ATA Victorian Branch – Members Update / Victoria / 10 Sep, 2012


As we approach the warmer weather, Racing Victoria has assured the ATA that through a restructure, it expects Track Managers to deliver a significantly better outcome in the preparation of tracks during the Spring-Autumn period and avoid some of the errors in complying with the RVL Track Preparation Policy. RV has stated that with the new Regional Track Manager structure in place and the roll-out of the Track Walker initiative, it is confident that the issues of the past few years will be satisfactorily addressed.


The Victorian prize money increases, which were heavily lobbied for by the ATA, began at the commencement of the 2012/2013 racing season on August 1. The VOBIS Gold scheme which was the subject of a close consultative process between the ATA, RV and TOBA (Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association) and which was endorsed by the ATA, kicks in with the first VOBIS Gold Bonus race in November, with the first of the lucrative VOBIS Gold only race in the new racing season scheduled for January at Caulfield. RV has advised that the take up rate and response to the VOBIS Gold scheme has been overwhelming.

ATA Chief Executive John Alducci has also accepted an invitation to join the Panel of TOBA.


Victorian ATA President Colin Alderson and Chief Executive John Alducci met with Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna and sought clarification on the terms and scope of his inquiry into the recent spate of unsubstantiated allegations relating to the running and outcome of specific races in Victoria over the past year and a half. He confirmed that the State Government was considering, as a matter of priority, the necessary legislative changes to facilitate the sharing of intelligence and information between Victoria Police and RV’s Integrity department relating to investigations into possible criminal offences in the racing industry. He has also advised the ATA that the public response with information to assist his Inquiry had been strong.


Members are reminded that they have the choice of two separate options in their financial transactions with RVL. The two options, which were proposed by the ATA, provide trainers with the option of separating their prize money percentages from fees and charges billed to them by RVL. This enables trainers to keep their incomes separate from the costs of RVL racing transactions, which they can then bill their Owners. Trainers that choose to separate their expenses and receive invoices have been afforded a 90-day account to settle with RVL. Trainers can also choose to offset RVL fees and charges from prize money, if they wish to do so.


Racing Victoria has prioritised the implementation of the Geelong master plan, following repeated representations by the ATA. The overhaul and resurfacing of the grass track along with the long overdue resurfacing of the horse stalls area is on schedule to commence after the Geelong Cup, with a submission already presented to the Racing Minister for funding for the tie-up stalls maintenance work. RV is also considering a range of options to enable a chute to be constructed on the synthetic track to enable an additional 1550 or 1600 metres start. Issues raised by the ATA relating to the track surface at the Practice Barriers and the Car Park near the stripping sheds are also being considered for resolution. Four race meetings scheduled for the Geelong turf track during November and December coinciding with the lead up to the festive season will be transferred to the synthetic track during the track renovations. Meetings scheduled during January and February will be transferred to turf venues.


The ATA has raised problems caused over the past couple of years by the lack of organised trials during the months of December and January while the regular trials venue at Cranbourne is rested. RV has advised that they are considering a set of organised trials on the Cranbourne synthetic in December and at Pakenham and Yarra Valley in January.


The ATA will formally consult with the IER Group which has been commissioned by Racing Victoria to conduct a detailed study into Metropolitan track work practices including specifically the hours of operation for track work and training at the key metropolitan training centres at Flemington, Caulfield and Cranbourne.


Racing Victoria has informed the ATA that work on the new Pakenham Racing Club track at Tynong North has commenced. Pakenham Racing Club CEO Michael Hodge will keep the ATA updated on progress and deadlines for expressions of interest for trainer allotments at the new racing and training centre.


Racing Victoria has completed maintenance work at both Ararat and Sale. The new grass track at Yarra Valley has been laid and will be given time to consolidate before organised trials are scheduled in early 2013 pending a return to racing in late February.


As a result of the extremely wet weather in August, RV has advised that it has not been possible to stage a set of official trials, which are required before racing is allowed to resume. These official trials have been rescheduled for September 17 and will take the place of the Tatura trials set for that date. The September race meeting scheduled for Benalla on September 11 has been transferred to Wodonga. At this stage, the Benalla Cup meeting remains on schedule for October 7, subject to the successful staging of the September 17 trials.


Subject to State Government funding, the Moe racetrack will be completely reconstructed. Tenders for the construction of a new race track at Moe have been sought from three major racing track surface and construction companies, and a major joint announcement by the Racing Minister, Racing Victoria and the Moe Racing Club regarding the project is expected soon.


The next quarterly Racing Victoria Programming Review meeting will be held on September 11. ATA Committee members Pat Carey and Robbie Griffiths are members of the Review Group. Any trainers wishing to raise Programming issues should contact Roger Joseph at the ATA office.


The appointment of Sam Hyland as a Track Walker to assess the rating of tracks has been well received across the industry. Racing Victoria has advised the ATA that commencing in early October the process will be extended to every TAB race meeting venue, where the track will be assessed by an RV Track Walker in conjunction with the Track Manager. Two more Track Walkers have been appointed and will commence their duties in the next few weeks.


Following an anomaly identified by Mick Kent and ATA representations, the Australian Racing Board will consider a recommendation from the National Handicappers Conference to adopt a national approach to exclude the QTIS breeding scheme bonuses in determining ballots for set weights and black type races in Queensland.


The ATA Terms and Conditions of Training are being reviewed by the ATA’s legal advisors. Members will be forwarded a revised version in due course.


Racing Victoria has agreed to an important change to the structure of the Fred Hoysted Award. While the Award will still be judged over the racing season, there will now be twelve monthly winners from which the overall winner will be voted on by the judging panel. In previous years, it was structured around six bi-monthly winners.