COBALT DEFENCE JUST GOT EVEN HARDER.
Reading Patrick Bartley’s article on the website of Melbourne Fairfax daily The Age clearly lays bare the herculean, if not impossible, task facing the defence of the cobalt positives, which have rocked racing, not just in bleak city, but in every other State in Australia, and caused more than just ripples of concern in international racing jurisdictions.
Bartley’s well-researched and well-written piece quotes from last year’s world conference of analysts and veterinarians held in the idyllic Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, where cobalt and the introduction of an appropriate threshold for the substance were the subject of scientific papers based on extensive quantitative and qualitative research conducted in a swag of racing nations which included Germany, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, France, Hong Kong, the UK and New Zealand.
”A group of international racing analysts and veterinarians are poised to call for a cobalt threshold of 100 micrograms per litre of urine, half the current permitted level in Australian racing”, Bartley reported, stating also, that after examining more than 10,000 random pre-race urine samples used in the various tests, the conference had declared the 100 microgram limit appropriate.
Maintaining that the Australian level of 200 micrograms was “very generous”, Bartley reports that “the data announced at the Conference made it clear that without a horse being medicated, it couldn’t get close to 200 micrograms or even 100 micrograms”.
Quoting from the Conference discussions, he goes on to say that the tests taken in these countries “made it clear that it was impossible with the use of routine vitamin supplements to exceed the 100 microgram threshold”.
If that wasn’t enough, Bartley continues: “with the 10,300 samples taken, the average cobalt finding was 5.29 micrograms, with the lowest reading 0.11 and the highest 78.15.
“The conference was told that there was only a one-in-70,00 chance of exceeding the 100 microgram threshold “, which, for instance, is the threshold in Hong Kong.
And now for the crunch: “Statisticians then said that after the Australian threshold was announced, there was a one-in-two million chance of exceeding a threshold of 200 micrograms”.
One in two million???!!!!! If that doesn’t demonstrate the enormity of the task of mounting a plausible and credible defence, then nothing will.
It’s probably why one of the three amigos may be actually having second and third thoughts about being part of the band of brothers and not breaking ranks. That’s what the mail that the postman who doesn’t always rings twice says.
INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU IS ALIVE AND LIVING IN BLEAK CITY
Still with bleak city racing, it came as no surprise whatsoever reading a story on the official Racing Victoria website racing.com that the Victorians are in dire straits with their media rights negotiations.
They have been comprehensively done over by their NSW counterparts – a position which we first visited and predicted two years ago when the restructured TVN Board was being hailed by both states as the panacea to resolve the media rights impasse between NSW and Victoria on the one hand and between Sky and TVN on the other.
It was never, ever, going to work, not with the composition of the Board, and the voting structure which allowed veto powers to be exercised over democratic principles of majority decision making.
As the startling Racing Victoria statement revealed during the TVN divorce proceedings accusing Racing NSW of using this veto to their own advantage, it made a resolution of the festering issues impossible.
If the statement by Racing Victoria Chairman Rob Roulston quoted on racing.com was bad enough – little more than a vacuous and utterly meaningless attempt to soothe the jagged nerves of the increasingly restless “participants” in bleak city- then Shane Anderson’s interview with Bernard “the plodder” Saundry, below, the hapless and Inspector Clouseau-type Chief Executive of Racing Victoria, was a bridge too far. It was wheelie bin time.
In an interview punctuated entirely by pathetically meaningless motherhood statements and overloaded with words straight out of the book of corporate bollocks such as “ multiple platforms”, “growing viewers” formed part of every response.
The interviewer Shane Anderson sounded like he was on a leash, unable to put the blow torch to Inspector Clouseau’s belly. And one can’t really blame Shane-o. He is, after all, on the racing.com payroll- and Radio Sport 927 is also part-owned by Racing Victoria.
Irrespective, if you really want to understand why Australian, and in this instance, Victorian racing, is mangled, just listen in to the podcast of the interview. Be warned though; nausea will set in very quickly and will take time to leave your digestive system.
The major problem for Victorian racing, confirmed by both Roulston’s statement and the bumbling “Inspector’s” kid gloves interview, is that the Victorians are still at the starting blocks with their media rights negotiations.
What started off as reassurances that negotiations are “progressing”, and that these so-called “Multiple Platforms” would deliver ka-ching in spades to the Victorian racing industry, are sounding like a rag bag of hollow, wishful thinking, and politician-type promises by a bunch of typically amateur racing administrators who have- and will continue to bat way outside their crease.
Clearly, the Seven Network/Foxtel option is not the walk in the park that some of these delusional Victorians wanted everyone to believe.
It would be ironic, yet an embarrassing backflip, for the Victorians if they ended up where they started in relation to their media rights – forced to accept Sky (and Tabcorp)- very much inferior terms for their domestic media rights- and pray to the divine madonna that they are able to save face by extracting over the odds prices separately from the corporates, and overs also for their wider digital and international rights.
Sky and Tabcorp continue to hold all the aces, and for that, the Victorians can only blame themselves for allowing their sworn enemies in NSW to “do them” for the past two long years.
With a gloating statement announcing a 64 per cent increase in their profit, and an almost contemptuous, and patronizing insignificant one line throwaway reference to Sky Channel’s ongoing negotiations with Victoria for media rights, you can almost sense the predator playing a cat and mouse game, and waiting for the inevitable white flag to be hoisted.
And whilst this no man’s land scenario continues, you have the Chief Executive of Racing Victoria and his Chairman continuing to release vacuous and meaningless statements which even the most basic intellectual midget would be able to see right through.
Perhaps the time has come for both men to parachute or propel themselves out of the racing industry with their bulging golden handshakes?
HAIL! HAIL! MORE SPIN FROM THE MESSIAH.
“Racing NSW Chairman John Messara is developing an action plan to arrest the decline in race fields” was the earth shattering lead to the “At The Track” column in last Sunday’s News Corp rag – the Sunday “smellygraph”- penned by none other than one of the prominent cheer leaders for Racing NSW, Raymond Thomas.
Thomas quotes research conducted by Racing NSW, pointing to a number of possible causes for the smaller field sizes including, wait for it: “the reduction in the foal crop, while current handicapping protocols may actually be inhibiting genuine competition between metropolitan, provincial and country horses”.
The first thing that jumps out and hits you between the eyes is that Racing NSW might actually have a research budget or resources to conduct research into aspects of its racing operations including any deficiencies.
Counteracting such a “positive”, the “messiah” then goes on to say: “The reduction in foal crop has undoubtedly had the most significant impact on field sizes. There are just fewer available horses for the number of races on offer. In the last decade the NSW foal crop has reduced by nearly 20 per cent, leading to a reduction in racehorse registration”.
Seriously now, John John, if the so-called foal crop is the major culprit for the pathetically small field sizes in metropolitan Sydney racing, then why has it not had the same impact on Melbourne metropolitan field sizes? Why have Melbourne field sizes been so consistently, and for so long, been much healthier?
Let’s cut to the chase, John John: Even the simplest of the intellects among the “50,000 participants” whom your Chief Executive professes to protect in every way possible, knows that it is the whole system of programming, handicapping, venues, race dates and schedules which have dragged Sydney racing to the embarrassing position that it finds itself in. And all under the watchful eye of the governing body which can, should and must do something about it – Racing NSW.
Until Racing NSW and its hierarchy step out of denial mode and accept the glaring deficiencies in these areas- and recognize and accept the well-founded, constructive and valid criticisms which have been voiced by trainers for many years, field sizes will continue to decline, and, with it, wagering revenue on Sydney racing.
And as for the other “furphy” trotted out with monotonous regularity that increasing metropolitan prize money will bring in more investment and owners into racing – let’s treat that with the contempt that it deserves.
Yes, cutting the costs of racing should be front and centre. So why not abolish all track fees, nomination and acceptance fees, scratching fees and stable rents at race clubs.
Now that will make a difference.
To quote that poet Chuckles Berry, how about it, Johnny B Goode while you’re still playing that geetar and pulling those strings like a ringin’ the bell?