By Hans Ebert
It seemed like a good idea at the time: If the UK had a newsletter for the music industry called Popbitch, why not a gonzo newsletter about horse racing called Racingbitch?
After all, this was probably going to just be a one-off blog before even knowing what a blog was- a blog roll?- naming the 20 most overrated jockeys at the time. If starting out today, we would probably compile a list of the most likeable racing personalities. It would be a very short list. A list of The Most Unlikeable People In Racing would take too long to compile. Especially in this socially media driven world, no one is who they say they are, there’s zero trust, and there’s a need to always sit with one’s back to the wall. It’s often a toxic environment.
As for the Racingbitch Most Overrated Jockeys list, this was compiled by two well-known visiting jockeys after a long night at the Champagne Bar of the Grand Hyatt on the old Dom after a famous win. A friend who understood how the then-new internet worked helped turn it into online content and out it went into cyberspace never to be heard of again. Or so we thought.
For whatever reason, this anonymous newsletter “written” by “Racingbitch” struck a chord with many and this character named “Racingbitch” became somewhat of an independent online voice for horse racing that revealed many of the ills afflicting the sport- those who suffered from a nervous tic because of too much tap dancing and shoe shining, the bumbling leaders, the plodders, the sycophants, the transparent politics, the huge marketing opportunities allowed to go walkies, those who spoke from both sides of their mouths- and still do today- the notorious freeloaders from Melbourne town, and all the twists and turns and furious back peddling that’s still going on at some racing clubs, but with nothing in the way of progress. Progress and horse racing is often an oxymoron. Who’s interested in progress, right? Just keep everything on the down low and don’t rock the boat.
Racingbitch also made some in the traditional racing media nervous. We were an upstart working in a totally different and much bigger industry. We had no baggage. We had zero fear. This nervousness “evolved” into the petty jealousies that exist today. But as someone much wiser than us always says, Jealousy must be earned.
When it’s part of one’s job to be on Twitter, one can’t help but read who and what’s being twittered about these days, who’s blocked you-this we wear as a badge of honour- and how so many can say the same thing to the same small group of people so that it becomes one boring mantra. This is how to promote the sport and expand its audience? Really?
Today, the usual suspects in horse racing use this social media platform for shameless self promotion. Others desperately need to feel they belong and are accepted. They “know” this and that jockey despite never having met them in their lives and never will.
Then there are those who try to use those with sizeable Twitter followings thinking they will automatically retweet the irrelevant rubbish they send out.
All this only shows just how dumbed down the world has become- not just the horse racing world, but the entire world led by the twittering Orange Julius in the White House. It’s a sign with a lightning bolt saying, Change Or Perish. Don’t follow leaders and watch your parking meters because time is running out.
Those days of Racingbitch “whacking” the usual suspects in the racing world, especially those residing in the land down under, are over. So are the good old days of riding the gravy train for many of those one-time usual suspects. The “whacking” started to become as boring to write about as the individuals themselves. This was almost two years ago. What was the point? Nothing will change. The Old Boys Club look after its own and damn everyone else.
Even if some were to go, there’s always a new conga line of Dumb and Dumber dancers to shake their booty and take their place. And why bother to fight other people’s battles- for free? It’s taken too long to realise that it’s a waste of time.
Often, those giving us the that inside run into what was really going on were those biting the very hand that was feeding them and cowering in the background being the two faced open sandwiches that they were and still are. We didn’t have to sniff out “news”. This information was sent to us- without asking- and from many within that inner circle. They make a fascinating email and messaging chain which is kept under lock and key for a rainy day.
As for hires, way too often horse racing clubs have no option but to hire those no other industry wants- and make them overnight “senior executives”. But how many know horse racing? How many know marketing? How many understand consumers and are lost when it comes to business and the art of the deal? How many know good from tacky? How many continue to fly by the seats of their pants?
It’s why often new hires are very quickly seen as bad mistakes, and Human Resources are despatched to the same old well to dredge up whoever is still down there calling for help.
Meanwhile, those given “honorary” titles for, let’s say, a year just to be seen as being “politically correct”, refuse to budge when their time’s up. They’re enjoying the limelight too much. And so, they dig their high heels in and refuse to budge.
During HKIR week, and unable to drown out hearing those murder of crows nattering about the “goss” behind a horse opera like the one mentioned above and the femme fatale in question, it was like being at the bar of the Emerald Hotel in Melbourne where there are no secrets.
That’s not good. It makes you question what you’re doing with your time and how you ever got to this place. It’s completely different to those days when in journalism, in advertising and in the music industry.
Those were the days when there was the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with world famous names like record producers Quincy Jones and Phil Ramone, artists like Norah Jones, Chris Martin from Coldplay, Sting, Dave Stewart, Bowie and Damon Albarn, and groundbreaking filmmakers in Roman Polanski and Martin Scorsese.
From there to the world of horse racing, even if it’s from the outside looking in, has been one long and strange trip, Django.
If one can drop names, use them like dropping bombs. Many in horse racing need to realise just how irrelevant and inconsequential they are along with their laughable sense of self-importance. Don’t like it? The truth always hurts. Deal with it.
As social media has created a Second City where The Young have run away from Facebook as The Oldsters have moved in and are desperate to share their wisdom about everything whereas Twitter has become a meeting place bad spelling, bad grammar and the lonely sound of one hand clapping wanting to be heard above the Gungha Din, today, more than ever, is the time to wear a necklace made of garlic and explore new terrain where there might exist signs of more intelligent forms of human life, Scully.
And so, it’s come to pass that Racingbitch is being sent to pasture, and it’s more forward-looking son- Reality Bytes aka RB- takes over the reins from January 1, 2018.
RB enjoys the marketing of horse racing- as a challenge- and especially when unshackled and working alongside those who share the same vision. If this can’t happen, one moves on. Nothing is forever except perhaps for the unconditional love of a partner. Like one’s dog. There’s a long road of opportunities out there…
RB has seen too many fakers, shake your money makers and the Big Men of horse racing over the past twelve years to get bogged down by those who could put an owl to sleep with their tedious stories, irrelevant “shares”, hypocrisy, petty politics, lack of humour and inability to dance and be cool.
We know the scams and games and huge conflicts of interest going on behind the curtain. We’ve seen and know those Men Behaving Badly.
We know those with the Harvey Weinstein guillotine hanging over them. We know about the pay offs to buy silence.
RB is independent, but has new partners from other industries. It has a new team in place and creates and already owns many hours of original content- everything from videos to music to everything else needed for horse racing to finally take its spot in the world of sports entertainment. To date, only legendary Japanese rider Yutaka Take has been able to achieve this crossover success- in Japan only which is good enough.
We’re still here to point out where we think horse racing is being derailed- but from a global perspective and without having to deal with the Tall Poppy Syndrome.
We’ll work on whatever makes business sense. And with no free lunches thrown in.
We’re here to try and make horse racing more entertaining so it attracts a wider audience and new sponsors to get past the barrier trials.
We’ll finally accept advertising, but not from corporate bookmakers. Racing as entertainment, yes. Horse racing being only about gambling, no. It’s a turn off to many.
As one final hurrah from Racingbitch, some random thoughts on horse racing in no particular order of importance…
*The ongoing “new initiatives” from Sydney town is not “healthy competition” for Victoria. They’re battle lines that have been drawn over many years and going back further than the TVN game of thrones with transparent agendas that will continue to be rolled out according to a well thought out timetable to divide and conquer and rule. The question is who in racing in Victoria can take on this “healthy competition”?
*With the HKJC almost certain to cut back even further on simulcasts from Australia, where could this lead? And how much will it cost Australian racing? Will it stop there?
*The Australian Chinese Jockey Club has great potential and a passionate Chairperson in Teresa Poon, below. Sometimes, passion is not enough for potential to be realised. Potential must become reality and the ACJC needs a home run. Quick.
If thought through carefully, the ACJC can become much more than what it’s trying to be. It can be a franchise that can travel. Knowing Teresa Poon and liking her, and being protective, one wonders whether she’s been the victim of false flattery by some current and former racing executives in Melbourne.
The other question is this: Just how welcome will “they”- the Chinese- be made to feel? Or is it as usual only about seeing dollar signs on a Chinese face? If there are those oldsters with their holsters who can’t even accept seeing someone not wearing socks at the races, how can they accept The Long March waltzing in? Let’s get real here. The elitism of horse racing has many faces.
As for the ACJC, either stop or change the format of that dreadful programme on the dead people’s racing and sports radio station. The opening music alone takes one back to Dr Fu Manchu. It’s not exactly young and cutting edge. It’s Fifties radio and does nothing for the image of the fledgling club.
*Jockey Chris Symonds is genuinely trying to make a difference by doing all he can to add some fun into Australia racing’s media landscape. Remember fun? He should be applauded for daring to swim against the tide. The question is, And now what?
*RB WILL build its own field of dreams- an online racing lifestyle channel that will become the sport’s one-stop destination for entertainment for a younger audience. Is there really a need for more corporate racing websites with what passes off as content? Surely what they’re passing is gas? Do we need more gas than what wafts through almost every other day?
*How and where horse racing is watched must change and will change. Audiences won’t be prepared to keep accepting a serving of the dog’s breakfast. Also retired to the backdrop will be “content” featuring gibbering wobbleheads.
*The entire horse racing “industry” in South Africa is on life support. Sad when one thinks of the great riding talent, trainers and equine heroes to have emerged from the country.
*Take away Arab money from horse racing and how much of a financial support system is left for the sport in Europe and the UK?
*It took a young jockey from Perth to succinctly sum up what’s ailing racing in Australia. This was when Ryan Hill, talking recently on TABTouch Radio said, “Everything must hit rock bottom before anything happens.”
RB will always try and give something back to horse racing that might shed some positivity on life. There’s been enough darkness and social media and racing media cliques that have dwarfed the industry. It’s boring, people. It’s churlish and childish.
What matters most to us at this particular juncture is to keep trying to make horse racing play at least a small role in helping create a better and positive world. Now wouldn’t that be a nice change from the negativity and constant handwringing? No answer required.
#Racingbitch #Racingb*tch #RealityBytes #RB #HKJC #HorseRacing #ACJC
Good luck Hans with the new RB.
The King is dead…long live the King
Thanks for all the great reads.