Friday, 15 May 2009
What an extraordinary week. Some really positive things and then the elephant in the room, being the jumps racing issue, came to a head. Let's focus strongly on the good news of recent times first.
Congrats go to Brian Fletcher and the Hawkesbury Club for a great effort at the stand alone meeting. 14,000+ people went to the races – pretty darn good for a non-group day. We mentioned the possibility of them hosting Easter Monday so let's see where that goes now after such a successful day.
| Takeover Target goes onto the Kranji trackwork ahead of the SIA Cup.|
Photo by Racing and Sports
Internationally we have a fantastic meeting down for Singapore on Sunday. The Australian contingent should be right to the fore. We have the last two Queen Elizabeth winners Pompeii Ruler and Sarrera contesting the Singapore Airlines International Cup and the redoubtable Takeover Target out to defend his Krisflyer Sprint Crown.
Takeover faces stiff opposition from the undefeated local champ Rocket Man and two Hong Kong Sprint warriors Inspiration and Sacred Kingdom (interestingly all are Australian bred horses) and the HK runners are the last two winners of the HK Sprint on International day at Sha Tin.
In the Cup, the two Aussies, who are resurgent from very serious injuries in recent seasons, face some rivals of class. Probably the best is the HK Audemars Piguet QEII Cup victor Presvis. His Dubai Duty Free run was unbelievable, his Sha Tin run was even better. Luca Cumani is a great traveller of horses as we've seen with Purple Moon and Bauer in our own Cup.
| Pompeii Ruler and Craig Newitt sprint up at Kranji.|
Photo by Racing and Sports
These races are very strong international events. Australia has a great recent history here with Takeover Target defeating Magnus last year while North Boy scored in 2002 with Toledo 5th. In the Cup, Mummify won in 2005 showing a great display of strength, surging up the middle of Kranji.
Other names you might recognise as winners of the big events in contemporary contests include the South African Jay Peg, who is back to hold onto the title he won by nearly 2L last year and Grandera who scored for Godolphin in '02 then made the trip to Moonee Valley five months later to meet a cracking Cox Plate field which had Northerly, Sunline, Defier, Fields of Omagh & Lonhro in it. He held his own for a gallant 3rd placing.
An interesting note on the Krisflyer is that when the race was cancelled over concerns of the SARS virus in 2003, it had been targeted by the Choisir
connections as a G1 to challenge for. Instead history shows they decided to re-route to England, he won the Kings Stand/Golden Jubilee double and you know the rest.
Don't forget Racing and Sports
has all the form, database, videos and information that can possibly be found about the Singapore meeting. The Racing and Sports website have info on Singapore each and every week and we work in very well with the STC and value their co-operation and foresight. It's well respected and appreciated.
Racing and Sports will also be on hand for all the action, live from Kranji through the week and on Sunday night. With such a long run down the straight, every horse should be given its chance to perform at their best. You wonder if Australia's biggest WFA race at Moonee Valley might one day itself be run under lights?
Now to the bad news and the way sections of the media have used this to drive an agenda. There's not many constructive things you can say about how the whole week has been handled and that hasn't been said already. Let's get a few matters straight from our perspective.
It is incredibly sad to see any animal injured - be it a dog, horse or caterpillar if you happen to love them. I doubt there would be a person who reads the newsletter who would enjoy those situations in any way.BUT
do the animal rights/welfare protestors truly believe these horses involved in jumping races are not cared for and are being harmed. Let's be fair dinkum – they want the sport banned. They have no inclination to be listening to calls for any remedial action or compromising. And as importantly, don't think they'll stop there once they've got this notch on the wall. Reports filtered through that two year olds might be next on the agenda.
Realism tells you these groups, who drive that overall agenda, have the ears of those who have the power to make or break the industry. How else could such a minority command the level of attention it has received?
| Hurdle Races to stay? |
Every jumper is pampered and cared for in exactly the same way as a G1 winner would be. If anything, because of everything that has gone on in recent years, you can but imagine trainers would be even more affectionate and careful at the first sign of a problem.
However the matter looked to be heading inexorably in one direction and the court of public opinion was being driven by many who are not horse racing people. You can tell that by the ambulance chasing, non racing journalism and media hype that was omnipresent at the 'Bool. I ask this - when was the last time you saw a photographer waiting to take a picture in the back straight of a racetrack?
Seemed the only possible outcome was for jumping to become just plain hurdler's flats and essentially become high weight, three mile events. These animals at least deserve a chance to show their wares beyond becoming hacks or the even less palatable outcomes which you can envisage.
The jumping community rallied and consolidated and so when RVL initially announced they would make their decision public on Wednesday after a lengthy Board meeting, you'd think that some closure might come but then we heard they'd deferred their stance and were in no position to make the announcement on that day.
The quote in their statement was "The RV Board has received submissions from stakeholders and interested parties and the Jumps Review Panel, which it needs more time to consider.”
Talk about a Sword of Damocles. Now we find by the end of Wednesday that the board has changed tone again and will now make its decision known on Monday. You wonder how the community is feeling.
Finally, on this issue, let's mention a few quick matters. The UK has a full jumps season and have withstood such matters after problems in past Grand Nationals. Also horses from 2yo babies to 9yo geldings break down on the flat - it does happen. Using the thesis being put forward by those out there, what line will Government draw? I'm tipping that will be about the time the first suggestion arrives that flat racing is questioned and they try to stop the Melbourne Cup. Recall Dulcify and Three Crowns have sadly died just to name two in that race. But that significant impact on the Gross State Product of Victoria will amazingly become a perfect buffer zone for them.
The other disturbing matter related to this is the media reaction. Did you know a young Hungarian boxer died in Melbourne last week following a training accident? That is a very sad situation. But not just as an aside, this was a human that died. Besides the odd article and internet reference, it has hardly been talked out. Where is the media attention and subsequent calls for the banning of a sport whose sole purpose is to maim another human being's head.
The circus that engulfed Warrnambool compared to the lack of mainstream mentions of the sport of boxing shows exactly how sections of the media play the lowest common denominator game, seeking headlines they know will garner them their own support in that court of public opinion we discussed.
Now to the real nub of the issue for the Racing Industry. The demise of jumps racing may well end up being the result of commercial reality rather than minority protest groups.
If the return to the industry via betting turnover on jumps racing is in free fall, and that is something I do not know, but probably suspect, then this could be the dilemma at the centre of the RVL decision making process.
It is very possible that as a betting medium, jumps racing has lost a major part of its appeal for the rank and file punter, thereby placing in question the huge prizemoney levels paid to stage those events compared to the returns on the wagering dollar in other parts of the industry.
If this is the case, then it is inevitable the days for jumps racing in Australia are numbered. Its closure now might well be the most prudent decision available to RVL. And if that is the case, such a decision based around that reasoning, even though unpopular, would at least demonstrate the industry cannot and should not be influenced by minority groups.
Until next week,
Good Luck and Good Punting.