THE EVEREST: A REVIEW OF ONE MAN’S CRUSADE TO BRING INNOVATION TO HORSE RACING

By Hans Ebert

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Over the years, many have made movies about horses, and characters in horse racing, and all the complex characters involved in the Sport Of Kings and queens and sheikhs and charlatans and racing clubs and their various Sherpas and sheriffs and Dodge City and bullets and shooting blanks.

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Let’s never forget movies like “Seabiscuit” and “Phar Lap” and “Black Stallion”, the wonderful “Let It Ride” with even a walk-on role from one of us, where we were asked to just keep on walking and walking and walking. Some of us are still walking with no direction of home.

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THE THREE AMIGOS GO TO SHATIN AND ALL OVER THE PLACE

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Have you missed us, muchachos? The Three Amigos have been holidaying with our favourite señoritas in our luxurious hacienda in Sri Lanka where we went upcountry to Nuwara Elya and watched the local gauchos ride at the recently opened Sri Lanka Turf Club. Yeee ha!

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Though when the British colony was known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka was one of the first countries in Asia to hold horse racing meetings, we still hadn’t seen such Cisco Kid and Pancho riding styles since those surreal days in the Nineties when a local cowboy like “Rambo” WH Tse rode in Hong Kong and threw grenades at other riders and used a bullwhip to get the most out of his rides. Rambo Tse would not have been a poster boy for PETA.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, dennis yip, DOUGLAS WHYTE, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOAO MOREIRA, JOHN SIZE, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A NOD IS AS GOOD AS A WINX ISSUE

TWEET OF THE DAY


IS RACING ITS OWN WORST ENEMY?

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It is stating the bleeding obvious that sport, globally, is dealing with a multitude of demons – from match fixing to drugs abuse, to the insidious influence of criminals, to serious behavioural issues. With the rampant use and abuse of social media and its ascendancy as a communications medium in an environment where technology has transformed life forever, sport has been forced to nuke its operational model and redefine its strategy to not just remain relevant, but to grow and infiltrate the hearts and minds of a relentlessly demanding and challenging society.

For sports, of all types, it is as simple as transposing Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Sport is undergoing its own phase of “survival of the fittest”. It is being played out before our own eyes. The irony is that despite all the regular posturings about the so-called sophisticated society that we frequently remind ourselves that we are living in, the participants and members who make up certain sporting communities keep failing abysmally to exercise their “duty of care” to adapt, protect and grow their sports. And, if the altitude doesn’t get the better of you, climb Everest.

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There is a stark and very obvious contrast between the winners and losers in the diverse and cluttered world of sports. The winners, and to name a few of them – the various football codes, cricket, women’s sports of just about any description, are powering ahead. They have a common blueprint – with few exceptions. They are well administered by men and women who are single-mindedly committed to the success of the codes and sports which they administer and manage. These are fearless and decisive men and women-calculated risk takers, who thrive on applying their leadership skills to create a compelling and seductive environment for the fans who ultimately determine the success or failure of a sport. They eat challenge for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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HORSE RACING: THE NEW WAY FORWARD

By Hans Ebert

Often, and recently, more and more often, one has to wonder how many in horse racing truly understand what really are “good initiatives” for the sport, and what is breakthrough creativity and effective, strategic marketing to take things further. This type of questioning might just offer up some reasons why horse racing is struggling its position as a mainstream popular sport.

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Racing must operate from a position of strength and respect, which has been claimed by its competitors who understand the dynamics of creativity and innovation. This is what a society and its younger, and spoilt for choice generation demand. The truth hurts, but this is a fact: Horse racing is the Rodney Dangerfield Of Sports. Guess if drinking from that half full glass, this could be seen as being “niche”.

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Not to be a naysayer who can criticise but offer no solutions- that’s a job for some in horse racing’s twitterverse, especially when they’re having a meltdown and tweeting through their pockets- but having been in the advertising and music industries and having cut my teeth on everything from launching McDonald’s in Hong Kong and Mainland China to working with and marketing artists like Norah Jones, Bowie, Gorillaz, Robbie, Coldplay etc, what I’m saying is, Convince me.

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

THE BACK WITH A VENGEANCE ISSUE

By Hans Ebert

BACK WITH EXTRA BITE (AND MORE RELISH)

THE BALLAD 0


CAN RACING SURVIVE THE CHALLENGE OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER?

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It’s just little over a month since we farewelled 2016, and yet it seems so long ago. Perhaps when historians analyse 2016, they will come to the conclusion that 2016 was a year when the world changed dramatically. Think of the two most significant events – Brexit, and yes, that man Donald Trump. Never in one’s wildest dreams and darkest moments could the Brexit-Trump quinella been predicted. Not unless Nostradamus made his second coming.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, Peter V'landys, Racing NSW, The horse racing industry, WINFRIED ENGELBRECHT-BRESGES | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

THE GAUCH: ONWARDS AND UPWARDS

By Hans Ebert

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Call them part of the Old School of horse racing, but, like in music, and every art and sport, there’s no substitute for experience, and still so much that can be learned from them- racing heroes and legends like Michael Kinane, Brent Thomson, Gary Stevens, Mike Smith, Felix Coetzee, Douglas Whyte, and Darren Gauci.

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The Gauch rode at his last race meeting on the weekend at Caulfield. Even if he hadn’t won the second race on the aptly named Goodwill, The Gauch would have bowed out a winner, because of everything he’s achieved, and how he’s conducted himself, on and off the field.

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SCALING DOWN THE EVEREST

By Hans Ebert

Call us masochists, but despite listening to adverts where Louise calls Nanna in her new retirement home, and more otherworldly weirdness like suggesting that Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Mel Gibson and others have reached retirement age and might be in need of a retirement home of their own- we’re not making this up- we just had to tune into RSN, Melbourne’s dead people’s racing radio channel last week and hear the still very much alive Michael Felgate interview Emperor Petrus, the saviour of Australian racing, about him scaling new heights with the “richest race in the world” The Everest. There was more weirdness ahead.

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As always, Petrus took the road much travelled by him over the years, and off we went over hill and Dick Dale, Jack and Jill, while Django unchained sold Racing NSW’s and the Australian Turf Club’s concept for The Everest, a very slightly amended version of Frank Stronach’s The US $12 million Group 1 Pegasus World Cup held at Gulfstream Park in late January and won by Arrogate.

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THE WELFARE OF OUR STATE

By Robyn Louw

Many years ago, we were away on a family holiday along with my aunt and younger cousins. The baby of the family was at that exploratory stage where they were still finding out about their body and every so often my aunt would have to admonish them to stop. Eventually my cousin, clearly frustrated, retored “But mommy, it’s nice!” To which there wasn’t really an answer because of course the child was correct and what they were doing was perfectly normal and natural, but so began the tedious process of explaining what society does and does not deem acceptable behaviour and how we need to modify our behaviour in order to fit in.

Of course, what society does and does not deem acceptable behaviour changes as society evolves and (hopefully) becomes more civilised and educated and thoughtful about its environment.

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And I think therein lies the crux of the matter for racing. Society is changing and so is what is deemed acceptable and racing is increasingly coming up against the issue of changing social and ethical norms. While there are increasing numbers of welfare groups and folks out saving the rainforest, using roll-on deodorants and campaigning for less packaging on our groceries, at the same time modern society and the urban sprawl means that we are less and less connected to the natural world and to the natural food chain.

Modern life is all about convenience. We are so used to buying ready meals and neatly packaged, sanitised everything that no-one really has to consider the real source anymore. Eggs come in boxes (not out of chickens), milk comes in cartons (not out of cows) and our meat comes beautifully packaged in sanitised and easy to use portions with a happy cartoon figure – if anything – of the animal that died for your dinner. There is a fundamental disconnect, but the consumer aspect of it means that large groups of people / consumers have strong opinions about things that they do not really understand. People will happily criticise a handler leading a colt around a parade ring in the strongest terms despite never having handled one in their life and whether it makes sense or not, this poses a problem for racing and that problem is going to increase unless we take steps to address it.

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THE EVEREST: ONE MAN’S QUEST TO CREATE THE BEN HUR OF HORSE RACING

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And so it came to pass that while walking around the colosseum-like surroundings of my office wearing my toga and sandals that two or five voices in my head called out to me: “Pete, Pete. The rumours were wrong! The German is apparently not going anywhere, and The Pegasus made flying news in that alternative horse racing universe!”

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“The Pegasus?” I thought to myself. “Did I miss something? Who’s Pegasus? Club Pegasus in Bangkok? Hmmmmm, what to do, what to do?” I asked Blitzen and Datsun, but they said nothing.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing | Tagged | 4 Comments

WHAT HORSE RACING CAN LEARN FROM THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN…AND LEADERSHIP

By Hans Ebert

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It’s been one helluva week. In his first nine days as the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump has not only turned his own country upside down, but the rest of the world along with it. If Barack Obama was, to some, a “showbiz president”, surely we’re seeing an ongoing reality series hosted by Citizen Bane mixed with The Dark Knight Rises unveiling before our eyes?

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, Marketing of horse racing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments