By Hans Ebert

Though loathe to use the word viral, Heineken has produced a commercial that has gone, well, viral. Why? Because it tackles a number of subjects that have created much of today’s divisive society- a timely piece of work that attempts to bring those with very different opinions and prejudices together to understand each other. Could the ending to the commercial have been more subtle? Possibly, but it’s still an effective and needed message that has touched the mainstream consciousness. And this breakthrough message has not come from politicians or the United Nations. It’s from a brand of beer.

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Posted in Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOAO MOREIRA | Tagged , , | 1 Comment


By Hans Ebert

Racing writer Shane Anderson recently tried his hand at writing a satirical piece on Peter V’landys, the CEO of Racing New South Wales, and seen by many as the Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Willy Wonka, and Kim Jong-un of Australian racing.

What was telling was Shane-O having to emphasise that this was only a wild and crazy stab at satire with the disclaimer, “Written with tongue firmly planted in cheek.” Oh, Shane-O, you naughty, naughty boy!

The number one rule when writing satire is not to spell out that something is satire. The disclaimer could even be seen as Shane-O being told to write something a tad critical about The Man Who Would Be King, and coming up with bibs and bobs, most of which have been read before elsewhere, when actually wanting desperately to remain in the good book of commandments of Brother Peter.

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


By Hans Ebert

It wasn’t meant to happen. It wasn’t in the script. Just eight runners and what many quite rightly described as looking like being a “lacklustre race”, at least on paper. And then magic struck along with its own form of neorealism.

We’ve come to expect and now almost demand the extraordinary from Joao Moreira, and he continues to deliver. Over and over again. As if recently riding eight winners at one meeting wasn’t enough, the brilliant Brazilian horseman turned the running of the Group 1 $20,000,000 Audemars Piguet QE11 Cup on its head and did cartwheels across the turf. And by so doing, he turned “lacklustre” into something truly memorable and amazing.

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


By Hans Ebert

Australia was all a Twitter yesterday about the very sudden, but not unexpected, split between trainer John O’Shea and his tough task masters at Godolphin that includes constantly coming up against a Plumtree.

According to one report, the trainer has suddenly lost his “enthusiasm” for the sport.

As Sydney-based racing writer Chris Roots has categorically stated, John O’Shea was not fired. He’s no doubt correct, as the severance pay would be enormous. And despite all these repetitious reports about them throwing money to attract Joao Moreira, Godolphin are notorious tightwads and a brand in decline.

Perhaps that malaise hanging over horse racing written about here recently, and how the sport desperately needs something new to take it to the bigger world of sports entertainment and rid itself of this “gambling only” albatross has affected John O’Shea?

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


By Hans Ebert

This Sunday’s running of the Queen Elizabeth 11 Cup- the Audemars Piguet QE11 Cup in Sha Tin-will probably go down in Hong Kong racing history- and perhaps beyond- as one of the most telling, when it comes to the back stories involved in looking at how much it might mean to the major players involved along with perhaps horse racing entertaining the technological age and where this could lead.

Especially intriguing- and perhaps quite telling- is Joao Moreira booked to ride the Japanese runner Neorealism. For the past year, there have been the same old drumbeats and smoke signals that the Magic Man will join Godolphin in Australia. There’s even a starting date been given: August 1 of this year.

Speak to Moreira, and it’s all news to him. “I have had no offers from Australia and I don’t think they want me there,” he says. Maybe. What’s hard to imagine is this brilliant horseman uprooting his young family and prepared to give up the luxury of riding twice a week- and being treated like royalty- to ride four times a week in the land Down Under on tracks like Hawkesbury and Goulburn. Add to this the thought of paying Australian taxes compared to the fifteen percent tax on earnings in Hong Kong, which has been a great magnet for many expats in every industry not wishing to move from here. The longer you stay in Hong Kong, the more you make in Hong Kong. It’s simple economics.

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Posted in Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, JOAO MOREIRA, JOHN MOORE, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


So where do we start. My comments are restricted to racing in Sydney. I don’t think they should apply to Melbourne or Hong Kong, very different racing jurisdictions.

Sadly the industry has just about thrown everything at Sydney racing…. grand facilities (perhaps not so grand in places), record yearling prices, massive prize money, the Championships, now the $10 million Everest and possibly a Sydney Harbour Bridge race. So why isn’t it working.

The answer is simple, it’s boring and it’s surrounded and lead by boring, sycophantic people of mediocre intellect and class. It has become an industry and sport of false pretence and elitism. The industry at the top needs change and it needs it now. It needs strong and intelligent people in charge, people with class. It urgently needs a significant cultural change, a change away from a focus of driving prize money and wagering. All positions should be declared vacant.

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments


By Frank Lee Trillington

It has been in the works for three years, but now with the soon-to-be opening in Colombo, Sri Lanka of the Sapphire Sri Lanka Gemstone Racing Club (SSLGRC) it’s all systems go with such ambitious plans that they make Peter V’landys’ Everest “concept” look like Tommy The Tank Engine. This is a racing club that really wants to took its horn and with absolutely no tunnel vision and a refusal to be derailed.

Let’s not forget that when horse racing started in Asia around 1860, it began in India, and what was then known as Ceylon- today, Sri Lanka. Both countries were the first outposts for journeymen Australian jockeys like Ted Fordyce aka The Railwayman. Fordyce ruled horse racing in both neighbouring countries, but Ceylon was where he became the equivalent to what Joao Moreira is today in Hong Kong.

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Posted in Horse Racing, JOHN SIZE, Peter V'landys, The horse racing industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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 , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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


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