FIELD SIZES: SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL? LESS IS MORE?
Our old mate and well-respected Sydney racing journo Max Presnell could not have summed up the woeful state of Sydney and NSW Racing better in his “Winners and Losers” column in the Sydney Morning Herald last Monday: “As Peter V’Landys, the Racing NSW Don Quixote tilting at windmills with a broken lance attacks the ramparts of State Government for more money, Sydney racing wallows in Saturday doldrums. Rosehill Gardens on Saturday (June 28), could only entice 66 starters, including three events with just seven runners, making the races unpalatable for each-way betting, despite a perfect winter surface and more prize money than Flemington’s eight races for 103 starters. Chris Waller carried the meeting with 21 starters for four winners—-“.
It was almost as if Lord V’Lundies, suffering from acute penis envy, has forced himself to believe that size doesn’t matter and that small is beautiful.
If Maxy was aghast at last Saturday’s starter numbers and field sizes, he will be near apoplectic at acceptances for this Saturday’s Rosehill card compared with what the “Mexicans” across the border at Caulfield have come up with.
Rosehill Gardens’ eight race card has attracted 75 starters while Caulfield’s eight race programme has a whopping 127 paid up at acceptance time.
Perhaps the number crunchers and spin doctors at Druitt Street led by Raymondo Thomas, well-known parrot for The V’Lundies Man and aided and abetted by the Lost Fat Boy can point to a positive upward trend in a week by saying entries from 66 to 75 shows “positive growth”.
Is it any wonder Maxy’s “Don Quixote” was quoted in last week’s Sportsman professing that “Victorians always irritate me. They seem to have this superior attitude no matter the racing code”.
Sorry Pete, or “Don” or “Duh”, or whatever, but can you really blame them for their “superior” attitude? As another political hack, former PM Kevin “Dud” Rudd once said “fair crack of the sauce bottle”.
The problem with NSW racing- and there are many problems- is that it is in complete denial- and we don’t mean the river in Egypt- and has been for a very, very long time- almost as long as Racing NSW has been the governing body, and dare we say it, the hierarchy that is part of the furniture.
Until NSW racing faces up to the fact and admits that it DOES have a very serious problem with its structure, strategy and “decision” makers and “decision making”, it will continue to struggle for air beneath a very crowded surface.
From what we keep hearing from over the border, there is a strong appetite for a cooperative approach on all things racing, but, equally, a steely resolve to a last man standing mutha of all racing wars to prevent the “NSW Troika” from establishing a not so benevolent dictatorial regime to run Australian racing from its Dad’s Army headquarters in Druitt Street.
The field sizes issue on Saturdays – by far, the best wagering turnover day in Australia- has major negative implications for the racing industry.
It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to figure that field sizes under eight starters decimate place and exotic betting pools, and to a lesser, but still significant degree, win pools.
The NSW and Victorian wagering pools are critical to turnover all over Australia.
If NSW or Victoria catches the clap, the rest of the States go like the clappers. Simple as that.
Trainers in NSW have for a very, very long time identified the problems, but have basically given up.
The handicapping, programming, state of the training and racing surfaces and infrastructure have been tinkered with at times- but that’s all. It’s basic corporate damage control bullshit to keep the natives from becoming too restless, and explains so much about NSW racing.
Maxy Presnell aptly summarized NSW racing’s predicament: “ Alas, our enthusiastic but bedraggled knight, gives the impression he is crusading for a bigger, richer autumn and let the rest of the year wallow in mediocrity”.
CAN TVN SURVIVE LIKE THAT AWFUL GLORIA GAYNOR SONG?
The simple answer is NO- not in its present state of dysfunction and nor under the present structure.
Just two years ago when peace erupted between Racing NSW, on the one hand, and the Victorian Clubs and the ATC, on the other, and the “new” spirit of cooperation was hailed as a breakthrough, which would contagiously flow on into other areas of mutual back-slapping and wanking between the two state governing bodies, the “50,000” participants in NSW and their whatever number of counterparts in Victoria were promised the benefits of cash flows from the media and vision rights. This was meant to be a breakthrough of almost biblical proportions.
Two years on and the racing industry is still in limbo like a Jimmy Cliff song, mon: The NSW and Victorian media rights are still not aggregated. Sky Racing is yet to sign off on fees to TVN, and TVN itself is hopelessly factionalized on a State basis and within NSW itself.
NSW and Victorian racing are unquestionably Racing’s biggest losers – starved of the dollars that should be flowing into both States coffers.
Perhaps the only solution is to tear TVN apart and for the Victorian Clubs and the ATC to go it alone sans their two governing bodies?