By Keyser Soze
BAITED BY THE ANIMAL ACTIVISTS
Politicians and Racing Administrators- and how many on both sides of the fence ever got their jobs other than through a raffle draw is open to debate- have much in common. Their reactive instincts generally lead to knee jerk responses to carefully contrived populist public opinion, often manipulated by agenda driven organizations and activists with a cause célèbre, and often lacking in a factual and reasoned foundation.
Can there be a better example than the unravelling of the NSW State Government’s hysterical announcement last week banning greyhound racing in that state from July 1 2017? NSW Liberal Premier Mike Baird and his Deputy and Racing Minister Troy Grant shouldered arms at the announcement, which was based on a review conducted by a well-known NSW legal figure- Justice Michael McHugh- into greyhound racing following the outing of a joint Four Corners/Fairfax Media investigation into the abhorrent practice of ‘live’ baiting across the industry in many Australian States.
McHugh, according to a report in The Australian newspaper, is well-known in racing circles having chaired a Racing NSW Jockeys Benefit Scheme, and also as a member of a “legal eagles” betting syndicate. It appears McHugh, a respected member of the NSW legal fraternity, has a genuine interest in the thoroughbred code.
However, it also appears from media reports, and from evidence belatedly put forward by the NSW greyhound industry, that McHugh may have been blindsided by the persuasive and disingenuous animal activist lobby. So much so that the veracity of the data and critical parts of the evidence relied upon in the Review, such as those surrounding the numbers of greyhounds euthanized each year, have been vigorously questioned, particularly the authenticity of the sources of the information.
Tellingly, News Limited reported that, “The case for NSW premier Mike Baird’s ban on greyhound racing has been dramatically undermined after it emerged that graphic evidence used to justify the move is more than 10 years old – and had nothing to do with NSW. Errors have also been found in calculations in the report, adding to the seven mistakes and amendments already acknowledged by its author. In a further blow to the document’s credibility, the report cites research carried out by an animal rights group partly via social media and ‘personal contacts’ of the research team who questioned only a small number of people in NSW”. Any surprises here? It’s all “politricks”. It’s always “politricks” full of smoke and mirrors and trap doors.
The News Limited report further states that the greyhound breeder quoted in McHugh’s review who claimed that he had “drowned” pups who had shown that they “don’t have the instinct to chase or the tools to be a consistent winner” was an American whose comments were made in 2005, some 10 years before the Review was commissioned. Read that sentence again to understand how weirdly farcical, agenda-driven and sinister this entire episode is.
The News Limited report further alleges that “Mr McHugh sourced (this particular quote) from a 2015 report by the Working Dog Alliance Australia (an animal welfare group), which failed to point out where “Ernie” (the American greyhound breeder) was from. The report was originally published by Canadian academics in a 2005 report about the US greyhound industry. They acknowledged their “ideological position as supporters of animal rights”.
It also seriously brings into question the horrifying claim in McHugh’s review that up to 68,000 dogs had been euthanized over the past 12 years – a claim, which in light of the retractions, the media reports and responses from Greyhound Racing NSW, appear neither credible or authentic.
Obviously, it also strikes at the credibility and disingenuous behaviour of animal activist groups targeting thoroughbred racing as well. These animal activist groups have a history of manipulating public opinion through their well-organized strategies which appeal to basic humane values of the general population.
They have also been able to attract a gaggle of female celebrities to their cause to glamourize and authenticate their own cause and promote the “values” and “ethics” of the celebrities themselves. But who’s there in Australian racing with the chutzpah and intelligence to take them on? As Adele would ask, Hello?
For thoroughbred racing, the unravelling of critical aspects of the McHugh review, the premature and flawed judgment of Premier Baird and Deputy Troy Grant to impose a life sentence on the sport in NSW, and the disingenuous behaviour of the animal activist lobby, provides an opportunity to get on the front foot, and literally hit the puerile and factually incorrect arguments out of the park. But when Dumb and Dumber are running the show?
The leadership of Thoroughbred racing in Australia- IF there actually is one hiding somewhere- must, for once, adopt a proactive strategy, resolve, once and for all, an exit strategy for the use of whips, and, similarly, with jumps racing, and confront the animal activists and expose the moral and factual bankruptcy of their arguments. But as we keep asking because it’s much more than keeping the animal activists at bay, does this leadership exist in Australian racing? Have there been any signs of leadership? Where? Who? Where’s the knight in shining armour when all one hears is The Tin Man from The Wizard Of Oz singing, “If I Only Had A Brain” to Dorothy?
Many of the governing bodies and racing stakeholders can hold their heads up high with the many initiatives and their own unwavering commitment to the welfare of their horses. Can the so-called animal welfare groups and activists do the same? To paraphrase Bob Dylan, Don’t criticise what you can’t understand and when preaching from Mount Hypocrisy with a great deal of Trump-like showboating thrown in. But often, perception outweighs reality.
On the political front, both Mike Baird and Troy Grant have been well and truly been caught literally with their pants down on this issue. Even the Federal Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and a hoist of Federal and NSW Members of Parliament representing country electorates – the heartland of NSW greyhound racing-have begun to distance themselves from the decision. Baird and Grant may be forced into a very embarrassing backdown, which, in the longer term, may impact on the longevity of their political careers.
In a particularly odd segue to this story, Racing NSW’s resident clairvoyant, Peter Vlundies, apparently predicted the NSW greyhound racing’s death sentence as early as April when discussing equine welfare issues at a forum with NSW breeders in April when he shared the panel duties with his other two brothers in arms- the “messiah” and the very sweet “toffee tongue”. Just shows how analytical and strategic Racing NSW’s “dear leader” is. And clairvoyant as well. There might be a life after racing for him after all.
Overheard recently in Melbourne: “Turnover is down and no one’s betting big”. “Yeah. Wait until you-know-who is back after his suspension. Ha ha ha”.
No laughing matter for the rank and file punter, but who cares about them, anyway, right? For all the sanctimonious scribblings and pontificating by many in the racing media, what’s never mentioned are the rorts going on- and the to-ing and fro-ing of “mail” to which they are privy. Nothing wrong with taking all this info and winning some bucks. Or wait, is it? Could this affect odds by steering punters in the wrong direction as some just might- might/perhaps/maybe- be in the pockets of some of the corporates? But more than anything else, isn’t all this banging on about integrity, but sleeping with the enemy a tad hypocritical?
On the subject of scribblings, one wonders if a group of racing scribblers furiously scribbling “exclusives” almost every other days as their “business model” makes another U-turn, and part of the Moody Blues Fan Club, might be receiving a missive from Hong Kong to do with their latest coverage of the tedious cobalt saga and how the word “accredited” has been linked to the HKJC? Careful, fellas.
THE HONG KONG CONNECTION
Smart Volatility, a talented and often underrated Hong Kong sprinter, seen below winning up there, took out the feature sprint – the Ramornie Handicap at the Grafton racing carnival in Northern NSW last week.
Now trained by expat New Zealander John Sargent in Sydney, Smart Volatility may even return to Hong Kong and target the major sprint races in the new season. Smart move? Hmmmm. As long as regular rider when in Hongkers- Howard Cheng- is not aboard, it might run a place.
Still with Hong Kong, we hear that another dodgy horse from Oz has managed to be sold to another unsuspecting local owner for way too much of an outlay. Let’s just say that the owner was setup and well and truly “Cooked” with even one of the Aussie partners being nastily short-changed.
Still with Hong Kong, we hear that another dodgy horse from Oz has managed to be sold to another unsuspecting local owner. Let’s just say that the owner was setup and well and truly “Cooked”.
The good news is that the days when too many in Australia look at Hong Kong as the land of milk and honey, and a dumping ground for average conveyances that are sold for obscene profits by working with those over there holding permits and acting as middle men- and with some trainers getting in on the act for their slice of the pie- could be coming to an end. We understand new roadblocks are being put in place to stop the shysters from rolling in their crippled Trojan horses.
What would work best would be a course on the purchasing of horses created by the HKJC for so many Hong Kong owners who have been and continue to be duped. A Shame Them And Name Them List of unscrupulous bloodstock agents would also help. We have our own such list and will be only too happy to publish this and rid the industry of these grubs.
TAYLOR MADE SUCCESS STORY
Great human interest and Feel Good story this week at Grafton in NSW was when 26 year old Sally Taylor, below, who had been training only since February this year, won the feature Grafton Cup with her stayer Rednav at the official starting price of 26/1 after 80/1 had been bet when markets first opened.
And from the reaction on social media to photos of the young lady, Australian racing just might have a new pinup girl on their hands. Sally Taylor’s career is one well worth following.
ROCKY? IS THAT YOU?
As everyone should know by now, using online dating sites are fraught with problems. Hackers is one thing. Being duped is another. And sheer stupidity is worst of all. So, all we can say to the fairly well-known racing character in the land of Oz is that, whether you see yourself as “Rocky” or not, and despite hiding behind a blurred out image, you’ve been outed on that notorious Ashley Madison online dating site that was recently hacked. Take down the profile picture, mate. It’s not a good look. Plus, the missus might not like it.