No one wants to see anyone facing financial problems. Anyone who rejoices in this needs to be kicked out of the human race.
So, while we chant the mantra about how we’re all in this together- there’s no point regurgitating what “this” is- many of us have seen people we know and even friends go through extremely taxing financial times- young entrepreneurs, mature entrepreneurs, new businesses, old businesses, fledgling businesses.
At least in Hong Kong, except for those born with a silver spoon in their mouths and others always used to stirring their tea with a diamond studded spoon and jockeys- those who ride horses and not those churning out beats- money is too tight to mention.
There’s that old chestnut about how out of chaos comes opportunity. This cannot be a better truism for horse racing at a time when the world is in lockdown mode and it’s the only game in town with, quite literally, a captive audience- and zero competition from far more popular and mainstream sports like football, tennis, rugby, darts, curling, lawn bowls…
Now, more than ever before, is the time to grab this opportunity with both hands and bring in some new troops- if possible. Those who have the creative and marketing chutzpah and are given the freedom to broaden that customer base.
Sure, keep Dad’s Army and the sons and daughters of Dad’s Army to plod along and warm up the same old porridge and feed it to those who are the (kinda) living embodiment of the saying that one cannot teach old dogs new tricks. That’s fine. But this customer group is hardly the future and shining beacon of where horse racing is heading- if it’s heading anywhere other than going around in circles and making neighing sounds.
With the world pretty much plateaued out and at Point Covid-19 together, old school mediums like television are making a comeback. There’s a very different online media landscape rapidly taking shape. And yet, horse racing still looks to be tippy toeing on eggshells and refusing to see how much the wants and needs of consumers are changing- and have changed.
Skype, FaceTime, YouTube, Instagram- they’re all being used differently and more creatively than ever before because we- you and I- have had to prioritise everything in our lives and adapt to the “new normal”. It might be one of the best things to come out of whatever it is we’re going through.
The human race might just have tired of being part of the rat race and are saying, Stop the world, I wanna get off.
With time on their hands, many are exploring new pockets of multi dimensional creativity and embracing change.
With blinkers firmly in place, horse racing is still too often about three talking heads, sometimes with masks on, positioned here and there to adhere to the very important need to keep their distance in order to quickly quell the spread of Covid-19, and from where they serve more warmed up waffles to their followers.
Add to this those self promoting boom bang-a-lang twittering tipsters, speed maps, websites where Han Solo would find difficult to navigate his way through and with everything often being about the punt and the punt and the punt and…Oh, please, enough is enough.
Having been in the music industry when the smug major music companies and those heading them refused to read the tea leaves, failed to look up and see the vultures hovering over them and invited in that online Dante’s inferno world that changed everything overnight into something unrecognisable today, horse racing should be aware of the Trojan horse that might be wheeled in.
Instead of playing with worry beads and chanting the mantra about how we’re living in very different times, it’s time for horse racing- and every other industry- to relook at their business models and ways in which to make their product relevant to the “new normal”.
The sheeples? They’re so busy sharing and caring and scaring the hell outta each other through information overload that they’ve lost the ability to think for themselves. But it might return given the circumstances we all face today.
Ignatius Cheung, below is a little man, perhaps a little strange to some, with big plans. Plans to revolutionise horse racing, worldwide.
Known to friends as Iggy, the American born Chinese-Mongolian entrepreneur plans to become the racing world’s first horse owner, trainer and jockey with his own stables located wherever there’s horse racing.
Having been a child stunt rider in movies ranging from “The Black Stallion” to “Ben Hur”, and describing himself as a “hoarse whisperer” able to communicate with horses through a special technique learned when living with the nomadic tribes in Inner Mongolia and studying Mongolian throat music, Ignatius Wolverine-Cheung, the only son of billionaire and controversial Forex trader Augustus Wolverine-Cheung, below, came into his own when creating Wolverine Enterprises and its privately held computer chip business.
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.
A friend in horse racing describes him as “the Winx of riders”. Another calls him “freakish”. A racing executive, one of the few I respect, teases me that “The Cult Of Moreira” has, at least to me, become “The Cult Of William Pike”. He doesn’t share what he thinks is the “man love” for the Perth-based rider. Thinks. Following him in a race can be heart stopping stuff.
It’s like music festivals. There are so many around these days that music fans are spoilt for choice. There’s also a pecking order attached. The bigger the flapjacks appearing on the bill, the greater the magnet to be there. Very often just to say that you were there. An Instagram moment.
Glastonbury, Ibiza, Roskilde- it’s about the music and the vibes and the people and the location. And in what is a downturn in the economy, it’s also about value and who provides music fans with more bangs for their buck. More of everything, please, but without that price tag to attend ever becoming exorbitant. Pricing out the good times.
In a rather sombre video to create an almost film noire mood for the upcoming Hong Kong Longines International Jockeys Championships, over what sounds like the soundtrack to “Taxi Driver”, appear the words, “Champions collide while darkness falls”. Easy chaps. And lighten up. One hopes no one collides with anyone. It could get a tad messy.
What’s interesting about this evening’s races, other than trying to snag a couple of the huge jackpots up for grabs, is wondering who will fill that last berth to represent Hong Kong in the “darkness”. Chad Schofield or Douglas Whyte?
It wasn’t just good to hear. It had to be heard. It was inspiring. One seldom cheers on an interview on radio. But listening yesterday to Michael Felgate interview jockey Jason Maskiell on RSN about how one of the most promising riding talents in Melbourne- a champion apprentice- has pulled himself out from the abyss of self-destruction spoke volumes.
There was something Dickensian to his story. One kept waiting for a Fagin to appear. Or to be mentioned. Horse racing is littered with Fagins. The invisible ones are the most dangerous. They feed on the weak. And no one is strong all the time. We may think so. But we’re not.