ThoroughBred Racing

Munz launches scathing attack on Racing Victoria

Munz launches scathing attack on Racing Victoria

Victorian Thoroughbred Owners Association chairman Jonathan Munz added his voice to the widespread criticism of Racing Victoria following their latest plans for racing in the state.
Munz’s criticism comes after a News Ltd report suggested RV want to have teams based racing where “the top trainers all select two horses each per race and pick the jockeys they want to ride for their team on the night”, while RV is also floating a whip-free period of racing over summer as part of the teams-based concept.


The owner of champion sprinter Giga Kick (Scissor Kick) and an influential breeder, Munz claims that some of the proposals demonstrate “that some of those leading the industry really have little understanding of our sport”. “There is now an ongoing general problem in Victoria, with recent Racing Victoria policies and changes having caused damage to the operation and reputation of Victorian Racing,” Munz said.
“Racing Victoria think they are innovators and marketing and wagering gurus, but the reality is that their hotchpotch of poorly conceived ideas and thought bubbles will not get racing any new customers.


A number of their decisions and proposals have been terrible. “This has put RV in serious conflict with most of its shareholders and participants and upset racing customers when it should be bringing people together and working collaboratively. “It was all unnecessary and would not have occurred if RV had properly consulted with and listened to industry participants and experts, instead of arrogantly pushing ahead with and promoting these inappropriate policies. “The Racing Victoria proposal to use interactive jockey earpieces with live streamed instructions to jockeys from “coaches” during races is dangerous and impractical and the associated proposal for an expensive and much criticised “teams racing” concept is completely inappropriate.
They are ill-conceived “gimmick” proposals that will alienate existing racing customers and participants and not encourage any new ones.” The new ideas proposed by RV also included Big Bash-style ideas, including jockeys wearing earpieces in races, which Munz claims will be “dangerous”. “Even someone who knows nothing about horses, should realise that speaking into a jockey’s ear during a race is incredibly dangerous.
 This concept should never have got beyond first base. “It is only a few months since we had the tragedy of Dean Holland and before that the terrible incident which left Jamie Kah in hospital for over a month and Craig Williams nursing a broken collar bone. “Are Racing Victoria serious about putting jockeys at heightened risk of serious injury, or worse, for some misguided marketing gimmick that no-one wants?
This is a truly idiotic idea and I cannot see the racing stewards supporting the proposal. The concept is flawed anyway – trying to import a concept from Big Bash cricket, a game which goes for three hours, to a horse race that is measured in seconds. “This demonstrates that some of those leading the industry really have little understanding of our sport.” Munz said the idea of “teams racing” is a concept that has been tried and was a failure in Australia in the past. “The proposal for a summer “teams racing” series is a poor proposal that has been tried and failed a number of times, both in Australia and in the UK.
 “With Racing Victoria claiming to be under budget pressure, this isn’t where scarce resources should be spent. The fact that the proposal favours certain trainers and owners over others is also inappropriate and there are also integrity concerns around team incentives when a trainer or team has a number of runners in a race.” Munz was also critical of the changes to spring programme and prize-money throughout the state.
“In relation to the spring carnival program, RV has speculated about moving the Cox Plate and even Melbourne Cup week,” Munz said. “Fortunately, that sort of nonsense was resisted and they instead focused on adding a new race day after the Melbourne Cup carnival. “They came up with a poorly conceived race day that wrongly moved the Thousand Guineas and Rupert Clarke Stakes, undermined the pattern and wasted money.
 “Owners, trainers and breeders all came together to suggest a much better program that provided a real marquee race day, with the same financial investment, but RV insisted on keeping their changes.” Munz added: “In terms of the recently announced reduction in prize-money to cover a supposed crisis in industry funding, RV undermined industry confidence with negative announcements and then walked it back with an announced cut of less than one per cent.
 “For years the industry, with the assistance of former racing minister Martin Pakula and current minister Anthony Carbines, had worked hard to ensure strong revenue streams that made sure our prize-money was competitive, but RV were happy to damage Victoria’s reputation and pour a bucket of negativity on the industry, and all for what?” “This was unnecessary and irresponsible. We have maintained that RV needs to be more transparent about and focused on reducing its own overheads and inefficiencies before lecturing us or cutting prize-money.
” The prolific owner breeder believes racing must maintain and grow interest and engagement in racing and suggested strategies the RV should implement. “RV justifies its proposals for radical change with a false and exaggerated narrative that such action is required to somehow win over younger customers,” Munz said. “Racing actually does many things well and the large uplift in wagering during Covid lockdowns shows that racing already has a product offering that has strong appeal.
“Young people are in fact clearly engaged during the Melbourne Cup carnival and the challenge has always been to translate that to the rest of the year. “The correct strategy to maintain and grow interest and engagement in racing is to play to our unique strengths by promoting our equine athletes and their progress and competition in our marquee races and celebrating our leading jockeys and trainers.” Munz added: “A better starting point would be to improve the race day and punting experience. Engage better with race clubs and work more closely with wagering service providers to promote racing and engage better with their millions of existing customers.”
“RV has neglected this and refused to do the simple things, like funding sensible and relatively inexpensive initiatives, such as electronic owners ticketing to replace the current system of paper ticketing from the 1950s,” he continued.