Home' InDaily : October 30th 2009 Contents "The only Limitation To Finding The Cure Is Funding"
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The Independent Weekly
When Taj Rossi won the
Cox Plate for trainer Bart
Cummings in October
1973, punters in Adelaide who
had their hard-earned cash on the
local trainer's colt were on top of
So was the Government.
Racing, with its large on-course
crowds and strong off-course
following, was delivering a
goldmine to Treasury coffers
and it seemed the run of luck
wouldn't stop. State governments
all over Australia had outsmarted
then illegal off-course bookies,
a collection of shady characters
The illegal bookies paid no
taxes, gaming or licence fees. So
in the late 1960s and early '70s they
were put out of business when
governments started their own
off-course betting operations,
As a revenue raiser, it was a
sure bet. For every dollar wagered
at a TAB, 15c went straight to the
Government and the remainder
put back into a pool to be divided
among those punters who backed
As the punters bet again with
their now-reduced dollar, the 15
per cent take continued.
It was a no-risk, guaranteed
cash cow. The states provided
a dividend to racing from TAB
profits to fund administration and
prize money. After all, it was wise
to keep feeding the goose that laid
the golden egg.
But last Saturday, when Bart
Cummings repeated his 1973 Cox
Plate effort with gun three-year-
old So You Think, racing's golden
goose had keeled over and the
industry was facing a funding
crisis and major uncertainty.
Governments were locked in
legal battles with the 21st-century
version of the off-course book-
ies -- slick corporate and internet
operations based in Darwin, Alice
Springs, Hobart, Sydney and
around the world.
Crowds were well down, two
racecourses in Adelaide had
closed and the punters were
laying their bets with bookies who
offered commissions, rebates, free
bets and, most of all, convenience.
Mobile phone internet access,
pay-TV racing channels, home
broadband and daily racing have
seen the new bookies first past the
post in adapting to the new world.
Centrebet, one of the first
entrants into the market, reported
strong growth in revenue from
racing. Its investor presentation
last month showed corporates
were making big inroads into the
TAB's share of wagering with an
expected share of more than 45
per cent by 2014.
Centrebet CEO Con Kaftaris
Glory days: Taj Rossi (right) wins the 1973 Cox Plate.
The horse, the bookie, the
More than 20 million eyes and even more dollars will be on
Flemington when the barrier drops for the Melbourne Cup. But
there's more to horseracing than horseflesh. Kevin Naughton
reports that in the sport of kings, cash wears the crown.
You might have seen him frolick-
ing on Goolwa beach, excited by
the salty breeze and the promise
of a swim and a roll in the sand.
If you haven't, don't worry. You
won't miss Alcopop on Tuesday
The south coast stayer has
experienced little racing in his
career though you wouldn't pick
that -- this year he's won five from
seven, including the last four.
Alcopop won the Balaclava Cup
earlier this month before heading
to Melbourne and dominating the
Group Two Herbert Power Stakes.
He'll race at Strathalbyn today -- a
final run before Tuesday's race
that stops the nation.
Despite ending the week as
equal favourite for Australia's
greatest sporting event, Alcopop's
trainer Jake Stephens is as cool as
the water his horse so loves.
"I don't even look (at the odds).
calm and pretty relaxed."
The Independent Weekly's
racing specialist, bookie Syd
McDonald, described Alcopop as
a "bully" of a horse. McDonald
said he's not phased by the
congestion of larger fields, and
said his will to win is so strong
that "he's one of the few horses
that doesn't need a jockey".
Stephens agreed that Alcopop
was very determined.
"He's just one of those horses
that just wants to do it and that's
sort of probably his forte really,"
The 2400m Herbert Power
Stakes was Alcopop's longest
run to date. But having never
competed over the Melbourne
Cup's 3200m isn't necessarily a
disadvantage; in fact, McDonald
thinks it will suit the five-year-old.
But there's another, seemingly
forgotten, 2009 Melbourne Cup
entrant with a South Australian
connection, this year's Sydney
Cup winner Ista Kareem.
Early in his career under the
of then trainer Jeremy
reem -- like Alcopop
e sand, salt and
Goolwa beach. The
ar-old was transferred
ner Colin Little in
February of 2007
wever, ending its con-
ection with Goolwa
but not with SA.
The horse, which
is the oldest entrant
in Tuesday's Cup,
s now won its
rrency Creek based
hillip Nehmy, more
on in prize-money;
idering luck played
in the acquisition of
bourne Cup hopeful.
aving placed in the
6 Adelaide Cup and
nning the 2008 Group
Three Launceston Cup,
Ista Kareem surprised nearly
everyone when he won this year's
Group One Sydney Cup.
"Colin hadn't even entered him
in the race," Nehmy said.
"I insisted he should run,
and got his nomination in three
minutes before deadline. It was a
close call, but as you can imagine
I'm pretty glad we got it in."
From its last five starts, Ista
Kareem has failed to return a
single placing, but Nehmy isn't
"He's been running in some
very good quality races, but races
that are shorter than his optimum
length," he said. "When stayers
run unsuitable distances the
results aren't relevant. His run in
The Bart Cummings (October 3,
finished fourth) was brilliant. It
was just the sort of race you want
leading up to a Melbourne Cup.
"You don't want a horse to peak
three or four weeks prior to a big
Nehmy said Ista Kareem was
perfectly suited to the lengthy
3200m of the Melbourne Cup and
his results over the distance are
"He's had three 3200m starts in
his career. He ran third in the 2006
Adelaide Cup, was unplaced on
a day that was 43C and the other
was his victory in the Sydney
Cup. He also raced a 3000m night-
race ... he won by six lengths,"
Despite ominous form in
lengthier races, Nehmy said the
weather forecast isn't great news
for the "South Australian".
"It appears we won't get the
conditions we're after.
"His best form is on rain-
affected tracks -- his record on
slow tracks is extraordinary. But
we believe the horse deserves to
run in the best two mile race in
the world, which is the Melbourne
Cup. He's earned his place and we
think he deserves to run."
Pop goes the stayer
Alcopop has won five
of his seven races this
year. Photo: Vince Caligiuri
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