It sounds simple enough: The words “horse racing” and “gambling” must no longer go hand-in-hand. Why? ‘cos it’s “old school”, it’s “uncool” and without losing this albatross, the horse racing industry will always have the anti-gambling lobby up its bum. And these lobby groups are becoming more and more powerful and, as we should know by now, power corrupts and power disrupts.
Look at PETA- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals- which, according to the USDA is now, like Greenpeace, a “terror threat” .
Once an organisation which did so much for the welfare and protection of animals, it is now giddy with power and holding many, especially in Hollywood, to ransom. Wear a fur coat and you are targeted by PETA. Mention something not politically correct by PETA standards and you are ostracized. Some of its targets, however, have our full support. Give us a club and we’ll also bludgeon anyone that takes a club to a baby seal.
We hate to do it, but also look at American politics and the Tea Party. While “Yes We Can” now ends with a question mark and heavy is the crown which The Obamamessiah wears today and with variations of the Stepford Wives on the Far Right, this is no Tea Party for them.
They walk on eggshells and know that they have to dot their i’s and never cross their Tea Parties. Or Right Wing loonies like Rush Limbaugh, the extremely fugly Ann Coulter and Glen Beck- possibly three of the most dangerous people in America- not counting Obama.
Same with all the anti-gambling lobbies- and they are getting more and more powerful and more and more confused- and which is why horse racing MUST distance itself from this now “dirty, vulgar and offensive” word known as “gambling” and will always be associated with families being destroyed and those from the underbelly of life.
Simply having an anti-smoking- type banner warning about the dangers of gambling is not enough. Just ask the Tobacco Industry about that.
For the future of horse racing, for it to attract this new generation of race-goer and new horse owners we have been banging on about, such a “simple” objective needs to be met and, with it, a complete change in the PERCEPTION of horse racing and with the sport, or the game, or whatever one wishes to call it, not being managed by racing clubs in such a darn insular and parochial manner. Tell it like it is.
Sure, there is the Asian Racing Federation. Does anyone know what it really does? How many know who even attends their meetings? Or where they are and when they are and whatever happens at these meetings?
The last we heard about the ARF was when Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges decided to step down as Chairman as he couldn’t hack being around you-know-who from Racing NSW and which had everything to do with the “Tips For Money” Chris Munce case.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and in this day and age of instant messaging and instant everything, if ONE racing clubs fucks up, it can bring the entire house of cards tumbling down.
The language- the vocabulary- of horse racing must change- and, with it, mindsets.
Let’s try and find new ways of saying “the punt” and “betting” and “rorts”.
Today it’s all about online GAMING and which sounds one helluva lot better than online GAMBLING.
Horse racing should become known as a LEISURE activity and every racing club should start referring to the sport as that.
Leisure activities, gaming, they have the perception of being suave, erudite and smart people wearing expensive clothes.
Gambling has the image of walking around with your belly hanging out and scratching your balls.
One game really brought about that change- Texas Hold ‘Em- and which is a damn sight better than being called a “card game”, or “poke her.”
Horse racing around the world needs a Texas Hold’ Em and a completely new brand image.
It needs to look and feel “rich” and “expensive” and “aspirational” but not in some hardcore, gauche and phony way.
Horse racing needs to look niche- yet not “For Members Only”.
Horse racing must be cool- and so must those who are trying to SELL the sport to others who know cool from uncool.
No one is going to buy into horse racing if it is “sold” like some encylopaedias by some glorified encyclopaedia salesmen masquerading as marketing gurus.
VISIT AND SUBSCRIBE TO
YES MINISTER, YOU NEED A SIR HUMPHREY!
It was one of the great British sitcoms, if you called it a sitcom. It was more like art imitating life. Jim Hacker, one your typical polllies, was elevated to the Ministry, where he was batting way above his average. But Hacker was never able to stamp his own authority over his portfolio.
His wily and disingenuous public service chief Sir Humphrey Appleby, was a cool, calculating manipulator, adept at exploiting the flaws in Hacker’s knee jerk responses to most problems that he faced in his portfolio.
And so, we worry about Racing Minister George Souris, who, after just six months in the job is starting to make many in NSW racing nervous, with some of his public utterings and half baked ideas that he is floating in what is clearly demonstrative of a knee jerk reaction to the problems and issues that are mounting in NSW racing.
Take his response to the Integrity problems in the Harness Racing Industry and his ill-considered solution to combine the stewards from harness and thoroughbred codes into one unit. Doh!
Is the Minister serious? The Sydney racing press boys are on the money in their criticisms of the “Souris Solution”.
Combining the two Stewards panels and doubling the work load that Ray Murrihy and his under resourced and under funded Stewards panel is plain dumb.
Murrihy and his panel, not unlike his interstate counterparts, has an Everest like task, trying to keep ahead of the rapid advancements in medical and veterinary science, which are spawning a clutch of new and undetectable performance enhancing substances that are making the dark side of racing even darker.
Murrihy needs more resources and more funding for increased manpower. The racing industry needs more funding for R&D and access to better testing, before it can even hope to be a bolter’s chance of catching the cheats and the substances that they use to get an unfair advantage over their competition.
The problems in the NSW harness Racing Industry are more systemic. They are not just dealing with illegal performance enhancing substances, but with what appears to be corruption within.
The betting rorts, the use of prohibited substances and corrupt practices under the rules of harness racing are evidence of a problem that will not be fixed by a band-aid, knee jerk solution of combining the stewards panels and huffing and puffing and blowing out black smoke around harness racing tracks in NSW.
Souris should put a retired judge into a Commission of Inquiry to fix up the mess that is the NSW harness racing Industry.
But back to NSW racing, as some of the Sydney press has pointed out, Racing NSW appears to have offered no resistance to Souris’ brain fade. And yes, doesn’t that again demonstrate clearly the problems in NSW racing?
Governments and Racing Minister’s ultimately have both barrels to shoot with – the power, and the ability to exercise it.
A measure of the confidence and respect, or lack of it, that Souris has for Racing NSW would be answered by a simple test: Did Souris consult Racing NSW about combining the stewards panels before making his “yes minister” moment public? And if he did what was Racing NSW’ response?
Did they as the Sydney scribes suggest meekly roll over and tick it off, fearful of offending Souris?
Questions aplenty, that need to be answered. What is an even greater concern is what was reported by Sydney Morning Herald columnist Craig Young in his column “the Sting” on September 26, where he claims “The Sting understands Murrihy wasn’t even consulted about the decision”. If that is correct, it is simply mind numbing.
The bottom line is that for the racing industry to function and operate properly, the Racing Minister and the Governing Body, Racing NSW must work together.
They must have respect and confidence in each other and communicate effectively for the betterment of the industry.
The rumours that the “usual suspects” and “dark forces” are continuing to work behind the scenes to elevate themselves into positions of authority and power in NSW racing won’t go away.
The noises are getting louder as the racing industry in NSW continues in its state of disarray and gloom and uncertainty over its future and as it teters on the edge of a financial precipice.
There can only be one way forward: Souris must declare his hand. Decisively and as a matter of urgency. The system of governance and administration is not working. The devolution of responsibility is equally unworkable.
By now, Souris would have been sufficiently ear bashed by anyone and everyone who has had an interest, vested or otherwise in NSW racing as to how to tackle the problems.
He must now make up his mind independently of the lobbying from his constituents. He must act in the best interests of NSW racing. If he fails to do so, he will risk being remembered as the Racing Minister who could have turned NSW racing around, but failed to do so.
AND WHY NOT A HAPPY SUNDAY?
We are huge fans of the HKJC initiative that is Happy Wednesday- racing, music, food, beer and some very pretty people, all happily co-mingling with each other at the Happy Valley racecourse EVERY Wednesday.
It’s taken two years to find its feet and go from being the archaic “Sassy” Wednesday- who on earth came up with that dud?- to today’s Happy Wednesdays and which are the highlights of a week in Hong Kong for everyone from 21 to 45.
It’s hip, it’s happening and it has introduced horse racing to new race-goers in a new way and which no research company would be able to quantify.
Today’s younger consumers- 24 and over and probably skewed more towards females- look at horse racing differently. They have no time for “experts” and tips” and “pundits” and wish to find their own Holy Grail or Holi Ravioli when it comes to winning.
Over the past few months, many of them have been writing to ask us how if there is- and there is- cross-betting at Happy Valley on the weekend race meetings from Shatin, why can’t there also be Happy Sundays? Why not indeed?
Okay, some might say that without the thrill of ‘live’ horse racing, this would not be the same as a Happy Wednesday. Maybe.
But, then again, when cross-betting at Happy Valley, one is only looking at television screens anyway.
Wouldn’t there be more of a carnival atmosphere with ‘live’ music, fashion shows, beer, food etc if these Happy Sundays were to take place- even once a month just to test the waters and see the lay of the land and its popularity?
Again, as music companies and the entire music industry have discovered the hard way, no one can second-guess today’s consumers. Just give them what they want, how they want it and when they want it.
Try and spoon-feed them or shackle them and they revolt. And being revolting ain’t good for anyone.
The other thing about Happy Sundays is that instead of cannibalizing attendances at Shatin, it can actually ENTICE those who cannot be bothered to haul ass “all the way to Kowloon” after a heavy Saturday night of drinking and pillaging to walk down to Happy Valley for brunch, or lunch, or tea, take in some racing and shake off the hangover with some ‘live’ music without any stops and starts.
What’s there to lose other than everything to gain?
Then around 7pm, open up the doors to the HKJC’s re-vamped club called Adrenaline and offer those at Happy Valley AND Shatin somewhere to go on a Sunday night and where entertainment in Hong Kong is nothing short of vapid.
JOCKEYS IN STRIFE RAISE INTEGRITY CONCERNS
The suspensions handed out to two high profile and leading jockeys in two States – Ben Melham in Victoria and Larry Cassidy in Queensland, are not what the Australian racing industry needs.
Both jockeys have received their suspensions, Melham for two months and Cassidy for three months on charges relating to not giving their mounts every possible chance in a race.
In Melham’s case, Stewards charged him with “failing to give his horse Numen Lumen every possible chance” on two occasions during the running of the race at Mornington on September 19.
While Melham, not unexpectedly protested his innocence and has appealed his suspension, the problem he faces is that he has been twice charged and suspended for one and two months respectively for similar breaches of the rules in 2008.
Larry Cassidy who has a clean record in this regard, was charged by Stewards for denying his mount Trump, the opportunity to obtain its best possible finishing position” , Racing Queensland Chief steward wade Birch describing the ride as one with a high degree of culpability. Cassidy has also appealed his suspension.
In Larry Cassidy’s case Stewards examined betting on the race and found no irregularities. Victorian Stewards are still to conclude their investigations into betting on the race in which Numen Lumen competed.
While it appears that both jockeys made errors of judgment, Melham in particular needs to seriously visit his riding tactics and judgment during a race.
He is a gifted jockey, who perhaps needs to find himself a new mentor ( we hear his present mentor is a recently retired jock), who can sort out his problems.
Both Larry Cassidy and Ben Melham should be acutely aware of the legacy of rumour and innuendo that such incidents can leave.
Racing can be very unforgiving. However the Stewards in both States must be commended for their vigilance in upholding the integrity of the sport even when errors of judgment are the culprit.
PREBBLE DUMPED FOR COREY BROWN ON SMART MISSILE
Whichever you analyze last Saturday’s Group One Rupert Clarke Stakes, Brett Prebble and Smart Missile were not seen at their best. Prebble’s ride was below par. It’s the kindest thing that can be said about his ride, where after missing the start slightly from a wide barrier he snagged the horse back to the rear and the race was over after they had barely gone the first 100 metres.
Smart Missile does himself no favours in his races and with his questionable temperament and ability to do so much wrong not just in a race but even pre-race.
Rewind back to this year’s Golden Slipper when he played up behind the barriers and was controversially scratched at the barriers.
The real concern with Smart Missile is that in an attempt to sort his problems out, there is going to be another tinkering of his gear and riding tactics.
While connections cannot be blamed for seeking the answers, one cannot help but think that the Smart Missile is going to be one hell of a confused racehorse, when he next steps out on a racecourse.
“Where the fuck am I? Where’s Bossy? Who was whacking me?”
In the meantime, his arch rivals – Helmet and Manawanui have their mojos working, with Helmet taking to the Melbourne anti-clockwise way of racing like a duck to water in a decisive win in the Guineas Prelude, while in Sydney, Manawanui went on his merry winning way with a soft win in the Stan Fox Stakes.
Anthony Cummings has dumped Prebble for Corey Brown for Smart Missile’s next start – the Caulfield Guineas on Saturday week. This is a career defining race for Smart Missile and Corey brown, who rode him to his debut win in the Breeders Plate, is the type of unflappable rider with poise and balance who will suit this enigmatic racehorse.
The Caulfield Guineas is widely regarded as a stallion making race which can add tens of millions to the value of the winner if he is an entire.
Respected form analyst Dominic Beirne however has Helmet early favourite for the Caulfield Guineas ahead of both Smart Missile and Manawanui.
Irrespective, the Sydney colts are a substantial margin ahead of their Melbourne counterparts, and this edition of the Caulfield Guineas promises to be one of the best in recent times.
MOORE’S THE MERRIER IN MELBOURNE
The John Moore trained Mighty High and Silver Grecian ran up to expectations at their Melbourne debuts at Caulfield last Saturday.
Both gallopers ridden by Darren Beadman indicated that they will be improved by their first up runs and are certain to be hard to beat.
Mighty High is a seriously good stayer, who is capable of being very competitive in the Caulfield Cup, which will be his next start.
John Moore knows what is required to win Group One races, making a habit of winning such races back home in Hong Kong, and he has a collection of staying Group One trophies on his mantelpiece courtesy of champions like Viva Pataca.
Silver Grecian should also be at his peak for his next assignment – the Group One 1600 metres Toorak Handicap at Caulfield on Saturday week, having performed to expectations in the Rupert Clarke over 14000 metres last Saturday.
John Moore’s has publicly stated his ambition to win a Group One race in Australia and with Mighty High and Silver Grecian, he may have the horses to fulfill his ambition and add another milestone to his family’s already illustrious history.
Joao Moreira: Now here’s a name that has taken Singapore racing by storm. Brazillian- born Moreira is the hottest name in the riding ranks and has recently got the call up from Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm to pilot the previously unreliable Trusting to two black type wins in Sydney.
Moreira’s strike rate in Singapore is such that he is on track to rewrite the record books in the island.
Each weekend, it is not uncommon for Moreira to ride eight or nine winners over the two days. Last Sunday’s haul included five winners from the first five races.
Moreira is in such fine touch that it would not surprise if he is not lured away from Singapore.
WILL THEY MAKE MUSIC TOGETHER?
One of the more surreal rumours we’ve heard recently was the one last week where Citibank was supposed to have approached the Hong Kong Jockey Club about buying EMI Music.
What the hell would a racing club do with a music company? Then again, let’s not forget that EMI was purchased by private equity company Terra Firma who had zero experience in running a music company and were known for their purchase of toilets on the Autobahn and restoring and refurbishing nursing homes in Germany.
Still, enjoying a good karaoke session and wanting to bring out the groupie within him, Guy Hand, the head “Terrarist”, threw caution to the wind, vastly over-paid for the music company, made huge promises to anyone within earshot and announced how he was going to single-handedly transform the music industry.
Alas, no one stayed long enough to listen to his grandiose plans.
“Hello, I’m The Guy who had EMI in my Guy Hands.”
He transformed things alright. He took it all down the crapper and created a domino effect where, after EMI lost Radiohead, McCartney, the Stones, Joss Stone and others, everyone started questioning as to why, in today’s DIY world- Do It Yourself world- anyone with a sausage for a brain needed a music company.
“Fuck me, what happened to me hanging out with Coldplay?”
Suddenly, working for a “major” record label was like having PARIAH tattooed on your arse and forehead.
Artists hated you, the music media hated you and consumers thought you were “one of them.”
Meanwhile, EMI went through a number of CEOs, none worked out, profits slumped and Citigroup which recommended the EMI deal, “inherited” Terra Firma when the private equity came up short when it came to the finances to keep the music company afloat.
And so, for the past few months, EMI Music has been up for sale. From the early days when the “obvious choice” to buyout EMI was Warner Music, it has now been said that Sony Music and Universal Music are also bidding for the former home of the Beatles. And the home of the Sex Pistols. Remember their odd ode to EMI?
Along with the music companies, others who know bugger all about the music industry, have also become strange bedfellows to acquire EMI.
So, what if it’s true and the HKJC purchase the music company? They certainly have the money to do so.
We cannot see it happening though stranger things have happened, but IF it does, it immediately buys the racing club a “free pass” into the entertainment world and a huge data base to tap into a new generation of racegoers- and if the archaic Membership Rules are changed, some very high profile racehorse owners.
What the HKJC also has is the infra-structure in place- venues for concerts and a very close relationship with China- a market which EMI and every other music company would love to crack, but cannot due to the cretins and trolls put in place to run their companies over there.
For the moment, horse racing in China is “banned”- though there is an HKJC Club in Beijing and with many of the nouveau and not so-nouveau riche Mainland Chinese racing enthusiasts extremely interested in Hong Kong horse racing and wanting nothing more than to be seen as horse owners. It’s all about “face” and never about turning the other cheek.
Also, with the HKJC and CEO “E.B” hammering the government and the Hong Kong Home Affairs Bureau about obtaining approval for co-mingling and removing this stupid “quota” for the number of simulcasts when there are so many other means to bet on these race meetings- like the one at Caulfield last week where Hong Kong had two horses running and Hong Kong-based jockeys Darren Beadman and Brett Prebble riding at that meeting- having a music company as part of the club’s “portfolio” gives the Club a certain sense of “class” to ease the neurotic thinking of the the nervous anti-gambling brigade within the government.
It also gives the club the added “sexiness” of being associated with musicians and all those associated with the very wide world of entertainment and which might suddenly not make co-mingling such a “horrorific” word to the government.
Hell, all of a sudden, it could even make Hong Kong look like a REAL global brand with the entertainment value of horse racing and music going hand in hand- and “traveling” worldwide.
If we were into conspiracy theories, we’d almost think that those very successful Happy Wednesday events like Music Rocks The Valley, are a “test run” and a test case for something much bigger.
Something like the HKJC acquisition of EMI.This rumour might not be that daft.
Plus, the HKJC can have its own theme song.
BITCHES AND PIECES
COMING TO A TELLY NEAR YOU: THE HBO HORSE RACING MINI SERIES “LUCK”
THE HAIRY SUBJECT OF THE MJC AND INTEGRITY?
Well, better late than never: Somehow, suddenly, someone with the Macau Government has decided to give the Macau Jockey Club a “limited” license to continue. Why? They feel the club has “integrity” problems.
What? Really? Integrity and the MJC? Isn’t this an oxymoron?
Rabid punters storm the Macau Jockey Club
All we know is that the last time we visited the MJC and despite HUGE signs saying that NO MOBILE PHONES were allowed, strange looking man and women walked past the “security ” people SCREAMING into their phones. The “security” people just stood there and picked their noses and examined if they’d picked any nuggets.
Upstairs in the Members area, nearly everyone was making their bets- on their spanking new i-Phones as broken down horses ran around and with one able to bet on races in Singapore, yikes, Malaysia and, of course, Macau. Rage Overkill?
Of course, for years, the MJC has been plagued with vile rumours of jockeys not being granted licenses for winning when they shouldn’t have, or losing when they shouldn’t have, plus trainers and jockeys being beaten up, they have all made the rounds along with odds changing on the tote while races were being run.
Funny fucking place.
The HKJC should just buy it at a low-balled price and so rub out any “Macau connections” which just might be infiltrating Hong Kong racing.
“You win! No, you win! Hey, who’s meant to win?”
DEFINITELY NO LAST TRAIN TO CLARKESVILLE FOR HIM
Many have written to ask how Tim Clark is faring in Hong Kong. In short, as well as can be expected with what he has been given to ride.
The good news is the great support he has been receiving from various stables.The not-so-good news is that he has as yet to be on a horse that really has a winning chance.
He’s not been sitting on his arse either: He’s hustling for rides, he’s fans of the top jocks in Hong Kong- especially Darren Beadman- and doesn’t find himself to be a stranger in a strange land.
He has placed on a number of horses, but that first winner- as for so many before him like even Brett Prebble- remains elusive.
It’s only a matter of time before he breaks through.
The kid is too good to go winless for much longer and when his family gets to Hong Kong on Friday it might prove the change of luck he needs.
Meanwhile though he has copped his second suspension for the new season- the first being that silly one for his ride on Green Birdie in Japan- Tye Angland is riding in magnificent fashion.
He racked up three seconds on Sunday at Shatin and gave a masterful ride on the John Size-trained Rouge Voile to take out race nine and notch his first winner for the season. There will be many more.
BALU AND HIS BEAR NECESSITIES: SOME BLUE CAVIAR
Two years ago, he found himself suddenly owning English football club Portsmouth FC. But known for his street savvy, Hong Kong-based Indian businessman Balu Chainrai was able to palm this turkey off to some Russian twats who had millions to spend and lose by owning a real loser of a football club.
Today, apart from being the main investor behind one of two British companies bidding to bring a giant Ferris Wheel to Hongkers and which could net him HK$89 million, Balu has joined the ranks of horse owners. Well, one of many and part of the Deamantes Syndicate.
Oz might have Black Caviar, but this syndicate has a BLUE Caviar. Trained by Danny Shum and ridden by Douglas Whyte, it won like a good thing on his debut a Shatin two weeks ago. It is a very good looking horse and which should go very far- including going further than the 1000 metres it won with ease on its debut.
After the race, a Cecil B DeMille of a cast encircled horse, jockey and trainer and with text messages flying all over the place that the syndicate or Balu Chainrai himself was offering top dollar for a FEW good horses and with two to be called Red and Orange Caviar, respectively.
By the way, Blue Caviar runs this weekend at the special National Day meeting on October 1.
Sadly, Douglas Whyte cannot make the 114 pounds it has to carry as he’s become a bit of a porker after two race days on the sidelines.
Hopefully, Tim Clark might have the chance to get on it. It could prove to be his first real winning chance in Hong Kong.
However we doubt it and a claimer will probably be used.
CHUI CHEWY CHEWY
Known as “The Choo Choo Bar” in Western Oz, former Hong Kong jockey Marco Chui has really hit his strides- and very quickly.
Apart from riding his first winner in Perth a week ago, Chui got on a plane, flew to Bathurst and rode one placing and another winner.
Good to see the boy has put his troubles behind and getting back to riding winners.
CHRISTIAN REITH, ROLE MODEL!
Another very talented rider who looks to have his past problems behind him is Christian Reith.
We remember Reith when he was writing in Macau and always had so much talent. Then came a few years in the wilderness, but now he’s back and riding better than ever and has shaken the monkey off his back.
Reith really should be seen as a role model to some senior jockeys in Oz and a number of apprentices who have fallen or are quickly falling by the wayside. He has got his act together and turned his life around. It’s taken time, he’s had help and he’s done it.
Welcome back, mate.
PETER SELLERS SPOTTED AT…MENANGLE????
We were startled to see that Peter Sellers was the driver in one of the harness races at Menangle this week. He didn’t “do an Inspector Clouseau”, but he still didn’t do very well.