I am forever grateful for the sponsorship granted by TABCORP but nevertheless some things need noting;
Sky's not the limit for Brisbane coverage
BY BRUCE CLARK - @SNOWYCLARK
49 minutes ago Horse Racing
Fed-up trainer Rob Heathcote has spent more time watching the US Presidential race on cable television than his beloved Queensland racing on the Tabcorp-owned Sky Channel.
“I’ve been engrossed in it for nine months, can’t get enough of it,” Heathcote told G1X.com.au, before adding: “yes, but things just boiled over at Doomben on Saturday.”
What happened was the Heathcote-trained Brotherly Secret won Race 5 at Doomben when Sky’s on-track presenter Bernadette Cooper started the obligatory post-race interview.
To which Heathcote looked at Cooper and said: “Are you sure we have time to do this? Don’t we have to cross to Newcastle?”
“I then looked down the barrel and said something like, ‘Seriously Sky executives, when are you going to give Brisbane racing a fair go?'”
Heathcote, famous for training the now retired star Buffering and a five-time premiership winner, said his tirade was not pre-meditated but admitted it was coming for some time.
“I was at home getting ready for the races, switched on to Sky and got an apology from Bernie (Cooper) and Josh Fleming saying they could only do four races in the preview, it did get my blood boiling I can tell you that,” Heathcote said.
“There is no doubt Sky has been treating Queensland racing in general and Brisbane metropolitan racing in particular as a literally unwanted commodity and with total distain,” Heathcote said.
“They show as little as they possibly can, where a b-grade second track meeting at Newcastle with four maidens, a class 1, a class 2, and two low grade benchmark races got precedence with full previews and full mounting yard coverage.”
Heathcote said his remarks, building up in his mind for over a year, had been greeted with widespread support from industry participants, Brisbane Racing Club management and also Racing Queensland.
“I received a lot of support on Saturday from BRC directors who seemed unanimous in praise that I brought it to a head, I got emails and texts and it has become a talking point up here,” he said.
“There is no doubt Racing NSW has ensured the clock favours the NSW product but now with the looming merger of Tabcorp and Tatts, you’d like to think Queensland racing can leverage some support to ensure the deal is done as smoothly as they want, because they are going to need us.
“This nonsense impacts on Queensland wagering and also the ability of us to promote our sport and engage with our stars. It’s been going on for years, we have had discussions with officials here to take it up with Sky but nothing has changed.”
Doomben race times were allocated 10 minutes after a Sydney metropolitan race at Canterbury allowing only a pre-recorded mounting yard preview, with Newcastle 14 minutes earlier (given full mounting yard coverage) with post-race Brisbane coverage scaled down.
Newcastle was attractively positioned up to 20 minutes later in the day from Sydney races start times. Also impacted (and consistently so) has been Adelaide races, eight to 10 minutes off Flemington but with Newcastle in-between.
“It’s just nonsense,” Heathcote said.
“We’ve got the Brisbane summer carnival coming up and the richest racing meeting in Australia at the Gold Coast in January and Sky will want plenty of content but it’s not consistent with how we are treated in general,” he said.
Tabcorp chief executive David Attenborough spoke in Brisbane’s Courier Mail newspaper about the issues facing Queensland racing and the upcoming wagering merger with Tattersalls.
“Despite the turnover growing every year on Australian racing, Queensland racing is under pressure, it has had to lower prize money and it is feeling the pinch," he said.
“And that’s mainly because its incumbent tote, UBET, is struggling to compete.
“It’s sitting there with a set of technology that isn’t quite up to where it needs to be yet and they know it."
Heathcote would argue a reason Queensland turnover is falling is largely due to its lack of broad coverage on Tabcorp’s Sky.
“It just reached a crescendo on Saturday and we are fed-up,” he said.