A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING? WHY NOT?

It was restaurant-bar with the unique name of WTF in the Soho area of Hong Kong that got the ball rolling and hearts galloping by creating shooters and cocktails based around horse racing themed names like The Zac Attack, The Durban Demon, The Cruz Missile etc. It was and is lethal stuff.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 1
(Source: Celebration Generation)

It was a small step to take the sport onto newer turf and a different and younger consumer base which has been continued by Adrenaline, the venue at the Happy Valley Racecourse comprising the IBU inter-active tables that looks like the Mothership of racing data and has all the facts and figures about the horses, jockeys and trainers participating in the races on every Happy Wednesday Night.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 2
(Source: HKJC)

Adrenaline is also more than that. Apart from being able to watch the races from the balcony of the club or the banks of Mission Impossible-type television screens strategically placed around the betting area, Adrenaline is attracting the younger, affluent and more savvy punter who also enjoys getting together with friends, inter-acting with like-minded other regulars about subjects other than horse racing. That gets boring very quickly.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 3
(Source: HKJC)

Adrenaline has very quickly changed its image from the venue’s original incarnation: Just another club in an “isolated” part of town for non-racegoers and, mostly, a magnet for lonely guys on the prowl with as little money as possible and nursing a flat beer all night long.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 4
(Source: Clip Art Heaven)

It might have been “successful” but it could have also been any tacky bar in Soho or Lan Kwai Fong. There was no USP whereas the new Adrenaline houses ‘live’ music, racing specialists as guides to betting, a great buffet for around $280 and some of the best customer service we have come across in what can be a surly food and beverage business.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 5

Adrenaline is Adrenaline and it’s constantly involving. And so is catering to the racing crowd- again, the younger, affluent racing crowd led by the new generation of horse owners who, at the moment, have nowhere to meet and inter-act with their peers on non-race days.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 6
(Source: Open Rice)

Sure, there is an over-supply of bars and clubs and restaurants in Hong Kong, but there is a sameness to them all cluttered with different customer bases where one either doesn’t fit in or don’t wish to fit in.

There is no real racing-themed restaurant or bar. There is no Hard Rock Cafe or a Nobu of horse racing.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 7
(Source: Wiki)

It’s not like what the very popular JJ’s at the Grand Hyatt and Champagne Bar used to be- welcoming magnets to trainers, owners, jockeys, racing executives, hangers-on and Hong Kong racing’s very long conga line of male and female racing groupies.

That was the past and no one has created a future and a present.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 8
(Source: HK Asia City)

Having said this, perhaps there is hope in sight, thanks to a very savvy Shanghainese lady in Hong Kong who owns a number of restaurants and properties like the extremely popular Bistro Manchu restaurant in Elgin Street in Soho.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 9
(Source: Flickr)

We’ve been speaking to this lady about one of our pet projects who is now in her Seventies, very passionate about everything her very active mind takes on and with a focus on China and investing in young artists from Mainland China. She is also mercifully lacking in bs.

Our pet project is this: If there could have been a Planet Hollywood and the ill-conceived Planet Supermodels, why not an upmarket racing-themed upmarket restaurant- but without the bells and whistles and celebrity-populated Planets? Those were gimmicks that worked in the Eighties along with Crockett and Tubbs and Starsky and Hutch.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 10
(Source: Daily Mail)

Why not, indeed, asks our Shanghainese friend with her own connection of business partners and penchant for Italian cuisine and one hundred-course Manchurian banquets created for emperors.

Plus- and so key- she has the perfect location, location, location for this venue and knows full-well that this could become a franchise.

Perhaps Co-mingling is a timely name???

We both also know that this venue can ONLY be a success if started in Hong Kong by working with those who know all facets of racing, have strong roller-decks plus understand the importance of hiring bona fide food and beverage professionals and not fly-by-night operators with fake “Michelin Star” status.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 11
(Source: Typepad)

A restaurant like this is a small part of the ingredients needed to make horse racing a mainstream sport and part of a bigger and world of global entertainment.

Racing MUST have a presence away from the racetrack and MUST lose the perception of being only a mug’s game for the pokies.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 12
(Source: Vimeo CDN)

Struggling racing clubs with cash flow problems should cut their losses and get out of the business they might have been running like a weekend hobby.

They’ve either had their chances and failed or were cut from the main herd years ago. Perhaps they were even culled.

And here, heads of so many racing clubs in Australia and the UK living in the past and blinkered about NEW business revenue generators better wake up and realize that they are taking the sport down the toilet- along with their images.

They cannot continue to make highly-paid and ineffective knobs of themselves.

Social Studies Cartoon for August15, 2008. Anthony Jenkins / Globe and Mail
(Source: The Globe And Mail)

Horse racing MUST attract to racecourses- and other racing-inspired businesses- everyone from Beyonce and Jay-Z, Katy Perry and Tarantino to the Stones, even the publicity hound that is Richard Branson and the Beckhams- all with media pull and glamour needed to create a GLOBAL Renaissance period for the sport.

> on March 20, 2013 in Beijing, China.
(Source: Hollywood Reporter)

Plus, as with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, racing must be seen to giving something back to charity. It cannot be shy about this and think that “everybody knows”. Many have short memories and need to be constantly reminded with a club.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 15
(Source: CUHK)

It helps to remove that ugly word called “gambling” and it makes governments feel warm and fuzzy and in-debt for making them look good. It’s an offer many can’t refuse.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 16
(Source: Earth Photography)

Of course, if racing clubs have no money, they have nothing to give and should take their ball and go home.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 17
(Source: Wiki)

By hanging about picking their noses and waiting for bailouts and the Good Fairy to appear, sorry, but they’re just getting in the way.

Their presence is also driving away angel investors and those who see horse racing in new, positive ways and wish to be part of creating a new business through a new business world of horse racing.

Yes, it’s nothing personal, it’s business and horse racing is a business and not an industry that should be run as a sideline.

A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING 18
(Source: Lulu)

This entry was posted in HAPPY WEDNESDAY, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A PLANET HOLLYWOOD OF RACING? WHY NOT?

  1. Greg says:

    If we dont get people to go to the races for reasons other than the races, the crowds will get smaller and smaller. You can sit at home with a few TV’s and an IPad and get a better view of the racing than at the races. Anyone unsure just watch the trainers, they leg the jockey up then go find a large TV. Unless it is an event day, then they sometimes stay out as its too hard to get back.
    So unless action is taken then punters and some others with a passing interest will go to event days. ie ( Cox Plate, Melbourne Cup) the rest of the days these huge places are mostly empty. So then the financial genius’s will start looking at the ROI.
    In Perth they come around before the end of the last race and pull last drinks. Now they are getting huge development money which will not get a return, unless they can attract a different audience. I will give them one free idea. A bus Service to get people in and out of the tracks would be a start.

  2. Leon Smuts says:

    Hi Greg
    I get your point but let me ask you this. If you cannot attract a crowd to what you are actually offering, should you still be in business? Racing without players is like a pub without drinks, it just won’t work. Crowds at the races is good, but if they are not playing the clock is just ticking on the closing curtain.

    • Greg says:

      Thats a great analogy about the pubs. So what they do is bring in meals, bands, punting which means the non drinkers can go and be entertained as well. We go to the local pub for a feed, as the wife likes that and I like the drink. Very few enterprises can afford to one bat. ( thats what my old slow horse did)

      • Leon Smuts says:

        Good point Greg
        I guess the answer is that we need both, but a hell of a lot more of each.

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