Racing Victoria offers alternative to Betfair - Wednesday 19th of October 2005

Racing Victoria has made a lucrative multi- million-dollar offer to Tasmania that would see an increase in prizemoney, more races and the scrapping of nomination fees.

Under the proposal, some administrative functions would be merged to cut costs and all Tasmanian thoroughbred meetings would eventually be shown on the new TVN racing channel.

Racing Victoria would accept direct accountability for achieving agreed prizemoney levels and would structure the industry in a way that guaranteed higher stakes and more races.

In return, Racing Victoria would want a say in how the industry was run but the Tasmanian Thoroughbred Racing Council would retain its sovereignty and remain accountable to stakeholders.

The offer has been presented to Premier Paul Lennon and Racing Minister Jim Cox, and local racing administrators are aware of the details but have been told not to say anything.

However, Racing Victoria is understandably keen for details of the offer to be made public because it wants to show that Tasmanian racing does not need Betfair in order to prosper.

When added to the $3.4 million reduction in settlement fees offered to Tote Tasmania, its estimated that the total package from Victoria is worth more than $6 million a year.

This exceeds the initial licence fee offered by Betfair.

Racing Victoria has told local officials that its offer is not conditional on Betfair being rejected but theres no doubt that its designed as an incentive to keep the betting exchange out.

One local administrator, who asked not to be named, said that the Racing Victoria proposal "could be one of the best things that has ever happened to racing in Tasmania."

"Its not a takeover - the same proposal is being put to South Australia in a bid to strengthen the ties between the three states and benefit racing in each area," he said.

¤¤¤ Premier Paul Lennon has failed to alter the Tasmanian Thoroughbred Racing Councils opposition to Betfair - in fact, it has increased.

In a recent letter to owners, TTRC chairman Geoff Harper reaffirms the councils view that licensing a betting exchange "is definitely not a good thing for our industry or the Tasmanian community."

Mr Harper said that the council remained unconvinced that allowing individuals to lay horses to lose was in the best interests of racing and policing this activity was "not in any way feasible."

"We also have fears about the financial uncertainties that surround the proposal," he said.

"We are seriously concerned about the total absence of any form of business case... and, despite several requests, still have no figures on returns that the industry would receive.

"The TTRC has called for an independent financial analysis."

Mr Harper said that the council was concerned how Betfair would impact on Tote Tasmanias turnover which in turn could result in a loss of revenue for the racing industry.

The Totes $3.4 million settlement fee reduction would also be put in jeopardy.

"This annual payment is a golden opportunity that we should grab with both hands while it is still on the table," he said. "It should not be put at risk, especially when the alternative is a completely unknown quantity."

If Mr Lennon had any hopes of winning the support of the racing industry for his Betfair proposal it was certainly quashed by Mr Harpers closing remark - "We believe that licensing a betting exchange would be diametrically at odds with the long term interests of Tasmanian racing."

¤¤¤ Leading apprentice Shaun Hamer could be sidelined for longer than expected by the head injuries sustained in a car accident in August.

Hamer was originally told that he would not be able to ride for at least three months but thats now been extended to possibly six months.

Hamer, who is recuperating at his familys home on King Island, said yesterday that he was feeling "perfectly all right."

However doctors had advised him that, because of the nature of his injuries, it would be unsafe to rush back.

"Theyre still not really sure but they are saying that it might be six months," the jockey said.

"Ive got to go back to the doctor in a couple of weeks to get the result of the latest scan. That will tell them more."

Hamer is hoping that his weight doesnt soar too dramatically during the long layoff.

"Its not too bad at the moment but it might be a problem after six months," he said. "Im doing a lot of jogging and swimming to try to keep fit."

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