John Messara will be the first to concede (in fact, he may even chide me for the use of the word "he"), that none of these things would've been achievable without the support of the people and the communities around him, but its a fact that all these things have happened on his watch since he became Chairman of Racing New South Wales, and we trust at last his countrymen will acknowledge his work.
The "tall poppy" syndrome is alive and well not only in KwaZulu-Natal but across the world, and the founder of the fabulously successful Arrowfield Stud has not always enjoyed the appreciation of his peers for what he's done for racing, both in his neck of the woods, as well as across the broader spectrum of the game in Australia. We know the feeling well: you have to have broad shoulders when you're at the top, because there's not a day that goes by that someone doesn't find fault with what you're doing, yet in his relatively short tenure at the helm, he's achieved things which in decades before him others have not been able to manage. The latest "coup" in Messara's term is the announcement by the Deputy Premier, Troy Grant, that the government intends realigning its take-out of the betting turnover in NSW with that applicable in Victoria and Queensland. The best illustration of this rests in the current A$3.22 for every A$100 wagered in New South Wales, compared to A$1.28 in the competing areas.
Just a week ago at our Winter Workshop on the farm, we were treated to an exposition by Barry Bowditch and Grant Burns on the reasons behind the meteoric success of the Magic Millions sales company, which they put down to four cardinal events:
1. Their financing packages for weanling speculators, stallion and broodmare investors;
2. The explosive growth in the number of "syndicators", who are basically bloodstock agents who put together owner syndicates. There are a staggering 16 000 of these, which has had a massive impact on sales turnovers as well as the expansion of the owner base;
3. The series of races they've attached to their sales graduates, which not only enjoy Black type status, but which have developed into a dedicated race day covering different age groups and a variety of distances (ala the KZN Breeders Day); for horses exclusively owned by women, they have attached a half million dollar bonus to their biggest race, payable to the first horse home belonging exclusively to a woman/women, no matter where it finishes in the field (i.e. the bonus is paid out irrespective of whether the horse places in the race or not);
4. And finally, they paid tribute to the very considerable role the Queensland government has played in supporting and sponsoring their efforts, in return for the part they play in promoting tourism and commerce in the Queensland region.
Both of these events, Messara's annoucement and the Queensland scenario, remind us of the value of close co-operation with government and how much racing can still do in this country to develop the same spirit of co-operation. We just need to engage, and work a bit harder at it.
Deputy Premier Grant is now expected to introduce the legislation that will see the incremental reductions in the tax rate formalised by law and while welcoming the move, Messara hopes a deal can yet be reached that will see parity achieved before 2020. "It's excellent news as its gives us the sort of certainty we need to really push on it's particularly good news for The Championships as it allows for some meaningful forward planning now. The only thing we are still negotiating with the Government over is the term over which the parity will be introduced.
Racing NSW had feared that without the agreement being backed up by legislation, they would have had to lobby for the reductions every year and may ultimately have lost the backing for the plans. The body's chief executive, Peter V'landys, added that country racing would also see the benefit of the tax cut, which is expected to see $325 000 0000 returned to the industry over the coming year and leave Racing NSW $100 000 000 better off once full parity is achieved.
Extract From ANZ / Legislation To Confirm NSW Tax Parity
John Messara / Racing NSW (p)