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Peter V’Landys opens Pandora’s box at Racing NSW – “It f—ing stinks. It’s V’landys at his worst – he’s a shocker!”

Peter V’Landys opens Pandora’s box at Racing NSW – “It f—ing stinks. It’s V’landys at his worst – he’s a shocker!”

A haphazard approach taken recently by Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys in administering the strappers’ bonus in major horse races in the state has angered influential figures in the thoroughbred industry.

Racing NSW introduced a strappers’ bonus in 2012, deducting 1.5 per cent of owners’ prizemoney to pay it. “Strapper” is another term for stablehand, or the low-paid workers who look after the horses.

 

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NSW is still the only state to pay a strappers’ bonus, which was increased to 2 per cent of winnings in September. The bonus is deducted from all winnings but only paid to strappers employed by trainers based in NSW.

Where the trainer is registered interstate, the bonus is deducted from the owner’s winnings, but not paid to the strapper who has travelled from interstate to work. In these instances, according to Racing NSW, the bonus is diverted to its Stablehands Fund, and provides emergency financial support to local industry workers on an ad hoc basis.

When billionaire Jonathan Munz’s horse Giga Kick won the Everest sprint in October, the Financial Review Rich Lister intervened after learning his horse’s strapper, employed by Victorian trainer Clayton Douglas, would not receive the $122,000 deducted from his whopping $6.2 million prizemoney.

Munz lobbied V’landys to pay the strapper and V’landys agreed to make an exception. “I emphasised that the $122,000 bonus for the Everest winner’s strapper was a life-changing amount of money,” Munz says. “I am very glad that he relented.”

“I told Peter his policy was nuts – in my view it is fundamentally improper and unfair. You can’t treat a worker differently for doing the same work in NSW, just because they live in Victoria.”

Unfortunately for V’landys, the team behind Jacquinot – which had won the Golden Rose three weeks earlier – learnt about the special dispensation for Munz’s strapper and demanded the same for their strapper, who works for Victorian trainer Mick Price. One of Jacquinot’s owners is Racing NSW director Simon Tuxen. V’landys relented again.

Two weeks after Munz’s Everest victory, Victorian horse I Wish I Win won the Golden Eagle at Rosehill and Queensland horse Gypsy Goddess, trained by David Vandyke, ran third. Vandyke and I Wish I Win’s trainer Peter Moody demanded the strappers’ bonus be paid to their strappers and, lo and behold, V’landys made two more exceptions.

Prime Thoroughbreds’ Joe O’Neill was incensed to learn of the exceptions made by V’landys. As an owner of Rubisaki, which won multiple group 3 races in the autumn of 2020, he had appealed to Racing NSW to release the strappers’ bonuses to the filly’s stablehands employed by its Victorian-based trainer, Patrick Payne.

“We were very, very angry when we were told that Giga Kick’s [strappers’ bonus] was forwarded on to that stable, even though it was an interstate stable, and also that the money was forwarded to Jacquinot’s [Victorian] stable, which we thought was very suspicious given one of the owners is a director of Racing NSW,” O’Neill said.

“It f—ing stinks. It’s V’landys at his worst – he’s a shocker!”

While the rules are longstanding and clearly set out on the Racing NSW website, we understand that Racing NSW will communicate these rules even more prominently henceforth. And under no circumstances will any further discretionary exemptions be made.