CHANNEL Seven is set to table an offer to the board of racing channel TVN this week to control the vision rights of NSW and Victoria racing for the next 10 years.

 CHRIS ROOTS reports that FAIRFAX MEDIA has learnt the offer will be more than $600 million and is what racing administrators have been awaiting in writing after months of negotiations.

 TVN pays Seven more than $2 million for 28 Saturday meetings to be shown on free-to-air television. But this deal would eventually be linked to possibly take up a wagering licence, something the racing industry has wanted to do in Victoria.

 The Victorian industry was blocked by government from bidding at the last set of negotiations because Racing Victoria is the regulator. The Victorian wagering licence held by Tabcorp does not come up for grabs for another decade.

 The top-secret dealings between Seven and TVN were exposed by Fairfax Media this month but racing administrators have been at pains to say there is nothing formal in place. It has been flagged that it will come this week.

 Under the deal TVN could move to the Seven digital television platform, which would open it to a wider audience, one of the stated aims of the racing channel. That would also lessen the value of the pay-TV rights held by Tabcorp-owned Sky Channel.

 TVN holds the rights to all NSW and Victoria racing and has spent more than two years trying to agree on the new deal with Sky Channel. It has stalled at a price of $40 million to $44 million a year with Tabcorp wanting live vision and access to race replays for its website in the contract.

 While the rights deal has been in a state of flux, TVN and Sky have been rolling over their previous arrangement on a month by month basis.

 Seven is the second player in the market, which TVN has been hoping for, and it would also be interested in moving TVN's website to its Yahoo7 from Telstra.

 TVN is set to be rebranded next month as the Racing Network to match its website. The racing channel recently moved on to a general package at Foxtel, where its contract ends next year.

 TVN, which costs about $20 million a year to run, gets to only 30 per cent of the TV audience through Foxtel. The roll-out of the digital spectrum in 2015 makes the Seven deal attractive.

  The TVN-Telstra joint venture for digital rights ends next April and TVN's agreement with Chief Entertainment, which is owned by Telstra, for studio and production space is believed to be up next year.

 Racing Victoria's new website and Racing NSW are paying Telstra to have access to race replays because of its digital contract.

 The Seven deal would open up the opportunity for the free-to-air channel  to take on the production of TVN and have its website on Yahoo7.



CAULFIELD trainer Peter Moody has defended Chad Schofield after the young jockey received a 32-meeting suspension for improper riding at Mornington’s metropolitan meeting on Wednesday.

DARYL TIMMS reports in the HERALD SUN that Moody describes the suspension, which starts after Saturday’s Caulfield meeting and ends on the morning of the Caulfield Cup, as unjust.

 And he is concerned about Schofield’s confidence when he returns to racing and believes it will take a “herculean” effort for him to bounce back.

 Schofield was charged for his ride on Moody’s Saguaro, which twice bumped Darren Weir’s Something To Share, ridden by Michelle Payne.

 Stewards said that in passing the 1100m, Schofield turned his horse’s head in when racing in a three-wide position without cover and made contact with Something To Share.

 And then, on two occasions, his horse bumped heavily with Payne’s mount, which resulted in Schofield’s horse taking Something To Share’s spot in a one-off position behind Surging Wave near the 850m.

 Schofield has until 5pm on Saturday to lodge an appeal, which would be heard by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board.

 Moody said he did not have a problem with Schofield’s ride on the $3.70 favourite Saguaro, which finished third. Something to Share, which started at $3.80, finished fifth.

 “To me, it looked like good competitive riding,” Moody said.

 “I feel for the kid as I believe it’s something we see in most races and I certainly felt that my horses have been put under more severe pressure on occasions by other riders and have escaped the wrath of anyone.

 “He was riding my horse and I would have been critical if he didn’t attempt to improve his position by getting in one off the fence. Had there been a horse inside Michelle Payne, no doubt he wouldn’t have.”

 Moody said that Schofield cost him victory in race four when he stopped riding the $2.10 favourite II Cavallo to correct him in the straight.

 Schofield, who has rides in all nine races on Saturday, could be under pressure to regain rides on horses he’d hoped to partner in some of the richer spring carnival races.

 “I personally won’t (dump him) became I know the boy’s ability and I feel for the kid because I feel it is unjust,” Moody said.

 “There is no doubt the boy’s confidence is going to suffer and it will take a herculean effort for the kid to bounce back from it.

 “There’s no doubt about it that he is going to be looking over his shoulder so much in a race — let’s hope he doesn’t and let’s hope we don’t lose him to Victorian racing because he is a young talented man with the world at his feet.”

 Schofield’s manager Mark Van Triet said he would have discussions with Schofield on Friday before whether to appeal.

 “I will be meeting him in the morning and we will go from there,” Van Treit said on Thursday night.

 Schofield, who has been suspended for improper riding before, had been riding for 10 days after serving a 27-meeting suspension for careless riding.



IS racing in Toowoomba dead in the water unless steps are taken to address a looming financial crisis confronting the club and what is Racing Queensland going to do about the warning signs?

That is the question that has been asked by a group of concerned members of the Toowoomba Turf Club in an email to the Wednesday Whinge.

What has been interpreted as a dire warning from the club’s auditor in the annual report states:

‘WITHOUT qualifying our opinion, we draw attention to Note 21, in the financial report, which indicates the club incurred a net loss of $2,533,673 during the year ended 30 June 2014, had a net current liability position of $468,936 and net cash being a liability position of $166,743 as at 30 June 2014.’

‘These conditions, along with the other matters set forth in Note 20, indicate the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern and therefore, whether it will be able to realize its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business.’

Toowoomba, regarded by many as the most ‘cuddled’ club in the country, is also viewed in some quarters as the ‘basket case of Queensland racing’.

Questions are now being asked about the viability of the club – adding to the woes for officialdom already under pressure over the inability of the new track to attract punters.

It has been highlighted how clubs like Mackay and Townsville – not considered as close to some running racing in Queensland – were threatened with closure and the appointment of administrators when they hit similar financial problems.

Here is the email from a group of concerned members of the TOOWOOMBA TURF CLUB:

‘WE write as a combined group of members and supporters in the hope that by voicing our concerns on this forum Racing Queensland might consider addressing the parlous state of racing at the Toowoomba Turf Club.

We don’t want to be alarmist but are uncertain how to read the results of the last financial year at the club – whether to accept that these are a positive as directors would have us believe, or of great concern for the future when perusing the auditor’s report.

On one hand the TTC Treasurer Peter Turnbull reports that the net profit before depreciation, asset write-offs and capital grants was $75,482.

As the track was closed for six months during the club’s best function period, that, as he says, would seem quite a good result with bar and catering combining to record a profit of $160,949 and tote recording a strong profit of $40,035.

But when you consider the bottom-line result for the year was a net loss of $2,533,673 one has to be concerned about the future for the club.

The Treasurer reports that this negative result was brought about mainly by the write-off of the value of the cushion track and other scrapped assets totaling $8.5 million. To a lesser extent, he says, this amount has been offset by the value of the new grass surface project grant of $6.7 million. The net loss is also after depreciation of almost $749,000.

He also explains that the first stages of a very extensive renovation program, undertaken while the course was closed, resulted in capital expenditure of approximately $1.2 million which was achieved through the use of cash reserves.

The Treasurer reports that with ‘most of our senior management team in place’ he is ‘very optimistic about the future of the club’.

One would hope that the ‘team is in place’ considering the staff that worked there when Neville Stewart ran the show was less than a third of the current one. We might also mention that when Neville left he had recorded more than 20 years of successive profits and there were cash reserves of $1.6 million.

Now if everything is so rosy looking to the future of the TTC why did the Auditor report the following under the heading: “Uncertainty in relation to going concern” when he wrote:

 ‘WITHOUT qualifying our opinion, we draw attention to Note 21, in the financial report, which indicates the club incurred a net loss of $2,533,673 during the year ended 30 June 2014, had a net current liability position of $468,936 and net cash being a liability position of $166,743 as at 30 June 2014.’

 But the most alarming aspect of the Auditor’s Report was the subsequent warning to members:

 ‘These conditions, along with the other matters set forth in Note 20, indicate the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern and therefore, whether it will be able to realize its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business.’

 Now if we were shareholders in a registered company that presented us with the rider (financial forecasts may cast significant doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern) we would be far from happy or confident – let alone optimistic about the future of our share holding.

 Let’s face it – the TTC has had significant financial support from the Government and RQ – some would argue much more than most, if any, club in Queensland. There are allegations it has been ‘cuddled’ because of close links between the club chairman and his RQ counterpart.

 There have been on-going claims of favoritism from RQ hierarchy and the Government to racing in Toowoomba. If the club needs another handout in the year or two ahead to haul it out of a spot of financial bother this will not sit very well with those clubs who are struggling financially and believe that Toowoomba already gets too much start at their expense.

 Not only was there the new track – which has proved somewhat of a disaster – but the story goes that RQ helped TTC out with wages and other expenses during the time it was closed for the redevelopment. That does not appear to be covered anywhere in the annual report so perhaps it is incorrect.

 Add to that the massive prizemoney increases from the new TAB deal and date allocation proposals that Toowoomba has received in recent times and one has to ask if RQ can afford to throw good money after bad when the track is a basket case and many punters will not bet there.

 In conclusion we pose this question for RQ All Codes boss Kevin Dixon to ask his good buddy, the TTC chair Bob Frappell, next time he calls on the hot line looking for another rescue package:

 How are clubs like Townsville and Mackay who were threatened with closure (one even had an administrator appointed we believe) going to react if we allow the handout mentality to continue with Toowoomba?

 It’s just food for thought!’



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