By Hans Ebert


New horse races, bigger prize money, being disruptive to be competitive, bringing in more and more elitism to horse racing, playing another round of Game Of Thrones, fine. It’s your gig. Doesn’t bother me either way. But when you prattle on about “younger people” and horse racing…

“Younger people” is not some alien race, Pete. They’ve been around since the world was round.

All of us were once “younger people”- inquisitive, difficult, belligerent, demanding change, making change happen. And then we grew up. And as grown ups, it was felt there was a need to act like grown ups. Most failed miserably. Look around.

Acting never works. It’s a matter of time before fakery takes over and all trust disappears. Remember, the slogan in the Sixties- Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30?

Throughout history, “younger people” have brought about enormous change. People like Rosetta Parks. The music of Dylan, the Beatles. The filmmakers, the actors, the thinkers, the doers.

You talk about “younger people”. Incessantly. And their role in horse racing. How horse racing needs to “innovate” if it is to attract the next generation of horse racing fans. How your slot driven race The Everest achieved this.

Let’s say it did, Pete, though I don’t believe this for a nanu second. And now what? More horse races? Bigger prize money. More gimmicks? A musical act at the end of the races?

Isn’t this what you have been peddling for almost two years? But to whom? The usual suspects in the Australian racing media. And they know these “younger people”? These millennials? Really?

Nowhere have I heard you speak directly to “younger people”. They might actually challenge you, Pete. Call your bluff. You could be toast.

Let me try and put things in perspective. If music fans no longer buy music, why would they buy into horse racing?

Being in the music industry and having been Director of Creative Services with an international advertising agency, horse racing is not on radars.

If every consumer-oriented industry is facing an economic downturn- television, fashion, restaurants, bars, clubs, movies- and desperately looking at ways to attract a younger demographic, what’s the USP- that je ne sais quoi pas- that horse racing has that none of these other industries have? Wagering? Your good self?

So, facing a risk averse generation, horse racing must “reinvent” itself. Agree. But how? Exactly? Forget the vapid sound bites to those who rarely look beyond the words you throw their way. Those old schoolers brought up on horse racing who believe nothing has changed since the Fifties and the Sixties and still watch gladiator movies inside their closets.

Much has changed, Pete. Politically. Culturally. Religiously. And in every which other way.

In Hong Kong, your friends at the HKJC have the Happy Wednesday brand. You might have heard of it. It’s taken time to get to where we have. There’s still a very long ways to go.


It has nothing to do with one annual horse race for the Sherpas. Or bigger and bigger Mr Creosote size prize money. This could become a tad too much to stomach.

A Happy Wednesday is an event that brings together a very international group of these “younger people” to the same venue every week. Repeat after me: Every week.

A Happy Wednesday has much to do with those twentysomething minutes between the races. These important interludes offer regulars the time to understand and appreciate how horse racing might just appeal them.

You don’t seem to understand this, Pete. Perhaps turn down the rhetoric. Enough with the sound of one hand clapping. Someone get the emperor some new robes before he suffers from shrinkage.

Join me for a drink at Adrenaline. Let’s go wild with some Lithuanian chicks and join a love cult in Sri Lanka. You don’t seem to get out much.

Having said this, Hong Kong with its racing twice a week is very different to how the pastime is presented in Australia. And here, I feel your pain, Pete.

A Happy Wednesday is just that- about being a happy place where happy people meet and where they have a sense of belonging. They make up the rules- because there are no rules.

For example, one cannot “learn” social media. Many think they can because this so-called “social media” is still relatively new. It attracts gremlins and opportunists. Most talk absolute rubbish and live in a bubble of fakery and are slaves to data driven delivery platforms that feed on egos and the illusion of fame. But being an innovator, you know this, Pete.

So before you gallop off again into PeterWorld and mention Instagram and SnapChat etc, speak to someone like Lyor Cohen who runs Music for YouTube. Please. And Simon Fuller who owns sports and entertainment management organisation X1X. And Sir Lucian Grange who runs the Universal Music Group. Only too happy to make the introductions.

Real innovators like these and their teams work to attract new and younger consumer groups every day.

Why have none of these hugely knowledgeable and creative individuals who work with the biggest names in sports, entertainment and sponsorship stayed away from horse racing? They’re not attracted to it. Why? They see horse racing as being one dimensional. They don’t get it. They might. But for right now, horse racing is not a priority. Tough to imagine, but true.

Horse racing is also saddled with that albatross called gambling. Sorry, wagering.

Forget about what you or I might think of this “wagering” business, Pete.

To those “younger people” it’s taboo. They need a necklace of garlic to keep it away from them. It’s something that belongs in a place far far away.

Try and bring it in disguised inside some new fangled Trojan horse and they’d see right through it before you can say “Ben Hur”. Back to gladiators and togas…

Today’s millennials don’t just trust anyone over 30. They don’t trust anyone.

What they’re continually saying to every industry and business is, Convince me. And, Pete? You’re not doing this very well.

#PeterVlandys #HKRacing #AustralianRacing #RNSW #marketing #HansEbert #HappyWednesdayHK