LADY GAI GAI: SHE’S SIMPLY THE BEST!
The lyrics of Tina Turner’s classic hit sums it up best: She’s Simply the Best , Better than all the rest. She might even be a Private Dancer, but there just aren’t enough superlatives to describe Gai Waterhouse and her amazing capacity to keep breaking records- and creating new ones.
If she isn’t already, it’s time for Gai Waterhouse to be acknowledged as one of the world’s great racehorse trainers. She is up there with the best. And in a traditionally male dominated profession, she has broken the glass ceiling and achieved what few, if any feminists could have done to demonstrate that gender equality is real. It is alive and well and living in an apartment near you.
Vancouver and Sweet Idea winning two prestigious Group Ones on Slipper day were headliners by any measure. But the achievements behind winning the two Group Ones were monumental.
Vancouver’s Slipper triumph with Tommy Berry aboard from an outside barrier and a wide, and almost torrid run, would have stopped better horses than a two-year-old colt with less than a half-a-dozen racetrack appearances.
Trained meticulously to the minute, he was outstanding, as was the filly English, the runner up, trained by, guess who, Gai Waterhouse.
No surprises really. Gai’s genius as a racehorse trainer is almost beyond comprehension. And the run of Sweet Idea to finish over the top of a seriously good field of high quality sprinters was awesome.
But there’s more to Gai Waterhouse than just her status as the best of the best in her profession.
While so many elite sportsmen and women are the best of the best in their profession, they are also very one dimensional.
Take them outside their very narrow comfort zones and they struggle. Not so with Lady Gai Gai. She could have quite easily had a similar impact in the world of marketing and communications if they were to be her chosen profession.
Gai Waterhouse is a walking, talking, living, breathing, one person, one act marketing whiz. She gets it- and is willing to listen, absorb and learn and, to paraphrase Nike, she just does it.
She has done and keeps doing more than anyone else in Australian racing to promote the sport to that inner sanctum and outside world. It comes naturally to her. The popularity of her Gai TV YouTube videos and blogs tell the story.
Yes, there is plenty of theatre about Lady GaiGai and the way she comes across. But she trained in one of the UK’s most prestigious theatre schools, and like many of the best of their profession, actors and actresses have a very unique way of telling a story like no other. It’s in their DNA. It’s all very AbFab, but we love it, darling.
It comes as no surprise that the administrators of Australian racing just do not know how to, or are incapable of utilizing and maximizing this gifted marketing opportunity to promote racing to non-believers, a target market which racing has no connection with- and has no idea how to connect with as they plod along with their 24/7 pool of serial gibberers rambling on about the punt, the punt, the punt.
All this overkill does is take racing down that narrow, tacky rabbit hole of addictive gambling- and everything compulsive gambling throws up in the process in more ways than one.
From a bigger global picture, racing has an opportunity, away from its narrow territorial boundaries, to build some exciting marketing and promotional campaigns around the irresistible charismatic talent of the “Magic Man” Joao Moreira, the hottest personality in world racing.
Moreira is a heartbeat away from being crowned best jockey in the world with the turnstile clicking power of Black Caviar, Frankel and Able Friend rolled into one.
It is an opportunity for world racing. The question is this: Will the administrators grasp it with both hands, both feet and every moving part of their bodies and make it work?
These opportunities are generational, and with the “Magic Man”, it’s the first time racing has had its very own David Beckham.
ROSEHILL GETS A RAW DEAL
There are very few Sydneysiders who would disagree that since it was swallowed up and separated from the old STC, Rosehill has had a very raw deal from the AJC/STC merger, which created the Australian Turf Club.
The wounds are still very, very raw, but racing in Sydney has no choice but to move on. It doesn’t mean that Sydney racing should lie down and accept the very direct and strategic shift in focus to Randwick and the “Championships”, which is increasingly marginalizing Rosehill as a venue, and with its programming and dates a moving target.
Could anyone seriously argue that Rosehill’s Slipper day was not one of the best days of quality racing in Australia? There was Quality coming out of every race except the last where an out of form near retiree – the veteran Permit- staged a form reversal to take out a race which did not belong on the Card.
That aside, it was intriguing to hear and read the chatter about the attendance at Rosehill.
The less than 20,000 official attendance (many commented that it looked like, felt like and smelt like several thousand less), sent commentators into overdrive.
True, the official and unofficial attendance figures were unacceptable, but let’s give Rosehill a break. It’s caught up in a Catch 22, which, yes, could have and should have been avoided from a programming, marketing and priority perspective, but history has shown that you just cannot expect attendees to turn up in droves each week over four or more weeks. It doesn’t happen in Melbourne and it cannot be expected to happen in Sydney.
There are several factors at play – cost being one of the major negatives. Carnivals and feature race days are all about dressing up and looking the part. And to put on a new outfit on each day will break most budgets except a minority of those who are very much part of the eastern suburbs set.
Then there is the weather- hardly perfect for Slipper day, and sufficient for non-hardcore racing folk to put their outfits back in the closet for another day. And there is something called the NRL season, which has commenced, and has captured the attention and focus of fans and supporters, the community and the media.
The Slipper and the Rosehill component of the Sydney Autumn carnival were once successful and thriving. Standing room only was the norm.
It would be good to believe that its present state of being in limbo is temporary- and that the ATC and Racing NSW will go back to the drawing board and engage a professional marketing organization with a proper and appropriate marketing budget to return the Rosehill carnival and Slipper day to its exciting best.
Sydney racing needs it desperately. And the powers-that-be need to recognize that it’s not all about Randwick. Rosehill must become part of NSW racing’s blueprint and strategy.
THE PLAN TO BRING SOME MAGIC TO SYDNEY RACING?
“Let’s bring the Magic back to Sydney racing”, thundered the headline in Friday’s sport section of the Sydney Morning Herald. The “Magic” of course referred to Joao Moreira.
Chief Sports Writer Andrew Webster reported that in a conversation he had with Moreira at Shatin, the “magic man” had “given his strongest intention yet that he wants to ride in Australia permanently”. Hmmmm.
Webster asked Moreira if he would consider riding in Australia for a season, at least, to which he replied: “Of course. But the right opportunity hasn’t come yet. I am happy here in Hong Kong. I am concentrating on what I do here and I’m extremely happy here. I hope I can carry on until something else comes up. But Australia is an opportunity I would definitely look at”.
There’s much said there, but amongst all the clever word play by a very savvy communicator when it comes to dealing with the racing media is this: “I am extremely happy here in Hong Kong”.
Moreira is not known by some as “The Smiling Assasin”, and keeping one’s options open is something that he does very, very well.
Webster pleads with the powers-that-be in NSW racing – Racing NSW and the ATC- to “get cracking” and “consider throwing incentives – financial or otherwise, at Moreira to entice him to Sydney”.
With Moreira’s successful strike rate on his hit and run visits to Australia and his appearances at the “Championships” over the next two Saturdays at Randwick, it will be more than just a talking point among “sin city” administrators when the “magic man” hits town.
For reasons, which are historic and very obvious, poaching one of the jewels in the crown of Hong Kong racing would deliver a level of delirious satisfaction to some of the Racing NSW’s hierarchy.
The not-so-good news for them is that you can have long odds about Moreira moving out of the número uno racing jurisdiction for some time yet. Joao Moreira is a winner. And winners tend to stick with winners. Enough said.
THE DOGS BREAKFAST OFFERING ON SKY THOROUGHBRED CENTRAL
If last week’s coverage on the Sky’s whiz bang Sky Thoroughbred racing only channel is any guide, then punters and racing fans have been treated and taken for mugs. It was little more than a dysfunctional mish-mash of a production which even an “L Plater” could not have offered up.
The Sky Thoroughbred Central coverage was amateurish, and fronted by so-called racing personalities and experts that should have been put out to pasture at the beginning of the new millennium.
If that was bad enough, there were the confusing camera angles and “personalities” talking over each other, desperate to hear their own voice over their rivals. Repeatedly paraphrasing each other with the same language and same commentary added to the monotony of it all.
Slipper day deserved better and the scant coverage provided to the feature Victorian Bendigo meeting- and yes, it was a shocker of a non-meeting- still smacked of “payback” from Sky for Victoria’s refusal to roll over and cave in to their terms for broadcasting rights.
It once again reinforces what can be expected of monopolies in any form of commercial or business sector. Monopolies have very little, if any accountability, and treat their clients and customers with contempt.
For racing’s sake, Batman, let’s hope that a TVN reincarnation on Foxtel or free to air coverage is negotiated out of “bleak city” for racing fans across all States.