Standing outside Encore, club promoter Smog takes one last drag from his cigarette before flicking it to the ground. Pulling his phone from his pocket, he sends a quick message to check on the status of the incoming group of 50 clients he has set up for an evening at the nightclub XS. “They should be here in three minutes,” he says as he stares off into the distance waiting for their bus. For the past seven years, Smog has worked as a nightclub promoter at clubs such as Marquee at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, XS at Encore and Ghostbar at Palms. More like an entertainment concierge, people seek Smog out to organize outings at pool parties, nightclubs and strip clubs depending on his clients’ requests.
Just kidding guys/girls……
The TK Nuts team recently sat down with Smoggie for an exclusive interview and he shared some of his views and thoughts on the game.
Smoggie started playing Track King in Sep 2010. He has won three world cups, seven regionals and countless local cups. He is a very passionate about the game, sponsors two world cups, creates endless stakes races to help the newbies in the game. He is one hell of a guy.
Q – Welcome to TK Nuts Smog, I want to start with the silly stuff, tell us about yourself?
- Thanks Captain, nice island you have here. I’m Smog, short for Smoggie, owner of Smogville. I’ve been here a good few years now, a few more than it feels like too. Time on TK really has flown past. I’m currently racing at GRAN and enjoying the racing more than ever. Out there in the real world you can find me in Thailand. I’m originally from the UK, but I’ve been sunning myself out here for the past 13 lucky years. I have a lovely wife, two adorable daughters, two fish, two turtles, four dogs, one cat and the finest collection of empty whiskey bottles in my village.
Q – How did you discover Track King?
- If I remember rightly, I was struggling to get grips with an online football management game when an advert for Track King appeared on their homepage. While I have had an interest in horse racing from a young age, a horse racing game is something I had never played before. I thought it would be a better way to avoid work than failing with the footy, so clicked it.
Q – Any particular reason you named your stable Smoggie?
- A Smoggie or Smogmonster is someone who comes from Teesside, in the North East of England. My hometown is Middlesbrough, the heart and soul of beautiful Teesside. 😉 The smog part of the name comes from the smog produced by the chemical plants that adorn the skyline.
Q – You started the game in 2010, do you still remember your first race?
- I can’t remember the actual race and horse, but I do know it was a league race. I joined with two weeks to go in the season. I really had no idea what to do and decided to start slowly. So I only entered one of the league races that week and that will have been my first race. No idea what the result was.
Q – If you could start over, what would you do differently?
- I’d look for the busiest leagues to move through the classes in. I’d love to start again from C6 in a league that has 150 human players. In terms of running the stable, I’d probably do it all over again. I love having lots of horses, development is incredibly slow, financially it was very hard at the beginning, but this time I’d already have my ‘stable plan’ that’s taken 6 years to devise. I’d know what to look for, it would be a blast. Oh, I’d probably turn an appy pro as soon as his riding traits are set. No idea if it would work out, but it would be interesting to see if it paid off.
Q – Any advice to newbies that only started the game?
- Decide what you’re here for and what you want from the game. Here to race, breed, cups, league, chat up the ladies, whatever. Target one area, and then use the riches from that to explore the others. Being sensible financially definitely helps, but don’t worry too much over it. Digging yourself out from the brink of bankruptcy is quite rewarding, so rewarding that I like to do it a couple of times a season.
Q – Your first world cup is always special, tell us about your first winner Snap Benthick?
- Snap….hmmmm…..a starter horse that I bought from someone for some fee. It was 20/20 XP on medium and good (or close to that when I bought it). I trained it up to 49 OR then kept it for stakes, league races when the sun was shining and The Pauper’s Kettle. The Kettle it won came as a huge shock. The cup was over a changing weather pattern, with the first two rounds on good and the final on slow. Snap coasted through the heats (although I don’t think it won them both) to qualify for the final. However, the final was a short race and the forecast was slow. I think I was going down from 20/20 XP on med/good to something like 8/6 on short and good. The final had plenty of more experienced stables with 4 or 5 mudlarks primed for the short final. I wasn’t going to enter, the original plan was to just clean up in the heats, but I thought we’d go and have a day out. In the race 4 of the top 5 got injured and my runner came through to win on the line. A very enjoyable race. One that taught me the lesson of planning. I think I won partly because of the freshness of my runner. Two heats on good with XP of 20 took nothing out of the horse, whereas the muddies had serious IP issues from running on good.
Q – Any other memorable races that stands out for you?
- Breaks Toyo Foil taking the Magic Mile was nice, as I set out to win it and did it with an under 70 horse (although the strength of the final field was questionable). Burger Estonia winning the Classic on her 4th attempt after finishing 4th, 3rd then 2nd in the previous 3 seasons. The little Nelle Citing giving it all, but not winning, against Troublemaker’s monster sprinters in the league were always great days at the races. Plenty of races that I’ve enjoyed, still plenty to learn and improve.
Q – How do you plan a race, do you weigh up the opposition or run your own race?
- At the moment my focus is on the league. With my current setup I should have 3 or 4 horses that suit the going each week. So I do look at what horses are already entered, or are going to be entered and will take the easy option. In terms of the actual race, I do my own thing and whatever I think will work best for my horse. I put a lot of faith in what the trainer says after a race and will adjust stride/weight/jockey/instructions for the next race.
Q – Do you still get nervous before a cup final?
- Definitely not. I rarely target the cups, those I do put effort into are normally either The Best Pull Ever or Appy Chappy. It’s all just a bit of fun, I’ve hardly watched any races for couple of years now.
Q – Which do you consider to be the best horse you have trained to date?
- Ooerrr….Nellee Citing was definitely the most enjoyable, and mighty fast for a sub 70. She changed the way I now train sprinters. Chalk Sunzoray is another that gave me great pleasure. A mudlark on long with XP to spare. Puerto Rican Girl is another great favourite, an epic natural champion bred by me and won a weak Breeder’s Epic cup, she was a classy horse though. None of them were what many would label ‘the best’ due to their low OR though. I think the title of best would go to Dorito Burrito who was bought as an extremely top heavy stalker. Building the stamina was a real challenge, but she came good, one of my first 70+ runners and beat Freak’s unbeatable short runner in the league. She was a great training achievement.
Q – You have an big number of horses in your stables right now, any favorite among them?
- If you’d asked me this at the start of the season I’d have said Pink Hippo, but despite running fast, he’s been a bit of a flop and doesn’t get any love from me now. At the moment I’m falling for my 8yr old stalker Reimered Johnater. He’s nothing huge, high 60’s, will be 70 by the time he hits the league. He will be my first horse to have two stats rated 20 and being a stalker should be fun or frustrating.
Q – Which of your horses do you feel would be worth following over the next couple of months?
- My three 9yr old mudlarks Trip Wire, Dark Dreams and Drunken will be interesting to see in the league this month. Next season Reimered Johnater and Rum Flump (unpredictable 8yr old at 73 OR will become my highest rated horse ever) should make some waves in the league. I also have a couple of young mudlarks that I hope to get right. Bashing Opals (5yr old long) and Black Hole (5yr old sprint). These two are the first of my horses that have been lucky to receive 5/6 hours a week since joining the stable. It will be interesting to see if the extra hours pay off.
Q – Which are the horses that left the biggest impact on you, from other stables?
- In the early days, Runslikeadream of Pink Flowers. That horse dominated GRAN’s shorts in my first two seasons here. I don’t think any of its records still stand, but it was impressive to watch then. Revans had a short runner Rosa Luxembourg, a breakaway. It was always pleasing to be beaten by her while she set World Records. Troublemaker has had a couple of stunning sprinters too, Svaldifavre (sp?) and Godzilla were great to chase. ItsMe’s medium muddy Great-Likes It Wet made me go wow when it followed up the Magic Mile with a dominating league win 3 days later. Alexander’s epic runner Blacky Puma was a tough one to chase, but always great fun. His current long runner Nomuch Horntail is really impressive. There are loads of others, the runners that dominated in the league at GRAN have always impressed. There are plenty of races where the wins are shared out, but every season there’s one horse that is untouchable, I always like that one.
Q – What are some of the future goals you have?
- To earn enough money to buy the horses that I want each season. I am earning more than ever, but it’s still not enough to get the right horses that fit my plan. I’m still settling for a couple of ugly ducklings each season. To master the stalker style, I’m looking for a stalking sprinter next. To be the first stable to do the treble at GRAN (I may have to wait until the number of active players drops to one for that). To win The Best Pull Ever.
Q – Is there anything you would like to share to stables who would like to try training good younger horses especially those 2 to 3 year olds?
- Hmmm, I’m not sure I’m the one to give out advice here. I rarely have horses that young in my stable. I’m trying to buy in at 5yr old at the moment. I’d say the obvious, hammer them with training, the most hours that you can. Training track them as often as you can. Decide what they are going to be, distance/condition wise, and stick to it.
Q – Favorite style of horse you like to race with?
- Competitive, I like the extra fight they give.
THOUGHTS ON THE GAME
Q – If you had to name the most important things or features in the game that have kept your interest here in Track King, what would those things or features be? And, why?
- The speed of the game. While it is very slow at first, it ticks over just nicely for me at the moment. You can take time out, have a quiet week or two without doing any lasting damage to your stable.
- The diversity. There are so many ways of running your stable, so many ways of racing a horse. Tinkering here and there until you hit the jackpot, then spending seasons trying to recreate it.
Q – Old stables that you miss or you wish was still playing?
- TheEdge, Nutinvah, Revans, Mitchtrix, basically the noisy guys from the early days of GRAN. Freak is still here, just, but it would be nice to have him back full time too.
Q – Name three things you would like to see changed on Track King?
- Can I have thirty?
- The race cut off time. A different time for each continent. It’s a huge advantage for certain people (me included) to be online at 22:00-23:00. That advantage really should be shared.
- The introduction of a Super League. Over 100 C1 leagues doesn’t give a true league champion of the game. If leagues are to stay, there should be a single league championship to aim for.
- The ability to not race, yet make money and train horses to super OR standards.
Q – Is there something in Track King that you would want to change that would reflect something in real life horses/situations?
- Jail time for cheaters.
Q – What irks you the most in this game?
Q – What is the one feature of the game you cannot get your head wrapped around?
- Breaking out of the stalls. I’m sure my horses come out of the back door.
Q – What motivates you to play this game day in and day out?
- The ability to escape from stress, own horses and throw millions of dollars around the place for fun. Also, my best imaginary friend in the game, Mr RubinJet. We’ve been in contact since he started the game, first through mails and then via a private forum. The guy’s fantastic, an all round good bloke with a great sense of humour. He’s incredibly well organised and full of ideas. He’s changed the way I look at many aspects of the game. The past couple of years have been a pleasure to race with him and develop our stables together. He keeps me sane and sensible…ish.
Q – You are the proud sponsor of the The Best Pull Ever and Appy Chappy Cups, where did the idea come from?
- The Appy Chappy came first, I thought it would be nice to have a cup that you can’t plan for. A cup that is there for stables that cover all distances and conditions (like my stable). I made it apprentice only as there were no cups for apprentices, yet the LOND apprentice league was a huge success. I saw apprentices as a way of letting newer stables compete with those that would normally have C1 jockeys.
- The Best Pull Ever, the success of the YP leagues around the game was a big factor. I wanted to create a cup where there was a real danger of not qualifying for the final too. No coasting allowed. Again it is a cup that minimises the advantages gained from being in the game for a long time.
Q – You had plenty negative comments in the forums when it was created, how did you feel at the time, and it must be pleasing now to see some of them race and do well in it?
- I don’t remember anything too negative. Plenty of people will always disagree with this and that. It doesn’t really bother me. There were comments from stables that hadn’t raced, which were lacking in fact or experience. No idea if they feel any different now. I am pleased to see the number of entries remain healthy. It’s also very pleasing to see some stables put a fair amount of effort in and they are rewarded with success in the cup ahead of those that enter it as a pot luck race. I don’t really race in many cups, but I’ve never missed this one, and I really enjoy the challenge.
Q – Looking back at the six years you have been playing, what were the accomplishments you are most proud of?
- I’m not sure I’ve accomplished much. Becoming a top 5 stable has taken ruddy ages, but it’s debatable whether those ribbons were earned or gifted from weak opposition. Edyth Rundle, the highest earning jockey in the game, great jockey, aided by the 5 year elixir of life juice Hairboy gave away. (I’d love some more of that if you’re listening HB). I think I got a fair few things right with her, she works wonders for my horses. I just wish she’d raced with me more often.
Q – What is the best advice you’ve been given in playing this game?
- I don’t normally listen to others, I’m a bit of a stubborn fool. The best advice is probably everything written in the help pages, the help guides and the demystifying thread. Oh, Cerb has a quote somewhere, “don’t ever miss training, once you fall behind in training a horse, you can never catch up.” Something like that. One day I’ll put 12 hours on a horse and follow it.
Q – What are the most common mistakes that you see other experienced players making? Mistakes that they may not realize that they are making?
- Vets maybe. I see some crazy numbers posted up every now and then of what people are using. I’m on 12 vets for 30 horses at the moment.
Q – What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
- At the weekend I live in a wooden house with no hot water and a toilet without a flushing mechanism. When TheEdge first saw it he genuinely asked “Smoggie mate, do you live in a barn?”
Q – How do you like to spend your free time?
- Sober – with my kids, doing anything outside with them.
- Drunk – with my brother in law, an unhealthy supply of whiskey or brandy, his music system and a sunset followed by a sunrise.
Q – Who in Track King is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party and why?
- Can we make it a barbeque, dinner parties really ain’t my style. The guest list would be:
- Wraslar, there as chef. He’s posted some mouth watering tips in the past, quite a sharp character too.
- Cherrypie, he can bring some fine German beer and sausage. I’ll probably spike his drink, he’ll be great to see when he’s had a shandy.
- Ersins, all round top bloke, smart, sensible, funny, entertaining, likes a drink, seems very knowledgeable on lots of sports.
- TheEdge, always good to have someone who can drink more than I can just in case I pass out.
- Zane, we’ll probably argue all night, but I’m sure it will all be good natured.
- Alexander, gotta have someone to keep the peace.
- Blackberry, this guy knows loads of stuff that I don’t, I think he’d be interesting to chat to.
- sk091175, Stew has been part of my TK career for what seems like forever, he’s an ever present. He’s good with numbers and can keep check on supplies, orders and billing.
- Korhan, another that has been around for as long as I can remember. I like Turkish food/drink, hopefully Korhan will bring a fully packed hamper.
- RubinJet, I’ll more than likely be chatting to Rubin all night long. Top bloke, full of wisdom. Despite being in contact for a few years on here, I know absolutely nothing about him.
Smoggie, thank you for sharing your views. Best of luck in the future matey!