There comes a time when one needs to “cease operations”, step back, look forwards, and seize the day and seize a Caesar Salad and seize whatever new opportunities there might be to stop lethargy setting in, and, perhaps even saying, “To hell with it, there are better things to do with one’s time and talent”. And so it is with Racingbitch.
When this delivery platform was launched around eight years ago the thinking was to have fun producing it and that it might, hopefully, be racing’s answer to a mongrel comprising equal parts Monty Python, Perez Hilton and the scandalous irreverence of Popbitch.
This was when the online world was in its infancy and terms like “delivery platforms”, “digital”, “blogs” and today’s plat du jour called “social media” were yet to be hatched. Websites were coming into their own with many of us in the music industry at that time looking to MySpace, YouTube and a newcomer named Facebook for answers while corporate lawyers tried to fight the genie released from Pandora’s Box who had taken over the online world already owned- lock, stock and barrel- by music fans busy rewriting copyright laws to suit their wants and needs. No longer were they prepared to be docile Kunta Kintes and dance for “Massa”.
Fast forward to today and where the streaming of music has taken over from downloads- a very dumbed down move- with music companies powerless over the relentless technological steamroller that is Apple Music- and Apple everything- and its partnerships with everyone from U2 to Beatz to Taylor Swift, and where technology has taken over every aspect of music making.
Then, there’s the horse racing industry, and the question asked here is how and where a delivery platform like Racingbitch fits in, whether it’s relevant or has run its course in its current incarnation and has become a fat, flatulent entity burdened by a Quixotic complex to keep fighting those damned windmills.
As BB King sang, The Thrill Is Gone, and what’s been going through this often addled head is whether the point of providing content- for free and refusing to be compromised by accepting advertising- while, recently, seemingly rewriting rewrites about the usual suspects and fighting other people’s battles- for free- and courting controversy- for free- is moving those chess pieces to a Check, mate ending. Or, to paraphrase that great racing personality named Bob Dylan, has Racingbitch unwittingly joined all the other “jugglers and clowns who do tricks for you” in an industry that’s longing for change, but, seemingly, lost as how to get there?
Are many of those supposedly leading the sport really leading it, or paying lip service? Or, worse, taking it over the precipice into some black hole of Calcutta with no way out? Are those self-styled racing gurus, “visionaries” and “game changers” simply playing blindman’s bluff hoping no one sees they’re only holding a pair of deuces in a game of seven card stud where aces wild?
Listening in recent months to the “content” and relentless verbiage on various racing radio channels, watching racing panels comprising ageing wobble heads, surfing through the rants of Twitter trolls, reading racing blogs, skimming through racing stories and listening to different racing administrators talk about “engagement” and “marketing” and “influencers” and wanting “sizzle”, has made one believe that- corny as it might sound- The Future Is Now if horse racing is ever going to be more than what it is today: Tired, one dimensional and repetitive- an often boring one trick pony asleep at the wheel.
As Tom Petty sang in “I Won’t Back Down”, Racingbitch is not going to suddenly close shop and slink away into the arms of that midnight at the oasis. That would be too easy- and playing into the hands of that silent majority who would dearly love to see us ride off into the sunset.
What could easily happen, however, is that “the Bitch” reinvents itself and morphs into a different type of beast with global partners in technology who wish to enter the world of horse racing- but through the lifestyle backdoor and not by going down that same path as the usual suspects in the sport.
This is where, way too often, horse racing stops everything else to navel gaze, lose invaluable time by plodding through the same terrain, falls in love with the sound of its own basso voice and takes on a false sense of self-importance.
Let’s not kid ourselves, horse racing is, first and foremost, all about offering people an exciting sport with the enticement of an opportunity to win by following the teams involved- teams of man and horse. That’s caste in stone and will never, and nor should it change. It’s racing’s USP, KPI and raison d’être. Is this excitement- this teamwork- shown to its maximum advantage? No, it’s not.
It’s the other aspects of racing that interests us more- showcasing the social aspects of the sport, the lifestyle element that gives the sport a multi-dimensional image that attracts new business partners and sponsors. This means racing clubs being able to tap into the data bases of bigger business partners. especially in media, to reach and attract a wider audience and, with it, bring in a new ‘look’ to the sport. A refresher course, if you will, and a much-needed makeover.
Why, for example, is Texas Hold Em and poker tournaments seen as being “glamorous” whereas horse racing is often relegated to being the Rodney Dangerfield of sports? Because poker, especially in the online gaming world, has attracted Hollywood drawcards like Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Julia Roberts. They’ve made a game of cards stylish, “legitimate”, and not burdened by the “gambling” albatross.
It’s bringing a similar style and glamour to the sport that interests us as it “elevates” the image of the sport into something more than a mug’s game. It’s also about showing that horse racing is not all about movers and shakers and sheikhs and fakirs, but, when wisely marketed, can be one of society’s great levellers.
Yes, Racingbitch will continue to be outspoken, objective with irreverent seriousness, and try and back the right horses, though we’ll now and again get these wrong. But what’s key is not being part of the rut and, equally, not being another brick in the wall.
To avoid this, we have a strong team in place to become very involved in how horse racing can be presented more creatively using all the technology available at our fingertips with business partners who are fast-forwarding how we watch and listen to everything worth watching and listening to at a time when even the television industry is all but dead.
These are exciting and changing times where we see different industries after that same consumer pie coming together and using each other’s strengths and expertise to create a win-win situation for all. And the horse racing industry will most certainly be in this mix.
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance Inc, Fast Track Global Ltd