Garry’s Corner – 20 April

Garry Chittick

Well, where to start. I’ll go for Winx, we all know comparative performances are subject to more opinions than you can poke a stick at, but her performance in the QEII Stakes was exhilarating. To treat opponents that we would all be proud to own with such disdain was remarkable. The need to go to Europe to confirm her greatness was never a consideration I would have undertaken. Bugger them, let them do their ratings through rose coloured glasses.

Let those from the north join us believers with a visit to enjoy her undoubted greatness. Good luck to all involved.

John Messara, you all know by now he has undertaken to address on behalf of our Racing Minister a review of NZ Racing. We are indeed fortunate that he has agreed to such a task. There are no doubt locals who have a grasp and vision of where we are, but the arms-length independence is priceless. I don’t need to give you a breakdown of John’s track record, but industry endorsement across the board is sufficient.

This is not a business that should be over complicated. Prior to our recent need to borrow to sustain a very modest increase in stakes we had no debt, substantial reserves and a cash business. So, where does this leave the current Board? Clearly, the Minister has no confidence in either the Board or Executive otherwise no Messara. This is a very disappointing position to be in. How did we get here? My very good friend The Honourable Micheal Duffy used to look at our Racing Act, the duty payable with envy. Micheal chaired both Racing Victoria and Racing Australia so he was in a very strong position to know.

All Australian gaming is administered by public companies, so you have an automatic conflict, dividends as against the return to the industry’s that provide the wagering product. I am unsure of the duty imposed per bet but there will be a liability. We, are not beholden to a company requiring a dividend, our duty on a 2.6b turnover is 12b, you can see why any thinking administrator would say this will do me.

The reason we are seeking guidance from Messara is the Minister, Racing Administrators, Owners, Breeders and punters have lost confidence in our leadership. This need has never happened, John Allen makes great play of his consultative approach, try and identify any recognition of a change in direction as a result of this consultation. The perception long held about those of us who have a view is we are a bunch of whiners. Partly right, but we have a great deal at stake, most are successful in our chosen fields, more importantly, the ordained purpose of the Racing Board is for the benefit, enhancement and continuity of our sports.

You don’t need me to tell you again of who have been the recipients of the recent times. My point again is well run Messara would not be here. What are our options, run it better or be run by someone else. The second option may be the only way to drain the swamp, the next two months will be interesting. Seriously it should never have got to this. Back to the Corner. G

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