Every industry today has woken up, smelt the same coffee and have come to the realization that without broadening its appeal to bring in new consumers, they are dead simply ‘cos their current core group of consumers are dying- literally.
As we keep saying, there is a reason why the music industry is stumped and stagnant and in a state of flux: It realized way too late that they needed to CHANGE and understand and EMBRACE this new consumer- this new consumer who is spoilt for choice and are suspicious of things like “adverts”, know all about “social media” as they ARE social mediums THEMSELVES and can smell hip from hype from miles off.
Communicating with them- credibly and in relevant ways-is key. And just bringing in “younger” executives is not the answer.
Some of the most old-fashioned bores we have met have been these type of doofuses with their MBAs and old-school thinking disguised in Armani suits.
As for the old mob who are hanging in racing clubs, moaning and whinging and politicking and biting the very hand that feeds them, well, if the going is so much on the soft side of good, leave.
But wait: They have nowhere to go and so they stay and bleat and keep staring at their glasses which are always half-empty.
The racing industry desperately needs GAME CHANGERS who can “speak to” and win over this new target audience and what Ascot has done- a FREE race day- see story below- shows that achieving this is not exactly brain surgery.
The problem is that many tend to over-think things to death and look at everything from an “internal” point of view and put waaaaaay too much emphasis into “research” and “surveys”.
When something goes tits up, they can, of course, blame “research” and “surveys” as they never went with that thing called “common sense” or “gut instinct”.
Does a “research company” or “surveys” in 2011 actually know with ANY degree of accuracy what the online world is thinking, or how they view “campaigns” aimed at them? Of course not. BUT, this is where “gut instinct” comes in and also horses for courses and the delegation of duties.
No one in any industry can do everything and we know many in racing clubs who are COMPLETELY ineffective in their jobs.
Yet, there they remain in their positions of strength and shooting blanks- over and over and over again- And each time they do, they take horse racing- and their clubs- ten steps backwards.
These people are more of a hindrance than a help and the sooner racing clubs realize this, the quicker they can move forward as the very MARKET they are trying to reach ARE moving forward so fast and with some already looking at the weaknesses within industries and creating their OWN new business models to COMPETE with them.
Like in love, one cannot hold on to old baggage as “this is how it’s always been”.
The ties that once bound, must be cut and game-changers brought in who can see the forest for the trees and are not happy talking to themselves at useless meeting after meeting and going around in circles while the meter ticks away and nothing has been accomplished.
Meanwhile, that elusive new target market has moved on- again- and it’s time to play catch-up- again.
ASCOT OPENS ITS GATES FOR FREE AND THE FUTURE.
The most successful marketing and promotion initiatives are almost always the most simple and uncomplicated. Not tricky or too clever by half, but with clear tangible benefits to the target market.
And so it is that racecourses across the UK, during April, dared to do something different– rare indeed for racing: They crashed through the glass ceiling and bravely experimented with “free” racing.
While many racecourses adopted a cautious approach and restricted their “free through the gates” offer to several hundred on a race day, one of the UK’s premier racetracks – Ascot, home of the iconic Royal Ascot five day carnival each year, threw their gates open with unrestricted access to the public which would normally cost an entrance fee of 40 quid. Yes, it was like a bloody miracle.
Needless to say the experiment was a unparalleled success – franked by the 26,000 odd attendees who voted with their feet to be there and enjoy racing at one of the UK’s iconic racecourses.
To demonstrate the success of this bold “free” racing experiment, the race meeting was staged on a Wednesday, on a normal mid-week workday. And in keeping with the spirit of “free” racing, the “toffs” whose overwhelming presence in their special enclosures at such premier race tracks is so very imperially British were hopelessly outnumbered by the “joe publics”. The sport of kings became the sport of the commoner for just one day.
By all reports the “free” racing experiment of throwing the gates open and giving admission fees the flick did not mean that Ascot had to dip into its own pocket to offset any losses from the sale of admission tickets. Increased turnover and revenue from hospitality and catering compensated adequately.
The significance of Ascot, probably the UK’s most traditional racecourse, going all the way with unrestricted free admission, says a lot both for the bravado of its administrators and those in the UK generally, but also for the perilous state of the racing industry – in the UK and worldwide.
Desperate and challenging times demand bold experiments and solutions. It is when you throw away the textbooks and use your instincts and go back to the basics. The simpler the solution – the better the chance of success: KISS- Keep It Simple, Stupid which usually becomes, Keep It Simple AND Stupid.
The success of the UK experiment just might make some of the comatosed bureaucrats that run Australian racing consider replicating the initiative Down Under. But, in racing there will always be someone, somewhere who will find a way to stifle a worthwhile initiative.
We can hear the moans and groans from the racing bureaucrats in their ivory towers, and watch them cringe as they work out how they can financially compensate their budgets for the few hundred paying patrons that pass through the turnstiles at mid-week race meetings.
Sad, but true, it’s the mentality of the bottom tier of administrators, and heaven knows there are so many of them.
Perhaps the last word belongs to Ascot Chief Executive and game changer Charles Barnett, below, quoted in the UK press: “There is an argument that if you allow people in for free, it devalues the event. We don’t adhere to that at all. The majority of our crowd will be first timers, who will never have been to Ascot before. If they enjoy it mb
How refreshing is it, that out there in the gloom that surrounds racing and its future; in the wastelands of so many inappropriate and expensive and numbing marketing campaigns, there is someone who is prepared to think outside the square; that is prepared to be bold and take a calculated risk that could ultimately put racing back on the radar of a generation that has so far been lost to racing.
Wishful thinking maybe, but for the sake of racing we hope not.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“On the turn, I was thinking, Matthew, you better give the horse a smack around the backside now, or I’m gonna give you a smack around the ass when you get back.”
Trainer Tony Cruz didn’t have to. Matthew Chadwick rode a brilliant ice-cool, from last-to-first race on Happy Forever over the weekend at Shatin- a horse most definitely going places.
SACRED KINGDOM COMES UNDONE [AGAIN]
“I cannot believe that Sacred Kingdom could get beaten in an eight horse field. What was Brett Prebble doing on the horse?” “Mate, did Prebble think there was another lap to go?”
And so came the questions thick and fast after hot pot Sacred Kingdom, sporting blinkers for the first time, got toppled in a race many thought it would win with a leg in the air and smoke coming outta its arse.
What happened? Simply put, Matthew Chadwick on Multiglory completely out-rode Brett Prebble.
It was a brilliant ride by Chadwick where he caught Prebble smoking his pipe and taking a stroll in the park while he took the race by the scruff of its neck and rode Multiglory for speed. It was a ride reminiscent of tactics the horse’s trainer Tony Cruz might have used during his riding days: Man, put the peddle to the metal and catch me if you can, babaaay!
Chadwick and Cruz were to employ exactly the same tactics a week later when, in the Queen Mother Memorial Cup, Super Pistachio was simply allowed to dictate terms in the front with such ease that Chadwick must have been wondering if his fellow riders- and all much more experienced than him- were asleep or had lost a few grey cells in the sauna.
“Lack of pace” was the cry heard by those who were on the losing end of things. But, oy, you dozy twats, who’s to blame for that? Matty Chadwick- and riding in brilliant form right now- had no problem with any “lack of pace”.
“They were Dozy, Dopey, and Sneezy, Tony!”
Getting back to the Sacred Kingdom saga and speaking of “lack of pace”, what two of trainer John Moore’s known speedsters were doing languishing at the back of the field was as baffling as the ride of Brett Prebble, who, when hemmed in by Zac Purton on Rich Unicorn in some fair and square competitive riding, looked like Alexis Carrington having an anxiety attack.
We seldom hear Trackside’s Brett Davis being vocal about a ride. That’s the job of his colleague Darren Flindell. But, boyohboy, was he fuming. He was almost stamping his foot on the floor in disgust and with smoke coming outta his ears.
Yes, The Strawman was on fire. And who could blame him and all the others who were gob-smacked with the ride and the result.
As everyone who was there that Sunday saw, Brett Prebble made a meal of his ride instead of the feast it should have been and one has to wonder what Kim “Eliot Ness” Kelly might have done if this was “the work” of a lesser-known jockey.
The Ricky Yiu-trained Sacred King should have won this race with consummate ease. Instead,it was asked to do the impossible and we are not surprised that Prebble was immediately sacked off the horse.
Then, again, the jockey has won on Sacred Kingdom when it was in its prime and, perhaps, he is not that concerned.
Watching Zac Purton’s brilliant winning ride on another Ricky Yiu-galloper in Quantum Power- keep following this one- a few races later, tongues were wagging that the ride on Sacred Kingdom would be going to him. It didn’t, despite, we hear, some vigorous campaigning from the jock.
We also understand that the owner wanted Douglas Whyte on it, but his upcoming suspension clashed with the horse’s next race in Singapore. However, the Ricky Yiu-Douglas Whyte combination is a rarity.
So, now while he is riding in Singapore, Glen Boss is the horse’s new rider, a horse he will know only too well from his time in Hong Kong.
The bigger question going through our heads is whether it makes sense for ANY jockey to worked up about getting on a champion horse on the decline?
Peter Cobb writes: There are reasons why these showcase races are not held as the curtain closer to a race meeting. At least in Oz, most would be too pissed to bet by then. Also, by the time of the last race, most punters might have done their money. Yet, racing clubs are starting to re-examine where to programme these races and it would be good if there were two showcase races.
In racing mad Hong Kong, it might make sense to have the showcase race be the last leg of a now severely “downsized” in popularity Triple Trio bet instead of something like a Class 4 or Class 5 race and where one needs a magic pin to find the first three placegetters.
NSW RACING UPSTAGED ON FUNDING [AGAIN]
Those Victorians are the chosen few of Australian racing. There is no other conclusion that can be drawn from the news during the week that their Racing Minister Denis “NAPS” Napthine, pictured below, has delivered the Victorian racing industry a $79.5 million windfall over the next four years with no strings attached.
“Nap’s” “gift” to Victorian racing was announced in the State budget and comes in the form of the establishment of the Victorian Racing Industry Fund which would return unclaimed dividends from wagering and on-course wagering taxes to the Victorian racing industry.
“Nap’s” has specified that the funding will be prioritized towards a $30 million allocation for important infrastructure for racing and training and public facilities at racetracks and training centres and for a raft of other initiatives which appear to be geared towards continuing Victoria’s leadership position in Australian racing.
Contrast this with the state of racing in NSW and it is like comparing Black Caviar and her hapless opponents.
To our disbelief and dismay, we read in Ray Thomas’s column in the Murdoch rag- the Daily Smelligraph- that, NSW Racing Minister George Souris “has conceded that the (NSW) State Government is unlikely to match the $80 million funding package provided to the Victorian racing industry”. And, how “Souris explained that when the NSW Tab was privatized in 1998, one of the key elements was that all unclaimed dividends went back to the Tab”.
This absolutely beggars belief. It’s almost “game over” for racing in NSW.
Not only has Racing NSW sold the lifetime rights to the cartoon racing game “trackside” to the NSW Tab to fund the Australian Turf Club redevelopment of Randwick, but we now learn that the NSW Tab has been sitting back in the lap of luxury enjoying the “crème de la crème” from the rivers of gold each year that constitute unclaimed dividends.
Is it any wonder that the NSW Tab and Racing NSW are Siamese twins?
It explains so much about the dangerously close relationship that Racing NSW and the NSW Tab have enjoyed in recent times and the many of the questionable deals that were exposed by Judge Perram in his judgment on the Product Fee case between the corporate bookmakers and Racing NSW, where the NSW Tab was shown to be rebated the product fees that they paid to Racing NSW.
It also explains the sometimes extremes of paranoia demonstrated by some key players in the NSW racing industry in their passionate and yet irrational defence of the NSW Tab, whenever it’s position on anything in racing is challenged.
Now it does not take an Einstein to work out something akin to the odour of rotting fish hangs over the NSW racing industry and it is well known that fish always rot from the head.
To give credit to the Victorians, there is a stronger sense of respect for each other, among the major players in the Victorian racing industry.
The Clubs, Racing Victoria and the disparate groups of industry associations, seem to by and large, get along even though from what we can gather there are often strong disagreements. Of course the exception is the Victorian Owners Association and their hillbilly leadership team of the “Munzter” and “La La” Lafontaine.
Spot “La La” and “The Munzter”
The Victorians, it appears spend most of their time getting on with the job, rather than making meaningless evangelical statements like their NSW counterparts in Racing NSW and their spin doctor leader Dr Peter “The Not So Great” V’Landys.
Nor do they spend their waking hours picking expensive and debilitating legal skirmishes with whoever they can find to waste their hard earned revenue on. And nor do they behave in a disingenuous and duplicitous way in their dealings with those that do the hard yards in racing.
We have said it all before and we will repeat: NSW racing is being held back by those who run the industry and have made the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons.
Until the top levels of racing administration are completely “torched”, racing in NSW will continue to be marginalized.
The NSW racing industry is devoid of respect from both within NSW and from outside. Respect for its leadership is struggling to climb from the red into the black.
It is why even if Racing NSW wins the legal battle with the corporate bookmakers, it would be a pyrrhic victory. Rome will continue to burn while Nero continues to fiddle.
RACINGBITCH THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Why oh why are trophy presentations so damn BORING. The presenters look bored, those receiving the trophies look bored and it is of absolutely no interest to race-goers.
It’s just the way it has always been and with no one looking at how tart up these mundane ceremonies.
Boring, boring, boring and soon- and they have already- sponsors will be asking, “THIS crap is what get for our money?”
Yes, it’s as boring as it looks.
THIS BENTLEY IS NO ROLLER
You would be doing your money cold if you backed Queensland Racing supremo Bob Bentley in a popularity contest for the most popular figure in racing in the sunshine state.
What has irked many in Queensland has been “Bentley” Bob’s blatantly autocratic style in pushing through some very unpopular reforms to the governance structure in Queensland Racing.
But the “trigger” that has brought his many opponents to share common ground has been Bentley’s dual role- let’s call him after that Batman character- “Two-Face”- as Chairman of Queensland Racing and board membership of the Tattersalls group which owns Unitab – the totalizator operator in Queensland.
To give further oxygen to the “conflict of interest” claims which have been bandied about recently, was the two part expose on the popular ABC television national current affairs program “the 7.30 report” which combined Queensland Racing’s decision to sign over their broadcasting rights to the Tabcorp owned subsidiary Sky Channel, giving the two finger salute to industry broadcaster TVN – a decision which stunned many racing industry administrators throughout Australia.
The sting in the tail is that it is commonly believed in racing circles that when the demerger of the wagering and gaming arms of Tabcorp occurs in the second part of the year, the demerged wagering business will be up for grabs and sold off to the highest bidder. And no guessing as to the red favourite for the highest bid. Unitab. Enough said.
Bentley’s “Two-Faced” problems don’t end there. He has successfully alienated many of Queensland’s racing clubs with his crash through approach to tie up funding from Queensland Racing with a trade off of club racing assets, which would create a dangerously powerful monolith of frightening proportions.
“Two Face” Bentley has powerful connections within the State Labor Government and the Queensland Labor Party machine and while that might buy him time, if the tide turns against him and his lust for power and control and his perceived conflicts of interests, that protection might only be short term. We all know how transparent and temporary political alliances are.
The bets this time are increasingly on a Bentley getting rolled…
When the Fat Lady has sung and trainer John Moore and sidekick and stable jockey Darren Beadman ride off into the sunset, the duo really should try their shtick as a vaudeville act.
They’d be damn good and can “do” an Abbot And Costello: “Who’s on first?” “No, Why’s on first?” “Then Who’s on second?” etc…
Always, around 10 days before a big race, the double acts starts up and the media are either knowing accomplices or are sucker-punched with a new story and run with whatever is dished their way.
Some of the media, we think are knowing and willing accomplices and it is a game many are now aware of, especially, when these big races have such different odds on horses from so many different channels.
For the Audemars Piguet QE Cup Race, Moore and Beadman aka Abbot and Costello, had a new story every day- just like the one a week earlier where the jockey was “wondering” if he had got on the “right horse” for the Classic Mile as Able One had done a “tremendous piece of trackwork”. Pull the other one.
Whoever believed that piece of bollocks believes in marriages with happy endings and divorces where the wife says, “I don’t want anything”. Of course, Beadman “stuck with Xtension”and the rest, as they say, is history.
This time around, Moore was quoted as giving all his horses a chance and with Destined For Glory being the “possible knockout horse”.
A few days later, Beadman, on the nine-year-old Viva Pataca, chimed in about how “great” the horse was feeling and how it had chomped off some flesh off a mafoo- a local stable- hand.
At the end of the day, Mighty High was the best any of the Moore runners could do in the big Cup race and with visiting Damien Oliver helping to soothe some damage by winning the last on the Moore-trained Able Best.
What our old mate Brett Prebble was doing on a the red hot favourite in THAT race remains another mystery.
To put it mildly, it was NOT a good day for the Prebbler.
BITCHES AND PIECES
NASH RAWILLER, SPEECH MAKER? WE ARE DUMB-FOUNDED
As those of us who have seen him ride,Nash Rawiller is a very good jockey. And those of us who have tried to communicate with him knows, he is also a man of few words- a lovely guy, but a man of very few words other than, perhaps, the occasional, “Yeeeh?” .
In fact, it often takes a crowbar to have him string together a sentence.
So, when news reached us that “The Gnasher” was giving a SPEECH in Alice Springs we had to wonder the following: Huh? Nash Rawiller and giving a speech is an oxymoron.
“Please, just keep talking. I have nothing to say.” Nash tunes out.
We have no idea if he gave this “speech” or was part of a Q&A session, but on Monday, Nash Rawiller, the jockey rode at the annual Alice Springs Cup Meeting.
“Jeez, she’s using such BIG words”.
And despite being the top jockey that he is, he could not ride a winner. Those went to those “household names” like Vanessa Arnott, who won on a 48 to 1 pop, Carl Spry who won on a 26 to 1 pop, Cara Angel who won at 28 to 1 on Cristambul and the aptly-named Kim Gladwin who rode the over 30s shot, Miss Iceland.
Yes, racing at Alice Springs can be hazardous to a punter’s pocket. But we who have been there, know this. It’s almost a “benefit meeting” for bookies.
HERE COMES FRANKEL!
Before the wedding of Wills and Kate, a horse had won over the hearts of the British public: Frankel.
Frankel, (foaled 2008 in Ireland), trained by the great Henry Cecil for Prince Khalid Abdulla and named after legendary American trainer Bobby Frankel who died in November 2009, was an impressive two year old winning all four starts. These wins were enough to earn him the accolade of “[my] best two year old since Wollow” from his trainer- and Henry Cecil knows a thing or three or four about horses.
As a three year old, he won the 2000 Guineas in one of the highest-rating performances of all-time.
Read about Frankel by clicking here.
Then watch this brilliant horse by clicking here. Also read some of the idiotic comments.
With the UK now having Frankel, Oz having Black Caviar and Hong Kong having recent Derby and QE 2 Cup Winner Ambitious Dragon, the mind boggles at what COULD happen.
But, then again, all this depends on Henry Cecil’s great aversion to travel.
*The owner of champion Hong Kong sprinter Sacred Kingdom is a Mr. Sin- and no relation, by the way, to the beloved Cardinal Sin of the Philippines.
* Interesting to hear a race-call in Oz recently where “Hard On” was being urged to “make a forward move”. We got pretty excited until after the race when the caller enunciated the name- HEART On. It didn’t last the trip and petered out.
* Couldn’t the HKJC afford a better backdrop to those seemingly endless and excruciatingly boring presentations- four of them to jockey Douglas Whyte who rode four winners that day- over the weekend other than the school play yellow cardboard job which made all ten presentations look like a Ronald McDonald birthday party?