IS HORSE RACING DOWN UNDER BEING TAKEN FOR A RIDE?

By Hans Ebert
Visit Hans-Ebert.com

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.

At a time when racing in the Down Under Kingdom is under siege from all fronts – Governments, Activists and Interest groups, popular mainstream, emerging sports, and importantly, an increasingly unforgiving community, it actively plods along searching for controversy in the traditional and new world of social media.

Does it have better things to do with its time? Like join Monty Python and maybe go in search of the Holy Grail? Guess not.

Reading and hearing boorish attempts to create a sense of frenzied tribal warfare between NSW and Victoria by Racing NSW’s Dark Prince Peter V’Landys is eyeball rolling stuff.

Like the Four Tops once sang, Pete is singing the same old song. Over and over again. It’s like the TVN Blues. Only the words have changed. Slightly. These days he’s busy telling all about his grasp of social media. That he’s ahead of the curve. In everything. He’s beating his own bongos again.

Fake news is alive and well in the Down Under Kingdom. In every State. What’s amazing is that it’s being sold and bought. By so many. The greater good of Racing is deliberately downgraded to a best supporting actor or actress role. Unity is not in the vocabulary of racing’s Dark Prince. He thrives on chaos. He’s seemingly immune to any shortcomings.

Having NSW and Victoria engaging in an overt and covert war of attrition leaves the bit players in every other State vulnerable to irreparable damage. But bit people are pliable. They happily fall into line. Without questioning. They either don’t understand. Or are intimidated. Easily impressed. Or just don’t care about the big picture. They’re happy being Gumby.

What big picture? Do they care about how European and American racing has become marginalised? That racing there has become almost dinosaurial? Hardly great advertisements to those like Sir Robin looking for career advancement.

There’s relentless miscalculation and stunning ignorance of the modern customer demographic. The customer turned off by unnecessary and venomous conflict. Something energised by the growing audible chorus of animal welfare activists. Increasingly alarmed at the almost daily exposure of cheating. The saturation of gambling advertising. A crisis to which racing’s leaders in the Down Under Kingdom are oblivious. Maybe by choice. Do they have answers? To anything?

An awkward question for the racing administrators: Just what has changed in Australian racing in the past 25 years? What is its raison d’etre? Has it one? Has it been innovative in what it offers a generation unrecognizable from that of its goofy leadership?

Does the “PegaEverestus” have the necessary gonads and vision to replicate what the IPL and the Big Bash has done for cricket? Or what the Rugby Sevens has done for the code?

Thanks to everything surrounding it, the “PegaEverestus” has taken centre stage in NSW from even Winx.

There is a distinctive whiff of hype about the “PegaEverestus”. About the legitimacy of its “creativity”. Wasn’t this race first introduced in America as The Pegasus? The International and now annual Grade 1 race named The Pegasus? With its slots? And which has become something difficult to sustain?

Can the “PegaEverestus” deliver what it’s expected to deliver. Then again, Pete is a wonderfully shameless showman. He’s very very good in selling whatever it is that he’s selling. Who’s there to take him on?

If anyone thinks this “man of the people” is only fighting for the “PegaEverestus” and bringing sexy back or something else to make Down Under racing great again, one truly doubts it’s his end game. Blind ambition is a full time gig. But for now, he engages in silly talk that especially has the small time racing media imprisoned in its own irrelevant space and talking to itself, with everyone except Matt Stewart nodding in agreement.

The expensive and elitist slot based concept of the “PegaEverestus” will need a continuous flow of Asian and particularly Chinese money to maintain its financial viability. That is unless the NSW State Government bankrolls it.

Will the current slot holders continue to fork out and write off the millions of dollars for dim sum returns? For how long? And, fundamentally, will, particularly the Sydneysiders, cause a stampede to get to Randwick for the event?

Anything less than a sellout or a “House Full” sign scream out complete failure. This would make the tedious hypola given to this one event by the usual cheerleaders led by Ron Obvious sound like Van Gogh’s ear. The one he chopped off.

Remember the subtlety and power of the understatement? It’s given way to circus barker oversell. In your face self promotion. Bombardment about how “it is a fantastic concept.” How the Trojan horse wheeled in has “put racing on the front page.” How the “whole world” is talking about it. In Ireland. America. And Japan. At least according to Coolmore’s Tom Magnier.

You’re right about one fact. One, Tommy. The “PegaEverestus” is on the front page of one newspaper. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. And their unbridled parochialism in promoting the gimmick race is to be applauded, he said laughing madly to himself. But Ireland? America? And Japan? Really, Tommy?

The “PegaEverestus” isn’t a spontaneous conversation starter. Even among the racing elites in these countries. Certainly not among the everyday racing folk. Among the Sherpas, maybe.

All that aside, it is hard not to rue the failure of the industry. And particularly its leadership. Or lack of it. It’s inability to exploit the good news which Makybe Diva and Black Caviar delivered to racing. And which nudge nudge Winx Winx is doing.

From a promotion and marketing perspective, all this history would have any other sport salivating. Salivating is very different to being slobbering sycophants. They’re on every sports and racing medium. All talking over each other about the “PegaEverestus”. It’s nauseating to hear. It’s embarrassing. Those horrible sounding voices. The silliness of it all. Its many flaws.

Racing in the Down Under Kingdom is the poorer for the lack of vision and any semblance of cutting edge leadership of its executive team. It has allowed the Donald Trump of racing and the fake news agents to take control.

It is the precursor to one mighty fall. It’s something history has proven. Think of the rise and ultimate fall of many Empires. Right through to the modern day.

Horse racing in the Down Under Kingdom is hardly the Byzantine empire. But it’s not Milli Vanilli either. Hype can be a dangerous thing. It catches up with everyone. Until then, let’s dance.

#Australia #horseracing #ThePegasus #TheEverest #PeterVlandys #RNSW #Racingmedia #TomMagnier #hype

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