DESPITE ALL THE V'LANDYS' 'CRAP TRAP' SATURDAY SYDNEY RACING LOST WITHOUT WALLER
CHRIS Waller has saved Sydney Saturday meetings a staggering five months this season.
CHRISTIAN NICOLUSSI reports in the SYDNEY TELEGRAPH that’s how many times Waller runners have ensured there’s been each-way betting in town.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal the average field sizes in December, January and February would have dipped to just 7.88, 7.88 and 7.36 respectively without Team Waller representation.
Less than the eight horses are required for all three place dividends to be paid.
Last month, Saturday city field sizes would have averaged 6.94 without Waller’s 63 horses.
And this month the average fields have been 8.92, which drops to 7.08 without the premier trainer.
While some punters have expressed their frustrations at Waller’s Saturday saturation, the latest figures make for some damning reading.
Sadly there aren’t enough starters for each-way betting in three races on Saturday’s program on the Kensington track.
It could get worse with the usual scratchings.
Waller was embarrassed when told about his stable adding some respect to the local fields.
“But this used to happen before I started winning premierships,’’ Waller said.
“I can remember the Sydney Turf Club, God love them, were paying $1000 to start a runner in November and December, except for the last placegetter. They were trying to encourage field sizes.
“It if wasn’t me (starting the bulk of runners), it was Gai (Waterhouse), if it wasn’t Gai, it was John Hawkes. If it wasn’t John, it was Gai and John combined.’’
Waller is happy to send horses around for second, third and fourth prizemoney, rather than protect any strike rate, which has too often been used as the gauge for success by trainers and owners.
Given the huge percentage of two-year-olds in work for most metropolitan trainers, Waller suggested more races for the bubs could be programmed.
“You have to look at where the biggest pool of horses are, and if you went to the majority of Sydney trainers at the moment, at least a third of their stable — and in some cases more than half — would be rising two-year-olds,’’ Waller said.
“Should we put an emphasis on two-year-old races? Should there be more opportunities for two-year-olds?
“We have to work with the biggest pool of horses.
“If you only get four and five-horse fields, people catch on to that. We had weak staying races, so people started buying stayers from Europe and New Zealand.
“If you were to put more two-year-old races on, you might only get small fields to start with, but owners wouldn’t allow me to send a horse to the trials if they know only four or five horses were racing on the weekend.’’
Despite keeping the local scene afloat during the off-season, Waller will head into the final Saturday of the season with just eight runners.
You’ll Never looks one of Waller’s best on Saturday in the last.
Waller’s quest to better his own record of 167.5 metropolitan winners is over, with the Rosehill-based mentor still 12 short with just two meetings remaining.
WAR OF WORDS CONTINUE OVER COUNTRY CONCERNS THEY HAVE BEEN 'DUDDED' IN TAB DEAL
RACING Queensland officials have dismissed claims they are ignoring country racing in a new wagering deal for the code.
MARK OBERHARDT reports for AAP that RQ is drawing up a broad-range plan for the distribution of the wagering deal which will be worth at least an extra $28 million a year in funding for the industry.
There has been some concern country racing will be disadvantaged but chief executive Darren Condon disagrees.
“When I came into the job I was told we would be lucky to get the same amount as the previous deal and not a penny more,” he said.
“We have got considerably more than that and some people still aren’t happy.”
Condon said the state would continue to run the broadest racing product in the country under the new wagering agreement with Tatts Group.
“We have listened to our participants and it is critical we find the right balance of support for our regional clubs and our metropolitan and carnival products,” he said.
He said Queensland ran 291 non-TAB meetings compared to New South Wales’ 137 and Victoria’s 58 and while critics were comparing Queensland prize money with southern states, they were using the wrong benchmark.
“For instance we have 62 per cent of the population and economy of New South Wales, which gives them access to significantly more funding and wagering turnover,” he said.
“Put simply, to achieve the same headline, prize money we would need to run 62 per cent of the number of races.
“Our return to owners was 60 per cent of that of New South Wales prior to the new wagering deal and we will exceed that 62 per cent benchmark this financial year.” Mr Condon said Queensland’s market was the most decentralised in Australia with 56 per cent of non-TAB thoroughbred meetings run by Racing Queensland.
“We have to get the balance absolutely right with the new agreement in place and it would be unwise for us to announce initiatives without due diligence and proper consideration,” he said.
BY-ELECTION RESULT WAKE-UP CALL FOR GOVT THAT CAN ILL-AFFORD TO LOSE RACING VOTES
BY TERRY BUTTS of the NQ REGISTER
THE weekend result of the Stafford by-election should be a wake-up call.
And Government must realise it can ill-afford to lose the votes of the racing community. Yet it seems to be doing its best to alienate them.
Firstly, it allowed the Racing Minister Steve Dickson to totally ignore the recommendations of the million-plus Queensland Commission of inquiry into Racing that suggested - no recommended - sweeping changes to the Queensland racing landscape.
How could that happen? People still ask.
The Premier himself must be aware his Racing Minister is a disaster and losing votes by the day. Some of the Minister’s statements, both inside and outside of Parliament, have been outrageous – an embarrassment.
And the sad thing is that Newman had a ready-made Racing Minister in his Cabinet - Gold Coast-based Ray Stevens.
But Stevens got scrubbed because he had the temerity to vote against the would-be Treasurer and ‘spokesman for everything’ Tim Nichols in a party room ballot BEFORE the election.
That should have been a warning to us all about the fickleness of the people we put into power with such a stranglehold majority.
Stevens no doubt wouldn’t be interested in the job now and who could blame him.
RESIGNATION OF TWO SENIOR BOARD MEMBERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN INVESTIGATED
THE resignation of two senior Board members from the Queensland All Codes Racing Board should have been investigated and the result made public.
All we know officially is that deputy chairman Barry Taylor and Harness Racing member Brad Steele resigned.
Racing is entitled to know why.
Was it really over the Tatts deal which is the popular belief?
According to those who claim to know him, Taylor was never going to be comfortable with being vice-captain to Dixon, and his eventual exit from the Board was not unexpected.
Seriously there is no longer room for complacency. The Newman Government must immediately take a serious look at racing - and the way it is being managed - because it surely faces another backlash at the ballot box.
A new Racing Minister might be a start - though perhaps he is not the only one who needs replacing.
FREEDMAN STEPS INTO THE RING TO SUPPORT THE 'SAVING CHRIS WALLER' CHAMPION STATUS
AN attempt to rein in Chris Waller by introducing a cap on his numbers would result in swift court action according to dominant former trainer Lee Freedman.
“It’d be restraint of trade, surely,’’ Freedman told MATT STEWART of the HERALD SUN.
“If it was somewhere like Hong Kong where numbers (of horses) are limited and you signed up for it, then you could do it.
“But Australian racing has its own parameters and this isn’t part of it.’’
Freedman envisaged there were “negatives’’ when a trainer was as dominant as Waller, who responded angrily to talk of a cap when the issue was raised on Thursday.
Waller said: “This is nonsense. It’s not my fault owners want horses with me. It’s not my fault I can keep my horses in work longer than some other trainers.’’
Freedman said he didn’t believe super dominance was “too healthy.’’
“I would imagine it would have some impact on betting turnover. I personally don’t see it as too healthy but that’s not Chris Waller’s fault,’’ he said.
Freedman said talk of reining in super-dominant trainers was nothing new and Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy recalled it was suggested the great Tommy Smith’s horses be “bracketed’’ during his long period of dominance.
“It’s never permanent, market forces tend to sort these things out eventually,’’ Freedman said, adding it was likely Waller would come back to the field within three or four years.
Murrihy said Waller’s expansion into Melbourne, where he had 25 horses in work, would ease the congestion of Waller runners in Sydney.
Waller has 17 horses engaged at Rosehill on Saturday, including five acceptors in a field of nine.
Murrihy said capping a dominant trainer would be unrealistic, adding Racing NSW stewards were “on top of the Waller situation.’’
“We’ve had cause to hold inquiries into his runners before but certainly not disproportionate to the number of horses he has in work,’’ he said.
“It’s not unprecedented. Up in Mackay there is a trainer who often has half the field,’’ he said.
Murrihy conceded the Waller era has ensured his stewards are more alert.
“I guess for the sake of punter confidence it’s important to be extra alert when a trainer has multiple runners in a race,’’ he said.
“In that sense Waller has raised the bar for us.’’
Murrihy said Waller was diligent in presenting stewards with stable tactics before each race meeting.
He said the class and quantity of Waller runners, including many imports, at least ensured Sydney racing was at an elite level, even if race fields often numbered no more than seven or eight horses.
“And it tends to make for cleaner racing,’’ he said.
OPPOSITION SAYS BUDGET ESTIMATES HEARINGS REVEAL RACING INDUSTRY 'FALSE PROMISES'
DEPUTY Opposition Leader, Tim Mulherin, says the Budget Estimates hearings have revealed the Newman Government will be breaking its promise to the racing industry to have average prize money for races in Queensland exceed those in southern states.
"Racing Minister Steve Dickson made a promise at the last Racing Queensland Awards Night to have Queensland overtake NSW and Victoria as the leading racing jurisdiction in Australia," Mr Mulherin said.
"But when I asked him directly at the Budget Estimates hearings today Mr Dickson failed to repeat the commitment despite being given every opportunity.
"All he could do was to state the obvious — that Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria 'are all very different states' and that his promise was just 'a goal' and would actually never be achieved.
"It is clear from Mr Dickson's non-answer that he and the Newman Government have no plan and no intention to keep the promise he gave the industry.
"All I asked for was a date when prize money in Queensland would exceed that in other major racing states as the Minister promised would happen.
"It is a simple question but I received no answer, so the racing industry has every right to be disappointed and feel betrayed."
Mr Mulherin said Mr Dickson has also broken his promise to resign as Racing Minister if he could not deliver a good deal on new wagering arrangements between the Queensland racing industry and Tattsbet.
"In 1999 TAB Queensland paid $320 million for a 15-year exclusive wagering license but under the deal negotiated by Mr Dickson, Tattsbet will pay the Queensland Government almost half that for an exclusivity period twice as long," he said.
"The industry says it's a dud deal so the Minister should live up to his commitment and resign," Mr Mulherin said.
TOM WATERHOUSE CLIMBS YET A NEW 'HILL' IN HIS COLORFUL BOOMAKING CAREER
HIGH-PROFILEi Australian online wagering identity Tom Waterhouse has been appointed head of British bookmaker William Hill's Australian operations.
AAP reports that William Hill is the UK's largest bookmaker and one of the largest online betting businesses in Australia.
The group's Australian operations encompass the Sportingbet and Centrebet brands as well as tomwaterhouse.com.
William Hill acquired tomwaterhouse.com in August 2013 for $35 million, plus an "earn-out" payment of up to $70 million based on the incremental operating profit of the business in the year to December 31, 2015.
Waterhouse, who has drawn criticism in the past for his in-your-face style of marketing, said he looked forward to building an attractive and competitive customer offer for the William Hill operations in Australia.
"I am proud to have the chance to lead this business into the next level of growth," Waterhouse said in a statement on Thursday.
Tom Waterhouse is a fourth-generation bookmaker who became Australia's largest on-course bookie between 2003 and 2008.
In 2010, he launched the online sports betting business: tomwaterhouse.com.
Waterhouse attracted controversy for his ads and a paid deal with the National Rugby League that involved giving live odds on air. It prompted then-prime minister Julia Gillard to pressure broadcasters into stopping the practice amid concerns about children's exposure to gambling.
Waterhouse apologised for his advertising blitz and promised to cut back after the government's intervention.
William Hill PLC chief executive designate James Henderson said Waterhouse was a passionate, innovative and digitally-savvy industry expert.
Henderson said Australia was William Hill's "second home" and long-term prospects there were excellent.
William Hill also announced the early settlement of the earn-out provision that was part of the acquisition of tomwaterhouse.com, for $5 million in cash.
CHIEF STIPLE 'RED FLAGS' DARLEY CLAIM ON 'BLUE' COLORS ALREADY REGISTERED IN OZ
RACING giant Darley’s announcement on Wednesday that it will replace its maroon and white silks with Godolphin blue has struck a major hurdle.
MATT STEWART reports in the HERALD SUN that Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey said the similarity between Darley’s proposed new silks and the blue of Melbourne’s huge Aquanita stables presented a red flag.
“This presents a real problem,’’ Bailey said.
“I’d say the colours might be too similar and the scale of the operations presents major problems. They (Darley) would have to find a way to make their horses distinguishable.”
“If stewards were of the view, after conferring with judges and racecallers, that the colours were clashing Godolphin’s horses would have to wear a different cap.
“On the surface the Godolphin colours are a slightly darker blue than Aquanita’s but our concerns are what they will look like when the horses are 1200m from home. If we don’t think there is sufficient difference we will tell Godolphin to use a different coloured cap.”
“We have spoken to Godolphin and told them that as Aquanita is registered in Victoria it will have precedence.”
Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, purchased Darley from the Ingham family in 2008, adding the Australian operation to his global Godolphin enterprise.
Darley, now in the care of trainer John O’Shea, has up to 50 horses in training at Flemington and about 100 in Sydney, where Aquanita’s only presence is horses visiting from Melbourne.
Between trainers Robert Smerdon and John Sadler, Aquanita has more than 90 horses in training at Caulfield.
Ciaron Maher trains from the Aquanita complex and trains some horses who race in the colours. Simon Miller, who trains in Perth, is also under the Aquanita banner.
Global giant Coolmore also races in a dark blue and Lloyd Williams’ army of mainly imported horses races in blue with white bands.
“I don’t imagine the Darley colours would be similar enough to those to be a problem but I really do think we have a problem with the similarity with Aquanita,’’ Bailey said.
Bailey said he would check with Racing Victoria’s licensing division regarding the Darley proposal.
Darley’s chief operating officer John Ferguson said the new-look Darley was aimed to have a bigger presence in Australia.
“We are “aiming for a greater presence in all the big races’’ in Australia.
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