Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges is on a high. And well he should be as Shatin on Sunday was a humongous whammy for Hong Kong racing and the driven CEO of the Hong Kong Jockey Club at 1 Sports Road from where the city’s favourite pastime receives its toys.
Yesterday, it wasn’t about toys. It was about returning some important pride to Hong Kong.
Having been around many or lived with those who don’t follow nor ever will have any interest in horse racing, no amount of advertising and marketing and free caps is going to sway their thinking.
Frankly, when in advertising before moving on to be Executive Director with the Regional offices of two multi national music companies, and then, basically, falling into working with the man many know as E.B on what became the successful Happy Wednesday brand, horse racing was something that was not on my radar, especially marketing something so disliked by those in my life.
Happy Wednesday, however, somehow managed to skip a beat while I grabbed my coat, grabbed my hat, left my worries at the doorstep and just connected my feet to the sunny side of the street.
It’s from here that I watched the horse operas unfolding in front of me.
It made for interesting viewing and not unlike being inside the crosstown traffic of a Bob Dylan song like “Desolation Row” or “Just Like Tom Thumb Blues” with all those “princes on steeples and all those pretty people laughing and thinking that they’ve got it made”.
The song playing in my head then changed direction around three years ago before officially checking out of Le Rue Morgue Avenue last month.
Happy Wednesday wasn’t making Hans a happy boy and I didn’t want to be caught in a trap forever. There was a need to be unchained like Django.
I speak to Winfried regularly and know so much more these days than I ever did about million dollar carparks.
I also keep learning about the extremely different attitudes towards horse racing and those who run and ride with the pack.
Right here and now and forever, my priority is Hong Kong.
Hong Kong helped a helpless kid from what was Ceylon find his way back home and understand himself better along with the cards with which he was dealt.
Sure, there’s talk about the Greater Bay Area project and all the good things that this will bring to Hong Kong, but I am realistic.
I am also pragmatic and neurotic enough to know that plans are always a long way off, and no matter what Irene Cara sang about and how she was going to live forever, even she passed away last week.
Life is a fleeting thing. It’s not unlike a horse race.
My thought process is completely different to that of Winfried’s. Thank gawd for that.
It’s also why we remain friends and sparring partners.
Neither of us can do what the other can as we live and work in completely different orbits. It’s kinda like Ground Control to Major Tom.
For me, it’s about how the success for the Hong Kong Jockey Club last week translates into success for Hong Kong- success in all its many manifestations.
The win of Romantic Warrior on Sunday was outstanding and Hong Kong now has one of the best race horses in the world.
How and where and why should any of this benefit Hong Kong other than, perhaps, some vague “pride in ownership”?
How is anything that happened at Happy Valley last Wednesday or Shatin yesterday and during HKIR week sustainable enough to create a chain reaction of inspiration that crackles through the city?
These are the questions going through my head whether it’s reading about HKIR week, the Rugby Sevens, Clockenflap or Black Pink performing in Hong Kong, or, just to put the cat amongst the pigeons, wondering who from Hong Kong’s racing world might end up in Doha or Riyadh.
Though I don’t have a bloody clue why any of this should matter, figuring out my role and how to make new things happen with a return on investment that has to do with personal happiness is what has the most meaning.
That’s the challenge- piecing together this jigsaw puzzle so that it makes sense to me.
The women in my life who matter most know that I see these as challenges in that big old world of advertising and marketing which many believe they have figured out, but they haven’t.
No one has and maybe no one ever will because what it is never is what it seems and what it was never is what one might think it once was.