Stuff about horse racing.
AUSTRALIAN RACING’S GAME OF THRONES SEASON DEUX AND DUH
There’s absolutely no question that in the ongoing Civil War between the North and the South to win over the hearts and minds of racing fans in Australia, the winner by many lengths is the army led by The Man From The North. After all, who’s his opposition?
Going back to the dark days of TVN when CEO Bruce Mann lost out to him in a very dark Game Of Thrones and left horse racing forever for much greener fields, for The Man From The North, it’s been about individual glory no matter how the communications are packaged. It’s unbridled ruthless ambition. After all, someone has to play the villain in every horse opera.
The Man From The North has never danced busting with more joy because of “his” Everest concept and brand, a copy of The Pegasus from the US. But let’s give the man some poetic license.
So relentless has been the media space and word of mouth advertising- the most effective form of advertising and with our favourite Australian racing personality Gareth Hall practically salivating on TAB Radio while yabbering about “our” Vega Magic being in the race- for the Race Of The Sherpas. As for the 94 pound weaklings in the South, well, they have been pummelled and left looking as Dazed And Confused as Led Zeppelin’s re-reading of the Blue’s classic.
It’s tough to think what’s going through the minds of those leading the charge in Victoria. As has been proven time and time again, they appear to not really think that much. Brain freeze? They seem to keep closing the barnyard door after the horse has bolted, help the problem children to strap on their golden parachutes and land in places like Singapore and enjoy being, well, bitchslapped. They’re a strange lot. But when there are no other takers for the gigs…
If a movie, the North would be played by an unhinged Joan Crawford.
Portraying the South? Probably Doris Day. Or Cher.
What The Man From The North has done with his Trojan horse inside of which are slot sellers and all manner of deals that remain in the dark crevices of a murky backdrop is a brilliant communications strategy to build up massive interest in which runners will be participating in a non-Group event.
It’s got EVERYONE talking and talking and talking- is it even being discussed on Tinder?- and hailing this piece of showbiz as a “breakthrough idea”, which, one supposes, is good. Talk is good, right?
What does this race mean to the rank and file punter and anyone who isn’t the savvy young James Harron and filthy rich slot owners like our extremely good friends in the Yue Long Group? Hmmmm. No idea.
What’s happened to the Melbourne Spring Carnival? It’s there though pushed into the background for the moment. Of course it will take place as usual. There’s just not much excitement about it right now as those leaders in the South are probably busy having another long lunch and really not understanding the rudiments of marketing and promotions and the need to read The Art Of War.
These are very different times- and a different economy and new products offering far more choices. Melbourne town is no longer about meeting up during Spring Carnival time at JJ’s and Fidel’s at Crowne with hangers-on and ladies from Gotham City. Those were the Naughty Nineties.
Today, the same racing crowd minus those who backed the wrong horse over and over again have moved to the bar of the Emerald Hotel. Budget cuts and scaling down one’s lifestyle can be a bitch.
Plus, no matter what the world thinks of social media, it’s about the only marketing tool available. And it’s another freebie. Whether through fake “likes”, “views” and “followers”, effectively used, it helps generate interest and attracts sponsors.
Online information is also available to the world. The world peeps in, sees what’s happening and it’s easy to see the winners from the losers. This creates a chain reaction of perception versus reality where fake brands are created, and others fade into the distant past.
The Everbeast is the worst nightmare that could happen to the Melbourne Spring Carnival. Yet, the feeling is that the South’s leaders see this as a minor inconvenience. That there’s plenty of room for everyone. That competition is good even if it might be the race that’s constantly taking centre stage for months on end might just have hijacked SOME of the gloss away from The Race That Stops A Nation.
What’s the bet that The Man From The North has only just started? That he and his chefs are happily cooking up a buffet of other choices for racing enthusiasts. To feed the ego of the beast. To create more confusion. Surprise snack attacks with no sustainability are yummy.
Could there possibly be too much of the same thing? Or when everything will soon start to look like a great big vacuous jumble sale where there are no takers?
Gimmicks are a dime a dozen. But in the land Down Under, one supposes that a race with no real consequence, question marks about its sustainability and sold to those with the big bucks to do with as they please, makes a refreshing change from the constant stream of negativity about racing cheats, supposed drive-by shootings, Textgate etc etc, which are headline news on Twitter one day and then slowly splutter away into the night but not before putting an awful dent in the integrity and image of the sport- worldwide.
One supposes that interest LOUDLY drummed up about slot sellers, who will purchase the remaining slots with what runners, and the King of the Slots- James Harron- for a race, which, one supposes will generate a massive wagering turnover, can “only be good for racing”. Well, at least that’s the mantra being sold. And bought.
SWITCHING OVER TO TAB RADIO…
If night owls and insomniacs like us and refusing to listen to the Dead People’s sports and racing channel, we tune into Perth’s TAB Radio though knowing it’s over six hours of repeats before going ‘live’ at 6am. On Tuesday, however, the repeats became even more repetitious.
One interview with “Greg” about “our” Vega Magic, the Everest and James Harron was repeated close to a dozen times. This meant listening to the dulcet tones of co-host Gareth Hall salivating about this story way too many times. But we’re masochists.
An interview with Matt Stewart about Nature Strip and still one of the very few in the land Down Under with the gonads to view the sustainability of The Everest with skepticism though not stupid enough to dismiss the huge success and marketability of the race, was repeated around six times.
Why, however, can’t these empty hours be filled with SOME music and a few key stories? No idea.
TAB Radio has some excellent discussions and interviews. Not being into footy, we don’t know his name, but an interview with this player ironically turned out to be a great advertisement for everything it takes to a jockey- the athleticism, the discipline, the sacrifices. Perth based jockey Renee “Bam Bam” Forrest joined in on the conversation and was extremely interesting in everything she had to say.
There are then the helpful quaddie tips given out every Saturday at halftime and when tipsters like Deane Lester have seen how the tracks might be riding. There are clever radio commercials and some extremely successful Giddy Up tips after 9am. But TAB Radio overnight? A waste of airtime.
Still with TAB Radio, the budding bromance between Gareth Hall and James Harron hit a new high on Tuesday when The Excitable One interviewed the celebrity bloodstock agent about- what else?- “our” Vega Magic, his slot and the hype surrounding The Everest. Oh, and the disappointment in dear Gareth’s voice when James, below, went missing and was off air for a few seconds.
Far more interesting to us would be if we could somehow attract Brittany Taylor, below, part time host on TAB Radio and the best in Australia when it comes to post race interviews, to be involved with the HKJC’s very successful Happy Wednesday brand. She’d be a perfect fit.
JOAO SAN GOES COUNTRY RACING IN JAPAN (AND WINS)
THINGS THAT MAKE ONE GO, HMMMMM…
The run of Heyington at Mackay on Tuesday to fly home for second after completely missing the start. It was a certainty beaten which even had the caller lamenting the result. A huge betting drift for a battler’s meeting ten minutes before the off and then coming in late once again “bigly” added to the drama of the race. But these small race meetings with only a handful of runners, well…
MEANWHILE, BACK IN LA LA LAND…
Though good to see racing in Singapore return to “International status” and the introduction of The Premier Gateway International Jockey Challenge at Kranji on September 25, we don’t really understand some of the logic.
Then again, it’s Singapore where years ago chewing gum was banned, anyone with long hair trying to get into the Lion City would first be given a free haircut at the airport and where today, casinos are advertised all over the place but with horse racing being “underground.” For whatever reasons, speak to taxi drivers or the hotel concierge about going to the races and they freeze. They become Manuel.
As for those participating in the upcoming International Jockey Challenge, the tentative list includes Joao Moreira, who, because he was based in Hong Kong when this meeting was being scheduled, the Brazilian captains Team Asia- depending on him receiving permission from the JRA.
The two other team members- from Singapore- still have to be named. This is to say that other “Hong Kong” riders like champion jockey Zac Purton, Karis Teetan, Umberto Rispoli and Derek Leung, last season’s leading local rider, have been shut out from being included? Hello?
And there’s Team South Africa- makes sense since one of the two major sponsors other than Tabcorp is South Africa’s Pumelela Gaming- but no Team Hong Kong? There’s not even a Team Singapore. Mind boggling.
Well, one supposes that if it’s your party, one can invite who you want and we wish the Singapore Turf Club and the sponsors of this race only the very best.
Let’s not get all Tom Petty about something that really isn’t a priority in life.
COULD HONG KONG BE CALLING CAPTAIN LYLE?
Just named Champion Apprentice of South Africa , surely it’s only a matter of time before Lyle Hewitson is granted a way overdue license to ride in Hong Kong? Yes, we understand that he’s still an apprentice rider and might find it tough going against senior international riders in a competitive racing environment like Hong Kong, but if everyone waited for someone in any industry to “graduate”‘before taking a chance on them, there’ll be some massive potholes out there. And probably not even the Beatles, Steve Jobs, Frankie Dettori…Even kids have to grow up- and these days, faster than ever before.
THE JOAO-SAN UPDATE
It’s all about challenges, especially taking on new challenges. After his epic battle with eventual winner Zac Purton for last season’s Hong Kong Jockey Premiership, Joao Moreira has quickly found a new arch rival in Japan: Christophe Lemaire.
In case one has been living under a rock for the last few months, the Brazilian magic man is in Japan on a one month license which he hopes can become a permanent license like those given to only two foreign jockeys- Mirco Demuro and Lemaire- after he passes the various tests needed- to be able to speak, write and understand Japanese. It won’t be easy. But after his month in Japan he’ll be returning to Brazil to prepare for his written tests and spend time with his mother.
While time will tell if he receives a permanent license, Joao Moreira is doing what he does best- riding winners. In his first weekend of riding in Japan, he rode 5 winners. The hugely popular Lemaire answered the challenge by riding 6. The next day, Joao rode another winner with Christophe Lemaire coming second and with the brilliant Brazilian giving up his time to participate in a charity event.
With Japan hardly having le creme de la creme when it comes to local riding talent, this two horse race is interesting to follow, especially to the many fans of Joao in Hong Kong.
Here’s hoping, the magic man is seen representing Japan at Hong Kong’s Turf World Championships during HKIR week in December and that his talents are seen around the world and in the biggest and most prestigious races.
Joao Moreira is one of the best ambassadors for horse racing. Quite possibly, the best.
#horseracing #TheEverest #TABradio #JoaoMoreira #LyleHewitson #SingaporeTurfClub #horseracingmedia #BrittanyTaylor #GarethHall