Meetings will be held this week to eliminate flea bookmaking on fixed odds to enhance Racing NSW's efforts to get punters a better deal.
Negotiations regarding a minimum-to-lose amount of $3000 on the metropolitan races, $1500 on provincials and $1000 on country races is a starting point.
Because the bets are recorded, complaints can be investigated and the appropriate action taken.
Of course, on the old scale, certainly with city racing, they are paltry amounts but the bad habits introduced to Australian betting by the corporates sour many on horse playing.
"There have been frequent and persistent complaints by punters about wagering operators refusing to take their bets, particularly in circumstances where those punters have been successful," Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys justifiably pontificated.
Thus V’Landys intends to apply Race Fields Information Use approvals so “wagering operators are required to stand to lose a minimum amount on any single fixed odds wager on NSW thoroughbred races”.
Punters and bookmakers at the meeting will be consulted on the best way to get a fair go; the move received a mixed reception from the Racenet forum.
“Positive step and sounds good on face value. Two points before we start getting too excited,” the Protagonist stressed. ”It means nothing if they continue to close accounts, and let's see how it affects the odds on offer ...
“It’s probably not possible but a Betfair exchange wholly owned by all Australian race clubs (with minimal take-outs) could kill off all these international corporates that have to pay a levy.”
Back in the early days of Betfair, before the invaders got a toehold on the market, former trainer Geoff Chapman made the same suggestion. Consider how much richer racing would now be if it had been adopted.
The hide of the man
Well-known owner Peter Horwitz, garbed in a stylish leather jacket, to my eye hide-cured in Spain, was initially barred from the Rosehill mounting yard on Saturday en route to provide the vital winning tactics for Green Beret before the Mango Handicap.
Inappropriately attired, he was told by a gate attendant, and had to seek intervention from an ATC official.
Earlier in the day I had been chatted over my leather coat, recommended by the clothier Blowes Of Mudgee, and a full brother to one Hugh Jackman wore in the film Australia.
When the official was told of its background, a “you ain’t Hugh Jackman” look was received.
Frustration seethed because another veteran hack was swanning around in something closer to a horse rug than Pierre Cardin.
“I only wear leather (purchased in Moscow in the Khrushchev era) at Canterbury,” he quipped. Obviously none of the ATC committee go there.
Despite yet another second with his gelding, You’ll Never, in the United Fruit Handicap at Rosehill on Saturday, owner Don Storey, one of the more significant racing men of our time, is in awe of trainer Chris Waller.
“He’s bigger than Tommy Smith,” Storey, racing administrator, breeder and punter as well as owner, decreed.
Storey had horses with Smith, including Billy Bunter, as well as other past and present top trainers.
You’ll Never, given another superb ride by Jim Cassidy, notched his 11th placing from 19 starts but Storey remains enthusiastic about the gelding’s appearance and consistency.
My being easily pleased by Eagle Farm, where top racing returns on Saturday, received a brickbat from a dissatisfied visitor.
“For some 16 years our group has travelled from Sydney to attend the Stradbroke meeting,” Peter Johnson explained by email, which I’ll relay in an abbreviated form.
“For the casual punter it was probably of little concern that the old infield tote board was not working, but for the serious punter the lack of tote prices and results with the relevant data as to placings or dividends was decidedly unhelpful.
“To compound this, screens that are installed in the public stand bars are so small that they cannot be read from a distance …
“Draught beer in the Moreton Bar was problematical for most of the day but at least 10 minutes before the Stradbroke it ran out and, I understand, all beer shortly thereafter.
“The national anthem was a debacle – about 200 metres of the Stradbroke was run before the anthem was cut off. Disrespectful to both our anthem and the race.
“A final insult – I left within 30 seconds of the horses crossing the line in the Brisbane Cup and the escalator in the public stand was off.”
My complimentary view was based on the mounting yard and the on-course turf action. Johnson’s criticism is justified. I’m not aware of public facilities but I don’t go to Eagle Farm for the booze. My preference is the Albion after the last.
Horse to Follow: Scream Machine scored with such authority in the Sydney Markets at Rosehill on Saturday, indicating he will continue the trend in the near future.
Disappointing: El Doute, a $5.50 chance, was beaten more than 11 lengths in the Foundation Handicap at Rosehill on Saturday.