RACING IN VICTORIA: #TIMESUP

By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk
Visit Hans-Ebert.com

When under attack, the best form of defence is to attack. This seems lost on Racing Victoria’s Dad’s Army that limps along licking its wounds even when the ship has sunk and Humpty Dumpty has become an omelette.

With someone having now made the time to produce a video lampooning the Aquanita scandal and which has gone “viral” by horse racing standards, the strategy seems to be about turning the udder cheek.

Udder is the operative word with those in charge of horse racing South of the border down Mexico way sitting back and watching the old Kelis hit “Milkshake” used for what could be called Aquagate.

Textgate has merged with Aquagate and a milkshake. And Racing Victoria diddles in silence while all around them Rome and home burn. It’s an astounding damage control strategy.

Where’s all this going to stop- this constant bashing of racing in the state by its very own supporters demanding answers and clarity while its hapless leaders bury their heads in the sand and whistle Dixie?

Is this a bold example of leading from the front and Victoria’s horse racing leaders- Martin Pakula?- saying, “Try dousing the fire that’s raging because of our bumbling inability to win legal cases that once seemed open and shut with some milkshake and see if we care”?

If this is the thinking, it’s the type of arrogance and bullying that have seen far greater heads roll. History always catches up with even one-time untouchables and protective species. It’s trending today in every industry. Let’s not pretend that horse racing is immune from #MeToo.

Karma is a vicious animal. In racing circles in Melbourne- and Sydney and on the Gold Coast- there are some very nervous nellies out to protect their legacies before the curse of Harvey Weinstein catches up with them. Leo Schlink might just be being fed another story, this one with photographs.

Karma is far more lethal than the handwringing by the usual suspects on social media in horse racing in the land down under. None of this is going to make the ouchy that’s bitten racing in Victoria in the arse get better. It just creates a chain reaction of negativity instead of looking at possible solutions. The question is, ARE there any solutions?

Who’s the knight in shining armour that’s going to come to its rescue? Or has the years of arrogance, incompetence, bumbling, lies, cheating and brushing many things under the carpet while turning a blind eye to Hindenburg size disasters that have been allowed to take place in public completely bashed the credibility of the brand and turned it into old misery guts?

We live in extremely trying times- trying being the most appropriate word one can think of right now. If one were to pull themselves out of horse racing and look at the big old world there, it’s being driven over the cliff through social media and its angry Twitter trolls, a flurry of hashtags that seemingly have no closure, hypocrisy, a billionaire businessman and reality show “celebrity” running America and with his own “vision” about how to make his country great again, more and more mass shootings, the world on tender hooks waiting for the next terrorist attack and an entire generation living in the age of entitlement.

Earlier this week, a group of us- male and female- who worked together in the advertising and music industries got together for a reunion dinner. We exchanged stories about who’s doing what these days, who conned and continue to con their companies, but the main point of discussion was about how much fun we had doing what we did, who we met and worked with, just how MUCH we did extremely successfully, and at least to a handful of us, that there’s still much to do- but how “good help” is so hard to find these days.

In other words, the talent pool out there appears to be evaporating and which is why mediocrity and incompetence is promoted. Mediocrity is prevalent in and affecting every single industry. For whatever reason, possibly social media where everyone seems to be a Wikipedia taught expert on everything, we’re living in dumbed down times, Batman.

Can the horse racing industry attract good creative talent from other industries to perhaps offer a different perspective on how to make the sport something that’s relevant to all those out there who are sold on other leisure activities? Forget the financial packages offered. Does it have the right carrots to dangle? Is being in horse racing exciting enough in 2018 as a career choice?

Sure, if one has hung in there for over a decade, it’s probably an easy ride into the sunset. But as with most industries, the problem that becomes more and more apparent and important is, Who’s out there who can make a difference? Who’s out there who can help forge a future?

Hell, just look at the politicians in office today. How were they ever voted in? It’s like looking at an ad agency, music company, or, yes, a racing club and being gobsmacked at the “quality” of some of the hires, but their ability to survive by playing politics or else keeping their heads down and not being accountable for anything.

There’s also a great deal of anger these days and which is why another #MeToo shoe drops daily and someone is toast. Today, whether guilty or not, according to the latest social media jury, Ryan Seacrest is toast.

A year ago, Ryan Seacrest was the toast of LA- the savvy producer of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”, host of his own syndicated radio show, upbeat host for E! on the red carpet, again host of the “American Idol” reboot, and, one would have thought, a power player who was a friend and confidante of the stars. Guess not.

As for horse racing, apart from many managing the product being one dimensional, it’s always been saddled by a dark side associated with gambling. Wherever and whenever money is involved in the outcome of a race, this always attracts the underbelly of society along with the elitists who are addicted to power.

The industry has been unable to shake this albatross off and reinvent itself. Has it ever really tried? Who’s to blame? Probably everyone involved going back to many decades of deceit, cheating and thuggery. It’s not a good look.

From where this writer sits, horse racing has a future in Japan where there’s a very real unbridled passion for the sport, Made In Japan marketing exclusively for Japan, and total respect and pride in its racing heroes.

Where there’s another future for horse racing is in Hong Kong, which many tend to forget is part of China. It has been since 1997 when after raping and pillaging the former colony, it was time for the British to have a cuppa before handing it over to China. #TimesUp

With the new training facilities in Conghua in Guangzhou coming on stream, it signals a new era for the sport and Chinese government approved legalised horse racing finally taking place in Mainland China.

The last time we looked, Mainland China is a huge market- not “potentially huge” as the music industry has been kidding itself that it is without understanding the country’s complete disregard for copyright laws and any type of contracts. But legalised horse racing? Different story. It will create a gold rush.

Other racing jurisdictions? In five years, the current leaders would have ridden off into the sunset leaving in their wake an industry in tatters and with no “succession plan”. This is going to be more than a problem. It might just be curtains because of decades of neglect and poor management with no vision and no leadership skills.

To move forward one must always learn from the past. The past that those in horse racing in Victoria will leave behind isn’t exactly looking like “And they lived happily ever after”.

#horseracing #RVL #textgate #LeoSchlink #aquanita #leadership #management #socialmedia #metoo #timesup #conghuatrainingcentre #hkjc #Japanhorseracing #JRA #MainlandChina

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