Foreign simulcasts have room for improvement

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 November, 2009, 12:00am

While Hong Kong Jockey Club has every right to be pleased at how the foreign simulcasts are already being received in betting terms, the even-better news is they are open to improvement.

Almost HK$160 million has been wagered on cards that included the Cox Plate, Victoria Derby, Melbourne Cup and Breeders' Cup, which will translate to a reasonable expectation of another HK$600 million for those extra simulcasts gazetted for this season - and it could be more.

Complaints about the 'amateur hour' standard of the televised coverage have kept coming since the Cox Plate day coverage of five races set the bar relatively low and subsequent attempts have kept it down there.

Commentaries without pictures. Pictures without commentaries. Interviews that can be seen but not heard and vice versa. Even audible background muttering from people who are not supposed to be part of the on-air commentary.

We are talking about the English language coverage here and cannot speak for the Cantonese version, but what is clear is there is some upside once all the ducks are in a row. Sadly, the Jockey Club employee with the best handle on international racing, Irishman Jeremy Greene, left the club recently when he might have been needed most. The Jockey Club did the right thing and organised worthwhile form guides for these simulcasts in a language and format understood by its customers.

A suitable form guide in written word must be complemented by a proper televised coverage where and when the customer accesses the simulcast, and that means this end.

Some difficulty may lie in the fact that coverage is second-hand and who has the rights to what - a nightmare in Australia at carnival time with three different organisations claiming different parts of the coverage.

Frankly, the Australian free-to-air commercial television station coverage of the Melbourne carnival includes a lot of drivel and trying to bypass this may also be the reason for the 'dead air'.

What we guarantee is the club will not be happy with what has been aired and the professionalism of those in charge will ensure something is done.