MIXED RESPONSES TO CASH SPLURGE
There’s been a stark contrast in private and public response to the last week’s cash splurge for Championship Week – NSW racing’s own resurrection shuffle.
Publicly, it’s been so much like a typical Sydney peak hour traffic jam of backslapping, fawning and outpouring of enthusiasm – not so much for the concept, but more for the obscene prize money being thrown at the top end of racing.
Privately, there is much scepticism about the concept – both in maintaining the funding to support the prize money and, equally importantly, whether it will deliver the impact that has been promised in- it’s that word again- resurrecting the Sydney Autumn Carnival and, more pertinently, NSW racing. A few old balls are on the line.
For the sake of NSW racing, it is worth maintaining a candlelight vigil and singing You Light Up My Life in the hope that it will work.
NSW racing desperately needs a circuit breaker to create a WOW factor and make thoroughbred racing the dominant media and community focus in the Autumn and in the lead up to Easter.
The time zone is right with the NRL and AFL kick-off starting after its six month off-season hibernation. Sydney racing has that small window to capitalize on and make itself relevant during that period of time- and it has no option, but to grab the headlines.
That said, the fundamental flaws from a racing perspective must be recognized by the architects of the concept.
They need to turn their hearing aids on, stop being deaf knobs, and listen to the natives who are getting very, very restless.
The most fundamental error, as we pointed out last week, was to start this whole, well, resurrection at the top, rather than from the bottom up. NSW racing has been in free-fall for so long that its foundations are in such a state that urgent restoration is required.
Championship Week cannot sustain NSW racing in the longer term. It is doubtful if it can even in the short to medium term.
Racing is being cannibalized by other sports which are very well cashed up with a war chest to splurge on buying and retaining market share.
Racing is coming off a very low base and taking on the big boys in NSW is going to be a herculean task.
Let’s not forget News Limited OWNS the NRL- that’s right, OWNS the NRL. With the powerful global and domestic media resources that it has in its kitbag is News Ltd not going to protect its golden goose?
And then there’s the AFL which has just spent mega dollars expanding its presence in NSW with a second team in the competition.
Like the NRL, the AFL is cash rich and has its own war chest for marketing and buying and expanding market share.
What has underwritten their financial base is their IP. Both codes have cleverly marketed their sports and maximized the value of their IP to the extent that their media, multi media and vision rights have netted them in excess of a billion dollars each – a figure which keeps escalating with each renewal of the licence.
It’s what racing lacks- and lacks badly. It is racing’s black hole of Calcutta. And while racing in Oz keeps bickering amongst itself about the value of its rights and how TVN should be managed and administered, it keeps exposing its financial base to erosion and being undermined by its pari-mutuel partner Tabcorp.
We still believe there are influential forces within Racing NSW who are quite prepared to bequeath these valuable rights to Tabcorp and Sky, just like they did with the cartoon virtual reality racing game – Trackside- which was sold off for the pathetically and embarrassingly equivalent of “twenty pieces of silver”, to fund the Randwick redevelopment.
Racing in Oz has lost so much ground to other sports it’s almost impossible to make up the lost ground. It is why it must go back to the basics.
Get its fundamentals right, and that means its cost and wagering structure, its infrastructure, its marketing, communications and strategy, the balance between metropolitan and country, programming and prize money, field sizes, expand its ownership base and the relationships with its participant groups, shareholders, government and the community.
A massive task indeed, considering racing has been in its own comatosed state for many decades. But it’s what racing has to do to catch up with other sports like the NRL and AFL.
They have done the very things that racing has failed to do and reaped the benefits in spades.
So while Racing NSW beats its chest about staging a world class racing carnival, and throws an obscene amount of money at the top end – at the very sector that it does not need to- it leaves exposed not just its base, but any hope of consolidating its shaky foundations before embarking on putting the extra storeys to a structure that is increasingly difficult to sustain.
SNOWDEN SPLITS WITH DARLEY
In breaking news, the powerful global Dubai-based Darley operation has split with their Australian trainer Peter Snowden.
With details yet to emerge, it is believed Peter Snowden, who took up the appointment as Darley’s first Australian trainer when they bought out the Ingham’s Woodlands operation, has announced that, together with his son Paul who oversees the Melbourne Darley operation, will branch out on their own.
NOT ANOTHER STRATEGIC PLAN???
We couldn’t help but read in the Melbourne press that Racing Victoria had joined the Strategic Plan crush.
To be fair to our friends in “bleak city”, we have not read, nor do we intend reading their Strategic Plan. We have an aversion to Strategic Plans. Reading some of the earlier editions of the Racing NSW masterpieces have been a tad too much for us. Besides they are basically produced to take up archival space.
Many are produced and launched like paper airplanes and way past their use by dates and are little more than yet another exercise in spin.
Perhaps the Racing Victoria version can join its interstate cousin and RIP.
They’re always- always- a waste of time put together by too many bumbling cooks and with the end result reading like an episode of Yes, Minister coupled with the Department of Silly Walks.