James Mathers on the leadership issues affecting racing in Australia

Dear Hans

Thank you for your very good article on leadership in the racing industry published last Friday. An outstanding article.

In recent days, I have been pilloried on Twitter because of my criticism of the lack of leadership in the Australian racing industry. Understandably, many people are sick of my criticism, and guess what, so am I.

However the facts speak for themselves. I outline below a list of some of the serious issues which have plagued the industry over the past 5 to 10 year, as follows:

* Racing boards in the states of New South Wales ,Queensland and Victoria have regularly been sacked and replaced by the respective State Government Racing Ministers

* Race clubs have had to endure significant upheaval with directors being removed by members and in one case a Chairman

* Recently the Chairman of Racing Victoria resigned after an investigation

* The chief steward of Racing Victoria was targeted in a shooting

* A senior executive of a race club was temporarily disqualified from the industry and then sacked by the race club

* We had a betting club scam when more than 1000 punters were stripped of $140million

* We have had numerous legal issues and squabbles some of which are still ongoing

* We had the cobalt saga and I believe that is still ongoing

* We have had a leading trainers walk away from the industry due to cobalt related investigations

* We have had leading vets disqualified

* We have had disputes between RNSW and New South Wales thoroughbred breeders

* We have had disputes between RNSW and veterinary surgeons

* In New South Wales we have been the subject of an unfortunate investigative journalist article

* We are experiencing a sickening decline in race day crowds in New South Wales

All of these issues are very serious issues and many result from poor leadership and poor process of appointment of leaders.

Sadly I think many parts of the industry in Australia are in denial. Only last week on an ABC 7.30 report RNSW described some complaining and trainers as self-labelled victims. In many ways I believe that these so-called “complaining and whingeing” trainers are victims. In the matter of Bindi Cheers, I understand one of her complaints related to kangaroos advancing onto the track at Taree. Be assured, kangaroos and racehorses don’t mix. When a race horse gets spooked by a kangaroo anything can happen and certainly riders and handlers lives are endangered. So yes, on this point alone Bindi is a victim and certainly had a valid complaint.

The industry certainly has its glamorous side but the flipside is that it is an industry full of battlers- people who work very very hard under difficult conditions, but sadly don’t go very far in life. These people are downtrodden and I really do ask the question, what is the industry doing for the battlers.

I will shortly write to the Chairman of RNSW in relation to a number of key issues such as welfare of retired racehorses, education and continuing education of trainers, stable hands, jockeys and track work riders, RNSW prizemoney policy, the real remuneration of the 50,000 participants, the welfare of the battlers in the industry, relationships between race clubs and between states, stable facilities at all tracks, costs to owners e.g. stable rents, track fees, barrier trial fees, quality of media, our financial relationships with the main media, and other matters.

If all was well in the world of racing in Australia, I would have no need to raise these issues.

You may well ask why do I care. My simple answer is I do and I just want to see our great racing industry in Australia really thrive. Other than this I have no personal agenda.

I won’t pretend that all is well when it isn’t!


James Mathers

This entry was posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, HORSE RACING AND SOCIAL MEDIA, Racing NSW, The horse racing industry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to James Mathers on the leadership issues affecting racing in Australia

  1. Bob McHarg says:

    James. I do know that Bob Bentley when Chairman of Racing Queensland and Chairman of the ARB went to Canberra several times to get the Federal Sports Minister to have Racing included in his portfolio. This did not happen. Eg We are a national business with four separate Handicaping systems operating in different States

    Bob McHarg

  2. Ron says:

    And while all this is going on we have the laughable promotion of The Everest and the ridiculous Championships aimed at trying to rival the Melbourne Spring Carnival which will never ever happen!

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