THE PARIAH THAT IS AMERICAN RACING
It’s hard to not draw the conclusion that thoroughbred racing in “Tea Party” land – the once mighty US of A- is allowed to still operate outside every International protocol and rule relating to the use of race day medication.
Evidence: the annual posturing that takes place each year at the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA) get together in France immediately following the running of the Prix de la Arc de Triomphe, one of the greatest races in the world.
It was no different this year when different delegates from different racing jurisdictions again continued to make noises with their “carrot and stick” approach towards finding a solution acceptable to the coalition of vested interest groups who control American racing.
It’s a situation that’s been going on for too long- man. And it plays completely into the hands of these interest groups who can be heard year in, year out, making conciliatory noises to appease their critics.
Yet despite these acts of posturing, there is the annual wheeling out of the opinions of veterinarians and veterinary companies whose opinions are sufficient to throw that shadow of doubt and muddy the waters. It’s the blues, the great Muddy Waters would have wailed about.
What appears conveniently forgotten each year is that these vested interests are compromised beyond belief and their credibility is in negative territory.
To give them credit, it has been and is a very successful strategy that has been effective in ensuring that this flawed and outdated race day medication policy has been retained and which has singularly contributed to the significant brand damage to American racing – damage which the International Authorities have failed to convince their US counterparts to address decisively and permanently.
It is also hard to ignore the impact on the worldwide image of racing.
To have this topic occupy its regular place of prominence on the agenda with no final resolution and the wimpish resolutions and spin suggesting that it is “under control” is an insult to the intelligence of the international racing community.
It must be particularly galling to the racing jurisdictions that place such a premium on integrity and work so hard to ensure that racing- globally- speaks with one voice on race day medication and drugs.
Hong Kong and its Chief Executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges have led the way and have never compromised or deviated from their well-established and widely acknowledged world’s best practice standards in all matters relating to the integrity of horse racing. It is perhaps one of the key reasons why it continues to flourish and prosper leaving others well behind.
The whole issue of insidious and therapeutic drugs in defiance of the rules of sport and to enhance performance is front of centre of the integrity of every sport.Racing can claim no exception.
Historically, racing can claim the dubious honour of being the sport which was the birthplace of illegal drug use and where outcomes and results were fixed.
In the 21st century, the land of the star spangled banner is doing its best to perpetuate this dubious mill stone which hangs around the neck of thoroughbred racing.
GAI STRENGTHENS HER MELBOURNE CONNECTION
Australian racing’s first lady – Gai Waterhouse- has made no secret of her plans to strengthen her Melbourne base- plans which would not be well received by the Racing NSW power brokers in Druitt Street.
Gai who already rents around 15 stables at Flemington and has bought an apartment in Melbourne, has set her sights on leasing more stables from the VRC and plans to have a year round presence with her horses in Melbourne.
It’s an open secret that Lady GaiGai is pretty pissed off with the administration of racing in her home State. She has publicly vented her frustrations with both the ATC and Racing NSW and, in recent times, had several public spats with Racing NSW Chief Steward Ray “The Headmaster” Murrihy.
To add even more fuel to an already combustible situation, the NSW Racing Appeals Board not only dismissed her appeal against the severity of the $5000 fine over the More Joyous saga, but warned her that any further appeal would risk harsher and more severe penalties.
It’s the classic red rags to a bull scenario and could well be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
The $5000 fine is not the issue per se. Gai and her family could quite possible buy out Royal Randwick without setting foot in a financial institution.
In a nutshell, Gai Waterhouse is over it. Big time. And the welcome mat from across the border would be rolled out to accommodate the first lady of racing.
It comes at a time when NSW racing can ill-afford Gai Waterhouse to increase her footprint on Melbourne racing.
Despite the massive hike in metropolitan prize money in recent times, Sydney racing struggles to present field sizes greater than eight to ten in number for at least half an eight race Saturday or Wednesday metropolitan race program.
These days are by far the best wagering days for Australian racing, and small field sizes combined with the domination of the bigger stables is what NSW racing does not need from a wagering or marketing perspective. It’s also just fucking boring.
It is stating the obvious that the marketing of NSW and, particularly Sydney racing, is light years behind the marketing of other sports, or racing for that matter in Victoria.
It’s where Racing NSW has failed comprehensively and bloody miserably through creative menopause, abysmal hires and hidden agendas.
Staggeringly, Gai has been the face of Sydney racing by the proverbial length of the Randwick straight. She is a communications magnet – a marketer’s dream and judging by new marketing initiatives that she has started, there appear to be big plans for The Lady GaiGai brand which might go way beyond horse racing.
If we were GaiGai, we’d take that branding into so many other areas of merchandising and with the newer and casual racegoer in mind.
Forget appealing to the old school punter. They’re a dying breed and rarely have the dosh. It’s Mickey Mouse boo hoo shit with no balls other than getting others to fight their whining battles.
It all begs the question: what has the governing body done to exploit the opportunities they have been gifted?
To Gai’s credit she continues to promote racing of her own accord and her unbridled passion.
Looking over the border, we have witnessed first hand the way Victoria has promoted Black Caviar and kept the phenomenon going.
Not so Racing NSW which seem too interested in political by-plays and expending their energies by going to war with whoever they can find who is willing to engage in combat, or whoever is in the way, and not by choice either.
VICTORIA’S GOON SQUAD
Who else but the News Ltd subs could come up with a heading “The Gotcha Squad” for a story written by Matt “the village idiot” Stewart, describing the work of a Racing Victoria Integrity team fighting off Victorian racing’s “baddies”.
Written in trademark “village idiot” style and on par with the “news of the world” type trademark News Ltd/ Murdoch journalism, it was a piece that sent one scurrying for the nearest wheelie bin.
“It may sound like the equine equivalent of CSI, but for Racing Victoria’s compliance team it’s more about stealth, jumping fences and good old fashioned horse sense”, wrote Stewart about the work of two members of the team- Dion Vilella and Kane Ashby.
Gotcha Squad? Goon Squad would be more appropriate if the story had any skerrick of accuracy about it.
We can only imagine the writers and producers of CSI retching at the comparison.
Thankfully, they will never read the article, and,equally thankful, are we that we don’t have the misfortune to be subjected to a daily dose of drivel from the oh-so-fucking fawning, giggling “village idiot” on radio and at breakfast time, courtesy of the Herald Sun rag.
Reading this piece of drivel, it again reinforces the reality that Australian racing is its own worst enemy.
Racing’s obsession with going as hard as it can to inflict as much damage as it possibly can to its image and brand has now become part of its DNA.
It’s a “me too” mentality with Racing determined to prove, at all costs, that it too is rotten to the core, corrupt, rife with cheating and drugs just like all other sports.
The jumping the fence stuff, the so-called stealth involved, the good guys beating the odds to “burn” the bad guys – this is the stuff that belongs to the era of low budget black and white television- unsophisticated as it is it is laughable. And reading about Villela and Ashby’s modus operandi, it makes Inspector Clousseau look professional.
But then again, without knowing either of the two, according to the story, they were both ex-jockeys, enough said.
On that note, let’s all sing the Ying Tong Song by the Goons…