Horseracing has entertained Hong Kong for over a century. The business is highly professional, involving not only a vast array of gaming options but also equine knowledge. In light of this, to become a successful horseracing programme presenter requires rigorous training and very specific personal attributes.
Angelin Chang is currently one such presenter and researcher for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. She is easily recognisable to horseracing fans having been in the business for years and appearing on TV every week during horseracing seasons.
"Horseracing fans regularly phone in and ask for winning tips," she says. "Due to my position however, I am unable to provide any 'sure-win' advice. As horseracing commentators, we only present the facts rather than speculate on the outcome," explains Ms Chang. "Our job is to discuss complex horseracing concepts in a language which is easily understood by the general public." She also adds that presentation skills are fundamentally important since horseracing should essentially be entertaining.
The task of providing crucial information in a captivating way can be challenging, according to Ms Chang. On the one hand, presentation skills, including verbal and body language, are important. On the other, an in-depth knowledge of the industry, which may not be obvious to laymen, is a prerequisite for career success.
Ms Chang feels a tremendous passion for horseracing. "I have always been fascinated by horses and racing. I originally joined the local media as a sports journalist and the responsibilities in my previous position helped nurture my presentation and research skills," she reveals.
As a journalist, Ms Chang also scoured the city conducting interviews, becoming accustomed to working outside the traditional office environment. Not long after finishing her master's degree, the editor asked if she was interested in contributing to the horseracing column. Ms Chang embraced the challenge, which eventually led to her current position commentating on TV.
During her time as a horseracing journalist, Ms Chang had many opportunities to learn the relevant knowledge. She spent considerable time researching information of interest to horseracing fans. For example, she regularly rose before dawn to attend track sessions and observe the horses' forms. Familiarity with the rules of every gaming option was also part of her position alongside dividend calculation, results interpretation and comprehending the odds. Naturally, someone in her position was also expected to know specific details about every horse, jockey and trainer. This learning period laid a superb platform for building a strong network with both trainers and jockeys.
Such an expanding professional network proved beneficial for Ms Chang as she was recruited by the Hong Kong Jockey Club while still working as a journalist. This was a great leap forward for Ms Chang who now feels comfortably at home inside Hong Kong's horseracing circle.
"A demanding profession is always tolerable as long as you remain genuinely interested in it"
Ms Chang notes that her current job demands more comprehensive skills than those needed to succeed as a horseracing columnist, "Print media and television require different attributes. For the former, appearance is less important. With TV the audience focuses on the presenter and each appearance is a kind of show. The audience must never get bored, yet the facts must be clearly articulated," she explains. "I entered television with industry-specific knowledge learned on the job as a horseracing journalist. This ensured I held a more advantageous position than a novice."
On the right track
As standard practice, Ms Chang researches horseracing information prior to appearing on TV and her work schedule is tight. Regarding races like the upcoming Audemars Piguet QE II Cup, Ms Chang is always doubly prepared, as most Hong Kong race-goers are unfamiliar with the jockeys and the horses. "It is my duty to provide quality information to the audience," she stresses. In contrast, when renowned overseas races are run where Hong Kong horses participate, Ms Chang often attends the races and interviews relevant personalities such as trainers, jockeys and horse owners.
In addition, she is heavily involved in the coordination work for events and functions organised by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. "The management encourages diverse exposure for staff to promote our leadership capabilities in preparation for future career advancement," she says.
Summer is generally quieter since there are no races. "We usually take our annual leave between July and August, following which the busy period returns. The new season starts every September and there is always plenty of preparation to do," she points out.
Ms Chang gains tremendous satisfaction from her position. "I appreciate the fact that my passion has turned out to be my career. A demanding profession is always tolerable as long as you remain genuinely interested in it. This is the key to excelling in the position," she adds.