By Hans Ebert

Perhaps racing writers have realised by now that apart from being pigeonholed with this label, horse racing is a very specialised field. It’s also a very narrow one when it comes to readership. And like newspapers moving almost completely into the online world and hoping to be a subscriber-based product where content is king and competing for readership in a crowded information highway, it means being about diversity. Really diversifying.

Continuing to play a role in horse racing could mean looking at adding more strings to one’s bow. Just as Rock journalism suddenly disappeared after less than a decade, horse racing writers are most definitely needed, but newspaper editors and others will and have become more selective in who they use. And how. Many don’t know because it’s not a personal priority.

It’s nothing personal, it’s business and it’s the business of survival. It’s everyone for themselves. What team?

Let’s wake up and smell the dim sum and realise that 2019 will soon be upon us and every industry is undergoing enormous change with all looking towards those who can adapt and bring about this change. This will almost certainly result in very different looking organisation charts with a sharp focus on creating new business streams.

Moving forward, the role and job responsibilities of the Human Resource person is going to be interesting. It can’t be what it’s been and where over the years many have asked what makes someone an effective human resources person?

Of course for a racing club, it must live up to being what it is with the main product always being horse racing. Having said this and with so many other products today after the same consumer dollar, there’s the need for this racing product to be enhanced and evolve while always being the very best that it can be.

One can’t talk about horse racing being “all about the horse” and the skill of riders and the partnership between man and beast without placing this same amount of importance on the condition of tracks, training facilities, quarantine areas, constantly upgrading stable conditions, staffing issues, and, well, you know the drill by now. In other words the stage setting for the main act.

None of these mandatories- and they’re very expensive mandatories- can happen by holding out for some fairy godmother and hoping like hell that a new field of dreams will just manifest itself and we’ll all live happily ever after. Business doesn’t work like this. Businesses require the financing to progress. Money doesn’t grow on trees yada yada yada.

Music companies today are no longer “under siege” by the technology giants. They’re either being dwarfed by someone like Apple or have been swallowed up by startups like all the advertising based online music streaming platforms available today.

Every online platform is advertising based and data driven because this is where the only money is in a world where the new generation believes in entitlement and having everything for free.

Running these platforms are a different generation of executives- brash, tech savvy and often speaking in what seems like a different language. But it all SOUNDS good even if absolute gibberish.

I listened to a podcast yesterday featuring a youngish girl in social media- a social media executive who has quickly built her brand by understanding from her college years how to play the game- by being relentless in showing her ambitious side to those who see this as “passion”, and with whom I have worked.

Knowing she was being interviewed by a fawning 64-year-old music blogger clueless about marketing in the online world, it was a masterclass in one side being desperate to understand how it all works and a 32-year-old knowing her audience in America and giving them vapid sound bites wrapped in swaddling clothes. “Everyone MUST be on Facebook!” Really?

Social media has never ever been questioned-not really- nor property policed and which is why something as basic as online laws remain grey with content being available for free. But what’s been created is the illusion that if not on social media like everyone else one is not part of the crowd. But where’s the beef? Where’s the money? Who’s on first?

Didn’t Andy Warhol mention how in the future everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame? Well, that time is here and people are paying to be seen as being successful. Perception is everything.

In one of the music companies I worked, basic business fundamentals got lost in the shuffle in the excitement for change though never wondering what this change might be.

We were just excited to be embracing the Digital Age and entering la la land by doing the Watusi of love with new young hires from places like MySpace and Yahoo who were going to show experienced music executives raised on the ethos that the music always came first that there was a new and better way.

There wasn’t, there isn’t and the oldsters giving way to the hipsters making things up on the fly in what was a Wag The Dog Day Afternoon.

Reporting into head office in London, we took our eye off the ball and were bamboozled by bullshit. We and others like the advertising, movie and television industries forgot about basic business principles. The Trojan horse was wheeled in and this became the mothership for producing and reproducing a continuous stream of gremlins- extremely smart gremlins like YouTube, Spotify…And now?

There are those in horse racing who make loud huffing and puffing noises about “change or perish” and repeating mantras about Facebook being for oldsters and the “new generation” being about Instagram and SnapChat.

I’m willing to bet they have no idea how a music streaming company like Spotify works or why and how Netflix has decimated the television and film industries. But perhaps they’re focused on the Big Picture stuff and leaving all this small stuff to their lieutenants and own racing media army?

One hopes so, because if not, it will quickly become a question of, “This is another fine mess you’ve got us into, Ollie”. Though there might be the illusion of success, always hiding in the cracks are problems affecting the bit players in this horse opera.

We’re living in a world where one can go from hero to zero in a nanu second. Look no further than Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

Though Facebook has taken a beating and The Zuck might appear to have had his personal brand tarnished, the Mark Zuckerberg being questioned by Congress was smart. He was prepared for anything that anyone threw his way and made those trying to bring him down often look and sound completely out of touch with the times.

It was Sorcerer and Apprentice time with the Apprentice calling all the shots because he holds all the power. And the data. He now needs to figure out how the hell to tame the genie that’s escaped and taken over what he thought he owned and had the power over.

For congress and their cohorts, where had they been sleeping this past decade? No one saw this day coming?

Mark Zuckerberg Testimony: Facebook CEO Is Grilled in Congress | Fortune

With horse racing, how many truly understand the business of running a racing club in this day and age? My answer: two, one in Hong Kong and the other or others in Japan led by the JRA. It’s why the HKJC’s training centre in Conghua is not only hugely ambitious, this ambition has been realised. It’s not smoke and mirrors and pixie dust. But there’s still a ways to go.

The HKJC’s Conghua project has taken time, huge investment, both financially and in staffing as this is not some tech startup in a college dorm. It involves everything to do with the welfare of horses in all its very many ways, staffing, looking after the human condition and ensuring that this is respected and appreciated and everything else that’s needed.

What’s already happened in Conghua is not only a game changer when it comes to horse racing, a new mothership has landed. It’s what this mothership will eventually reproduce elsewhere in Mainland China and its role in the evolution of horse racing in Hong Kong that’s going to create a future for horse racing- a real future and not just wearing blinkers and thinking everything is fine because there was magic in the air at a racetrack for a couple of days out of the year. Magic evaporates rather quickly. Boredom sets in.

This is why much bigger industries in the World Order are looking at their buffet tables laden with so much clutter and wondering where any of this is going and how to make all the pieces fit. It comes back to the basics starting with people. The right people. Not more hucksters. Look at the hucksters running the world.

Apart from what the Conghua project might bring to horse racing, there’s always Japan. Japan is a fascinating country that’s made the greatest comeback ever. It’s the one market where in the music business, we never questioned why they did the things they did. It worked and it remains a hugely lucrative market for everything from music to fashion to design to technology.

It’s also slowly and quietly built its horse racing industry through a combination of science and technology in the area of breeding where it’s certainly made a Deep Impact and will no doubt create the world’s first Super Horse.

It’s also created a racing culture based on nationalistic pride. And they have done it without having to shout it from mountain tops. The market is big enough to sustain itself though there’s always that need for world domination.

The videos below tell you more about Japan and horse racing and the might and power of the Yoshida dynasty than any words.

The horse racing industry is going through change. It has to as consumer habits change and populations change. Nothing stays forever.

If wishing to remain relevant in this industry, there’s the short term view of basically just going with the flow, and then there are the opportunities to be had by looking ahead. Sometimes, looking ahead could be as close as tomorrow.

If a betting man, I would be looking at the Conghua Training Centre and the Japanese breeding industry. But most of all, I would be looking at everything horse racing needs right now to sustain its long run.

This is where immediate opportunities lie. Seizing these opportunities is never about being part of the flock and following the sheeple.

#horseracing #racingclubs #business #leadership #Japan #HKJC #ConghuaTrainingCentre #DeepImpact #socialmedia #Zuckerberg #Facebook

Leave a Reply