LET THE BLAME GAME BEGIN!
It’s a well established routine in Australian racing that when the going gets tough, it’s time to start playing the Blame Game. And no group in racing plays the Blame Game better than racehorse trainers and racing administrators. And if last Saturday’s Villiers race meeting was any guide, we’re in for a vintage edition of the Blame Game.
For trainers it’s as simple as this: when a stable is having a lean trot- and there are many in this category in Sydney and in Melbourne- it’s always someone else’s fault. It’s never their own.
The racing administrators are generally in the first line of fire – the track managers, race clubs, stewards, handicappers, staff – you name it, it’s all their fault. But these are the usual suspects.
This year, if conversations at Randwick last Saturday are any guide, and they generally are, there’s a new kid in town. It’s the image of racing.
Here are the same bunch of rorters – the very groups of participants – some of whom are responsible for race fixing, cheating, fraud, administering prohibited drugs to their horses and race day treatments, who cry foul when the scandals- perpetrated by their own- drag the image and brand of racing into depths which haven’t been witnessed in racing for many a year, if ever.
It’s hypocrisy scaling new heights, and it is the very reason why Australian racing is finding it a near impossible task to attract new money and new owners to the sport.
Ironically, some of these semi-intelligent morons who masquerade as squeaky clean racehorse trainers, syndicators, breeders and jockeys are the perpetrators of the very same crimes that they accuse their fellow participants of committing and “dragging down the industry”.
The difference is that they have either been found guilty and served penalties in the past, or they’re shit scared of being caught breaking the very same rules for which their fellow colleagues have been apprehended.
From what we are hearing, some very prominent trainers in Sydney, and almost certainly the same would apply in Melbourne, are finding it bloody difficult to find new clients and even existing clientele to commit to buying yearlings at the sales circuit which commence in early January.
Of course, there are those clients who are exceptions to the rule- like Fonzie, Potsy, Ponzi and the rest of The Happy Dubai Days gang.
Perhaps some of the existing clientele are awake to the sales ring rorts between trainers and breeders, where deals are done before the horse enters the auction ring and the hapless owners are well and truly clipped for their shares, and the trainer cops a handy infusion of cash into his pocket, courtesy of the breeder.
Surely it’s time the corporate regulators cleaned the industry up and put an end to these despicable rorts that drag the image of racing into the gutter?
Nevertheless, the image of racing is not the sole reason trainers are finding it difficult to ramp up their buying benches.
Their simplistic thought processes and intellects have helped them detour around the most obvious reason.
It’s called the ECONOMY, stupid! And no racing administration can control that.
The Australian economy is in a very dark place at the moment and those that have escaped the carnage on the stock exchange, or the property downturn, or the manufacturing and retail meltdown, have battened down the hatches.
Mortgage auctions, bankruptcies, repossessions of properties and luxury vehicles are escalating, and when the hip pocket gets hit, the “toys” are the first to go.
The uncomfortable reality is that the economic bad times are yet to get REALLY bad.
So from a racing perspective, these whingeing and whining trainers and breeders ain’t seen nothing yet.
Making up the holy trinity in making up what will be a very difficult year for purchasing yearlings is another factor which is no longer a “sleeper”.
This is the migration of funds into the purchase of shares in expensive overseas staying horses, a trend which is no longer just a trend, but a reality, the implications of which many trainers and breeders have failed to grasp.
The Australian presence at sales of tried horses in the UK and France has grown exponentially in recent years as trainers and their agents are picking the eyes out of any potential stayers of note who could not only pick up the easy pickings in the rich prize money each Saturday in the Sydney and Melbourne staying races, but also win the very lucrative black type prize money during the carnivals in both states and the feature races in the smaller states.
Trainers and their agents have also opened their wallets on private purchases in Europe and have raided the ranks of German staying bred horses.
The result is pretty obvious: owners are preferring to direct their discretionary spending on thoroughbreds that are already proven to a great degree on the racetrack, rather than pay the hundreds of thousands, or even million plus prices, for unproven yearlings, some of which have been deliberately run up by unscrupulous vendors and their trainers, and which they have to wait several years to find out if they can recoup their exorbitantly inflated purchase prices.
A cursory glace at the ownership of many of the imported stayers tells the story: Syndicates of heavy hitters in the ownership ranks with strong cash reserves figure prominently in these horses.
It’s simply called spreading the risk and enables these heavy hitters to share in the ownership of multiple horses for, often, a lesser outlay than if they put all their eggs in the one basket at the yearling sales, and drew a blank as so many of the expensive purchases have proven to be.
It is a truism in racing, and in life, in general, that winners and those who are successful rarely complain or engage in a pointless finger pointing blame game.
Playing the Blame Game is an exercise in futility.
COME ON NOW, GET REAL, TOFFEE TONGUE!
Australian racing Board CEO Peter “toffee tongue” McGauran is at it again.
On his high horse- a position of choice for this ex-political hack- the icky “toffee tongue” was at his spinning best, buying into the many sub-plots and controversies spawned by the Bill Vlahos scandal.
Quoted in the News Limited Melbourne rag, the Herald Sun, The Icky One- McGauran- could quite easily led us to believe that a “new era” of transparency and integrity had put all aspects of thoroughbred racing and breeding and auction houses on notice.
He was drawing a very long straw with the limp-wristed opposition, allegedly from breeders, against the ban on anabolic steroids on yearlings, which “toffee tongue” is hanging his well worn Akubra on.
The report that Racing Victoria had, apparently, announced that it would investigate whether rorts were being perpetrated in the horse sale industry, smacks of too little too late for all the residual damage that these practices have done in successfully discouraging so many owners from a permanent presence in Australian racing.
Even those delusional souls living under those proverbial rocks have been aware of the rorts, the illegal anti-competitive practices that some vendors and their accomplices have colluded in over many, many years.
The pre-sale deals, dummy bidding practices and collusion between vendors and “official” purchasers, and between vendors and third parties, to artificially inflate prices, are not occasional or isolated at yearling sales and in the horse sale industry.
To believe so would be akin to believing in the second coming and having spent way too much time playing with the fairies.
These practices are common place, and only get a run in the media whenever a BC3 type scandal is made public.
It is often said that the dodgy practices and rorts in the horse sale industry make the real estate industry look respectable.
It is the precise and overwhelming reason why the Australian Racing Board and “Tongue Tongue” should be leading from the front and demonstrating that they are a truly national body which can- and are- proactive in ensuring the integrity of racing is upheld at all times and by ALL participant groups in racing.
It makes a complete mockery of the selective baseball bashing rules of racing which, in recent times, have exclusively targeted trainers and jockeys as the only participant groups in racing who, by the actions of a few, can “bring racing into disrepute” and damage the brand and image of racing.
The horse sale industry and its major players should not be granted immunity from the rules of racing.
There cannot justifiably be a “rite of passage” for these groups.
They should be subjected to the full force of the rules of racing if they engage in corrupt or illegal practices – practices which, anecdotally, have been rife in the industry for decades, and which the regulators have chosen to turn a blind eye to.
Its time, Mr Icky, and his dear leader, “The Messiah”, cleaned the horse sale industry and its illegal practices up.
As the so-called national regulatory body, albeit one which appears to march only to the beat of its own conductor, it has a responsibility to make and apply rules which don’t discriminate.
But don’t hold your breath. There are some sections of the industry who operate with an almost “diplomatic immunity” and are able to practice and get away with rorts that no other group in racing or in mainstream society can get away with.
THE VLAHOS SCANDAL: A STENCH THAT WONT GO AWAY
Unlike the many soapies that it will draw, the predictable comparisons with,’ the scandal surrounding the entire punting scheme, The Edge, the BC3 Thoroughbreds operation, and its principal- or is he?- Bill Vlahos, is light years away from abdicating its front and centre position in media headlines.
Tracking down the missing hundreds of millions of dollars in the punting club known as The Edge will prove to be a task that may need the combined efforts of Scotland Yard, the FBI, Interpol with a little help from the world’s best secret service agency- the Mossad.
What is certain is that the shadowy underworld figures and the aliases behind the scandal would have gone to extremes to cover their tracks. And they appear to have done it for the short term anyway with the mysterious “Danny Maxwell” who, like Kaizer Sozay, could be a person now “split” like an atom into many parts- has not been sighted for sometime and whose alleged place of residence has never been his abode. Talk about parallel tracks.
Intriguingly, there are some well known figures in both racing and the underworld who are believed to be either operating out of or relocated to Dubai.
The racing connection is a high profile successful owner and businessman who has made the headlines on many occasions for racing-related and commercial matters and for his association with one of Australia’s most notorious crime figures.
The underworld figure who relocated to Dubai has “form” in crime and gangland circles and has an army of followers covering his ass.
Of course, the Dubai connection with these well-known Aussie figures could be purely coincidental, couldn’t it?
A QUESTION FOR JAMES CUMMINGS?
We’re glad that the Bart Cummings training partnership with his grandson James Cummings is intact.
Bart Cummings is a living legend and a worldwide racing icon in the twilight of his life and racing career. For his sake we’re pleased.
But a question for young James: You are marrying the grand daughter of a billionaire, so, why on earth are you going to risk your future happiness and prosperity by becoming a racehorse trainer?
Are you seriously stoopid?
James, you can manage and run the Gooree empire and have a blissfully happy life with Monica.
Are you seriously prepared to trade it for 4am starts each morning, dealing with jockeys, owners and breeders, your fellow back stabbing trainers at Randwick, dumbass racing administrators in Racing NSW and probably elsewhere on a daily basis?
You are having us on,mate, aren’t you?
And. mate, please don’t worry about your inheritance if any of it comes your way. Monica can buy and sell you and most of your family, anyway.
Forget about the George Castanza fear of shrinkage.Take a cold shower, James. Surely, you are smarter than that, or are you?
As always An insightful, compendious illustrations of things as they are. I am also a delighted reader of your posts and it would be fair to say with humility that I have a great simpatico with Hong Kong Racing. A view perhaps lies more about what used to be the fiduciary relationship between a ‘vendor’ the Agent and the fair but commercial process of the Bloodstock Auction, put simply ‘every bidder bids under the same terms and conditions of auction’. So A cashed up owner prepared to pay at the fall of the hammer is competing against another bidder with ‘generous terms’ on supposedly the same playing field. Utterly ludicrous ! But more to the point, How many if these ‘dealers, So called ‘Bloodstock Agents’ hold a Stick and Station Agent Licence or A general Auctioneer Licence? I would bet less than 10 percent if lucky. So where are their trust account audits? A bit long winded and my apologies Just some comments and may I wish you a very Merry Christmas And by the way Inverell races on New Years Day. Home of Lein Fox!!