I’d like to extend a warm welcome back to all our readers. You’ve logged on to the improved, new-look mikedekockracing.com. I am very pleased with my stable’s exciting new cyber home and I know you will be too!
I didn’t get involved in any of the design and layout aspects, but I was pleasantly surprised when I logged on via the administrator’s portal last night to look at what had been created.
From what I’ve seen in just an hour of browsing the home page, mikedekockracing.com is poised to set a new standard among racing websites. I’d like to predict that on the visual quality of our site alone we’ll lead the way forward like we did almost six years ago when we launched this project.
I am told that the new site was built on one of the most technologically advanced platforms on the internet. It has been designed for easy navigation, speed and user interactivity. What we have here is a massive improvement on the original site and I realize now that this revamp was long overdue.
Back in 2004 mikedekockracing.com drew accolades from all over the world for being vibrant and visually appealing and for our editorial innovations. Our launch had a fourfold purpose. We required a communication tool for owners, worldwide reach, news features and editorial comment in a changing industry and a vehicle for creating advertising revenue and other forms of online income.
We succeeded quickly in cornering the lion’s share of our small market, but as things turned out we had to make significant changes to our initial plans. We dropped our talk forum and in time also stopped our tipping services.In changing direction we cancelled most of our general news coverage too, focusing instead on articles of interest to the stable’s patrons and promotional material.
But in due course the website stagnated with what I hear had become an administrative management system so outdated it severely limited the flexibility for change. This hampered our progress, client reach, information and entertainment value.
In fact, just a few days after the Equus Awards in August the entire system crashed, virtually forcing us to move along with plans for a remake.
It is fair to say that mikedekockracing.com hasn’t quite kept up with the stable’s rapid worldwide progress between 2007 and today, but to be honest there was a time when I believed that ‘adequate’ would be good enough. Our hits remained consistently good and the site was running at relatively low overheads.
The original site served us well, but crashed due to old age!
Considering the number of quality options that are now readily available in the electronic media and our site’s self-sufficiency I saw no reason to compete with any other brand for headline news or the small advertising pie. I figured we’d get away with mikedekockracing.com as an average promotional necessity on the side.
Yet this is a view that simply doesn’t align with our operation’s commitment to constantly improving and fine-tuning our skills and instituting changes to our training methods when they are needed.
Despite losing ground in the quality stakes, mikedekockracing.com remains an established market domain with plenty of pulling power and influence.
As reported on racingweb last week, figures drawn from Alexa.com, the world’s leading website traffic engine, mikedekockracing.com is the fourth biggest racing website in South Africa – the big online betting sites included. Our number of visitors grew by over 200% in the last month despite the fact that then site has been static for seven weeks!
Now, more than ever, South African racing needs as much quality input from the media as possible. This website has made what I believe to be constructive contributions on dozens of issues affecting the industry. I am proud to say that in a number of cases our suggestions were read and considered at the highest management levels and that positive changes were instituted.
To those who are skeptical about a racing stable involving itself in the politics of the industry, as it were, I can only respond by stressing that we are at a juncture where open debate and constructive critcism is as essential to the racing industry as a free media is to a budding democracy.
That racing here in South Africa and indeed on the entire globe finds itself at vital crossroads is something so widely acknowledged that the mere mention of it is beginning to sound mundane. This is a time in which every industry shareholder with a voice and a functioning brain must stand up and be heard. How else are we going to address the problems that face us?
There are no guidelines within the parameters of free speech or the statutes of racing’s governing bodies that bind any individual who earns a living from this industry to remain “schtum” when he or she is directly affected by decisions made by those in charge of operating or promoting the industry to ensure its sustainability.
That’s not the only reason why I, or by implication my stable or my website, have made ourselves heard when it mattered. The simple fact is that due to our consistent worldwide success, the widening scope of our experience and our exposure in the media, Mike de Kock Racing has grown into an internationally respected industry leader. By virtue of our prominence alone it is our duty to serve racing with persistence and a commitment on all fronts.
In equipping mikedekockracing.com with an advanced communication vehicle, I’d like to make sure that we do everything we can to improve the sport for all its participants.
Our webmasters have loaded plenty of old and new information the new site for your perusal, but in tailoring our ‘look and feel’ as the chosen starting point, the article archives have not yet been fully completed.
While it was possible to draw all the text files from one platform to another at once, there were technical issues that could not be addressed without lengthy delays, including the resizing and replacing of images, the updating of old or invalid information and obvious design aspects relating to uniformity.
We have a cracker website all the same!
While you may not find some of the old articles you want to have access to during this week, we’ll be adding and updating the archives bit-by-bit until they’re all back in place.
If you visit us regularly you will find many surprises coming out of the woodwork. In the process of re-assembling huge folders of electronic data we discovered a virtual treasury of old, forgotten articles and photographs.
We’ve re-introduced editorial comment and a letters page for reader participation and you’ll be able to post your own comments and views under each article.
In the interest of keeping things constructive I have asked that all reader comments and contributions be reviewed before they are published for public viewing.
The last thing I want to be is a censor, but recent history has taught us that live, intercative forums with no form of control tend to regress into free-for-all bunfights in which the strangest characters make sudden appearances to dump insults, libel and degrading rubbish on their co-forumers and the world.
Let’s try to come up with with sensible comments and suggestions. We owe it to the noble sport of horseracing to be constructive and find the answers to our hassles in a civilized manner.
The site’s video module is programmed to rotate any required number of videos at any given time. When you’ve watched one, simply hit the ‘F5’ button on your keyboard to refresh the page and to load the next video in the queue automatically. We’ll be adding new content frequently.
We’ll also be keeping you up to date with new horses joining the stable in “New Acquisitions”, while the “Tag Cloud” at the bottom and to the right of the home page will make name-specific searching easier.
That was a mouthful and I hope you will give some back via participation. Just follow the advice of the old Yellow Pages promo and ‘Let Your Fingers Do The Walking”!
Thanks to all of you for visiting and to our advertisers for their recent patience and continued support.
Enjoy the site!
Mike de Kock
26 September 2010.