Pulverising the senses with non-stop clutter. That’s how a friend describes it. Life in today’s social media mad driven would where, try as one might to escape the tsunami of information and misinformation and information overload that we certainly don’t even need, it catches up with you. And it’s getting worse. It’s the great plague of our time. It’s what negatively affects us with everything. Yet, many keep going to that well… To the abyss.
Left Facebook and Instagram. Updating both accounts had taken over. Taken over from trying to make my real life relationship with someone go somewhere. It was my compulsive personality running the show. She tried to wean me off it. Go cold turkey. Get out more. Exercise. Sexercise. Cook. But it didn’t work. She walked.
Horse racing, especially in the kingdom called Down Under is under siege. Frankly, more and more, it’s under siege. And always by itself. It’s really not a good ‘look’. Especially from the outside looking in.
Collectively and without exception, this incongruous and motley group, are putting in Award winning performances. For what? To stake their claim in the Top 10 least respected and most disliked category. Add most goofy to that. They really should have an awards show. On Twitter.
There’s a new book out by Kristen Manning on the jockey known to many in racing as The Gauch. Darren Gauci.
Though occasionally seeing him, especially after the night meetings at Happy Valley when he was riding in Hong Kong, I only got to really meet the gentleman over a coffee when in Melbourne. That was almost two years ago. It was at Mr Hives in the Crown. We talked. We joked. Got to know each other as well as one can in a couple of hours.
“Does horse racing really need to be creative? Doesn’t it kinda just sell itself?” It was a two part question asked by a small group of very international creative types during a long lunch earlier this week at a hotel in Hong Kong.
Some had had their flights canceled because of a rampaging Typhoon Mangkhut and were taking shelter from the storm. Others were soaking in the experience of being caught in a real typhoon for the first time. My thoughts were with friends in the Philippines. And those here and their families and property there. Meanwhile Twitter went into such ferocious overdrive with constant updates and videos from so many alarmists, it needed its caffeine intake taken away.
Right now, it’s The Little Engine That Might Just Be Able To Make A Difference. The question is, Will it be allowed to? How long will it last? How can it travel further? Do the decision makers believe it has a future?
I enjoy tuning into TAB Radio in Western Australia. And this is at a time when I am questioning horse racing content, its relevance, racing writers and the pastime’s mediums for its messages.
It’s about understanding what makes anyone come horse racing, especially in this day and age where so many have a buffet of leisure activities available to them 24/7. It’s a complex question to answer to get one’s head around. And even if answered, there are more questions to answer. Inquisitive minds need to know.
Many who show up for a Happy Wednesday at Happy Valley racecourse in Hong Kong make up a wildly interesting and very different customer demographic. They’re fascinating beasts. Do they come for the horse racing or the on course experience? If a betting person, one would say the latter. They’re still learning about the racing caper and are risk averse. They’re suspicious. Integrity in racing almost needs a complete overhaul. Drop the word “almost”. Frankly, horse racing might just need to completely reinvent itself to appeal to them and hand them the reins to make the most of what will always be a pastime.
A very short time before he suddenly passed away in June, barrister Kevin Egan, 70, called as he always did on a race day to ask what I fancied for a Six Up. It was the only bet he made. Sunday afternoons was time for him to get away from everything on his boat. After he had placed his Six Up.
We would exchange notes. He was always surprised when mentioning that one particular Australian jockey’s ride should not be left out of calculations.
As was the norm, big Kev, who went out of his way to help many, especially in the racing game and suddenly finding themselves unwittingly in trouble or facing the wrath of the almighty Stewards, would mumble, “That little thief? He couldn’t lie straight in bed! The club should have got rid of him a decade ago!”
Less is more. Or less was more. And maybe this is where Hong Kong has gone wrong. It’s become Mr Creosote.
Gluttony has taken hold of the city. Perhaps not gluttony so much, but because of not knowing what people want, throwing everything against the kitchen sink and see what sticks. Usually, nothing. It’s just another buffet of odds and sods. Fusion cuisine where confusion reigns as no one is really sure of anything. It’s Dabblers Anonymous.
When first arriving in Hong Kong from what was then Ceylon, there suddenly appeared the…lunch box. It was a brilliant concept. Lunch in a box. For a nine year old, the highlight was a Saturday. Mum would have a half day from work and would bring home a lunch box- either chicken curry and rice or baked pork chop and rice from what was probably the first fast food outlet in Hong Kong: Ong Lok Yuen.
“How many holes does it take to fill the Albert Hall?” John Lennon sang that line on the Beatles’ haunting recording of “A Day In The Life”. It could apply to every racing club in the world. Every. One. And this should be looked at as something positive. As a challenge. As a call to action. And change. Why? There’s a very different consumer and customer out there today who looks at horse racing very differently. Not a huge customer group. But it’s something. And they’re demanding change. It’s a quiet revolution. Maybe it’s time for one. High time.
It’s up to those running racing clubs and those running every single medium that hosts horse racing news and information and content to wake up and read the tea leaves. Horse racing is very quickly looking old. It’s talking to itself. It’s quickly becoming senile.
It’s always good to prove the sceptics wrong. It happened in a small way in Hong Kong on Wednesday. That it happened at a racetrack made it even more special. Maybe it wasn’t such a small deal after all.
It was at Happy Valley racecourse and the first Happy Wednesday of the new Hong Kong racing season. It’s taken around six years, but after coming up against a few hurdles, and some who could not see it happening, a Happy Wednesday has become a brand. It’s received a Certificate Of Excellence from Trip Advisor. It’s a tourist attraction. It’s a trip. It makes those twentysomething minutes between the races fly. Those breaks are filled with entertaining. As said, it’s a trip. A four trip exclusive to one racecourse situated right in the middle of skyscrapers. In the middle of the city.