May I preface my post by saying that some time ago I suggested to the powers that be at the ATC, that Members should have a forum ( aka blog ), where Members can air their opinions/complaints/bouquets/brickbats, etc. However, like so many suggestions, this was ignored and again, like so many other good/bad suggestions, by myself and other ATC Members, ended up in the WPB – Waste Paper Basket.

Note – insert banner here –

Those who make the decisions, are the one’s not affected by those decisions and therefore have no understanding or empathy for those affected. The Marie Antoinette effect, if you will.

Like Mr Mathers, I also agree with Mr Bell in his post.

Mr Bell makes a very valid point and I think what he was also saying was that, stand-alone meetings and the removal of another meeting from the ATC, lessens his ATC Membership experience.

Mr Bell attends all the ATC meetings and I applaud him for that. I also applaud Mr Bell for only having one grievance, unfortunately, I look at the overall Membership benefits.

I was a regular attendee too, however, I now take my business elsewhere. Maybe Mr Bell doesn’t spend anything on hospitality and therefore can afford to attend every meeting. Then again, maybe he can afford to spend whatever on hospitality at every meeting. But, as I said in one of my previous posts, we all go to the races and/or become Members of clubs for various reasons. For me, I can still punt and enjoy the races, just at cheaper venues. Maybe I’m trying to enjoy the races at a champagne level, but on a beer budget. But I have yet to meet an average racegoer and/or fellow Member, who doesn’t complain about the cost of going to the races. And to do it on a regular basis, on a set income, is not sustainable.

There are so many things Members are either not told or, we are simply told, that’s how it is.

I attended a race meeting at Royal Randwick on the 13th of December, Villiers Day, and sat in the Champagne Bar, where, whilst a lot of the furniture has been removed, was airy and more than comfortable. But, wanting to see how the new stand was faring, I ventured over to the 1st floor. Chairman’s Club virtually empty, but then who cares, they are the one’s paying the money ? Members only bar, busy, but probably bearable. Then the 3rd floor Members. Packed in like sardines, hardly room to move AND still no new monitors for one third of the room, the tiered level, to watch the races and view betting AND they were the tables that people had to pay for. Are people, Members that happy to part with money, that they accept that ?!?! Well again, clearly money is no object and not in short supply in society. I got back to the Champagne Room and a lot of Members asked what it was like and I told them about the 3rd floor. Every comment was, “ All one day card holders, I bet “. Yup.

Did I see a Committeeman or CEO in my travels ? Nope. But they don’t enter the 3rd floor, maybe for obvious reasons. I searched high and low on the ATC website on the Friday to see if the ballroom would be open, to no avail. And no, it wasn’t open, but Members don’t get any of that sort of information before race day. Here’s a suggestion ( that will probably end up in the WPB ) how about telling us in the weekly email newsletter, what is or isn’t available ? Also fronted up to the Doncaster Room food outlet, nope, no roast lunches, go downstairs. Good grief. We are in the age of communication, but the ATC like to keep us guessing and in the dark.

I went to Rosehill on the 20th of December, only because I had a function to attend out that way later and thankfully left early. I sat in with the thermos brigade on the 1st floor, it is after all, almost the only place that is free to Members. As per usual, there were men freely walking around with shirts all out, no ties, jeans and even joggers as shoes. Seriously, why do we pay attendants ? When I complained about one particular young man, I was told by the attendant to go and complain at the Membership counter.

Mr Bell, I admire your tenacity and respect your right to retain meetings at the ATC, but my goodness, should mediocrity be rewarded with patronage ?!?!

I ask again, as in a previous post, why have membership at all ? Just have the corporate and pay areas and leave the rest to the rest.

The only reason Membership is retained by the Club, is for that cash injection at the end/start of each year and that amount is a State secret, because all of a sudden it is now not contained in the financials.

I renew my Membership for the reciprocal rights to other Clubs.

Let’s look at some of the things that beset our beloved industry:-

Small fields, Saints preserve us, we have experts and yet they are useless in this arena. NSW has obscene prize money, yet we have small fields and only 7 races on an ATC midweek card,

State of race tracks – all and any, city, provincial and country,

State of facilities at race tracks – all and any, city, provincial and country,

Race viewing – TVN/Sky fight/on course monitors or rather lack of,

Prize money – obscene amounts. The only argument I can see is that, supposedly, the better horses show up. Then please tell me why they can get fields of 30 at Royal Ascot and only race for tuppence ? Here we have every State with their own agendas, carnivals on top of each other or State race clubs trying to encroach on other State’s meetings,

Individual agendas – Committees/individuals/breeders/State race controlling bodies/race clubs and their alliances

Cost – stallion services/cost of horses/cost of racing a horse/cost of a day at the races

Corporate bookmakers/like stallion owners, do they really contribute anything or enough to the racing industry ?

TAB – the take out commission, etc. Is it really fair that if there is a jackpot, the TAB double dips ? They take out the commission on the first part of the pool when it jackpots, then again on the next race pool. I will say one thing for the TAB, they at least pay their way and have kept racing afloat since its inception.

Dubious enquiry decisions – like, a world renowned jockey, apparently very careful with his money, decides, out of all the horses he rides, all the races he rides in, the tracks he rides on, in the countries he has ridden and for the trainers and owners he has ridden for, he decides, all of a sudden, to have a bet, just one bet for, what ? a $20,000 collect ?!?! but is allowed to ride on through a major carnival and the bloke who was asked to deliver the money was also disqualified, for what ? not asking what the money was about ? WTF ?!?! Or swab irregularities and levels of substances. I ask though, who audits the auditor ?

Anything more anyone want to add ?

People hold their hand up to run the racing game. They are supposedly vetted/elected/appointed, whatever. Leaders in their fields, yet some couldn’t run a chook raffle in a pub. There are agendas, politics, friendships, secrets, games played, etc. Actually the word Machiavellian comes to mind. And as I have said before, it’s still not a bad gig. I would apply, but apparently I’m not qualified, I only have common sense and life experience. Lol

And yes, I think I have some answers. Answers that I am more than happy to expand on, but briefly:-

If pubs and clubs can do it cheaper, so can we,

Governments need to take ownership of their responsibility and not just be a tax predator,

What’s wrong with Sky covering everything ? They can have a wall to wall racing channel, then a designated channel like TVN, etc, just make them pay a fair price for the product,

That said, as Sky is the TAB and they contribute most to the industry, the leeches in the pond, like the corporate bookmakers, studs, etc, must be made to contribute. Some stallion owners getting thousands, tens of thousands, times the services and what do they put back into the pond ?

But who has access to make these decisions ? Only those with their own agendas, not the real stakeholders – the average racegoer, the average Member, the average punter – all the people who cop it in the neck, yet we back up for more and the decision makers know it. But how long will we back up ? A whole new generation is on the rise, that will go elsewhere.

Anyway, enough of me.

Thank you RacingB*tch for allowing me and others, concerned others, for being a conduit to vent our spleens.

We all know, those who are in control, read RacingB*tch, but alas, they lack the spine to comment here – here where realities meet.

Norm Snowden

This entry was posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. grant bell says:

    Well said Norm, I just want our committee to do what is right by their members and stand up to RNSW. I want hear our elected committee members on air telling RNSW what their members want, not just following instructions.

  2. Lee Kerin says:

    Quite agree Norm, there are so many problems and grievances we members have, it is difficult to prioritise them and put together a rational approach to the ATC board.
    The one thing we all agree on is that membership benefits have been seriously eroded to almost nothing since the amalgamation was forced upon us.

    The new ATC board meets in February and in my opinion the way forward for them is to allocate a portfolio of duties to each Director, including one responsible to members and who will be available to members to address complaints and concerns. There are too many areas of responsibility in running the ATC for every issue to be dealt with as a board.

    In addition, there are urgent changes that need to be made to the ATC Constitiution at the next AGM and we need to be looking at a pre-AGM members forum to examine a way forward that will return members to a position of some influence at the ATC.

    In balance, I am quite sure that the Directors feel that they are doing their best in difficult circumstances and undoubtedly they are. However, the result of their endeavours has thus far been disappointing to say the least. I don’t think it would be unfair to say that real control of the merged ATC is now in the hands of Racing NSW and the NSW Govt.

    Lee Kerin

  3. Lee Kerin says:

    Furthermore, the rumour is that one of the NSW government appointed Directors (Laurie Macri) is likely to become the new ATC chairman in February when the new ATC board convenes.
    To me this would be a very unfortunate decision despite his obvious credentials for the role.
    As a government appointment, every member should be concerned that his loyalties will be mindful of the agenda of his ”employer” and the persons who have recommended his appointment.
    With the current situation of deep disgruntlement within the membership, the ATC board needs to send the clear message that the members are still the heart of the ATC and appoint a Director who has been elected by us and not one appointed by outside influences.
    Lee Kerin

  4. I copy below my comment made to Grant Bell’s email of yesterday as follows:

    Norm and Grant and now Lee

    I wonder at times whether we’re just talking to each other.

    I think many of us recognize that there are lots of problems both at the ATC and with racing in New South Wales in general. The unfortunate thing is that there are very few members who are really interested in horse racing or the ATC. There is little passion within the membership base meaning the members in general would not share your concerns.

    We now have a very new board at the ATC where really five of the eight are “freshers”. Despite their obvious inexperience perhaps they will bring some creativity to Sydney racing.

    I remain very concerned with the leadership of the ATC which in my opinion is not up to the mark.

    Let’s see how things go over the next six months or so.

    Best wishes

    James Mathers

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