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self-righteous sycophants seek stagnation, not progress

Here's a heart-warming story from Australian racing - a bunch of pompous prats who want to see the continual decline of racing into a sport of a bygone era have formed an 'alliance' to keep racing in an era where punters wore flares and wide-collared shirts, or worse, safari suits (which until recently, was a requirement during summer at some metropolitan racing clubs).

Alliance Lobbies Commission for a Better Deal

Wednesday, 23 December 2009: A newly formed body of prominent racing industry participants is calling on the Federal Productivity Commission to support the campaign for racing to receive a better deal from wagering operators.

The newly formed National Horse Racing Alliance, representing a large number of owners, trainers, breeders, agents and organisations, has made detailed submissions to the Productivity Commission inquiry into gambling in a bid to secure better returns to the racing industry from corporate bookmakers, parimutual operators and betting exchanges.

The NHRA, made up of a broad range of racing participants including owners, trainers, breeders, bloodstock agents and their organisations, has been formed to give the industry participants a national voice and influence on issues affecting their very livelihoods.

The group is advocating the need for an appropriate levy on the turnover of wagering operators, rather than a fee based upon gross profit.


Look at who makes up this body - owners and trainers, fair enough, they put the show on for everyone and work damn hard to do it. But breeders and bloodstock agents? There are few bigger mobs of hypocrites in the industry than these guys.

Owners can't make enough money from racing - hmm, let me think why - anything to do with the cartel-driven prices they paid for the horse in the first place? And the fees the agents charged for their slice of the action? And how much exactly do those bodies return to racing for earning a living from it? Again, let me think... Some of them sponsor, but so do bookmakers (where they are allowed to, of course not in NSW because there's a cushy relationship between Racing NSW and Tabcorp). The argument against bookmakers counting sponsorship in their returns to the industry is that is a marketing expense which could be rescinded at any time - no different for breeders.

I loved one of their utterly clueless, self-servient quotes from the article:

"Reduction in horse numbers may produce smaller fields (poor betting mediums), lesser returns to punters and owners and lower quality racing, as horses migrate to jurisdictions with higher prize money such as in Asia."


Less horses being bred means lower quality?? Take a look at the plethora of rubbish being run on a daily basis - from Boxing Day to the 28th, there will be 29 TAB meetings taking place. And far too many of them will involve very ordinary horses with very little ability.

The only way less horses produces smaller fields is when the greedy bastards running the show try to run the same number of races. Whatever happened to quality? People don't go racing 99% of the year because most of it is complete dross. Commercial breeders are motivated by greed alone, pushing ridiculous numbers of mares through the breeding barns producing far too many yearlings, driving the average price for a sire's progeny down, but of course, the total profits up. And now there is even a court challenge in Australia, by some sycophant who obviously 'cares about the industry', trying to overturn the ban against artificial insemination. That's all we need, another flood of yearlings not good enough to race at a track with any class.

I have nothing against country racing, that's where I grew up. But stop trying to tell us that we need wall-to-wall racing every day of the week with low class beasts who have no place on a racetrack.

Without betting, there is no racing. There is no family of rich sheiks who will fund it in Australia, it has to survive on its own merits. And there is a balance to strike between attractive product, margins which encourage the punter to return again and again, and the returns to the industry. Tote-only racing is dull and only works in Asia - Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, where the culture and political influence are completely different.

NZ - tote only and the prizemoney is depressing. Most horses with any sign of ability are sold to Australia or Asia.

USA - very few tracks operate without relying on slots for prizemoney. Remove the premier tracks such as Churchill Downs, Santa Anita and Belmont from the figures and they are very, very sick. A Triple Crown track potentially being sold off to property developers, Californian tracks being bulldozed. High tote margins, privately-owned tracks with no system of linking all the pools together - it's a shambles.

France - take out the sheiks and it's not too pretty there either. Any decent jumping prospect is sold to the UK tout de suite, and the prizemoney there isn't flash at all.

Australia has the perfect range of betting channels - totes, bookmakers (on-course and corporate), and betting exchanges (read Betfair) all licensed. Restrict it to one betting channel - as charging on turnover will effectively do, the Racing NSW proposal will make racing very uneconomic for bookies and exchanges - and punters & spectators will fade away. It mightn't happen overnight, you'll still get busloads of pissed idiots passing out on the lawns on feature race days... but anyone actually having a bet regularly? Good luck.

All betting agencies seek to make money out of racing, and their businesses promote the sport day in, day out. They do pay fees for the privilege, and so they should - but they must be kept to viable rates - not figures created purely to protect racing's best mate, the TABs, who, it must be remembered are now private companies, working first and foremost for their shareholders, not the racing industry.

Breeders spit out far too many below average horses and then put their hands out for tax breaks, something which happens all around the world. And how much do they contribute to racing on a daily basis? Breeders have a place in the industry like all the others, but their importance is considerably less than owners, trainers, betting operators and punters - they just tend to have a lot more money to make a big song and dance about their 'importance'.

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