HORSE RACING, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM

By Hans Ebert

It’s all been a bit quiet. It’s almost as if the sport needs some magic potion to rev up the Excitement Barometer. From speaking also to others, horse racing seems to be going through a bit of a lull these days. A dull patch. A vegetable garden of mush. “Horse racing attendance is in massive decline in Sydney” is something heard over and over again by some of the biggest supporters of the sport.

Winx aside, not even Peter V’landys, the undisputed, visionary and fearless leader of Australian racing- who’s there to oppose him South of the border? Chauncey Gardiner?- and his mighty three-year Everest trifecta, plus the latest mind boggling gimmick being floated around- to hold a race on Sydney Harbour Bridge- can shake off this feeling of déjà vu. Very déjà vu. Gimmicks and one-off events are not the cure for the Déjà Vu Blues.

Maybe it’s that time of the month. Even the tweets by racing’s serial tweeters and fawning jockey groupies expressing serious man love are no longer offering the goonish humour we have come to expect, and, at least, bring a wry smile to faces.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, HAPPY WEDNESDAY, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, Peter V'landys, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OLD FRIENDS ARE THE BEST FRIENDS – FELIX COETZEE VISITS SILENT WITNESS

By Robyn Louw – reproduced with kind permission of the Sporting Post

Sometimes one needs a bit of a break from the harsh reality of life and it’s always good to have a few feel-good stories handy in a pinch. It’s been a tough week on the political front with our president shuffling his cabinet and while the Grand National can usually be relied on to throw up some kind of ruckus or high drama on the racing pages, this week the bad news came from the Southern Hemisphere. Luckily there was also some good news and for me, that came in the form of photographs of Felix Coetzee dropping in to visit Silent Witness at Australia’s Living Legends last week. As a happiness shared is a happiness doubled, I thought I’d do just that.

Silent Witness catapulted onto the racing stage with his incredible 17 race unbroken win streak back in the early 2000’s. It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of his importance to the Hong Kong racing public, but arriving as he did in the middle of their SARS crisis his performances were seized on by the local community as a beacon of hope during some very dark times. His achievements were so significant that Murray Bell wrote a book dedicated to Silent Witness titled ‘The Spirit of Hong Kong’ and in 2009 the Hong Kong Jockey Club erected a life-size commemorative sculpture of Silent Witness on the Sha Tin Racecourse public forecourt.

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Posted in FELIX COETZEE, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, Tony Cruz | 1 Comment

THANK YOU, GREG MILES. WHAT A RIDE IT’S BEEN…

By Hans Ebert

Greg Miles was a narrator. That was what made him such a great race-caller. He didn’t just “call” a race, he took listeners along for the ride, especially when away from television screens or unable to stream the races. Through his calling and his vast knowledge of a horse’s racing style, where it was positioned, and being able to read most race tracks, he was able to tell listeners how well or badly each horse was travelling and how much longer there was to run. With him taking one through a race, the listener knew exactly where their horse was, and whether it had a chance to win or place or whether the race had been run and it was time to sing, “Closing Time”.

Of course, there was then that voice- confident, authoritative, and succinct. It wasn’t that highly excitable style of race-calling from a different era where everyone sounded like a Edward G Robinson or James Cagney-type character from a Damon Runyon plot. Greg Miles brought things down a notch, and in so doing, gave race-calling a new voice. It still added to all the excitement, but also gave the sport something it was lacking: Sophistication.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

THE “LET’S DROP THE MOTHER OF A BOMB TODAY ” ISSUE

By Hans Ebert
(@hanseberthk / @racingb_tch)

It’s all about timing. And Racingbitch aka RB was launched during the very early days of the digital age- and the very early hours of a long night out at the legendary Champagne Bar at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Hong Kong with two former jockeys. The first “issue” named The 20 Most Overrated Jockeys…and it’s been downhill from there. This was the time when few knew the difference between a blog and a flog, WordPress from watercress, and everything it took to launch a workable website- the importance of content, and with the need for a backend as strong as that of J Lo. RB was anonymous, irreverent, outspoken and with an indie spirit. It was beholden to no one. It still is.

These days, where we have seen the explosion of social media, and consumers having access to everything what they want for free when they want and how they want, reading blogs, and visiting websites are almost a chore unless these have some exclusivity to them- competitions with exclusive prizes, giveaways and are merchandise-driven. These sites accompanied by their social media content are also mainly relevant to fans of big name music artists, and the growing number of Indie artists like Melbourne’s incredible Tash Sultana, who offer an alternative to slick, predictable Top 40 Pop.

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Posted in Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, Peter V'landys, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

LIVING LEGENDS

Courtesy of www.fasttrack.hk

By Kat Coetzee

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.”  – Felix Coetzee

I could write this article as if I was a general reporter. As if I had no connection to the subject I am writing about. However, the fact of the matter is I do.  So I think this may come over better if I’m just blatantly honest.

This is about my dad ex-jockey Felix Coetzee and one of the many great horses in his life, and no doubt the greatest, Silent Witness.

Last night at dinner, the question was posed to my mother as to what life was like during the time of Silent’s peak in Hong Kong. She described the exciting race days, the glamorous dinners where it was only acceptable to wear green and black. The crowds screaming, “Ching Ying Dai See” waving their flags. It sounds like something out of a movie sometimes. Being a teenager at this time, I just remember our house suddenly getting a black and green theme in some rooms and purple and yellow in others, as my father also started riding Lucky Owners at the same time.

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Posted in FELIX COETZEE, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, The horse racing industry, Tony Cruz | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

PARTICIPATION AND BEING PART OF THE WINNING TABLE

By Hans Ebert

Courtesy of www.fasttrack.hk

Think about making music. It usually takes days and months to write and record 4-5 songs. And then what? Where and how is it going to be heard? Sure, there are so many delivery and distribution platforms- music streaming sites, downloads, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc etc- but how is this music going to be heard over all the other music recorded and using the same marketing and distribution strategies?

Would a music company want what you have? And would they pay for your product and put money behind marketing you as an artist? The last time I looked, the major music companies were busy pruning their artists rosters to focus on the proven and time tested established names whereas newer artists might get signed if there were perhaps some touring guarantees. If not, they might go the Indie route with a smaller label, or decide to go their own way via that DIY route with no safety net under them.

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Posted in HAPPY WEDNESDAY, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, JOAO MOREIRA, JOHN MOORE, The horse racing industry, zac purton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE FAST TRACKER MAKES A GUEST APPEARANCE AT SHATIN

(Courtesy of Fast Track)

BIG-BANG-THEORIES-1

There’s no Winx at Shatin- and what a stunning seventeenth consecutive win it was at Randwick yesterday by the Queen Of The Turf. She deserves to be a Dame, your Majesty. What a boost for the sport!

As for the Sydney Cup being declared a non-race? It was the right decision.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, brett prebble, casper fownes, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BEING WEIRD – THE RIO DE JANEIRO STORY

By Robyn Louw,
reproduced with kind permission of the Sporting Post

Thanks to my grandmother I learnt to love reading at an early age. She was a wonderful lady in many ways, but perhaps her greatest wisdom was to turn outings to Stellenbosch library into a special treat.

We would make the journey into town and stop to stroke the little bronze of the Café Cat (sculpted by her friend Nerine Desmond) before walking through the door and entering the cool gloom of the building’s foyer. My grandmother had three library cards and setting aside one for herself, would ceremoniously share the remaining two between myself and my sister. My grandmother would head off into the adult section on the ground floor, while we were let loose among the children’s shelves to select a treat to take home. No censure and no guidance. It was perhaps my first taste of being fully in charge of anything and it was intoxicating. That library card was my passport to anywhere I wanted. More importantly, it was also my ticket to learning whatever I wanted.


Books are a passport to anywhere

When I first started out, I didn’t much consider the name below the title, I was more interested in the world beyond the cover, but as I got older, I learned that writers were real people and that some of them were still alive and well. When it came to horse books, some of my idols even gave public clinics and demonstrations, meaning I could meet them and even get them to inscribe messages in my favourite copies of their books. One such clinician, teaching a different approach to riding, included the mantra ‘may all your rides be weird.’

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, SINGAPORE TURF CLUB | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

THE CUSTOMER-DRIVEN ISSUE

By Hans Ebert

@hanseberthk

Saturday was the first day of The Championships in Sydney. The highlight for everyone? The incredible win of Chautauqua, the whoops of genuine joy from jockey Tommy Berry, and the great training efforts of Team Hawkes. And if John Hawkes preferred to watch the races from the comfort of his sofa, that was his prerogative. He had nothing to prove to anyone.

The rest of the meeting? Very enjoyable for everyone, and a great success despite winning being tough for the rank and file punter until, perhaps, somewhat later in the day when one knew that unless on the rails, those stuck on the outside did not have a hope in hell. This meant all that homework done earlier amounted to nought, and why there were some very long priced winners with winners for Hong Kong based Australian riders Sam Clipperton and Zac Purton. The Zac Attack won his second Doncaster Mile aboard It’s Somewhat at over 40 to 1, which was dismissed by someone associated with the stable, as their worst runner of the day. Maybe, but not to Zac. That’s racing- the unpredictability of it all.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, DOUGLAS WHYTE, HAPPY WEDNESDAY, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOAO MOREIRA, The horse racing industry, Tommy Berry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MATTHEW POON, HORSE RACING AND LIFE LESSONS

By Hans Ebert

Everything in moderation. We’ve been taught that from a very early age. It’s advice that has served us well while growing up- if we are living our lives keeping to this belief.

Going off the rails is when pressure takes over. When moderation becomes excess. And in this day and age of information overload, and easy access to almost everything, we’re all under constant pressure to either absorb everything going on around us- the daily doses of bad news like what recently happened in London, the politics of The Big Orange in the White House, the mad Kim Chee in North Korea itching like the finger on the trigger of a gun to blow us all to bits- or switch off from these grim and negative realities of life. They often do your head in.

My dad would not allow the news on television to be shown at home. It caused him stressed. And him being stressed out, made the rest of us stressed. Maybe it’s part of my DNA, but I had to tell someone staying over the other night that it’s either CNN and the constant updates on various Trumpgates or me. She chose the former.

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