WELL, if ever greyhound racing in this country needed to be told where it sits in the minds of its greatest opponents, that confirmation came in stark reality with the comment made by NSW thoroughbred chief Peter V’Landy’s following the sacking of the Racing Queensland Board this week.
After making the dubious claim that Racing Queensland chairman Kevin Dixon had ‘saved Queensland racing’ (and by that I think he was only referring to thoroughbred racing, not harness or greyhounds), he went on to say Dixon had been made the scapegoat. He asked, ‘just because of the disgusting practices of a mediocre code, why would you destroy two other stronger codes?’
That comment tells all of us involved in greyhound racing all we need to know about the real attitudes which pervade, and have always pervaded, among those who indulge in what they laughingly call the ‘sport of kings’.
In his book The Prince and The Premier, author David Hickie wrote, ‘In 1976 Clive Mallam (ALP Campbelltown) told Parliament that horse racing in New South Wales was run by a bunch of amateurs and blue-bloods who treated people in the industry like serfs.’
It seems not much has changed, although if anyone in greyhound racing ever thought it had then V’Landy’s has just given us a wake-up call.
Greyhound racing has historically always faced opposition from within the blue-blooded ranks of those who think thoroughbred racing is the only game in town. The mistake made by our own officials, across the board, is in thinking we can deal with, or associate with their likes, on any kind of level playing field.
Business is business, after all.
The Queensland government was tardy in removing the joke known as the Racing Queensland All Codes Board, but given the fact it was new to government I suppose it really did need to wait for the findings of the MacSporran inquiry.
I made the comment in a previous article that former US President Harry Truman famously had a sign on his desk which read, ‘the buck stops here’. In other words, ‘I’m the bloke who’s ultimately in charge, and if things are stuffed up on my watch, then I’m the bloke who will bear the blame.’
Kevin Dixon was the chairman of the RQ Board, and Kevin Dixon was the man who clearly wasn’t making sure that all three codes, including the ‘mediocre’ one, were operating as they should. That’s why he has been removed. Kevin Dixon is a breeder of thoroughbreds. He has no connection that I’m aware of with greyhounds, and never has had.
As the MacSporran report noted, Racing Queensland’s ability to prevent cruelty was compromised by a conflict of interest because it oversaw both the commercial and integrity aspects of the industry.
Peter V’Landy’s outburst is an absolute load of cobalt. To say that thoroughbred and harness racing were ‘unfairly dragged into the live baiting scandal’ is a total deflection of the reality. Neither of those codes was dragged into it at all. What happened in the live baiting saga merely highlighted the systemic flaws in the entire Racing Queensland All Codes Board.
Dixon and his CEO Darren Condon quickly moved to fix any connection between the greyhounds and the other two codes by jettisoning greyhound racing from the Girls in Racing promotion faster than Usain Bolt in a 100-metre race. The live baiting scandal erupted just nicely as well, putting the cobalt dramas in thoroughbred racing well and truly on the backburner.
One of the reasons Dixon and company are gone is because the only code they were remotely interested in trying to prop up was thoroughbred racing. The fiasco over Cronulla Park (Logan) is testament to their rank failure to do anything positive for greyhound racing. And that was long before the live-baiting scandal erupted.
The Brisbane Times is also claiming Racing Queensland has ‘serious cash flow problems’ and this further justified the Premier’s decision to sack the boards. Just a day after taking the reins, the interim administrator Ian Hall has reportedly said Racing Queensland’s projected loss for the 2014-2015 financial year of $2.3 million is likely to be more like $11 million, and may reach $21 million by the end of the next financial year.
Yes Mr V’Landy’s, chairman Dixon was doing a wonderful job.
Disclosure: I do not know Peter V’Landy’s, Kevin Dixon or Darren Condon, or anyone on the Racing Queensland Board. They may well be nice people to have a beer with, I wouldn’t know. As a completely independent journalist my views are my own, right or wrong. My attitude towards what has happened in Queensland in recent months is based on my observations of what has been, and is, happening in the public domain. So, my feelings are not based on some kind of personal antipathy, purely based on the facts as I see them as the evidence enters the public realm.