By Hans Ebert

The Nike logo is known as the Swoosh. When those thundering hooves go by horse racing fans, they go swoosh.

The Nike corporate ethos is built around the theme of Just Do It.

In horse racing, the riders of those thousand pound animals are the living embodiment of that theme- young guns who have fought against the odds to get to wherever they are and where they’re going.

Think about the back stories of jockeys in Australia like Jason Maskiell, below, who have made their share of mistakes but have picked themselves from off the canvas and are winning in life.

The story of Winx is known to thousands of racing fans, particularly in her home in Australia. But everything the mare and the brilliant team around her has achieved should be recognised the world over. It’s more than a “racing story” and tweets.

Her journey and story needs a brand like Nike on its side- a relevant, brave brand that swims against the tide. That doesn’t just go with the flow and speak to the usual suspects. A global brand that truly understands why marketing needs the right creative product. That creativity has no boundaries. How that customer base needs to grow. And how much it’s changed and continues to change.

And then there’s here. Hong Kong. It’s where there’s champion Brazilian jockey Joao Moreira. What a back story…

Born in the backstreets of São Paulo, learned horse racing by breaking the rules and stealing horses as a kid to just get on top of them and learning how to “steer” by riding bareback. Had his parents scrimp and save and buy him a saddle when he was eleven. Rode against older, more experienced riders in São Paulo. Surprised them by somehow appearing out of nowhere and winning. Was nicknamed “Ghost”. Became the “magic man” by rewriting the horse racing history books, first in Singapore and then in the pressure cooker and competitive racing world that is Hong Kong.

There are similar stories in Hong Kong racing starring other racing heroes- Champion Australian rider Zac Purton, Mauritian Karis Teetan, and, more recently, Hong Kong-born riders Derek Leung and Vincent CY Ho. They didn’t have things easy. They just went out there and did it. By themselves. For themselves.

Twice a week, these and other international riders compete against the very different backdrops of the racecourses in Sha Tin and Happy Valley.

Is there a more unique race track than Happy Valley anywhere in the world? No.

To make horse racing at the city track even more different are those Happy Wednesday nights. This is racing under lights in the middle of skyscrapers and everything else…It’s horse racing as entertainment that attracts a much younger audience. It gives the term “going horse racing” a completely new experience.

These nights attract around 18-19,000 people on course regularly to what’s become Hong Kong’s most popular open air club for this younger and new customer segment- ‘live’ music between races and a magnet for an international melting pot of stylish, fashionable and mainly female race goers who play by their own rules and are slowly changing the face of horse racing.

They, too, are part of that Just Do It generation by taking what’s old and making it new again. Or at least trying to bring about a difference.

If only Shia LaBoeuf could make it for one of these nights. I’ll get dinner and the drinks.

Having worked as a Director of Creative Services at DDB and been inspired by the work of Weiden and Kennedy for the brand, why Nike- and which has evolved into much more than about running shoes and American sports- hasn’t looked at horse racing is puzzling. And sad.

Yes, there’s much that’s not right about horse racing. But what sport doesn’t have its problems? Like human beings, they all have their flaws. And they’re all looking for motivation, inspiration and some perspiration. They need doers and not order takers to turn negativity into positivity. It’s all part of crisis management.

Horse racing is in dire need of understanding what attracts today’s generation. It thinks it does. But it doesn’t.

What will keep it from what Mr Chuckles Berry called “motorvading over the hill” are many of those supposedly hired to press the Refresh button. But that Refresh button is stuck on Pause. And the past. The same old same old. But just getting older and more complacent.

Horse racing, especially in Hong Kong, is much more than what it is. It’s the heartbeat of the city. Many cant see this because they don’t know where to look. They need a new perspective on life. Get real.

It needs a Nike on its side. It needs a Swoosh. It needs an injection of that Just Do it spirit.

As a city, Hong Kong used to have it. It was known as our Can Do spirit. It’s up and left. With horse racing leading the charge, this needs to make a comeback. It needs to be rebranded Just Do it. With the relevance and creativity of Nike to take it forward. And the balls. Big balls.

Together we can do wonderful things. We just need to Do It.

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