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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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


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


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