How could I forget some of the bozo government bodies who allegedly police the industry for the protection of punters?
Jobsworths of the Year
Three-way tied effort between the ACT Gaming and Racing Commission, the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority and the racing stewards of Western Australia.
The ACT Gaming and Racing Commission awarded a sports and racing betting licence to SportsAlive, and under the terms of the licence, were supposed to monitor them very tightly, to ensure the protection of punters. This blatantly did not occur and like a typically useless government department, they have washed their hands of any blame. As an accountholder of the now defunct bookie, I have received a list of creditors of the company - it is long and ugly. There's sweet FA hope of the serious punters receiving any more than a few cents in the dollar (another bookie has picked up the tab for the little accounts, obviously hoping to pick up a lot of fish on the cheap). Since very few of the firm's clients would have resided in the piss-ant little territory of the ACT, the Commission's obvious first concern was tax revenues and not the sanctity of punter funds.
The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority followed a similar ethos, protecting one of their resident companies (Betfred.com) over the rights of winning punters in this racing sting. Now, I'm not a great fan of racing 'coups' - to get it all together on one day means they must have stopped horses from performing on their merits on previous occasions. How else do you get the odds you need to launch a sting? But, it is not the job of a licensing authority on a tax haven to declare such efforts illegal. The British Horseracing Authority declared no rules of racing had been broken. UK betting shops of BetFred paid out on the races in question, but the online division chose to weasel out of paying, under the protection of the GRA. Despicable.
The racing stewards of Western Australia ruined a great Railway Stakes race this year by taking the race off the Kerrin McEvoy-ridden He's Remarkable and awarding it to the second horse, Luckygray, based on a protest lodged by connections of the runner-up. There is no doubt the winner caused significant interference when leaving the fence on the turn. But the problem is, he interfered with one horse, Waratah's Secret (finished 4th) who then affected Ranger, the favourite, who finished well back. Luckygray, if anything, benefitted from the interference as it created space for him.
You might consider this a bit odd, but I backed the winner and was not that surprised to see him lose on protest. If a horse causes significant interference in order to win a (major) race, I have no issue with the race being taken off them. To only allow horses which finished close to the winner the right to protest actually encourages the rough rider to flatten a rival or two, putting them completely out of the race - winning by cheating. There was a prime example in the 1996 Golden Slipper, when Greg Hall riding Merlene, knocked down half the field in order to win the race. Hall received a massive suspension and fine, one of the biggest ever handed down in Australia, but he was riding for one of the richest men in the country - it didn't cost him a cent.
The problem in the Railway Stakes case is that there is no rule in Australian racing that gives stewards the right to disqualify based on greater interference as I've described above. They can only look at the direct interference between the horses involved in the protest. The NZ horse (the winner) was robbed, the WA racing stewards have invented a rule to award the race to the home town runner, Luckygray.
Also, another prime contender for Hypocrite of the Year award deserves to receive the award in the individual category.
I really don't understand why this guy is so popular in the UK industry. He is a hideous advertisement for the sport - patronising, sexist, acts like a clown, rants and raves without any facts to his arguments, and sticks his head on TV every time a controversial incident in racing appears. When the whip rule controversy emerged, he well and truly bit the hand that feeds him, calling HIS sport barbaric, and pandering to the tabloid press which loves seeing racing getting kicked. No other sport or industry would put up with a dickhead like this. His pathetic calls of 'they knew' every time a horse wins lead the casual fan to think the game is fixed. There is talk of several racecallers being under pressure to retain their positions. If only the 'pundits' had the same examinations going on...