WINX, wagering, whinging and South Australian racing!

WINX, wagering, whinging and South Australian racing!

Sal Perna at the heart of the Moodie investigation.

So what’s going on this week in racing? What’s the really big story?

Well there has been plenty happening.

Let’s go with Winx hey. Another trial.  She wins one – wow, social media is alight with her every move from arriving at Randwick, around the stripping sheds, walking out, trialling and coming back.

Team Winx step in – Waller, Bowman – all doing their job for her, for racing, so meticulously, so well.

It’s a touch thankful she can’t talk. A little mystique must remain.

Later in the week, Moonee Valley release possible opponents to a chase for history in a third Cox Plate.

They get Coolmore’s global flagship Highland Reel – been here before and she was invited anyway – but they are really after Japan’s Neorealism – but that’s for bottom line.

Winx firmed into $1.40 no matter who turns up. Anyway that’s racing’s real star for the week and we’ll see her back in action Saturday week and it can’t come quickly enough.

What else?

Talking bottom line, the stagnant Tabcorp figures were usurped by the burgeoning Sportsbet (Paddy Power) international corporate numbers this week

Firstly Tabcorp returns to the racing industry – that was $813m (that includes media – across three codes – that’s up 3.3%)

But the Victorian industry returns were down a second consecutive year across all codes at $325m down $6m. The big parity drive in New South Wales saw a 7.3 percent growth to a $312m return.

Oh but one of the big issues was punters dumping Trackside where revenue dipped 14.6% though a “review of product and marketing activity has been completed with new initiatives planned,” said Tabcorp

Of course the Victorian industry received a share of Trackside profits, New South Wales sold theirs back to get the Randwick grandstand built.

Whilst on Tabcorp, Luxbet with little commercial marketing support, is a sell option now while a “strategic review is underway”. It lost $8m – EBIDTA, $13m EBIT).

Tabcorp chief executive David Attenborough said Luxbet was a good business but it was effectively on “starvation rations” given it does not compete against TAB.

“We’ve got the strategic review and we will see what we do after that. But it has been partially handcuffed and going into the Tatts combination it could be handcuffed some more.”

And when you look at the Sportsbet results, it’s hard not to imagine why.

Under the stewardship of CEO Cormac Barry for the UK parent company Paddy Power, Sportsbet has trumped some of Tabcorp’s results.

The biggest number that stood out is active customers 688,000 (up 13%) v Tabcorp customers at 475,000 via their own returns.

Sportsbet meant 25% of Paddy Power’s international profits (which also now includes Betfair UK).

The underlying profit and revenue results for Sportsbet, which was acquired by Paddy Power in 2010 were up 78 per cent and 35 per cent from the previous corresponding period.

Of course the most pressing matter for Tabcorp (and indeed the racing industry) comes later this month (August 28 and 29) when The Federal Court hears applications from the ACCC and CrownBet for the approved (by the Australian Competition tribunal) mergers with Tatts.

But things were also happening off track in Melbourne, largely unreported, as former Racing Victoria chairman David Moodie, going to the Supreme Court to challenge Victoria’s independent Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna’s findings that he wasn’t the leak as part of a report as to what was told to since departed trainer Peter Moody.

It was colourful stuff, like a shoolyard barney, and of which the outcomes means very little other than personal bragging rights as the Victorian government overseas a new governance structure which justracig.com.au has tipped ex Toll Holdings boss Brian Kruger as possible new chairman material.

Ok, so this is how it went on in Melbourne. Moodie’s team said Perna was on an “absolute frolic”, Perna’s team said he was acting “without fear or favour’ – where have we heard that before?

Moodie’s evidence was he never named Mark Kavanagh or Danny O’Brien to Peter Moody in an early morning call re cobalt. Somebody did then!

Perna did agree that Moodie wasn’t the original leak but perhaps he had compromised any investigation by saying anything.

Of course, the industry awaits the reports of Allens lawyers into the actual source of the leak as per information supplied by Perna, stymied by this court case, where evidence included that the fallout of Perna’s investigation, which led to him standing aside then resigning as RV chairman – meant Moodie couldn’t go to the races and his family were upset.

“It was a leak from a person who was a director of the board,” Ms Richards told the Victorian Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The information came from a journalist, meaning there were earlier leaks that were also investigated by Perna, the court heard.

“The initial leaker was identified but that doesn’t mean he was the only leaker,” Ms Richards said.

Moodie’s legal representative Simon Wilson QC put to the court has Perna “reframed a simple request for information about the leak into a full-scale investigation and prosecution” of Moodie.

“This former policeman has gone on an absolute frolic of his own in terms of enlarging it, no doubt perhaps to justify his position or show how important he is,” Mr Wilson said.

And of course this is the week that racing.com is rolling out its coverage of South Australian racing, an absolute winner for them, that’s SA racing, – if punters are attracted to its product and its early fawning exposure and coverage – all at the expense of its core Victorian business.

The recorded (restricted) mounting yard coverage and lack of post-race interviews have been the buzz of social media on racing.com’s new look studio based presentation that includes the SA product.

Racing.com have extolled the virtues of its policies that the $6m rights paid for SA vision has been offset against a return sale to Sky Racing for the chocolate wheel channel, and the Melbourne Racing club taking the international rights to sell but social media has lit up against the new racing.com model.

At the same time, Sky has locked up Western Australian rights in Perth to 2022, Tasmania to 2026, while the South Australian rights are non-exclusive to 2021.

In the meantime, fans and punters, can’t see Victorian trials lives (unlike Sydney and Brisbane), the expensive Trakkus technology installed at Victoria’s metropolitan tracks has not led to an on screen presence – just yet anyway.

By Bruce Clark