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Where does horse racing fit into the jigsaw puzzle of Hong Kong?

None of us are getting younger, Hong Kong has changed forever largely because of the events of 2018/2019, and, as has been written here for around six years and maybe longer, the mood of the city impacts everything in it.

This includes the racing which, no matter what anyone “in the game” says, is trying to figure out where it fits in with the community and alongside a government that has a job to do.

Right now, Hong Kong is looking like a combination of chess moves, mahjong, marbles and a jigsaw puzzle.

Nothing is going to change overnight.

The fact of the matter is that no one knows what’s really going on, and guesswork about the meaning of things like Article 23, Artificial Intelligence etc doesn’t help.

Often, loose talk and thinking that anyone has figured out things like how the beast that is “social media” affects moods are kidding themselves. 

Having been with EMI Music during the days when Shawn Parker, below, and music file sharing site Napster gave a glimpse into how video might have killed the radio star, we were now seeing how technology was going to change every aspect of daily life. 

At a global music marketing conference in Dublin Facebook made a presentation to us executives about how the online platform could help us sell, or at least promote our artists and their music. 

Arrogance didn’t make us realise that our artists were way ahead of their recording company. They were looking at getting rid of us and going off on their own.

Thom Yorke and Radiohead did this by making their record “In Rainbows” available as a pay what you want product as the final kiss off to being shackled by a contract.

Pandora’s box was opened and we were suddenly looking at mobile phones that gave everyone access to practically everything- for free.

We have now gone from downloading music to streaming music and enjoying content from relatively new subscription based streaming services like Netflix.

Business models are being shaped and reshaped every day and just maybe Elon Musk isn’t as smart as some think.

When working on the Happy Wednesday brand with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, sent out were warning signs to those at the very top of the anthill about how streaming was going to impact everything- the film industry, the music industry and attendance figures at racetracks along with how ‘live’ events might be watched.

Of course, horse racing wasn’t immune to streaming and how it would affect the “on course experience”.

How all this streaming of everything has impacted daily life and the retail sector is immense.

It’s changed life as we know it forever.

Everything that’s happening around us today has made us far more choosy and exclusive about whether we want to go out and be part of a human mosh pit or enjoy streaming what we want to see when we want to see it, like perhaps having an intimate lunch or dinner or without actually having to be where something was happening- something like horse racing.

In Hong Kong, wagering turnover has been on the slide week after week this racing season whereas attendance figures are up.

What do these numbers really mean and what does it tell racing administrators?

With tour groups from China coming to Hong Kong on hit and run missions to see what’s available, on the agenda is for this customer group to visit the city’s two racetracks.

Are they interested in participating in the winning (and losing) of horse racing?

Not really.

No one enjoys losing especially when money’s too tight to mention.

After the lockdown years, attendance figures for anything are, of course, up, but where’s the sustainability going to come from, especially against the mantra of chanting about a “soft economy”? 

Were racing clubs prepared for what’s happening today- like attracting customers, not only to watch the races, but to their restaurants and other outlets?

In order words, a holistic experience that’s a Day At The Races.

Were they looking at new ways of those at the races participating in the horse racing?

This is where, no matter what those good old- and getting older offshoots to horse racing like giving tips and the usual racing news to a captive audience, like every other industry, horse racing has not succeeded in reversing the aging process and finding solutions.

To say that horse racing- like the music and television industries- is looking wrinkly and sounding cranky with thinking that’s equally old, is not just an understatement.

It’s a reality that needs to really be addressed and results driven if the game is going to continue and the baton is passed into the right hands.

By now, racing should be about looking at things like those twenty odd minutes between races where horses are paraded, or customers are expected to study the tote or understand Horse Speak.

How many in the upper echelons of the business world understood, or wanted to understand, the changing tastes of different customer groups and the buffet of choices offered to them?

To once again quote Bob Dylan, “Don’t follow leaders and watch your parking meters”, meaning don’t waste time listening to time wasters being paid to lead, but can’t. 

There’s no point resenting their wealth either, because riches rhymes with bitches and itches. 

We’re who we are and I was extremely grateful to have someone in advertising named Keith Reinhard become my mentor and nudge me in the right direction. 

We don’t see this type of mentorship as often as we should, because, rightly or wrongly, we’re in a world where not many wish to see people succeed. 


Insecurities? Jealousy? Both? 

Whatever the reason, we’re often on our own to create our own destiny and get to where we need to go through trial and error mixed with talent and inspiration. 

Too many leaders in the business world are very precious about to who they pass that baton.  


Successors might actually show up those who’s have hung on to their power bases way past their Use By dates.

Those clinging onto old school power, don’t want to see that happening.


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