There is nothing better than watching great jockeys riding great horses and which is exactly what we got watching the races from Ascot over the weekend. Who can get tired of watching Frankel?
Or who could ignore the riding skills of Ryan Moore, Johnny Murtagh- and he was in brilliant form last Saturday- Frankie Dettori, Fallon when he’s in the mood, 18-year-old Norwegian-born William Buick who is creating such an impression these day etc.Watch this kid. He is very good.
We got all of this during the coverage of the truly world-class races over the weekend. And here lies the problem: The coverage of horse racing. Or, rather, the lack of coverage.
The races are truly exciting affairs though, as we have moaned on for months, the lack of exciting new camera angles- anything to give this coverage something new- is totally MIA.
This inability to change, or grasp change and total failure to communicate with those other than the most hardened gambler and racing anorak who knows what a Norton Ring Bit is, why blinkers and winkers are used, the need for pacifiers etc is mind-boggling.
The wheel is so broke and in need of fixing that it has fallen off and has turned into a square peg.
This is one major bitch we have and which can only be solved by those with the ability to look at things from the outside in.
Most inside are too busy pandering to others inside who they think want things to just continue regardless and with a few cosmetic changes to show that something/anything is being done.
However, what bugs us even more than this creative apathy mentioned above is all that small talk and irrelevant and bloody boring on-air waffle between races by usually 2-3 knobs who seem to want to outdo each other as to how much worthless drivel they can spew out in the time they have on air.
After all these years, it’s still the same and without a hair outta place: No split screen effects available online whereby one can click and watch- and listen- to something else other than highly-paid wafflers trying to tip, trying to show what they know and just plain, well, trying.
It’s BORING pommy crap just as it is BORING Aussie, Chinese, French crap. It’s so much chatter that if an Eskimo freezing their ass off tuned in and heard this incessant chatter, it would move them enough to do The Moonwalk.
Think about it: There are around 25 minutes between races and there is this captive audience having to listen to absolute bollocks to fill in the time.
Worse is when a ‘live’ broadcast is “handed back” to the studio and the resident local chatterer takes over and with THIS chatter being about all the same things we have heard the OTHER blokes chattering about before.
We who appreciate great horse racing want to ONLY watch the races. The chatterers get in the way.
Like “tipsters”, they belong to another world which no longer exists today except to those who are paid to produce these “shows.” These actual “shows” are ONLY the races. How these “shows” are PACKAGED is what they are not getting- or are incapable of understanding. Why? Because what they’re doing, they can do in their sleep as they are so experienced…and it’s a thin line between being “experienced” and being a has-been or a never been.
These “shows” or broadcasts are no longer about having 2-3 Max Headroom-like talking heads sitting behind a desk and speaking to themselves.
It’s a fucking turn off and time to go to the loo, play with an opp or whoever is next to you, or go online, surf the net and return only when the race is on. Let Max and Company chatter on…
Of course, this is where someone has to have the balls to say enough is enough- someone who knows new from old, mediocrity from average and cutting edge from dullards.
If not, it will be like the new head of Cathay Pacific- John Slosar- calling the airline’s new advertising campaign a “breakthrough” as it features “real staff.” Duh. This is “breakthrough”? Every service-oriented brand has done just such a campaign- and decades ago.See what we mean about people who need to know bland from brand etc?
As for horse racing, how it is viewed- literally- is just as important as getting new people through the turnstiles. But working with terrestrial television channels or “free-to-air” channels is as old as Julie Andrews coming over the hills singing “The Sound Of Music”.
Everything today must be as instant as messaging and as exciting and entertaining as Neil Paine singing “Bony Mony.”
Does one seriously think new or casual racegoers give a damn or understand any of this idle chatter about past form and if a horse is wearing a ring bit? It’s just all white noise.
It’s a group of old farts in love with their voices and still listened to by those who would not know an app from a sap and are just happy to let things be ‘cos “this is the way it’s always been”.
It’s like listening to former Hong Kong racing pundit Apollo Ng multiplied by a few hundred thousand.Has anyone ever tried to converse with Apollo Ng about horses and horse racing? You cannot.
The knob knows it all. So you either walk away or sit there and listen to chatter from someone who has no rep, no cred and no relevance- much like many of those who host and produce these ‘live’ broadcasts.
Those 25 minutes between races should be filled with entertainment one can have with a simple click of a button- a special camera setup for all those fashionistas to SEE those fashions on the field. Another setup where one can simply see some of the more interesting people who are at the track.
Imagine if viewers at home could have seen everything that was happening on course during last Sundays Sa Sa Ladies Purse Day at Shatin? Their perception of horse racing as a sport for old farts would be changed forever.
Let’s also have some tips on where to go AFTER the races. There is so much more to offer viewers and which will bring them through the turnstiles.
Now, here’s the big rub: All this is not only to attract the current casual race-goer: There are very DIFFERENT types of newcomers to horse racing- those with BIG bucks to spend and those who wish to have a flutter.
BOTH groups need to first get excited about the sport- and the “game” of horse racing- and BOTH groups need to be ENTERTAINED and talked to and made to feel that racing is not something for Mums, Dads and rich Uncles and Aunts.
There actually are many young people with bags of money and who are looking at horse racing as an “investment”. These people cannot keep being put into the same category as the current group of long-time high stake players as they are NEWBIES to the sport. They wouldn’t knows blinkers from bonkers.
These are sharp, smart YOUNG entrepreneurs who can give horse racing a new face.
These are young people who eat, fart and breathe new technology and know hip from hype.
How racing is presented to them- on-air, on-course and online is how and where the racing industry will find its future instead of clinging to a past that has disappeared and a present that is not being cultivated because few know where to start- and are scared shitless of being found out.
THE UNRAVELLING OF RACING NSW
There was a clear sense of inevitability to the announcement last week by NSW Racing Minister George Souris, which, effectively, is Racing NSW’s death warrant.
Announcing sweeping changes that will restructure the Board of Racing NSW, and radically alter the appointment process, eligibility and membership criteria and terms of appointment, Souris has clearly digested the message, coming loud and clear from every sector of racing in NSW, about the perilous state of racing in the State.
To be fair, racing in NSW has been in decline for several decades. But, on the other hand, Racing NSW, its predecessor the TRB, the Metropolitan Clubs and the Country Racing Council, have sat on their collective derrieres and done fuck all about it. They’ve let it happen from under their noses.
Like an empire in decline, NSW racing has lost the respect and confidence of its participants.
Strong and decisive leadership, or more pertinently, the lack of it, has politicized the racing industry and its decision making process. Agenda driven factions pursuing blatant self interests and undermining each other, and a belligerent, dictatorial and arrogant style of governance have characterized an industry in decline that has threatened to break all records in its race to the bottom.
It remains to be seen if Souris can resist the temptation to install his local constituent and industry strong man John “The Messiah” Messara in the chair as the Chairman of the revamped Board of Racing NSW or whatever reincarnated name it will go by.
The “Messiah’s” name keeps surfacing just like the proverbial empty plastic drink bottle that refuses to go to the bottom of the ocean each time a Racing Board/Club vacancy or reform is canvassed. But ‘The Messiah” is very much yesterday’s man. Like many who refuse to admit it, his time has come and gone.
Along the way he has managed to alienate many, evidenced by his continuing failure to win a prized seat on the Boards that matter in racing.
Yes, he has been a power broker among the Hunter Valley heavies and on the Thoroughbred Breeders Associations in NSW and nationally and on their promotion arm Aushorse, but the power of these organizations is very limited in comparisons with the major prize.
Mention the “Messiah’s” name in racing circles and you don’t get too many nods of approval.
If George Souris is serious about getting racing’s governance structure right and eliminating the blatant conflicts of interest that he alluded to in announcing the changes to Racing NSW, then he MUST not fall for the same tired old names that have been the major part of the problem in the NSW racing industry.
The solutions lie with new blood, people who have not been tainted with self-interest or self serving agendas, or who have been proxies for the agendas of others.
The NSW racing industry and racing in general needs men and women of vision and goodwill – people who are not shackled by the chains that bind them to the past – men and women who recognize that the world around them has changed forever.
That the way of doing business has changed forever and that racing has to be brought dragging and screaming into the brave new world that confronts it.
Negotiation and compromise, two of the most important principles of conducting modern business, have taken a sabbatical from NSW racing for too long.
To become mainstream or even pretend to be so, racing’s decision makers must switch their hearing aids back on and listen to what has previously been falling on deaf ears.
Let’s hope that George Souris is switched on. He would only need to check out Kenny Callander’s column in Monday’s Daily Telegraph to get a handle on what the racing industry thinks of his proposed reforms.
Callander doesn’t miss in naming the names that he believes, under Souris’ reforms, would “rule out some of the names being bandied about at Randwick on Saturday” from being eligible under the new provisions to take up positions on the new Racing NSW Board.
No surprises here, with all the familiar names of the usual suspects getting a run: Ron Finemore (ex AJC Chairman), our old mate Peter “toffee tongue” McGauran, Bill Picken (ex STC Chairman), John “The Messiah” Messara, prominent racehorse owner Tim Hughes (who is also NSW Trainers Association Chairman, and yet is not a licensed person!), Alan Jones (shock jock and Messara associate) and prominent NSW breeder Dean Fleming.
Not a hint of generational change in these names. And yet generational change in people and ideas is what the NSW racing industry is crying out for. New fresh blood without the baggage of the past and then and only then can NSW racing emerge from the abyss that it has been in for so long.
George Souris has opened the door to the possibility of real reform in NSW racing. He must now follow through and prove that his reforms are not just another exercise in political window dressing.
Souris will either be judged as the person who changed NSW racing for the better and gave the industry the opportunity to cultivate a prosperous future, or as the person who hastened its demise.
TIM CLARK ARRIVES IN HONG KONG: THREE WINNERS, BABY!
Tim Clark arrived in Hong Kong with a bang on Sunday by riding a double including taking out the Group 3 Ladies Purse. These were in fact back-to-back winners with the first of these being on the Andreas Schutz-trained Rock’n Typhoon.
Though a very average race and with none of the runners exactly being champions, Clark extracted the very best from the disappointing and injury-plagued galloper for its first ever win.
The highlight for Clark, however, was the win on Jacobee for trainer John Moore.
With the great Darren Beadman on the other Moore galloper and favourite for the race in Destined For Glory- and which flopped though not nearly as badly as Mighty High did in the Caulfield Cup- Tim Clark rode an intelligent race tracking expected leaders Super Pistachio and Familists and getting the upper hand over the latter which was extremely well ridden by Tye Angland- and more on him below.
There was a strong Aussie ‘feel’ to the day with Brett Prebble riding a treble, David Hall training a double as did John Size and with both trainers unveiling some exciting types.
For Size it was Tuxedo which had won a 1000 metres races at Hawkesbury and Hall showing all that his Country Charm is one to follow this season.
The day got off to a good Aussie start with Darren Beadman taking out the first. But to us, the day belonged to Tim Clark for showing Hong Kong how good he is and all credit to John Moore for legging him aboard on something with a very real winning chance.
Oh- and at the next race meeting last night, Clark banged home anther winner.
CUP ATTENDANCE SENDS A CLEAR MESSAGE
It was quite clear from time we clicked through the turnstiles at Caulfield last Saturday that it would be a struggle to replicate the Black Caviar inspired 35,000 plus attendance of the previous week.
The 30,000 odd attendance- and some were very odd- was no surprise, but it had media and industry insiders searching for answers. And again the reasons they came up with demonstrated why we remain convinced that the problem with the racing industry is the industry itself.
We had the quality of the Caulfield Cup field, or lack of it, offered up by several media hacks as one reason; which assumes that in 2011 people go to racecourses to watch racing ‘live’, and that a race as prestigious as the Caulfield Cup would draw similar numbers to the previous week, when a world champion racehorse was on show. Wrong.
The extra 5000 plus who were at Caulfield the previous week to see Black Caviar, when the meeting and the champ’s appearance were promoted heavily, were unlikely to show up the following week. That is clearly the trend at Caulfield race meetings.
In fact, attendances at Caulfield race meetings have been on the decline for the past few years meetings irrespective of the weather. Their feature Autumn race meeting attendances have been on the slippery slope for several years.
What the race clubs and media commentators have failed to factor is the prohibitive cost of a day at the races, specifically for the “carnival” racegoer, who is not a mainstream racing fan.
We’re talking here of the under 30’s demographic that knows fuck all about racing and couldn’t care less about racing per se except cup day and the spring racing carnival week.
To this demographic it’s all about having fun. It’s about getting dressed up in the latest attire – the full kit and caboodle – brand new dress, shoes, handbag, hat or fascinator and associated accessories, entrance ticket, transport, food and drinks and so it goes. Total damage – let’s conservatively estimate anywhere from $1500 upwards. And that is for just one day! Try two or three days of spring carnival racing and the cost keeps spiraling. And in today’s tight economic environment it’s just not on.
Sadly Caulfield cops it in the neck. The spring racing carnival and Flemington has been marketed so well, that it has become the preferred event for the partygoers – the holy grail for the week of partying.
Mike Symons and his Melbourne Racing Club Committee are regarded as a switched on, progressive mob. They will need to hire some hard-nosed marketers with a proven track record to reposition Caulfield and shut the stable door before the horse is given more chances to bolt.
The Club needs to find a point of difference for Caulfield and its spring and autumn carnivals. Filling up the print media pages with shots of the same tired socialites and over-exposed glamour models and fashion ambassadors, is nothing more than a second tier of what Flemington does and does very well. And that sadly is the message that filters out to the pretty young things and their dates.
Try making THEM the focus of the carnival, rather than the Megan Gales and Lara Bingles and Jennifer Hawkins’ – still MIGHTY fine looking women, but their scene is Flemington anyway.
“I am yummy!”
“I am more yummy!”
“I am Bingley all over!”
And a last point for the media hacks who are clueless when it comes to marketing and promotion: It has nothing to do with the quality of the Caulfield Cup field.
That argument has no validity these days and is as outdated as their mindset on most things connected with racing.
Some of the media pack, as we observed when tuning into Melbourne’s racing radio – Sports National- are clearly part of the problem that racing faces, even when it preaches to the converted.
The Keith Hilliers of this world are way past their use by date, and it is a massive turn-off listening to their doddering, cliché ridden meaningless commentary which the poor old Melbourne punter has to put up with on a Saturday.
We would hate to see what the Gruen Transfer people would do to racing industry marketing, or to some of the media hacks who masquerade as personalities, and get paid for their mediocrity!
THE BLACK CAVIAR-FRANKEL CLASH: WILL IT HAPPEN?
Melbourne Racing Club Chairman Mike Symons is one member of racing’s hierarchy that gives the sport massive hope for the future.
Together with the HKJC’s Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, he is, from what we have observed and heard anecdotally, one of the most passionate people in Victorian racing and at the club and administrative level.
Quite clearly he is also a man with a vision – for his club, for Victorian racing and for the greater good of the sport nationally.
His enthusiasm knows few if any boundaries. We are told that he named his youngest son Thomas Northerly. That’s right, the Northerly bit after the champion of the same name – Mike’s favourite racehorse.
But Mike Symons is no “over the top” racing nut dummy. He is a very successful businessman, who thinks strategically and represents generational change – a dangerously endangered concept and species in Australian racing.
Put all the dots together and you mighty just have the prototype racing person to take the industry charging forward into the future.
So, it came as no surprise when we were told that Symons talked about his almost pie in the sky dream of an Autumn match race between the world’s two champion racehorses – Black Caviar and Frankel at Caulfield, at a Thoroughbred Club Caulfield Cup eve luncheon last Friday.
But Symons’ dream match race is no pie in the sky. One of the best international race recruiters, Mark Player, who was in Ascot last weekend for the Champion Stakes race meeting, was commissioned to sound out Frankel’s connections for a match race down under early next year over 1400 metres. He will report back to Symons on his return this week.
While Frankel’s owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah, would hardly be lured by prize money considerations, a match race would be one of the greatest races of the modern era.It would have sponsors and racegoers salivating at the prospect.
But even if Symons’ bold dream doesn’t come off, he can hold his head high. Racing is all about hopes and dreaming the impossible dream.
A Black Caviar versus Frankel clash may not happen, but Symons has nothing to lose, and he gets a truckload of points for trying.
This is a prime example of the vision that racing needs. And it needs generational change at the top to make the bold and audacious decisions that will make racing front and centre in the hearts and minds of the masses and dare we say it, mainstream, again.
It is also why Melbourne racing, and we envy Melbournians, is so far ahead of NSW and the rest of the country.
It is also why NSW racing must look beyond the Messara’s, McGauran’s, V’landys’ et al when the revamped Racing NSW becomes a reality. Take note George Souris!
TYE ANGLAND RIDES TALL IN THE SADDLE
He has become one of our favourite jockeys riding in Hong Kong as he made us eat our words when we didn’t think he would last in that competitive environment. But, from the get-go, Tye Angland has looked at the glass as being half-full and has been focused in riding winners.
He had a horrific fall which slowed down his momentum, but he has come out this season with guns blazing- and which you would expect from a former rodeo rider and the tallest jockey we know riding anywhere in the world.
Yesterday, on a drab looking all-weather meeting at Shatin, Angland booted home a treble and had the Jockeys Challenge in the bag by the end of Race 5- something tipped by our mates at www. fasttrack.hk.
Frankly, he is riding as well as any jockey in Hong Kong and it was a great treble. Let’s just hope the local media does not start labeling him “The Dirt King.”
On the subject of trebles, let’s not forget trainer Andreas Schutz who saddled up three winners.
After his annus horribilus or just a pain in the arse of a year last season, the affable German has bounced back and is having one of his best-ever seasons. Wunderbar, Herr Schutzy baby! Oktoberfest has been good to you, yah?
“Vant to see my giant Cherman sausage?”
GOOD RIDES, BAD RIDES AND SOUR GRAPES!
Caulfield Cup day had it all. Some wonderful performances on the race track, some wonderful rides and some punk rockers (shockers) and a clear case of sour grapes.
In the racehorse category, it is hard to go past Southern Speed’s Caulfield Cup win. Leon McDonald and his son-in-law Andrew Gluyas had the mare trained to the minute, her preparation so fine tuned, it made a mockery of the many doubters who questioned how a mare who had not won beyond 1400 metres could win Australia’s second best staying handicap race.
She was given a “gun” ride by Craig Williams, who, as a mate observed, could talk non-stop under water!
Williams made it look so easy, slotting in behind the pace and waiting for the inevitable run through as the leaders wilted on the home turn. Williams could not believe his luck as the race panned out – it looked scripted to perfection.
Sepoy again showed his class, albeit against much inferior opposition. But, and this is a very big but, we just wonder if he has had enough this preparation. Was there much left if McEvoy had hit him with the whip?
He’s had a tough campaign already and will need to be on top of his game on Derby day when he takes on the Group One Coolmore Stakes. Still Peter Snowden is one of the best around and keeps adding to his already impressive Group One trophy cabinet.
Darren Beadman on Gliding and Love Conquers All was outstanding. The “Dazzler” has still got it, and it is safe to say that it is doubtful if neither horse would have won, if it wasn’t for his brilliant rides, which were all about timing and strength.
And yes, there were some “punk rockers”! Craig Williams is till trying to find a way out on Dowager Queen. Nash Rawiller seemingly got lost on Niagara. Nick Hall on Green Moon, three wide and facing a stiff breeze, demonstrated what a fabulous run it was for the horse to stay on and finish second in the Caulfield Cup and Darren Beadman on Mighty High.
Mate, you nearly wiped out all the points you gained for your two fabulous winning rides earlier in the day.
And sour grapes? Mark Kavanagh.
Now “Kav’” was understandably shattered by December Draw’s flop in the Caulfield Cup. But we had to wait till the horse cooled down and was x-rayed to find the real reason.
He Kav-ed in.
The Club vets, headed by Brian Stewart, could do no more than report post race that apart from an elevated heart rate, there were no signs of any other abnormalities or injuries. What else would a cursory post-race vet inspection reveal?
It was a tad rich for “Kav” by half have a go at the post race vet examination for reporting the elevated heart rate, which according to his superior knowledge and wisdom, was to be expected, as the horse was in obvious pain.
Now “Kav”, we reckon you are a top trainer, with plenty to back it up, but puhleeeze, don’t be so precious, mate. There are so many sooks in racing and we know you are not one.
CSL 1010 MILLION CHALLENGE AND WHY IT REMAINS A CHALLENGE
We feel for Mark Liversidge, head of marketing of CSL- lovely guy from everything we’ve heard and a passionate racing man- and his persistence with what is called the CSL 1010 Million Challenge.
Speak to the most hard-boiled racing person in Hong Kong and they are totally clueless- and uninterested- in what this is and how it works.
Those who have an interest in it are only be the owners who have entered their horses in the hopes of winning this “million.”
After all these years that it has been knocking about, do punters give a rat’s arse about this “Challenge”? Nah. Why should they? What’s in it for them?
Despite huge billboards branding of the event, no one cares. There is a great deal of marketing being done with strangely-written scratch and win cards etc, bells being wrung etc- but what good is all this “stuff” if no one gives a, well, stuff?
Many have written to us asking how this Million Challenge works and how they can win it?
Well, unless a horse or the owner of a horse in this “challenge”, there is no chance. There is squat, nada, nothing to interest racegoers.
Whoever the bright sparks are who are marketing this event belong in that old television series called LOST or have been listening to Dazed And Confused for way too long.
So, when people give up their time for FREE and try to steer these people the right way- any way compared to what they are doing or not doing now is the right way- and don’t even receive the courtesy of a reply, well, that’s just bad manners. It’s fucking rude.
We are fans of a Danish band called Thee Attacks- a good young retro-Rock band.
When in Hong Kong, they were one of those who asked how this CSL 1010 Millions Challenge worked.
As we had no idea, the band recorded a demo of a track to compliment this event. We then helped them put a rough video to go with it and sent it to those who are behind this very subdued challenge.
Have we heard ticky boo from them? No.
Has this work even reached the ears of Mark Liversidge? Who knows?
So, what the hell, here it is- A ROUGH DEMO. And check out the band. They are very good and could have helped the 1010 brand look somewhat remotely in touch with the times.
HER NAME IS SAM?
Her name is “Sam” and one can hear here on Perth’s Racing Radio almost every day. There are those days when we think she never goes home.
We are quite infatuated with her voice. It’s Aussie, very cute with a smile in it and almost a certain Pom-like nasal twine to whatever she says.
Some of us find it extremely grating and somewhat affected and would rather listen to her colleague named Ash.
So, more photos, please.
RANDY ANDY GETS INTO HOT WATER
Hong Kong trainer Andy WT Leung is well-known as being quite a dapper dresser. Many a time, we have choked when seeing some of the outrageous outits he wears to the track other than his usual lucky red jacket which reminds us of the doorman at the Mandarin Oriental.
We learned earlier last week that Andy is also quite a Randy Andy and frequents one particular sauna and where he is a very generous tipster.
We can only presume those Happy Endings don’t come without a BIG price tag.
Alas, Randy Andy’s missus has discovered his days and nights at the sauna and his favourite masseuse.
So, what has ensued have been a number of rather rude phone calls and threats from Mrs Andy to the mostly highly-tipped masseuse- and which has ended in tears for fears, SHOUTING, reports to the police and dear Andy in some pretty hot water. More to follow.