NSW trainers have issued a direct challenge to the leadership of Racing NSW by taking a vote of no confidence in Peter V'landys, the racing body's chief executive and regulator.
Trainers travelled from around the state to attend a meeting on Monday night and discussed a long list of grievances regarding Racing NSW. Several trainers spoke of fears for their livelihoods, particularly in the country, which they believe Racing NSW is failing to address.
Most trainers declined to speak on the record about their opinions of Racing NSW, fearing action by stewards for bringing racing into dispute, although Gai Waterhouse proved a notable exception.
"I assure you we are a disgruntled lot," Waterhouse wrote on her blog. "Prizemoney is not going up, there is no one willing to listen to our plight and we are treated with disdain and intolerance. Us trainers are fed up."
Waterhouse described trainers as the "linchpin" of racing and said they were not standing up just for themselves, but also for their staff, owners and jockeys.
"Many a meeting we have been to at headquarters and nothing ever comes of them," she wrote. "It is really sad to see the discontent. Racing NSW are there to represent the participants but instead we are treated like children who have no idea of the business at hand. I am hopeful things will change in the near future. If trainers can have their say, they will get things done."
Among the main concerns of trainers were the licensees' code of conduct, the Benchmark handicapping system, country racing and the ongoing fight to establish the race-fields legislation.
The meeting was attended by only 35 of more than 800 members of the trainers' association, but a vote of no confidence was still taken against V'landys as chief executive and the board of Racing NSW for supporting him. The motion carried on 34 votes, with one prominent Randwick trainer abstaining.
The trainers' association has held talks with Racing NSW chairman Alan Brown, and is believed to have arranged a meeting with the board for early next week.
The target of the dissent, V'landys, insisted he would not back down, despite the no-confidence vote taken against him. "I'm only hearing rumours about what was said at the meeting," V'landys said. "I think there was a lot of misinformation there about a lot of things, including changes to the Benchmark system.
We made ourselves available to go to the meeting but the trainers declined to have us there. I think some trainers are running their own agenda at these meetings. We have had the support from the owners, jockeys and bookmakers as well as country racing and the provincial clubs today, [and] it seems only a small section of trainers are unhappy."
V'landys believes the race-fields legislation played a big role in the vote and added: "This only adds to my board's resolve. The Betfair case was dismissed last week, so we won that one, and I think we will win our appeals in the court. We are not going to be bullied or intimidated by corporate bookmakers' apologists."
The Racing NSW website yesterday published statements from the owners' and jockeys' associations, bookmakers' co-op, Country Racing and Provincial Clubs speaking in support of its handling of the race-fields legislation.
"I understand that some participant groups may be becoming impatient, but now is not the time to abandon ship," Racing NSW Country chairman Gordon Lindley said.
"The Racing NSW Country board understands and accepts that whilst current legal proceedings and appeals create uncertainty, the future ramifications of not taking this action are far greater."
Courtesy of CHRIS ROOTS of the SMH, 14/07/2010