HOW THE VOODOO CHILE STRUCK THE MELBOURNE SPRING CARNIVAL…

Twilight Payment might have won the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, but was there something eerily like an episode of “The Twilight Zone” hanging in the air? Was it an omen of things to come? Did someone already …know?

Of course it was great to see exciting young riding talent Jye McNeil win his first Melbourne Cup at his debut in the big race. Here’s a huge talent. And grounded.

Race caller Matt Hill did the best he could to bring some excitement to the Mad Max looking day for television viewers. The horses competing looked magnificent. So did the track. But still, and especially with there being no crowd to cheer on those thundering hooves, the Twilight Zone theme kept playing in our heads. Over and over again. It sounded ominous.

But what else was getting in the way of having some good vibes? All the clutter about the American elections bombarding senses? Living life in the new normal continuing to play a major and disruptive role in daily life? Perhaps too many big races packed like sardines and programmed without considering these very weird times of lockdowns and social distancing? Timing, after all, is everything.

By the time it came to Oaks Day at Flemington on Thursday, there was a beaucoup de fatigue blues in the air. Things had actually got draining and tiresome.

The presenters sounded as drained as those sleep deprived anchors on every news channel in America trying to make sense of who was winning the Red state or the Blue state. Had it come to a point where no one even cared…about anything?

Then there was a complete breakdown in pretty much everything yesterday- the last day of Melbourne’s Spring Carnival and the running of the Mackinnon Stakes.

This was when the Tabcorp system came crashing down and things became pretty pointless. Hadn’t betting online with Tabcorp been a bit wobbly for a few days before The Big Crash? Hmmmm? Maybe it was Tripped up? Whatever, it was, this was the last thing anyone could have predicted. Not even Deano.

Deano seemed resigned to the fact that it was a case of Que Sera Sera and so was chillin’ with Dylan.

Who won what? No idea. Didn’t matter. It was meaningless and a waste of time. It was a package deal with the ongoing nightmare that are the American Elections.

When popular pastimes are forced into holding patterns and clash with an ongoing pandemics like Covid-19 and real life politics that could have a bearing on present and future lives, very different priorities take over. The Turn Off factor comes into play.

Sometimes it’s necessary to bite the bullet and take a Think Break. Make the time to reboot strategies so that they are relevant to the times instead of thinking “resilience” will last forever while continuing to play the same old song. Tabcorp’s system crashing didn’t show much “resilience”. If anything, it should be a LOUD wake up call, not only to racing clubs, but- and not to make anyone panic- the entire global banking system.

Nothing lasts forever without adapting to change, constantly improving and upgrading products and charting a roadmap to the future- a roadmap to avoid any bumps, especially technical hiccups, along the way. Some things need to be said.


THOSE WHIPPERSNAPPERS

If in horse racing it’s not to be called a whip, and there should be a ban on this word, what might be the best new name for it?

In this highly sensitive, and, all too often, overly political correct world, anyone taking the whip to anyone might not be the smartest word to use. It conjures up all kinds of images and with various hashtags ready to be unleashed on social media.


THE NEED FOR MORE ART IN HORSE RACING

Los Angeles-based Alex Evers is our favourite photographer when it comes to capturing all the beauty and excitement of horse racing.

Work like his and others like equine artist Janet Hammill in Melbourne are so important in the marketing of the sport.

When will racing clubs wake up and understand this? Then, again, perhaps many first need to understand how marketing works- and what it is.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, there’s a very passionate group of part-time and hobbyist photographers who almost live to cover horse racing.

Not for them are wasting time on horse racing’s carousel of rumours or being bitten by the betting bug. To them, every jockey riding is a favourite. They respect and are in awe of every trainer going about their business. They are real racing fans.

After months of being unable to pursue their favourite pastime, and things slowly returning to some form of abnormal new normal, they’re back at the racecourses doing what they enjoy doing most.

We couldn’t help not noticing these two photos taken by one of these photographers-Wallace Wan. We think they’re stunning.

We also think that these racing fans can offer and bring so much more creativity to the pastime.


ENTER COLONEL SCHLINK?

Word is that respected Australian journalist Leo Schlink who has blown the lid off a number of the country’s most controversial racing stories will join the Hong Kong Jockey Club as replacement for the extremely good racing writer David Morgan who recently left Hong Kong.

As for those hawking rumours of others in racing returning to Hong Kong- not necessarily jockeys and trainers- one really doubts it, especially in a bilingual city that’s quickly becoming trilingual and with an increasingly greater focus on the Chinese language media. Plus why repeat bad history?