HORSE RACING: WHY CAN’T IT BE MORE LIKE DAVID BOWIE?

By Hans Ebert & Jenny Bridle

heroes

The news on Monday that David Bowie had passed away had the twitterverse explode. After all, this was Bowie, the most innovative musician ever, who refused to stand still. Describing the artist as “iconic” wouldn’t do him justice. Perhaps, there are no words to describe someone who went from being David Jones to David Bowie to Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane to The Thin White Duke to simply being Bowie to his fans, and David Jones to his family.

Bowie reading about Francis Bacon in 1995.

But Bowie was never simple. He was a musical and visual chameleon who took many of us on very different journeys along with everyone from Major Tom and that China Girl to the Jean Genie and Ziggy Stardust to places like Suffragette City and Life On Mars, and finally singing the prophetic, “Look up here, I’m in heaven”, the opening lines to “Lazarus”, a track off “Blackstar”, his record released shortly before he left this world for another.

David_Bowie_Lazarus

What was both interesting and refreshing to see were racing fans, especially, on Twitter, leave the horses in the stable for a while, along with the now finely-crafted act of tweeting through one’s pockets, and pay tribute to this special Man Who Fell To Earth. At least for a short while, it showed that racing fans don’t lead one dimensional lives. They have other interests beyond handicapping, track conditions, breeding and form.

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HONG KONG RACING: ARE WE IN FOR A HAPPY NEW YEAR?

By Hans Ebert

If the HKJC needed a belated Christmas present, it arrived with a bow, and some bells and whistles at Friday’s New Year’s Day meeting- a turnover of over $1.5 billion, up 2% from the same meeting last year, attendance of 77,000, and a level playing field.

shatin crowd

Though the magic of Joao Moreira still rode off with what has become a Monty Pythonesque-type bet- the Jockey Challenge that doesn’t even have the carrots to dangle in front of a one-legged actor auditioning for the role of Tarzan- there wasn’t that absolute domination and demolition derby by one star act, something we have seen for the past few months that has actually had racing fans- local and overseas- describing Hong Kong racing as- quelle horreurs- “boring” and with “no value”.

Sherlock bored2

Instead, seen was more of an ensemble piece as opposed to a one-man show stealing the thunder, spotlight, and limelight along with the lamp post and fire hydrant. There was plenty to go around with winners from Neil Callan, Gerald Mosse, Brett Prebble, Richard Fourie. Vincent Ho, Alex Lai, Howard Cheng, Zac Purton and Gregory Benoist. And though they didn’t ride winners, a great ride from Vincent Cheminaud to snatch second placing on 60 to 1 shot Sweet Bean from Douglas Whyte aboard Enchanting Diamond, and Derek Leung flying home on Lucky Profit to just fail to peg back eventual winner Jolly Spring for trainer David Ferraris- now- retired trainer Andy Leung, basking in the limelight during the post-race celebrations will probably take the credit for the win- should not be left out when handing out credit where credit is due.

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Posted in brett prebble, casper fownes, DOUGLAS WHYTE, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, JOAO MOREIRA, JOHN MOORE, JOHN SIZE, The horse racing industry, zac purton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

THE HAPPY NEW YEAR ISSUE

By Keyser Soze in Australia

RACING’S TEMPORARY REPRIEVE…

THE HAPPY NEW YEAR ISSUE 1

“The King is dead, long live the king”. It’s a phrase that has been around for centuries, and had more relevance and cache in an age when monarchies were relevant and reigned supreme. Just like racing did, when it was the sport of kings and the only game in town.

THE HAPPY NEW YEAR ISSUE 2

Racing’s resilience has been remarkable. And just like the monarchy’s mortality does not end with that of the king, racing has survived its own series of threats of extinction, its battles and wars from within and without. Battle scarred it is, but rumours of its death have largely been exaggerated.

But racing, as we approach the end of the second decade in the new millennium, is not in good shape. It’s hanging in there, precariously, but for how long?

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JOAO MOREIRA AND THE $20 MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION

By Hans Ebert

It’s a terrific programme put together for the last race meeting of 2015 with all eyes on the very expensive import Consort, purchased by bloodstock agent George Moore, and the former Sir Michael Stoute-trained galloper with outstanding credentials eventually sold to the somewhat mysterious businessmen Pan Sutong whose business career has had more peaks and valleys than Mr Toad’s Wild Ride.

DOLLAR QUESTION 3

Right here and now, Sutong- net worth US$6.8 billion according to Forbes- is at the top of his game despite shares in his various companies making $22 billion and then losing it all a few months ago, something dismissed by the billionaire as being “nothing unusual”. It takes humongous balls to Moonwalk away from that type of beating grabbing one’s crotch and squealing that it’s only paper money.

DOLLAR QUESTION 4

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Posted in Australian horse racing industry, brett prebble, DOUGLAS WHYTE, Gai Waterhouse, GERARD MOSSE, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, Horse Racing, JOAO MOREIRA, The horse racing industry, zac purton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BRUCE MANN GOES GLOBAL (AND SO MUST HORSE RACING IF IT IS TO GROW)

By Hans Ebert

BRUCE MANN 0

While those he once worked with in horse racing in the land of Oz are busy running after pipe dreams, and happy to be big fish flopping around inside a small tumbler of water in, what is, let’s face it, an insignificant industry to many, former head of TVN- Bruce Mann- is back after a short sabbatical.

BRUCE MANN 1c

Bruce Mann is not only back, he’s back with a vengeance in what looks like being a brilliant global gig that plays to his strengths, and one that’s a million light years away from horse racing, where he had to constantly fight the enemy within.

BRUCE MANN 2

By now, we know he didn’t have a chance in hell of succeeding in the job he was hired to do. TVN, the racing channel he was brought in to head up, was born and christened Humpty Dumpty, and we all knew it was only a matter of time before it fell flat on its face and became an omelette. Wasn’t that always the end game? And if it was, what was the point in playing with Humpty only to dump it?

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THE JUSTICE FOR SOME ISSUE

By Keyser Soze in Australia

THE REAL FIGHT NOW BEGINS FOR O’BRIEN AND KAVANAGH

THE JUSTICE 1

To the surprise of no one, the Victorian Racing and Appeals Board delivered the guilty finding in the cobalt cases against trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh, and their estranged veterinarian Tom Brennan.

With a brief interlude of a few weeks for submissions prior to penalties being handed down, the next step in this debilitating and protracted process and saga, is the inevitable appeals process, first to the Victorian Appeals tribunal and, ultimately, the Supreme Court, with a High Court option further down the track, if needed.

THE JUSTICE 2

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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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