By Hans Ebert
There’s a roaring silence amongst the racing media in the land Down Under surrounding the “temporary” suspension of exporting horses from Australia to Hong Kong- and vice versa- and what this really means and where it can lead. If one didn’t know better, we’d think the story has been purposely headed off at the pass. Surely not?
It’s a problem and a subject written at great length, especially by the knowledge racing writer Alan Aitken for Hong Kong’s Racing Post. All roads lead to an unfortunate decision made in October 2017 by Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) that revolves around the “Equine Disease Free Zone” status of the exclusion zone surrounding, and transport to and from the HKJC’s new training centre at Conghua in Mainland China. That’s a mouthful.
Rules are rules, but apparently, clarification and resolving the situation has been dragging on like Tom Petty dragging his heart around. The way things are not going, one really cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel being shone until November. Much can happen between now and then.
Already, the HKJC has called for the cancellation of the Global Sprint Series in Melbourne for the simple reason that Hong Kong horses would not be able to travel and compete. No big deal.
More telling is the HKJC not attending the Magic Millions Yearling Sales this week on the Gold Coast, which has quite rightly caused concern with a number of big breeders in the land Down Under. It’s bad for business.
Add to this the cutback on the number of simulcasts of races from Australia with the HKJC wisely choosing instead to turn towards showing the big races in Japan- highly popular with Hong Kong racing fans as, more and more, they’re learning- and wish to learn- more about who and what matters when it comes to creating a deep impact on racing in the land of the rising sun. Knowledge means not betting blind. It’s good for turnover. It’s good for discovering new racing heroes and following the legendary ones.
Like the popularity of J-Pop, and Japanese pop culture in Hong Kong, there’s a new commercial hook to horse racing beyond more plush toys. There’s the chance for a strong mutual admiration society and creating new marketing opportunities for very different customer segments utilising non traditional media. It had to happen. It just might be time to speed up the process.
As for the coverage and marketing of Hong Kong racing in Australia, perhaps the HKJC should re-think current partnerships? Where’s the beef?
Commingling turnover is tiny plus the coverage continues to be a dog’s breakfast. Add to this the time difference. Hello?
On Wednesday nights, for example, the first Hong Kong race runs at 7.15pm- 10.15pm in Australia during the summer months. Now do the maths when thinking about the audience for an eight race card. And this should just be allowed to continue without The Art Of The Deal being reworked? Really? Hello, again.
There are then those early quaddies randomly introduced by the “friendly fire” of commingling partner Tabcorp. Are these initiatives actually promoted? We received a call from Australia on Sunday from a group of experienced punters surprised to learn that there was an early quaddie starting from the third race. Who knew?
If Hong Kong racing is treated in Australia like the son of Rodney Dangerfield, we again ask, Why bother? Something has to give.
No surprises as to who will be the loser if the current tenuous partnership/relationship is allowed to continue without common sense prevailing.
#HKJC #HongKong #HongKongHorseRacing #AlanAitken #HongKong’sRacingPost