NEW CHANNEL CARRIES PLENTY OF HOPE
Saturday’s Melbourne race meeting at Caulfield carries significance which cannot be understated with the launch of the much-anticipated free-to-air racing only channel – Channel 78 (aka Racing.Com), a joint venture between Racing Victoria and the Seven Network.
There is a lot of stake for Victorian racing and, down the track, for Australian racing, contingent on the success or failure of this bold new initiative. At this early stage, the omens are good for racing’s only free-to-air-channel. It has a separate Board with the Seven Network providing a much-needed media expertise component, and, unlike the failed TVN Board structure, does not have the corrosive inter-state element to deal with internally, which ultimately led to its demise.
The Oz racing industry, in particular, must be patient, and the new Channel be given a proper chance to meet the lofty expectations that are embedded in its charter. Of course, the usual naysayers will seize on every trivial mistake that is bound to be made in its infancy to launch into a critique of Channel 78. That’s a given. Let’s get trivial, trivial, let’s get trivial, let me hear everybody talk la la la…
The new channel should be given a clean slate to start off with – and that includes the entire presentation team. They surely can’t be as bad as the tired old faces and voices that the Sky trifecta of channels inflicts on its viewing audience, could they?
Having said this, rumblings from well-placed sources suggest that this is a hurriedly cobbled together team from the same old well that the global racing world continues to visit with great monotony, whereas contracts and agreements are still up in the air.
Given the target audience, however, and Seven’s expertise in the broadcasting of other sports, there are certain to be subtle shifts in the presentation of racing towards- oh puhleeeese- an improved presentation of racing with a flow of relevant punter-friendly information through the afternoon. Oh puhleeeese.
Much will also depend on the management and expertise of its day-to-day management team, and this is an area which the Board of Racing.com will need to scrutinize with diligence. Racing and racing-related ventures have a very poor history in their choice of management and leadership.
The Channel 78 Chief Executive Scott Perrin is a racehorse owner, but to our knowledge, does not have media expertise on his CV. He is best known as one of the founders of the global leisure and surf wear clothing brand Billabong, which has had a chequered commercial history, and, more recently, as a partner in ill-fated iron ore miner Western Desert Resources which was liquidated just last April.
Doesn’t exactly fill us with confidence, but we live in hope that those being paid the Big Bucks know what they’re doing and who they’re hiring. If not, beware of that runaway choo choo train.
Perrin could not have had an easier media interview than the one last Wednesday by his employee Shane O Anderson on RSN. It was a predictably soft cock interview, the type Shane O excels at when grovelling- sorry- interviewing his employers or management. No Leigh Sales or Tony Jones or Kerry O’Brien style ABC scrutiny of their own bosses for our darling boy Shane O. Nevertheless, Perrin was unimpressive and may need media training from within his own organization. Frankly, he was fatuous and as boring as smoking a bad bong.
That aside, Channel 78 should/could be a turning point for the way Australian racing is presented and showcased. Let’s hope so. Say eight Hail Marys and go to bed.
AUSTRALIAN RACING’S DEFIANT PUSH TOWARDS DENIAL (AND WE DON’T MEAN THE RIVER IN EGYPT)
The very deliberate push by sections of the racing media to defiantly remain ball and chained to a past era, which passed them by several decades ago, encapsulates the damage that some of these dinosaurs are continuing to inflict on Australian racing.
We’re talking of the garbage that is being written and commentated on by the same old bunch of usual suspects who continue to try their hardest to hijack and dumb down to the lowest common denominator the debate about some of the most important issues facing racing at the most crucial time in its history. This is a debate orchestrated by a bunch of “village idiots” given free rein by their sports editors and chiefs of staff in the print media, and by station managers and producers in radio land, to manufacture controversy and rekindle the darker side of nostalgia that lurks in the mindset of those who remain in denial about embracing and introducing changes that could define the future of Australian racing.
While there are some like Patrick Bartley and Patrick Smith, who clearly recognize and understand the relentless damage being inflicted on racing by every drug scandal, and the active collusion between a growing band of cheats and a small section of administrators to exert pressure and influence the outcomes of investigations, there are others in the “fourth estate” who view racing and the world through myopic eyes.
These are the same members of the racing media who have a view on everything, including mostly what they don’t understand at the most basic level, who are rabid social media trolls, and are addicted to preserving some of the more dangerous and highly questionable thinking of a past era which would comfortably survive in pre-historic times.
For these dinosaurs, who view change as an enemy of racing and yearn for the continuation of a meaningless wall-to-wall coverage of racing to satisfy the dwindling numbers of robotic punters whose mediums of choice are the hopelessly unprofitable racing radio stations and the puerile trifecta of Sky pay-tv stations, the decisive move to the free-to-air-model, and what it will bring to the racing landscape, will prove, sooner rather than later, that they are part of the problem and not part of the solution.
Mercifully, racing will soon be spared the dangerous partisan commentary written and spoken duplicitously attempting to shift responsibility for drug positives away from licensed persons and on to the Governing Bodies questioning anything and everything to do with veterinary science, thresholds, animal welfare, stable security, and so it goes on and on.
What these knuckleheaded racing journos fail hopelessly to understand is that with the issuing of a license comes all responsibility. Alibis are just that and nothing else. They make licensed persons look as silly as the writers and commentators who trot out the garbage that drags racing down to the bogan levels that both groups have been part of and will continue to be.
It continues to beggar belief the failure to realize that a drug is a drug is a drug, cheating is cheating, race fixing is race fixing. There is no sugar coating. Seeking mercy because of one’s contribution to promoting racing should and must not be entertained. Racing must stand up and be counted, like cycling did with Lance Armstrong, like cricket and the AFL and the NRL, like Athletics, like soccer have, individually and collectively done, with drug cheats and match fixers. Zero tolerance cannot be compromised. Racing must send a clear and unequivocal message that cheats in any shape or form are treated with the penalties they deserve.
And for any racing journo to invoke the “mates act” to defend one of their kind, or one of their licensed mates, seriously compromises whatever credibility they may have claimed to have had in the past. They are so reflective of many in the racing community who continue to defiantly slide towards the past, and, inevitably, drag racing down with them.
DON’T “KILL” THE HUNTER
The decision by the NSW State Government’s Department of Planning to approve mining in the Hunter Valley is a dagger into the heart of Australia’s breeding industry, and one which is rapidly emerging as a world class breeding nursery on par with the best anywhere in the world.
The power of the mining industry, as has been observed here on numerous occasions previously, is omnipresent. It transcends political divisions in Australia. The Hunter breeders have done an unbelievable job is stemming the inevitable mining tidal wave for as long as this. Successive State Governments of both political persuasions have paid little more than lip service to the recommendations of their own Independent Planning Commission that mining should not go ahead in an area which is the crucible of the breeding industry in Australia. The latest “green lighting” of mining in the Hunterby Department of Planning is compelling evidence of this.
It can, should, and must be overturned by the Baird Government. Mike Baird and Racing Minister Troy Grant hold the future of the NSW, and by extension, the Australian breeding industry in their hands.
From a purely economic perspective mining will bring more dollars into the NSW and Australian economy, but, importantly, it will decimate the NSW breeding industry with a host of the big names including the “giants” in Coolmore and Darley forced to relocate, more than likely to Victoria, or, in Coolmore’s case, to even New Zealand. The implications for NSW racing would be massive.
Already beset by a raft of problems of its own making in its governance and administration, and hopelessly lacking in a direction or cohesive strategy, NSW racing can ill-afford to lose its USP and its clear point of difference to a bunch of miners who would mine The Rocks if they found coal seam gas underground. It would clearly further marginalize NSW racing, and destroy one of the shining lights of Australian racing.
Now, here is a legitimate war that has to be fought, unlike so many of the huffing and puffing and unnecessary and costly wars of attrition which have been instigated and fought for all the wrong reasons in the courts of NSW.
It begs the obvious question as to why NSW racing hasn’t called on “Major General” V’landys to don his combat fatigues, marshal the troops and do what he does best, and fight the enemy on land, sea or air or the nearest or furthest planet? Wait: V’Lundies might be busy threatening legal action someone or another for something or another. It’s what the wildebeest does best and raison d’être.
It should not be left to the Hunter breeders to fight this battle. NSW racing, the State Government, and both political parties must unite and save the Hunter breeding industry from its possible extinction if the miners are given free rein to turn the Hunter into one big coal mine.
EAST OF AIDEN
News coming out of the UK has again resurrected speculation that Aidan O’Brien could be leaving the Coolmore base at Ballydoyle in Ireland with up and coming UK trainer David O’Meara’s name thrown in as a possible replacement.
Aidan O’Brien has been pivotal to the success of Coolmore in the modern era, overseeing a production line of successful classic winners in the northern hemisphere who have then formed the base of sustained success as world class stallions in the breeding barns of the UK and North America and Australia. It is not the first time such speculation has surfaced, but Coolmore has “form” when it comes to changing their stable jockeys. Right?
THE NATIVES ARE GETTING RESTLESS AGAIN…
The noises are getting louder from NSW Country Clubs about some of their Directors, who are licensed persons, being forced by Racing NSW to choose between holding their trainers licences and their Board positions on the basis of a “conflict of interest”. It has raised more than the ire of some of the Clubs and their Directors who are pointing the finger at Racing NSW Chairman John “the messiah” Messara, who wears so many hats in the racing industry, it would make a milliner blush.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
Curious piece on the Racing NSW website announcing the launch of “Racing Mates” – described as a peer support program to “empower mates to look out for mates”. Racing NSW chief waffler and spinner extraordinaire Mano Vlundies, who, these days, proudly adds the AM moniker to his name, was at his waffling best describing racing mates as “more than just a hotline or counsellor, it’s about mates supporting mates at a time when it’s most needed.” Makes you proud to be part of that wonderful ozzie ozzie ozzie tradition of down under mateship, doesn’t it? And to have those sentiments uttered from the mouth of the numero uno of NSW racing is just so special. And kinda creepy in a Norman Bates kinda way.
One question: One wonders how many “mates” would turn to “mate Vlundies” at a time when it’s most needed? Do the “ayes” have it by an overwhelming show of hands or should there be a call for a recount?
Interesting that the new free-to-air Channel 78 has chosen prominent corporate bookmakers Crownbet and Ladbrokes as their wagering partners. The no show by Tabcorp on the new Channel is a talking point in Melbourne racing circles. No doubt the relationship between Racing Victoria and Tabcorp is fractured with some suggesting it may have seen better days.
Is the ubiquitous China Horse Club in the market to set up a major breeding venture in Victoria? Bleak city spies suggest some prominent names associated with the China Horse Club have visited the State in recent times checking out real estate breeding opportunities in the State.