As we enter 2014 – Sydney racing is really at the crossroads. We have Saturday city meetings being run at tracks like Canterbury, which are clearly not Saturday city racetracks. Recently we’ve had multiple Saturday meetings run at the Kensington track. Punters want to see Randwick meetings run on their main track and Rosehill. They don’t want Saturday meetings at Canterbury. Next we’ll be having regular Saturday city meetings at joints like Ipswich or the Gold Coast. God forbid. Toowoomba could be a genuine starter – but more on that one another day.

But apart from getting the Randwick course proper right in 2014, the biggest threat to Sydney racing is the potential downturn in TAB betting turnover caused oddly enough by their premiership winning trainer – Chris Waller.

From emails I receive here, many punters simply refuse to bet in races where Chris Waller has multiple runners. Week-in-and-week out Waller can have three or four runners in a race and it seems to me that the stable has no idea which of the “three or four runners” will win the race, as invariably the roughest one in the market wins.

And so it’s not ancient history, it happened again as recently as Boxing Day when Waller had two runners in the Group 3 Christmas Cup, a $125,000 total prizemoney race. He saddled up Hoylonny at $12 and I’m Imposing at $14. Punters were entitled to be on the shorter priced one, as Waller had been issued the directive by the Racing New South Wales Chairman of Stewards, Ray Murrihy, only as recently as 16/11/13 when Hoylonny won at 14/1 at Rosehill coming off the pathetic form of last of 12, a 14th of 15, a last of 12 and a last of 10, “now that Hoylonny has established form it would be expected to race accordingly”. Well Hoylonny did “race accordingly” at his next two starts as he followed that win up with a second of eight to Travolta on 30/11/13 and a third of five at the Kensington track on 14/12/13. The problem with Murrihy handing out the edict and Waller training the horse, is that Hoylonny was back to his old tricks on Boxing Day as he clocked in second last, beaten just 16.25 lengths (in words that’s sixteen) to stablemate I’m Imposing. Murrihy was unimpressed after Hoylonny’s Boxing Day shocker, as were any punters who remembered his words from three starts earlier, so in an attempt to save face, Murrihy’s response was to tell the stable rep, a “Mr P Muscutt” that “Hoylonny would be required to trial to the satisfaction of stewards prior to racing again”.

Now I ask how useless is that? Barrier trials are so boring at the best of times that they defy belief. So now we’ll see Hoylonny go around in a barrier trial over 1000 metres, or whatever distance Waller wants – and I could no doubt beat them all on foot, carrying Mama Cass on my shoulders, when wearing gumboots. They’ll no doubt run the 1000 on a lightning fast good track in about 63 or 64 seconds. What earthly purpose does that rot serve, except to attempt to pacify punters? What needs to happen is what I’d call a “more ballsy” approach. If I were running the joint, I’d have a lot more options to resort to, apart from a “barrier trial”. I’d stand the horse down for 3 months for its inconsistency, or banish it to the bush.

Then to make matters worse the horse of Waller’s that wins the race – I’m Imposing – hadn’t won a race anywhere since 12/5/10 at York in England, meaning that little treasure had been out of the winners list for just 42 (in words that’s forty two) months.

So as we enter 2014, many punters have had a total gutful of betting in Sydney races where trainer Chris Waller has multiple runners – so unearthing the problem is hardly rocket science but how do we fix it? Justracing regularly pens commonsense ways to fix aspects of the incestuous world of thoroughbred racing. Naturally they only get taken on board years later when someone twigs I was right all along, so here I go with the Waller fix.

Well as I’ve mentioned here before, I reckon it’s high time stewards hauled Chris Waller in at the start of a race meeting and get him to document what he’s telling the owners of his horses chances and what the instructions to each of his jockeys will be. What amazes me also is how multiple runners from the Waller stable can be backed in the one race, when clearly they can’t all possibly win unless they all dead-heat. So are all stable owners told that their horse will win, such that when one wins Waller then says to them “see I told you”, whilst all the other stable owners simply cumulatively scratch their head and walk away.

The other way to handle the situation going forward is for TAB’s to bracket all stable runners of Waller’s, such that if he has four runners in one race they are all bracketed , then when one wins, a dividend is declared on the bracketed horses. That system has worked before in this country in TAB betting – and there is no reason why it can’t work into the future.

The aspect of trainers having multiple runners in a race has always been a contentious issue. From way back in the days of Tommy Smith, when it was first allowed, the roughie that was deemed to have no chance in the marketplace won the race. Ultimately it’s the punter that gets hit for a six when the roughie of multiple same stable runners wins, as how could any self respecting punter back Hoylonny off form of 12-14-12-10 before he won at Rosehill on 16/11/13?

So the Waller multiple runners in a race scenario urgently needs addressing early in 2014 as Sydney racing will continue to be a laughing stock whilst this current system is happening. Going back to allowing each individual trainer to only having one runner in a race is not an option, so clearly another solution needs to be found – and quickly. Passing on what Waller tells owners or stewards on race day would be a start. If that is found to be a waste of time, then bracketing runners is the only other alternative.

Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au there’s the second montage of photos from Doomben last Saturday, plus I offer proof that God has Justracing in his “favourites” – meaning that people who are derogatory towards Justracing, even via inaudible mumbling, may wish to reconsider before they meet their maker – or they could go to “the really hot place”. On www.sydneyracing.com.au there’s a story on the Queensland based sires whose progeny have scored an opportune treble overseas between them, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au Matt Nicholls looks at racecalling issues.