Generally, we, as horse racing bettors and fans, look at the success they've had and say "we need to be like that!" But, because of myriad hoops and roadblocks, partly caused by fiefdoms, governments, regulatory overreach, commissions and all the rest, it really is a pretty high bar. No, as Sid likes to profess, horse racing here will never be like it is in Hong Kong.
However, there are major differences in the two jurisdictions that aren't based on the above roadblocks. A lot of it, in my view, has to do with philosophy.
Yesterday across the pond:
That's one we have to let sink in, isn't it?HKJC CEO says racing is chock full of insiders who tend to only look inside for solutions and that is a continued path to disaster— Pat Cummings (@PatCummingsHK) January 26, 2016
He isn't saying anything radical as far as Hong Kong racing goes (he's the CEO for goodness sakes), but in North America, what he said is completely, one hundred and eighty degrees, crazy-talk-radical.
Here horse racing looks inside ten of ten times. Maybe worse, it goes full spinal tap and does it eleven of ten times.
The CEO went further in his talk:
He, in that one sentence, is telling North America that their current strategy of having people in charge of promotion telling everyone else to like what they like about racing, for the same reasons, is all wrong.Paraphrasing: If you're passionate bout racing, & love it, many of those types think you have to sell that same experience, but it's wrong— Pat Cummings (@PatCummingsHK) January 26, 2016
Those are some pretty astounding thoughts.
It, to me, is not even debatable that racing over here can be like racing over there. It can't. However, philosophically, horse racing here can learn a lot about horse racing from Hong Kong. Horse racing grows when you turn outsiders into insiders for your brand. It has a chance when you create products for your customers that they want, not pushing them products that insiders want them to want.
This is not an easy thing to do, because when everyone has lived with this dysfunction for such a long time, defending the dysfunction becomes paramount. We see this often and it is particularly dangerous. Insiders make a policy change, say a takeout hike. It fails, but other insiders cover for the insiders. That makes change extra-elusive because bad policy is never allowed to be seen as bad policy. It is not only not corrected, sometimes it's copied.
Regardless, I fervently agree with Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges, and I am glad he stood up and said what he did.