Expect a new Racing Victoria Board next week

Expect a new Racing Victoria Board next week

What’s going on!

As we all rightly get excited about seeing Winx again this Saturday (and happy birthday today – Thursday- to the dear girl turning six), not to mention a stellar day at Flemington for the Makybe Diva Stakes Sofitel Girls Day out meeting, racing can find plenty around its murky ridges to undermine the real stars of the show.

Where do we start with What’s Going On?

We’ve got the Victoria Racing Club as custodians of our greatest show – The Melbourne Cup – throwing the toys out at Racing Victoria over a Caulfield Cup penalty change.

This wasn’t a smuggle through customs win for the Melbourne Racing Club to revive the Caulfield Cup, it was carefully considered decision by executive general manager of racing and handicapper Greg Carpenter based on analysing the two races over the past 40-years.

And despite new VRC chairman Amanda Elliott saying the first time she heard about the change (where a Caulfield Cup winner with 56kg or more in the Melbourne Cup would not be penalised), RV along with the clubs have been consulting on this issue for some time – years even.

“Change that makes sense obviously we’re all about, but not being part of the process for the most important race in Australia – which is our race – seemed extraordinary,” she said.

“Well, for heaven’s sake, it’s the Melbourne Cup. It’s the biggest show in town. It’s not some maiden at Woop Woop,” Elliott said.

And nor is the Caulfield Cup and any move to improve the two best handicap races in the world should be seen as a positive. But how that message is shared could have been better handled by RV.

There will be major changes at RV from next week with Victorian racing Minister Martin Pakula to announce the new board and chairman – JustRacing – has suggested Moonee Valley vice chairman and former Toll Holdings CEO Brian Kruger is the man for the job.  Pakula advised JustRacing that final probity checks were currently under way before next week’s announcement.

And there will be much on the to-do list for the new chairman and new look board which is expected to include at least two of the outgoing board. Try implementing the new governance structure to deal with myriad of long running issues from integrity to cobalt, Kate Goodrich, the supposed Allen’s Report into the “mole” who leaked RV information – on hold due to former chairman David Moodie’s legal stoush with Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna, perception of the new look racing.com presentation and relationships with its shareholders etc etc etc.

So, cobalt too is back in the news via a Gordon Yorke breach in Grafton matched only by his stinging defence. This followed the Ron Quinton twist a week’s prior.

The positive cobalt detection came from his horse Follow Through presented for a Class 1 on July 13.

York told the Grafton Examiner he “wouldn’t even know where to buy cobalt”.

“This is like going into the supermarket and trying to steal food, I just wouldn’t do it,” Yorke said. “I have nothing but admiration for trainers who attempt to win races in the right way.

“But I have nothing but distaste for people who use these types of substances. Cobalt is a heavy metal mineral that kills, they are bringing the horse’s health into risk.

“I believe I am 100% innocent. There is no possible way I have been involved in this. Why would you dope up a horse for a Class 1 on Cup day?”

Quinton’s sprinter Boss Lane was also found to have excessive levels of cobalt in a test before finishing fourth in the Missile Stakes at Randwick on August 5.

“Ron Quinton would have to be among the highest esteem in racing today,” Yorke said. “I find it laughable that Ronnie has been put to the same embarrassment that I have. Something is really wrong,” Yorke said of this matter.

“To say Ron doped a horse, that would be like saying the Pope was an atheist – and if that is the case I have lost all confidence in the industry.”

Mind you there is no sign down at the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal or smoke blowing an outcome of RV’s leave to appeal the Kavanagh and O’Brien cobalt cases. It is coming up four years!

Whilst on RV’s legal battles they were down at the Victorian Civil And Administrative Tribunal again on Monday with high profile barrister Jack Rush trying to supress the tabling of the independent FBIS report that found trainer Kate Goodrich had been bullied and a decision to ban her from Kilmore was ‘flawed and unjustified’. Goodrich is appealing a suspended 12 month ban at VCAT.

Back in New South Wales, it’s front running leader Peter V’landys, in only his seventh tweet, released ‘positive’ figures for wagering in the state, turnover said to be up 8 %, revenue up 13% for the past financial year, though there wasn’t any other details released. We await those.

His baby the $10m The Everest continues to draw closer, Redzel confirmed as a runner for the James Harron Bloodstock group, but hardly the international haw dropping clamour the race is said to have ignited. Of course, there remains a $2.8m shortfall after slot holder buy-ins to be met by wagering, marketing and sponsorship. We await details on that as well.

As colleague Richie Callander pointed out, whatever the quality of the final field (and it looks a race sans Chautauqua that would be a competitive group 2 race run for $400,000 any second spring Saturday) has certainly created headlines and debate, especially against Victoria’s key spring races, for which weights were released and nominations updated this week.

It follows on from the excellent RNSW initiative – Punters Intel – an interactive app for punters to drill into and extract as much information as they derive generous or useful to their own betting or assessment tools.

Which again highlights the technology stall at racing.com where “The Analayser’ in a studio removed from the racecourse is regarded as ‘state of the art’ when accurate sectional times can still not be relied upon on screen and places in running are still manually posted. That’s not to mention the chance of High Definition coverage and anything but the races live.

Victorian race fans are still wondering why there is still no Sunday morning review show as the spring carnival marches on? Is it because the studios in AFL house are still required for AFL?

The industry’s corporate wagering partners were hit a blow this week when – to no surprise- the federal government banned tempting sign-up offers to open new accounts or refer friends. So no free bets to get you in.

It could be worse, you could be a New Zealand TAB customer in Australia as they were swallowed up this week in a when recent changes to in the Australian Interactive Gambling Act were enabled.

It means Australian based punters can’t bet into a NZ TAB account or watch NZ racing – the impacts here are broad and wide given the co-mingling and picture relationship between the NZ TAB and Tabcorp.

The impact on New Zealand racing will be significant and it appears they have been caught up in laws effectively passed to impact illegal or undesirable off shore betting agencies and exchanges operating on Australian racing and sport.

In the meantime lets enjoy Winx, Hartnell and co this weekend.

By Bruce Clark