Joao Moreira has not only hit the ground running, he’s hit the tracks of Hong Kong flying as if on Steppenwolf’s Magic Carpet Ride. Well, he IS The Magic Man and at Shatin yesterday won his first Group race in the city when Sterling City took out the Premier Bowl.
But if you missed watching the races and thought you could read all about them when you picked up your copy of the SCMP- the one you subscribed to- poof, like magic, it wasn’t there. Anyway, more on this later…
Magic is catching and what we saw on Sunday was this magic rubbing off on Olivier Doleuze and Douglas Whyte.
Or could THEIR magic be rubbing off and inspiring Moreira?- with the flying Frenchman riding in scintillating fashion this season and notching up another double while Whyte, just to prove that he always rises to the occasion when there’s even a hint of competition, serving up a well-timed treble.
Jockeys aside, what Hong Kong racing fans are slowly waking up to is that on the heels of the brilliant second placing of Lucky Nine in The Manikato last Friday in Melbourne, there are some new local equine stars emerging that can make their presence on the world stage.
It is now up to the HKJC to promote and market the hell outta these stars- at home and abroad- without depending on traditional media.
In Oz, for example, the promotion of the Spring Carnival has been relentless along with all the hype and information of the big races like the Cox Plate and the Race That Stops The Nation.
Racing personalities like Shane Anderson, Nadia Horne and Bruce Clark are like The Scarlet Pimpernel- here, there and everywhere- with so many interviews with so many involved in these races that it’s almost too much- but to the hardcore racing fans, there is no such thing as too much information- not only what can be found on any website, but what the players have to say.
In Hong Kong, the problematic area is the balancing act of being a bilingual market, a chicken and egg situation plus, perhaps, lacking a dedicated team or else having a fragmented one.
Watching the wins of the John Size-trained Luger ridden by Whyte and Doleuze winning on the Richard Gibson-trained Gold Fun, showed two horses that are more than capable of making Hong Kong pride- along with Military Attack, Rewarding Star and, be patient, Akeed Mofeed.
Unlike Australia, racing fans in the city, don’t have races every day- that’s a blessing- and are not bombarded with racing news every day.
Apart from race days, the public have other things to gamble on- and for far greater money: The stock and property markets- and non-stopping shopping.
Racing is almost a hobby though a turnover that’s a billion plus each race day twice a week makes it a very expensive one.
Money aside, the need for a true appreciation of horse racing- as a sport and its stars- is something yet to be ingrained into the psyche of Hong Kong punters.
Not since the exploits of the great Silent Witness and the team of trainer Tony Cruz, jockey Felix Coetzee and owners Archie and Betty Da Silva, has a horse won the hearts and minds of racing fans- and Hong Kong.
In fact, Silent Witness would have made a far better ambassador for tourism in Hong Kong than that embarrassing American version of chop suey and Charlie Chan in the form of Jackie Chan.
Apart from Silent Witness, horses like Good Ba Ba, below, Sacred Kingdom, Collection, even Lucky Nine have suffered from Rodney Dangerfielditis and failed to get the respect and recognition they deserved.
If any of these horses raced in Australia, they would be household names.
In Hong Kong, they’re part of the punt.
If the HKJC, we would forget about showcasing its content on a hobbled terrestrial channel like ATV and think about the online world- and a DEDICATED online racing channel- which is promoted and marketed with the similar creativity associated with the ultra-successful Happy Wednesday brand.
When content is king and, to quote Seinfield, it’s key to being the “king of your domain”, the HKJC can easily have a 24 hour racing lifestyle channel on a six or twelve hour loop appealing to the rabid hardcore punter and the casual racegoer while controlling everything that goes out.
Of course what’s needed to make this happen is the right team and bona fide marketing people and a creative team that won’t settle for Okay Is Good Enough. It’s never good enough.
This would also eliminate what happened today: Subscribers picking up their issues of the South China Morning Post and discovering there was no summary of the races yesterday.
This was only available online- and which, we can only guess, means that the SCMP finds horse racing irrelevant?
If so, little do they know about the reading habits of those who still subscribe to the newspaper and how much they enjoy reading the racing news.
Were these subscribers told about this new editorial policy? No.
How did subscribers find out?
Through mates in Oz.
Arse about face?
What else, Sherlock?
Next step: Canceling our circulation to the SCMP.