THE QUESTIONS QUESTIONS QUESTIONS AND NO ANSWERS ISSUE

By Keyser Soze

TIME FOR RACING TO CONFRONT THE ANIMAL ACTIVISTS

NO ANSWERS 1

Imagine if you were a dog, a cat, a chicken, a cow, and even a horse. Would you entrust your welfare to a group like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) – the animal activist lobby group known for its “loud hailer” approach to animal welfare issues, or to any of the other activist groups? Would you?

NO ANSWERS 2

PETA, a rag bag collection of political activists well versed in demagoguery and at using the media, “celebrities” of the fake and wannabe kind, and a sprinkling of starry eyed but naïve bleeding hearts, is well known for its belligerence in prosecuting its own agenda. Its success as an activist organization in the US has been massively boosted by the use of “celebrities” and glamour – a very intelligent manipulation of the psychology of “guilt by association” at its most distractive best.

NO ANSWERS 3

But. unlike the best known animal welfare lobby group – the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), which undertakes much of the mainstream heavy lifting on animal welfare issues, PETA’s language on such issues is provocative and highly emotive and agenda-driven, targeting industries who, using their own words “abuse animals for human entertainment”.

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SILENT WITNESS: LIVING LEGEND

By Hans Ebert

“Have you seen the size of his nostrils? I remember (trainer) Tony Millard’s father telling me that you can tell a good horse by the size of their nostrils. It gives them that extra oxygen, and, man, he’s got huge nostrils.”

LIVING LEGEND 1

Felix Coetzee is talking about Silent Witness, the champion Hong Kong sprinter in 2003, 2004, 2005, and Time Magazine’s 100 Most Interesting People Of 2004 who the great South African rider partnered for every one of his seventeen wins including taking out The Japan Sprint Stakes in 2005.

LIVING LEGEND 2

“The Cat” had just been shown a picture of his old mate, now at the wonderful Living Legends equine retirement home, and words are hard to find to describe just how much this horse means to Coetzee, a true horseman and the most inquisitive person I know when it comes to understanding the psychology of our equine friends and how to get the most of the young Hong Kong apprentices he’s mentoring these days.

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But talk to “The Cat” and the conversation can’t help but get back to the Tony Cruz-trained and Archie and Betty Da Silva owned Silent Witness, the magic and miracle horse that shone a positive light on Hong Kong when the city was under the very dark cloud of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) crisis.

Silent Witness offered hope at a time when offices were closed, people wore masks, very few countries welcomed tourists from Hong Kong, and “Asia’s World City” was not exactly a magnet to those from overseas. Almost trapped in this city, and which even saw brilliant, but erratic French jockey Eric Saint Martin, suddenly “escape” from Hong Kong with his family for “safety reasons”, racing and non-racing fans came together to watch this magnificent animal win. And win and win seventeen consecutive races. He was the equine Usain Bolt and he represented Hong Kong for the gold.

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THE CULT OF JOAO MOREIRA AND HIS MAGNIFICENT SIX

(Courtesy of www.fasttrack.hk)

By Hans Ebert

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: The world is not just Joao Moreira’s oyster, it’s his Filet Mignon, Dom Perignon, abalone, and after his phenomenal six win haul at Sapporo Racecourse on Sunday, it’s also his sushi, sashimi and tempura.

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CULT 1

Without regurgitating everything that’s already been written and reported by the world racing media about the Magic Man’s latest trick, the tweets below should tell the whole story.

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Posted in DOUGLAS WHYTE, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, JOAO MOREIRA, JOHN SIZE, www.fasttrack.hk | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE LOSING BIG AND THE CORPORATES AFFAIR ISSUE

By Keyser Soze

TELEVISION NETWORKS SET TO LOSE BIG ON WAGERING REGULATION…

REGULATION 1

To apply a racing analogy, the contraction of the corporate wagering operators market is a “Certainty”, as we have predicted in recent editions. The shrinking of the market and the demise of some of the stand alone brands – household names, thanks to their relentless “in your face” and extremely crass saturation advertising, using every imaginable medium, and every trick in the advertising and marketing manual, keeps grabbing some unwanted (from their perspective) media scrutiny and headlines.

This week, The Australian newspaper reported what many were hearing about British corporate behemoth – William Hill, which in Australia, also comprises their three local acquisitions – Sportingbet, Centrebet and the best known of them all in Tom Waterhouse’s eponymous corporate bookmaking operation. According to the Australian, “Plummeting profits have sparked speculation about the future of the Tom Waterhouse-led William Hill bookmaking operation, though the British owned parent company is denying it is considering selling its Australian assets”.

No surprises here. William Hill would hardly be expected to confirm the rumours in the unstable environment which wagering operators find themselves in. But where there’s smoke, there generally is a something that looks like and smells like fire.

REGULATION 2

The Australian’s editorial piece paints a grim picture for William Hill’s balance sheet, and for its future, valuing the business at $100 million, a disastrous return in commercial language, on the reported $700 million spent on acquisitions and building up the Australian part of the business.

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THE LET’S GET SERIOUS AND LET’S GET REAL ISSUE

By Keyser Soze

BEING OPEN MAKES A DIFFERENCE

What a refreshing change listening to two down to earth trainers – David Vandyke, below, and Michael Costa, interviewed this week by Michael Felgate on RSN.

GET REAL 1

David Vandyke’s long and troubled journey, battling his well-documented demons – drugs and its twin brother depression and coming out on the other brighter side is a lesson for everyone in racing – young and old – that hope actually does spring eternal and that there is a better life that can be reclaimed. Having given training away, thanks to the life threatening place that he had descended into- a place many in which many in racing silently live is a subject that must be addressed, especially- it would have taken a brave person to predict that David Hayes, as he was then known, would change his name to David Vandyke, and take the equally brave step to jump start his training career. The name change was the first hint that Vandyke was starting to think through the maze. There was no room for two David Hayes’ in the training ranks. And yes, there is only one David Hayes.

David Vandyke did not take long to reignite the promising training career that he had left behind, and in a short space of time his innate skills of horsemanship and racehorse training were there for all the racing world to see. It was impossible to ignore the man who had returned from the wilderness and was starting to make a serious impact in the NSW training ranks. He had successes with sprinters, middle distance horses, stayers and expats from the northern hemisphere.

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Then, late last year along came Yankee Rose – no oil painting to look at and admire, not very big and a horse that you could quite easily walk past without making any inquisitive inquiry. Vandyke’s skills were to the fore with Yankee Rose. After a debut win in the Autumn at very big odds, he put the daughter of All American away and backed his judgment and skills setting her up for a first up tilt at Australia and the world’s premier two year old race – the Golden Slipper. It was a task that some of the better known, old fashioned conservative trainers would never have dreamed of entertaining. Not even in their wildest dreams. And it came so perilously close to becoming a reality with Vandyke’s brave filly chasing home Capitalist in the Slipper and securing a Group One during the Championships carnival.

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DOES RACING TRULY UNDERSTAND THAT CONTENT MUST BE KING, QUEEN AND SERF?

By Hans Ebert

SERF 1

Racing.com recently launched a campaign to attract advertisers. Apart from its wagering partner sponsors, Crownbet and Luxbet, and a handful of Race Clubs does it have any? The strategy is that the site and television channel will “increase” the customer bases of potential advertisers. But how? By promoting Crownbet and Luxbet as the jewels in its advertising game of tiaras?

SERF 2

The Racing.com website, like most corporate websites, is like Old Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. It’s bare. It’s toothless. And it doesn’t have a strategy nor the carrots to communicate with and dangle in front of its visitors. Like other racing club websites- let’s leave the disaster owned by RNSW’s in its own little Jack Horner- Racing.com, a domain name apparently bought for an obscene price, is the result of internal corporate navel gazing that so often results in a dog’s breakfast of feeble bibs and bobs and where navigation is so darn tiresome, it’s not worth the hassle. And often, so called “news” on this site outstays their welcome. They’re there gathering dust. Hardly the characteristics of a dynamic and vibrant website, launched with great expectations, but in an indecent haste, and at a great cost.

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As usual, however, many of those who sail in these racing governing bodies are brainwashed into thinking that this is their field of dreams: Build it and “they” will come. “They” will? Really? For what? Where’s this “customer engagement” that’s trotted out by many of these people with increasing two-faced monotony? Where’s the interactivity? There is none. It’s the same group of corporate “content writers” churning out vapid “content” that’s ignored by most, or all, visitors to these sites except for the most hardcore punter wanting to absorb as much racing information as possible. In 2016, is this- and other similar relics- allowed to flounder with no one looking at the price tag, only for historians in the future to study and say, “Man, them racing people were plenty dumb”.

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THE ALL SHOOK UP ISSUE

By Keyser Soze

THE DAVID MOODIE BLUES?

SHOOK UP 1

Victoria’s now infamous and tedious cobalt saga continues on its destructive path embroiling more prominent names in the Victorian governing body along the way.

SHOOK UP 2

The past two weeks have seen more of these senior figures in the management and administration of Victorian racing snared in the spiders web that has been carefully woven by counsel representing embattled trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh at their appeals against disqualification relating to the cobalt charges found to have been sustained by the Victorian Racing Disciplinary Board.

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Their counsel, Damian Sheales, from what we have learned and observed from the coverage of the Appeals tribunal, is clearly someone who goes for the jugular, and takes no prisoners. And as legal counsel, so he should.

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THE BALLAD OF THE RACING QUEENS OF VICTORIA

By Hans Ebert

It’s a murder of crows and one gungha din
It’s goes more pear-shaped everyday
It’s a tangled web of lies and deceit
Welcome to Melbourne racing today

VICTORIA 1

Where has all the good times gone?
Been replaced by a circus of cheats?
Then there’s the tedious social commentary
The same old stories on repeat

VICTORIA 2

“Always keep watching your back, mate”
“And don’t trust him or her”
The whole place is a House Of Cards
You can’t tell Batman from the Joker

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THE DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR TROY GRANTED ISSUE

By Keyser Soze

TIME FOR ACTION, TROY!

TROY GRANTED 1

Thanks to its cantankerous neighbours down south in bleak city, NSW racing has enjoyed an unwanted and unnecessarily extended honeymoon period escaping the blow torch which MUST be applied to its expanding belly. It has flown under the radar with the spotlight rightly and firmly on the appalling self-inflicted mess that is Victorian racing and the even unholier mess inflicted on greyhound racing by the NSW State Government “god squad” led by none other than Premier Mike Baird. No one can dispute the abhorrence of the plethora of animal welfare and cruelty issues which have been exposed thanks to the diligent work and research of the Four Corners team. But to say that Baird and his Government have handled the situation appallingly would have to be the gross understatement of the year.

That aside, Racing Minister and Deputy Premier Troy Grant, can no longer spectate while the NSW racing colosseum continues an undignified slide into decay and eventual extinction. This is no exaggeration. Troy Grant has to be aware of the open rebellion that is about to breakout among the “50,000” participants and their representative groups in his home state.

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Time and time again, it’s a repetitive chorus of what has now become white hot anger at Racing NSW’s inaction at the almost weekly loss of multiple race meetings due to the regular temper tantrums of the Weather Gods. Provincial and Country racing in NSW is being subjected to tornado-like devastation as race meeting after race meeting is lost to the ravages of rain.

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THE PROBLEMS WITH THE BUSINESS OF HORSE RACING

By Hans Ebert

“This is another fine mess you’ve got us into”. It was a running gag in nearly every Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy movie. But the genius of comedy and the crux of much of its appeal is that beneath the laughter and lightness lies a message, a reality check that can instantly bring us back to earth.

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And so it is with the Australian racing industry which has been in free fall for some time. What has sped things up at an alarming rate have been the number of Laurels and Hardys in racing in Victoria, who have contributed to a laundry list of integrity issues mixed with embarrassing bumbling, face-saving U-turns, accusations of bullying, politics, pettiness, extreme vindictiveness right across the spectrum of every group that makes up racing. The flagrant disrespect for rules coupled with a directionless executive and rabid self-serving agendas by those at the very top of the tree, has fuelled an almost weekly outbreak of lawlessness in Victorian racing. The mess doesn’t need more airing here. This is for those being paid the big bucks to put their house in order. Or, as has been reported, for Victoria’s Minister of Racing Martin Pakula, below, to step in, bring all the warring factions together, and read these highly paid executives the riot act. But how will this change anything? Really.

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We’re not talking here about a headmaster lecturing the Dead Poets Society or The Young Rascals. These are supposedly shrewd, mature businessmen in their fifties and sixties, who have either been recruited into the racing industry, or have pursued a career in it for, perhaps, equal parts passion for the sport, and the financial opportunities to be had. How well are they at doing their job? Is it almost a part-time gig before retirement? Or even a hobby? Who knows. But when questions and doubts like these are raised, especially in today’s nanu-second social media world, the problem doesn’t go away. It multiplies. One thing’s for certain: their actions speak loudly demonstrating an ineptitude that keeps racing in the bottom end of sports and entertainment from which position it will struggle to create it’s own raison d’etre.

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