By Hans Ebert
Visit Hans-Ebert.com

Streaming. The ‘live’ streaming of any event has its pros and cons. It’s how clever one is at using streaming. The music industry considers it a blessing that has made millions for music companies. For artists, not so good, but how many realise it? Most speed read and don’t see through the fluff. Others simply don’t care. They have hulu and Netflix and life is brilliant.

Without getting into this in any great detail, how can the non-stop streaming of music on Spotify or Tidal or Tencent with no announcers- once known as disc jockeys and then VJs during the years when MTV was relevant- help introduce new talent to music fans?

Away from music, with the ‘live’ streaming of horse racing everywhere in the world, what’s that extra special carrot needed to bring people to the races? Bring them on course and on a regular basis? One-off events are often like one night stands. Here today, gone tomorrow.

How many really understand the problem here? One doesn’t have to be a racing executive to know that the less people coming to the races for the on course experience, the tougher it is for racing clubs to hold a racing meeting. Regularly. In case it’s been lost in the mix, it costs money to hold a race day.

How can racing fans help- at least those who claim to be racing fans? Of course attending a race meeting is obvious though we all know that this rarely happens even if it were to see the second coming of the Beatles.

Surely what’s needed is that special something on course that cannot be experienced or received through watching the streaming of races? And this means improving the on course experience- the ease of access, the venues, of course, the racing, and that intangible je ne sais quoi.

Of course it’s easier for some racing jurisdictions to do this than others because of their different business models.

Japanese racing fans, for example, are tremendously proud of their champion horses and “idol jockeys”. It’s racing’s answer to J-Pop.

Racing in Korea is still taking baby steps before coming close to being the sport’s version of K-Pop whereas Hong Kong hosts the most international racing in the world twice a week- an international roster of riders, competitive racing, and everything and everyone who make Hong Kong the international city that it is.

In an ideal world, everything should be focused at making the image of horse racing as attractive as possible- globally, because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and people travel today more than ever.

Without trying to teach people to suck eggs, this is to retain existing racing fans, and attract the next generation who will support the sport plus all the brands who also want to win them over. It’s sponsorship. Sponsorship comes with a price tag which goes into enhancing that on course experience and creating partnerships where both sides use their individual marketing and promotional strengths.

Of course, sponsors, like everyone else, have choices when it comes to how and where they use their marketing dollars. What’s going to attract brands like Red Bull or Cartier or Nike to horse racing? Being able to target their marketing efforts to very specific consumer groups relevant to their business objectives who happen to be in the one place.

You’re thinking, but isn’t this the job of the marketing gurus in racing clubs? Sure, but there must first be a market for horse racing and then an attractive and exciting product- a product which is there constantly and keeps evolving.

Horse racing today cannot afford to carry on like before. It cannot be what it was because the world is what it is. Don’t recognise the need for change and take the consumer for granted and understand that it’s this type of arrogance which decimated the music industry and why today music companies are so reliant on the technology giants.

Of course NONE of this will mean anything to those racing jurisdictions and their various organisations and racing executives where many, or a few, who, coming up against brick walls when looking for closure to whatever problems they have come up against, take to the only recourse left to them: Twitter and air their grievances- over and over again as those who can bring about this closure just don’t seem to care.

It’s as if there’s a hierarchy- a Star Chamber- that is a law unto itself and looking down on an Orwellian society. Big mistake, George.

All this shows are poor leadership qualities, even poorer communication skills and a subservient racing media.

Perhaps those who feel they’ve been let down aren’t powerful enough for the hierarchy? Perhaps they’re not “name brands” in racing. Perhaps the thinking is that if these troublemakers don’t like it, leave and take up another job. But if this is the thinking from the Untouchables, horse racing in this particular country is hurtling towards strawberry, scones and tea elitism. Or already has reached elitism which is the reason for the fawning over the “bigly” names by many racing radio hosts. It’s setting a very dangerous precedent.

Words like “participants” are redundant because the participants have no voice. They’re not participating unless they fall in line. It’s one reason why one-off gimmick races and the obvious preferential treatment given to the big name trainers and owners leave us cold. It shows appalling hypocrisy. It proves that the level playing field that’s mentioned along with the word “integrity” don’t exist. Not really. There’s an arrogance to the power brokers. They’re City Hall and one can’t fight City Hall or shouldn’t. Just agree.

Think about it this way: Despite the torrents of abuse and mind blowing revelations hurled his way, Spanky and his Gang are still in the White House. Spanky continues to tweet. He’s in his Seventies. His critics are running out of time for their Gotcha Moment. Spanky will continue to be Spanky. He couldn’t care less about the critics.

Same with racing executives coasting along. Many have already bailed and quietly left the building with Elvis. Others have their golden parachutes strapped on.

Turn that negativity and anger into actually doing something positive. Like starting an interactive website and forum for those with questions about, for example, mental health issues providing them with some answers or helping in SOME way. Let things evolve from here.

Think this won’t make those leaders in racing who SHOULD have done this decades ago, but decided to hop on the gravy train and do bugger all look useless?

Think an initiative like this won’t help the image of horse racing? Globally? Think the mainstream media won’t take notice? And sponsors looking for something new to improve their corporate images?

Where will the funding come from? Here. I’m happy to put my money where my heart is. You back it and use your energy to make it work. Do whatever you can, no matter how little.

From the outside looking in, horse racing looks like a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces are there, but, somehow, they don’t fit. Let’s make them fit. It’s been long overdue.

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