We took a few newcomers to Shatin for the races with us on the weekend just to see what makes them tick, what makes them rock and to try and understand their wants and needs.
When one screamed, “We’re on INFORMATION OVERLOAD!” we realized that this would be the last time we would go through this type of Day At The Races. It would have been easier hosting the Marx Brothers.
Having said all this, from the mouths of babes came answers which made us realize just how close- too close, in fact- many of us are to the sport and are so blind that we cannot see the forest for the trees.
These newbies had NO idea how to bet- and which is Marketing 101. They can have everything at their fingertips- apps, saps, iPhones, iPads etc- and so, without an understanding of the very fundamentals of horse racing, without having any INTEREST in knowing what a Six Up is or a Treble etc, they are still very much on the periphery.
Why no interest? Perhaps we have simply not made these bets sound exciting enough? Or, these initiatives have been started- but with little or no follow-up – no campaigns to renew or sustain interest in them? And with so many more leisure activities available to consumers today and an online world which offers them a buffet of choices, those marketing horse racing must -MUST- leave nothing to chance.
They must also have more diverse interests in this world we live in and come across like bores and boors. Bores can never make any industry look or sound exciting. Only boring.
In any industry where those leading it have their blinkers on and hire underlings in their own “likeness and mindness “, they are only bringing in mediocrity and like-minded people who offer nothing new.
This was one of the key reasons for the demise of the music industry: Too many like-minded people who could not see the outside world was changing and that the barbarians were at the gates waiting to take over. Did they hear the sounds of mutinous glutinous? Not from their ivory towers where the view was always perfect.
Today, we hear the words “social media” and how one can “use social media” to “tap this new market”- but, er, how?
Having a Facebook page few visit? Having a Twitter or Weibo account even fewer follow? Uploading some videos on Youtube which barely get a thousand views?
This is not utilizing “social media”. Social media is CONTENT-driven and if the content is bloody boring, no one care if its on Facebook or Arsebook.
Same if it is the same very old message being wrapped up in new “cool” clothing and trying to fake out these consumers who abhor anything phony and are now making themselves heard.
They are as mad hell and not going to take it anymore. Yes, they have become a generation of Howard Beales and they are pissed off at the world. They do not trust the old media which fed us news and information and which we gobbled up like hungry turkeys and never ever questioned why the fuck we just took orders.
Now, it’s a constant chant of WE’RE AS MAD AS HELL AND WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE. Screw Obama, Sarkozy, Campbell, Merkel- she, we won’t screw- and every other world leader and politician. They are all fucking useless and we voted them in- you and us.
Look at what started out against Wall Street and has spread throughout the States.
Look at one-time apolitical Hong Kong and how local students are now questioning everything the government does? They criticize the Chief Executive, they pile crap on the philandering former Chief Secretary and make their feelings known on blogs and Weibo and Twitter. In racing parlance, Hong Kong looks like a horse’s arse.
He was not a fake and nothing he did was phony or manipulative. We all trusted him, an what he said and what he created. The name Apple said it all and everyone wanted a slice of Apple and everyone wore it like a badge of courage and pride. It stood for something and everything.
Steve Jobs was a Baby Boomer. His heroes were the Beatles and John Lennon. Like his heroes, he managed to tap into the psyche of kids everywhere. He was 56, but he wasn’t fobbed off as being “an old fart.”
He led by example and changed the thinking of the generation after him. Hell, he changed the way the world thinks and communicates today.
He was and always will be an evolutionary revolutionary and revolutionary evolutionist. He was timeless and ageless and people of all ages trusted him.
He inspired kids- and the kid inside everyone to think for themselves and imagine the impossible and then realize that nothing is impossible. If you get it wrong once, there’s always a second chance to get it right.
He wanted us to stop being hamsters and to get off that treadmill of life and stop being part of the rat race.
This same type of positive energy, thinking, inspiration CAN exist in horse racing. But it must start with us- those who know about the sport- but not use TOO much of this knowledge when communicating with those who are new to the sport and because of much to do with what Jobs was able to give them, believe in the KISS theory of Keeping It Simple, Stupid.
Let’s not overwhelm them with how much we know. They won’t be impressed. We’ll be boring them with “stuff” when they have so much fluff and “stuff” already. We’ll be overloading them with more irrelevant “stuff”.
Being asked on the weekend why there needs to be “tipsters” or “pundits” or “nehrus” is not so dumb when one thinks about it. Neither is thinking that the same horses run race after race. Or looking at the tote board, looking at the television screens, looking at their betting tickets and being asked “What do all these fucking numbers MEAN?”
It means that we need to start at ground level.
Yes, do everything to attract these current non and casual racegoers to the races. Then, once there, make it simple- and relevant- to them. Make it fun. Make it a game of skill. Make them look at horse racing as they would an exciting and cool video game. Do not make it an “exacting science”. It is not. Do not Over-think something simple and complicate it to death.
Today, horse racing needs to be seen as a game of chance and allow these racegoers new to the game to take their chances and make their own choices.
We might be totally wrong, but we believe that, on the one hand, this customer base wants to know how to bet, BUT they are very wary as to who teaches them. The cynic in them rises to the fore.
So,yes, who needs “tipsters” indeed?
Every Tom, Dick, Harry, Larry, Moe and Curly Joe are “tipsters” and no one believes in their tips. Unless someone like Vince Aspinall or Andrew Harcourt- who are not “tipsters” but intelligent racing men- “tipsters” and “tipping” is part of the past.
“Waaaaaiiiiiii, yah moh teep-see-ah? Shooo ah ween-aah?”
Do not try and force-feed this new generation of race-goers with glutinous maximus facts and figures which take their enjoyment outta being at the races. Leave the “stats” to those who can understand them and can either take them or leave them.
These “stats” are overkill and TOO MUCH INFORMATION.
What is happening is taking all those long-winded and often useless meetings to the racetrack and subjecting racegoers to more bad time-management.
Steve Jobs managed to simplify everything. Through Pixar, he made animation look easy- and like nothing we had seen before.
He managed to give us music we can now carry with us all the time. He had us get rid of all those physical CDs which took over our rooms and apartments.
He created a truly Brave New World. He also listened to what his customers said and revised and “evolutionised” things.
He inspired many of us by being able to “drop out” and “connect the dots”. He followed his intuition. He learnt from what he saw and not what he was forced to learn.
Yes, you cannot connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking backward. It’s called life experiences.
We often say how the customer always comes first. Nice words to use in a presentation to staff. But how are we making this work TODAY.
The customer has been “coming first” for decades. But are they? Really? Or, are they meant to THINK they are first in the food chain? They are not so dumb these days.
Music for example, has been around since there was the caveman who would bang two rocks together and create sound- or neanderthal music. The Beatles, especially, gave these sounds a voice which often went “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” and shook their heads and went “Wooooooh”.
They also created and formed their own record label and called it Apple.
When Steve Jobs formed his own company, he took what the Beatles had started and made it relevant to him- and those who had grown tired of the ways in which music was being distributed by the music companies.
He also sided with the artists who were pissed off at the control the music companies had over their art. It was going from their heads and into the hands of lawyers and accounts. They were losing ownership. Steve Jobs had many regain this ownership and they owed him and could work directly with i-Tunes.
In the same way, horse racing needs a Steve Jobs. The sport- the game- the leisure activity- is still an old person’s sport to many and often looking somewhat “desperate”.
We know people who are, for instance, embarrassed to be seen walking into a TAB, a William Hill or a local betting centre.
To them, it shows that they are “not doing well” or are “desperate for money.” It’s a “face” thing.
Horse racing must give itself the “class and coolness” it is missing. After all, horse racing is also not fast and furious like F1 and jockeys can never have the appeal of the new rock stars of this generation- all those highly paid footballers, basketball players and even tennis players. Footballer Ronaldo or jockey Jeff Lloyd? Nothing personal, Jeff.
What is also needed is to look at horse racing in toto and not in bits and pieces.
Someone needs to make sure all the disjointed pieces fit. Make all the dots connect. And we know, at the most, only 2-3 people who can do this in the entire racing industry. And they are not in Oz.
It cannot continue to be a question of “It’s not my problem, mate.” It is EVERYONE’S problem if horse racing is failing to catch on.
Forget about competing: Let’s make the sport catch on first. THEN we can compete as we will have something with which TO compete.
Let’s get our respective houses in order as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Same with any industry.
This is not the problem of the clubs. This is a horse racing INDUSTRY problem.
We know hundreds of kids in their mid-Twenties who are members of various Jockey Clubs simply because their parents are. Are they interested in owning horses? Nah. Do they know how to bet? No. Do they go to the races? From time to time. Why? To network or because their old man has a horse running.
Would they attend the races on a regular basis? Depends if their friends were going or if they didn’t have a big night the day before.
What do they understand about betting? Win and place. Anything else? No. But they have questions- and we faced a barrage of them.
To be frank, we were bitch-slapped as it has made US think that WE have been walking around in blinkers.
There is a time and place to “educate” or “edutain” racegoers. A racetrack is not the place. This “edutainment” must happen online or through apps and the mobile world- and in their time- not ours.
Our young entourage, for example, could not read the tote board. It confused them. They decided to follow the “tipsters” and, after doing this for a few races- and losing- asked why there is a need for tipsters and if they knew what they were tipping and who was the “best tipster” and what it takes to even BE a “tipster.”
They then showed us what was tipped in the newspapers and proudly ticked off how bad their choices were. Come on, four choices in a race by around eight “tipsters” and they still cannot get it right?????? So, yes, who needs “tipsters” today?
The incessant chatter- to our young entourage- of racing commentators filling in time by talking bothered the hell outta them: “Why do they need to talk so much?” they asked. We gulped and wondered that to ourselves- especially as most of the words were just unnecessary crap and perhaps relevant to around 10 people.
Why indeed? Because that’s the way it’s always been? Incessant chatter to fill in time between races?
Can’t there be something else to pass the time instead of everything being on Repeat mode?
The way horse racing is marketed will be the past and future of the industry. No Ifs and Buts about that.
One of our newbies asked us why can’t “they” learn about the sport through “just a Dummies Guide to Horse Racing which we can figure out with a click of a button”.
Apart from finding “a Steve Jobs” which is not an everyday occurrence, a big problem has to do with the structure of a racing club and where everyone seems to think they must market the product in a hardcore and tedious manner. They don’t know any better. Gone are the subtleties of life.
The “Steve Jobs of the racing industry?”
The fun/cool element is an after-thought which doesn’t make it “cool” or “fun” at all. It makes it all look as phony as a fake tattoo and it all comes across like that taboo word which is known as “gambling”. It turns them off and freaks them out.
It’s also all those little things like MUST having a horse in every piece of communication.
Why? Consumers today HATE being talked down to or feel as if they are being used. Or made to look like Dumb And Dumber.
Always remind yourself that you might know all about horse racing, but you will never ever know all about consumers.
At Racingb*tch, we try to do this all the time and which is why we are more adamant than ever in believing in what we are doing.
We are trying to “connect those dots” between the ‘live’ experience of horse racing with that virtual world where the sport kinda exists today.
The problem is that virtual world of horse racing is not enticing enough to enter. It’s too cold and calculating and not cool enough to matter.
Jeez, look at some the racing sites: They’re slow, they’re trappy journeys to navigate through and when finally there, you wonder why you ever bothered: The content seems to have been written by 5-year-olds and the apps cannot even be downloaded ‘cos of glitches one should caught right from the start. And then, Damage Control happens along with Crisis Management.
For us, we now have a stake in http://www.fasttrack.hk and we’ll make this work for us- and as more than a site and certainly more than “free-to-air” television in a world where creating and owning Intellectional Property Rights is all-important and where Content is King, Queen, Ace and Joker.
We are working with young app creators and designers to make horse racing as “cool” as it can be and change its face forever from this….
….to this….and everything in-between.
As Steve Jobs said, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
Only a fool knows everything.
THE AGA’S ON THE MONEY
He is arguably one of the most respected voices in International racing. When the Aga Khan steps into any part of racing territory, you take note. You listen and digest. He knows his shit like few others and he doesn’t play games.
The Aga Khan is one of the wealthiest men in the world. In 2010, he celebrated his 50th year in racing, running his family racing and breeding interests.
Like other high profile heads of State – the Queen, Sheikh Mohammed and the like he is a passionate and very knowledgeable racing person. Like Queen Elizabeth, he’s no Johnny come lately to racing.
Unlike some of the tired old names who junket themselves to the International Horse Racing Federation’s annual gabfest in Paris around Arc time, on the rare occasion that the Aga takes to the speakers podium, it is a session of significance.
And so he did last week, addressing delegates from all over the world on the sensitive and often tabooed subject of drugs.
It is the subject that has been known to send shudders through the knees of brave and strong men and women. It sends racing administrators into Howard Hughes like states of reclusiveness.
It’s like nervous parents responding to the awkward questions about sex from their pre and pubescent sons and daughters.
Racingpost.com reported that the Aga made it clear that he “vigorously supported drug free racing and a strong non-tolerance policy”.
He called for international regulatory authorities to abide by a common set of race day drug testing policies that are “perfectly clear and transparent about what is or is not tolerated”.
He added: “in the absence of standards which are clearly defined, known to all and equitably enforced, the drug detection process loses its credibility and its effectiveness. A problem arises when control laboratories replace old research methods by sensitive new equipment or a refined process that identifies substances at much lower levels than before. Indeed, these new levels may have no impact on a horse’s performance. The problem is vastly compounded when these changes are kept secret from trainers and veterinarians are unaware of new standards for judgment”.
The Aga went even further declaring that “rigorous, reliable and competent scientific control has too often been lacking in our industry and situations have often arisen, both in America and Europe, resulting in procedures which are unethical to owners, trainers and veterinarians, the very people whose skills must be mobilized to keep our activity clean”.
He used the specific example in France of an anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone, where a spate of positive cases had “highlighted the gulf between racing professionals and the regulatory laboratories”.
“No laboratory has ever, to my knowledge advised the thoroughbred world about the safe period for betamethasone use. In the absence of any direction, vets usually considered 14 days to be a completely safe margin”.
He then pointed to an anecdotal discussion with a vet who had confidentially fessed up to administering over 3000 fetlock injections over a ten year period, respecting the 14 day safe margin, without a positive being returned.
Tellingly, the Aga pointed out that “Today, betamethasone positives are increasingly and inexplicably common. And “leaving trainers and veterinarians to operate in an unclear scientific environment where they and their owners bear the consequences cannot be acceptable”
These problems are not unique to Europe and America. Throughout the racing world these unacceptable “grey areas” remain grey.
Fear of the consequences of challenging established and outdated scientific conventions and protocols, coupled with an ounce or three of self interest, ensure that racing remains in the dark ages when it comes to sharing knowledge on scientific advances with, as the Aga rightly points out, the people that count.
It’s sometimes as simple as the regulators, through their stewards, playing a childish game of withholding information, in the hope that they can “get their man” or “woman”. And the result is equally simple.
Racing suffers from the stench of an industry that is rife with drug use – its dark side exposed with seemingly sinister individuals rampant throughout the industry.
It is a perception that is far from reality; but in racing in particular, perception is reality, and it is a challenge that even the craftiest spin doctor would find difficult to turn around.
One glimpse at the headlines tells the story: “Drug positive rocks racing”. And yet, when you read further, it is in reality a horse returning a positive test to a legally prescribed therapeutic, administered within a labeled and clinically deemed safe period by the manufacturer.
And the real evidence, from the results of the endless number of testing that is done is overwhelmingly convincing: Most of the positive tests that are returned contain the minutest of traces of therapeutic medications in the system of a racehorse, and at a level which would first, be at a level which is not performance enhancing, and second, would have only been identified positively as being present in a horse’s system if the screening process had been significantly improved.
There would be fewer than the proverbial handful of serial opponents of any form of reform who would have any difficulty with drug free racing. But it is one thing to espouse drug free racing and at the same time withhold information from trainers and veterinarians that testing and analysis has been improved and advanced to the point of better identifying even the minutest traces of therapeutics in a horse’s system.
Better testing and analysis, research and development are vital weapons in identifying sinister performance enhancing illegal substances which can be administered to a racehorse and seriously jeopardize the integrity of racing.
We’re all for putting serious money into R&D- into improving drug detection techniques – into improving testing and analysis.
But that information MUST be made public and shared with trainers and veterinarians when it relates to therapeutic legitimate medications which are available either through prescription by veterinarians or through legal purchases over the counter.
There cannot be information overload when it comes to therapeutic medications. Veterinary and medical science research resulting in breakthrough and “new” knowledge must be shared and can only make the global racing industry better.
The “cops and robbers” mentality among regulators and stewards must be confined to the archives when it comes to information sharing and knowledge building.
And the regulators must show drug cheats the door – irrespective of who they are. There is no place in horse racing for drug cheats. Don’t use a feather duster to punish them. And show no mercy to serial offenders.
A zero tolerance policy towards repeat offenders would go a long way towards eliminating this undesirable element from racetracks the world over.
BLACK CAVIAR: RACING’S JEWEL IN THE CROWN
She has done more to promote racing than anything else in modern times. She is a page one headline grabber – the Miranda Kerr and Megan Gale of the Australian equine world.
She leads television and radio news bulletins. Documentaries and Features have been done on her.
She is the subject of free souvenir newspaper colour posters, flags and banners and masks. Her racing colours feature in the outfits of racegoers of both sexes. She dominates talkback.
Like the immortal Phar Lap, she is already a legend.
The scenes at Caulfield last Saturday, in the lead-up to the Schillaci Stakes and post-race are what racing has been desperately searching for, for decades.
The 35,000 odd people at Caulfield, waving their Black Caviar flags and wearing their masks in the familiar salmon and black spot colours of the world champion, the throngs lining up near her stall and around the mounting yard, the continuous clicking of cameras and i-phones, the cheering and spontaneous applause from before the field entered the home straight, said it all. Racing suddenly came alive.
Note the bloke on the far right of frame.
Caulfield Guineas race day was a day to remember. There were heaps of young and the not-so-young. But importantly for racing the young were not recognizable faces.
They were new to racing and their chatter clearly outed the reason they were at Caulfield: They were there to see this phenomenal world champion.
And she delivered in spades as she has done on thirteen previous occasions. Last Saturday she equaled Phar Lap’s extraordinary race record of fourteen straight wins at her fourteen race starts.
She made her opponents look like they were in another an inferior league, which they were. She won hard held, and without exaggeration would have gone harder in her track gallops.
Black Caviar, more than anything, demonstrates the X-Factor that is racing, and its innate appeal to the broader community. It is difficult, if not impossible, to describe or define.
But what it does demonstrate is the important if not pivotal role that a racehorse like Black Caviar can play in the marketing and promotion of racing – particularly to those on the periphery of racing and to those with little or no interest in racing. And there was the music of Sneaky Sound System.
Black Caviar has two more Melbourne appearances scheduled this spring – on Cox Plate Day in the Group 2 Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley on October 22, and on the final day of the Spring Racing Carnival in the Group One Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington on November 5. The latter will guarantee a record attendance at Flemington.
The Melbourne Racing Club under the leadership of Mike Symons can take credit for their successful promotion of Caulfield Guineas day. They do it well in Melbourne, don’t they?
SMART MISSILE TO THE PADDOCK
Gooree Stud – the owner breeders of Smart Missile have done the right thing in sending the colt to the spelling paddock after two disappointing efforts in Melbourne. It would be an understatement to say that the colt has issues. He appears to have plenty of them.
“Duuuude, I have f**ing issues, dude!”
The decision to throw him into the deep end against the older, more mature top class opposition sprinters in the Group One Rupert Clarke, two starts back, was dubious at face value and subsequently appeared to be vindicated by those who saw him parade pre-race and declared that Smart Missile had trained off.
He raced without any zest in the Caulfield Guineas and was the first to waive the white flag when Corey Brown applied the pressure.
“Fuck ’em all.”
Pity, for a horse which was rated the equal if not superior in the spring to his main rivals – Helmet and Manawanui, who both have trained on and left him in their wake.
But then again both Helmet and Manawanui have not had the number of gear changes which would have confused horses with far better and more even temperaments than Smart Missile.
“Duuuude, Big Ant is confusing the fuck outta me!”
It hasn’t been a good spring for his trainer Anthony Cummings who will have to start all over again with this smart colt and try and restore the residual value which Smart Missile has lost through his ill-fated spring campaign.
The only good news for Big Anthony is the reported out of court settlement with Nathan Tinkler over the law suits which they issued against each other relating to matters alleging outstanding training fees and the recovery of money relating to the sale of the racehorse and stallion prospect Siderius, by Cummings to Tinkler, with the horse being certified as a rig (horse with one testicle), which both men claim they had no knowledge of prior to the sale.
“Fuck ’em both. They both need some new balls.”
THE PETTY MELBOURNE HERALD-SUN
The Murdoch rag – the Melbourne Herald-Sun took pettiness to new and unnecessary levels in their racing form lift-out last weekend.
There were many who noticed and commented on seeing and reading the form guide, that the feature race on the program – the million dollar Group One Caulfield Guineas lacked a sponsor where the majority of the other races, which had been sponsored, had their sponsors name either as the race name or as a prefix to the race name. Not so the Caulfield Guineas and we wondered why.
It just didn’t seem right that a feature race of the prestige and calibre of the Caulfield Guineas with plenty of marketing and sponsorship currency attached could fail to attract sponsorship and with it the mandatory naming rights.
We were ready to have a go at the Melbourne Racing Club’s marketing department for failing to sign a sponsor up for one of the main features.
So we made a call to the Club, only to be assured that the Caulfield Guineas did have a sponsor, who had sponsored the race for several years. The sponsor’s name – the Age newspaper, the Herald-Sun’s rival. And the Herald-Sun, being the ruthlessly competitive beast that it is and displaying true Murdoch attributes dropped the name and any reference of its rival, from the form guide and editorial commentary.
A ruthless beast
When you consider the handouts that that both the Herald-Sun in Melbourne and Daily Telegraph in Sydney receive from the racing industry in their respective States and Tabcorp for publishing the form guides, deleting the sponsor’s name, because the sponsor happens to be a rival is the type of pettiness that just does not wash.
Another ruthless beast.
While you can hardly imagine a rush on the sales of the Age newspaper from a form guide reference, from a racing industry and sponsor perspective it does devalue the sponsorship, and particularly at a time when sponsorship dollars are as difficult to lay a hand on, as it would be to get the wretched Hong Kong Home Affairs Bureau to give the green light to co-mingling.
But then again, can we expect any better from an organization that is run by Rupert Murdoch?
Perhaps it should be pie-slapped.
IMPORTS DOMINATE CUP FIELDS
The participation of imports in the ‘big two” Staying races – the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups has reached new levels this year, as the dearth of stayers in Australia and the dominance of the Hunter Valley based speed machines on their sire rosters starts to really shine through.
In next Saturday’s Caulfield Cup, nine of the final acceptances paid up for are imports – either trained in Australia or from Europe and with Mighty High flying the flag for Hong Kong.
It is the not the strongest field and without detracting from the final field, there are no headline acts with the exception of December Draw who has been a revelation since joining the Mark Kavanagh yard, after connections purchased him in the UK with the intention of winning the,er, Wagga Cup!
The normal attrition rate has robbed the Caulfield Cup of some of the better class horses, while others have decided to target what also appears to be a much weaker Cox Plate the following Saturday. But it does not mask the reality that the ranks of even the modest of staying horses in Australia, is at an all time low.
And with the massive prize money on offer for two year old races and two year old feature races, it does encourage breeders, trainers and owners to target quick returns and big stakes.
However the elephant in the room is the impact that shuttle stallions have had on the breeding industry and the shift towards young horses and in particular two year olds being given much more time to develop and mature, which has resulted in many horses not making their racetrack debuts until late in their two year old, with many waiting till they turn three before hitting the race track.
Increasingly many trainers and owners are turning their attention to Europe, and following the example set some years ago by Chris Waller, who, these days is buying more and more stayers who are just below the top level in the UK, out of their annual horses in training sales.
And with the strength of the Aussie dollar against the British Pound and Euro, and relatively strong metropolitan prize money, the number of imported stayers can only increase.
At this stage it is quite feasible that over half the field in the Melbourne Cup will be imports. A sobering thought.
An elephant in the room.
REMEMBER ALVIN “THE CHIPMUNK” NG?
He arrived in Hong Kong in a blaze of publicity. He had ridden in more races than any apprentice jockey before him- over 850 rides- and was still allowed to claim ten pounds.
Suddenly, every trainer and every owner wanted him on their horses. And at his first meeting, he rode, from what we can remember, two winners.
All was looking great and many of his rides were starting well below their real prices. And then came the brakes to halt this winning streak and which still stands at a respectable 3 wins, 4 seconds and 6 thirds.
For the past few weeks, at least the perception is that Alvin Ng is about as known as Greg Cheyne despite having only gone three rides without a winner.
From having a full book of rides at meetings, there seems to have been a sudden slump in getting rides.
Even the trainer to whom he is indentured- Dennis Yip- seems to have shied off legging up the kid.
So, what’s happened? The odds on his horses were coming up too short?
With his 10-pound allowance, he was best suited to horses on the pace?
Whatever he has accomplished has had to take a backseat to the in-form riding of former apprentices Matthew Chadwick, and Keith KC Leung, and the vastly-improved Kevin M Yeung and Vincent CY Ho?
We feel for the little Chipmunk.
We also wonder if these kids are thrown into the deep end way too soon. Yes, Alvin Ng might have ridden in over 800 races- but where were these races run and who was he riding against?
Certainly not anyone as experienced as Darren Beadman, Gerard Mosse, Douglas Whyte etc.
So, from riding against mediocre or very average riding competition, an apprentice like Ng is thrown into the deep end.
Look at the senior expat jockeys who have failed to compete against the likes of Whyte et al?
It seems that there just might seem to be a missing link in the Apprentice Scheme and where these young jockeys need to also serve an apprenticeship riding in the city before returning to Hong Kong, riding against some of the best jockeys in the world and thinking, Dude, WTF.