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By David Fowler | Tuesday, December 3, 2019

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB. David, who is a keen form student and punter, has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in the racing media. His personal blog, ‘My Call’, appears exclusively on HRO.

A national tote pool has long been a talking point in the racing industry.

The pros … and cons … have been debated in many forums over many years but talk was about as far as it got.

Its prospect seemed to take a decent leap forward with the merging of Tabcorp and Tatts two years ago.

It allowed everyone, bar Western Australia, to sit in the same tent with currently three separate pools of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland (SA and TAS incorporated).

And moves are afoot to align Queensland with the New South Wales and Victoria betting products early next year.


Regardless of the merits or otherwise, the biggest stumbling block to a national tote pool is the two words of “national” and “tote”.

Is there anything “national” about Australian racing?

The only national body is Racing Australia and it’s seen by many as a toothless tiger.

Racing is a state run business and jealously so.

And a powerful offshoot of this state run control is the New South Wales versus Victoria naked rivalry.

The formguide listing precedents for a national tote pool bodes poorly particularly in the prism of the two biggest states.

Take the Sky vs TVN / racing.com scenario that has divided race vision for more than 15 years let alone the recently-concluded Spring Carnival wars.

And that’s just at the racing level. Distrust levels run far deeper between the Berejikian Coalition Government and Daniel Andrews’ Labor south of the border.

States control racing’s tax regimes and one can’t see their unpicking on a collaborative basis anytime soon.


And it’s worth seriously examining whether betting on the “tote” compared to fixed odds is a thing of the past.

Pari-mutuel pools have been in free fall in recent years largely due to the savage rise in fixed odds betting.

It might surprise many that, despite the code, fixed odds betting comprises 75 to 80% of the total turnover.

A larger pool through a national concept may well arrest the waning popularity of the tote, particularly in the smaller greyhound and harness codes.

But is it too late? Has the horse bolted? Is tote betting now considered passe?

And all of this backgrounds against a voracious sports betting appetite.

There is a considered argument that a national tote pool would be a good thing but the hoops to jump through to achieve it are not small in number.


P.S. If you needed another example of the New South Wales and Victoria racing rivalry, take the recent passing of Bill Waterhouse.

Generous reflections on his life appeared in the Sunday Telegraph last Sunday week.

A week later a scathing assessment appeared in the Tele’s Victorian stablemate, the Herald-Sun.

The Queensland’s Sunday-Mail also ran with it line by line.

But not a line in the Sunday-Tele.

Enough said.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best