By Hans Ebert

Right now, it’s The Little Engine That Might Just Be Able To Make A Difference. The question is, Will it be allowed to? How long will it last? How can it travel further? Do the decision makers believe it has a future?

I enjoy tuning into TAB Radio in Western Australia. And this is at a time when I am questioning horse racing content, its relevance, racing writers and the pastime’s mediums for its messages.

In all honesty, how many mediums does horse racing have for its content? Not many. Why? A lack of diverse content. Decades of the same old same old with a nip/tuck just to show that something is being done. Risk averse racing executives clinging to the past and pretending they’re creating a future. Please.

TAB Radio has a certain indie vibe to it. It might be some of the hosts. They don’t come across as sanctimonious, insincere windbags. For the most part they’re engaging. They make even those hardcore racing stories appeal to the casual listener. Like a recent interview with trainer Lindsey Smith.

Not knowing much about the trainer and needing all types of sounds going on around me in order to try and sleep- the television, Spotify, a sports and racing station like TAB Radio, all of which makes it difficult for women to live with me- I heard a snippet of an interview with Smith. It grabbed my attention. Everything else closed down. I learned much about Lindsey Smith. His triumphs. His strong association with jockey Paul Harvey. Him accepting his depression and doing something about it.

This was not the kinda whacked out old trainer I thought he was from listening to previous interviews. The man is no idiot. He might have his defence mechanisms like many of us do to mask whatever needs masking. But his curriculum vitae is certainly impressive. He’s honest.

His is a great story that should be heard. Him winning his battle with depression goes beyond horse racing. What one heard was the tip of a much bigger iceberg. It should be revisited. And here lies the problem for TAB Radio: the image of especially horse racing in Western Australia. And how to make it more.

Though having followed racing in the state for well over a decade, it’s been impossible to have others involved in the sport in Australia look at it seriously. Zero interest.

Maybe it’s a historical problem. The perception that here is an inferior racing product. The time difference between East and the West. How this impacts wagering. That if especially a young rider in WA with potential, they need to leave for Melbourne to advance their careers. That they outgrow riding in Belmont and Ascot and the smaller tracks. That the horses and trainers and riders are not world class.

These days, William Pike dominates the riding ranks in WA. He’s the Joao Moreira of WA. But the Brazilian magic man has captured the hearts and minds of racing fans around the world.

William Pike, who had a short term riding license in Hong Kong where he acquitted himself well with the limited opportunities that came his way, seems more than happy being exactly where he is. At home with family. With the support of the leading stables and the state’s biggest owner in Bob Peters.

What happens in WA stays in WA seems to work out for everyone. Almost everyone. Their’s is a success story that doesn’t really travel outside of WA. Or isn’t allowed to travel. It’s like the first rule of Fight Club: you do not talk about Fight Club. The same can be said about Perth.

Forget the horse racing for a while. Around 2010, the pieces were in place to bring together a thrice a year weekend of ‘live’ music and horse racing. This was called OneMovement.

With no time differences with Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and most of the rest of the region, those behind the idea had great plans for this OneMovement. It barely lasted two years. For various reasons, it was a financial bust.

A few years later when in Perth, the subject of OneMovement came up. Whether right or wrong, someone who knows the ins and outs and politics and prejudices of Perth put it this way: that especially Perth is where many come to retire. They don’t want change. Outsiders are not welcome. It’s old school thinking and how this is just how it is. And will be. Really?

Bottom line: Tired thinking. And this is what might eventually have the plug pulled on TAB Radio.

The Little Engine That Could might just be too indie for the powers that be. Too creative. Too many really talented individuals not afraid to speak their minds. Wes Cameron. The extremely good and very experienced Darren Macaullay.

There’s the enormous potential of Brittany Taylor.

There’s Gareth Hall who often needs a tongue tie. But even Pete needed Dud. Cameos by David Shortte. Digby Beecham. The good idea of bringing in young rider Ryan Hill into the mix. It adds a new dimension to the chatter. It keeps The G Man in check. Thank gawd.

The question is whether TAB Radio’s future is hazy. Having heard variations of Corporate Speak on the station, and perhaps being served waffles before by far greater chefs, some things just didn’t ring true. There was a hollow ring to the words. There was everything said. And also nothing much.

If the future of TAB Radio is hazy, or might have thrown in the towel, it’s a shame. Why? Because it has a pulse. It has potential.

Personally, with no time difference, some association with the HKJC’s Happy Wednesday brand can work. It’s about pushing the envelope.

It’s like TAB Radio making those six hours of dead airtime between midnight and 6am every day of the week become more than the current tiresome glut of repeats and repeats and repeats.

Right now, Australian racing’s media landscape plods along. It’s talking to itself. It’s a mouthpiece for the Hannibal Lecters of the country’s racing. There’s no Clarisse.

It’s about not just rocking the boat. But actually rowing it. Even when seeing the icebergs ahead.

#TABradio #WAracing #Perth #OneMovement #horseracing #marketing