Watching the recent Test series between England and India, what really made us sit up and take notice- apart from the poxy way Indian’s highly-paid galaxy of superstar batsmen crumbled like deep fried papadums and Ian Bell’s bizarre run out-run-in- were the number of instances where players had to leave the field.
India, especially, seemed to be plagued by players having stomach cramps, feeling dizzy, feeling tired, getting backaches from bending down to tie their shoelaces. Any excuse and they were off the field and substitutes brought in.
“Stop bloody SCREAMING! I am tired and want to go have a lie-down, anyway.”
The Poms were no better. Stuart Broad would bowl three overs and he’d then leave the pitch for whatever reason and a substitute was brought in to field in his place.
“Wheeeee, I’m going to have another lie down.”
Nassir Hussein seemed disgusted with it all and lamented how this was the “new cricket” and said how wrong it all was- how when picked to play for a team, one should stay there and play your part.
Yes, cricket has become such a pampered sport and with highly-paid cricketers becoming just as hard to control as all those highly-paid soccer stars in the UK and Europe who are the new Rock Stars of the world with their glamour WAGS- Wives And Girlfriends- and their privileged lifestyles.
We thought about hard-working jockeys, especially in the UK and Oz who drive or take flights for 1-2 rides and are not even paid enough to cover their monthly gas bills. But why?
Where are the sponsorship and endorsement deals which are today part and parcel of every other sport?
The harsh reality is that horse racing does not attract sponsorship money the way that many other sports do.
Where football, soccer, tennis, cricket, motor racing and, wait for it, even cycling, and the stars of these sports, attract the six and seven figure deals, horse racing and its “star acts” struggle in a big way. The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival is the exception.
These other sports and particularly their headline acts are SEXY. Horse racing and jockeys and trainers are simply not sexy enough.
Not very sexy
None of these sports however carry the inherent threat to life and limb that horse racing confronts jockeys with.
It would take too long to list the number of jockeys, over the years, and particularly in recent times, who have lost their lives or been crippled or left with a legacy of lifelong disabilities from race falls and/or accidents while carrying out their profession of race riding.
Belatedly, racing industry governing bodies and the political regulators have recognized the massive risks that jockeys take every time they jump aboard a horse, and jockeys these days have a better safety net of insurance protection than they did in the more recent dark ages.
But is it enough and can and should more be done to ensure that these brave sportsmen and women are provided with better financial rewards and a better safety net, so that if the worst happens, jockeys and their families are taken care of?
The answer is a no-brainer. But the catch 22 is how to achieve this.
The Aussie racing industry is so badly strapped for cash that in some States many of the race clubs survive on handouts from governing bodies, or overdrafts from financial institutions.
Prize money which provides the financial lifeline for owners and through the trainers and jockeys percentages- the financial lifeline for trainers and jockeys- has been stagnant for as long as the great drought that has ravaged Australia for well over a decade.
The survival of every participant in the Australian racing industry is inextricably linked with prize money.
In racing it is the elixir of life. It is the sole reason why every waking hour of every racing administrator must be spent on maximizing the revenue that flows into racing. It is the ONLY way that owners, trainers and jockeys are going to survive financially.
The cost of racing a horse is prohibitive. You can count on one hand the number of owners who make money out of racing through prize money.
While the “A” and “B” grade jockeys make a living and, generally, a comfortable one at that, there are many who struggle despite them making all those poofy cricketers look like spoilt girlie men. BUT, those cricketers have the last laugh- all the way to the bank.
Today, even when a jockey takes a nasty fault, more often than not, they’re back riding trackwork in three months and back riding in races six weeks later . They are tough little bastards.
But admiring how resolute they are and how quickly they can bounce back and start riding again is all well and good IF they get paid well- and are compensated VERY well if and when things go horribly wrong.
Our thoughts are immediately with our old mate and champion bloke Wayne Harris. Harris, who, in his prime, had the world at his feet- and then came a series of accidents which have left him to almost fend for himself in a wheel chair.
Where are his mates today- all those sycophants who were around him when he won on Monopolize? Who is looking after him?
Of course, Wayne Harris is simply “another real life casualty” in the racing game.
The problem with the racing industry, is that it fails miserably when it comes to caring for its own. Petty jealousies and greed make it disgustingly rapacious with sections of the industry prepared to go to extremes to prevent an even spread of the financial pie.
Again, the racing industry can learn much from the music industry where the music companies made all the deals, made all the money and kept artists in the dark about how and where their product was used.
In today’s Wild West that is Cyberspace where there are no laws and everything is real and nothing to get hung about, the shoe is on the other foot and copyright laws are up for grabs.
Music fans have sided with the artists and the once-powerful Barbarians At The Gates- the music companies- have been shut out and which has meant acts like Radiohead, McCartney, Joss Stone, the Stones and many others giving their record labels the two finger salute and leaving- and talking about it and damned be the ramifications. They had the fans- and the internet on their side.
Contracts be damned as in this new DIY World, they are simply not needed and old laws are just that: Archaic pieces of crap and not worth the paper its printed on.
The Truth Is Out There and artists have called the bluff of the one-time control freaks who now need to pay the Piper for everything from previous unpaid royalties to having to show complete transparency. Don’t, and the artists take their guitars and balls and go home.
In the world of horse racing, sadly, many times, even horses are looked after better than jockeys.
Of course, the truly International jockeys with contacts riding for Sheik Mo and other powerful owners, they do fine- financially- and in maintaining their lifestyles.
But these are only a handful- Mosse, Dettori, Peslier, possibly Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes, Douglas Whyte and almost every expat jockey riding in Hong Kong.
Bitching about riding in Hong Kong is a weird oxymoron. There is no place like it and if and when you make it, you’re set for fucking life. Not all racing jurisdictions- and racing fans- are like those in Hong Kong.
Especially in the UK and Oz, a jockey’s life is a hard lot. Just ask Hughie Bowman about the pain of traveling here and there and riding on hack tracks in places like Redcar and Leicester and the appalling lack of money riding in the UK.
Do you honestly believe the likes of Seb Sanders, Philip Robinson, Darryl Holland, Alan Munro etc are doing well riding in the UK?
Not even the brilliant Kieren Fallon is doing THAT well today though we are sure he has been a very smart boy with how he has made his money and is now just coasting and able to call a spade a spade without giving two fucks about it. It’s a great position to be in and we are ENORMOUS fans of the Irishman.
As for Robinson, Holland, Sanders and Munro who have all ridden in Hong Kong previously, they would give their left and right testicles to go ride there again. But, are they good enough? What do you think?
“Oy, I like my testicles!”
Meanwhile, in Oz, unless you’re a Nash, a Damien, a Corey, a Craig Williams, or a Michael Rodd- and even then, they are hardly in the league of a Dettori when it comes to the financial rewards and all the other perks.
At the moment, at least in Oz- and we think, New Zealand- a jockey gets paid AUS$162 plus 5% of the prize money.
It should be better, but it can’t and won’t until the revenue that flows into racing is channeled into increasing prize money.
Increasing percentages in the present economic environment in racing will kill off more owners, more breeders, more trainers, more jockeys, more stable staff and the domino effect will quickly spread through the racing industry like a contagious disease.
Sure, nice if this increase to 10% of the prize money happens, but jockeys should be, well, worth their weight in gold- figuratively speaking- for what they- and their families- have to sacrifice- all the ways to keep fit and keep their weight down- but also risking life and limb every fucking time they get on a horse.
As jockey Glyn Schofield has so correctly pointed out, horse racing is the ONLY sport where an AMBULANCE follows these sportsmen around whenever they are competing.
As with many countries without one, there is no “middle class” within the jockey ranks- and which means there are the Haves and the Have Nots and nothing ever works out. There is only dissent.
You’re either cock-a-hoop and up there or you are down at the bottom of the heap and riding in Kembla, or Newcastle or Stoney Creek.
And, honestly, riding for what? Pride? To make ends meet?
There’s more money being a doorman at a hotel- and less of a health risk and with probably far better insurance policies.
The subject of jockeys and fees will soon be brought up in one particular State and, from everything we know, it could turn ugly.
But as with anything, for there to be evolution, there must be revolution and the day of reckoning may not be all that far away.
If any Jockeys Organisation wishes to air their grievances under a total cloak of anonymity, use this posting.
Whatever you send to us and happens on Racingb*tch stays WITH Racing*tch just as what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
THE FRENCH ARE COMING! THE FRENCH ARE COMING!
We hear that Hong Kong racing fans are set for a double treat next season: Apart from what could well be a three-month stint by Maxime Guyon who made an incredible impression with owners, trainers and the racing public when he first rode there, comes news that the Andre Fabre whizz kid, Mikael Barzalona, will be “on loan” in Hong Kong for a month.
Both young jockeys- baby-faced assassins- are being hailed as two of the very best in the world and future champions- as riders and also as wise young gentlemen who have both feet on the ground.
Who is “better?” Time will tell, but, for the time being, it’s a photo finish.
Jockeys who will find it tough to get good rides and even established jockeys who have first dibs on many rides, will have to work much harder and with greater fawning and ass-kissing needed to keep and get rides.
We have heard that the owners of some very good horses have already told their owners two words: “Get Guyon!”
And we can already hear some jockeys mumbling, “Merde”, or as one says in Anglais, “Aw, shit!”
GOOD TO FINALLY HEAR FROM YOU, JOHN O’SHEA!
Who’s the fuckwit?
If Feedback is any guide, then it is very reassuring that Racingb*tch is making inroads where it counts – among people who are actively involved in the racing industry.
Perhaps it is because we try and go behind the scenes and cover issues and stories that, for one reason or another, the mainstream media chooses to ignore.
As a prominent and successful racehorse trainer, John O’Shea’s views on racing matters are given the prominence they deserve. They attract attention and so they should.
John O’Shea is also a Committee Member of the NSW Trainers Association, and in this position, whether he likes it or not, he represents NSW trainers.
So, we were a tad bemused by his response to our last post where he took exception to our question as to what he has done to inform his fellow NSW trainers of the consequences if Racing NSW lost its High Court challenge by the corporate bookmakers. He called us “fuckwits.”
“Yeah, you’re bloody fuckwits’ and I can say shit like that cos I’m a tough bloke!”
John tells us that for the past two years or more, he and his fellow trainers “in the hut at Randwick” have been “adamant that the best way forward was to negotiate a deal with the corporate bookmakers fraternity to secure the future for our industry and to avoid ending up with the inside of a donut”.
Greatly reassuring, John, to know that, finally, someone is prepared to come out publicly and advocate a negotiated end to such a protracted and pointless war that has left such an unwanted legacy of a financial abyss around NSW racing.
But, er, John, we must ask why, as a long standing Committee member of the NSW Trainers Association, have you or your Association taken so fucking long to make public your strong and passionate views on the subject?
“Been fucking busy, fuckwits!”
If your Association had come out two years ago and made these views public, then, in all likelihood, it could have been a game changer.
Instead all we heard was support for Racing NSW’s stubborn and uncompromising stand in refusing to negotiate a settlement, which, heaven knows, has cost NSW racing a small fortune in legal fees.
And, as have been pointed out on countless occasions, even if Racing NSW is successful in its High Court action, in the longer term, the racing industry will be the loser. It is another classic example of “you might win the battle, but will you win the war?”
“Whaaaaah war? Speak Okker, fuckwits!”
This is why we admire Gai Waterhouse. She has been a voice in the wilderness with her courage to publicly articulate her views on the state of NSW racing.
Lady Gai tells it like it is and unlike many others also offers practical and constructive solutions. She has been a lone wolf in the forest for so long, it is embarrassing for many other “so called industry participants”.
Lady Gai agreeing that she has bigger balls than most of her male counterparts.
We agree completely with you John that if Racing NSW loses the court case “the negative ramifications for prize money in this State will be diabolical”.
But its not just prize money, John – go ask the ATC or any of the provincial and country clubs, who so desperately need funding to fix their neglected training facilities and racetracks so your fellow trainers can minimize the unacceptable risks of injury to their racehorses.
John, this is what is so frustrating about the racing industry, not just in NSW but in every other State in Australia: The people who can make the changes are those who choose to be the “silent majority” – the trainers, the owners, the employees.
“‘ello? Maybe, I am the fuckwit?”
It’s all well and good to say that your “fellow Randwick trainers in the hut know your views” on these important racing issues, but John, how many trainers are we talking about?
Your trainers hut reminds of an old fashioned telephone booth. In case you have forgotten what one looks like, let us jog your memory.
John, THIS is an old telephone booth and THOSE are three of the BEATLES.
Shouldn’t ALL your fellow trainers be aware of your views and those of your Association on such an important issue?
If, for whatever reason, the NSW racing media is reluctant to publish your views, we will.
“Aww, am never writing to you fuckwits again!”
VALLEY RAIL PLACEMENTS A “SHAMOZZLE”
Not for the first time has the rail placement at Moonee Valley been the cause of much angst from owners, trainers, jockeys and punters.
It happened again last Saturday at a feature spring race meeting with two important separate Colts and Fillies Listed races, where many talented horses kicked off their spring campaigns. The rail was out five metres and field sizes reduced to 12 starters for most races for safety reasons.
Worse still, there was the normal track bias, favouring leaders and a distinct lack of pace in most races. To come from the back of the field and get into the prize money was dependent on luck and some horses and riders did get lucky.
With Moonee Valley resembling a go-kart track, whenever the rail is moved away from the true position it rarely throws up competitive racing.
Field limits mean less chance of horses getting a start and from a punter and industry perspective often produces smaller pools and less profit to the industry.
And yet Moonee Valley boats a Strathayr surface, a proven all weather turf surface that many trainers including the legendary Bart Cummings claim is one of the best all weather turf surfaces available.
Many Strathayr fans are quick to point out that Moonee Valley has never lost a race meeting since the Strathayr surface was installed.
In recent times the rail seems to positioned in the true position only for Group One race meetings – hardly a ringing endorsement for the Moonee Valley Race Club.
Speaking to some Melbourne trainers over the weekend, the reason is apparently that the track is tired. While renovation work is conducted each year, the track is apparently in dire need of a complete refurbishment.
Compounding the problem is the night race circuit, which has added weekly race meetings to Moonee Valley, on average from October to the end of March.
Rail shifts unnecessarily distort the level playing for everyone connected with racing. It takes unfairness to another level.
In the Moonee Valley scenario, it makes even more unfathomable, the masterplan to build a completely new track and sell off a significant parcel of land in the process.
If Moonee Valley is to remain as a racetrack and host the number of night race meetings that are allocated, then surely common sense demands that, if anything, the problems associated with the tightness of the track and the regular rail shifts are resolved. The blueprint, from what we have been told, is unlikely to produce a bigger track.
If that is the case, then Racing Victoria, surely must step in?
Perhaps the Cox Plate needs to find a new home, where it can be truly internationalized, and where what is accepted as Australasia’s weight for age championship can be staged on a bigger, roomier track which is capable of attracting the world’s best racehorses, who, despite the prize money and incentives on offer, their connections are reluctant to make the trip down under. Plus there are many European trainers and jockeys who have a less than flattering view of Moonee Valley.
It might be time for the Moonee Valley Race Club and Racing Victoria to seek their views, unpalatable as they might be.
HK/AUSSIE CONNECTION IN FRENCH GROUP ONE WIN
The result of last Sunday’s premier Group One 2 year old race in France – the Prix Morny has a strong Hong Kong and Australian connection.
The 1200 metres race at Deauville – the French equivalent of our own Golden Slipper was won in devastating style by Dabirsim who blitzed a high quality two year old field by three lengths.
Dabirsim is a son of Hat Trick, the Japanese bred son of the mighty successful stallion Sunday Silence, who was successful in the Hong Kong International Mile several years ago, and stood just the one breeding season in Victoria.
Ridden by one of the all time greats, Frankie Dettori for trainer Christopher Ferland, Dabirsim took his unbeaten record to four straight wins and had previously won a Group Three in France this season. And, just to prove again, that you don’t have to spend millions to buy a potential champion racehorse, Dabirsim cost the equivalent of just $41,000 Aussie, and has accumulated prize money of just over $352,000 Aussie.
On the same card, the Group One Prix Jean Romanet over 2000 metres for Mares four years and upwards was won by that scarily lethal combination of the Andre Fabre-trained Announce and ridden by French whiz kid Maxime Guyon.