THE NEW HONG KONG MIX. FOLLOW THE RECIPE AND STIR, HKJC…

By Hans Ebert
@HansEbertMusic
Visit: www.hans-ebert.com

It’s tough explaining horse racing to non-believers. Or to sceptics. You know, those who have already labelled horse racing as “cruel” and make you riddled with guilt for enjoying the pastime. How horse racing is a guilty pleasure. Something that cannot be enjoyed without there being strings attached. Something to keep under wraps. That doesn’t always work out. One gets found out.

Guess it’s like music. Those who refuse to admit that they’re swimming against the tide and not embracing the singers, bands and songs that one is supposed to just to be accepted. It’s like movies, too. Did I enjoy “Bohemian Rhapsody” and remake of the remake of “A Star Is Born”? No. And cannot stomach the song “Shallow” just as much as never having been a Dead Head nor part of the Woodstock Generation. It’s called individuality. Freedom of choice. Don’t follow leaders and watch your parking meters.

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HORSE RACING, “YOUNGER PEOPLE” AND THE GIFT OF GIVING

By Hans Ebert
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If someone who follows horse racing religiously and does the form, understands handicapping, track conditions, times, odds, track work etc, everything that follows below is not for you.

You’re what racing clubs put in the “hardcore” basket and say they know exactly your wants and needs and cater to all of these. Maybe.

Some might say that this is pretty narrow minded thinking- continuing to preach to the converted. But if this captive audience continues to make turnover tick and tock, why fix the wheel when it ain’t broke?

Why?

Well, coming from the music industry, and having seen this wheel fall off when music fans understood how to get music for free and saw the compact disc along with a music channel like MTV in its death throes- all those superficial VJs seeing their fifteen minutes of fame go up in flames was awful to watch- nothing is ever what it seems. Or goes according to plan. The consumer is always in the driver’s seat.

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FOR PETE’S SAKE, PETE…

By Hans Ebert
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Pete,

New horse races, bigger prize money, being disruptive to be competitive, bringing in more and more elitism to horse racing, playing another round of Game Of Thrones, fine. It’s your gig. Doesn’t bother me either way. But when you prattle on about “younger people” and horse racing…

“Younger people” is not some alien race, Pete. They’ve been around since the world was round.

All of us were once “younger people”- inquisitive, difficult, belligerent, demanding change, making change happen. And then we grew up. And as grown ups, it was felt there was a need to act like grown ups. Most failed miserably. Look around.

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AND SILVESTRE THE BRAZILIAN CAT RAN AWAY WITH THE SPOON…AND THE 2018 HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL JOCKEYS CHAMPIONSHIP

By Hans Ebert
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First things first…It might have been drizzling, but Irish eyes were smiling. This was when young Colin Keane, champion rider of Ireland, ran away with the first leg of the 2018 Longines International Jockeys’ Championship. Literally ran away with the race.

Despite drawing the outside barrier- supposedly not exactly ideal on the very tight Happy Valley track, especially over the 1000 metres of the race- Keane patiently allowed his mount to find its feet and the John Size trained Special Stars won eased down.

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HAPPY WEDNESDAY: WHAT A STRANGE TRIP IT’S BEEN GETTING HERE

By Hans Ebert
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It used to be only about the Beer Garden. It was actually a friend in horse racing from Melbourne who first told me about it. About its “vibe”. What more it might be.

He had visited it during one of his HKIR pilgrimages and was, quite rightly, impressed with its unique setting. The unique setting of Happy Valley racecourse. Especially under the lights.

These were during the days when Wednesday night racing at Happy Valley was named Sassy Wednesdays.

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HAVE A HAPPY WEDNESDAY AND ‘SCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY…

Of course, we’re creatures who are riddled with quirks- like petty annoyances that have to do with, well, stupidity. A particular peeve is hearing someone say, “it’s raining outside”. Of course, it must be raining “outside”. When does it ever rain inside? Anyway, it’s been raining outside most of the day. More rain is forecast. For outside. On, by the way, what would have been Bruce Lee’s 78th birthday. Maybe the sky’s crying for Bruce and Brandon.

Today’s also a Happy Wednesday at Happy Valley racecourse. Some enjoy hanging out at the Beer Garden and singing and dancing in the rain. Everyone has their own bouts of weirdness. Maybe some will still be celebrating what would have yesterday been the 76th birthday of Jimi Hendrix. We sure don’t consume music like we used to when music kept that long train running. That’s for sure. That long train has been derailed. Even The Marathon Man has stopped running. Still, great music by great musicians live on. It keeps us honest. To ourselves.

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GET BACK TO WHERE YOU ONCE BELONGED

By Hans Ebert
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There’s that opening chord to “Hard Days Night”. That “naughty chord”. Some of us are still trying to figure it out. Same with the chords to many of their other songs.

Being left handed, McCartney tuned his guitar differently. Strung his strings “upside down”. Was this how he was seemingly able to pluck such wonderful melodies out of thin air?

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THE HKJC AND ITS OWN PROJECT: RUNWAY

By Hans Ebert
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Too often they get lost in the shuffle. Lost in the column inches and tweets and talk and innuendos given to the the current jockey merry-go-round. But this season in particular, the equine talent in Hong Kong has never been better. Never has there been a better crop. They’ve come of age. A crop of extremely good young gallopers. Gallopers who could be anything.

There was the facile win of Glorious Forever at Sha Tin last Sunday. Glorious Forever. The younger brother of English import Time Warp who came into his own last season.

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HORSE RACING AND THE UPHILL TASK OF WINNING OVER THOSE “YOUNGER PEOPLE”

By Hans Ebert
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Those with zero knowledge about advertising and marketing and not knowing the difference between promotions, marketing and PR talking about how something or another is “reaching younger people” always sets off alarm bells. Especially when this something or another has nothing in it for them. Those “younger people”. Like horse racing.

In Hong Kong, it’s taken the HKJC around eight years for the idea of a Happy Wednesday race meeting to evolve from what was once known as “Sassy Wednesday” to what it is now. Sassy. It sounded old. Looked old. Didn’t work. Who approved this? Something that looked like a tacky escort club in Macau? Only The Shadow knows.

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HORSE RACING, CRAZY RICH ASIANS AND JUMPING INTO THE GREAT UNKNOWN

By Hans Ebert
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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.

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