THE HOARSE WHISPERER By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 27 May 2009, Wednesday
Racing Broadcast Problem
Don Enrico scored back-to-back wins in this month’s Philippine Racing Commission-sponsored Gemstone stakes series by copping the 1,500-meter Emerald II S. at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite, last Sunday, May 24.
The 4YO bay colt by Philippine champion Wind Blown out of Australian mare Kayumanggi massacred a sparse field to cruise to an easy victory, executing the same strategy he unleashed last May 17 to win the mile Emerald I S. by many lengths.
Jockey FM Raquel only shows the whip to Don Enrico. (Screenshot courtesy of SLBN.)
Ridden by Class A jockey Fernando Raquel Jr., the Lorraine Uy Wi-owned and Arturo Sordan-trained Don Enrico mowed down aging opponents Chariot of Fire, Mr. Victory, and Earl Grey even while carrying the heaviest impost at 57 kgs. Don Enrico logged 1:32.6 for the race.
The field for the Philracom Emerald II S. running the first quarter of the race. (Screenshot courtesy of SLBN.)
With Don Enrico running as outstanding favorite and certain to score a fait accompli in that race, more attention was given to the other development that racing week – the intermittent failure of the live racing broadcast out of San Lazaro Leisure Park.
Fans were dismayed to see their television screens flicker or go to black at intervals during the entire coverage including the running of races beginning Wednesday last week. “System message” and “waiting for signal” texts popped up with frequency. The audio quality cycled from “good” to “poor” to “non-existent”.
“Sagabal sa panunuod ng karera at pagsubaybay ng benta,” said “Nihawma”, a racing fan on the cyberforum thewinnersleague.com. A horseowner who regularly visits an off-track betting station claims that he saw customers fling down their programs and leave the OTB, disgusted at the wonky transmission.
With last year’s pullout of MJC’s previous coverage provider, Makisig Network, MJC set up its own production arm – San Lazaro Broadcast Network. Production and transmission are now handled in-house.
Knowledgeable sources say that SLBN dismissed power amplifier service provider Telered some months ago to save costs. SLBN then acquired Telered’s old power amplifier, while neglecting to provide a backup system. The amplifier failed last racing week. SLBN borrowed one from Destiny, but the latter had to take it back on Wednesday. It was thought that the Wednesday races would have to be cancelled, until SLBN rented an amplifier elsewhere.
SLBN has ordered a new power amplifier from abroad, but, as a broadcast equipment supplier commented, “These things are not bought off the shelf. They are custom-built. It will take eight weeks to do that, plus shipping time.”
A look at industry sales will show that since 2003 and the move of MJC’s racecourse to Cavite from Manila, around 95% of the racing club’s gross sales from wagers come from OTBs. Without a decent broadcast, the OTBs will fail. Sales will slump even more.
With the worldwide recession and the decline of racing as a profitable business – witness the racetracks that have shut down in the US and other countries – Philippine racing must step up in order to be sustainable. More than 5,000 people depend on the industry for their livelihood. Millions in the country and abroad enjoy the sport.
As a racing commentator since 2002, a quality live racing broadcast has always been my advocacy. This is how the industry pulls in revenues that keep it alive. More importantly, this is the face that Philippine racing shows to the world. Why can’t the industry get its act together on this? *** (Web: http://jennyo.net)