With Racing Victoria Chief Executive Rob Hines sticking like glue to his plan to exit his post in November and the surprise resignation of Andrew Harding from his relatively nondescript position as CEO of the Australian Racing Board (ARB), it leaves two vacant positions at the highest level of Australian racing, (it’s actually only one position if you believe as we do that the ARB has been and will remain as nothing more than an “ornamental” organization in the governance structure of Australian racing).

But the vacancy at Racing Victoria, and the advertisement in the Australian of May 2nd, has set the hounds loose on the scent of the right kind of “fox” for the job, which is one of the most challenging, powerful and important positions in Australian racing.

Our advice to the head hunters and to the Racing Victoria Board is simple: Don’t waste your time looking in your own backyard. Or, for that matter, in the backyards of any of the other State governing bodies. The cupboard is embarrassingly bare and has been for some time.

Talking to some well respected Victorian racing people who were at Randwick’s spectacular swansong to our best Autumn carnival for the past quarter of a century, there was a sense of despair among them that Victorian racing faced a period of steady decline if some of the names touted from within the Victorian racing industry were to get the nod for the highly coveted position. All are like John Lennon’s Nowhere Man.

This is of no surprise. The various governing bodies fail dismally when it comes to succession planning and grooming men and women for executive positions in Australian racing. Significantly they also have a near perfect track record of “burning” some very talented and capable people who leave the racing industry disillusioned by its preference to choose “dullards” and those with a bureaucratic lack of vision and purpose who are subservient to their particular Board and its Chairman.

Looking at the Victorian racing industry from different perspective across the border, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the cycle of change in racing that seems to occur every quarter of a century or so is about to strike again. NSW racing and, in particular, Sydney racing has been energized by the recent changes at just about every level. The tail that has been wagging the dog for so long and sent the industry into decline seems to have been surgically removed, for the time being anyway. The slow process of progressing back to a position of strength appears to be under way. If the momentum is to be maintained, a strong ATC is an imperative. It cannot afford to have the Hunter Valley breeding industry influence hijack the agenda. Nor can it afford Racing NSW to dictate.

Against such an emerging and re-energized racing landscape in NSW and, especially, Sydney, Victorian racing cannot afford to get its next CEO appointment wrong. It only needs to look at NSW over the past several decades for a blueprint of what not to do.

The talent cupboard in Racing Victoria, in Victorian racing and in Australian racing is bare. It has no option, but to look outside or run the massive risk that it will enter a period of decline if it is already not in such a position.



The racing news wires are running hot with the reported signing of Jeff Lloyd as number jockey in Queensland for Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm operation. Lloyd, pictured below, who has just said his fond adieu to Hong Kong racing, will call Queensland home and the possible Patinack link-up rumours- and we hear they’re exactly that- comes hot on the heels of several announcements from Tinkler’s racing operation over the past week.

Patinack trainer John Thompson has had his contract renewed for another five years, while Queensland stable jockey – the highly talented Tim Bell- has been- ding-dong- given his marching orders after about a year in a position that many other well credentialed jockeys have chosen to give the widest of berths.

It is also understood that Michael Cahill will be the second retained jockey for Patinack’s Queensland stable.

The “jockey shuffle” comes as no surprise to many in racing. It may turn out to be the best thing that could have happened to Tim Bell. The Patinack Queensland stable – in fact in other states as well, is not exactly studded with stars. Tinkler’s racing operation is a multi million dollar business. Success is mandatory. And in the blame game that is part of the DNA of racing. Failure is always attributed to external factors or third parties. Jockeys are often the moving target and sometimes for legitimate reasons. If Tim Bell has the right advice and the right mentor, and that is rare in racing, he should move on, and away from Queensland. Forget the vacuous tourist slogans and promises of endless sunshine and move on south – to Sydney or Melbourne. It’s a move he needs to make.

As for Jeff Lloyd, from everything we know, no one from Tinkleberry’s camp has spoken to the highly experienced jockey who is no fool. And only a fool will leave Hong Kong to start up all over again working under- and that’s a weighty position to be in – Nathan “Pass me FIVE Big Macs!” Tinkler. At his age and after the pressures of riding in Hong Kong, Jeff Lloyd wants to take it easy and concentrate on being his own man when it comes to riding and looking at taking his movie career as a great character actor much further.



It won’t go away and nor should it. What does beggar belief is that the debate and controversy surrounding the use of race day medication is still an issue in racing in Yankee Doodle land. In the latest instalment in this bizarre saga, a Congressional sub-committee heard evidence from a cross-section of some very prominent and respected owners, breeders, trainers, veterinarians and high profile ex-jockey Gary Stevens; all of whom argued passionately and rationally for a much needed change in the rules to prevent the virtual “open season” on race day medication to enable horses with sometimes career and potentially life-threatening ailments and illnesses to take their place in races.

The US has for many years become a virtual refuge for horses with chronic bleeding problems who have been sanctioned with lifetime bans in countries such as Australia and Hong Kong. It is just the tip of the iceberg. Anecdotally, in the US, the permitted administration and use of a plethora of therapeutic medications has painted a grim picture for the integrity of racing. It is the wild west revisited with veterinarians reportedly visiting race day stalls with a bagful of syringes to administer therapeutics to horses; trainers anxiously and impatiently corralling vets to pass on and obtain the very latest treatments that can improve race performance.

It is not a good look and has not been a good look for many years. Is it any wonder that racing has a massive image problem in the US? Unfortunately the prospects of legislating to outlaw pre-race, race day medication are not as open and shut case as it would appear, from whichever angle you look at it. The problem is called self-interest, and we all know who wins when self-interest is involved.



With Black Caviar expected to have her final Australian appearance this racing campaign in the Group One Goodwood Handicap in Adelaide this Saturday, the sleepy old city of churches, as it is commonly referred to is again expected to spring to life. For Adelaide and South Australia in general, it is like winning first division in the lottery twice within a fortnight. Two weeks ago, South Australia attracted world racing headlines when the world champion mare made her 20th appearance at a race track and left with her unbeaten 20 from 20 record intact.

Morphettville racecourse with a 30,000 capacity was a sell-out. Tickets were pre-sold for fear of a race day crush. The State Government stepped in and waived public transport fare for race goers to watch the great mare in action. The AFL got into the spirit and changed football match times to coincide with the time of the race. The two prominent free to air commercial television networks broadcast the race live across the nation. They will do it all again this weekend if steps out in the Goodwood if Peter Moody gives the mighty mare the green light.

Black Caviar is simply amazing. She is the most recognized entity in Australian sport. She crosses every border and not just in sport. She is the chatter in the elevator, in the coffee shops, at the office water fountains, in the bars and clubs, in homes, at barbecues and events and at the boardroom tables across Australia. Australian racing has never before, experienced a phenomenon such as this. In the modern information age, where we are all spoilt for choice with heroes that can be real or manufactured, a racehorse has managed to trump them all.

As Robert Palmer sang, Black Caviar is simply irresistible.



Bemused is all that can be said after a replay of the Champion Mile last Saturday, where Hong Kong racing’s “Mr Personality” Tony Millard let fly at champion jockey Douglas Whyte over his ride on Ambitious Dragon. Millard should know better. Or he has lost the ability to read a race properly and factor in such things as interference, which actually resulted in Kevin Shea getting a holiday for his ride on Musir. Or maybe Millard knows that the horse had come to the end of a long and testing preparation. Maybe he needs a lesson in recent history, going back to Maxime Guyon’s slaughter when he rode the horse earlier in the season and how he raced flat in the December International.

Perhaps he has forgotten the work that both he and his wife Beverly put in to Ambitious Dragon to get him back to the winners stall. Perhaps he has also forgotten that Ambitious Dragon travelled to Dubai and back recently and unlike Xtension and Lucky Nine, may not be a good traveller. Some horses just don’t’ travel well, do they, Tony?

We can recall Douglas Whyte having reservations about the Dubai trip. Dubai is no longer the Mount Everest of racing, and tellingly, there are many horses that have not come out the desert trip in the shape that has been expected of them. Dubai is increasingly a no-go zone for the really good champion racehorses. And for good reason. Tony, you yet another typical racehorse trainer looking to play the blame game. And mate, people see through this side-show. All you do is put your credibility at risk and come across like an old woman.

Boo hooooooo!

This entry was posted in Australian horse racing industry, BLACK CAVIAR, BLACK CAVIAR DAY, ROBERT HINES, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Lyndon says:

    Not sure if u saw below article on an oncourse bookie’s win against rvl. And the 15 bookies who plan to also sue rvl for millions as a consequence of this decision and the implications for allegedly misleading and deceptive letters sent to bookies for the 2010-11 race season (this multiples the potential liability for rvl as there are 150 affected bookies)…watch this space…

    Winbet wins refund from Racing Victoria
    PUBLISHED: 24 APR 2012 18:40:06 | UPDATED: 24 APR 2012 18:48:05
    In a decision which could have implications for other bookmakers, Victoria’s Supreme Court has found Racing Victoria overcharged one of Victoria’s biggest on-course bookmakers in licence fees over more than two years, ordering it to refund Winbet $413,073.

    In a decision delivered on Tuesday, Supreme Court judge Jennifer Davies said Racing Victoria had already conceded that it overcharged Winbet (Aust) between February 2009 and July 2011 when it charged the bookmaker a levy of 1 per cent of Winbet’s betting revenue.

    However, Racing Victoria and Winbet differed on how much Racing Victoria had to refund Winbet because of their differing interpretations of the Bookmakers’ Licence Levy Rules 2009, she said.

    Racing Victoria argued that the levy should be calculated on the bookmaker’s weekly revenue, while Winbet argued it should be on the basis of its annual revenue. Justice Davies said she preferred Winbet’s construction. However, she declined to make a “declaratory order” setting out the proper construction of the Rules, saying “there would be no utility in the declarations”.

    Previous media reports on the Winbet court claim last year suggested that a decision in its favour would be used for claims by other bookmakers. Hours after the court’s decision, Racing Victoria spokesman Shaun Kelly said “we’re reviewing the judgement to understand the implications for other bookmakers, but note that the Judge did not issue declaration orders thus suggesting that it’s not a test case”.


    Martin Williams, PhD
    Asia Editor
    GamblingCompliance | GamblingData

  2. Doctor Ziggy says:

    Absolutely right about Tony Millard. Whyte stuck it right back at him – and so he should have.

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