O’SHEA AND DARLEY: A VERY INTERESTING ALLIANCE- AND “DARLEY- ANCE”
Bemused would be the appropriate word to describe the impending confirmation out of Darley/Godolphin Dubai HQ that our old sparring partner John “you are all a bunch of fuckwits” O’Shea will be named the new head trainer for Darley’s massive Australian training operation.
Bemused because Johnny O is a very different “dude” to departing head trainer Peter Snowden.
Where Snowden excels with his measured and even demeanour and public persona, O’Shea has been known to call a spade a fucking shovel, and not just among mates at his favourite restaurant or watering hole.
Johnny O can go off like the proverbial bride’s nightie when he has to put up with a stupid question from the local racing media, or when one of his horses get rolled, thanks to a less than average ride.
Who can blame him?
There are, no doubt, a few Sydney jockeys who can attest to that and to whom he is fondly known as The Knuckle Dragger.
It’s a big move for both Darley and O’Shea. For Darley, it’s a huge roll of those Exile On Main Street tumbling dice.
Managing a dual-state training and racing operation – and a big one at that, is no easy task.
Peter Snowden was fortunate enough to have his son Paul in charge of his Flemington operation, and from what we know, Paul is a very competent horseman and very much like his father – measured and low key, which is exactly what Sheikh Mo and his executives like.
The Sheikh Mo team covet the limelight and crave the bright publicity lights when the cameras are turned on- except of course for the Al Zarooni scandal when most of them recorded Usain Bolt like sectionals beating a hasty retreat from the cameras- and which has stained their brand and image.
John O’Shea will, no doubt, be put through a media training course and counselled on how to handle the media and respond to the inevitable daily or weekly bad rides and kindergarten playtime questions that the Sydney racing media will thrust in his face.
It’s reminding us of Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle: Doe, a deer, John- a fucking deer!
It will a different ball game overseeing the training of three to four hundred thoroughbreds and keeping on top of your game, and dealing with the squadron of staff that Darley employs and delegating responsibilities.
Sounds more like a responsibilities and duty statement for one of those key executive search positions advertised each weekend in the Saturday Herald, doesn’t it?
And equally importantly, how will Johnny O interact with Sheikh Mo’s love-child Kerrin McEvoy?
It’s an open secret that Sheikh Mo is more than just the number one ticket holder in the Kerrin McEvoy fan club. McEvoy. He is the Darley number one rider and has first choice of all the rides.
Like any other jockey Kerrin can put in a bad ride or three, and O’Shea is not exactly tolerant of jockeys and bad rides at the best of times.
Can he churn out Group One winners at the consistent rate that Sheikh Mo and his Australian executives demand? Time will tell.
For Johnny O it is a chance of a lifetime- a chance that Chris Waller chose to knock back and understandably so.
But for Johnny O’Shea it is a real roll of the dice. And Johnny go easy on your vocabulary mate, and remember grace under pressure, gets you a long way.
Congrats and sincere good wishes.
THE BILL VLAHOS DAYS OF OUR LIVES SAGA
Just where do you start with this most sordid of sordid scandals to hit the racing industry in recent times?
Racing has done it again- creating a scandal and a rort of Cecil B DeMille epic proportions, and commanding the media headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The difference with this one though, is the scale of the rort.
The story behind the scandal grows by the day, which is no surprise, given that, according to media reports , the financial carnage is likely to exceed hundreds of millions which have mysteriously disappeared in a series of complex and unexplained transactions which have crossed hemispheres- more mysterious than the very mysterious “Danny Maxwell”, the man with two-faces and a number of aliases.
The reports of syndicates mortgaging properties, making personal borrowings and investing superannuation savings in what is increasingly looking like an ultra sophisticated- and Australasian and Middle Eastern Ponzi scheme- and a scam to boot- is sad for those who have done their money and life savings cold.
When and if News Limited publishes the list of investors, it will be very damning for those who have cast the fate of their life savings and their personal and commercial judgments to the wind.
Already the names of some very prominent figures in the commercial, professional and sporting world have been bandied about- and not only from Australia as this rort has tentacles everywhere as it fed on the greed factor of many who we thought were smarter.
It is always a paradox when men and women who have enjoyed a high degree of success in their commercial endeavours and are universally regarded as astute and with the nth degree of business acumen get “conned” by such obviously dodgy schemes which only require scant scrutiny to reveal they are riddled with more holes than you would find in a termite infested building.
But the Vlahos saga is not just about the flawed judgments of reputable and non-reputable business men and women who make up the so-called pillars of society.
There are pillars of another sort – Pillars of Hercules to be precise – the expensive yearling purchase by Vlahos many years ago who finished up ending up in the “silent” ownership of one Horty Mokbel, brother of the infamous Tony Mokbel.
When uncovered, there were a litany of convoluted stories, some concocted, to cover up the real ownership and the why’s and wherefores of this “silent” ownership.
Fast forward to this latest scandal and it begs the question, if the dots and crosses can be aligned, as to the identity of those behind this scam, which, nevertheless, appears to have taken down some significant names down with it.
While the racing industry in Oz will, again, be tainted by this scandal, quite clearly, the scam itself is by no means confined to the regulatory parameters of the Racing Act and Racing Victoria or Racing NSW.
The appropriate civil regulators and jurisdictions should be all over the case like a measles rash.
For the Australian racing industry, it does raise one very important issue that involves, not just the ownership or syndication or purchase of racehorses, but of the vital area of accountability.
Owners and Breeders are the only important participant groups that are unlicensed and so are unregulated.
In this instance, if Owners were to be licensed and, as such, subject to the similar codes of conduct as jockeys, trainers and their staff, then the regulatory bodies like Racing NSW and Racing Victoria would be able to act swiftly and decisively to head off some of the fallout from the BC3/Vlahos implosion.
It is time the Australian Racing Board, as the national regulatory body of racing, demonstrated some leadership and got proactive on licensing owners – if nothing else than to protect owners themselves from being taken for a proverbial ride by some of their own.
Perhaps the Board’s Chief Executive Peter “toffee tongue” McGauran can take this one on board and make it happen.
Will he, however, have the balls to do it or just smile and grin and bear and take it while making the same old buzzing sounds?