By and large, Twitter is a tremendous forum for racing fans, connecting devotees of the sport worldwide.
A place to read up-to-the-minute news, share photos and discuss current topics, it can also be a hot bed of heated debate.
Some key Twitter profile types have emerged over the last few years, and, as with all evolution, some types are closely related.
It’s a thriving ecosystem, a world containing symbiotic relationships, predators and prey, all existing in a real time food chain of news and opinions.
This is not intended to be a definitive list, merely an overview of some of the colourful characters that commonly inhabit this fascinating virtual world.
CHARACTERISED BY ... overuse of the words outstanding, amazing and “wow, just wow” ... declaring the winner of at least two races per week a “champion” ... incessant congratulatory Tweets to jockeys, trainers and owners.
Let’s go easy on the Cheerleaders; after all, they really make the racing Twitter word go round. Everything is amazing and are forever declaring the latest winner of a Listed sprint for three-year-old fillies in Australia “outstanding”. Of course, we also need someone to point out the bleeding obvious and tell us that Arrogate and Winx are indeed talented racehorses. Thanks for that. Cheerleaders ensure there are at least five “true champions” racing at any one time in the world. The cheerleader also provides natural sustenance for the upcoming apex predators on our list.
CHARACTERISED BY ... angry replies to tweets containing a link – without bothering to read the story ... black-and-white avatar photo of “the good old days” ... a steadfast denial to acknowledge anything truly great has happened in the sport since Mill Reef’s 1971 Epsom Derby victory.
Natural enemy of the Cheerleader and Industry Apologist (see below), the cynic likes to get involved in all manner of discussions.
You’ll usually see the Cynic chiming in with a snide, sarcastic two or three word reply to counter the gushy post race euphoria of the Cheerleader.
There’s really only one thing you need to know about this Twitter type: in racing, everything was better before than it is now. Horses, jockeys, trainers, race names, racecourses, bookmakers – the lot, it was all much better before this moment in history.
The cynic loves to slam new initiatives, apposing any change, sight unseen. This trait seems strange given what a dim view they hold of racing, and life in general. Give the cynic a break, he is probably living alone, suffering from an untreated personality disorder and without him the Twitter ecosystem would be overrun with unchecked Cheerleaders.
CHARACTERISED BY ... having had more people block their profile than they have followers ... protected Tweets ... completely changing opinion midway through debates.
A close relation to the cynic, this type is a Group One performer when it comes to arguing. Loves a good debate and willing to interject in other people’s conversations, offering contrary, unasked-for opinions. You say it’s black, they’ll say its white. Tweet that Frankel is the best of all time and they’ll reply that he was overrated and only won because he had a pacemaker.
Bored and can’t sleep? Here’s a way to fill in some time, why not start an argument with somebody you’ve never met? Great starter topics are relative merits of dirt/turf racing or simply stating anything is over or underrated. Just put it out there like fishing lure and wait for the Antagonist to strike ... but be careful, that’s actually how you become an Antagonist.
The Antagonist is mostly negative, but can sometimes even turn on their cousin, the Cynic, just for the sake of a good Twitter war.
THE INDUSTRY APOLOGIST
CHARACTERISED BY ... support of any “new initiative”, no matter how silly ... hatred of PETA/any and all animal rights groups ... overuse of the phrase “good for the sport”.
Perpetually positive, but usually commercially compromised by a job within industry, but not always, the Industry Apologist just wants to give everything a chance. These chirpy, hybrid-cheerleader types have had their work cut out trying to maintain positivity of late, particularly in Australia, with a raft of silly ideas including The Everest and proposed changes to the Caulfield Cup pushing them to the edge. Unfortunately many so-called racing “journalists” end up here.
THE ‘PLUSHIE’ DEVOTEE
CHARACTERISED BY ... overuse of emojis ... retweeting weird stuff from Japan without actually knowing what the hell it is ... avatar of an actual “plushie” or the Plushie Devotee posing with a “man in horse costume” mascot.
OK, hands up, guilty your honour, yours truly stands accused of being a Plushie Devotee, and a quick scroll through the timeline make it a hard accusation to shake.
For those who don’t know, a plushie is a stuffed toy, and in this case a likeness of a racehorse, commonly sold in racetrack memorabilia stores in Japan and Hong Kong.
In fact, the first place a plushie devotee heads to, whether it’s Sha Tin or Sapporo, is to the plushie store, stocking up on all manner of weird stuff including Deep Impact placemats and Pakistan Star keyrings.
Plushie devotees are usually chronic retweeters, prone to “RTs” of cute foal pics and “where are they now?” stories about retired racehorses. Usually a social media addict, also has an active Instagram account full of food pics and selfies.
THE JOCKEY BAGGER
CHARACTERISED BY ... an “egg”, or at the very least anonymous avatar and Twitter handle ... still lives with mother ... has never ridden a horse.
This odious little troll is a particularly wretched type. We won’t dignify these degenerates with too much profiling, as the name is self-explanatory. The Jockey Bagger blames jockeys for supposed failings with seemingly no appreciation of the inherent risks associated with riding 500-kilogram animals, in close proximity to each other at more than 60 kilometers per hour.
Let’s leave it to Ruby Walsh and this terrific little bookmakers promotion where the champion jumps jockey and his bodyguard confront an “egg” at his home.
THE MONDAY EXPERT
CHARACTERISED BY ... a link to “tips blog” in profile ... post race “told you so” Tweets highlighting previous wins ... hatred of Happy Valley’s C+3 course and track bias.
You can’t win with the Monday Expert, if you’ve backed a winner and they didn’t, you simply got lucky or took stupid odds. Tips that win, they did what they were meant to do, and those that didn’t? They either suffered from rotten luck, severe jockey error or were the victim of track bias.
Loves to refer to “private figures” and easily drawn into arguments over ratings the vast majority of people don’t care about or understand. Bottom line: if you don’t spend at least 18 hours per day tinkering with ratings profiles, algorithms or with your head buried in spreadsheets, then you can’t possibly understand horse racing the way the Monday Expert does.
THE MOREIRA HATER
CHARACTERISED BY ... refusal to acknowledge that Joao Moreira is any better than an average rider ... has memorised statistical analysis based on two Randwick meetings held on diabolical bog tracks... voracious consumption and distribution of “Moreira to Godolphin” speculation.
This is a fascinating and relatively new subspecies; Moreira Haters seem to be a combination of the aforementioned Cynic, Antagonist, Jockey Bagger and Monday Expert.
Please note; this type existed in the years BM (Before Moreira), and before racing Twitter reached its current saturation state. Moreira Haters were just Douglas Whyte Haters three years ago, and will hate whoever comes along after Moreira and rides all of the favourites in Hong Kong.
The Moreira Haters love to quote wet track statistics from two carnival days at Randwick and insist the Magic Man is simply a flat track bully.
So what do the Moreira Haters have to say when the Brazilian finds a spot three back on the fence after about 150 metres from barrier 12? “Oh that’s just because he is on all the best horses”.
THE COMPULSIVE GAMBLER
CHARACTERISED BY ... wild celebrations after backing winners ... screenshots of winning bets ... intermittent “swearing off” Twitter and “the punt” after bad days.
We are so glad this type finds time to Tweet, it’s a miracle they do given the extensive bet history they just posted on their timeline for all to see. In between betting on every metropolitan race held in Australia, as well as greyhounds, sport, plus some late night dabbling with the dark arts of Swedish harness racing, they still manage to pump out serious Twitter content. It’s all about the highs and lows of the game for this type – the simple, unbridled joy of backing a winner, followed by the crisis-inducing crash of having an odds-on favourite lose on some Wheel of Fortune-type protest in a Japanese group race. Where would we all be without this wildly passionate participant? Indeed, the Compulsive Gambler boasts a yearly turnover that could keep most second-tier racing jurisdictions afloat.
THE OLD PERSON THAT DOESN’T UNDERSTAND HOW TO USE TWITTER
CHARACTERISED BY ... misplaced hashtags# ... posting photos/videos that appear upside down or sideways ... egg avatar, plus full name and address in profile description.
Like a ground foraging marsupial in a brutal ecosystem full of carnivores, this harmless type just joined Twitter “to see what all the fuss was about”. Cynics and Antagonists, please leave them alone, they are probably just like you but don’t know how to join in on your latest “things were better before now” rant.
It’s a pity they can’t figure out how to use Twitter, because these racing veterans could provide eyewitness accounts and useful comparisons between horses like Winx and Phar Lap, or Arrogate and War Admiral. Now, if they could just work out how to use that smartphone the grandkids bought them for Christmas.