Time Racing Victoria faced their integrity issues

By Rob Young

 

I’ve written often in the past about the intriguing idiosyncrasy that Victoria seems to be the locale where racing’s most difficult crises of integrity occur. My view has always been, and still is, that there must be improvements that can be made, in respect of the culture and/or the management of the integrity structures within Racing Victoria. That view comes from my background in company restructuring spanning some twenty years plus, so it’s not one I take lightly. Add to that the fact that I cut my teeth in racing in Victoria, and it’s not hard to understand that, when Victorian racing looks dodgy, in any way, I tend to feel strongly about it.

 

That’s why the appointment of Jamie Stier to the role of Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager of Integrity Services is so important, and so welcome.

Stier replaces Dayle Brown, who has resigned to “take on new challenges” outside racing. That’s not an uncommon justification for a career decision, but it’s also a bit of a cliché. The reality – sometimes – is that the challenges of the role a person is leaving have just become a bit too much. That may not be the case in this situation, but the fact is that Brown oversaw the cobalt investigation, an investigation that is still not resolved, and just can’t be seen as a shining example of how to approach an integrity issue. The fact is that Brown was also in charge when Damien Oliver was ousted for 12 months for betting on a rival horse. The fact is that Brown was also in charge during the Danny Nikolic saga. The fact is that Brown and the previous Chairman of RV, David Moodie, didn’t get on well. To be fair, the fact is also that Brown introduced significant technological changes to the betterment of racing during his tenure. But surely no one would question the fact that the integrity of racing in Victoria went through a turbulent time during his reign as head of the integrity team. Before joining Racing Victoria in 2008, Dayle Brown was a policeman, and worked with Deloitte, Betfair and Harness Racing Victoria. He brought a certain style to his role, and to the workings of the stewards’ panel, that some might have seen as a little overbearing and patronising, maybe even a bit old school for this day and age.

Jamie Stier is an altogether different proposition.

He is a racing integrity man – through and through. He did his cadet stewardship time, and the subsequent 12 years, with The Sheriff, Ray Murrihy at the Australian Jockey Club (the predecessor to Racing NSW). Some would say there has never been a better way to learn the ropes of racing stewardship. The reputation Stier established in Sydney racing led to very successful stints with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, where he became Chief Stipendiary Steward, and then with the British Horseracing Authority, firstly as the Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation and later as the Chief Regulatory Officer. That all adds up to 32 years of experience in the integrity side of the thoroughbred racing industry, something that Dayle Brown just can’t match.

So, it’s fair to assume that Racing Victoria is probably in for something of a shake-up as far as the integrity services functions are concerned. In my view, that’s a good thing, and well overdue.

After the last few years of apparent dysfunction, a bit of Murrihy training mixed with experience at the arguably the best run racing business of them all in Hong Kong, and further senior level experience in the birthplace of racing, has to put Stier in the box seat to bring some calm and control into integrity issues in racing in Victoria.

Maybe the days of conflict between the participants and the authorities are numbered. Maybe the dramas will end. Let’s hope so.

 

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