Let’s first get this straight: There is Simon Cowell, the entertainment mogul who gave the world- good grief- the Teletubbies- before making a name for himself playing Judge Nasty on “American Idol” which, with his pukka over-the-top English accent, he parlayed into a brand which America lapped up and helped him launch his own “X Factor” series plus managing and discovering everyone from Susan Boyle and Leona Lewis to One Direction.
There is then Simon Fuller- the Good Simon- who managed the Spice Girls before creating “Pop Idol” which morphed into the “American Idol” juggernaut and, who today, through his X1X Management, guides the careers of the Beckhams- and Victoria is no airhead, by the way- Lewis Hamilton and Andy Murray plus names in music such as Annie Lennox, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert etc.
The star power of Fuller
The Good Simon flies under the radar and it’s his thinking and negotiation skills that’s created the Beckham brand, and has seen the rise of Andy Murray and Lewis Hamilton.
This Simon also happens to be a friend and probably the only one, I think- nah, not Gai Waterhouse, Chillaxed Racing, Billy Nader etc- who can fast-track horse racing into the bigger world of sports entertainment through everything from management, partnerships, sponsorship, branding, new media outlets and much more than I can list here.
Why give everything away- and for free?
Can the racing industry Think Big?
The problem plaguing the horse racing industry is the inability to Think Big- and what a great racehorse that was- and look beyond the obvious.
Instead, it plods along being the bastard child of sports and dumped into the “gambling” chumpster along with the squeals of racing tragics and corporate waffling of racing administrators incapable of seeing the forest for the trees.
Apart from 2-3 racing executives, the rest are incapable of seeing where the sport is heading and plotting a better chart for it other than a collision course with the future in the hinterlands.
The Big If
IF Simon Fuller- and he’s a busy man- can be persuaded to first look at and understand horse racing- and IF he sees it has the potential to be a money-earning spectator sport that will attract a new range of media partners and sponsors- and IF he were to manage even ONE jockey who can be a brand- the sport would have not only have made up many lengths as a mainstream attraction, it would attract better talent than those in various positions of power today in a soft cock industry.
Why? Because this is how it’s always been as those capable of bringing about Change don’t look at a career in horse racing as being exactly motivating, exhilarating, exciting and creative.
Come on now, who was the last truly dynamic, charismatic racing personality you met?
Boring, pedantic, over-thinkers attract more boring, pedantic navel gazers and, for a sport with so much color and action, seldom has there been so much inaction, boring and daft corporate press releases and inane quotes from hugely overpaid racing executives.
To be brutally frank, add to these, too many racing tragics, especially those twittering in social media, and living in their insular worlds making parochial Neanderthal grunting noises.
The sport, simply put, is uncool, and, despite what’s happening now in the UK- having rock, pop or any other type of concerts at racecourses- is not going to raise The Cool Factor.
Racing has to change from within and be judged by the company it keeps.
What Simon Fuller brings to the table
Simon Fuller and his X1X Management is this company as it can bring fresh ideas and New Thinking to the table, which will attract new sponsors who tell us to Just Do It that, in turn, will attract new racegoers, new horse owners, bigger prize money and- very key- greater coverage of a sport currently confined to “racing channels”- with sub-standard content as no one is capable of improving the creative product- and the racing pages in newspapers that remain the domain of racing writers who crank out stories to the same old and dwindling captive audience.
Though an endangered species, captive audiences, the big hardcore punters, are, of course, still needed, but, during these days when sporting fans are spoilt for choice, horse racing needs something from The Big Bang Theory so new consumers will sit up and take notice of it.
Like a hit song, it needs a damn good chorus to make the sport ROAAAAARRRRRR.
So, let’s look at this scenario: Simon Fuller enters horse racing by managing, let’s say, Ryan Moore, Joao Moreira and Douglas Whyte.
Moore might have the personality of a gnat, but he’s the best jockey in the world today and Team Ryan Moore- and Team Samba Moreira- can have enormous branding and sponsorship potential.
Douglas Whyte might not be the best jockey in the world, but with thirteen consecutive Hong Kong jockey premierships in his portfolio, and the ability to present himself-professionally- and articulate the sport far better than most- I can’t see a better global ambassador for horse racing, and which, in turn, will have a positive rub-off effect on the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
After all, the HKJC has been the “adopted home” for Whyte for almost two decades, and it’s a partnership that, I think, will endure after the jockey has hung up his boots.
The strength of Simon Fuller is in the team he has built around him, his clout in China with the media, investors and sponsors through the Beckham brand, his innate ability to seize the moment and, with the marquee value names in his roster, bring to horse racing that X factor which it currently does not have- but desperately needs as these are desperate times for the sport.
Racing and being penny-wise and pound foolish
What racing needs is Star Power and a swift kick up its arse to get rid of some of the old baggage it’s been carrying for too long with their penny-wise, pound-foolish thinking.
More to the point, too many are simply not good enough to make horse racing better, bigger and bolder- or to understand and do business with a forward thinker like Simon Fuller.