THE JOCKEY CHALLENGE: A MARKETING WET DREAM

It might have been a rain-sodden Sunday at Shatin where there were winners and losers and a brilliant four-timer by jockey Tye Angland, who beat odds-on favorite Joao Moreira to take out The Jockey Challenge.

Away from the obvious, however, was- and is- a fascinating horse opera worthy of a television series.

A MARKETING WET DREAM 1

The fact that wagering on the Jockey Challenge is on a steady upward spiral proves that, especially those new to racing, are finding out more about the sport through this competition- and by supporting their favorite riders getting to know the horses, the trainers and appreciating the entertainment value of the sport.

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The Jockey Challenge is something that’s easy to understand and to see it’s popularity, all one needs to do is study what happens around the IBU tables at Adrenaline and watch those at The Beer Garden at Happy Valley to see that many- especially the rookie females to racing- follow those riders they get to know- and like.

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It’s like being fans of pop stars and, these days, Hong Kong racing offers race-goers five main Rock star players in Zac Purton, Joao Moreira, Tye Angland, Douglas Whyte and Olivier Doleuze.

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Add to this list “the cute Italian” Umberto Rispoli, “Mister Blue Eyes” Brett Prebble, local hero Matthew Chadwick and Gerard “The Parrot” Mosse.

The Frenchman’s daughter Kimberley- girlfriend of jockey Rispoli- has her own fan club.

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“He’s cute” and “I hear he’s really good”, or, “He winked and smiled at me” can be heard on any Happy Wednesday night where race-goers can get right up close and personal with jockeys- and they love it.

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Like groupies in music, whether a man or woman- meeting- or even thinking they’ve met- a jockey has a ripple effect in understanding how the sport works, and these Jockey Challenges are hugely important in the marketing of the sport in Hong Kong- and even more interesting when the background stories are known.

For example, Joao Moreira is hugely popular, but his desire to win has seen him suspended on way too many careless riding charges while also receiving severe reprimands.

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All the red flags remind us of what Lewis Hamilton is to Formula One- many flashes of brilliance, but, often, a danger to fellow drivers- but still sexy- and fearless enough to attract the likes of ex-Pussycat Doll, Nicole Sherzinger.

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The brilliant Brazilian, who rides to win- sometimes at all costs and known as The Magic Man- has been candid enough to admit that he’s wondering if he fits into Hong Kong racing where he’s still to get used to riding “the other way round” compared to his glory days when in Singapore.

Could this play on his mental agility?

Could this mean him taking a more “softly softly approach”, which might mean restricting and stunting his natural riding style that has won him a legion of new fans in Hong Kong?

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There’s then leading jockey Zac Purton- almost what Sebastian Vettel is to Formula One racing in that he makes winning look so easy while almost yawning as he goes past the winning post.

Another day, another win and The Zac Attack is confidence personified which, to some, might come across as cheeky arrogance. But, when you’re good, you’re good- and you know it.

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Meanwhile, the Michael Schumacher in this horse opera is thirteen-time champion jockey Douglas Whyte aka The Durban Demon, who, this season, is finding it tough to “get on the podium” due to “mechanical failure” and often riding for “the wrong team” following his split with leading trainer John Size.

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What are his future plans and does he really want to get back on “the podium” he has owned for all these years?

Or has he decided to be more “exclusive” as he plots his next career move?

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The joker in the pack- and with Team Richard Gibson as the stable’s number one rider- is the flamboyant and very popular Frenchman Olivier Doleuze- brilliant when on song and known for his jubilation after a particularly important win.

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Ollie makes the theatrics of Mickael Barzalona look as tame as an old Doris Day and Rock Hudson movie.

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Currently sidelined through a suspension, the last two meetings has seen him lose winning rides to Purton and Angland and one can’t help but wonder if supporters behind Team Gibson might wish to stick with these winning formulas.

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Finally, we come to Tye Angland, young, gifted and tough in a finish and who has been the surprise package in this horse opera.

After an initial, “Tye whoooo?” when he first arrived here from Sydney, Angland has proven he’s no supporting player anymore. Far from it.

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His four-timer on Sunday showed a jockey riding with supreme confidence and with opinions suddenly divided as to who is “the best” in Hong Kong- Purton or Angland- and we predict a number of battles between these two friends off the track, but with neither giving an inch when fighting it out to be the King Of The Turf.

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Looking at the above cast, the HKJC has a brilliant script- a plot full of twists and turns and many cliff-hangers, heroes and villains, sheriff and Chief Steward named Kim Kelly keeping law and order, excitement, drama, intrigue, fans cheering on and loyal to their favorites and- this is key- a ready-made program to show the new generation of racing enthusiasts how to appreciate and understand the sport better.

Hong Kong’s Jockey Challenges- far more relevant than the daft bell-ringing that heralds another CSL 1010 Million Challenge that holds zero interest to the majority of race-goers- is something that should be sponsored by a hip new brand, and taken further through a strong marketing and promotional program.

It just makes common sense.

Doesn’t it?

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This entry was posted in casper fownes, DOUGLAS WHYTE, GERARD MOSSE, HAPPY WEDNESDAY, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong Racing, JOAO MOREIRA, JOHN MOORE, JOHN SIZE, zac purton and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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