By Hans Ebert
Racing writer Shane Anderson recently tried his hand at writing a satirical piece on Peter V’landys, the CEO of Racing New South Wales, and seen by many as the Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Willy Wonka, and Kim Jong-un of Australian racing.
What was telling was Shane-O having to emphasise that this was only a wild and crazy stab at satire with the disclaimer, “Written with tongue firmly planted in cheek.” Oh, Shane-O, you naughty, naughty boy!
The number one rule when writing satire is not to spell out that something is satire. The disclaimer could even be seen as Shane-O being told to write something a tad critical about The Man Who Would Be King, and coming up with bibs and bobs, most of which have been read before elsewhere, when actually wanting desperately to remain in the good book of commandments of Brother Peter.
Shane-O’s piece asks more questions than offers any answers. It’s further proof of the paranoia and resentment that has come to a head between the leaderless and lost at sea Racing Victoria and the smoke and mirrors that have always clouded the truth about Racing NSW.
The Championships were a success? Really? If not for Winx, and to a lesser degree, the win of Chautaqua, what does anyone remember about two days of racing on Heavy 8-10 tracks? Anyone remember winning? Isn’t this why race-goers are in racing? To win? And one can win throwing good money away on horses running on tracks that didn’t suit most of them? Wow! What a concept: Throwing away good money after bad.
Knowing that when one has the enemy against the ropes, you pummel them. That’s quite obviously Peter V’landys latest plan of attack. Those in charge of holding down Racing Victoria’s house of cards might point to numbers and the success of its beloved Spring Carnival, but it’s false bluster. Shane-O’s timely piece of “satire” replete with disclaimer, reads more like a corporate press release to try and stop the relentless long march by Peter The Grating One to conquer and control all of racing in Australia. Who’s going to stop him?
Hell, after ensuring that TVN would never ever happen, Peter V’landys has stomped all over his opposition, kicked sand in their face, and made them come across looking like 98 pound weaklings. He’s Biff and they’re Marty McFlys. Once a Biff gets a taste for power, they’re never satisfied. They want more and more. Just ask Hannibal Lecter about a taste for power and control over a nice bottle of Chianti.
It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that knowing full well the many weaknesses and void in the leadership of racing in Victoria, and, after what is an eternity, this unenviable role being finally handed over to the still unproven Giles Thompson, below, Peter V’landys believes that his not-so-quiet revolution has succeeded.
Who can blame him? After all, RVL has done such a splendid job of shooting itself in the foot over and over again with U-turns, backflips, investigations, castigations, drive-by shootings that just disappeared into the midnight air, crooks, cheats, liars, bullying and no one knowing fact from fiction, that it’s a minor miracle the racing club has even been able to plod along without getting the bullet.
One doesn’t envy Giles Thompson’s job in trying to right all these wrongs before more pock marks appear as he tries to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. But how long would this take and who’s his backup? These guys?
When RSN’s Michael Felgate lobbed a few softball questions his way during the early days of the hastily put together “Everest” race, it was evident that Peter V’landys had found new fertile ground he could march through. And so while Mike Symonds, Chairman of the Melbourne Racing Club, and Simon Love, the low key CEO of Victoria Racing made mewing sounds, and seemed to cower in the background, The Man Who Would Be King took on a dismissive air, and didn’t lose a beat in putting forward his McAgenda that remains half baked at best despite the hype, and the goalposts constantly being moved to make this “initiative” a success for at least the first year. Let’s remember that McEverest is a three-year circus of racing entertainment.
Who knows? Peter V’landys probably already believes that the Melbourne Spring Carnival and racing in Victoria are now part of his portfolio. Who’s there to challenge him? No one- at least not in Australia. And knowing this means all roads lead straight to him. There are no roadblocks. And with a racing media that suffers from shrinkage even thinking about asking V’landys the hard questions, he’s a law unto himself. He’s Kim Jong-un on a kimchi roll.
Like Trump quickly short-circuiting the roles of his inner sanctum comprising Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and others who helped him get elected the moment they were seen as being the real power behind the throne, Peter V’landys no doubt wants to be be seen as a one man team- a tour de force, who, singlehandedly, has made Australian racing great again.
Easy, Pete. Perhaps rein it in a tad. Almost every leader in every industry who leads through power games have enemies within. This often means meeting their Waterloo. Just ask Caesar. Or Marie Antoinette. Or Napoleon.
Having never met the man, and being in Hong Kong, but with investments in Australia, including keeping an eye on those in the racing industry, Peter V’landys is an interesting case study to try and understand- someone who, at least from afar, comes across as being equal parts opportunist, warmonger, hype merchant, and narcissist. In reality, he’s probably a lovely man with a penchant for being a legend in his own lunchtime. Nothing wrong with this. We all suffer from delusions of grandeur from time to time.
Is he a leader? Yes, at least in title. And if one were to read about the miracles he has performed according to the scriptures of his disciples, here’s a man amongst men who could feed his flock, turn Everest into slots- Sun Racing with its ties to the casinos in Macau has bought slots…and received receipts???Hmmmm- and with perhaps even the added attraction of six races across Sydney Harbour Bridge. What’s the bet that the announcement of an Everest Weekend Racing Carnival is around the corner, perhaps even with a reformed Moody Blues providing the entertainment and the whole shebang held on Sydney Harbour Bridge?
The latter, by the way, is the latest daft idea from some marketing boffins: Horse races held anywhere except on a racecourse, with, apparently, the HKJC having already been approached to hold a race down Nathan Road in Hong Kong. Stop it, you’re killing me.
What’s concerning about Peter V’landys is that good leaders don’t lead through fear and intimidation with a public relations army around them comprising a compliant racing media and current and former big name trainers, except for the untouchable Lady GaiGai, to enhance and protect a brand. This shows a chink in the armour and that Achilles heel mentioned earlier.