Jenny - Clean
 

MAIN WEDNESDAY WHINGE THIS WEEK:

SUMMER CARNIVAL PROPAGANDA POOR TIMING BY RACING QUEENSLAND

TIMING is everything and the sooner those responsible for the thankless job of running racing in Queensland realize that the better chance they will have of regaining some lost respect in the eyes of the industry.

The last thing stakeholders wanted to hear on Tuesday – after almost a week of lost meetings due to the big wet – was how wonderful the Summer Carnival was going to be.

What they want to know right now is how officialdom plans to compensate them for the hundreds of thousands of dollars lost in prizemoney due to the abandonment of meetings because the deluge has made tracks across the south-east unsafe for racing.

This is the wrong time to be telling them that the ‘Queensland Summer Carnival is fast approaching’ and urging them to ‘set their horses to shine with over $15 million prizemoney and $1.6mn in bonuses on offer between November 17 and January 26.

Their focus right now isn’t on the ‘21 Black Type races across seven carefully spaced meetings’ leading up to the grand final – the $10 million Magic Millions Race Day at the Gold Coast on January 12.

They need to know when the prizemoney they have lost the opportunity to earn over the past week will be replaced – if at all – or whether officialdom will keep the lion’s share and simply offer a pittance extra race or two at up-coming meetings as has happened in the past.

It’s time for industry stakeholder groups to demand extra meetings – like double-headers at the Sunshine Coast where eight races can be programmed from lunch-time and another eight that evening to ensure prizemoney from these washed out meetings is not lost.

The last thing they need to know right now is about Summer Carnival riches that will largely go to interstate visitors or Magic Millions Day where millions of dollars of taxpayer and industry money finds its way into the pockets of one of Australia’s richest men and a week-long sales-related program that largely benefits a private enterprise company.

Is it little wonder that the lack of confidence disease that has seen punters walk away from racing in Queensland is spreading (albeit from different symptoms) to other just as important sections of the industry like owners, trainers, jockeys and breeders.

When will those running the industry or the Governments that put them there ever learn? Never, it seems! Little wonder Queensland continues to fall further behind the southern states in the prizemoney race when they can’t even ensure that the amounts already allocated are distributed every time meetings are lost because or rain.

As if the stint on the sideline for Eagle Farm wasn’t enough of an embarrassment for racing in Queensland not to mention the dud TAB deal or the latest controversy involving distribution of the Point of Consumption Tax by the Labor Government, it seems the industry is destined to stagger from one disaster to another.

Instead of worrying about the ‘red hots’ which arguably have little or no future after shooting themselves in the foot for far too long, if the powers that be are determined to provide infrastructure for the minor codes then it should include an all-weather gallops track to ensure there is a venue in the event of these big wets that cause so much chaos.

Imagine if racing still had Albion Park racing on a different surface to sand. The venue is perfect and the trots and dogs could ensure it was a multi-use venue. After all the trots is little more than a side-show to the main events from the other codes, especially the gallops these days, and if they want to survive this should be made a part of that contingency plan.

 

‘ADDING A RACE OR TWO TO REGULAR PROGRAMS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH’

THIS letter to the WHINGE from a PROMINENT INDUSTRY IDENTITY sums up the feelings of MANY QUEENSLAND STAKEHOLDERS:

THE big wet that has deluged south-east Queensland in the past week has cost owners a mountain of prizemoney; trainers and jockeys a substantial earn; and the industry much more in betting turnover.

Abandonments were beyond the control of those running racing when tracks became unsafe for racing. Perhaps there should have been more postponements but the duration of the rain made that difficult to program.

What concerns most involved in racing in Queensland is the lack of news on how the industry will be compensated for the hundreds of thousands – even millions – lost because of these washed out meetings.

About the only thing that happened in a hurry was the postponement of last Friday’s Toowoomba meeting to Monday when an additional two races were added to the card.

What about the racing lost at Doomben, Gold Coast, Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast not to mention a host of other smaller venues? Surely we are not going to see the usual from Racing Queensland of a race or two added to up-coming programs. That is simply penny-pinching and not good enough.

More to the point what happens to the stakes money that is saved because races weren’t run. This policy has been allowed to occur for far too long by those in stakeholder groups who don’t seem to have the guts to take officialdom on.

Why not run double-headers at the Sunshine Coast – an afternoon and a night meeting on the one card – on a Friday to coincide with night meetings in Victoria or on a Sunday to coincide with Hong Kong.

Simply upping the ante to a nine or 10-race card is not compensating the industry for the prizemoney lost when an entire meeting is washed out. It’s downright cheating them of what they are entitled to!  

 

BIG MEETINGS ON ONE DAY CAN WORK EFFECTIVELY IN TWO STATES

DESPITE the Border war debate and the Opera House debacle in the lead-up to The Everest, Saturday proved a point that two major meetings in two different States can work effectively.

The Everest might have attracted a fair bigger crowd in Sydney than the Caulfield Guineas meeting did in Melbourne but from a punters’ perspective the latter, with four Group 1’s on the card, was the winner.

And when it comes to crowds Everest Day will pale into insignificance – even if the open the in-field at Randwick – in comparison with the big meetings Cup week at Flemington in the spring.

From a future perspective the old cliché of ‘racing will be the big winner’ will be spot-on when Sydney and Melbourne officials focus on making Everest and Guineas Days major drawcards in their particular States.

Ray Thomas, Racing Editor for the Sydney Telegraph and regarded by many as the media pin-up boy of Peter V’landys and the ‘spin doctor’ for all things Racing NSW, was quick to boast that The Everest had become second biggest betting day in Australian racing with overall wagering turnover set to soar beyond the $100 million mark.    

Thomas was quick to highlight an 11 per cent increase on last year’s inaugural Everest turnover but neglected to mention that the record was contributed to significantly by betting on the Guineas meeting at Caulfield.

Punters aren’t interested in arguments over race clash schedules; or whether racing in NSW is waging an unwinnable war to take over as pacesetter from Victoria. All the Opera House controversy did was involve some high profile political and media identities in a crap fight that made headlines on the front pages of paper and arguably dragged more people to the races.

Those betting on the meeting are only interested in the contest between the horses in The Everest and to a lesser degree The Koscuiszko – where the best from the bush raced for a purse that would have one might suggest purchased the entire field. There is also the argument that the $13 million up for grabs in The Everest would have attracted no lesser field had it been run for $1-$2 million.

The sole race of topliners that fronted the starter and a ‘bog’ track for The Everest – when similar conditions confronted The Championships there was talk of moving it to November -  was never going to be as attractive for the racing purists or the punters as the G1 bonanza at Caulfield – a great dress-rehearsal to even bigger riches in the Melbourne Spring.

Ironically, it was a Sydney star in The Autumn Sun that captured many headlines after his stunning win in the Caulfield Guineas. Alas trainer Chris Waller does not want to threaten the party for ‘Bambi’ in the Cox Plate and he will be in the spelling paddock when he should be taking on super star Winx on Saturday week.

All that was missing at Caulfield last Saturday was the bog track which detracted from the Randwick meeting (but that was in the lap of the Gods) and many of the top jockeys (who could not be in two places at the same time). The fact that the timing of The Everest meant that the Caulfield Guineas had to be slotted later was of little consequence at the end of the day.    

The last thing Victorian officials should do is tinker with the card – leave it at 10 races and don’t move any of the features – and who cares if Sydney ups the ante with more money for The Everest. It arguably won’t alter the quality of the field already attracted one iota!  

 

HOW SPOOKY IS THIS RIGBY CARTOON FROM WAY BACK WHEN?

RENOWNED cartoonist, the late Paul Rigby, was somewhat of a Nostradamus. He predicted the Opera House row long before The Everest was even thought of …. back in 1974!!!

**********

 

PETER V’LANDYS, RACING’S EDMUND HILLARY, TAKES NO PRISONERS

IN the lead-up to last year’s inaugural The Everest, Peter V’landys had a quirky way of answering the phone if someone he knew called.

“Hello, Edmund Hillary,” he’d joke, pretending to be the New Zealand mountaineer who was the first to climb the world’s tallest mountain.

IN a feature article for FAIRFAX MEDIA, ANDREW WEBSTER – the Chief Sports Writer for the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD - says V’landys is the dag in the $200 suit that doesn’t properly fit him, in an inexpensive shirt that’s too big, and even cheaper tie that doesn’t match either.’

When he was branded “elitist” last week over the Opera House kerfuffle for wanting to project lights onto its sails for The Everest barrier draw, it jarred with those who know him and regularly deal with him. A son of hard-working Greek migrants, V’landys wears “working class” as a badge of honour.

He’s also one of the most connected operators in the city. He has the ear of Alan Jones, as we saw earlier this week. He's close to News Corp because of the huge amounts of advertising dollars he spends with them. (It should be pointed out that Racing NSW also advertises with Fairfax Media). And Premier Gladys Berejiklian would be silly to underestimate him.

He moves the world even if sometimes he comes across like he should be moving used cars on Parramatta Road. Despite the inclement weather on Saturday, The Everest was another raging success in just its second year.

V’landys has faced the blowtorch in the past week for his 2GB interview with Jones, who got him back on air so they could gang up on Opera House chief executive Louise Herron.

He usually plays the media quite well. But in his rampant attempt to give The Everest more exposure than the sun, he’s made a few errors.

Last month, The Daily Telegraph splashed on their front page a story in which V’landys bagged “NSW bureaucrats­” for having a “can’t do” and “apathetic” attitude when it comes to major Sydney events.

“Melbourne has the smelly Yarra River, it’s got the most dreary city on Earth with the worst weather, yet NSW bows and scrapes to it all the time,” he said. “We consume the Melbourne­ Cup, the AFL grand final, the Australian tennis open. In stark contrast, Sydney has the most beautiful city in the world and without any doubt the best harbour in the world and we do nothing to drive our own assets.”

He's actually right. This city and state often actively work against headline sport. Melbourne plays us off a break.

But V'landys went on the attack because he didn't get his own way: he wanted the jockeys’ racing colours draped off the Harbour Bridge to promote the Everest and "the bureaucrats­" were having none of it.

It was an old-school, tongue-in-cheek tactic of using the press to make a point but, in reality, it was vague and lacked class.

So, too, were his comments about the “publicity” created by the Opera House controversy, saying it had given The Everest worldwide exposure. It actually created a shitfight that gave reason for racing’s detractors to trot out repetitive lines about the scourge of gambling and animal cruelty.

Sydney has the most beautiful city in the world and the best harbour in the world and we do nothing to drive our own assets.

Good for racing? Not at all.

Privately, V’landys has admitted to others that going back on air as Jones verbally mugged Herron was a mistake. Others say he’s been rattled and worn down by the controversy.

V’landys is belligerent and single-minded in his attempt to do what’s best for his sport. It is often mistaken as a power trip. He just takes his job very seriously.

He took on the Pope when the Catholic Church wanted to hold World Youth Day at Randwick. He took on federal and state governments as the industry battled the equine influenza epidemic and he also took on the corporate bookmakers, wanting a slice of their wagering turnover.

But, as we’ve seen this week, sometimes his passion can miss the mark.

Those in rugby league are starting to understand the Cult of V’landys, too.

He was appointed to the Australian Rugby League Commission in March, having been convinced by cranky Sydney clubs to take on the role. V’landys is fiercely loyal and there’s a fear he’s beholden to those powerbrokers who helped him get there.

Others also believe it’s just a matter of time before he unseats former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie as Chairman.

Last month, V’landys addressed a meeting of club chairmen and chief executives about wagering turnover on rugby league and how the game can dramatically increase their cut from it.

Naturally, the eyes of the club bosses lit up. More money for them. But the way V’landys captivated the room prompted even his most ardent critics to suggest Beattie was a dead man walking.

V’landys has been zipping about like a pinball to promote The Everest, but he’s not one for taking the stage like Beattie, or his predecessor John Grant. He’s a “can do” kind of operator.

More than once, people in racing – and now rugby league – have suggested he prefers a fight than a feed and that’s fair enough.

Of course, The Everest still has a long way to go. Only time will tell if it's a success. As a race, despite the massive prizemoney, it’s no better than the autumn’s TJ Smith.

What is certain is that Edmund Hillary will be taking no prisoners to promote it, regardless of what people say or write about him.

 

PUNTERS COULDN'T CARE LESS AS QLD RACING GOES DOWN THE GURGLER

WHILE the racing industry in Queensland continues to battle with the Government over its fair share of Point of Consumption Tax revenue, the big southern states charge further ahead in prizemoney levels but sadly the majority of punters couldn’t care less.

Queensland Racing Left Behind As Victorians Show How To Splash the Cash’ was the repeated and all-too-frequent message relayed in today's Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail while Sydney was promoting the ‘richest race on turf’ and Melbourne moving the Spring Carnival into full swing with the Caulfield Guineas meeting.

Heavy rains and storms threaten to continue in south-east Queensland but no mention of whether there will be racing this weekend. It doesn’t matter to punters who will focus their betting attention on showcase meetings at Randwick and Caulfield.

Most couldn’t care less about Brisbane and surrounds – if they didn’t give up long ago because of their lack of confidence in the product those that battle on can’t be bothered doing the form for a heavy track only to discover the meeting has been abandoned.

Those that suffer the most are the stakeholders who rely on racing for their livelihood not to mention owners – that dwindling group of investors who are still prepared to race horses in Queensland despite all the negatives involved with the poor prizemoney levels, closure of the Eagle Farm track and uncertain future.

After the surprise loss of yet another meeting at Ipswich on Tuesday one owner vented his or her anger in a ‘Whinge’ to LETSGOHORSERACING which read:

'How can RQ call off Ipswich twice when the track is rated a heavy 8. I remember Van Der Hum winning the Melbourne cup when the horses were going into their fetlocks and RV continued with the race. The track was deemed ok yesterday but unsafe this morning without any significant rainfall.

‘I own a horse that has not raced for over a month now because senior riders don’t want to ride on a heavy track. Why not let those who want to race do so? Stakeholders lose a chance of collecting part of hundreds of thousands of dollars that is available but want to strike to increase prize money. Let’s just race for what is already there.’

That Ipswich meeting has been rescheduled for Tuesday but not without its share of debate (some not too positive from participants on social media). Whether they will race at Doomben on Saturday is debatable. There is a little light at the end of the tunnel in the weather forecast.

After a meeting with Government representatives a contingent of thoroughbred representatives was ‘hopeful of negotiating a palatable solution’ to the Point of Consumption Tax snub and have put strike action on hold. It hardly sounds like they have Treasurer Jackie Trad shaking in her boots.

Of course, the LGHR assertion that striking on ‘gold mine’ days like the Melbourne Cup is akin to ‘shooting yourself in the foot’ for race clubs and that the industry should target Magic Millions week fell on deaf ears. It seems none of those calling the tune on the stakeholders side of the fence wants to offend their perceived mate, ‘Mr Harvey’, especially the breeders who one could argue lose very little if a strike is held in Queensland.

What we saw were an alliance of allegedly ‘tough talking’ racing stakeholders go cap in hand to the Labor Government begging for a bigger slice of the tax the industry generates and what they are entitled to. What did they get – a message that the Government is tired of racing ‘putting its hand out’?

Now if that was the ‘red hots’ it would have been different because, one might argue, of their political start. That is the code that gets more than its share of prizemoney and Government (of all persuasions) start but delivers little in return in turnover after maggoting on the back of the gallops. At least the dogs do their best and make the trots look second rate when it comes to punter interest and confidence.

The door might remain ajar for some scraps for the gallops lobby. But until the industry demands the remainder of the $70 million of POC revenue in the first year (some $30 million plus that they are being denied) then the smooth talking politicians will continue to take them for a ride.

Won't they Sterling?     

 

GREG MILES BIOGRAPHY – ‘MY LUCKY LIFE BEHIND THE BINOCULARS’

LETSGOHORSERACING has always been a great fan of retired race-caller GREG MILES whose biography: ‘My Lucky Life Behind the Binoculars’ is about to be launched.

We are sure Greg won’t mind us reproducing this excerpt from the book where he makes no secret of his dislike for some of the ‘faceless’ people who misuse social media, especially Twitter to get their opinions expressed:

CHAPTER 14

THE CURSE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

I have an intense dislike of social media, especially Twitter. It’s incomprehensible that fat-gutted geezers with soiled underpants and stained singlets can hide behind a keyboard and dispatch scandalous and vicious tripe to good and decent people who are trying to make Australia a better place. And these anonymous clowns don’t have the guts to say who they are.

I have been staggered by Twitter’s growth and acceptance since it was launched on to an eager and unsuspecting worldwide market in 2006. To me, it’s bewildering that the American singer Katy Perry had accumulated 108 million followers by May, 2018 – more than anybody else on the planet. The former U.S. president Barack Obama was in third place on 102 million. Dare I say it, but the so-called reality television queen Kim Kardashian was 12th with 60 million, leaving the universe’s most quoted Twitter proponent, the U.S. president Donald Trump, in her wake in 19th position with a mere 51 million.

It’s not rocket science to understand why this revolutionary social media platform is such a raging success. World leaders, stars of stage and screen, corporate moguls and the likes of you and me can press a button on our mobile phones and flick an instant message on to the international arena, or to the bloke next door, without any editing, filtering, regard for the truth, or care and responsibility. That’s the part I detest. Too many people are getting wounded without any right to justice. Twitter is galloping out of control, in my view.

It’s a huge blot on our society that these keyboard warriors, most of whom have achieved precious little in life, can continually bash-out harsh abuse via their digital gadgets and even try to out-do each other. One bloke can unleash a tirade of filth against a particular sportsman, entertainer or ordinary individual, only to have it topped by somebody else being even more vindictive. It’s disgraceful, and the victim has no legal recourse.

 I‘ve been a target, and it hurt. I was rocked by the force of the insults and vitriol flung at me after my contentious call of the 2015 Caulfield Cup when I mistakenly referred to the winner Mongolian Khan as Magnolian Khan for the last half of the 2400-metre race, including the finish. I may be a little soft when it comes to personal criticism of my work, but that’s probably because I haven’t received much. I copped enough on the Saturday afternoon of October 17 and in the subsequent few days to last me a lifetime.

I suffer from hay fever, seriously so, and the Spring of 2015 saw the air loaded with pollen and people like me in dreadful trouble with debilitating bouts of sneezing, nasal congestion, watery and itchy red eyes, dehydration, runny noses and resultant fatigue. I called the Cranbourne Cup card on October 11 and struggled to get through it. I felt wretched.

With the $3 million Caulfield Cup only days away, I began to question whether I was well enough to take-up my position in the broadcast box for my 35th call of Australia’s premier mile-and-half handicap race. I sought the assistance of my doctor who told me there was a magic solution to my problem and prescribed me medication called Prednisolone. By Saturday morning, I was feeling decidedly better and headed-off cheerfully to The Heath without any worrying doubts.

I cruised through the first few races and was settling-in nicely for the Cup. Then it king-hit me. As the 18 horses were being loaded into the barriers, my excitement, anticipation and anxiety levels rose – as they usually did before calling one of the majors – but my heart rate spiraled and I couldn’t control it. Then shortness of breath cut in. By the time the field had covered 800 metres, I was in a muck-lather and in desperate trouble.

This was a new horizon for me. My lungs were operating at half capacity and I could barely breathe. I was having a deeply annoying anxiety attack and the frightening thought occurred to me that I might cave-in before the race was over. Mercifully, I got there and somehow managed to inform my millions of television viewers, radio listeners and on-course patrons that the Murray Baker-trained New Zealand Mongolian Khan defeated Trip To Paris by a half length, with Our Ivanhowe third in a busy finish.

Astoundingly, my heart and lungs returned to normal almost immediately after the event and I was able to call the rest of the card without incident. Even more puzzling was my complete unawareness that I had mispronounced the winner’s name several times. I had no idea that something was wrong and nobody said anything. I was ignorant of the looming storm.

I recognized that my call was below-par, however, and received a sympathetic communication from eldest son Daniel shortly afterwards: “Don’t worry about it, nobody will even notice,” he texted. I thought he was referring to the likelihood that my audience would have twigged that I experienced breathing difficulties, and relegated his message to the back of my mind.

It was only when I commenced the drive home to Williamstown that Daniel’s text began to play on my mind. I stopped the car in Caulfield, pulled over and listened to a replay. My mistake was painfully evident, devastating. Then I opened-up my Twitter account. There were already several hundred messages from my “followers” and I could hardly believe what my eyes were showing me as I scanned through the barrage of angry and hateful abuse, some of it indescribably vicious. As wounded and shocked as I was, I realized I was in damage control and chose to go on the front foot.

My first step was an apology next morning to listeners of the racing review program Correct Weight on RSN Racing & Sport, the radio station which started out as 3UZ in 1925, graduated to Sport 927 in 1986, and underwent a further name change in 2011. I did not reveal the full gory details but explained sincerely that because I’d been feeling so unwell, I probably would not have turned-up for work had it not been such an important meeting as Caulfield Cup day. I acknowledged my below-par call and expressed my disappointment in my performance.

“I‘m sorry, I didn’t call well,” I admitted, but I didn’t want to make up excuses and give the keyboard warriors more ammunition to hammer me with. I also felt I had to protect the show’s hosts Deane Lester and Warren Huntly who were obliged to replay my call on the station we all worked for. It was a bloody embarrassment all-round.

That was not the end of it, however. I probably had about 5000 followers on Twitter and the bombardment of abusive tweets continued. I was feeling so dejected that I didn’t need any need further derision rammed down my throat on social media. So I cancelled my easily-accessible Twitter account.  Facebook I retained because I’d kept it more private – strictly for family and real friends.

I couldn’t help but do a little research on the drug Prednisolone. Listed among its side-effects were anxiety, shortness of breath and accelerated heart rate. The combination of this medication and my stressful job meant that I had no control and a perfect storm was created, a fact I mentioned to my doctor when we next talked. I’d been a sitting duck.

Because the social media onslaught was prolonged, I felt under an avalanche of pressure when I saddled-up for my next calling assignment at the Geelong Cup meeting on the Wednesday after the Caulfield debacle. I was physically well but mentally shaken and believed that if I made a tiny mistake in Geelong or at the next weekend’s Cox Plate carnival, it would be the end and I’d be hounded out of the broadcast box into premature retirement.

Don Healey, racing manager for the Robbie Griffiths training stable, could see I was struggling a bit and kindly drove me to Geelong. Despite the microscopic scrutiny I was under, I reckon I gave a pretty good account of the James McDonald-ridden Almoonqith’s comfortable Cup victory over the favorite Dandino and Manndauri, but it was tough. I may have sounded composed and in control, but was conscious of not making the most minute of blues.

 I lined-up at Moonee Valley for the Cox Plate three days’ later and again felt near-crushed by the pressure every time I opened my mouth. Had I made another mistake, everything would have blown-up into an uglier storm and I would have found it untenable to continue. The glorious Winx made it easier for me, however, winning the first of her weight-for-age championships by nearly five lengths from Criterion and Highland Reel, at the now-dreamy odds of $4.30 the win and $2.00 the place. My call was satisfactory and I looked ahead to the Melbourne Cup on November 3.

In the meantime, colleagues and friends advised me that the Twitter tide was turning in my favor and that I should switch back on and enjoy the glad tidings. Not a hope in hell. I’d never responded to any Twitter messages because I’d been warned about opening up the personal communication floodgates and I was scared by the mere thought. Now I was even more negative.

In the week or so before the Melbourne Cup, I barely gave any thought to the reality that my upcoming 35th call of the grand metric two-miler would break Bill Collins’ record. I was far too engrossed in the challenge of making the perfect broadcast and shoving any criticism down my detractors’ necks. I was thrilled for Michelle Payne when she became the first female jockey to triumph in the race, and relieved that I nailed the call. In fact, aside from one unfortunate slip-up at Caulfield, I felt I called exceptionally well throughout the entire Spring Carnival.

As a husband, father and proud Australian, I remain deeply worried about the mountainous measure of venomous hatred, anger and filth that spews out of Twitter accounts in our country and throughout the world every day. I’m sure that’s not what the medium’s promoters had in mind when they created the platform. Used sensibly, constructively and carefully, I guess Twitter has a useful place but it is in dire and urgent need of reconstruction.

GREG MILES: ‘MY LUCKY LIFE BEHIND THE BINOCULARS’.

By Greg Miles and John Craven.

RRP: $39.99.

Wilkinson Publishing,

Level 4, 2 Collins St.,

Melbourne. Vic. 3000.

P: 03-96545446.

www.wilkinsonpublishing.com.au

 

MIXED FEELINGS ON PETER V'LANDYS AND HIS RACING PERSPECTIVE

THE question continues to be raised: Is PETER V’LANDYS the best thing since sliced bread for the development of national racing OR is he simply bogged down in sole promotion of New South Wales and hell-bent on destroying the Victorian success story?

A lack of respect that V’landys has created between officialdom in Sydney and Melbourne has now spread to the racing media with the Sydney ‘turf scribes’ seemingly seduced by his ability to provide dramatic headlines.

As MATT STEWART, the Racing Editor of Victorian based Radio Sport National, wrote: THERE is no longer even a flimsy facade of cohesion or mutual respect. Victorian officials are at war with Peter V’landys. They are fed up with his exaggerated claims and eccentric distractions.

Michael Browell, the chief executive of the Moonee Valley Racing Club, rolled his eyes and tapped his keyboard simultaneously last Friday, fed up with V’landys’ scatter-gun mid-week attack on anything and everything – mostly Victorian – and the “sycophantic’’ free hit V’landys appears to enjoy via the Sydney media.

Browell’s Melbourne Racing Club counterpart Josh Blanksby referred not to V’landys by name but as “the person in charge of NSW racing’’ in a tweet where he accused “the person’’ of using Saturday metro prizemoney as the only measure of success.

Stewart wrote of the race war between NSW and Victoria being as much about ‘personality as reality’. What he didn’t report is that as hard as V’landys and his Sydney racing media ‘spin doctors’ roll out the propoganda, the Harbour City will always run second to Melbourne, especially when it comes to carnivals. They can offer all the prizemoney they like but from the perspective of crowd and punting popularity the Spring Carnival will always finish a furlong in front.

Stewart highlighted the fact that ‘V’landys seems to be seizing on the perception of Racing Victoria, and its CEO Giles Thompson, as pent-up, non-transparent and dull.

Thompson holds a stoic line, pointing to a sheet of KPI’s that says Victoria has it over NSW in almost every department bar Saturday metro prizemoney.

The only vaguely combative thing Thomson said at a press lunch last week was that Victoria was the “envy’’ of other states.’

The racing media situation in Sydney is something that has attracted contributions to the WEDNESDAY WHINGE for some time. Observers have questioned if there is a conflict of interest between the work some of the leading scribes do for major newspaper publications and the ‘highly paid second jobs’ they now hold with SKY Channel and just who organized that nice little earn and if there are strings attached.

Stewart, who has never been afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve when it comes to his love and support for Victorian racing, rightly observed in his RSN column:

‘The Sydney media seems to have been seduced by V’landys’ “refreshing’’ personality point of difference, relishing his readiness to provide dramatic headlines such as his “disgust” at the NSW State Government’s refusal to hold an Everest barrier draw on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Some leading Victorian administrators are stunned by the lack of media scrutiny on V’landys, including his perceived conflict of interest over his role as a commissioner for the NRL, an industry that would seem to be competing in the same marketing, crowd and wagering pool as racing.

They also wonder when the Sydney media will show an interest in current action through the NSW Supreme Court involving Racing NSW and its CEO.

V’landys might be full of bluff and bluster but he also shapes up as a dangerous predator, with his eye on the month of November.

He is only half-fantasizing when he says he might relocate the crowd-poor Championships from rainy autumn to sport’s great vacant space; November.’

Adding insult to injury – yet more publicity to this Saturday’s event – has been the Opera House sideshow that has been played out in the mainstream media during the week and has arguably made some racing administrators, politicians and their media mates look pretty silly.  

The situation reached farcical stage when Racing NSW stewards saw the need to conduct the barrier draw for The Everest in private and suspend betting until it was confirmed publicly on Tuesday night with imagery plastered over the Sydney Opera House.

The Everest bill-boarding was to have been a key part of the controversial Opera House promotion for the race but, according to Racing NSW, was abandoned “to avoid any potential integrity risk”.

Racing NSW’s strong-arm victory in gaining access to the cultural landmark led to an enormous backlash in Sydney where almost 300,000 signed a petition against it and a large crowd of protesters turned out on the night.

This came after a belated apology from shock-jock Alan Jones for his on-air bullying of Opera House CEO Louise Herron as Jones and Racing NSW scrambled to salvage goodwill.

It remains to be seen if Herron will seek legal advice over the Jones assault, where Jones said she should be sacked for her caution over Everest branding on the Opera House.

It is not clear what motivated Jones to offer a conditional apology and whether “damage control” to Jones and Racing NSW – and NSW racing – just days out from the Everest played a role.

As one observer wrote to the WHINGE this morning:

“HERE’S an example of the one-eyed reporting of this Soap Opera fiasco in the Murdoch-run Sydney Telegraph:

THE plan to promote The Everest to the world has gone off in spectacular fashion despite an embarrassing attempt by torch and balloon wielding protesters to interrupt the show.

About 1000 hard-core protesters failed in their attempt to wreak havoc on the barrier draw light show that was beamed onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

White strobe lights from demonstrators dotted the sails before the barrier draw began but it failed to derail the unique promotion of the world’s richest turf race.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed the state government and Racing NSW over The Everest promotion, declaring it “common sense” to use “the biggest billboard Sydney has”.

As wowsers bemoaned the use of the Opera House to promote The Everest, Mr Morrison, who ran Tourism Australia before entering Parliament, launched a forceful defence of the light show, pointing to jobs and money injected into the state by the $13 million racing spectacular.

But last night the light-phobic loonies used their phones and handheld torches tied to selfie sticks in a vain attempt to drown out the light show.

Some even used lasers to project green dots over the barrier draw and let go a bunch of helium balloons.

The fact remains that at the end of the week all the drama might draw a few thousand more to another embarrassingly crowd-depleted feature race day in Sydney (that will be overly exaggerated by trackside mates in the racing media from SKY).

And they will be there to watch a race promoted as ‘the richest in the world’ when the same field could arguably have been assembled for a $1 million feature that will pale into insignificance in the eyes of the racing or general public compared to Winx attempting her fourth Cox Plate win or that two miler that will continue to be the flag-bearer at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.   

 

IF RACING STAKEHOLDERS WANT TO GET THEIR MESSAGE ACROSS THEN TARGET MAGIC MILLIONS WEEK WITH STRIKE ACTION NOT CUP DAY

WITH Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe ordered to cut short his holiday and meet with an alliance of thoroughbred representatives to discuss an immediate boost to prizemoney for Queensland gallops we saw the need to advance the WEDNESDAY WHINGE to get this message across before a band-aid cure is offered and accepted.

IF the Queensland thoroughbred industry wants to retaliate to its perceived Point of Consumption Tax snub one could argue that strike action on Melbourne Cup day is not the most effective means of protest.

Their stance needs to be more united – taking in the entire industry and trade unions associated with its workforce BUT it should target Magic Millions week instead, which would damage the Labor Government much more.

Who will suffer if industry participants, including trainers, jockey and breeders stand down from ONLY the meetings at Doomben, Gold Coast and Toowoomba on Cox Plate Day and Melbourne Cup Day?

Only the clubs involved and let’s face it the racing at each venue on the first Tuesday in November is merely a sideshow to the main event at Flemington. If those three clubs don’t host a race meeting of their own on that day will they still be permitted to hold phantom meetings? Such a refusal would cost the reportedly financially embattled Brisbane Racing Club one of its biggest windfalls of the year. It’s a case of shooting yourself in the foot.

It will hardly make a difference to the public who will find another venue – such as a Cup day race meeting elsewhere or the local pub or club to patronize. And as for betting revenue that would have been held on the Queensland racing, well it would arguably be more than swallowed up by the big meeting in Melbourne which will attract the lion’s share of turnover on the TAB and with the corporate bookies in any case.

So, at the end of the day, whilst it might attract attention to the plight of the local industry in the Government’s Point of Consumption Tax decision, the strike will have little to no effect.

However, if the industry made a united stance and brought to a standstill Magic Millions week – the milking cow of one of Australia’s most influential men – in racing and politics – now that would drive a dagger into the heart of the Labor Government.

Imagine if the POC protest strike saw the richest race meeting in Queensland stopped because trainers and jockeys refused to participate. Imagine if the MM Sales were halted because breeders refused to present their yearlings for auction or unions associated with racing prevented the sales from proceeding.

‘Genial’ Gerry Harvey has already shown the political clout he has with racing officialdom in Queensland and Governments of all persuasions gaining millions of taxpayer dollars to support a private enterprise company simply because he threatened to move it away from the Gold Coast. Those involved soon produced figures to support how much the Magic Millions was worth to the tourist and racing revenue of Queensland when effectively it is the peak season on the glitter strip and the majority of the horses sold come from interstate studs and aren’t bought by Queenslanders.

IF the industry in Queensland is serious about a strike that will be effective they must target Magic Millions day instead of Melbourne Cup or Cox Plate by only a handful of major clubs backed by key bodies. The question is will certain groups, especially the breeders, be as outspoken in their criticism of the POC decision and the Government if it means offending or jeopardizing their cosy relationship with Genial Gerry. We suspect this suggestion – which is an absolute winner – won’t get off the ground and that ‘sweet talking’ Sterling will come up with an instant solution that the industry will swallow regarding prizemoney.

Imagine Premier Anastasia, Treasurer Jackie or Racing Minister Sterling – whose fleeting race day appearances are spearheaded with their noses in the trough during Millions week – faced such an embarrassing confrontation with their mate Gerry or the MM hierarchy.

That aside, it is time that the industry sought an explanation from the Government over the POC distribution fudging of the figures. Don’t expect this to be sought by the weak-kneed control body – after all they were appointed by the Government and aren’t likely to ask too many tough questions.

Commenting on the proposed strike action, a Government spokesman told The Courier-Mail that there will be little left over of the $70 million in revenue from the first year of the Point of Consumption Tax after a grant of $20million for new harness and greyhound infrastructure projects and the decision to forgive $17.8 million of debt owed by Racing Queensland.

When we went to school $37.8 million from $70 million left $32.2 million – if that in the eyes of the Government is ‘little’ then the racing prizemoney coffers can do with plenty of it to help bridge the ever widening gap between Queensland and the southern States. And what’s the bet that’s the pot the solution to the strike threat will come from?

The Government spokesman sounded like Pinocchio when he went on to say: “These two measures alone mean the Palaszczuk Government will be returning most of the POC tax to the racing industry this financial year. The action threatened by the industry’s representative bodies regarding stoppages or any other such changes will only hurt the punters and their own industry participants.”

How can it possibly hurt the punters? They will just invest their hard-earned at other venues than racing in Queensland. And as for the industry participants they are already the big losers – putting on the show for the Government to raise hundreds of millions now through a dud TAB deal before we even mention the POC without putting money earnt by racing back into racing. It’s a farce that never would have occurred in the days of Russ Hinze and Bob Gibbs as Racing Ministers. And don’t let the LNP tell you things would be different under them.

As prominent Downs racing identity Peter Bredhauer commented to punters.com: The only ray of hope for racing in Queensland is to somehow get it devoid of politics. The current mob of politicians from both sides of Parliament wouldn’t know how to run a chook raffle let alone an industry like racing. If you want to stuff anything up just get politicians involved.”

Peter Moody, a passionate Queensland racing supporter, hit the nail on the head when he told The Courier-Mail:   

‘Don’t forget the fact that if the Government don’t have the confidence in the governance of racing to do the right thing with that money, and they look at some of the monumental stuff-ups – ie Eagle Farm – of recent times, racing is probably not promoting itself to say ‘hey give us the money we can do the right thing’.

“But at the end of the day, the Government can’t have the cake and eat it as well. They appoint the people to run racing.

“It’s a bit of a catch-22 but the end result is we do not want to see Queensland lagging further and further behind. Unfortunately, Queensland racing has been seen to be a political hot cake for many decades now.”

Treasurer Jackie has been warned from many influential quarters that ‘she is potentially killing the goose that lays the golden egg if she refuses to revisit her stance on POC Tax distributions.’

Tom Reilly, CEO of Aushorse, the marketing body of the Australian thoroughbred industry, sees Queensland as a vital part of the national racing ecosystem, but warns that it needs support to ensure its long term viability.

“If the Queensland racing and breeding industry doesn’t get an outcome from the POC Tax that is at least as good as the deal New South Wales and Victoria have done, the challenges to the State will be insurmountable,” Reilly said.

“This new revenue is money that is generated 100 per cent from racing (excluding the sport component). It’s only common sense the government needs to support that industry to ensure that revenue stream continues on.

“Jackie Tradd’s announcement last weekend is a case of trying to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. The industry in Queensland is already behind the eight-ball and is just looking for a fair cut.”

A clear indication of the difference between racing in Brisbane and that in Sydney and especially Melbourne can be seen at any feature Saturday meeting. When the cameras swing to the winning connections after a race there are next to none to be seen in Queensland while in Victoria there are massive groups embracing, jumping up and down and celebrating the success.

Sadly, because the likes of Trad only attend big days like the Magic Millions and Stradbroke, they probably think that the majority of winning owners of big races in this country are the rich and famous, like the Sheiks and the millionaire breeders. In fact syndicates of mum and dad owners are starting to emerge but not in Brisbane because it costs just as much to get involved here as Melbourne where the return is greater and continues to grow courtesy of racing administrations and Governments who recognize the need to invest through prizemoney as well as infrastructure.

Sadly greed will continue to gut the gallops industry in Queensland while the ‘red hots’ gets more than its rightful share because of political pressures and people influencing the decision making process who don’t have the best interests of racing at heart.     

 


*******

 

                THE SPRING RACING CARNIVAL IN MELBOURNE

MELBOURNE’S Spring Racing Carnival has been an integral part of the city's culture for well over 100 years. Culminating in one of the world’s most prestigious horse races on the first Tuesday in November in the Melbourne Cup, the ever-vibrant city comes alive for the weeks leading up to the 'race that stops a nation'.

While the racing is obviously the focus, there is far more to the carnival than the horses and far more to the city itself. Carnival time is one of the best periods of the year to visit Melbourne and there's plenty to keep you busy when you're not trackside.

To start your day in Melbourne without a coffee would be borderline offensive in this caffeine-obsessed town. Soak up the European vibe by grabbing a seat at Degraves Espresso on Degraves St, ordering a latte and some breakfast, and make sure you've got a copy of the day's newspaper to read up on the latest form & racing news for the next race day.

Now that you've woken up properly, stroll across the Princes Bridge before taking your pick from either side of St Kilda Road. The eastern side will give you a relaxing walk through the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens while the west leads to the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia's largest art gallery and home to a wide range of exhibitions all year round.

No doubt hungry after the morning's activities, you have an almost overwhelming array of choices for lunch. Melbourne is a truly multicultural city so you'll be able to satisfy any craving. The city's Chinatown runs through the eastern end of Little Bourke Street and is the perfect place to grab some dumplings or a bowl of noodles. The surrounding area is packed with other Asian cuisine, so if Ramen, Massaman Curry or Pho is more to your liking, it won't take you long to find your ideal spot.

From there, continue north through the city centre towards the Old Melbourne Gaol on Russell Street, where you can tour the prison grounds and brush up on your knowledge of Melbourne's criminal history in the era shortly after European settlement.

If the Gaol isn’t to your liking, wander a few more blocks north towards Carlton Gardens at the top of Spring Street, where amongst the grand old trees and floral displays you'll find the stunning old Royal Exhibition building which once housed the first Federal Parliament of Australia. Just behind the Exhibition Building is the Melbourne Museum, well worth a visit for the intriguing exhibits on nature and cultural history.

Just a few blocks westwards from Carlton Gardens is Lygon Street, home to Melbourne's huge Italian community and all the magnificent pizza, pasta and gelato that you'd expect to come with it. Fill up on delicious food here before making your way back down to the southern end of the city centre, because no evening would be complete without a few drinks to cap off a day well spent.

Alongside the Yarra River, there are numerous options to sit and enjoy a refreshing beer or cocktail with a beautiful view of the city. A few local favourites include Abory Bar & Eatery, which sits on the northern bank of the river between Flinders Street Station and the water and Ponyfish Island, a tiny island haven in the middle of the river underneath the Southbank pedestrian bridge. Failing that, just head to the strip along Southbank promenade where you can find popular destinations like Ludlow and The Breslin.

And after the perfect end to your day in this wonderful city, what's left to do but head home for a well-earned rest and make sure you're in top form before heading out to the racecourse in the morning? As of May 15th, Betway has last year’s winner Rekindling as the favourite to take out the 2018 Melbourne Cup at 20/1, so don't forget to keep an eye out before the odds shorten!

ADVERTORIAL CONTENT PROVIDED BY LIQUID SPORTS MEDIA.


 
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