By Hans Ebert
While the somewhat theatrical sounds of race caller John Blance rained on our parade with even greater ferocity than the outsiders that made last Wednesday night at Happy Valley one to forget, whiplash occurred and our minds turned to one of our favourite subjects: the raison d’être for the HKJC continuing to produce what is a vapid tipping show that plods along in its yonks old format as the misnomer called “Racing To Win”.
We often wonder what an alien landing on earth would make of this programme, and whether it will result in a Mars Attack.
Thoughts of this programme galloped through our minds, not because of the panel of so-called racing experts and their dazzling personalities- now, thankfully down to a duo, which means not having to hang about waiting to hear what the very knowledgeable Paul Lally has to say- but sitting there at Adrenaline and hearing snippets of its sister programme- the ‘live’ Trackside broadcast- trying to be heard over everything else going on around us, and falling on deaf ears, just didn’t make sense. As Adele might have sung, Hello, from the other side, and is there anyone home?
In a club where people come to chill out, take in the excellent ‘live’ music, decide amongst themselves what bets to make, and hear each other speak, all these voices- and absolutely fine for a television audience- only succeeds in being an intrusion. It’s a real party pooper.
If HKJC executives involved in the HKJC product, and the Happy Wednesday brand, actually visited the venue like nearly every jockey has taken the time to do when serving out a suspension or after the last race, with, ironically, the Club’s CEO being the most regular visitor, perhaps they’d understand this. Perhaps they would be better brand ambassadors, and more customer-centric instead of skipping the light fandango. But we’ve mentioned all this enough of times.
And so while the voices of Mark “Don Juan” Richards, Executive Manager of International Sales, and with plenty of on and off-camera experience sitting in to prop things up, and the always professional Jenny Chapman, doing the best they could with what they had to work with, Trackside on a Happy Wednesday at a venue like Adrenaline was and is way offside.
It made us wonder about a few things: Why can’t snippets of what’s happening at Adrenaline, the Gallery, or the Beer Garden, be hosted by someone like popular racing specialist Sarika Choy, below, and included in the Trackside broadcast? Either that or have everything that’s going on at these venues simply be shown as one-minute cutaways that’s not the obligatory “top shot”?
In other words, produce more of a young, vibrant and entertaining Happy Wednesday Trackside broadcast showing the international cast of regulars for these mid-week meetings without disrupting the paddock parade for its hardcore audience. Surely, this can only help show local racing fans, and, especially, the overseas commingling audience, what makes the HKJC Happy Wednesday brand the game-changing racing and marketing success story that it is?
As for “Racing To Win”, if it’s to plod along in its present incarnation, why not, at least, have the programme, or simulcasts, filmed at the Hay Market or Adrenaline venues- on a non-racing day, of course- and not what looks like the set to Thunderbirds Are Go?
But with millions spent on four new studios, this can never be. But we can still dream, especially at a time when big is not better with television audiences. Frankly, television itself is an endangered species as the consumer-generated online world relentlessly gathers even more and more drawing power with Big being the enemy of creativity in today’s DIY world.
Right now, the hosts of this “Racing To Win” juggernaut could be sitting in an aircraft hangar. There’s nothing anywhere that says “horse racing” save for a few graphics from what looks like a nearby kindergarten, and, of course, our old mate William Tell and his rollicking Overture.
To break up the nattering, and the constant blasts from Bill Tell, why not show some of the excellent HKJC archival footage that is so sadly neglected?
Surely, any of this is better than listening to the reasons for picking Joao Moreira to win the Jockey Challenge at $1.35, and interviewing jockeys talking in riddles though it must be said that the interviews conducted by Edward Sadler have improved considerably, whereas the all-too rare interviews by Doug Chalmers have been excellent.
If the programme’s audience of twenty hardcore racing purists can’t accept even a simple change in the format of the programme that has stayed put since the Seventies and Eighties and the days of outspoken Chinese racing host Tung Biu, and the very knowledgeable and much-missed Robin Parke, show them a 2016 calendar.
RACING’S PROTEST MOVEMENT IN VICTORIA BREAKS NEW GROUND!
As we tweeted last week, in an innovative marketing move to attract more racing fans, protests will now become part of every Saturday metropolitan race card in Victoria.
With protests- and the reasons for them- and the sheer volume of online discussions- trending on-course and Twitter, this just had to happen. Some even feel that this is a clever joint promotion between the VRC and Twitter.
What we understand from totally unreliable sources is that to give protests their rightful importance, enquiries will take place actually in the paddock area where everyone can see and hear what’s been said. It is said that this will add more interactivity between all parties, and, in time, unveil several leaders in horse racing’s protest movement. There’s almost a biblical vibe attached to this happening. It’s like Moses parting the Red Seas. Or Monty Python in search of the Holy Grail.
During the allotted time of twenty minutes, each side will be able to put forward their arguments any way they think will further their cause. Crying and begging will be accepted along with the use of protest songs by everyone from Bob Dylan to Yeezy.
To create more customer engagement, the social media-minded and all-powerful ShaneO will host the entire event using a call and response performance reminiscent of James Brown, the late Godfather of Soul. Or Liza Minelli.
All arguments and tweets will be tabulated by Chief Steward Terry Bailey and his boys- all on generous bonus schemes for creating this innovative marketing and promotional event- and the winner announced two minutes before the start of the following race.
Don’t ever let it be said that horse racing is boring, or that its executives wouldn’t know creative marketing if it were to roll over them and bite them where the sun don’t shine.
Getting in on the act, even at this early stage, will be some corporates who will offer odds on which race (or races) will result in a protest with in-play betting taking place as the enquiry (or enquiries) shows drag on.
TWITTERING AWAY UNTIL…
Surely not? The twitterverse can often be a strange meeting place for all sorts- even Donald Trump supporters- and we slowly exhale and take it all in along with those who don’t know the difference between “you’re” and “your”. And while the racing purists get on their high horses and preach to the minions, one can simply stay and indulge in silly word play, or walk away and take being blocked by certain accounts as a badge of honour.
What we cannot accept, however, is the hypocrisy amongst certain well-known racing pundits on Twitter- those who tweet their thoughts, but when caught with their pants down and feel a spanking coming on, suffer from shrinkage and delete their tweets.
You know who you are, we know that you know we know who you are, so let’s stop the silliness before you become a charter member of The RB Hall Of Shameless Twits.
DO I HAVE A DEAL FOR YOU!
Hong Kong-based Australian Barrister Kevin Egan is not only one of our longtime friends, he also has one of the sharpest legal minds around, and is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to knowing the ins and outs and how the world of horse racing operates.
He has successfully defended a number of jockeys with their cases and appeals including Chris Munce, Neil Callan and Glyn Schofield. Will Big Kev soon be retained by some in the Oz racing world facing various trials and tribulations? Could be. And being in a racing ownership syndicate always on the lookout for new equine talent, was he recently approached by a jockey in Australia offering help in this area? When will they learn? Seriously.
As we said, Kev is one of the smartest blokes we know. And if there was an approach made, we know what the answer would have been.