By Hans Ebert
Maybe it was the weather. The hard rain that lashed across the Flemington racetrack. Maybe it was a hard act to follow the superb Cox Plate Day. Maybe it was the lack of Winxmania.
Maybe, like sex, the build up was more exciting than the main event. Maybe it was the early start? And the glut of racing across Australia. On tracks where the going was Good. It seems to make winning that much easier. Like at Ascot in Perth where William Pike didn’t let down the forty thousand and turned water into wine.
For whatever reason, viewing this year’s Melbourne Cup Day on television and from afar just didn’t do it for some of us. There were moments when we actually nodded off.
The tragic accident that befell Cliffsofmoher cast a dark shadow on The Race That Stops A Nation. Of course, there are always those to pounce on what is a rare occurrence in horse racing. This won’t change no matter what’s written.
Still, there were the winners- Kerrin McEvoy who won the Cup for the third time, this time for Godolphin.
There were wins for Zac Purton. Michael Dees. Tommy Berry. William Buick. Mark Zahra.
It’s not easy staging a world class event. Especially something like a horse racing event that might not hold the same level of interest from country to country.
For these world class race days to be extra special, they can no longer be more of the same- some posters, tweets and videos of talking heads and over-dramatic music that sound like Armageddon is approaching.
Consumers- and racing fans are consumers- demand more. It’s 2018.
Shouldn’t the FUN of going horse racing and the FUN of a big day out be captured? Something that makes one smile? Those Feel Good moments?
The recent Cox Plate Day at Moonee Valley and presented so darn well by the Melbourne Racing Club created a new standard. Raised the bar in every aspect of its presentation of the racing product. It was simply the best seen so far.
The question now is this: Who’s going to better the best?
While we wait for the answer, there’s the first of three Happy Wednesday Japanese Nights starting tonight. Kimono our house at Happy Valley Racecourse.
The tipsters will tip. Whether to follow them or not is an individual decision. Most of those “younger people” constantly mentioned by the racing media would rather follow their hunches.
These are newbies to horse racing who enjoy the on course experience of entertainment mixed with interactivity and the edutainment of horse racing. Those who think the same horse runs in every race. Remember that this is Hong Kong. Horse racing on a Happy Wednesday is a four hour mid week leisure activity. It’s a starter before perhaps a night of late night clubbing at dragon-i.
Still with racing, but shifting gears and looking at a different demographic was a telling interview with jockey Jack H.N.Wong on the “Racing To Win” burrito tipping programme hosted by the HKJC’s latest trio of onscreen Three Amigos and seemingly still filmed in what looks like an empty hangar at the old Kai Tak airport.
While the 2018 version of the Three Amigos were probably stretching their legs and lumbering towards the now famous Touch Screen to move horses around the Speed Map and confuse the hell outta viewers, there was an interview by the HKJC’s Edward Sadler with Jack Wong.
Asked about him now being a senior jockey after graduating a few meetings ago, one expected the young local rider to say that he embraced the challenges that might lie ahead. Instead, Jack Wong broke away from script.
With refreshing candour, he expressed how he was still digesting everything. How it wasn’t going to be easy. How there was much to consider.
Remember that this is Hong Kong. Kids don’t grow up around horses. There are no horse farms. There are 2-3 riding schools. They’re not exactly born to ride. They’re not Joao Moreira. Or the handful of the world’s best jockeys. They will never ever ride a Winx. Or an Enable. They will more than likely be saddled with slow ones in the lower grades.
How can these young riders go up that totem pole of success with no life changing career opportunities?
Listening to Jack Wong, a good, young kid, was thought provoking stuff. A young jockey’s life is no easy ride. Anywhere. But especially if not having grown up around horses. And if not right up there- and quickly- on that totem pole. One’s career in horse racing can look very daunting. And limited.
Wong again rides surprise last start winner Almababy in the the last race of the night. Again, he was honest about the horse’s chances. How it would be tough to repeat that last win. In other words, there are far better winning chances. Like what? Who knows? But, somehow, all of the above has everything to do with the present and future of horse racing. And maybe how to make it more than what it is.
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