawning jockey groupies, the politics, the roadblocks and unblocked, and the regular army of alarmists and conspiracy theorists, something seemingly very much in the DNA of the Australian racing industry. It’s not a good look to other racing jurisdictions on the outside looking in. Even if true, the constant updates on all things negative paints an extremely off-putting picture of the sport. Those who might think they’re saving horse racing are actually stabbing it with their steely knives and trying to kill the beast- and the hand that feeds them.

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Whatever happened to marketing the FUN of horse racing? The Cobalt Blues has become more tedious than In A Gadda Da Vida. It’s horse racing’s Pokeman Go, but not going anywhere. And, let’s face it, whoever “wins”, who’s the big loser? Horse racing. After the final legal decisions have been handed down, what happens next to Fawlty Towers and its bumbling Basils? Where’s all this angst and U-turns and memory lapses and legal technicalities leading to, Manuel?

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INTRODUCING THE FAST TRACK HONG KONG AND LONGINES HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL RACES TRIVIA CHALLENGE!

(Courtesy of www.fasttrack.hk)

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Great prizes to be won!

Join the Fast Track Hong Kong and Longines Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) Trivia Challenge and enjoy the races in style.

The first four readers picked via a Lucky Draw who answer all the questions below correctly will each receive the following:

* A dinner for four at Adrenaline on Longines Hong Kong International Jockey’s Championships (HKIJC) night(December 7)

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* In addition to the above, a lunch for four at Hay Market in Shatin on Longines Hong Kong International Races(HKIR) day(December 11).

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Entries should be sent to hkir@fasttrack.hk.
The competition closes on 9th Oct 2016.

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Posted in DOUGLAS WHYTE, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOHN MOORE, JOHN SIZE, www.fasttrack.hk | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

AND THEY’RE OFF! HONG KONG RACING TAKES THE HIGH ROAD INTO THE FUTURE

(Courtesy of www.fasttrack.hk)

By Hans Ebert

It seems like it’s been a very short break between the end of last season and the start today in Sha Tin of the new Hong Kong racing season. Why is the new season starting on a Saturday? Well, Sunday sees the voting taking place in the all-important Legislative Council Elections, and who knows what to expect with all the warring local political parties out in force for power with various nefarious financial backers egging on their favourite sons- there are very few daughters- from the peanut gallery and away from harm’s way.

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All this politicking is about trying to bring about change and give Hong Kong a certain autonomy from the powers-that-be in Beijing- strong sentiments, which, however, one cannot see happening.

Meanwhile, down under in Victoria, there’s a very different kind of politicking and where they must be wondering when the onslaught of Bad News Bears and grim racing stories will stop.

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In recent weeks and months, there’s been the resignation and farewells of top executives, the ongoing cobalt saga that must be the longest running horse opera in history helped along by the usual know-it-alls on social media fanning the fires, cheats being unveiled, and proven cheats continuing with their misguided Methinks Thou Protesteth Too Much mantra, and supported by their fawning cheerleaders. It’s fugly stuff, and all sounding like that baked beans scene from “Blazing Saddles”, but not nearly as funny.

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Posted in Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, JOAO MOREIRA, JOHN MOORE, JOHN SIZE, The horse racing industry, Tony Cruz, WINFRIED ENGELBRECHT-BRESGES, www.fasttrack.hk | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

THE QUESTIONS QUESTIONS QUESTIONS AND NO ANSWERS ISSUE

By Keyser Soze

TIME FOR RACING TO CONFRONT THE ANIMAL ACTIVISTS

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Imagine if you were a dog, a cat, a chicken, a cow, and even a horse. Would you entrust your welfare to a group like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) – the animal activist lobby group known for its “loud hailer” approach to animal welfare issues, or to any of the other activist groups? Would you?

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PETA, a rag bag collection of political activists well versed in demagoguery and at using the media, “celebrities” of the fake and wannabe kind, and a sprinkling of starry eyed but naïve bleeding hearts, is well known for its belligerence in prosecuting its own agenda. Its success as an activist organization in the US has been massively boosted by the use of “celebrities” and glamour – a very intelligent manipulation of the psychology of “guilt by association” at its most distractive best.

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But. unlike the best known animal welfare lobby group – the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), which undertakes much of the mainstream heavy lifting on animal welfare issues, PETA’s language on such issues is provocative and highly emotive and agenda-driven, targeting industries who, using their own words “abuse animals for human entertainment”.

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

SILENT WITNESS: LIVING LEGEND

By Hans Ebert

“Have you seen the size of his nostrils? I remember (trainer) Tony Millard’s father telling me that you can tell a good horse by the size of their nostrils. It gives them that extra oxygen, and, man, he’s got huge nostrils.”

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Felix Coetzee is talking about Silent Witness, the champion Hong Kong sprinter in 2003, 2004, 2005, and Time Magazine’s 100 Most Interesting People Of 2004 who the great South African rider partnered for every one of his seventeen wins including taking out The Japan Sprint Stakes in 2005.

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“The Cat” had just been shown a picture of his old mate, now at the wonderful Living Legends equine retirement home, and words are hard to find to describe just how much this horse means to Coetzee, a true horseman and the most inquisitive person I know when it comes to understanding the psychology of our equine friends and how to get the most of the young Hong Kong apprentices he’s mentoring these days.

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But talk to “The Cat” and the conversation can’t help but get back to the Tony Cruz-trained and Archie and Betty Da Silva owned Silent Witness, the magic and miracle horse that shone a positive light on Hong Kong when the city was under the very dark cloud of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) crisis.

Silent Witness offered hope at a time when offices were closed, people wore masks, very few countries welcomed tourists from Hong Kong, and “Asia’s World City” was not exactly a magnet to those from overseas. Almost trapped in this city, and which even saw brilliant, but erratic French jockey Eric Saint Martin, suddenly “escape” from Hong Kong with his family for “safety reasons”, racing and non-racing fans came together to watch this magnificent animal win. And win and win seventeen consecutive races. He was the equine Usain Bolt and he represented Hong Kong for the gold.

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Posted in Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments