These are interesting and important times for horse racing as, in case no one has noticed, there’s a changing of the guard taking place, not only at Buckingham Palace, but across the board and throughout the world, and there’s no stopping it.
While horse racing travels under the radar, those leading this industry and its business must realise that the baton needs to be passed. But to whom?
Yes, there are some talented young riders and trainers, but where are the new leaders?
There are a number of names still occupying seats of power in the global horse racing industry, but the elephant in the room not addressed is this: Who’s Next?
If there are any, where exactly are they and are they capable enough to take over the reins of every broken down thing that they are going to inherit?
Not being part of this industry, but knowing more than enough about it, it still interests me because similar questions can be asked of the music industry and how it sees where music streaming services are leading.
For example, when are musicians finally going to see a Return On Investment- investment in time and finances paid to keep producing their art and which are then offered for free on so many online platforms in return for streams?
Doesn’t this even sound more ridiculous when seeing it written down?
Didn’t we see where all these online platforms and free everything were taking the global creativity community and Rights issues to our original content?
Horse racing doesn’t have to worry about being creative- at least not in the way it’s been run and managed and where it’s all to do with turnover numbers and, perhaps, “integrity” issues.
With this in mind, it’s about “participants” in racing feeling confident enough in the rules of racing to be part of something where they are not reduced to bit roles or financing something which they don’t have any real ownership.
On Saturday at Flemington one of the two winners of a race lost their part of the win after a Stewards protest.
Jockey Blake Shinn, who had won the race on My Yankee Girl in a photo finish, had the race taken away from him for “breaking” the whip rules.
So did the trainer-John Salanitri- and owner Hirsch Racing.
Wait, let’s just rewind that...
The results of this protest are going to have a major impact on how, moving forward, current and potential owners think twice about investing in a business-oriented pastime, where so much is uncertain and where they have no say in questioning these “rules”.
As for these “rules”, how well are they understood? If created by a Board and done to placate critics of horse racing, does anyone seriously think this is going to satisfy the Oliver Twists wanting more and more?
That “successful” protest by the Stewards is going to open up a can of worms that will run rampant throughout the horse racing industry in Australia much like when Pandora opened her, well, box and let the evil genie escape and create pandemonium.
This will undoubtedly segue into that other elephant in the room still to be addressed that is the future of the “remorseful” and “knockabout bloke” former horse trainer Darren Weir.
Those who know Weir will mention that he didn’t have much of an education, he was under stress to deliver winners, and he was caught with his pantaloons down in a moment of weakness. How he’s suffered enough.
Some will also add that he has friends in high places and amongst the usual suspects in the racing media, many of whom have been there in a holding pattern for two to three decades.
If Darren Weir were to be thrown a lifeline mainly because of being a “knockabout bloke” despite a video of him engaging in animal cruelty that’s bound to go viral, what does this say about horse racing?
The global mainstream media will have plenty to say. Racing thoroughbreds fobbing off what Weir and his cahoots have done as being something that’s being “going on for decades and is going on now”, would only be handing this business a bigger shovel to dig an even bigger hole for itself.
Horse racing will be seen as a bigger pariah than what many believe it already is with its links to gambling.
There’s a need for a much better “communications strategy” than something based on “And this, too, shall pass”.
It won’t. Quasimodo is already ringing dem bells and they’ve reached the ears of some mighty powerful celebrities with real power.
For all the talk about the “love of the horse”, this becomes Pollyanna thinking when the actions of Team Weir are brought to the fore by a mainstream media that has never had any love for horse racing.
To them and their readers, horse racing is in the hands of various chapters of The Old Boys Club with no redeeming qualities and being managed by those who have their golden parachutes attached and will soon disappear into the mists of retirement.
At a time when we’re in the midst of an angry and often petty society that’s moved from #MeToo #blacklivesmatter to Wokeism, a Cancel generation and where “victim hood” is being promoted along with Harry and Meghan and the powerless being the new power, there’s no time like the present for every industry to wake up from the Lockdown malaise.
It’s time to inhale the truth, exhale what’s holding everything back, and work for there to be a return to common sense.
We’ve been dumbed down for too long and happy with the crumbs- and streams and click bait and rules that no longer work- thrown our way.