By Hans Ebert

“How many holes does it take to fill the Albert Hall?” John Lennon sang that line on the Beatles’ haunting recording of “A Day In The Life”. It could apply to every racing club in the world. Every. One. And this should be looked at as something positive. As a challenge. As a call to action. And change. Why? There’s a very different consumer and customer out there today who looks at horse racing very differently. Not a huge customer group. But it’s something. And they’re demanding change. It’s a quiet revolution. Maybe it’s time for one. High time.

It’s up to those running racing clubs and those running every single medium that hosts horse racing news and information and content to wake up and read the tea leaves. Horse racing is very quickly looking old. It’s talking to itself. It’s quickly becoming senile.

Without pointing fingers, for how much longer can some race tracks continue? How long before horse racing in some states in Australia along with their mediums currently on borrowed time have the rug pulled from under them? Why? How many are not working at a loss? And have been for the last few years? Who and where’s their audience?

Cricket was forced to change. Attendance was on the decline. Though personally enjoying them, the sport needed something more than five day Test matches. These didn’t make for compulsive viewing. Anywhere. And so came the One Day Series. Then the 20/20 matches. The different leagues comprising superstar international players. Especially the IPL. This completely changed the game’s wagering landscape. Think about it: It was a win-win more for cricket. Cricket was thrown a massive lifeline.

Australian, South African, New Zealand, West Indian and English players joined the IPL. It was big money for a day’s work. Bollywood stars got involved. Hell, the now retired Australian pace bowler Brett Lee even recorded a rather strange papadum with Asha Bhosle, the grandmother of Hindi music. But, hey…

The players quickly became more colourful. They sported tatts. Earrings. New hairdos. Cricket attracted females. Females became cricketers.

Sponsors joined. Big, new young sponsors. Cricket grounds changed to accommodate new advertising messages. Cricket made a comeback. Like tennis. Golf. The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens changed the face of the game. Globally.

When was the last time horse racing changed? Expanded its customer base by being more than it is? The gimmick race called the Everest is going to be a game changer in Australia? Please. How? Is this “the people’s race”? It’s just another punt in the wall. Another slot in the wall of elitism.

The horse racing industry cannot continue to glide on auto pilot. It desperately needs to get smarter. And for this to happen, this industry must take some smart pills. Why? Because for it to survive, it needs to understand that it’s competing for the same consumer dollar as far bigger industries. More attractive industries. With big sponsors. Huge databases. Vision.

Industries with more varied wagering opportunities…if wagering comes into play. Industries given more media space to promote themselves because of their popularity. Football. Tennis. Basketball. Cricket. Rugby. Mixed martial arts. It’s not someone happily banging away on Twitter and thinking that the world cares about what they have to say.

This isn’t about racing club versus racing club. It isn’t about some “punters” being angry 24/7 and bashing out their frustrations to like-minded “mates” after one too many beers.

This isn’t more glib corporate speak by those who don’t get out much. Except maybe for a visit to the hairdresser. Please, Lady Amanda. Come down from that ivory tower and smell the wontons. Hype can backfire.

It’s come to the point of seeing the Big Picture. Really seeing it. And addressing it. No more puffery. That’s become tiresome. It’s a bluff too obvious to even call. The Big Picture is looking like a thumbnail sketch. And if one cannot see a future in it, move on. No one needs to work on Maggie’s Farm no more. Not even Kunta Kinte.

Nothing can travel very far when the wheels have fallen off. When everyone can see who’s being carried. When the grossly overpaid and overrated have been exposed. Along with the fatuous windbags. The wannabes who can never be. Not in the big old real world out there.

Still, despite knowing their huge shortcomings, they’re still there squirrelling away their nuts. Why? No other takers. For those with something to offer, the fawning and corporate games are tough to stomach.

The days of supporting any industry where the consumer sees its shortcomings and accepts these as the norm are over. When those who write about it are not good enough. Or who have had their day. Just like those corporate websites that suddenly look like a dog’s breakfast that even Rover wouldn’t touch.

Riding the racing club gravy train has had its day. Horse racing might have been The Sport Of Kings. It might have become the sport for the haves and the have-nots. A private tea party for the move your moneymakers and sheikhers. Part of the portfolio for those “Crazy Rich Asians”. But who wants to be the hired help? With no voice. Being constantly Oliver Twisted. And taken for a ride.

#horseracing #sports #sportsmarketing #marketing #cricket