By Keyser Soze
TIME TO END THE HYPOCRISY
The past week has seen some of the most blatant hypocrisy and disingenuous commentary about the turmoil which Victorian racing has created by its own stained hands, and which has inflicted long lasting damage to its fragile image. Commentary by the very sections of the racing media who have deliberately spectated, and at times tacitly provided a forum for some of the instigators to vent their vituperative, vindictive and damaging personal attacks on the Victorian racing industry and some of its senior officials.
These chameleons (Jokers? Penguins?)have suddenly converted, at a minute before midnight, to assuming the role of “protectors” of the image of Victorian racing with such calls to arms as “Racing must rise above it all” – echoing the bleeding obvious to what RacingB*tch has been publicly stating since its inception: Australian racing is a dysfunctional and a conflicted mess dominated by polarizing individuals, motivated by self-interest and greed. If Australian racing had been around in ancient times, it would have shared billing with some of the barbaric games at the Colosseum in ancient Rome.
What rankles is the blatant cynical “Eureka Moment” of some of these commentators, many who find it difficult to communicate outside their 140 character comfort zone. They are the very same ones on the radio programs and newspaper columns and social media who have given cylinder loads of oxygen to the high profile and lesser light trainers and their cheer squads to trash the Victorian racing industry, the governing body and its senior management and Integrity department. Suddenly, they wish to be seen as visionaries? Suddenly they see that they’ve been backing the wrong horses? Suddenly they furiously back peddle to be patron saints of the little people?
“The Victorian racing industry is headed towards self destruction if it can’t pull itself into line and fast. Rather than there being a desired approach to strengthen the industry with a united front, including administrators and participants, racing consistently finds itself in turmoil with internal battles and power plays being broadcast publicly that does nothing but harm the sport”. Truer words have never been spoken before by none other than Shano aka Shane Anderson. Welcome aboard the Titanic, Shano. Or is this another desperate attempt to jump aboard another bandwagon?
Isn’t it a tad sanctimonious when less than a year ago, you were rolling out the welcome mat to the likes of Peter Moody, and some of his brethren in the training ranks who had no hesitation in using RSN and racing.com to take the baseball bat to their industry administrators. Moody’s incessant and tedious slogan-riddled and strident verbal assaults on the Victorian industry and its administrators have kept racing in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Moody was a welcome guest on Shano’s RSN radio program. Through his Racing.com interviews, he gave Moody an “open season” licence to vent his tiresome rants. And yes Shano, “running a public commentary on all things said only serves them poorly”. It’s just a pity you didn’t set up a road block when you were just another wannabe radio shock jock at the dead people’s radio station and a wannabe sports reporter on racing.com. We might not have needed to “rise above it all” as you are exhorting your twitter followers to do. And one other observation, Shano; your comparison with the AFL and the fine imposed on one of its coaches “over unsubstantiated accusations of umpire bias”, is spot on. Good to know you’re reading this blog. And seizing the opportunity to try and reinvent yourself.
To be fair to dear old Shano, he isn’t the only commentator to experience a “white light” moment. Enter the Herald Sun’s Matt Stewart, funnily enough his new soul brother, which was certainly not the case a few years ago. He wrote this gem in his column: “Factions and poisonous crusades are gnawing away at a sport that usually has a great sense of community and respect for rules. People with chips on their shoulders keep hammering away and they seem to be growing in voice. They started hanging out together, bringing others into their snide circle”.
Really, Matt? Think we know who you are referring to. What’s happened, matey? Didn’t you go hard enough defending their plight- and their legacies-on racing? Didn’t you write column after column seeking absolution for their transgressions? Yes Matt, “they do not represent racing”. We told you that a long time ago, but you, like many others have had, their hearing aids were on mute. Problem is, mate, in the media, self-interest and a cheap headline always trumps any other interest or moral argument.
The situation is so out of control, thanks to the leadership vacuum in Victorian racing, that it took Racing Minister Martin Pakula to put the inmates of the Victorian racing asylum on notice. How embarrassing for Racing Victoria Chairman- and astute businessman- David Moodie and his hapless “The Plodder”, aka Chief Executive Bernard Saundry. Then, again, arrogance and golden parachutes are immune to embarrassment. The nests have been feathered and what’s needed if possible are a few more golden eggs.
Clearly, neither have the balls to herd the inmates back into the asylum where they belong. The pathetic kindergarten type feather duster smacks on the backsides of MRC Chief Executive Brodie Arnold and Chief Steward Terry Bailey by Victorian racing’s aspiring Kevin Rudd on his doomed mission to save the UN in Bernard Saundry was, hopefully, the last straw for Pakula.
Thankfully, he intervened, and demanded a “pow wow”- not exactly an inspiring term- with Racing Victoria hierarchy and the Race Clubs. And having listened to a meandering onslaught of words from Racing Integrity Commissioner “My gal” Sal Perna when interviewed recently by the consistently excellent Michael Felgate, we hope he’s invited and adds some Pow. There’s certainly no Wow factor. If this too ends up being another meaningless love-in and boulevard of broken promises ,then it’s shallow showbiz. There’s no point.
Has Martin Pakula finally lost patience? Is he really going to throw the book at the lunatic fringe that’s been operating as a law unto itself? Does he have options in his hip pocket instead of being caught up in another tedious game of musical chairs with Spanky and The Gang?
Pakula is passionate about racing and wants the best outcome for the sport. This is clear. He has been generous in his funding for Victorian racing, above any of his counterparts in the other states. The hostile and poisonous environment that pervades racing should be an affront to the Racing Minister and all those who have contributed to its dominant position in the Australian racing lexicon. But now is the time to show real leadership. No more Can Can shows with dancers out of step with reality and no direction of home. No more excuses for real leadership. But again, we wonder, where are these people? The Human Resources well is dry. No one wants any part of its rebuilding process.
We know only one true leader in the global racing industry, and he wouldn’t take on this gig for all the yum cha in China. So, let’s hope, this “pow wow” won’t become another “show cause” in corporate tap dancing.
Victorian racing is in freefall. It is an indictment on Moodie and Saundry- and their leadership or lack of it, that it is in this pathetic state. They garner no respect. And with Saundry about to board the “last train to Clarksville”, Moodie is in grave danger of hitching a ride with the “The Plodder”.
What was once covert undermining among some of the main players is now well and truly out of the closet and being played out in the open. It is unquestionably why racing in Oz is so incapable of exciting even a ripple of community and generational interest outside the spring carnival. Bad news travels like Black Caviar down the Flemington straight. Disunity is death. And Victorian racing is closer to entering those funeral parlours that prop up on RSN with their wacky advertising.
THE GRIFFIN AND MR BUBBLES
It kinda surprises us, but then it doesn’t- the news that The Griffin aka SCMP racing writer Andrew Hawkins, has, or will soon join the HKJC as- we’re not quite sure- and work under the Club’s Racing Communications Manager Patrick Cummings aka Mr Bubbles. And in the usual game of musical chairs so prevalent in the horse racing industry, Tom Biddington will join the SCMP’s Racing Post team. We know, we know.
We wouldn’t know The Griffin if he were to roll over us, but, in the short time he has been in Hong Kong, he has made giant strides to make himself known to the English-speaking racing fraternity and seems to be a passionate racing writer.
With a game plan. Thinking about it, one supposes, Andrew Hawkins could be Hong Kong’s version of a young Shane Anderson. It’s an interesting career move. A smart one? Time will tell.
As for Mr Bubbles, we have met him once, in person, though he has regaled us over the phone with his curriculum vitae. Were we impressed? We’re not easily impressed. What has Mr Bubbles actually done in the time he has been in Hong Kong? Could he be the new Bill “Let me get back to you on that” Nader, but without whatever power Mr Bill had? At least the former Director of Racing was entertaining, and often, good for some, er, interesting quotes.
Pat Cummings? Other than a childish war of words with outspoken local political analyst, columnist and television personality Michael Chugani on the use of the word “colony”, where both showed themselves to be rather petty people, he’s introduced hashtags to the HKJC’s Twitterverse and helped bring most of America’s awesome young racing influencers to last year’s Hong Kong International Week. This was a job well done though, perhaps, once of that is enough. We’re get a little nauseous watching drivel like the video below from one of these American influencers. Still, as one would say in the showbiz world, Mr Bubbles knows how to work it.
Though many feel that for someone in Communications, especially on Twitter, his communications skills and “engagement” are said to leave much to be desired, wouldn’t know. If the HKJC’s Twitter site comes under Mr Bubbles’ watch, it’s hardly inspiring stuff. But, hey…
Perhaps this is where The Griffin, who seems hell bent on being a younger, fresher global galloper, could come into play? He’s frisky. Having said all this, does any of it matter? Is it just another brick in the wall? Is it just more bloated hot air? Let us get back to you on that…
Is Tabcorp about to launch some new bet types? If so, will they scrap some of the products which have been struggling for some considerable time? Let’s hope that the Big Six survives- and with proper seeding. Offering a $25,000 or $50,000 jackpot is out of sync with the bet type which relies on considerable skill and outlay to give punters a fighting chance of landing the prize. If Tabcorp is serious it needs to underwrite a $100,000 minimum, which will attract the bigger punters and punting syndicates. Then there are Tabcorp’s telephone operators and their rabid rudeness to customers, so let’s not hold our collective breaths…
Rumours in both his native Melbourne and Sydney are that departing Racing Victoria Chief Executive Bernard “the plodder” Saundry may be earmarked for the Racing Australia gig when Peter “toffee tongue” McGauran’s contract expires in the very near future. We offer no comment except to say that we would hope “toffee tongue’s” contract is renewed. If nothing else, he is entertaining, a rare commodity in Australian racing. As for “The Plodder”, well, the very apt nickname says it all.