Compulsory Trials – Setting the Record Straight / Victoria / 30 Jan, 2009

The recent controversy over the proposed compulsory trials for unraced horses, before they race in the Melbourne metropolitan area, needs to be put into perspective.

The ATA first raised this matter with Chairman of Stewards Terry Bailey and Racing Victoria Limited at its Board Meeting last September. It followed Bailey’s reported media comments that he proposed to seek RVL Board approval to implement the necessary rule changes.

Both Bailey and RVL favoured the changes, which were strongly backed by sections of the media in the interests of “transparency”, and providing punters with a better range of information on which to base their judgments and wagering decisions. The ATA requested information from RVL to support these claims, however we are yet to receive this information.

The ATA reiterated its opposition to the proposal, based on the following:

the additional costs of trialing to owners and trainers;
the value of trials in assessing form;
the inadequacy of the Victorian race trials program;
the absence of organised trials at any of the four metropolitan tracks; and
the rights of owners to have first and privileged access to information about their unraced horses.
The ATA also proposed that RVL examine the feasibility of converting some of the weekly jumpouts at Flemington, Caulfield and other training centres into organised trials to satisfy the requirements of their proposal and to reduce the further cost burden on owners and trainers.

RVL and Terry Bailey agreed that before the proposal was presented to the RVL Board for its approval, further consultation would be undertaken with the ATA, particularly in relation to its jumpouts proposal and expanding the trials program.

The ATA was both greatly surprised and disappointed when media outlets over the weekend of January 24-25 reported that RVL and the Deputy Chairman of Stewards had announced that the compulsory trials for all unraced horses in the metropolitan area would be mandatory from April 1 2009, and that trainers had been sent a text message to inform them of the change.

It was the first the ATA had heard of the decision, which had been made without the promised consultation and without any indications that the ATA’s proposed changes to the weekly jumpouts had been given any consideration.

ATA Chief Executive, John Alducci, immediately raised the issue with RVL Chief Executive Officer Rob Hines, and accepted his apology for the breakdown in communication. RVL assured the ATA that the matter would be further investigated and postponed the date for the introduction of the changes to June 1, pending full consultation with the ATA with a view to satisfactorily resolving our concerns with the proposed changes.

ATA Chief Executive John Alducci strongly reiterated the ATA’s total opposition to any proposal which would further increase the costs of racing to owners and trainers.

Click here for Racing Victoria Limited’s media release of January 28, regarding an agreement with the ATA on a consultation program for trials reform.