ANOTHER WAR ERUPTS IN AUSTRALIAN RACING!
Buried away on Page 51 of the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday, was a piece by Chris Roots titled, “Racing NSW in lawsuit against Victoria”.
“Not another war” was the exasperated response from a prominent racing identity we spoke to as to whether April Fool’s Day had been reprised for a second time this year.
According to “The Rooter’s” story- and we have no idea if he is or isn’t- “Racing NSW is suing fellow regulator Racing Victoria for more than $600,000 after allegedly being overcharged for product fees in 2008”. Unbelievable, but there’s more.
“The Rooter” tells us that the “wrangle (over the fees), has been going on for more than five years and ended up in the Supreme Court last month”.
Surely, this can’t be true: A dispute between so-called State racing regulators which has been unresolved for Five fucking years?
Is this what the relationship between the regulators in the two premier states of Victoria and NSW has degenerated to? And they expect their stakeholders to behave differently?
Does it not expose the deliberate lie that is continually put out there about the “new spirit of cooperation” between NSW and Victoria on all matters racing?
Is it surprising that the regulators and their administrators have lost just about any semblance of respect among their own race clubs, owners, trainers, jockeys, staff, punters and anyone who has anything to do with racing?
Is it any wonder that Australian racing is in such a dysfunctional state, which has made it- increasingly- the laughing stock of the global racing world?
Australian racing these days is all about disputes – legal or otherwise- about wars between Racing NSW and whoever it can find to do battle with, whether it be Race Clubs, State Governments, Corporate Bookmakers, Veterinarians, its own staff, its own shadow, and now, Interstate fellow regulators.
Surely, for something so obvious as a pair of dog’s gonads, doesn’t someone- anyone- ask the very obvious questions as to why NSW is always the battleground of choice for such wars and disputations?
While Racing NSW continues to cry that it’s poor, it appears to be quite prepared to fatten the bank balances of its legal eagles through costly and often unnecessary litigation where mediation and good faith could resolve many of these debilitating and destabilizing disputes.
The Supreme Court action, yet again, demonstrates that those who still mistakenly believe that cooperation between NSW and Victoria on anything to do with racing is possible, are plainly and totally delusional.
The battle lines were drawn some time ago between the States and it’s racing’s very own version of a giant dose of penis envy. Or Small Dick syndrome.
WILL MIKE BAIRD ROLL OVER TO RACING NSW DEMANDS?
If you read Rupert’s rag – the Daily “Smellygraph”- and listen to some of the race track whispers, the relentless “hatchet” job on the NSW State Government to roll over and fund the Championships may be resonating with some of the rural MP’s.
The change in the “spin” strategy to turn attention to the plight of NSW country racing and prize money, infrastructure, and the creation of a new class of “rural poor” among rural NSW’s very own “50,000 participants” constituency, is a deliberate and calculated throw of the dice to wedge the Mike Baird State Government in the lead up to the election – it needs to hold on to the clutch of marginal seats – and compensate for the backlash that it would face if it were to throw money at the Championships.
We even read in the ”smelly” that another of Racing NSW’s Boys Glee Club– the Trainers Association- has bought into the fracas, pointing out that country trainers were “eating the paint off the walls” to survive.
True, NSW country racing is fucked, big time. But fellas, girlie men, Romans, it has been fucked for many moons, Tonto – almost as long as Racing NSW was established as the NSW racing’s governing body.
It wasn’t all that long ago that we were regaled with reports – through Rupert’s glad rags and handbags, of course – of a grand tour of country NSW regional racing centres by none other than the dynamic duo, Racing NSW Chairman John “the messiah” Messara and his very own pitbull terrier and Chief Executive Peter Vlundies – the good cop/bad cop and Dumb And Dumber and Laurel and Hardy and Batman and Robin and Sonny and Cher and Baskins and Robbins and Ginger and Fred double act of NSW racing.
Coincidentally, the tour was conducted on the eve of the infamous High Court judgment on the Product Fee which Racing NSW subsequently won against the much-maligned corporate bookmakers.
In true political style, the “messiah” and his drone striker yapper that is Vlundies met with country’s equivalent of the “50,000” participants and Club administrators and trotted out the same mantras promising funding for the country wish lists, principally around prize money and infrastructure – both of which had suffered from a near decade-long- or even longer period of neglect.
The one “rider” was victory over the corporates which would release the rivers of Babylon gold in revenue to enable the desert to bloom again with Boney M dining in the background.
But like most political promises, nothing is ever cast in stone and few, if any, are delivered in total.
And so, the NSW Trainers Association’s assertion that country trainers are “eating the paint off the wall” is spot on.
Not only are the trainers in dire straits, financially, but so are their owners – the few that are left anyway, because most of the trainers are their owners as well – such is the predicament of the country’s very own “50,000” participants.
To make matters worse, the tracks and training facilities are still in the diabolical state in which they have been for decades.
Clearly, when the product fee riches were distributed, the city and some of the provincial clubs were given priority – although the funding was overwhelmingly thrown at city prize money and the Championships rather than the country.
So, it is very, very, convenient to switch the attack on the State Government and put country prize money and infrastructure at the forefront of the attack.
And yet, the argument and campaign is so blatantly disingenuous, it demands to be exposed for what it is.
There is absolutely no/zero/nada chance that a cash-strapped State Government in a lead up to a State election would commit political suicide and adjust the tax rate and let go of the $85 or $100 million that Racing NSW claims it would benefit from if the Victorian tax rate were to be adopted- not when you have funding for schools, hospitals, roads and infrastructure, law enforcement and welfare at crisis levels- so much so that the NSW Government is doing its darndest to fast track asset sales to free up funds and minimize the pain in these areas and avert a crisis of catastrophic proportion.
To divert even a smidgin of these funds away from these areas would be an act of gross irresponsibility.
The best that can be hoped for is a handout for the Championships – nothing more. And, of course, that would allow the wedge strategy to be again unleashed: “We would like to help you, but our hands are tied. The dastardly State Government won’t give us the tax relief to jack up your prize money and fix up your tracks”.
The victims, as always, in political war games, are those who don’t deserve to be victims. And in NSW, it is a repetitive theme.
This time, it is the Country Sector of NSW racing.
So, while their better-off city counterparts enjoy competing in pitifully small Saturday fields for $80,000 prize money and for the obscene Championships prize money, country’s sample of the “50,000” participants race for racing’s equivalent of a can of diddly squat- and why they are- all together now- “eating the paint off the wall”.
The uncomfortable and unpalatable reality is that it is not the responsibility of the State Government to fix the problem. Uh uh. That responsibility rests squarely with Racing NSW, which is why this issue will continue to fester while the war games with the State Government continue, and while NSW racing’s very own class warfare is waged to protect the interests and cash flows of the cashed-up metropolitan owners and breeders.
NO WELCOME MAT FOR WALLER IN VICTORIA
The VRC may consider it a coup to have Chris Waller operating his Melbourne base out of Flemington, but from what we are hearing from over the border, some of his fellow trainers at his Melbourne base are not exactly rolling out the welcome mat for him and his twentyfivesomething boxes he has tenanted at Flemington.
Some of Flemington and Victoria’s big names fear that the “wallernaut” and his extraordinary run of success will see them lose some of their “big” owners from Victoria and interstate.
They fear a repeat of the Sydney scenario where Waller’s books hold several hundreds of horses and a domination of the high stakes metropolitan programmes.
Just this week alone, Waller’s domination of Sydney metropolitan racing is obvious with three, four and five Waller runners in some races.
If the UK and European experience is any guide, such domination of racing by a powerful elite group of oligarchs is the very reason racing is struggling for its survival among mainstream Brits and Europeans.
Sadly NSW seems well on its way in a similar direction.