V’landys bullish about future of the state’s game

V’landys bullish about future of the state’s game

Under the knife … Royal Randwick Racecourse.HORSERACING in this state ushered in a ”new dawn” yesterday and Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys knows prizemoney increases have been long overdue.

”Since I started at Racing NSW in 2004 we have had many issues to deal with and a number had a major impact on the sport,” V’landys told the Herald yesterday.

”Firstly there was the split vision, Sydney racing was blacked out on Sky Channel, over fees for broadcasting rights. Then we had equine influenza and then we had World Youth Day, both of which significantly interrupted racing in this state.

”On top of it all, we have had a long-running battle with the wagering operators. It started in 2004 and only just ended with the High Court victory regarding race-fields legislation.”

The turmoil of the past eight years was cast aside yesterday when Racing NSW’s long-awaited prizemoney increases took effect. ”The battle has always been to make racing in this state viable and, in order to do that, prizemoney levels are the benchmark because that determines the economic drivers for all the industry,” he said.

”If prizemoney is low, trainers cannot charge owners a proper fee for their services … owners could not invest in racing if they could not get a reasonable return.

”This cascades all the way down to the strappers and to all other people who work in the industry. No money in the industry, no income to the participants.”

While battles have been fought on many fronts, V’landys and the Racing NSW board have remained committed to expanding the bottom line (see table, right).

”Lifting prizemoney also has a major impact on punters because if there are no owners investing in the industry there will be less horses in each race field,” V’landys said.

”That means the returns to punters would be a lot less. The smaller the field, the less attractive it is to bet on. Wagering turnover is maximised at 12 runners a race and under normal circumstances this presents the most open betting market for punters.

”Realistically, betting on horses is a competition between punters. The more horses you have in a race, the more value the punter gets.”

The ”most gratifying” for V’landys is that since 2004 country prizemoney ”has gone up 200 per cent”. In addition, the Racing NSW BOBS scheme pumps another $9 million into stakes annually.

”BOBS has been exceptionally well received,” V’landys said. ”The double-up component especially. An owner can win $20,000 in BOBS bonuses for winning a race in town, take the jockey and trainer commission out and they end up with $16,000. They can either take the cash, we’ll pay you tomorrow or we’ll pay you $32,000 if you invest in another horse. The double-up encourages owners to reinvest in the industry and a lot are doing that. The more horses we have in races the better it is for all concerned.”

The race-fields legislation win led to Racing NSW pocketing about $100 million from wagering operators, who had paid 1.5 per cent of turnover while the appeal went through the court system.

”The bookies have continued to pay and we’ll receive around $40 million a year from them,” V’landys said.

The money has been used to bolster prizemoney. The Racing NSW board is in the final stages of implementing its strategic plan.

”We have audited the top 30 tracks in the state and we are preparing a budget as to where the money is spent,” V’landys said.

”A committee of management is looking at applications for funding we have received from clubs.

”The whole idea there is to make tracks more conducive to competitive racing, so again punters get the best value for their money.”

V’landys also said the board was ”working on a number of other initiatives. It is about building a strong base and these prizemoney increases signify a new dawn”.

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