THE 2015 RACINGB*TCH AWARDS‏

*The #Hashtag Award: This goes to the HKJC’s Executive Manager of Racing Communications Pat Cummings, and all his hashtags during #HKIR Week twittered by twelve relatively young, #enthusiastic and Bambi-like “influencers” from #America. It was a very good initiative, and well done to Postman Pat. Where it all kinda didn’t make sense, however, was when the #HKIR races were not broadcast in the U.S. by media partner #TVG. Both #Xpressbet and #TwinSpires broadcast HKIR in the US, but #TVG apparently had better things to do. They chose that particular week to upgrade their software. #Mindboggling

* The “There’s No Business Like Show Business” Award: The circus surrounding the history-making achievements of the brilliant American Pharaoh- everything from the Monster Girls, Burger King, the on/off love affair with Sports Illustrated, Vogue magazine and all those photo opportunities where owner Ahmed Zayat and trainer Bob Baffert, two polarising individuals in racing, decided to sleep with the wonder horse. Over-the-top? Hit it, Ethel Merman!

Ethel Merman

* The I Am Woman Award: To Michelle Payne for changing the face and makeup of The Race That Stopped A Nation forever.

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MAKING HORSE RACING A BRAND: IT MUST AIM HIGHER‏

By Hans Ebert & Jenny Bridle

“Of course, we’re not going to see this during our lifetime”. This is a much-used sentence these days about every aspect of life- and horse racing. Instead of retracing The Life Of Brian and Mr Creosote’s Meaning Of Life, let’s stick to horse racing, a sport, and an industry that’s not mainstream, and, therefore, not large, and try and understand what “we’re not going to see in our lifetime”. Personally, I don’t have time for that.

Aint no time for that

If there’s going to be the day when horse racing will see flying horses piloted by kamikaze pilots, or the world returns to chariot racing and revives the spirit of Ben Hur- or Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd- that’s fine. I won’t be around. But while still here, and coming from two completely different industries- advertising and music- horse racing, very much at the crossroads as an industry, appears to be in dire need of leadership- not a dictatorship, but a genuine racing body to guarantee that everyone adheres to the same rules or else gets red carded, and works towards making the sport bigger, better, and far more well-accepted.

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JAMES MATHERS WRITES IN ABOUT THE GOSFORD RACE CLUB AND LEADERSHIP

leadership

Dear Sir

Let me qualify my comments below by stating that I am a strong supporter of the Gosford Race Club and all things Central Coast, New South Wales. My family has made a significant investment on the Central Coast; we truly value the people and community of the Central Coast and greatly appreciate all the support we receive. I care about the coast and I care about thoroughbred racing in Australia. It’s what we do down under, all over the country. It’s part of our heritage and we love it.

A few weeks ago the board of the Gosford Race Club announced that they would cease training at Gosford effective 31 December 2016, the reason being that they could not afford to continue. The business case was clear; Gosford had to close its training because they were incurring unsustainable and unfunded losses. Further the board was having understandable difficulty in justifying the allocation of at least $3 million to upgrade the training and stabling facility. It is difficult to criticise the board on their decision however I wonder whether Gosford has a real future as a racetrack. I certainly hope so however it will take some clever management to ensure this happens. Gosford is not a Canterbury, a Moonee Valley or indeed a Happy Valley.

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Looking back at HKIR Week: The Highlights and The Dimwits

By Hans Ebert

* The HKIJC Post-race party at Adrenaline- an incredible melting pot of different nationalities, and personalities comprising racing fans, a bevy of stunning HKJC Racing Ambassadors, racing executives and some of the best jockeys in the world, all leaving their egos at the door, and actually having FUN. Racing can be FUN? Wowser! What a concept!

buster dancing in doughboys

* The usual freeloaders, mainly from the land Down Under, who are suddenly stricken with acute arthritis of the hands every time a bill arrives, and then suffer from shooting pains up their arse when reaching for that elusive wallet.

Freeloaders

* The unbridled and infectious enthusiasm of the social media “influencers” from the U.S. and simply happy to be in Hong Kong during HKIR week. They sure beat those cynics plodding around carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders and looking like Quasimodo looking for dem bells.

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HONG KONG RACING AND AFTER #HKIR: AND NOW WHAT?

By Hans Ebert

It’s tough to watch or read the news these days without feeling like that lucky man who only made the grade by blowing his brains out in his car. And as we wonder how many seats it takes to fill the Albert Hall while we’re Trumped, chumped and dumped by those we have given the power to lead us from damnation and into salvation, even the safe haven that has always been Hong Kong has entered choppy harbour waters.

Trumped

Apart from the economy, the mood is down, and as outspoken local political columnist and television personality Michael Chugani gloomily predicted over dinner to some of us this week, “It’s game over for Hong Kong”. Reading everything said and written between the lines, and in the lines, Hong Kong’s “Can Do” spirit seems to have upped and left the building with Elvis as the Theme from Exodus plays in the background.

game over

Hong Kong is undergoing a Downtown Funk. Longtime Hong Kong Belongers are closing shop and leaving for what they hope will be greener pastures- Vancouver, Melbourne, Sri Lanka, Copenhagen, Greece, Spain, Oslo, Singapore, Cambodia, Mongolia…Macau. For myself, uprooting to Copenhagen and living on herring and cheese open-faced sandwiches could be hard to swallow.

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WHEN HORSE RACING GIVES BACK: THE HKJC CHARITIES TRUST‏

ft logo
(Courtesy of http://www.fasttrack.hk)

By Jenny Bridle

The social event for the international horse racing crowd on Friday night was the Longines Hong Kong International Races Gala Dinner held at the new Hong Kong Convention Centre in Wanchai. Here, Frankie Dettori, who won the 2015 Investec Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Golden Horn, was presented with the World’s Best Jockey award.

GIVES BACK 1

The Gala was a star-studded equine affair with more than a few evening gowns and heels, tiaras and tennis bracelets. Beyond all the glitz and was a veritable sea of dark-coloured suits punctuated by the owners of Breeders Cup winner Mongolian Saturday looking exotic, resplendent and very proud in their Mongolian deels and the presence of the HKIR United Nations of Racing Ambassadors in their representative national finery.

GIVES BACK 2

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HORSE RACING: WHEN YOU’RE LOST IN THE RAIN

By Hans Ebert

There’s a scene in “The Godfather 2” where Al Pacino as Michael Corleone is in Havana and laments how every time he tries to leave the family business, it keeps pulling him back in. Pacino spits the words out almost as if to say he hates what he’s doing, but it’s too late to turn back the hands of time, how all that water under the bridge has turned into quicksand, and what we’re watching is a drowning man trying to keep his head above water for as long as possible.

Hand of drowning man

It’s a brilliant scene from one of the greatest films ever made about family, revenge, honour, betrayal, loyalty, and religion with all its hypocrisies, and a litany of doomed characters, some of whom survive, but only to lead desolate lives following decades dealing with trust issues.

dont ask me about my business kay

But that line by Michael Corleone in Havana has always reminded me of horse racing- this sport that’s often a gamble, and how, once totally absorbed by it, one can either try to swim against the tide and carve a niche for one’s self as part of a long range career plan with a power base to build from, or else swim with the fishes and see how far it you get being one of the small players in a game of chance.

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WE CAN ONLY WISH

By Hans Ebert

Of course, it’s about the horses- Blazing Speed, Flintshire, Able Friend, Gold-Fun, Straight Girl, Free Eagle, Criterion etc- and the riders- Moreira, Guyon, Purton, Whyte, Cheminaud, Ryan Moore, Bowman, Oliver, Soumillon- and the trainers- Fabre, Dupre, Dermot Weld, Hayes, Moore, Size, Cruz- and all the colour, excitement, crowds, and coming together for a celebration of horse racing. But there’s more. There’s our Top Ten Wish List of things we’d like to see that are a bit more on the flip side of the norm. For example…

*A thirty minute standup comedy routine on Climate Change and Donald Trump by Ryan Moore during the Longines HKIR Gala Dinner.

Ryan meme few words

*Test out the mental agility of Longines Brand Ambassador and Actor Simon Baker, who plays Patrick Jane in the television series “The Mentalist” with this question: “Oy, Simon, if you’re The Mentalist, who’ll win all the races?”

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NORM SNOWDEN WRITES IN: JUST MY OPINION

free speech

How do you distract peoples’ attention away from real issues or as I like to call them, “ bread and butter issues “ ?

You post a profit, pad out information forums and AGMs leaving little or no time for matters to be raised and then bring on the drinks and party pies while people are still trying to ask questions. Throw in the confidentiality clauses about income and liabilities and . . .

Welcome to the Australian Turf Club.

I appreciate and acknowledge the fact that the ATC has reduced debt and also the free time the Committee give to the Club, however, as I have said before, it’s still not a bad gig.

So, the ATC is amalgamating ( aka, taking over ) the Rosehill Bowling Club with massive plans for redevelopment, including hotel(s), clubhouse, bowling greens, etc. In principle, I don’t necessarily have a problem with the amalgamation because I think that the poker machine licence will be an asset and will be absorbed into the Club’s present poker machine quota, but I personally believe the land will either be sold to save the club the hassle of funding the redevelopment or a better option, have a developer build residential high rise, but also build facilities that will be owned and controlled by the club. The developer gets the residential high rise as profit and the ATC gets assets in the way of “ outside race day “ facilities, like a hotel, bar and restaurant.

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THE NIGHT GAVIN LERENA ARRIVED IN HONG KONG

By Hans Ebert

THE NIGHT GAVIN LERENA ARRIVED IN HONG KONG 1

It might have been the night of The Big Rain, but that didn’t dampen the mood of all those who were there at Happy Valley Racecourse- the regular Happy Wednesday fans, and those who had travelled on The Big Bird to be part of Hong Kong International Races Week.

Singin in the rain

A few years from now, we’ll probably look back on this race meeting with the highlight being the Hong Kong International Challenge, as the day Gavin Lerena arrived- arrived to continue the great tradition of South African riders who have come here without any fanfare, without needing selfie sticks and pogo sticks and playing the carnival barker- but letting their riding do the talking for them.

circus barker

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