WHY NSW RACING NEEDS TO GO UP THE COUNTRY (LIKE CANNED HEAT)
Never in their delirious states of optimistic delusion could The Boffins of Druitt Street (good name for a reality TV series), have ever imagined the traction and success of the Country Championships concept of the Autumn Carnival Championships.
Nor would they have imagined that it could blindside their burning ambition to throw whatever monies they could extract from the State Government through a possible lower tax take out rate, and throw it into city prize money.
After all they’ve just got to crush those bleak city Mexicans and do them over with $100,000 stakes for Saturday Sydney meetings, though struggling to get all eight races with field sizes over, sheesh, eight starters.
But lets not forget, the prize money saved with the small fields go back into the coffers of Racing NSW, so it’s a win, win isn’t it?
Racing Minister Troy Grant could not have helped but notice how the Country Championships series has not only revived the ailing country and provincial sectors, but demonstrated- convincingly- that these sectors, neglected for so long by the governing body, could throw NSW racing a much needed lifeline to regenerate interest in racing across NSW, and, heaven forbid, open up racehorse ownership and syndication amongst a country demographic which has been equally neglected for a similar period of time.
The provincial and country folk have voted with their feet and, enthusiastically, with attendances and interest at levels last seen in the Fifties and Sixties.
If The Boffins of Druitt Street were freed of their sometimes self-imposed shacked mentality and cooperated with their country counterparts and threw some real prize money dollars at developing provincial and country series with elevated prize money levels for horses trained in those areas, replicating the Country Championships, it would substantially redress the imbalance between city and country- an imbalance which has successfully road blocked the development of racing in NSW.
For this scenario to become a reality, Troy Grant must, in the interests of the wider NSW racing industry, ensure that any additional funding gained by Racing NSW thorough take out tax parity with the other States is specifically prioritized towards redressing this glaring and fundamental imbalance between city and country and through some real achievable initiatives to reduce the cost of racing to ALL owners and participants – not just the chosen few, who so lopsidedly control the decision making functions of the NSW racing industry.
SAM KAVANAGH: THE LATEST “COBALT” VICTIM. (IS THERE AN END IN SIGHT, RAY?)
The news that Sam Kavanagh had fallen victim to the cobalt curse that has confronted racing in Oz is another unwanted upper-cut to the image of racing, which is almost out for the count, especially when looked at from afar.
Sam “Som” Kavanagh (son of the Mighty Mark), has made quite a sudden impact on Sydney racing in the past several months and enjoying a great run of success in the metropolitan and provincial areas of NSW with his expanding team of horses. It was this success which resulted in Sam “Som” being granted extra boxes to accommodate the door knockers eager to hire him to train their horses.
It was a roll of the dice when Sam “Som” decided to go it alone and leave the comfortable environment of his home town – the sleepy hollow that is Adelaide, and move to the “big smoke” in Sydney nearly two years or more ago. He could quite easily have moved to Melbourne and worked alongside his father Mark, but full marks to his courage for trying to move out of the shadow of his successful father and try to make it on his own.
It is to be hoped that there is or are legitimate reasons for cobalt and caffeine positives returned by the now deceased Midsummer Sun that will spare Sam “Son” and his family the agony of going through another trauma with the “cobalt curse” that is battering the image of Australian racing.
But as everyone in racing acknowledges, the integrity of racing cannot and must not be compromised.
The penalties, and severe ones at that, must be a significant deterrent to any trainer, jockey, owner, stable hand or administrator contemplating breaking the rules.
There can’t be another token slap on the limp wrist for fear of taking on and taking in an “untouchable”.
If the rumours are right, and regrettably they have been so far, then there are a few other very nervous trainers – well known and successful names at that- who are beginning to suffer from insomnia anticipating a dreaded telephone call from the racing police when the rooster crows at the break of dawn.
JAMES MCDONALD HITS SHEIKH MO’S GODOLPHIN JACKPOT
It came as no surprise to hear that James McDonald will make cameo appearances in Europe during the new flat racing season for his retainer – Sheikh Mo’s Godolphin bohemiath.
Just as William Buick and James Doyle, Godolphin’s retained northern hemisphere jockeys, are riding in both Sydney and Melbourne this weekend and over the next month or more during the “Championships”, McDonald will get his chance to ride against some of the world’s best in Europe over their new flat racing season in some of the most prestigious black type races in the northern hemisphere.
It’s a massive show of faith in James, who is, undoubtedly, ready to take on the world’s best.
James McDonald has become a world class jockey and, along with Hughie Bowman, ranks arguably as the best two hoops in Sydney, and along with Damien Oliver, makes up the “big three” in the Australian riding roster.
If his ability to make such a huge impact on Australian racing in such a short period of time is any indication, then James McDonald will grab this opportunity with both hands and European racing will soon get to know him for all the right reasons.
NEWMARKET: THE WORLD’S BEST SPRINT RACE
If international ratings are any guide, then tomorrow’s Newmarket Handicap down the Flemington straight promises to be one of the world’s best sprint races in 2015, with the world’s three best sprinters – Lankan Rupee, Terravista and Chautauqua clashing in a race that should have every passionate racing fan salivating.
Their last clash in the VRC Sprint Classic last spring saw Terravista, courtesy of a brilliant Hugh Bowman ride, nose out Chautauqua and Lankan Rupee.
To be successful in the Newmarket, Terravista would have to equal a record set in the early 1900’s to win the prestigious 1200 metre Group One sprint at his first run from a spell. It’s an awesome challenge that Joe Pride has chosen for himself and his world class sprinter, but Joe is one of the best in Sydney and relishes a challenge. At stake is the title of “world’s best sprinter”.
Lankan Rupee, the title holder and Australia’s Champion Racehorse of last season, has returned to racing in awesome style, thrashing the “pretender” Deep Field comprehensively in the Lightning Stakes three weeks ago and burning the track with his work since.
He will rank as one of the greats if he can give weight to his rivals and equal the weight that the great Hay List carried to victory not that long ago. Win the Newmarket and he will retain his title.
Chautauqua, meanwhile, is ready for his big test. Nothing short of a victory with his weight advantage and liking for the Flemington straight will suffice. He is capable, has gears, is tuned up and ready for revenge over his two arch rivals.
And then there’s Brazen Beau, the upstart three year old colt, winner of the Group One Coolmore down the straight in the spring under the genius of the “magic man” Joao Moreira.
Joao returns to partner him on Saturday and with his light weight and eye catching effort in the Lightning to chase home Lankan Rupee, Brazen Beau is more than a wild card. He is on his way to Royal Ascot for their carnival and the Waller camp are bullish about his chances.
It’s a race to savour, whether on course or watching from near and far.
RACING LIVE DEBUTS ON SUNDAY. (AND JO JO GETS BACK TO WHERE SHE BELONGS)
Racing Victoria’s new digital and online racing channel “Racing Live” will make its debut this Sunday and will operate through the racing.com website.
It’s part of the Victorian response to the messy break-up of TVN and the as yet unresolved issues with Tabcorp surrounding the value of Victorian media rights, which, despite the repetitious and misleading assurances by the Victorians, seem no closer to a solution than they have for the past two years and more.
At some point in time, and sooner than later, one of the two parties will have to call the other’s bluff and bring matters to a head.
For the Victorians, this will depend largely on how united the Clubs and their Governing Body will be in locking horns with their wagering partner. And it will also depend on the progress of negotiations with the Seven Network and some other very interesting strategies that the Victorian grapevine tells us are being seriously contemplated.
However, Racing Live will mark the return to Victorian racing screens of the lovely Jo Mackinnon, and, not known to many, one-time backup chanteuse for the group Earth Wind and Fire.
Jo Jo is a great racing person- articulate, smart and knowledgeable- and with a great personal interviewing style that will be a welcome addition to the broadcast team.
Racing Live will also see Shane Anderson, or Shane O as we like to call the deliciously darling boy and just sooooo earnest, take on hosting duties.
Now, Shane-O ,who hosts the morning program on bleak city’s RSN, the home of surreal funeral home radio spots, sometimes fancies himself as a Leigh Sales or Kerry O’Brien style 7.30 Report host and interviewer. Or the Scarlet Pimpernel.
We hope for his sake- and Racing Live- he realises that racing is about entertainment and not the belligerent blow torch to the belly-style reporting which will only turn viewers off in droves.
And Shane O one more bit of advice, darling boy: No more girlie man giggles when you are interviewing your new bestie Wayne “Fonc” Hawkes. Shane-O and Wayne-O. Oh, my my my.