Good journalists know they have to be writing about what people are talking about in public bars and at the races.
This week it is the Four Corners racing exposé on Monday night.
It is with a great disservice to racing that not one major newspaper reported on Monday night’s Four Corners story about the supposably seedy underbelly of racing. Whether or not I agree with the Four Corners story about Aquanita trainers Robert Smerdon and co is not the point. Because the newspapers are heavily subsidised by other holdings, leading the racing journalists of today are becoming cheerleaders for the sport, rather than the hard-nosed reporters of yesteryear like the great Pat Farrell. There is no need to sugar coat the negatives in racing; they exist and should be objectively reported on by the experts in the field. Ignoring things that might hurt racing is doing more a disservice to the industry than simply reporting the facts, no matter how bad they seem to be.
But, I thought the website Racing.com did a great job on the subject, noting among others things: “The figures don’t quite support his “through the roof” allegation. It was detailed in the Herald-Sun that it was estimated that of the 52 Smerdon winners that may have been illegally treated during that period, only 14 of the 52 started a shorter price than their opening quote.”
In Race 1 at Warwick Farm on Wednesday, I didn’t like the favourite number 4. Tarka. The race was for two-year-olds over 1600m – this is a rarity these days, as the 1600m for the juveniles is the ultimate staying test. After Tarka won effortlessly, and I had egg on my face, it clicked in my head that the horse was indeed trained by David Payne who is such a noted trainer of stayers. 1600m for the two-year-olds is a staying trip, and the fact that Tarka is out of a Galileo mare cemented the fact that a future stayer will always come to the fore in a 1600m two-year-old race. I got this one wrong, but I learnt my lesson very quickly!
The prices service has been outsourced and now only the corporates are used. This is a hopeless scenario and very misleading for the punters at home. An example came in race 2, with number 4. Smart Ain’t He. This horse was backed (according to the prices service) from $5 into $4, but he never left $5 on my board. One of many examples.
It is a great shame that the prices service, a once mighty product, is reporting what are simply misleading prices. In addition, for the last four races at Warwick Farm we to bet losing figures, because the top official fluc for these four races never varied from between 110% and 114%. I think it is outrageous. I understand the corporates have their place, but the least the powers that be could do is ensure that the punters both on course, and in the pubs and clubs (and at home), have all the information and the correct price information. We mere rails bookmakers are fast becoming footnotes in the annals of racing history, and it doesn’t need to be like that. Invariable, on course, we give the punters the best value.