For over two decades, there has been “horse racing” in Mainland China. But once the smoke and mirrors have cleared, these are only bibs and bobs to this being a reality on the scale the sport is meant to be.
Still, the nattering will continue, and races will be run in Wuhan, Wubai, Outer Mongolia etc and the dream will be peddled just like Mainland China is still being sold to those who wouldn’t know Chengdu from No-Can-Do as “potentially the biggest music market in the world”. Why? The thinking is that because of the number of mobile phone users, these very same customers will pay for music on their smart phones. We know, we know. Very often, like that recording by the stunning Miss Katie Melua about “Nine Million Bicycles (In Beijing)”, the numbers don’t add up.
If there will ever be legal and bona fide horse racing in Mainland China with payouts that are more than fridges and pots and pans, it will come only following approval by the Chinese Politburo, and with the reins handed over to the Hong Kong Jockey Club who do such a superb job of running and managing horse racing in that other city belonging to the Motherland called Hong Kong. Until that day arrives- and it might never arrive- we prefer to look at business tangibles, and big chunks of reality bites. The Long March to nowhere and across the grassy knoll is not for us.
This leads us to Teresa Poon. Married to David Kobritz, who owned 1993 Melbourne Cup winner Subzero, the couple own Musk Creek Farm in Flinders. David is also Managing Director of real estate development and sales company, Deal Corporation Ltd with Teresa listed as a Consultant. They are also owners of Danzero, and Rock Kingdom and bred Pierro. We watched the interview below recently, and it was interesting what Teresa Poon had to say- not exactly a series of Eureka moments, but, as Chairperson of the Australian Chinese Jockey Club, logical next steps in the evolvement and expansion of the customer base in racing in the land Down Under.
The AJC has a definite and doable plan. They’re not drinking the Kool-Aid and playing with the fairies. And like the recent Chinese Race Day at Randwick- a successful collaboration between the Chinese-owned Kilin Group and the ATC- the need to tap into the Chinese communities in Australia, and making them part of horse racing, is not exactly rocket science.
Xenophobes might not like it, but Chinese horse owners and Chinese ownership racing syndicates are the most cash-rich in a world that today is cash-strapped. Just ask astute trainers like Gai Waterhouse and Chris Waller, who will do somersaults with lion dancers to have these players as owners- Chinese who have permanent residency in Australia, and all those other Chinese from Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Hong Kong, and, of course, Mainland China, who are now part and parcel of racing in Australia- those who own Eliza Park, Lindsay Park, Domeland, and powerful owners like Pan Sutong etc etc.
Sure, some of these players, especially those with ties to Macau’s casinos, may have dodgy reputations, but let’s not become sanctimonious and two-faced dweebs about it.
Though the last minute plea on Twitter to find a Mandarin-speaking race caller for a race at Moonee Valley last Friday as part of a belated bid to jump on the Lunar New Year celebrations bandwagon showed enthusiasm mixed with naïveté, it was another sign of what is happening: Baby steps to bring Chinese entertainers and celebrities as part of special race days, and how this will attract, and make turnover go ka-ching by bringing more Chinese to the racecourses in Australia- and the ownership ranks.
When this happens, our new business model that is RB Entertainment 888 (RBEntertainment888@gmail.com) will be more than ready to play a role- on-course, online, part and parcel of simulcasts and everything that will spillover off-course. Having, over the years, worked with everyone from Canto Pop pioneer Sam Hui, “Heavenly King” Jacky Cheung and the Wynners to Chinese models, actors, actresses, racing personalities, the HKJC’s Happy Wednesday brand, and the musical icon that is Faye Wong, we just might know what we’re talking about.
Of course none of this can happen by flying by the seat of one’s pants and not having a definite business and marketing strategy to work from with realistic budgets, timelines and objectives.
With these basics in place, there will be the understanding as to how the very inscrutable Made In China brand can work in the horse racing industry in Australia- and very key to understand- how and where this can and must work outside of racecourses with new business partners, sponsors and their customer bases.
Kung Hei Fat Choy and Welcome to reality and the Lunar New Year of the Monkey.