It’s not just about looking forward to the horse racing. Not in 2018 and the world hurtling towards 2019. It’s about that on course experience. Easy enough to say, but difficult to do, especially when not really understanding what this means in the context of horse racing. And first creating a product that appeals to those different customer segments. Are there that many? Maybe not.
Maybe it’s only the Haves and the Have-Nots and the purists/traditionalists and those “iconoclasts” who don’t have a clue about the “protocols” of horse racing and, supposedly, the need for them. To this group, it’s about keeping it simple. It’s not about going to the church of racingology. Or as a singer friend mentioned the other day, learning to speak Jockeynese.
In every industry it’s about expanding the customer base. Retaining the current market and expanding it. Always expanding it. It’s business 101. Marketing 101. Do those in leadership roles in horse racing lose sight of this? And its importance? Too often. And the racing media? How does it help spread the word? Improve the perception? Could there possibly be a new-fashioned entertainment media waiting in the wings to take horse racing beyond where it’s going now? Hmmmmm.
It was fun while it lasted. Twitter, that is. Was it only just a year ago that many in horse racing were merrily twittering away? Everything in moderation, we were taught, but all that went out the window. Everyday was tweeter than the tweet tweeted the day before. Had it become a priority in life? Tweeting?
Amongst the jockeys, those most busy on Twitter were probably the Iron Man- Neil Callan, the Zac Attack, Brenton Avdulla, Blake Shinn and Tommy Berry.
Today? Most, like Peter V’landys, The Man From The North, who joined the Twitterverse during the early days of “his” beloved Everest “concept”, seem to have withdrawn. Or at least become more selective about with whom they “engage”. Others think it’s a waste of time. An unnecessary distraction when there’s real work to be done in the real world.
World Cup Fatigue had struck as hard as the three goals the night before by Ronaldo, so we never made it to the races at Sha Tin.
Truth be told, we extremely rarely go to Sha Tin- and especially if there’s racing across the Big Waters on a Saturday. It’s hard to imagine these days that once upon a barren rock, there was only horse racing in Hong Kong on a Saturday- and only at Happy Valley.
Kowloon was where the nightlife and everything else throbbed- the clubs, the nightlife, the gorgeous dancers back from the USSR and working at upmarket escort clubs Club BBoss and Club De China.
There was an extra spring in his step as Zac Purton sashayed out of Sha Tin racecourse on Sunday. After basically calling Joao Moreira a bit of a cry baby in a freewheeling interview the day before for blaming the lack of his usual sombrero of winners on not having enough stable support due to his own inability to choose the best rides, the Australian Zac Attack managed to keep the Brazilian Magic Man’s lead to just three as the Batman and The Joker of Hong Kong racing continue to stir the pot and play mind games with each other.
There was a time when terrestrial television station HKTVB Pearl had an animated character named Freddy to tell viewers what to expect the next day.
Why? Who knows? But every day, Freddy would either melt, or his teeth would chatter and to symbolise a drop in temperature, clouds would fall down over Freddy who would squeal that “It’s faaaaaaaaliiiiing”.
Twitter has made everyone think they’re a “writer” though many still don’t know the difference between “they’re”, “their” and “there”, which, one supposes, is no different to many calling themselves “musicians” because they can tap a few keys on their laptop to “create” some sounds.
It’s become a push button world where everything has been reduced to being accepted by those with a minimum attention span as there’s just so much of everything and this voracious appetite to inhale it all in and damned the torpedoes of selectivity and exclusivity.
“They almost never get the credit they deserve. Never!” Someone with us at the races on Wednesday night at Happy Valley was both happy and frustrated after local trainer Me Tsui, below, had trained his third winner of the night. Tsui, below, went on to train four winners in the eight race card.
Apprentice Jack H.N.Wong, often overlooked when compared to the column inches devoted to the other two apprentices riding in Hong Kong right now, and especially the expatriate riders, rode off with the Jockey Challenge. He also completely out rode Joao Moreira most of the night with a brilliant ride to win aboard Good For You. This season’s Jack H.N.Wong is a new, improved model.
It was a challenge and a random exercise to see how much we had changed along with the world around us. A friend asked me to open a Twitter account saying that my old and fairly popular horse racing blog Racingb*tch was back as Racing Buzzfeed, follow a few people and see how I felt and what might happen.
That was at 8am on Sunday. By noon, I had grown bored with it. There were a few followers, I had tweeted a few innocuous messages, and that was the extent to this exercise in futility. It wasn’t just stupid, it brought back memories of those who were continuously lampooned on Racingb*tch- and who are still there and doing the same old walk of life.
It’s strange to think there was a time when Hong Kong only had racing on a Saturday- and only at Happy Valley racecourse.
Night racing at the city track was introduced later and had its surreal moments like the time when local rider Louis Ho simply stopped riding How Good, the 9.5 favourite, when having the race shot to bits. Think he was disqualified for six months. But it were those Saturday afternoon races in the mid Seventies and when Hong Kong was still a British colony that were big days for my family, especially my Aunt and Uncle who had their favourite jockeys and all kinds of conspiracy theories. When having seen local jockeys practice the art of jumping off horses in case they might have actually won a race, of course there were conspiracy theories.