October 13, 2018

Horse 2475 - We Don't Really Care About Horse Racing Except For That One Time When We Do - or - Alan Jones Bullying Women Memorial Trophy

Thanks to the incredible publicity generated by veteran radio presenter Alan Jones and the horrible bullying by him of the Premier and the Director of the Opera House Trust, there is a horse race on today which has a name which I don't care about and will instead refer to as the "Alan Jones Bullying Women Memorial Trophy". I have no idea where the Alan Jones Bullying Women Memorial Trophy is being held; nor do I know over what distance; nor do I know what time it begins; nor do I care to find out any of these things.
Everything about this whole incident perfectly embodies the city of Sydney perfectly. The Sydney Opera House came in more than eleven times over budget, was finished more than fifteen years after the initial expected completion date, and was ultimately paid for with the institution of the Sydney Opera House Lottery. Complaining about projecting gambling advertisements on a thing which was overly expensive and late and doesn't do the job that it was intended to do and which was paid for with gambling revenues, seems strangely fitting to me. It is especially weird that most of the people complaining about adverts being projected onto the side of the Sydney Opera House, usually can not watch things inside said building because the price of tickets is too much.
What I do know is that by the end of today, the Alan Jones Bullying Women Memorial Trophy will have been won by some Dobbin, Nellie, Billy, Silver, Tonto, or Trigger, and by Monday morning, nobody will give it a second thought ever again.

I don't know who dreamt up the Alan Jones Bullying Women Memorial Trophy but I can tell you that they absolutely definitely came Sydney. This is a city which has less culture than a pot of yoghurt and where the people who work in big blue glass towers who have no qualms charging fees to dead people for financial advice, think it's perfectly acceptable to try and buy some degree of prestige that apparently comes from a horse race. Of course Macquarie Street is more than willing to allow such a thing it means that they get their cut from gambling revenues. New South Wales is the world's champion when it comes to extracting the money that would have been used to put food on people's tables, and throwing it into the hands of licenced  one armed bandits.

It also speaks volumes about Sydney as a city because the theory is that you can get prestige by just buying it. The first few editions of the Olympic Games were so terrible that by 1904 it was being considered to be abandoned, the FIFA World Cup was just another football tournament until the earthquakes in Chile in 1962 galvanised the world's support and it got a superstar in PelĂ©, and the Superbowl was only wildly successful from the get go because of the immense animosity between the two confederations.
Australians don't really care about horse racing. The only reason that the Melbourne Cup has the mystique and aura that it does is because back in 1930 when everyone was really sad because they'd lost their jobs (it was the Great Depression), a horse called Phar Lap won the race and he happened to be the favourite, so a lot of people won a little bit. People who have migrated to Australia might remember who won the Melbourne Cup in the year that they arrived but beyond that, nobody really cares that much.

The truth is that most Australians honestly couldn't care about horse racing except for that one Tuesday in November when suddenly everyone in the country becomes an expert on the fillies for one afternoon and even then because there's the vague possibility that your office might give you free beer and wine. I consider it a win on the Melbourne Cup if I happen to get free sandwiches from the office next door.
The truth is that most Australians who do want to throw their bread money down the toilet, are more likely to do it at the local RSL club or increasingly at online sports betting websites because they can now bet on football matches. If there's one thing that Australians do love, its having a punt on the footy before they look at too many adverts for VB, Carlton Draught, Sportsbet, Bet 365, Ladbrokes, Bundaberg Rum, and Jim Beam, before engaging in a spot of domestic violence (which by the way actually does spike immediately after footy matches and especially after the Grand Final).

More generally I really don't see horse racing as serving any other purpose apart from gambling. I suppose that there is a lot of skill in breeding, training, and riding horses, but I can't think what other purpose it's for. I realise  that I am being incredibly hypocritical because I like motor racing which is an even greater waste of money and the only real things to be won are bragging rights but that's more in the spirit of what sport is.

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