On behalf of many stakeholders in thoroughbred racing, sorry Louise Herron

On a day of outstanding racing at Flemington, one of my favourite days of racing, we shouldn’t be talking about the Sydney Opera House. But here we are, and here I am, feeling obliged to defend many stakeholders in the industry and calling out behaviour for what it is – bullying and harrsassment.

Firstly, many people are calling the radio interview Alan Jones conducted with the CEO of  Sydney Opera House, Louise Herron, a ‘controversy”. Even Racing NSW referred to it as a controversy on their news page and social media.

The radio interview (which i will not share) is not a controversy – defined as a prolonged public disagreement, argument or heated discussion. It was a one-sided audio broadcast rudely conducted by a bully.

Sadly for the racing industry, it was about a racing-related topic and the Chief Executive of Racing NSW participated in it.

Whether or not the barrier draw, horse names, race colours, logos, sponsors or anything at all could or should be displayed on the sails of the Opera House, is a policy decision that should be made by the leadership of the Opera House, as represented by the CEO in this radio interview. Whilst worthy of debate, I’m not going to participate.

Sadly, yesterday’s news (that has continued into today) was not about the policy itself. It was about bullying and politics. The NSW Premier weighed in to override Louise Herron’s position (which by the sounds of it was still in private negotiation by the way), and is therefore complicit in Alan Jones’ behaviour.

Racing NSW via Peter V’Landys’ participation in the radio interview and equally as important, Racing NSW’s active promotion of the interview on their website and social media, is also complicit. It says to all listening and reading about the topic, that it’s OK to bully a radio guest and use (unfair) political power to influence government and cause political intervention.

So you are promoting this grotesque display from Jones – with YOUR CEO tagged along for the ride – on YOUR twitter handle ? Are you sure this is prudent ? – Matt Stewart

I believe this has the potential to tarnish our industry’s public reputation – at a time when we are already under immense pressure. No amount of “reach” or exposure about The Everest, nor the conversion of those eyeballs and ears into punting or raceday attendance, warrants what I heard on Alan Jones’ program.

Sydney Racing is in “whatever it takes” mode. – Danny Power

On behalf of many of us in the industry, Louise Herron, sorry.

Some of our leaders have also shared their concerns.

“I wonder what the @atc_races and the other 11 Everest slot holders think of the event promoter participating in this disgraceful interview with Alan Jones. If I owned a horse selected for the race, I wouldn’t want my colours on Opera House after this bullying.” – Michael Browell, CEO Moonee Valley Racing Club

“Anyone who wants to know how lucky we Victorians are to live beyond the malign reach of Alan Jones, have a listen to this.”  – Martin Pakula, Victorian Attorney General & Minister for Racing

I only wish the leaders of our industry in NSW could put ethics above promotion and also say sorry. Or was it a calculated plan?

Posted in Opinion.