By Hans Ebert



It’s not a generational thing so much as witnessing a generational change or shift taking place in every single industry and every sport.

While Hong Kong’s Champion Horse Beauty Generation was easily beating five other runners and winning the Stewards Cup at Sha Tin, Stefanos Tsitsipas was making a name for himself at the Melbourne Cup by eliminating possibly the greatest tennis player ever: Roger Federer.

Though a Hong Kong Belonger, what was more interesting to me? Whose corner was I in? Of course, it was all and only about the GOAT- Federer.

It was something discussed at the airport lounge as we- strangers to each other- waited for our flight to Singapore. The defeat of Roger Federer. His loss hit each of us in different ways. Why? Because there was and is an emotional attachment with the tennis player.

No one mentioned Beauty Generation. It simply wasn’t “top of mind awareness”. I watched a replay of the Champion Miler’s win and it was back to watching the Australian Open. There was no emotional attachment to that win in Hong Kong.

Checking my Twitter feed, there were those applauding the latest win- mostly racing fans and racing reporters from Hong Kong- and the expected knockers, mainly from the land Down Under, some of whom had never heard of Beauty Generation- and his world ranking- with, of course, the name Winx being mentioned.

Surprising? Not at all. By the same token, how many in Hong Kong have heard of Winx? Or Frankel, Enable, Black Caviar, American Pharoah etc?

If not a dyed in the wool horse racing fan, very very very few. In a city of seven million,
probably less than twenty thousand. Silly me. Less than five thousand. Okay, then, less than a thousand. And the average age of this demographic?

Knowledge of horse racing in Hong Kong, especially where everyone only seems to have a nanu second of passing interest in anything and anyone, is simply not important. It’s irrelevant. What’s important is winning in order to have more money.

How many in Hong Kong cared about the win of Beauty Generation? A few hundred. Maybe. Why? Well, what’s in it for anyone other than the horse’s owners- the extremely wealthy Kwoks who own a number of “Beauty” horses along with SaSa, their very successful cosmetics business?

Of course, there’s also plenty in it for the winning jockey and trainer. For the HKJC, there’s pride of ownership through association. For everyone else other than the racing media?

In a city where the divide between the Haves and the Have-nots have never been wider, the warring Haves versus the Haves have become so Oliver Twisted that it’s suffocating the city with literally an embarrassment of Crazy Rich Chinese on the very gauche side of pretentiousness.

It’s old money wanting more and more new money and damn the torpedoes.

So, though the lead up to the expected win of Beauty Generation, the fluffy Stewards Cup presentation and the kinda surreal series of celebratory and pre celebratory “functions” given by the owners each time their horse runs have a David Lynchian quality to them, it offers a glimpse into why horse racing continues to plod along and is still not accepted as a mainstream sport. It’s all kinda goofy, Agent Dale Cooper.

Why? Well, what is it? As asked here before, how is horse racing presented to and defined to potential business partners and sponsors other than funeral
homes and loans companies? What does this say about the end user other than that they’re either broke or dead?

What’s horse racing’s entertainment value and emotional quotient to those “younger people” who still have a pulse? Have those twenty odd minutes of dead air between races been filled with anything worth getting excited about?

Am I excited about horse racing? There are fleeting moments. But not having grown up around horses, and instead preferring a life of music, advertising, film making and the arts, horse racing remains a fascinating marketing challenge.

Most, if not all, those “innovations” in horse racing some brag about? Poppycock. They’re just smoke and mirrors hiding behind more smoke and mirrors.

They’re largely racing executives’ ideas of Change and “hipster cool” sold to that ageing and captive demographic that doesn’t need convincing. It’s preaching to the converted. Again and again and again. But this is how it’s always been, so who cares, right? Wrong. Someone should.

Like the question, “Who killed Laura Palmer?”, that question about What’s The Future Of Horse Racing goes unanswered. No one’s home. Hello? Adele?

It’s not about raising prize money. It’s not about hype piled upon more hype. It’s definitely not about lopsided photo opps being fobbed off as Group 1 presentation ceremonies with archaic “service” from horse racing’s answer to air hostesses.

These presentations should be CELEBRATIONS and a Thank You and acknowledgement to horse, rider and trainer. And the owners. Are they? Seriously?

None of this expected and perfunctory stuff is going to change the face of horse racing. It’s boring. Stiff. Corporate.

Surely it’s about finding something unique to horse racing- that USP- and dressing it up-online and on course- in a more attractive version of Joseph’s Technicolored Dream Jacket.

What’s there now is drab. It’s like a bad hair day that’s existed for decades.

The big question is, Where are the new stylists? Stylists who are game changers? And game changers who are given the freedom and the dollars to really change the game?

Until these questions can be answered, how about a nice cuppa coffee while “Fire Walks With Me” plays in the background, Agent Cooper.

#HKracing #BeautyGeneration #Winx #horseracing #marketing #image #advertising