By Hans Ebert

“No doubt. The very wealthy are making it impossible for we schmucks to compete. That’s why we’re out. Saw the writing on the wall. And they’ve taken all the fun out of it too. If you’re a galley slave you need to have a bit of fun, but they have everyone working too hard and being miserable with it. But they just keep banging the drum, chuck the mugs overboard and care about no one but themselves.”


They’re intangibles. Things like motivation. And inspiration. There’s then always about ensuring that priorities are not lost in the clutter. Real priorities. Not the small stuff. But, for various reasons, many of us are bogged down by the small stuff. Perhaps even addicted to them. Scared of them.

Personally, the feeling is that social media has robbed the world of its soul. Of its priorities. Everything seems back to front. If into any form of the arts, there’s been such an explosion of everything that there’s very little of that special something. The standard of creativity has been reduced to rubble. What the hell happened?

With no groundbreaking creativity, there’s a lethargy. And hanging over the world today is a dark, dank blanket of lethargy. That one-time spring in the step has an anchor tied to it.

When the music industry, an industry that’s meant to overflow with creativity, is suffering from menopause, what hope is there for many other industries?

Every new artist is recording something that those feel is what “kids are listening to today.” And so what you have is more of the same. More of what the Bieb recorded and produced around two years ago.


Everything has become formulaic. Remember The Peter Principle? How incompetence is rewarded? This has affected every industry. Incompetent nincompoops being elevated to the corridors of power where they exercise their control over the little people. Those who know that to agree is how to survive in the corporate world of terminal kaka.

These are those who can’t fight back. Or who only know how to be subservient. And, very quickly, become political. It’s about survival mixed with insecurity. And so we come to horse racing.

Let’s just look at this pastime from the outside looking in. Of course if born into horse racing, it’s part of one’s DNA. It’s about the love and caring and appreciation of the horse. Maybe seeing it as a mental challenge to “beat the house.” As a career. Jockey. Trainer. Professional gambler. Other roles and businesses that cater to horse racing. Looking at everything that horse racing still doesn’t have.

What, however, about the silent majority out there who have nothing to do with horse racing? And want nothing to do with it?

Is the current captive audience shrinking? Of course it is. Why? Age. Dr Death. More choices. Better choices. The economy. Greater priorities in life. Perhaps an allergic reaction to the word “punting”.

Though enjoying the challenge of marketing horse racing in Hong Kong and trying to give it a different face, over the past few months, the interest in the actual racing and who won what has waned. And continues to wane. There’s a “Who Cares?” mentality.

Maybe it’s to do with the standard of the racing media. Often way too insular writing. It’s why reading a recent piece on Hong Kong born rider Keith Yeung by Tom Biddington where he didn’t hold back on everything he had to overcome to get to where he is today- and his feelings about riding his first winner of the season- was so refreshingly different. And damn honest. Yes, provide the reportage. But tell readers something that they don’t know.

This is very different to the executive in the advertising and music industries with its own heroes and mentors who was attracted to horse racing because of the jockeys. They reminded him of dangerous gunslingers. Many are attracted to danger.

Most musicians had guitars. Hendrix, Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page etc were brilliant guitarists. Charismatic. Wild. They were also gunslingers. Guitars were their guns. Smoking guns. And then there were the older jockeys like Grant Cooksley, below. Mick Dittman. Piggott. Fallon. Pat Eddery.

These were the jockeys who made an impression on me. There was something of a Wyatt Earp in them. A Doc Holliday. A Billy The Kid. They seemed to have seen it all. Saw through the fakers and shakers. Knew how to play the game. They drew a pretty experienced music executive into horse racing. Made him a believer.

There was excitement in meeting them. And following their exploits in races. It was about being hooked into a totally different world. And as the journey into the heartland and dark land of horse racing continued, there was even more excitement entering the lifestyle associated with it. At places like Fidel’s and JJ’s at Crown. Karaoke nights with ladies from Gotham City in Melbourne.

It was a Rock and roll lifestyle. It was when The Wolf of Wall Street wanted it all. And had it all. Regrets? Not really. Maybe only that those days are no more.

It was a very different world from what it is today. Yes, everything must change and there’s no stopping progress.

Here, horse racing often forgets that it’s not the only game in town. Not in 2018. Maybe it doesn’t WANT to face the truth?

The Eighties and Nineties were a long time ago. How much has horse racing changed in four decades? Think about it. Compared to every other sport, how much time has horse racing spent reinventing itself? Think about that, too. But wait: Does it know how?

Today, the gimmick race in Sydney called The Everest and the bastard son of The Pegasus from America is described as “innovative and creative”. Really? Maybe in Australia.

The to-ing and fro-ing from the “trading floor” about which horses are out and how this affects “slot holders” is constantly in the news. In Australia. But not being a believer that any publicity is good publicity, the Everest is looking more and more like an elitist’s dog’s breakfast. The constantly morphing Everbeast.

It might make for wonderful copy. It might be creating headlines. And then what? Plus, what’s been a question mark going through this head in recent times is, “What’s in it for me? Me, who can’t afford a slot? Me who supports horse racing? Where’s the payback?”

Reading all the handwringing and with everyone twittering over each other, one can’t help wondering, “What’s all this for?”

Why when the power lies somewhere else? Why when those with all the power are marching to the beat of their own bongos and personal agendas along with their Storm Troopers? Swept along for the ride without knowing why is the social media rabble. Why? To belong? Belong to what? There’s nothing there for you of any significance. It’s like a scene from “The Night Of The Living Dead”. Or The Self Importance Of The Lost Zombies.

Still with THAT horse race at Randwick next week, “Younger people are getting involved.” So say the pontificating parrots passed their Use By Date squawking away on racing channels.

“Younger people are getting involved” in this horse race? How? By showing up to see whatever music act has been booked because they happen to be touring Australasia? Not because of any strategic planning?

This year it’s Liam Payne. Not Harry Styles. Not the Malik guy. But still a former One Directioner. Guess he’s better than last year’s musical performer: Jason Derulo. Maybe.

The question is what’s any of this got to do with horse racing? Are we talking about throwing everything against the Sydney Opera House and seeing what sticks? What’s there to have “Younger people getting involved” CONTINUE to be involved? Hmmmmm? To “younger people”, it’s just another gig. A gig that’s on AFTER the horse racing. And then?

It comes back to The Peter Principle. The lack of creativity and creative thinking in horse racing. In racing clubs, especially. There’s a big difference between an onslaught of publicity and a strategic creative racing product. This is something France Galop does brilliantly.

Where things go horribly wrong are when racing executives are given the opportunity to play act at being “creative”. Racing executives believing they understand the wants and needs of millennials.

Millennials don’t know what THEY want. They just take whatever’s out there. As long as it’s free. But a racing executive, more often than not with no experience in any consumer driven industry, and still dancing to “Funky Town” does? Really? Please.

Meanwhile, those on the periphery look at horse racing and, well, walk away. Like potential sponsors.Thanks, but no thanks. There’s nothing there for them. There’s no hook line to grab them. There’s nothing to woo them. Just more old stuff cobbled together by some old guys in horse racing who think they suddenly know how to attract “younger people”.

It’s more of those holding all the power talking from both sides of their mouths. And too many bamboozled by bollocks. Too many happy to fall into line and continue being cheerleaders for a lost cause. Never stopping to ask that important question that’s becoming more and more relevant.

Passion and support systems should come with a price tag. In everything we do. Otherwise it’s exactly like giving away free content to every single data driven delivery platform. It’s more of standing there being taken for a ride. And Oliver Twisted. Again.

#Horseracing #TheEverest #marketing #socialmedia #Creativity #questions