Are Racing Rules In The Eye Of The Beholder?

Sometimes it is hard to fathom racing rules, or at least the way they are interpreted. Steward’s reports tell all.

CASE A: Race 9, The Meadows, 20 December

“Optimus Bart was vetted following the event. It was reported that the greyhound sustained injuries to the right quadriceps and right biceps, a 14 day stand down period was imposed. Acting under GAR 69(B)(1), the stewards charged Optimus Bart with failing to pursue the lure with due commitment (by reason of injury). Mr. A Debattista pleaded guilty to the charge, Optimus Bart was found guilty and stewards directed that the greyhound perform a Satisfactory Trial (all tracks) pursuant to GAR 69(B)(1)(a), befiore (sic) any future nomination will be accepted”.

CASE B: Race 4 Sale, 20 December.

“Acting under GAR 69(A)(1) stewards charged Deadly Boy with failing to pursue the lure with due commitment. Mr. L. Walsh pleaded guilty to the charge, Deadly Boy was found guilty and suspended for 28 days at Sale and directed that the greyhound perform a Satisfactory Trial (all tracks), pursuant to GAR 69(2)(A)(a) before any future nomination will be accepted”.

In Case A, a 600m event, Optimus Bart was racing well after a moderate start and led into the back straight when, without warning, it turned its head and fought the dog outside it. By any measure, that was not “fail to chase” but fighting. It then continued on with the race quite normally, albeit now well behind. The dog was was not suspended, only sidelined for two weeks due to the injury.

In Case B in a 650m race, Deadly Boy first did everything right, leading until near the post. It then turned its head (contact was not obvious) and allowed the winner to get past it. You might also argue that the dog was fading at his point anyway. It got suspended for 28 days for failing to chase, which sounds pretty right.

Without doubting the vet’s post-race word about Optimus Bart, there was no obvious indication of injury before or during the contact with the other dog. The incident happened in isolation and it involved a deliberate move to its right to meet the other dog. That is, it changed course significantly. Would an injured dog do that? Not sure. A further point is that, while the vet’s observation may well be spot on, we cannot be sure where the injury occurred. Was it before, during or after the offence?

Anyway, given that it galloped on normally for the remainder of the race Optimus Bart could not have been too badly inconvenienced. More importantly, while Deadly Boy’s error was minor and changed little in the race (the winner was finishing strongly) the Optimus Bart incident was blatant, extreme and destroyed the chances of itself and the dog it fought.

By all means treat sympathetically a dog with an injury but in this case the penalty did not appear to fit the crime. Nor did the stewards have the right crime.

That aside, from an administrative viewpoint, stewards may consider they followed the rules correctly. On the other hand, the sport might be better off were Optimus Bart to get the full 28 days in order to sort out both its injury and its head.

Bringing Governments to Account

This column is under attack from readers who want the author to declare his political preferences – in particular to admit his Liberal tendencies (the word Tory is neither accurate nor modern). Although they appear to be using rose-coloured glasses – should that be red-coloured? – I will attempt to make some comments.

First, my personal politics is none of their business. In any event, my writing concentrates on facts wherever possible. If I offer an opinion, that will be made clear and comments will be welcome, especially on an important subject like this one.

Second, this is not a political site but a racing one. However, since politicians make the rules and appoint all the authority board members it is necessary to comment on what they do.

Third, I had another look at the article that attracted the criticism (Politics and Racing are not Mixing) to see how it was slanted. The scoreboard was … Coalition, one good and three bad comments; Labor, one good and two bad. A victory on points for the red corner.

Fourth, what has Howard ever done, they asked? Apart from new gun laws and replacing lots of inefficient taxes with the GST (something Keating previously wanted to do), Howard/Costello took over a large debt and turned it into a huge surplus, one which was soon squandered by the Gympie Twosome, Rudd and Swan, on pink batts and school halls, etc, measures which had almost no effect on the Global Financial Crisis problems as they came too late.

Fifth, readers did not agree with the incompetence tag for Whitlam’s government. Yet it was turfed out in 1975 by a large majority of Australians, not least because it was sending the country broke. Labor lost 30 seats and the Coalition won by a 91 to 36 majority. Names like Rex Connors and (the Iranian) Khemlani come to mind. Numerous skilled commentators, including those from the Labor side, agreed with my statement – and still do (power broker Graham Richardson for one).

Sixth, Kirner and Cain sent Victoria broke, only to have Kennett return things to normal. Bligh failed in Queensland, so was swamped in the next election. Labor was decimated. The current Liberal mob is still to recover the position and prove themselves, and yet to overcome the much-criticised job being done by the current LNP Racing Minister. In NSW, Carr and company were thrown out by the largest landslide seen in recent history. Baird is doing OK, but racing is still open to question.

More currently, both Victoria and Queensland have benefitted financially from government-sponsored but unearned changes to the way TAB commissions have been parcelled out, not from initiatives from industry managers. NSW admits to severe cash problems for the medium term, while the four TattsBet (Utab) states are looking at declining tote figures offset in part by a rise in online bookie turnover.

They key point is that while Labor manages poorly it is well experienced in making reforms, should it wish to do so, particularly when the little bloke is getting screwed. Sadly, no-one from either side has done anything about the failing structure of racing in the last three decades. Nor have racing authorities themselves done anything, but then they were put there by the same politicians, weren’t they?

The default position is that big business – read Tabcorp and English billionaires – is doing whatever it wants to do, mostly at the expense of Australian consumers and the racing industry in general. Meanwhile, state governments sit back, rake in taxes and do little else. It amounts to a cargo cult mentality.

That’s why political influence is important and why it has to be viewed objectively.

Merry Christmas.

Past Discussion

  1. not a political site? You must be kidding!!! Every second diatribe is against the left, Whitlam, Labor Party, with one exception none of the politicians have helped, I respect the work done by Napthine in Victoria when he was racing minister, the rest about as good as a losing TAB ticket.
    Tory the derogatory term for a Conservative Politician,especially the religious right of HOWARD, ABBOTT, Pine and Andrews, Tory is just a way of pointing out that these people are troglodytes, lesson over.

  2. not a political site? You must be kidding!!! Every second diatribe is against the left, Whitlam, Labor Party, with one exception none of the politicians have helped, I respect the work done by Napthine in Victoria when he was racing minister, the rest about as good as a losing TAB ticket.

    Tory the derogatory term for a Conservative Politician,especially the religious right of HOWARD, ABBOTT, Pine and Andrews, Tory is just a way of pointing out that these people are troglodytes, lesson over.