It was the late Australian racing analyst Deane Lester, below, who mentioned a couple of years ago that if people don’t like horse racing, there’s nothing that’s going to change their minds and to just move on...
Deano was right as usual as this is the case with millions around the world not wanting anything to do with the racing caper for a myriad of different reasons.
Their minds are made up and they have hundreds of other choices that have nada to do with parting with their hard earned money to bet on a horse race. It’s how they roll.
The more that those highly paid racing executives understand this and focus on keeping their captive and loyal customers happy and coming back regularly, the better.
Maybe, just maybe, there might be a changing of the guard and those with very different mindsets will see something that they like about horse racing and come through the turnstiles- but we’re not holding our breath.
Some of us were reminded of this last night when a member of a local band who performed at those good old Happy Wednesday nights at Happy Valley mentioned how the gig was only for the money, and how much he disliked horses being “forced to race with people on top whipping them home”.
There were fleeting thoughts about wives and girlfriends who wanted and still want nothing to do with horse racing just like they want nothing to do with social media.
At least to them, both are an anathema for very personal reasons, most of these having to do with their dislike of any form of gambling- and social media is often playing Russian roulette with fragile minds.
Meanwhile, this week, a longtime friend who introduced many of us in the entertainment industry to horse racing, retired his latest horse, and walked away from the racing game, something he refers to as a “sunset industry”.
His latest purchase from the Hong Kong Jockey Club International Sales was found to be a bit of a non-starter by being lame after only three starts with our friend down around HK$10m.
He mentioned how he could have left this money for his grandkids and blames only himself for not doing the math.
Something else: At least to him, those who almost always succeed in the international racing game- not only Australia- are the most wealthy owners, who have the luxury to take their expensive purchases to the leading trainers and the very best jockeys money can buy.
So, is all this raising of prize money pretty much only for them and just more smoke and mirrors from those still running racing clubs and a racing media helping to blow more smoke up one’s derrière?
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and this fire is now finally being seen for what it is- something patched together for “battlers” on Twitter and something that cannot be compared to “real sports” with superstar athletes.
Horse racing had time to rework its image and its wagering landscape, but couldn’t even pass the barrier trials.
This was around three decades ago and long before Andrew Jones- more on the fall guy later- arrived on his trusty white steed.
These days, strings are said to being furiously pulled by those obscenely highly paid racing executives past their Use By dates.
They’re still there desperately clutching at straws to come up with something, no matter how daft and irrelevant these half baked ideas might be.
Perhaps it’s for the sake of trotting out something for the sake of it- and just maybe because the walls are closing in on them and the rest of Dad’s Army?
As for all the fallout after recent remarks made by Racing Victoria CEO Andrew Jones, below, who unfortunately floated half baked ideas that should have been kept between himself and the Board that hired him, there were also some truths said about the image, attraction and future of horse racing.
Andrew Jones is not silly and his curriculum vitae bears this out.
One presumes this is why he was hired for the gig.
Who DID hire him, anyway and why have they now distanced themselves from him and gone underground? Hmmmm.
Andrew Jones’ major Achilles heel seems to be not knowing much about horses and horse racing.
Why then was he hired?
Now that he’s where he is, maybe with knowledgeable racing, communications and marketing people around him, Andrew Jones could focus on his strengths and business acumen and build a strong team around him.
Yes? No? Maybe?
Why the need to seemingly urgency to hang him out to dry?
Even King Arthur needed The Knights Of The Round Table and Merlin and no man is an island.
One can only guess that horse racing is feeling the effects and stress and strain of a down economy and a pastime that has most definitely seen better days and which is looking rather dated.
Those given important leadership roles now have to show that they’re doing something to rectify matters while being paid those large financial packages and still hanging in there until the levee breaks.
And the odds are that it will- and sooner than those wearing upmarket blinkers think.