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THE SUNSHINE COAST NEWSPAPER COLUMN - STEWARDS RULING STOPS RIDE GUIDE CONCEPT IN ITS TRACKS

By Graham Potter | Sunday, July 24, 2016

Graham Potter writes a weekly column for the Sunshine Coast daily. Due to demand from those having trouble accessing the paper these columns are now also published on HRO courtesy of the Sunshine Coast daily.

The Ride Guide concept, whereby jockeys would give pre-race information on their upcoming rides which could only be viewed (exclusively) on the Ladbrokes bookmaking website, was launched prematurely last weekend but it quickly encountered a fatal systems failure emanating from more than one source which has left the project firmly grounded until further notice.

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time to the Ride Guide concept creator jockey Chris Symons, to the media company Unscriptd who facilitated the promotion and to Ladbrokes who funded the operation, but the scheme was really misconceived from the outset.

Any arrangement which involves jockeys and a corporate bookmaker immediately raises a red flag, irrespective of the fact a media company operates as the middle man between the two thus absolving jockeys from any direct contact with the bookmaker.

That integrity flag waves loud and clear on a number of counts.

If jockeys are receiving payment, directly or indirectly through an intermediary, for a Ladbrokes promotion they are running on quicksand ... not least when apparently operating in conflict with Australian Rule Of Racing 83 (b) which stresses the fact that every jockey may be penalised if they accept any pecuniary or other gift in connection with any horse in a race without the consent of the stewards or the nominator of any horse he is to ride in any race.

That rubber-stamped consent was not received by Ride Guide prior to its launch last weekend.

It can be of no surprise then that stewards acted quickly in reining in the concept over concerns about the integrity, exclusivity and financial aspects of the deal before ultimately banning the operation.

The Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association (TROA) was as quick out of the stalls in slamming the Ride Guide concept, particularly the Ladbroke’s exclusivity arrangement. TROA Chairman Jonathon Munz put his association’s standpoint on record saying, ‘”TROA supports the position taken by stewards in opposing this concept and I note this is also the view of the Australian Trainer’s Association.”

Munz not only rejected Ride Guide but he also gave the jockeys a serve saying, “Jockeys are getting information and riding horses in work as part of the process of contracting to owners and trainers to ride their horses in races. It is a major cheek to then try to sell that information and not even have the manners or common sense to discuss it with us first.”

The stewards, owners and trainers responses would appear to leave the jockeys out in the cold but Jockey’s Association has indicated it will continue with a push to reinstate the Ride Guide project.

It has been widely reported, but not confirmed by the relevant parties, that Ladbrokes fee for their Ride Guide exclusive was $2.4 million which goes to the individual jockeys involved and Unscriptd with unspecified payments also being made to the jockey’s associations of Victoria and New South Wales.

Again then, it is not surprising that the Jockeys Association has adopted their approach given the windfall it brings to participants under their particular banner.

Racing all too often suffers from a view that it is compromised by persons or groups with vested interests.

So, is this ‘disagreement’ just another example of that?

I’ll let you decide!

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Paul Hammersley ... he gave the Steven O'dea trained Colinelle a superb ride from a wide barrier when taking out the last race on the card at Doomben on Saturday.
Paul Hammersley ... he gave the Steven O'dea trained Colinelle a superb ride from a wide barrier when taking out the last race on the card at Doomben on Saturday.
Colinelle is now a three-time winner from only four starts

Photos: Graham Potter
Colinelle is now a three-time winner from only four starts

Photos: Graham Potter
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