24 September 2012

Integrity czar asks nicely for jailed drug baron to spill his guts on race fixing

Victoria's Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna has wound up his month-long inquiry into race fixing with an extraordinary stunt, "inviting" convicted jailed drug baron Tony Mokbel to spill his guts from the gaol cell. In an uninformative interview on TVN's Racing Review yesterday Perna told Bruce Clark:
"I just felt whenever anybody talks about criminal activity in racing, eight out of 10 times Tony's name comes up and I just thought it was worth testing. 
"I don't know if he was going to ever say yes or no but I wanted to test that, so the verbal approach went and now there's a more formal approach with a letter just saying to him that the invitation still stands and if he feels that he'd like to talk to me I'd be happy to go down there."
What? Send Mokbel a letter? Happy to go down for a fireside chat, if Fat Tony has the time?

Barry O'Farrell slashes education, builds racetracks. Or does he?

As Barry O'Farrell rolls out swingeing State budget cuts, the last place  he'd want to be seen splashing cash would be a racetrack. Which is why we've been scratching our collective heads this week trying to work out why his Racing Minister, Upper Hunter MP George Souris, has been out there announcing new upgrades to racetracks like Wednesday's announcement of an $11 million refit for the goat track at Newcastle's Broadmeadow course.

Funnier still is the fact that NSW taxpayers aren't even stumping up the cash. The Newcastle project is funded from Racing NSW's $100 million war chest gained from the outcome of the High Court's Race Fields decision in May. What a strange game politics is.

Melbourne Carnival theme song déjà vu all over again...

Ever wondered who does that track being used as the theme for the Melbourne Spring Carnival ad campaign? It's Italian electronica outfit Planet Funk and their track from 2000 called Chase the Sun. The clip doesn't immediately bring horses to mind, being set in a mental asylum, but the lyrics are more suggestive of the majesty of the turf:
"I'm flying away
Running like the wind
Chased by the sun
Up spinning around
Circles in my mind
Sailing over ground."
But if it all sounds familiar, it is. The same track was first used to promote the carnival back in 2000.

21 September 2012

Turf and trots stewards merger a non starter (psst, someone tell the Minister)

The mooted merger of NSW trots and turf stewards is a non-starter: only someone forgot to tell the genius who came up with the idea, the state's racing minister, George Souris.

Exactly one year ago today, to the dismay of insiders, Souris decided to let one rip, decreeing the then-disgraced Harness Racing NSW stewards panel would be disbanded and merged with Ray Murrihy's stipendiary regime at Racing NSW.

Taken at the height of the worst integrity scandal in the trots of the modern era, Souris's move was widely viewed as "knee-jerk" by a Minister keen to be seen doing somepin, anypin! As the SMH then reported, Murrihy, the nation's most senior stipe, "wasn't even consulted about the decision".
One year ago, Souris's office put out a statement claiming the decision was:
 "...agreed to by the boards of both Racing NSW and Harness Racing NSW at the request of Mr Souris."
Today, we rang the Minister's press sec for an update:

13 September 2012

States urged to match NSW on race-fixing penalties

Australia's Federal Minister for Sport has used the passage of NSW laws imposing stiff penalties for race-fixing to call on other states to quickly follow suit and bring about a national regime to "protect the integrity of sport".
Senator Kate Lundy hailed the NSW Crimes Amendment (Cheating at Gambling) Bill 2012 as "a very important milestone in the delivery of Australia’s National Policy on Match-Fixing in Sport.” In June 2011 the Federal, State and Territory governments agreed to a national policy to protect the integrity of sport. Today Senator Lundy said:
“A key element of this agreement was the development of consistent national match-fixing criminal offences to stamp out corruption and make it an offence to intentionally fix or attempt to fix the outcome of a sporting event.
"I now call on the other States and Territories to follow the lead of NSW and take action to protect the integrity of sport.”
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