“For the past six months, we have been setting the foundations to make real our bold new vision”, was the beginning of a media release from the Racing Queensland CEO Eliot Forbes over the weekend.
And he went on in a brave attempt to paint of bright picture of what might be. Albeit a three year vision.
Nothing wrong with a bit of spin to an industry desperate for a smidgen of good news.
Just a shame about the timing.
For on the very same day Victorian Racing CEO Giles Thompson announced another whopping $15.5 million in prize money - THIS YEAR – making a season total of $214 million from August 1.
Obviously neither Forbes nor his minders saw it coming and he waded on:
“We are at an intersection of meeting current needs and planning for the future with a renewed energy.
“We are ever mindful of our responsibilities across the entire spectrum of the three codes of the racing industry, including our vibrant and diverse country and community racing sector and we have a clear line of sight on what we want to deliver in the future.’’
He said over the next three years Racing Queensland will boost prize money in a sustainable manner.
He didn’t say how, he didn’t say when and he certainly didn’t say by how much.
“We have reached a critical stage in our transformation. I am personally excited to share our progress and future plans.”
And then this: “I look forward to working with you as we build towards becoming Queensland’s favourite sport and Australia’s best racing jurisdiction.”
On a serious note
THERE are other serious matters for the CEO and his board to ponder in the coming weeks - and they are hardly something to be excited about.
Two high profile racing men were charged last week with serious fraud matters arising from alleged fraudulent payments associated with racecourse maintenance and construction. And the inquiries are not restricted to racecourses in the SE corner either.
Two officials of the Townsville Turf Club were interviewed by the CCC last year and later provided statements that in actual fact were referred to by Kevin O’Keefe in his last chairman’s report before the mass resignation of his committee. It is all there in black and white.
And, according to the old rumour mill, stand by for a couple of former RQ key staff members to be named, if not charged. These latest investigations happened under the watch of the current RQ board and CEO in spite of media reports to the contrary.
Yes, it Is a critical stage in the transformation of RQ - to repeat the words of CEO Forbes.
A priority might be to divest RQ from the greyhounds and harness. They should never have been placed under the same umbrella anyway. It has been an abject failure. The dogs and trots should be masters of their own destiny. Yet now we have RQ seeking to employ someone to find suitable new venues.
Can you believe?
THE VICTORIAN increase of $15.5 million will give it the edge over New South Wales in the prizemoney race of which Queensland is of course no longer a contender. A total of $214 million in prizemoney and bonuses will be on offer throughout Victoria, across all levels from picnic races to group 1s $40 million since May 2015.
All standard Saturday metropolitan races will now be worth $100,000, aside from the lower grade BM78 races which will remain at $60,000.
Over $6 million has been added to country prizemoney including a 50 percent increase for races at picnic venues.
Country maiden races rise by 10 percent to $22,000, premium country maidens to $25,000 and maidens at country night meetings moving to $27,000.
Jockey and equine welfare programs are allocated one percent of prizemoney.
Giles Thompson, Racing Victoria CEO, said the increase was due to a wagering growth of nine percent and a growing number of owners (60,000) in the state.
WHILE Victorians gloat over the massive prizemoney increase and David Hayes boasts that Victoria is the only place to train horses - there is another side of RV that might indicate an addiction to excessive greed.
While most Queenslanders believe their only hope of recovery from the financial doldrums is the merger of TABCORP and UBET, Racing Victoria (and its unlikely partner Crownbet) will go to the Australian Competition Bureau next week to oppose it.
“We are deeply concerned with the impact that the proposed merger will have on the long-term funding and viability of the Victorian racing industry,” said CEO Giles Thompson.
“Any negative impact on industry funding as a result of a lack of competition for the next Victorian wagering license, will put at risk from 2024 the three codes’ investment in prizemoney, infrastructure, integrity, animal welfare and regional communities.
“It is for this reason that we have intervened in the Australian Competition Tribunal hearing and will be putting forward our view that the merger as currently proposed is not in the best interests of current and future Victorian owners, trainers and jockeys.”
Thompson added that the proposed merger will guarantee a national pari-mutuel or tote pool.
“The national tote pool is an attractive concept only if it protects and ultimately enhances the viability of the Victorian racing industry, which the proposed merger does not as it risks $330 million in annual funding because of the likelihood of a non-competitive bid process for our next wagering licence,” Thompson said.
“Also, there are many regulatory and operational hurdles to establishing a national tote due to the differences in state legislation and funding arrangements, which helps explain why TABCORP has not already merged its Victorian and New South Wales pools.”
It is well known that Crownbet and other corporate bookies definitely do not want a national tote as it would deprive them of offering the popular “best tote” option to punters. With one tote there is no option.
A final decision on the merger-absolutely critical for Queensland is due by mid June.