FATE OF CANTERBURY: SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED LIKE A STEVIE WONDER SONG?
It was only a matter of time for the sale of Canterbury Racecourse to be put on the table- officially- and so it proved with the submission by the ATC to the Review of NSW thoroughbred legislation, sections of which have been cited and reported on by Fairfax Media’s Chris “The Rooter” Roots.
According to “The Rooter”, the ATC has signalled its intention in its 36 page submission in the Section titled “Disposal of Canterbury Park Racecourse and Rosehill Gardens Racecourse racing Infrastructure”.
Roots reports that under Section 23 of the ATC/STC Merger Act, the sale or disposal of Racecourses is prohibited for 10 years”. And with three of the 10 year prohibition period now passed, the ATC is clearly gearing up to put the “for sale” sign up at Canterbury so that the whole sale process can be expedited when D-day arrives.
So much for all the smoke and mirrors, the denials and faux outrage that has been the predictable response from the powerbrokers of the NSW racing industry whenever the sale of Canterbury got a run in the NSW racing media. But as with most things in sport and politics- and more so in racing- the more the denials, the outrage and, especially, the faux outrage, the more it can be assumed that a raw nerve has been exposed – that all footprints lead eventually to the elephant in the room.
“The Rooter” quotes from the report: “ATC Directors should be in full control over the real property assets of the race club in order to exercise their directors’ duties to deal with assets in the best interests of the company as required by the Company’s Act”.
Clearly Canterbury is doomed as a racetrack and Metropolitan Sydney will only have two racetracks – Randwick and Rosehill.
Warwick Farm will be Sydney’s premier training centre with Rosehill continuing its current back-up role. Randwick will remain a training centre for as long as Gai Waterhouse has a training licence- and for as long as the ATC finds it impossible to fight off the developers for the land that houses the Randwick trainers.
Change in Sydney racing is inevitable. Most of the- oh, fuck, no- “50,000 participants” see it that way. But what gets right up the skirts of many in NSW racing is the duplicity of the administrators who continually treat their constituency with contempt, a litany of lies and deliberate “spin” to divert attention and soften up the racing industry for the inevitable dose of bad news which precedes such announcements.
Racing administrators, like their decision makers in the commercial world, work to an agenda and timetable- and decisions are made well in advance. The timing often is the only moving target. But, as with most things, karma will eventually come knocking, and, call it payback or redemption, it will happen.
And so it is with Canterbury racecourse. The reality is that the ATC and Racing NSW- not unlike their counterparts in other States- desperately need to sell their precious family jewels to keep the industry afloat. It is a scenario that is played out regularly in the commercial world – and Lord help us- with Federal and State Governments, irrespective of their political persuasion.
Indiscriminate spending, a lack of accountability and prudent financial management are common culprits in the demise of many businesses and Federal and State Governments.
Racing has never been immune to these problems, but racing has escaped many of the financial trials and tribulations that other sports and businesses have been confronted with because its funding and financial security has never been an issue. Not until now.
Through unacceptable negligence and appalling governance and management, racing’s day of reckoning is imminent.
The sale of Canterbury- sans all the spin, lies and duplicitous bollocks- WILL happen.
It must if NSW racing is to be saved from insolvency, in the short term.
In the long term? Who knows?
WILL DARLEY HELP CHANGE O’SHEA’S MELBOURNE CURSE?
Gotta’ feel for our old china plate John “you’re all a bunch of fuckwits” O’Shea. It’s like someone up there hasn’t told the feng shui man to visit your stable, Johnno and change your luck or lack of it in Melbourne.
Take last Saturday in bleak city. Bernabeu, your well fancied runner in the Newmarket, had, apparently, been working the place down and was expected to be in the finish of Melbourne’s Group One Lightning Stakes.
He went like Usain Bolt would early and appeared to be travelling very well- but for some unknown reason, turned it up and finished way down the track. Disappointing to say the least. At least Snitzerland kept the flag flying for the Harbour City.
It’s a real conundrum. Johnno, rarely if ever, sends a horse down south unless it can win a race or be highly competitive.
Whenever we’ve been down in bleak city, his horses are turned out in great condition, and they are, generally, in peak form or very close to it. And he has trained some very good horses.
Most certainly, when he takes over the prize Darley team in May, the Melbourne hoodoo will be buried. We can only hope.
But please Johnno, keep a lid on your temper as it’s better to walk away and cool down rather than give the old pint sized midgets a group One spray in the mounting yard. Get the drift?
SYDNEY FIELD SIZES: A DRAIN ON INDUSTRY REVENUE.
It’s been said over and over again, and yet, the problem with unacceptably low field sizes at Sydney Saturday metropolitan race meetings continue like an incurable disease.
Take last Saturday’s Rosehill race meeting where five of the eight races had field sizes of less than eight starters – a total disaster for wagering.
Field sizes of less than eight starters completely decimates place betting and multiples betting.
Smaller pools and reduced dividends combined with the outrageously high take out rates by Tabcorp provide a very potent disincentive for punters- small, medium and large- to wager on all the exotics and the place, which pays two instead of the three dividends when there are eight or more starters in a race.
The reasons for the small field sizes are many and varied, but are a lethal combination in the continuing downward trend in wagering growth and, ultimately, the exodus of the wagering dollar to other sports.
The buck for the small fields has to stop with Racing NSW.
For many NSW trainers, the recurring finger pointing at the ratings and handicapping system and programming, has resulted in little more than band aid solutions.
The angst and tension between trainers and their governing body over these problems has not diminished. The promised prize money fix has failed miserably to address the problem.
Last Saturday alone, Group races with unjustifiably high levels of prize money yet again failed to attract field sizes which such stakes races should.
Clearly, the frustration levels of Sydney trainers contrasts markedly with their Melbourne counterparts, where, from what we can gather, the Chief Handicapper and Programme Director Greg Carpenter, is very hands-on and proactive in identifying problems and deficiencies and resolving them.
Perhaps Racing NSW could get off their high horse and ask Racing Victoria to give them a hand in fixing this very fixable problem which is cannibalizing wagering revenue in NSW?
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIER.
We’d like to pose a question, inconvenient as it might be, for our sparring partner and weather man, Christian “Dickhead” Nicolussi and some of his media mates in Sydney.
Guys, don’t you think it’s important to get things right in our own backyard – NSW racing- before we start lecturing and hectoring the industry across the border in that place known as Bleak City?
As influential members of the fourth, fifth and for that matter any numerical bloody estate, should you not, for example, devote your, er, column inches and television editorial and commentary on issues such as the woeful shrinking field sizes and their impact wagering revenue, the lifeblood of racing in our State?
Shouldn’t you be putting the blow torch to the belly of those responsible for the state of near financial destitution that NSW racing finds itself in?
C’mon guys, you can do it. Be brave, be strong, grow some balls ‘cos NSW racing needs you guys to stand up and be counted instead of making pitiful mewing sounds like some pussies in heat.
ANOTHER CRUZ MAKES HIS MARK ON RACING.
We would like to report that Penelope Cruz has taken out her trainers licence, but regrettably we can’t. But we can report that Trevor Cruz, son of the highly successful Derek in Hong Kong, and nephew of Hong Kong legendary jockey and trainer and our very good mate Tony, has not only taken out a trainers license in the land of the long white cloud- New Zealand- but he has hit the ground running.
From just five starters so far this season, Trevor has trained two winners and three place getters, and this weekend, has his first runner in a Group One race – the former Hong Kong galloper Packing Tycoon, in the Group One WFA Classic over 1600 metres at Otaki.
Packing Tycoon, a last start winner at Te Rapa over 1400 metres, was a high class Irish bred racehorse who failed to acclimatize in Hong Kong when trained by Tony Cruz and had several health issues, resulting in him being retired and sent over to New Zealand, where, as is often the case, he has found a new lease of life for racing in the clean and lush green environment.
He is still owned by his HK owner Edmond Lee man-bun- well known in HK racing circles for his team of successful racehorses- bearing the “Packing” prefix.
Trevor Cruz is being strongly supported by Hong Kong owners and is training ten older horses as well as twelve two year olds, many of whom are eventually bound for Hong Kong.
Among his older team is another former HK galloper New Greenfield.
We wish Trevor Cruz the best of luck in keeping the famous, well respected and highly successful family name flying in racing- and one which we just might see in Hong Kong one day.