OH, RAY THOMAS. YOU’RE SUCH A JOKER! OR SHOULD THAT BE, SUCH A JOKE?
“The runaway success of Sydney’s The Championships has indirectly prompted the Victoria Racing Club to alter its marketing strategies for the iconic Melbourne Cup Carnival. Sydney’s The Championships has set a benchmark for betting turnover and attendance increases taking interest in horse racing to new levels. The Championships have become a national and international brand in less than 12 months putting Sydney’s autumn carnival in the global spotlight”.
This was the lead to Ray Thomas’ bizarre piece in last Saturday’s News Corp rag and Racing NSW mouthpiece – the Daily “smellygraph”. It would be laughable if it was written in jest. To give “uncle Ray” the benefit of the doubt, it was written prior to the disastrous Saturday Rosehill Golden Slipper eve race day, which struggled to attract an attendance of a little over 8000 through the turnstiles.
Taking away owners, trainers, staff, administrators, sponsors and the like, it demolishes the credibility of “uncle Ray’s” claim of benchmarking attendances and “taking interest in horse racing to new levels”.
Even crunching the numbers of the “50,000” participants among the 8000 odd attendees, the result can only be viewed one way: an unmitigated disaster, which no amount of spin can hide.
Contrast this attendance at a meeting on the eve of the Golden Slipper with Flemington’s Super Saturday race meeting, and there is no comparison. The marketing of the Super Saturday concept, the race program and the integration of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival into a separate, but inclusive and integral part of Super Saturday, worked so well that 26,000 clicks were recorded through the turnstiles and turned their racing and entertainment event into one that made Sydneysiders look like also-rans. Or the way the Sri Lankans batted against South African.
It was a simple but highly effective concept and a natural progression from building an event patiently from a “bottom-up” foundation into an event that, one senses, is already well on its way to occupying a permanent and successful place on the events and racing calendar in Victoria and quite possibly as a national racing and entertainment event.
This is yet another compelling reason why the administration of NSW racing needs a complete overhaul.
Does anyone in the NSW racing industry know what NSW racing stands for? Why is it allowed to continue to take its “50,000” participants, the community and the public decision makers in the State Government for fools?
The extremely unhealthy obsession with Melbourne and its successes is just so destructive, one wonders if it is a deliberate distraction from the disunity, division and mistrust that is so rampant in NSW racing.
These jealousies, which often resemble a hatred of anything that emanates successfully from south of the border, is the most destructive “war’ within any sport defined by geographical territorial boundaries that Australia has ever witnessed.
It simply beggars belief that Ray Thomas could continue to embarrass himself and his credibility with such drivel. “A runaway success”?
Mate, the Victorians get 100,000 plus to some of their feature spring carnival days. If a Sydney feature race meeting with a fabulous race card a week before Slipper day could only attract a paltry and embarrassing 8000 through the gate, it hardly augurs well for the Championships, does it? Ray? Ray?
Let’s hope for NSW racing that it is. You would need 50,000 plus attendances, sell outs and queues down Allison Road to even get to first base of a event that could be a success at some future date.
And if the Victorians have signed up Gai Waterhouse and James Cummings for their 2015 spring marketing campaign, does it not demonstrate just how clever, strategic and lateral they are in their thinking?
You’re not suggesting that the Victorian should be barred from using any NSW personalities and talent from their marketing and promotional campaigns are you, Ray?
It reminds us of that very appropriate political truism: You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
BARTLEY GETS BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS
Fairfax Media’s racing reporter Patrick Bartley’s Thursday morning piece in Melbourne’s Age newspaper has confirmed the commonly held views of bleak city racing people that he is a prominent cheer leader for the Tabcorp/Sky/Racing NSW menage-a-trois.
His story titled “Get talks right with Tabcorp”, continues his strident criticisms of the Victorian media rights negotiations between the Victorian Race Clubs and Racing Victoria and Tabcorp, and his belated incarnation as the torch bearer prepared to apply the Bunsen burner to the administration and management of the recently deceased TVN.
If Bartley fancies himself as a self-styled political advisor to the Victorians on the media rights issue, he is grossly exaggerating his own very narrow capabilities.
Urging the Victorians to “be careful and display more than a touch of diplomacy” is the sort of advice that has landed the likes of Obama and George Dubya before him in trouble and given us the mess that is the Middle East.
Reading his piece, one does not need to ponder for too long from where and from whom he is getting what sounds like, smells like and is a “roll over” strategy.
Yes, the Victorians must be soooo careful not to poke the menacing Tabcorp bear whose benevolence to the Australian racing industry knows no limits. What a load of unadulterated drivel.
No doubt, Bartley, like his mates and masters at Druitt Street and their life partner Tabcorp and Victoria’s “ambassador” for Racing NSW, the “rat” within the Victorians’ ranks, would like the media rights signed over to Tabcorp on THEIR terms.
That the Victorians have dared to try and extract the best deal must be seen as an act of defiance- and an online victory. After all, Racing NSW’s on-line coverage was only publicized at the eleventh hour to combat the racing.com “racing live”- though we must add, NOT free- coverage which debuted last Sunday from south of the border.
Bartley is right when he says that there is more at stake than most appreciate. And what is at stake is simple – maximizing the revenue which any state governing body can extract out of organizations that use racing’s vision, be it their pari-mutuel partners, corporate and on-line bookmakers and international racing jurisdictions wagering on Australian racing.
A simple question for Bartley and his mates and masters: Why should the international and on-line media rights be bundled into an agreement with Tabcorp, if a more lucrative arrangement can be negotiated separately?
Australian racing has a wretched history of selling its assets at basement bargain prices. That is exactly what created Sky Channel.
This whole sad and sorry saga with TVN and media rights would and should have been avoided if racing had retained the ownership and control of its media and vision rights. Ditto with the privatisation of the Tabs. And they wonder why Hong Kong racing is just so far ahead of the pack, financially.
It’s called owning your assets and controlling your destiny, something that the so-called first world impostors who control Australian racing have never and still don’t understand.
Rather than toss around terms like mediation and conciliation and make ridiculous comparisons with Kissinger style diplomacy, it would be far better to just come out and advise the Victorians to roll over and give Tabcorp the media rights, lock stock and barrel at whatever price that Tabcorp wishes to pay.
Now that would be a fair sort of an outcome that does not need mediation or conciliation or a cardboard Henry Kissinger cut out, wouldn’t it, Patrick?
SPRING CARNIVAL BREAKS MORE RECORDS FOR THOSE NASTY MEXICANS!
It’s the sort of news that would have got the blood pressure of some of “sin city’s” racing administrators close to having a hissy fit.
The facts: A massive economic benefit to the Victorian economy last year, a surge in interstate and international visitors representing double digit growth in tourism numbers, and, broken down specifically to reveal that a large number of these visitors were motivated by the spring racing carnival to visit bleak city.
What was even more significant in those international visitors figures was the massive increase in numbers of tourists from Asia. The flow-on effect from these figures is unquantifiable.
What is beyond doubt is that the spring racing carnival is the bright shining light for racing – not just in Victoria, but for Australia.
For a significant part of the year, racing, thanks to the spring racing carnival, manages to capture the focus and attention of the community and keep racing alive in the hearts and minds of Australians. But there is another more important and unrecognized benefit.
The economic benefits that the spring racing carnival delivers to Victoria is a compelling reminder to State Governments and decision makers that racing demands and deserves support to grow and prosper without hindrance.
No state government can ignore events that deliver tangible economic benefits of this magnitude.
For its part, racing must be confident, but not unreasonable in its demands, in its negotiations and, ultimately, in developing relationships with Governments.
The Victorians, and, particularly the VRC, have shown the rest of the States how it can be done.
Imagine, yes imagine if the Victorians and NSW can get together and work collaboratively to promote and grow their spring and autumn carnivals, sharing their resources, strategies and expertise. Could it happen? Nah, not while this wasteful war of attrition is being waged.
JUST DO IT, MICHAEL AND ROW THAT BLOODY BOAT ASHORE!
Whilst on the subject of Victoria’s bumper spring racing carnival we listened in to VRC Chairman Michael Burn’s interview with Shane O on Melbourne radio’s RSN, the spooky Dead Man Walking station aimed at people about to kick the bucket.
To Shane O’s credit, he asked Mr Burn an awkward question relating to the laughable year-long vacant Chief Executive position at Australia’s premier race club.
Try as he might, Mr Burn just couldn’t spin his way out of it. Telling Shane O that he made no apologies for taking so long to fill the vacancy, because the VRC had “to get it right” in finding their new Chief Executive, just does not wash.
From what we know pretty damn well, the VRC and, in particular, Mr Burn, have botched the process up. His failure to get his preferred million dollar plus candidate up resulted in a divided Committee forcing the Club to go back to the drawing board and start the head hunting process all over again with no guarantee that they will get it right the second time around.
To make an already ridiculous situation even more inexcusably confusing, Mr Burn went to great lengths to praise the work of the acting Chief Executive Julian Sullivan and his management team for the runaway success of the spring racing carnival and for keeping the Club ticking over while “the Emperor Nero” and his Club continue with their fiddling.
A simple and pointed bit of advice for you, Mr Burn and your Committee: You better move- and move quickly, just like the NRL and AFL Clubs do, and sign up and secure your best “players” before they are poached. Remember elite “players” are very difficult to replace.
You have a standout candidate acting as the Chief Executive. Take the “acting” out of the title, Michael. Just do it!
THE COBALT VET
Yet another cobalt rumour has proven to be on the money. Again last week, the “inner sanctum” was buzzing with news that a Victorian veterinarian was the subject of investigation for supplying a bunch of Victorian trainers with the dreaded cobalt chloride, the culprit of the cobalt scandals which have rocked Victorian, NSW and Queensland racing.
According to a report on Victoria’s racing.com, their Chief Steward, Terry Bailey, has stated that the sale/supply of the cobalt chloride by this vet occurred before the introduction of the cobalt threshold and investigations have been proceeding since that time.
The cobalt sagas in the three states keep taking a new and bizarre twist by the day. And with Darren Smith’s 15 year career-ending disqualification announced on Friday, the message to trainers, and for that matter, anyone contemplating breaking the rules relating to prohibited substances, cannot be clearer.
Darren Smith’s penalty will send more than a shiver down the spines of trainers under investigation. It will result in permanent George Castanza shrinkage.