OF MICE AND MEN AND TWITS AND TWITTER
Used properly, Twitter is not only an amazing marketing tool, it gives us a voice to bring about Change, and is also so immediate in the absorbing and sharing of news while bringing in a new discipline to communicate in 140 words or less with some intelligent people who are humorous, knowledgeable, interesting and not one-dimensional dweebs.
Having said this, as with other social media platforms, there exist the moronic. And when stumbling upon these, for some reason, mostly from the land Down Under, and seemingly desperate to make racing in Hong Kong part and parcel of Australia, the exchanges often border on the puerile- and embarrassing.
It’s these tweets, no matter how insignificant, that dumbs down horse racing and makes those wanting to be part of the sport see what’s being said and decide, Thanks, but No Thanks. It’s also a terrible advertisement for potential sponsors looking for a product with “aspirational” value, who decide that this ragtag customer group is not for them. There’s a difference between “you’re” and “your” and “he’s” and “his”, Forrest Gump. And no, you DON’T “know” this and that jockey because they’re polite enough to reply to a question on Twitter. You “know” them on bloody Twitter and will, most likely, never meet them in your life.
Frankly speaking, more and more jockeys- and trainers- are reining in their presence on Twitter and other social media. Why have a harmless tweet be retweeted, or some information taken out of context, credited to them, which goes against the Rules Of Racing and ends up opening an unnecessary can of worms?
On this subject, especially two racing clubs in Oz better get real about the very grey online laws that have given the entertainment industry some huge headaches. There’s freedom of speech under which morons like Donald Trump and Kanye West operate- and when it comes to horse racing, there are the Rules Of Racing, and then there are laws of libel and defamation that are determined in a court of law.
If Trump can getaway with insulting the world, do those policing Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to see if “participants” have broken some tenuous “law” under the Rules Of Racing actually believe they have the remotest chance of playing “Gotcha”, and enforcing censorship? Don’t be bloody silly, Sherlock. Go back and work on improving or cobbling together a very obviously cracked business model that cannot be hidden by a racing channel called on to be part of damage control by interviewing one of those corporate basso voices waffling on and making U-turns.
Some might have bought into this type of bollocks 4-5 years ago. Not today. Incompetence will not be tolerated and no one is beyond the law. Now go to the corner of the room and repeat the word “Packenham” while repeatedly banging your head against the wall. It was not only the lights that were out at Packenham last night.
You know what they say about not being able to fool all the people all of the time. Time’s up and we’re very unsure even early retirements that could very well be on the cards to facilitate early exits with a modicum of pride in place are going to save some racing executives who have plodded along long past their Use By Date.
If up against any savvy lawyer, these very same sanctimonious arbiters of right and wrong in horse racing could be looking down the barrel of million dollar lawsuits for everything from sexual harassment to defamation of character. And from everything we know, some very high profile executives in horse racing in Oz have crossed that line between power-gone-haywire, and losing their battles in the Court Of Public Appeal. This has resulted in some furious back-peddling to settle out of court and put the genie back in the lamp.
Could be too late, dear boys. Serial bullies always have their comeuppance. Always.
ANOTHER EMBARRASSING BUNGLE IN THE JUNGLE BY THE VICS
If their handling of all matters connected with the integrity of racing is any guide, then it should come as no surprise that Racing Victoria has made another major tactical and strategic blunder in their botched handling of the Victorian racing infrastructure master plan.
The rambling and at times incoherent statement issued in the name of Victorian racing’s very own “Inspector Clouseau”, Chief executive Bernard Saundry aka “The Plodder” ominously pointed to yet another opportunity for an out of control racing media pack to access information from one very well-known serial leaker entrenched in the upper echelons of power in Victorian racing and use their instinctive addiction to stir an already simmering pot which does not need any further stirring.
Racing Victoria has single handedly succeeded in disenfranchising the Race Clubs and the stakeholder groups that matter. The lack of trust and disrespect of its leadership at both a Board and management level will inevitably lead to intervention by Government. The clock is ticking and the midnight hour is perilously close. An eleventh hour circuit breaker won’t happen in the current environment where leaks and breaches of trust are running rampant.
Clearly, the leaking of the infrastructure information was designed to embarrass the clubs who have been working in good faith amongst themselves and with the governing body towards an outcome for the best interests of the racing industry. Equally clear is the reality that there is a torrent of water yet to flow under the bridge before a final outcome is likely to be agreed upon and presented to the racing community. So why leak the story to the Herald-Sun, which, in its typical “News of the World” style, threw in the appropriate hysterical slogans and emotive language to convey the message that Victorian racing was on war footing with a bunch of belligerent race clubs, taking on the governing body and declaring war on it?
The behaviour of the Victorian governing body is akin to that of Australia’s political parties and their leaders in the cesspit that is Canberra, where leaks, mistrust and vindictiveness reigns supreme.
A Leader is judged on his or her ability to bring all stakeholders, employees together in a harmonious, constructive environment, where conflict is a last resort and not the first option.
Clearly, the Victorian racing governing body Racing Victoria is bereft of leadership – something we have been writing about and warning for some considerable time.
MRC LEADERSHIP MUST STAY INTACT
Arguably, the Melbourne Racing Club has one of the best leaders in Australian racing in Mike Symons. Unquestionably, Symons and his Committee made a serious tactical blunder in the conduct of their recent members vote to extend their terms on the Club Committee. It was a blunder which they owned up to, with the promise of a new elections and an assurance that all Club members would be communicated with personally and made aware that a vote was taking place, which did not happen when the recent vote was undertaken. It was embarrassing to the Club and Symons and his Committee. But it wasn’t a hanging offence and Symons has plenty of credits in the bank to cop the whack on the chin and be allowed to do what he has done well since he assumed the Chair at the Melbourne Racing Club.
Unlike some of the unremarkable leaders of Australian racing clubs and governing bodies, Symons is not afraid to think outside the very narrow square that is Australian racing. He dared to stand toe to toe with his ATC counterparts in the guerrilla warfare which ultimately sapped the life out of TVN.
Now, more than ever, with the events of the past few days, the members of the Melbourne Racing Club need to back their Committee- and its Chairman.
FROM THE RACING TWITTERVERSE
With genuine respect Hans, when you turn the light on grammatical mistakes and typographical errors of others, you also turn it on yourself. Back pedalling, not back peddling, as you wrote. And Pakenham, not Packenham. Otherwise, I love it.