“You must understand that racing club only care about the big punters. Entertainment is a distraction to them”.

Someone we were having dinner with was pummeling our ears with this “news”. “It’s all and ONLY about turnover” and, talking about entertainment, we were asked, “Do you think the big gamblers CARE about listening to Joey Yung sing some songs?” a reference to one of Hong Kong’s more popular female singers.

We nodded meekly though knowing full well of the drawing power of someone like Joey Yung to the members of, for example, the HKJC Club in Beijing. China is far more positive about many things. In Hong Kong, the cup of yum cha is always half-empty.

Continued our friend, “The objective- ALWAYS- is how to make the BIG punters gamble MORE in an environment that gives them ‘face’ and facilities and other goodies that would please them”.

“The Goodies,” we thought.” Weren’t they part of a TV series in the UK?

Of course, we get it and we totally understand the need to “keep the customer satisfied”- especially the big punter. Yet, also never forget the small-time punter as they represent “the public” and one always needs the perception of “catering to and caring” about them.It’s a MUST for Corporate Communications.

Then, in the middle of it all, are ‘the rest.” And what does horse racing provide to this very important target segment that is sitting on the fence and saying, “What can you do for me?”

This is the target market which follows football, F1, cricket, basketball and other sports and don’t even consider horse racing a “sport.”

These also include the general media who- and you can read the piece below- are clueless about racing and even think a show jumps jockey to be a “jockey”.

This “middle class” is the future of horse racing. This is the age group young enough to change and old enough to have that disposable income.

This is also the group most uninterested in horse racing- for the time being- and with many thinking that the same horses run in every race. And, you wonder why they have no idea how to bet????

The problem is that the racing industry has done a shit job of “edutaining” this group of potential regular race-goers and keeps neglecting marketing 101 of explaining that betting on the horses can actually be exciting and entertaining and fun and exciting and could pay some great dividends.

This can only be achieved and rectified  by going back to the egg and looking at the rudiments of horse racing and giving these people “A Dummies Guide To Horse Racing and Winning”

The marketing of horse racing in 2011 and beyond is a huge challenge to the racing industry. Facebook and Twitter won’t help.

In order to progress and for it to pay dividends, there must be those who are prepared to take the blinkers off and realize that some very basic things need to be promoted. Like how to bet.




Everything that’s needed to be said has been said about the filly Black Caviar and the above link says it all. Again.

It’s win over the weekend was breath-taking and the question is, “And now what and where?”

Well, when in Oz and NYC over the past few days, we saw a whole new side to the marketing of horse racing- and this horse- and its trainer- Peter Moody and jockey- Luke Nolan.

Is it a good thing, is it is a bad thing? Who knows what the end result will be?

All we DO know is that there is a clothing line called Black Caviar and which a few entrepreneurial groups are running to try and TM.

Same with five restaurants in Melbourne. There are, at least, three movie projects about the horse, there are book offers, Black Caviar merchandising and even an animated character based on the champion horse.

Okay, so is this good for racing?

We think it’s DAMN good and takes and brings horse racing to a completely new audience who, before, would not have known Black Caviar from Caspian Russian Beluga.

The question comes back to what is called “Rights Issues” and who these belong to. At the whiff of money, everyone wants part of- or the whole- pie.



With the relationship between the two clubs being somewhat strained, there is always something a little weird and uncomfortable surrounding the running of the annual Hong Kong-Macau Trophy Challenge.

In Macau, many look forward to the Hong Kong horses, trainers, and jockeys coming over. It’s like Big Brother coming over to give Little Brother a pat on the head.

In Hong Kong, the event just comes and goes with a minimum of fuss and with no sponsor behind the event and little or no marketing support. It’s a bit like a necessary evil.

While  we watched Angela Leung, the fourth wife of Stanley Ho, and the head of the Macau Jockey Club, dressed in a rather strange outfit hand out the winning prizes and looked at burly men standing there with shades on, the whole shebang did show a somewhat lack of, well, class.

At times, it reminded us of the underbelly that was at the core of the wedding scene in “Godfather 2” and we were waiting for Don Corleone to be wheeled out and make someone an offer no one would dare refuse.

Without trying to come across as being nobs, this was not a Group One affair and it could be seen on the pained faces of some who stood there as if paying penance.

As for the race itself, it was one by the Tony Millard-trained Sparkling Power and brilliantly ridden by- who else?- Douglas Whyte. The best any of the Macau horses could do- Lucky Steed- was come third. Only if this Alan Ngai-trained horse was with a real trainer.

The day itself was made even more weird by the number of accidents: Apprentice Ben So was head-butted in the face- by a horse- and was taken to hospital- and a number of horses were scratched at the barriers.

At the prize giving ceremony, the HKJC’s CEO- Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges was announced as “Winfried Engelbrecht-BRISKET”. One guesses that with all the delays and diu lays it was a long day and people were hungry.

Yes, the fung shui was not good and we were thinking- in hindsight- that if this event were to take place again next year, it might be a good idea for the Executives of the HKJC to shave their heads to get rid of any bad luck or else hold a bai sun ceremony and sacrifice a few suckling pigs and burn some joss sticks to appease the gods.



Patrick Lam, Jockey models the latest jockey attire.

We were interested to read who had been named Asia’s Sexiest Athletes and, we agreed for the most part, on the choices. However, we kinda gulped when the name Patrick Lam, Jockey, came up.

No, Dougie Whyte, no Brett Prebble, but, there was this “jockey” named Patrick Lam.

Shows how very little people still know about horse racing other than it COULD be a quick way to making money- or losing it- on the punt.

Patrick Lam, jockey, ponces around.



Often, we forget that Hong Kong racing is more than the usual suspects- Douglas Whyte, Brett Prebble, Darren Beadman, Gerard Mosse, John Size, John Moore, Tony Cruz and Caspar Fownes.

Trainer Tony Millard, for example, is having a sensational season and with an incredible strike rate.

Apart from having the favourite for the Hong Kong Derby in Ambitious Dragon, the former South African-based trainer had a double over the weekend and has built a strong “in-house” team including wife- the very attractive Beverly- and also very good horse-woman and track rider plus former female jockey Carol Yu- and a “horse for courses” approach to choosing jockeys for his horses.

Let’s also spare a thought and give a huge wrap to lightweight jockey Greg Cheyne. Cheyne, despite limited opportunities, has stuck with it while many would have chucked it in and has ridden 15 winners this season including a double on the weekend.

The jockey’s success rate over the straight 1000 metre sprint races in Shatin is extraordinary. No matter where his horse is drawn, see the name G.Cheyne in a 1000 metre race and you just MUST put it in.

Another recent success story: Apprentice Ben So who rode a treble last Wednesday- and then copped a head-butt by a horse on the weekend. The treble made it easier to take the head-butt. His upcoming enquiry, we are not too sure about.




We listened to Hilton Donaldson’s call of race 5  at Morphetville during the big Adelaide meeting this week- and what a shambolic affair it was.

Ol’ Hilt seemed to breathless and having a hard time figuring out the names of horses. Okay, let’s forgive him, lord, for he did not know what he called.

Then came the tight finish between the Clare Lindop-ridden Southern Speed- Miss Lindop is a damn fine jockey- and the Glen Boss-ridden Shylight and which Hilt called wrong declaring the former the winner. It came second. Again, let’s forgive him for that.

But then, when reading out the results, Southern Speed was suddenly third and Precious Lorraine was suddenly second.

Back to the studio and this was corrected to Southern Speed coming second and  Mark Zahra on Precious Lorraine coming third FOLLOWING which came NEW results and where Precious Lorraine was now FOURTH and Absolutely, Craig Williams’ mount, had come third. Got all that?

Morphetville? More like Amateurville.



Still with the meeting at Morphetville, what about that win in race 7 by the absolute outsider of the field- 175 to 1- Cybercyn and ridden by 17-year-old Jordan Frew who beat out the very good Michael Rodd in a great finish???? Remember the name and that you read it here first: This kid rides well and is one of the rising stars of Australian racing.

Never to keep a good jock down, Rodd ended up scoring scored a great double with a wonderful ride on Shrapnel and the 3,200 metre Adelaide Cup being taken out by Muir ridden by the very experienced Darren Gauci.

After all these years, “The Gauch” is one of the smartest jockeys around and with this win coming eleven years after winning his first Adelaide Cup. Yes, there is no substitute for experience.



Philip writes: Would it make more sense for the HKJC to have one “rising star” and which is crowned at the end of the season?

“Rising stars” come and go all the time and injuries can ruin any promise shown in their early days plus HK’s ratings system can “kill” many promising horses.

I think it would also make much more sense to have a competition to see the rising stars amongst jockeys and how these results can change depending on who improves more than the others.



“He gave them WIND!” screamed HKJC race-caller Brett “The Scarecrow” Davis as most of us held our noses and looked suspiciously at each other. But, no, “The Scarecrow” meant to say that the horse Surfer Boy had given its rivals wind-BURN as it blitzed a pretty good field last Wednesday night at Happy Valley.

Brett Davis tries to remember the race he just called.

Sold to Hong Kong by Price Bloodstock and slapped with blinkers on for the first time, the Dennis Yip-trained galloper looked like the horse we always thought it would be, especially when placed at big odds and ridden by Douglas Whyte. This time, with Whyte on the favourite and which ran the quinella that  was SCREAMED from rooftops throughout Hong Kong, the ride went to Howard Cheng. The way, Cheng eased the horse down, stood up on the irons and waived at the crowds or those who emptied their money by the truckload on the horse, one would have thought the jock had won The Melbourne Cup.Or his birthday has come early.

Still, when one gets a good thing home and the quinella tipped by everyone from doormen at hotels to mama sans in hostess clubs the night before, well, one guesses this is cause for much jubilation.

Meanwhile, we have received a plethora of emails asking who fellow Tracksider Jenny Chapman keeps referring to when she talks about having a “stiff” and “being a little stiff”.

For us, we loved “The Scarecrow’s call on the weekend when he put his hands up and said, “Third? Third, I have NO idea as I was too busy watching the first two. Third could have been Team Valour and also there was…” and he named every other horse in the race. The punchline was delivered by fellow Tracksider Clint Hutchison who, talking about the race call, mentioned, “You got that SPOT ON”.

We’re off to meet The Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Odd…



The HKJC is having a phone-in competition where they ask questions that will only interest the most hardened racing fan. One has to do with the winning times of the last Derby winner. How many people would know or even care to know? Isn’t the idea of competitions to get as many people entering and not a competition for 10-12 people????

Who decides on these questions as there was something just as “niche” recently asked in order to win two tickets to the Rugby Sevens.

If these questions are meant for the truly battle-hard punter, they would not even care about dialing in to win some junk prize.

Also, if as Racingbitch says, there is a focus on China and new race-goers, why are these questions so old school, so “exclusive” and which are immediate turn-offs?


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1 Response to THE “WHO CARES?” ISSUE

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