Clean and simple can get the job done

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2012, 12:00am


There was a certain amount of mirth stirred up among racing's hands-on personnel this week over John Moore's comments re: Rugby Sevens Sunday and the rebuttal by the Jockey Club chief executive, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.

In particular, the errant observation by the reigning champion trainer the chief executive had not been at the races when he actually had been there, brought a few chuckles, but have no doubt, there were other theories floating about that race four was the trophy race so that officials could get from Sha Tin to Hong Kong Stadium in good time for the finals. Macau feature-race style.

But, chuckles aside, Moore's point that racing on Saturday would allow racing people to get to the Sevens finals day on Sunday is one that has been raised by club officials in past years as a defence of racing on the Saturday. It was only two years ago that executive director of racing Bill Nader made a public plea for regulatory changes that was heading in the same direction as Moore's call on Sunday to avoid races clashing with the Sevens.

The whole proposition, of Saturday or Sunday on Sevens weekend, was then and is now all about simulcasting and the rigid rules that govern the club's 25 simulcast dates per season.

The Jockey Club had only raced the same day as the Sevens once before 2010 - in 2008 - and didn't originally clash in 2010 but the race date was moved to Sevens day to accommodate simulcasts of the Dubai World Cup night as well as the Group One sprint in Japan where Sacred Kingdom was scheduled for a trip that ultimately didn't happen due to his colic.

When the club was granted permission to lift from the simulcast of 10 overseas races annually to 25 in 2009, the restriction of 10 individual races simulcast on race days remained, but the extra 15 simulcasting days were added, which could have multiple races but could not be on Hong Kong race dates. And the official start of race dates run from midnight to midnight, technically, just to make it worse.

It's all a bit convoluted, and painful, and really, whoever came up with all this must have been a politician, or a bondage fiend. Or both.

Normally it's Dubai World Cup night that causes the problem meeting on Sevens weekend, but since the biggest races there technically fall on Sunday, after Hong Kong midnight. So a few races from there can be a non-raceday simulcast, plus the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, still on Sunday, and Hong Kong can race on Saturday.

But last weekend, there was only one race to simulcast from Japan, since the support card in Nagoya was unimportant, which would have been a waste of a non-raceday simulcast on just one event and fitted the requirements of a raceday simulcast, as long as Hong Kong raced the same day.

Phew. And you thought there were some mad people at the Sevens. Give us a gorilla in a tutu over this stuff any time.

What would have been more sensible and acceptable, surely to everyone, would have been a cap on the total number of races simulcast per season but open slather on when they could be. Or even stick to the 25-meeting limit and add in a cap on the number of races but do away with the raceday, non-raceday classifications.

Clean, simple, gets the job done and doesn't set free the beast within the Jockey Club that wants to simulcast every race from everywhere - since that is where these rules took root.

But then that wouldn't be in keeping with the Yes, Minister principles of administrative creatures, would it?