By Hans Ebert
The night earlier I had watched a blistering monologue from the razor sharp mind of George Carlin on big business in America- how the rich get richer and everyone in their path either get steamrolled or become sycophants dazzled by bullshit.
In three minutes, George Carlin destroyed Wall Street, and big business by revealing just how crooked and shallow it all is. It was a brilliant dismantling of the American Dream, but it could have been about an everyday nightmare happening almost anywhere in the world- a world that has lost focus on life’s priorities.
The next day I read about the latest chapter on horse racing in Australia. One of the icons of the turf in the land down under was throwing his weight behind two other elderly power brokers from another state. To him, these were men who could be saviours of the sport in his state while emphasising that he remained a “proud Melbournian and Victorian”.
His frustrations and No Confidence vote about how horse racing in his state has been a series of blunders, bad hires, arrogance, ignorance, mismanagement, u-turns, train wrecks with everyone aboard the Titanic trying to make Humpty Dumpty an edible omelette and in the process making Basil Fawlty and Manuel look like bloody geniuses is very true.
Racing in his state is in a terrible state and despite how it’s spun, the recent Spring Carnival was stuck in the mire. It was an also ran. There was no spring in its step. Allowing that Trojan horse to be wheeled in and blind the easily swayed horse racing media and its followers by dangling $10 million and $13 million, and if it ever sees the light of day, an $18 million carrot, diluted the impact of whatever the race that usually stops a nation. This race was just another win for big money, something that’s flaunted more and more in horse racing and only helps create a greater divide than there already exists. It’s all starting to look crass. Tacky. Amateur Hour.
Horse racing- the beauty of horses, the athleticism and skills of the riders and the buildup to a race- is fast being reduced to minor attractions. It’s all about the money, money, money, money. And if you don’t have it, you can’t play.
Unlike the measured logic and reality bites spoken earlier today on RSN to Michael Felgate by Greg Carpenter from Racing Victoria and trainer Simon Zahra following the aftermath of the Spring Carnival, can those behind the attempted ambush of this event really save racing in the state? How? By showing that their hearts are in the right place? Because of their “experience”? By making horse racing even more all about money? Or by shutting up and making the time to understand and listen to the pressures faced by trainers, jockeys, strappers- everyone that’s not a protected species? And if this were to ever happen, then what? More lip service?
Where is all this leading and where will it end? Is this a good look for the image of the global horse racing industry? How’s all this being viewed by those outside the Big Bubble?
One couldn’t help but think of that George Carlin monologue and wonder what he would have thought about all this state versus state power play other than showing it to be a small exclusive very old boys club with few wishing to join and inherit almost a decade of incompetence and some serious integrity issues. No one is so squeaky clean as to march in and make the ugly bogeyman go away.
Dinosaurs are not extinct. They still plod through the land armed with cliché riddled sound bites while pretending to be what they will never be. Still, many buy into all this false bluster and bravado. Underneath it all is the Tin Man still unable to get to Oz and see the Wizard with Dorothy.
As has been said here many times over, there’s experience and there’s old fashioned. Being “experienced” is not always a good thing for any industry. Often it’s a burden because many who are “experienced” are past their Use By Date. They refuse to leave as they have tight contracts and want a very good golden parachute tied to their backs if forced to make a quiet exit because they have finally been outed.
There are then those who are younger and “experienced”, but again, this “experience” often has to do with being able to survive in a corporate setting. It’s about being a subservient order taker and accepting zero accountability for mistakes. Successes, however, is something everyone will want to have bragging rights.
Take away those early days when there were young entrepreneurs and game changers like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and the rest behind the Digital Movement, and every other industry has been run by “experienced” businessmen and a few women because they ticked the right old corporate boxes. Have all been effective? Of course not. Yet, they survived.
For all their “experience”, those running the music industry, for example, never ever saw how file sharing site Napster would evolve into a multi-headed beast with tentacles reaching everywhere until we’re now here, but not really knowing what and where “here” is. We’ve become slaves to technology and technology has hijacked many lives.
What started out as something that mainly affected the music industry is now affecting daily life and often controlling and manipulating thinking. It’s creating illusions where nothing is real. Still, many are happy to go with the flow with no idea how to change horses midstream. There’s seemingly a desperate need to belong. But belong to who and how much is one prepared to share with the rest of the online world before embarrassing themselves? What does all this sharing even mean? How many really care? What does any of this have to do with creating a better society?
Those leading every industry should be asking themselves these questions because one can see a tsunami of change about to wash over the world. And many will drown.
For horse racing, if it’s to continue to plod down that well-trodden path weighed down by The Albatross of Gambling, it’s going nowhere.
To those on the outside looking in, there’s still no emotional quotient attached to the sport to attract them. It all looks old and boring.
Similarly, if the perception is that the house always wins, why bother playing? And even for its most loyal supporters, if there’s more than a whiff that horse racing is dissolving into an elitist sport where they’re only part of a muted peanut gallery, what’s the point of hanging in there?
Who out there might be “experienced”, but capable enough to be a game changer and bring about the complete overhaul this industry desperately needs?/p>
The even more serious problem is just how fractured the horse racing industry has become. What’s not smart is only looking after Number One. Being insular is hardly a magnet for growth globally. If anything, it stunts growth. The Big Picture gets lost in vindictiveness and petty politics.
Right now, horse racing remains misunderstood by those who have not been given an entry point to belong. Like what’s happened to Hollywood with the downfall of once untouchables like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, those “experienced” leaders in horse racing better come to grips that power is a fleeting thing, there are no secrets, and that past successes belong there. People have short memories.
To move forward, it’s all about understanding the Now and how to reinvent “The Sport Of Kings” into something far more approachable, far more entertainment-based and finding that all-important emotional bond that will bring people of all ages to the races for the right reasons and become part of one team to make the sport grow.
No amount of money, power, bluster and flogging an outdated business model can buy emotional attachment. Living in the past and not listening to the dissatisfaction of customers who are making their feelings known, is more Business As Usual. And if this continues, there won’t be many coming along for the ride or wishing to be part of an industry that to them doesn’t exactly look to have an exciting future in which to invest.
#horseracing #horseracingindustry #australianhorseracing #MelbourneSpringCarnival #SimonZahra #GregCarpenter #MichaelFelgate #GeorgeCarlin