ATC ELECTION: NSW RACING’S D DAY
The upcoming ATC election, and more importantly, its outcome, is shaping up as potentially one of the most defining events in recent times that could determine the future of NSW racing.
There’s a lot at stake in the election for the ATC Board.
Not only is the ATC, Sydney and NSW racing’s premier race club, it is also the only organization in NSW racing that has both the capacity and authority to stand up to NSW racing’s governing body – Racing NSW. And heaven knows someone needs to do that post haste.
Kenny Callander’s Monday column suggested that NSW racing administration needed a “shake-up”. That is a gross understatement.
In just about every imaginable way, NSW racing is going backwards. At Black Caviar like speed. And all under Racing NSW’s watch.
The confidence in NSW racing, of its “50,000 participants”, is totally shot. Spot fires across just about every area of racing in the State threaten to turn into infernos.
Provincial and Country Racing is sinking rapidly, crumbling under a neglected infrastructure which would cost almost far too much to bring back up to an acceptable standard for racing and training. It’s a familiar and similar story in both sectors.
There are major problems in just about every aspect of racing operations at Wyong whereas Newcastle has also had its share of problems, structurally, and with the condition of its racing and training tracks.
After the familiar “politicians promises” made by Racing NSW on their whistle stop tour of the regions soon after their victory over the corporate bookmakers assuring financially destitute clubs across NSW that the decades long neglected infrastructure would be addressed with funding gained from the infamous product fee judgment, many race clubs are still waiting to see the colour of the promised funding.
For Newcastle, it has been a bloody long time coming with a funding drip feed only just announced, coincidentally during Newcastle Gold Cup carnival week, for a two stage project to renovate and reconstruct the training and racing tracks.
If the Newcastle experience is any guide, Brian Fletcher and his Hawkesbury Turf Club will be waiting and waiting for funding for their synthetic training track which has drawn a mixture of anger and disbelief at Racing NSW’s decision to demand a detailed business plan to support a $2.5 million allocation from the Club.
Hawkesbury, which is being developed as a major training and racing centre, is home to Tony Mc Evoy who has invested heavily in relocating to the venue.
It’s not just the provincial and country tracks that need long overdue spending on infrastructure. Throw in Randwick, Rosehill and Warwick Farm.
The constant complaints from trainers, jockeys and professional punters point to an industry steadily losing the confidence of the very people that it can ill-afford to alienate.
If infrastructure was the single cause of industry woes, NSW racing would not be in the position that it is in.
It is not necessary to delve too deep into the status of NSW racing for the myriad of serious problems to jump out and smack you right between the eyes.
The problems associated with programming, handicapping and the appalling imbalance between the small field sizes in metropolitan Sydney compared with the provincial sector says so much about the administration of NSW racing.
Until these problems are not only acknowledged by Racing NSW, but also remedied, you can have Tattslotto type odds about NSW racing ever operating on a level playing field with Victorian racing. And you can have a double dose of lotto odds about Racing NSW ever acknowledging that the Victorian do it better.
From what is being said, and increasingly openly, on and off the track, it is only a matter of time before some very respected heavy hitters in NSW racing take their gloves off and give Racing NSW the ultimatum that has been needed to be delivered for a very long time.
An ultimatum that calls for a complete restructure of Racing NSW- and for the scalp of one very well-known and despised figure in NSW racing.
It is to be hoped that racing men and women of good intent who are prepared to put the interests of NSW racing ahead of the selfish interests of powerful sections of the industry, nominate for the ATC Board vacancies.
They need to be men and women of courage and conviction who are prepared to take on and challenge the entrenched racing establishment in NSW and instigate radical reform and change.
For the ATC to reclaim its rightful position in NSW racing- and provoke meaningful long lasting change- it will need an influx of new blood who can then convince and offer Premier Mike Baird and Racing Minister Troy Grant a blueprint for governance that can make racing in NSW vibrant, meaningful and financially secure, as it once was, which is now a fading memory.
STAY AT HOME FOR RUPEE
The decision by Lankan Rupee connections to bypass the Hong Kong International Sprint in December is disappointing, particularly for the horse rated as the world’s champion sprinter.
But the decision to stay at home is no real surprise: The green light by the Australian Pattern Committee to rubber stamp the new dates and revamped program for Sydney’s Autumn Carnival, aka the Championships, changes everything.
For the Lankan Rupee connections, it makes it near impossible to get the champion sprinter back from Hong Kong after he completes quarantine, and have him fit and ready to race in the Melbourne Autumn Group One sprints and in Sydney as well.
For Mick Price and connections, it forced their hand.
Ending his spring campaign after his major target – the Darley Classic would give the “Rupee” an extra month-sans quarantine- to prepare for his Australian Autumn targets.
Pity about that.
In Lankan Rupee, Australia has a world class sprinter, who like many other top class Aussie racehorses, need to compete on the world stage, if they are to prove they are capable of mixing it with the very best- just like the Europeans and the Japanese and Hong Kong racehorses do.
No doubt the Druitt Street heavyweights are doing high fives, below, knowing that the revamped schedule for the Championships has snatched Lankan Rupee away from the HKJC’s prestigious International Day.
The “cold war” won’t end until a certain racing administrator parachutes out of Australian and NSW racing.
FOUR CORNERS EXPOSE ON MACAU CASINOS
Last Monday’s Four Corners expose on the Macau Casino empire, jointly owned by James Packer and Laurence Ho, merely confirmed what many have suspected for a long time – that casinos the world over provide the most practical medium for money laundering.
It is no secret that “dirty money” has already infiltrated into the Australian business and commercial worlds, and it goes without saying that it has been a big player in gambling- and not just in racing.
The property bubble has the fingerprints of “dirty money” all over it.
It remains a mystery how many large scale racing and breeding enterprises, which have been acquired by Chinese interests in recent times, have escaped the rigorous scrutiny and proprietary testing by the Foreign Investment Review Board and Crime fighting Authorities at both a Federal and State level.
So concerned were some of the crime busting authorities that at a recent conference on Integrity in sport that they were warned and brought up to speed by a senior Hong Kong Jockey Club official about the explicit warnings that have been issued to licensed persons in Hong Kong on associating with a range of individuals identified or associated with serious high level crime.
Macau, with its acquired insidious casino culture, has triggered serious migraines on a richter scale hitherto unrecorded, among the most senior Politburo members in China.
The purge of senior bureaucrats, officials and even high ranking party officials will not cease until what is now being recognized in Beijing as a systemic and endemic threat to the Chinese political, economic and cultural fabric is eradicated.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, Australia is demonstrating a “look the other way” attitude by, literally, rolling out the red carpet to VIP gamblers and high rollers, who have known associations, and are inextricably linked to dangerous and notorious Triad gangs.
It is an attitude that will inevitably compromise and damage integrity of sports other than and including racing unless it is dealt with in an emphatic, decisive and ruthless manner.
And that may require the cooperation of James Packer in making his Australian casino empire out of bounds for these obscenely cashed up junketeers from the Asian sub-continent.
We, like many others, won’t be holding our breath.
FOXTEL COUP FOR TVN’S BRUCE MANN
The news that TVN will soon be part of the Foxtel basic entry level Entertainment package is a big win for TVN Chief Executive Bruce Mann- and for racing.
TVN, like its Sky Channel competitor, has been available to Foxtel subscribers through the separate Foxtel Sport package, which could be purchased at an extra cost to be added on to the basic Entertainment package.
By rolling TVN into Foxtel’s basic Entertainment package, Mann has gained access to Foxtel’s 2.5 million subscribers, for TVN and its Victorian and NSW products.
It’s one of the biggest wins for racing in exposing its product to a potentially very lucrative customer base.
The Foxtel coup coupled with the “leaked” Seven network negotiations for free to air coverage for Victorian and NSW racing carried through TVN, demonstrates the scope and opportunities available for racing to access and become part of the mainstream media.
Bruce Mann is a very experienced media person with a successful CV in Pay TV management and operations- and lacking in corporate bollocks- who can think outside the square, something that TVN has been lacked since its inception.
It’s just a pity that he is operating in such a dysfunctional and divisive environment where progress and opportunity are sacrificed for the selfish and destructive agendas of a few.
Bruce Mann is far too good to be wasted on this goon squad.
TAKE A VERY DEEP BREATH, CHAD!
At face value, the 32 meeting suspension handed down to Chad Schofield seems excessive.
What is an absolute given is that Chad deserved a penalty for his ultra aggressive ride on the Peter Moody trained Saguaro at the Victorian Mornington race meeting on Wednesday.
Chad, by his own admission, rides competitively. But so do the overwhelming number of his fellow riders.
The difference is that many of them don’t cross the line, which Chad appears willing to do with increasing frequency.
Chad Schofield is a work in progress- a hugely talented young rider with the world his oyster.
What he has to realize, recognize and work towards is to strive as hard as he can- and as quickly as he can- to achieve that very fine balance between being competitive and elevating the level of risk to an unacceptably high level.
That said, Chief Victorian Steward Terry Bailey must also be seen to be tough, but fair.
Yes, Chad has transgressed, but handing out an excessive penalty is not the right prescription.
As Chief Steward, Bailey must avoid the growing perception that he sometimes plays the man and not the ball.
Chad Schofield is just out of his apprenticeship and not as seasoned as some of his more hardened peers who know how to play the game- and play it very well.
Taking on city hall can never be an option. And having trainers with a propensity to make ill-judged and provocative commentary on just aboput anything and everything in racing, is more a hindrance than help.
Bailey needs to demonstrate the leadership- and compassion- that he is capable of and actively seek out Chad Schofield- and either work directly with him or through a nominated third party to help him out.