FORMER Australian bookmaker, form analyst and passionate racing industry participant PETER LAWRENCE wrote the following thought-provoking piece on Racenet.com.au last week. It is well worth a read!
Q: What do the Epsom day at Randwick and last Saturday’s Magic Millions Day have in common?
A: Three things.
One, the punters absolutely smashed the bookies with favourites dominating most races.
Two, both meetings were held on FAST surfaces with fast times recorded and track records established.
Three, contrary to established “wisdom”, which has no basis in fact, at neither meeting did a plethora of horses “jar up” from the firm ground.
In fact, with huge fields on Saturday at the Gold Coast, only two horses were reported to be lame, and both those horses bucked after the start and were retired from their events.
Clearly the lameness had nothing to do with the track surface, but with some underlying problem.
(I could say four, the wet weather early in the week meant the course curator stayed in his shed and let God prepare the track!)
Apart from the astronomical costs of continuous watering of racetracks, there is a massive integrity issue involved with the never ending tinkering of racetrack surfaces
At the Gold Coast, the track was officially good.
The open handicap ran 1:20.43 for the 1400m.
A course record of 1:01.74 was set for the 1100m sprint.
Every day of the week in Victoria, tracks are designated as good and 1400m races often fail to break 1:25, a difference of about thirty lengths.
Both surfaces cannot be good (3), so someone is telling porkies.
Punters make this industry go round, yet they are sold a pup every day by misleading track assessments. This cannot be good for betting turnover.
RVL does so much right with Victorian racing but its track preparation policy and directives are a blight on Australian racing. The same can be said for TRSA, with Adelaide racing almost always conducted on dead ground, with biases aplenty.
Since Jason Kerr was roundly criticised for presenting Caulfield “too firm” in the early part of the spring – another day where all the favourites won – Victorian racing has been plagued with consistently biased tracks, both midweek and on Saturdays.
At virtually every midweek provincial meeting in Victoria, the fence is totally off. Surely, that is a major integrity issue.
The Saturday metro meetings have fared no better. Starting with Cox Plate eve, where the fence was off, to Cox Plate day, where the fence was a one lane super highway, to a repeat one lane super highway on Derby Day, the list has been never ending over the summer months.
The incessant watering, at huge financial cost, has resulted in virtually every Saturday metro race meeting being run on a severely biased track.
Last week at Moonee Valley, all punters who value the form were left gobsmacked when course curator Marty Synan declared on race morning, ” I am just about to put five mils on it!!” Watering the track on race day??? Guess what happened.
If you came further than four off the fence, you were history and favourite punters were left with tickets on horses who may have well not turned up.
At a previous Moonee Valley Saturday meeting, trainer John Sadler instructed his apprentice rider to lead but sit five wide all the way, over 1500m!
Amazingly, the horse led, out five and six wide and won! There had been no rain and the track was officially, you guessed it, a good (3).
Imagine if Synan was in charge of the roulette wheels at Crown Casino and produced them one Saturday night where only numbers 1-12 could come up?
Casino bosses understand that for punters to bet, they need to know everything is above board. Somehow, RVL has missed this critical point.
If the powers that be actually owned the race clubs and were paid according to betting turnover, it would be genuine good (3) tracks every day. Not rubbish dead tracks parading as good by a sleight of hand.
Punters love good tracks to bet on, where the best horse wins. Not rain affected rubbish where the favourite misses a place because he drew the rails!
The people who love water-affected tracks are the intelligencia of race clubs who believe, without any corroborating evidence, that it is best for horses to race on tracks with significant “give.”
The other people who love it, are the trainers of horses other than the favourite, because they know their chances are improved the more random things become.
RVL has an integrity department that spends all it’s time looking for underworld figures and crooks trying to fix races.
They are, in the main, looking for the Loch Ness monster.
Right in front of them is the biggest integrity issue imaginable. The doctoring of the playing surface that produces random results and unfairly penalises horses, depending on where they draw.
It is a crime, but nobody is watching!
Photo used per illustration only and bears no reflection whatsoever on any individual racetrack or its management.