HUNTER BREEDERS PUSHING COAL UPHILL
If there is one glaring deficiency in Australian racing, it is its abysmal lack of peripheral vision, and in a broader sense, its inability to read the writing on the wall. And again it sounds very much like an “I told you so” response to last week’s news that the Baird State Government had decided to allow a Planning Assessment Commission to re-assess the possibility of expanding the Anglo-American open cut coalmine, which just happens to be the across the road neighbour of Coolmore and Darley Stud farms, two of the biggest and most successful thoroughbred breeding operations in Australia.
Last week’s decision is another road block to the Hunter breeders who have fought a long battle in their bid to keep the powerful mining industry out of any new mining development in the Hunter, which is widely and overwhelmingly acknowledged as Australia’s premier breeding nursery and increasingly one right up there with some of the most successful breeding hubs anywhere in the world.
But, as we have written before, it’s a losing battle. Sounds pessimistic, but reality bites and bites very hard.
The mining industry and its mining lobby is one of the most powerful industry and lobby groups in Australia and have the “ear” of all the right people in the right places.
They are particularly well organized, cashed up, and their communications and PR campaigns are par excellence.
They have been known to take on the scalps of Governments – State and Federal- so much so that, these days, Governments choose to run proposals by them rather than run the risk of being taken on by multi-million dollar advertising and PR campaigns and ending with coal dust on their faces.
The mining industry makes compelling arguments for their cause of continuing to leave vast stretches of Australia like it’s been hit by a gigantic crater – a quarry that has the mineral wealth sapped out of it.
Mining has very astutely made itself Australia’s new “untouchable” industry- spruiking loudly and in carefully constructed language with all the right clichés, and how it has been the foundation of modern Australia’s economic prosperity.
It’s an argument that is extremely hard to dismantle considering the vocal and powerful cheering squad that it has in its corner in the form of a very compliant media led by Rupert’s News Corp Limited.
Yes, its all about who you know not what you know.
And its hard to blame Federal and State Governments for daring to not take them on.
Remember the outcry over the Mining Tax?
For the Hunter breeders, its an uphill battle that they will struggle to win.
After all, mining investments- and the economic benefits to the Australian economy, the Miners and State and Federal Governments- far outweigh the economic benefits and investments that a bunch of global heavyweights in thoroughbred breeding can deliver to Australia.
And besides, the Hunter breeding operations can always re-locate their operations across the border to the north east of Victoria, which is not bestowed with the same “black gold” riches of the Hunter.
Governments, like Boards of Racing Governing Bodies, are driven by one thing and one thing only – self interest. And self interest is the one certainty on any racing programme.
Betting against and taking on the power of the Miners is almost mission impossible.
WALLER? HE’S NOT THE PROBLEM WITH SYDNEY RACING
The knee jerk response to Chris Waller’s impact on Sydney racing masks a wider and much greater problem which none of the decision makers and powerful sectional-vested interests in NSW have the balls to confront.
The “tall poppy” syndrome, embedded in Australian DNA is all about penalizing success, and it is no different in racing.
It is a short sighted and dangerous path to go down, and any restrictions will push even further the very nail in the coffin that is hanging over NSW racing.
Chris Waller is not the problem with Sydney racing. Uh uh. It is its administrators and the accumulation of a litany of poor decisions, and, at the other extreme, a decision-making vacuum, which has been the catalyst in the decline of NSW racing in all sectors.
The most striking evidence is the decision taken by the only remaining Sydney metropolitan race club – the ATC- to introduce performance-based criteria for training at Randwick, taking yet another important step towards elitism in Sydney racing.
In contrast, those dastardly Victorians have their three premier training centres, all within easy access from their CBD, and bulging at the seams with a diversity of established, emerging and newbies to the ranks of training. It has a point of difference and variety.
Is it any wonder their field sizes each Saturday, make those in Sydney akin to the numbers making up a swimming or athletics relay team?
How embarrassing- yet again- this weekend when Caulfield- and in the dead of winter- can boast a total of 108 acceptances while at Randwick, on the Inner Track, they can rustle up a mere 76 acceptances for the eight race card – an average of less than 10 per field.
Three of the races have seven starters, and another eight. The three seven horse fields immediately wipes out a significant portion of the place and exotics betting pools.
NSW might have the sexier names in the jockey ranks and some of the numerically big training establishments compared to Victoria, but where has that taken NSW racing?
On the slippery slide towards irrelevance. That’s where NSW racing is heading.
And when the likes of Joe Pride, Jason Coyle and Clarry Conners- well-known names in the training ranks- publicly comment on “capping” Chris Waller’s dominance, it clearly suggests that NSW racing is not being conducted on a level playing field.
Whilst it can only be reiterated that Chris Waller is not the problem and should NOT be penalized for his success, the inconvenient truth for Racing NSW is that many metropolitan trainers strongly believe that there is no level playing field in Sydney racing, and quite wrongly perceive Chris Waller’s success and dominance as the problem.
Sadly, and not at all surprisingly, the pathetically lame duck racing media just don’t have the balls to ask the difficult questions and put the blow torch way up the backsides of the Druitt Street hierarchy.
If metropolitan NSW racing is is bogged down in struggle street, imagine the state of the provincial and country sectors.
We were reminded last Saturday at Rosehill of the “grand tour” of the provincial and country sectors by NSW racing’s version of Dumb and Dumber soon after Racing NSW’s triumphant court challenge win over the corporate bookmakers on the product fee. Remember?
It was like a rock’n roll tour- packed city halls and telephone booths with the country and provincial sectors portion of the bright eyed “50,000” participants, eagerly lapping up promises by Milli and Vanilli to spread the lurve, babies, and fix up prize money levels and decades-long neglected infrastructure. Yawn.
Who said there was no place in NSW racing for good old fashioned pork barrelling politics?
Is it any wonder that the country and provincial participants are either struggling to survive or queuing up to make a bee line to the nearest exit sign to get the hell out of NSW racing?
Cunningly and cleverly, in the absence of any scrutiny by a compliant- meaning, girlie men- racing media, the hard and essential questions are never asked and instead the blow torch is applied to the State Government over its perceived failure to forgo tens of million dollars in tax collected from the industry, which, according to the Druitt Street spin doctors would be used to pull the provincial and country sectors portion of the “50,000” participants out of the poor house. What a load of unadulterated bullshit.
If Druitt Street was serious, it would have spread the product fee windfall more evenly- as it should have done across all sectors- so that the problems of the country sector could have been addressed.
To say that the Baird Government is unimpressed is a gross understatement- and which is another story for another day.
VRC EXECUTIVE SEARCH SENDS APPENDAGES WAGGING
When Australia’s most successful racing club embarks on a search for a new Chief Executive, not surprisingly, it is the subject of much conjecture and rumour.
The rumour mill crosses borders as well into Sydney and one of the intriguing rumours about a “leading” candidate centres around an out of work former AFL Club Chief Executive Greg Swann, below, who recently “resigned” (?) from the Carlton Football Club and was previously in the same role with arch rival Collingwood.
Swann’s candidature has been canvassed in both the Fairfax and News Limited press, but according to an AFL mate, who also happens to be a Carlton tragic, he does not rate at all.
Our Carlton mate pointedly observed that during Swann’s tenure at Carlton, the best he could do with membership was take it to just under 50,000 from which it has slipped back to around the 45,000, which, for a Club of Carlton’s stature, is a fail, and fair way off some of its power house contemporaries in the AFL.
The VRC, on the other hand, with its over 30,000 membership is the envy of all racing clubs in Australia.
Australian Race Clubs struggle to get to low five-figure numbers in their membership, and the VRC strength- having witnessed it first hand as a member’s guest- is that it prioritizes its members and services them very well.
The VRC simply cannot afford to not get it right when choosing its next Chief Executive as it has worked too damn hard to achieve its pre-eminent status as one of the most respected racing clubs in the world.
It has a strong membership base and commitment to its members, as it should.
It must choose carefully and avoid the risky strategy of chasing a high profile candidate without either the commitment to the highest level of member and customer service, or an understanding and respect for the unique beast that thoroughbred racing is.
SEPARATED AT BIRTH
Some Russian comrade dude
Caspar Fownes, Hong Kong’s Champion Trainer
RACING’S PETER PRINCIPLE
As we should all know by now, Peter V’landy’s, the fearless leader of Racing New South Wales, is a complex character- often combative like Tony Montana in “Scarface”, sometimes dripping in humility like Anthony Perkins looking after Mother in “Psycho” and, often, a Walter Mitty character who marches to the la la beat of his own drummer beaten by his fawning band of Yassir People.
For reasons known only to him, the Hannibal Lechter of Australian racing, has taken it upon himself to- yawn- wage another of his frequent wars, this time against the NSW Jockeys Association, which, we hear, he’s already calling a victory. But hold that Chianti.
After the events of the recent races at Ballina, and the signatures of jockeys gained, it looks as if Blue Peter might be in for a rude shock on or before his D-Day of August 1.
Seemingly loving the smell of napalm in the morning, Hannibal The Cannibal is said to have gone and had another of his hissy fits- it’s way too mind numbing to get into here- and which is the reason for the- ta dum- “inaugural Racing NSW Awards” which will be held at Rosehill on August 2, and has all the signs of self-promotion and another Rocky Moment for the Donald Trump of Australian racing.
THE GNASHER TO SHOW HIS CHOPPERS IN HK?
With the drums beating very loudly that Nash Rawiller will FINALLY be granted a license to ride in Hongkers next season, we thought we’d share this video of one of The Gnasher’s recent wins in Japan.
This was on 11.5 pop Reign Over which won at Hakodate.
Meanwhile, nothing whatsoever against Christian Reith, but it’s all a bit, well, Duh, when he gets a six month license just like that ( snaps fingers) and a very good, tough as old boots Champion jockey like Nash Rawiller has been overlooked way too often.