IS THIS THE WORLD’S MOST SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS?
Despite the very trying and challenging economic environment that has confronted nations, multi-national corporations and A-list companies through double and triple whammy battering and bruising inflicted by recessions, droughts and famines and global financial meltdowns and crises, the business and commercial world has proven itself one of the most resilient in its ability to deliver strong black figures over the perilous journey.
But few would be able to boast the record of one business that we know of which has the most extraordinary record of success in the modern era.
It is a business, which, for several decades, has been forced to operate profitably under normal commercial and corporate governance prerogatives, not only for its own commercial survival, but, at the same time, is required by legislation to make large and mandatory donations of extraordinary largesse to the charity sector and charitable organizations- and which is mandated again by legislation to make fixed taxation or revenue payments to the Government, irrespective of it’s own income and revenue.
If your income from the business you conduct falls in a given year or years, tough titties.
We’re talking about the Hong Kong Jockey Club which surely has to be one of the most successful businesses anywhere in the world.
It would be difficult, if not impossible, to name another business which, not just faces, but successfully meets such a challenge in spectacular fashion.
It is a challenge which goes unnoticed, continually flying under the scrutiny of some of the world’s most respected and sharpest business commentators.
The challenge to operate a financially successful business is one that is big enough anyway in such a complex, competitive and unstable global economic environment.
Add to this a mandated- fixed and, at times, unbelievably large taxation impost- and an equally large series of on-going donations to charitable organizations and the task for a Chief Executive and his/her Board of Directors is to put it in the mildest possible terms – Herculean.
Hong Kongers just don’t realize how fortunate they are- and is something the Club seems almost “shy” to trumpet and bring down the walls of Jerico.
Hell, once in a while, one has to blow one’s trumpet ‘cos no one else will and the HKJC has at least one generation clueless as to its many contributions to Hong Kong.
The perception to many that the Club is still the very colonial and pukka Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club and an evil force like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn leading people astray is bollocks- and must be addressed.
Thanks to wagering and the world’s best practice financial management of the Jockey Club, Hong Kongers enjoy an amazingly subsidized taxation system with a modern infrastructure which is improved and modernized each year. And the Jockey Club is able to meet its financial obligations despite a raft of legislative impediments which it has to operate under courtesy of a strangely conservative Government, nervous to allow the Jockey Club to operate like their compatriots in many other countries without both their hands tied firmly behind their backs.
One can only imagine how much more successful and profitable the Jockey Club could be if it were free of many of these constraints- constraints for the sake of being constraints and with no logical rationale.
After all, it’s easier to say No than Yes.
The icing on the cake is that from a racing perspective, Hong Kong racing sits at the top of the tree.
Its wagering product is par excellence supported by some of the highest standards of integrity anywhere in the world.
It has the most talented International jockey rosters in the world backed up by world class trainers and thoroughbreds who have proven themselves against the best in the world.
A licence to train or ride in Hong Kong is akin to winning a lottery with its abundance of opportunities to be financially secure for a lifetime- and those who whinge, well, exit stage right, baby.
What makes Hong Kong racing stand out from racing in many other parts of the world can be put down simply to one important and distinguishing feature: It has an X FACTOR about it, which many other racing nations would just beg to have like Oliver Twist wanting a teeny bit More, sir.
From an Australian perspective, it makes the country’s racing administrators and racing system look second or third class, or to borrow a pathetic western description, “third world”.
To be fair, the Australian racing still operates under an outdated model.
It has no control over its destiny. Its decision making process is corrupted by the influences and agendas of powerful and sectional interest groups.
Bipartisanship is not in the vocabulary of Australian racing administrators or Boards of governance. And far, far too many of its participants have far, far too much to say about subjects they know absolutely nothing about and where their rants are the stuff of muppets from the peanut gallery.
Australian trainers and jockeys operate under a dangerous mantra of entitlement- squeezing the life out of a once vibrant and financially viable industry.
Then there is the financial and structural relationship with its pari-mutuel or totalisator partner Tabcorp and Tatts.
Australian racing is beholden to both these private entities, who, when it’s all said and done, don’t give a flying fuck about racing.
It is all about the bottom line and so it should be for a publicly listed business.
Both Tabcorp and Tatts have shown their hand in recent times as they have diversified and expanded their business models and portfolios.
Wagering is increasingly shifting away from being their core business, and in the modern predatory commercial environment, both Tabcorp and Tatts are ripe for takeovers. And then?
If Australian racing administrators are smart-and sadly they are not- they would muster their collective forces, borrow the funds they need, and make both Tabcorp and Tatts shareholders an offer they cannot refuse and take control of their financial destiny.
It would take a truckload of courage from the men and women who sit on the various Boards of Governance and their CEO’s – courage that so far has been playing hide and seek with the industry whose destiny is in their hands.
Australian racing could do with a Winfried Englebrecht- Bresges, or a Paul Bittar, below.
Remember him? He’s the guy that Racing Victoria let go in favour of handing the keys to Victorian racing to “The Plodder”- Bernard Saundry- and who’s doing more than okay in charge of British racing.
PUHLEEZE, STOP BEING A DICKHEAD, JAMES CUMMINGS.
We’re all for getting young people involved in racing. It’s been our mantra since we started blogging so many years ago, but Aussie trainer “sweet baby” James Cummings, who seems to have assumed the role of the voice of the younger Australian generation in racing, is making an absolute dick of himself. And he did so again this week.
We were alerted to a podcast of an interview he did with his buddy Shane Anderson earlier this week on the misleadingly named Radio Sport National or RSN, bleak city’s racing radio station.
The kindest thing we could say about some of “sweet baby James” comments is that they were embarrassing from a so-called well educated poster boy of the younger generation that has been lost to racing.
Now, we are uncertain whether “sweet baby James” is economically literate or not, but the red flashing lights are shining on that one.
His comments criticizing the decision by the Melbourne Racing Club and Racing Victoria to run a de facto twilight meeting this Saturday at Caulfield demonstrated his ignorance of one of the most critical and fundamental imperatives of business.
They changed the times for revenue reasons only, he opined.
So what in heaven’s name is wrong with that “sweet baby James”?
You’ve been under the doona with the lovely Monica for a tad too long, mate. Come up for air occasionally and get with the real world.
Are you not aware that Australian racing- and racing in NSW- is in crisis mode?
That the racing industry has got to pull out all stops and find every possible way to increase wagering revenue?
That the peak times for wagering are late afternoon, early evening and the early night time hours?
Are you aware that racing actually became a business a long time ago?
Perhaps you should get a quick tutorial or refresher course from Monica’s grandfather Eduardo Cojuangco on how not to kill off a business.
Really mate, give credit to the administrators down bleak city on the equine welfare front.
They would not just have “twilight racing” at Caulfield this weekend, where there was a 40 degree plus heatwave greater than any song of the same name by Martha and The Vandellas.
They set a precedent last week and cancelled one country race meeting and brought two meetings forward for reasons of jockey and equine welfare so horses and jockeys would not have to race in the hottest and most dangerous times of the day.
And what did they get for their trouble? An absolute hiding on the wagering front.
Now mate, we know where you’re coming from: You don’t really need to be a racehorse trainer and put up with all the shit that many of your fellow trainers have to put up with.
Yes, there are rewards, financially, and personally, but it’s very, very hard yakka, and it’s shit that you don’t and really won’t need.
As we have said before, we really can’t see training racehorses being a lifetime career for you.
You would be far better off finding a career destination in the lovely Monica’s family business empire.
Then again, your lack of understanding of even the most fundamental business principles might be of real concern to empire headquarters in the Phillipines.
MURDOCH RAG SHOOTS THE MESSENGER- AGAIN!
The front page Melbourne Herald Sun story on a so-called Hong Kong/Macau Triad infiltration of Victorian and Australian racing as a money laundering conduit following the recent purchase of a prominent Victorian stud farm and an unlimited cash splurge on horses from yearlings to a high profile and outrageously priced International racehorse who was rushed out to Australia to compete in last year’s Melbourne Cup, yet again demonstrates the vulnerability of the racing industry in being a convenient “soft” target for any story or feature on corruption in sport or,for that matter,in society, in general.
To a great degree, and it’s been said ad nauseum, racing has only itself to blame.
It is its own worst enemy. It is the poorest communicator known to man and woman. It is the most hopelessly reactive sport or business in Australia.
If there were to be an award for the worst defender of its own business and image, it would be a no brainer.
The fact that one of the worst kept secrets managed to get a front page headline for racing, AGAIN, proves beyond any reasonable doubt how pitifully incapable Australian racing is in continually failing to get on the front foot and put issues into perspective.
The decision by the so-called Triad connection and his organization to invest in Australian racing is not just a matter for racing authorities.
There is an organization called ASIC and the FIRB, both regulatory bodies charged with powers to investigate and uphold the law in terms of integrity in business and in ensuring that criminal elements don’t slip through the net and infiltrate legitimate businesses or a business sector.
If the racing authorities, and, in this instance, Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna, got wind of any of this- which from what we are hearing and know in Hong Kong is an open secret- then they are derelict in their duty if they failed to immediately get the Australian Crime Commission on the case.
But what the Herald-Sun story did not tell its readers was how did this investment of many tens of millions- with plenty of it spent as recently as two weeks ago at the Magic Millions Sales- slip under the watchful eyes of the regulatory authorities.
Surely the Australian Crime Commission in the diligent pursuit of its charter would have had warning bells ringing as soon as the name of the organization and it principal surfaced in 2012?
Don’t they have a very strong relationship with their counterparts in Hong Kong? And don’t they share information in their pursuit of such an intricate, well-organized and publicly-known network of insidious criminals and criminal activity?
The Herald-Sun front page piece put the Victorian racing industry in the gun again. Remember Bill Vlahos?
The reality is that be it Racing Victoria or Racing NSW or the soft cock Australian Racing Board, they have absolutely no powers and certainly not the resources to enforce the law of the land.
It is rightly, the responsibility and territory of law enforcement regulatory bodies set up specifically for that purpose.
And to single out racing as the only game in town for money laundering is more than a tad too rich.
Criminals and criminal organizations are extremely adept at doing their “due diligence” and laundering their tainted- and often blood stained millions if not billions of dollars- in business enterprises which have a far better image and reputation than the hapless and helpless racing industry.
But racing in Oz is and will always continue to be a “soft” and convenient target, especially with administrators that sit back in siesta mode like Mr Zero and let it happen while Rome burns.