By Hans Ebert
@HansEbertMusic
Visit: www.hans-ebert.com

It’s been an interesting few weeks. Undertaking something new and ambitious on your own, funding it and taking all responsibility as to whether it soars with the eagles or hits the ground with the turkeys has been a daunting task.

It’s shown how much trying to produce the best creative product possible has changed- and not always for the better. How so often there’s that blur where the technology becomes the idea.

It’s today’s Instagram world. It’s not a world to which I subscribe where things like the “right” hashtags and really really bad photoshopping and where the numbers lie like crazy are part of the “strategy for success”.

What a load of old codswallop. It’s one giant step backwards to forward thinking. It’s everything one was taught never to do. How it’s all about the idea and seeing where it might lead.

While sometimes drowning in the making of an ambitious multi media project called Mix to show the new indie spirit taking place in Hong Kong right now, what kept one at it was the freedom to look outside of cookie cutter thinking.

It was about not owing anyone for anything. Owning it all. How content is king and castle. Breaking free from those invisible chains that bind. Saying, screw it and trying to please everybody except for one’s self.

While this was going on, inspiring was seeing the leadership and caring of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

What an amazing woman. A game changer who has somehow managed to turn around a horrendous episode of racism and hate in Christchurch, New Zealand into helping create a more united world.

She’s shown how the world really CAN come together to create a true global community driven by Hope. How one person really CAN make a difference. How 24/7 news channels contribute nothing except create a deeply divisive society of online ankle biters.

Prime Minister Ardern has made the Big Orange in the White House look like an irrelevant Mr Squeezy. She’s made American politics look cartoonish. Stupid.

Her actions, not some tweets from an addled head, have also added to the mounting pressure on how and if Facebook continues in the future. Perhaps we no longer have to be trapped inside that often negative and unsociable world of social media.

Perhaps we’re returning to traditional values. Perhaps it’s returning to real ideas where the technique is not propping up fatuous gasworks. How there’s nothing better than word of mouth advertising and the rudiments and effectiveness of traditional marketing that depended on the creative process and the power of the creative product.

While still having one foot in horse racing, and always looking at how this pastime can be more than what it is today was the thought of there being a global horse racing community- but the seeds to this happening having to come from independent thinking. And being independent.

We’re horse racing’s most important consumers. Surely, we know what we want? So why be spoon fed wagering gobbledygook by those who think they know us better than we do? Those who are only and all about turnover? Are we being taken for a ride because this is how it’s always been? Well, if we have, switch off the meter, driver.

We all have opinions. But these opinions today should be something new rather than singing the same old song from the same old hymn book and refusing to move on.

Being in Hong Kong doesn’t mean embracing horse racing outside of Hong Kong racing. Sure, one can still applaud the meteoric rise of Beauty Generation, and trainer Frankie Lor, below with his former master John Size.

There’s everything that the training centre at Conghua in Guangzhou could evolve into being in the years ahead.

There’s the anticipation of former champion jockey Douglas Whyte starting the latest chapter to his career as a trainer from next season.

There’s the most international jockeys roster in the world in this fascinating and very international and rapidly changing city…

Though proud to be a Hong Kong Belonger, there’s nothing that stops me from enjoying the rags to riches story of everything and everyone associated with the incredible story of galloper Mystic Journey.

There’s nothing to stop me thinking about Tye Angland and his family and ways of doing everything possible to help and ensure that this is something that’s not forgotten. Not another hashtag moment on Twitter.

There’s nothing to stop me from being pleased for the recent successes of jockeys Luke Currie, below, Anthony Darmanin, Lachlan King, Raquel Clark, Jamie Kah, Linda Meech, Damian Lane and a couple of others.

There’s the successful comeback of Jason Maskell, whereas Barend Vorster is enjoying great success after leaving Singapore to be stable rider for Tony McEvoy in South Australia.

There’s being part of the mutual admiration society of new equine talent like Sunlight, Nature Strip, perhaps Cosmic Force, The Autumn Sun etc.

What else can one say about her?

Or Almond Eye from Japan.

Despite having a well-documented history of huge mistakes, U-turns, shocking mismanagement and answers to questions that have been brushed under the carpet of a very checkered past, Racing Victoria finally did something right- the introduction of the kinda inter-active All Star Race, the world’s richest race over a mile.

Though loathe to be a fan of races and the chest pounding behind the prize money on offer, a $11,000 purchase trained and ridden and owned by hardly household names winning the inaugural running of this race, gave RVL a story it dearly needed to rebuild its broken brand.

As someone in marketing, have they seized this opportunity? What do you think?

Over the years- and going back to the days when Racingbitch was alive and well and showing up the pockmarks and hypocrisy afflicting horse racing- the one particular constant was about just how much horse racing can learn, especially from the foibles and utter arrogance of global music companies.

They became so bloated with self-importance, they forgot about the music fan. Wrong move. The music fan who didn’t understand how the music industry is a business that can help artists by banging out a deal at the negotiating table were hoodwinked about rocking in the free world. It’s why music today is available free.

The streaming of music has devalued music. Turned it into faceless, nameless Muzak while dazzling many with- what else?- numbers that add up to zero.

Though still to be accepted by those brands and partners and having the sponsorship appeal attractive to the much bigger world of sports entertainment, horse racing- as a global industry and one community- can learn ways from the mistakes mentioned above and how some things should be revisited.

Starting point: The Rules Of Racing. Sorry, but many of these “rules” went out with Spanky and the Gang. For example, jockeys can’t bet- but their nearest and dearest can? An integrity issue?

Horse racing must stop being so bloody stuffy and housed with racing executives scared of Change and unable to mix it with the big boys in bigger industries. Yet, they strut around. You know what they say about big fish and small ponds and A Fish Called Wanda.

Launched recently was a commercial for the new Longchamp SS66 brand featuring Kendall Jenner and…a horse. Titled “The Ride starring Kendall Jenner”, it’s a well produced one minute commercial.

Though understanding that the hardcore racing fan could either take it or leave it and probably see it as pretentious garbage, as a creative product, it does it’s job without exactly being of Cannes Grand Prix quality. But has it been watched? By millions. Has it created awareness for the Longchamp brand? Definitely.

What are the odds that many of those in horse racing making mewing sounds about attracting that still elusive “younger” and more “cool” customer demographic have never heard of Kendall Jenner and how she practically owns social media?

If the horse racing industry could ever entice her to endorse the racing product, well…

Until then, it will be commercials cobbled together with the usual montage of clichés- the obligatory slo-mo shots, early morning track work, a horse being saddled up etc and with a “cinematic” library music track reminiscent of something from a B Grade horror movie.

Why, gawd, why? Why? It’s what some racing executives believe a piece of communications already produced for some other product should look like and which makes it okay to market horse racing. It’s “safety in numbers”, lack of any chutzpah and why so much racing content has not changed from those days when Ben Hur won that famous chariot race. Creative by committee never flies. It’s filler fodder for the sheeples.

The basic concepts of horse racing will never change: Winning by choosing the first horse past the line. But HOW this is presented and WHERE this is communicated with all the right carrots is important. Right now, it’s MIA.

We really are one world today. We each have many different interests because of everything happening in the world today. Interests outside of horse racing. It keeps us from being one dimensional and boring dullards though that species still exists.

Bringing SOME of these interests to horse racing will change the perception that this is only a gambling led pastime. Many, believe it or not, do not like to be involved in encouraging gambling. Especially to youngsters.

There’s nothing “feel good” about this. But making horse racing more ENTERTAINING, might even make the wagering landscape easier to understand for those below 40 who have zero interest in knowing how to read a totalisator or who have a vacant stare when listening to “horsey talk”. They’re not saying Just Say No to horse racing.

They’re saying, Convince me- but keep it simple. Make it fun.

Change will happen when least expected. It’s happening now. Horse racing is not immune to Change. It’s the best thing that can happen to it.

The corporate horse racing world might have its role. But control is no longer one of them.

They say that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. But what if there’s a strong chain? No weak links. Only the best of the best independent and experienced talent subservient to no one, and with proven credentials for success from other industries, but wanting the best for the world of horse racing? Something independent. And interactive. Well policed. A healthy exchange of ideas.

A new online delivery platform for the racing fan wanting Change and this coming from a new 24/7 online delivery platform.

Something that makes horse racing look fun and stylish and interesting and relevant without the hard yell and elitism.

It can happen. It must happen. It will happen.

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