When the going gets tough, the tough get going and just to mix metaphors up, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen and these are the times that separate the men from the boys.
All this has become part of having the privilege to ride in Hong Kong, make more money than nearly anywhere else, and not travel for hours on end for one ride and a $250 fee at some hick track.
Joao Moreira apart, Hong Kong racing has never been so competitive as it is today.
Or wait: Has it nearly always been this competitive- but never really thought about by many ‘cos it was Summertime and livin’ was easy with Porgy And Bess?
But with the surprise arrival of The Magic Man taking many off guard and the media attention he is receiving with the Chinese racing press having a knock-on affect with owners- and rides- has there come the sudden realization that one can’t just waltz in and out of Hong Kong- and that there is a renewed interest to ride here after a dip a year ago?
It’s all boils down to global economics and where the power lies with the future in mind.
The idea of Live For Today was just a piece of la la pop fluff by the Grass Roots with no lasting power.
Moreira had a full book of rides on Sunday, saved the best for the last when he gave a terrific riding display on the Derek Cruz-trained Noble Deluxe to also pinch and clinch the Jockey Challenge.
For Cruz to mention that he was “lucky” to book Moreira for the ride ‘cos “everyone wants him” speaks volumes about the rider’s popularity.
Competition in any sport is good for the game, and for Hong Kong racing, it was time to break up the Dougie/Zac duopoly, which, to be frank, was starting to sound like the punchline to a gag being repeated and pummeled into submission.
It was getting boring- and though good for turnover- there is now a revitalized interest and excitement to racing that will happen twice a week and, hopefully, with more changes in store.
As some are tweeting, it’s a pity to see great riders on some very average horses and there must be some new “rules” in place to stop naive owners paying through their noses for more hacks from Oz and New Zealand.
It’s no secret how and why this happens: Money.
What’s very well-known are the flying visits by jocks to trial these and other purchases, who is involved in the sales and to whom, who today holds at least six permits for new horses- why? How?- and how much is made on the side?
On Sunday, we saw a horse with “winning form” in Toowoomba race in Hong Kong.
Toowoomba??? Which gullible owner bought or was sold this sack of potatoes along with a winner of one race in Wodonga?
This “quality” of horses is a blithe on Hong Kong racing and, as mentioned earlier, discussed these days in the Twitterverse.
The great jockeys we have here deserve better, owners deserve better, the public deserves better and with the entire image of the best racing club in the world in mind, this pox on local racing must, somehow, be stamped out.
This buying and selling of horses through an old boys network has been allowed to flourish for way too long.
On a less heavy note, though there were over 19,000 people at Happy Valley on Sunday afternoon for the ten-race card, there could easily have been another 4-5,000 in attendance if, for example, a Brazilian Carnivale-type atmosphere was created- and effectively marketed.
Moreira? Brazil? Carnivale? Geddit?
A few ads don’t cut it and is not marketing- not in 2013- with also the various simulcasts suffering from not being promoted other than to an already captive audience.
Having spoken to a number of racing tragics, none even knew about the broadcast of the three races from Caulfield and whatever else was shown after midnight on Saturday from wherever.
They watched the races from all around Australia as they normally do- on their sling boxes- illegal, yes, but still done.
It’s not unlike those consumers who engage in the illegal file sharing of music or downloading brand new television programming from illegal sites like Pirate Bay as one refuses to subscribe to NOWTV and watch three different series of Mad Men on three different channels.
Having these simulcasts mentioned in the midnight hour by The Three Amigos on the Racing To Win extravaganza or on the home page of the HKJC site which often suffers from way too much information and where nothing is prioritized, also hardly qualifies as “marketing”.
This is more preaching to the converted and not expanding the consumer base.
As the new Happy Wednesday song says, Giddy Up as these “holes” should not be happening and is a waste of time, money and resources.
It’s like having all that excellent archival footage of Hong Kong racing just sitting there on the HKJC site gathering even more dust when this could form a damn fine documentary- and not only appreciated by racing tragics, but also those who know that everything old is new again and are wealthy new horse owners with a keen interest in the history of the sport.
It’s time for bona fide and holistic marketing campaigns, some new ideas and not more men on stilts, goofy mascots with cheering squads like a TVB variety show plus bibs and bobs bouncing around like a Looney Toons cartoon with no Mothership in sight.
Okay is simply not good enough and this mindset must change. And if it cannot change and Okay will do, creative menopause has set in along with The Peter Principle.
CONAN THE RACE CALLER AND THE SANTA ANITA RACE TRACK.
RSN’s Shane Anderson tweeted us about an outstanding piece of marketing by the people at the Santa Anita Race Track: The news that edgy talk show host Conan O’Brien will be the guest race caller for one race at Santa Anita.
It’s a clever idea- and fun- as Conan O’Brien has a very loyal fan base- a far younger and more hip fan base to the far more mainstream Jay Leno who took back the former’s late night spot on American Television in a very acrimonious and public spat.
Where could this lead? A rap-off race call with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake?
In Oz, a race call between Dame Edna and Lady GaiGai?
Joan Rivers and The Fashion Police commenting on The Fashions On The Field?
This is the type of marketing and new ideas needed instead of talking heads rambling on about races.
We doubt it’s fun for the talking heads either unless in love with their own dulcet tones while it’s just white noise to the viewers who only wish to see the track work and trials.
Racing programming has too many rambling men and it all becomes a sea of old school mediocrity along with the same old camera angles of races and formats that have been around since the days of our very old mate Methuselah.
When the coverage of cricket matches today provide more insight into the game and the talents of the players involved through the use of wicket-cam, close-ups of how one spins that ball, the state of the pitch etc, the coverage of races, however, still hovers around three camera setups as it did when Secretariat ran.
Either no one is creating anything new to showcase horse racing as the exciting sport that it is or else those producing racing programs are simply behind the eight-ball and re-producing what’s come before because that’s the way it’s always been.
Here’s something else to think about: There are those who consider themselves racing and equine experts and wish to see horses plod around and around the paddock for twenty minutes- and which is fine.
There are others who find all that twenty minutes too much and wish to see more of the jockeys, the trainers, the owners, who’s wearing what, who’s at the races, celebrity spotting etc.
But how? And where can this be watched if at home or not at the track.
This is where the online world- and mobility- is not even thought about- or, if it is, it’s ineffectively used as, altogether now, Okay is good enough, so let’s leave good enough alone.
This tired and lazy thinking killed the music industry as musicians decided to be masters of their own destiny and music fans became more creative than those to whom they once turned towards for direction.
This same “virus” of tired thinking has crippled the advertising industry and dented the image of brands that were launched with no thought of a USP or else had a USP but with no idea how to take it further.
Others had no idea what a USP or ROI meant, let alone writing out a marketing strategy.
We see way too many dead brands and stupid marketers everywhere.
Horse racing can learn from all these mistakes. It can then take this collective knowledge of successes and failures and create and produce a brand that surprises consumers- the old and new schools.
It can and MUST reinvent itself to be seen as the exciting new sport that it has become and with some of the greatest athletes in the world on top of their brilliant flying machines.