Too much caviar and too much of a good thing – just who is the horses arse here?

There was something not quite right last Friday night when one of the female part-owners led in the mighty Black Caviar at Money Valley. The fact the woman looked about as comfortable as an Obeid in an ICAC hearing and looked as stupid as made me wonder. Is it about the horse?

I know owners stump up great amounts of cash to dream of the ‘one’. I know that when a two y.o has its first start at Armidale or Echuca there are a lot of blokes in tight-fitting jackets who haven’t slept the night before. They have been on the phone to their mates spreading the word that the trainer “thinks we might just have something special here”. Inevitably they go to bar early and disappointed with homilies of ‘that’s racing’ or ‘needs more distance’. Sadly greater distance will not bring greater objectivity to the owner’s assessment of the horses performance.

Black Caviar, a big filly by Bel Esprit was purchased by Peter Moody at the Melbourne sales for $210,000. So this was not a conveyance by Drongo out of Pear Shape. It was one that could only be purchased with a fair bit of Harry Nash. So along came Neil Werrett and his substantial band of very merry men and women and good luck to them for making a large investment in the four-legged lottery. Werrett wasn’t a new chum here either he’d had a few nags with Moods before.

On 19 April 2009 16-year-old apprentice Jarrad Noske rode Caviar to a commanding first win in a 2 yo Handicap at Flemington and then to a further win next start. But for whatever reason Noske was brushed and Happy Hands Luke Nolan took over. I’m not sure what happened but I wonder whether the owners and trainer of Miracles of Life went through the same assessment process when they stuck with the unfashionable Lauren Stojakovic as hoop in the Blue Diamond at Caulfield? I’d like to think Jarrad was suspended or injured at the time. But that’s fine – senior jockey and all that – an owner’s prerogative. You pay the loot you can boot.

But I’ve put that to rest now only to wake up this morning to find in the Daily Dread that the Cav Crew now want free tickets with trimmings at the building site at Randwick for the Cranky Smith Stakes. Neil’s been busy because the hord has grown substantially and he wants 220 free tickets and enough champagne to fill Warragamba. It’s a bit sad really because reading between the lines the Cav Crew are obviously down to their last penny if they need to stitch up the ATC. Just shows what a GFC can do to smart money doesn’t it?.

So if the Cav Crew do have the arse out of their trousers and culottes then they can certainly put on a brave face. They seemed to be just fine on Friday night as they talked up top hats and morning suits at Ascot again and wanting to chat with Moods about another overseas jaunt. Apparently Neil Werrett was in fine spirits too at a private function on the night as he put mustard on the Sydney/Melbourne debate by saying that Sydneysiders just didn’t appreciate Black Caviar.

Well Cav Crew – we’d love to be able to appreciate Black Caviar but you are taking close to 1% of the bloody tickets. The building site at Randwick isn’t at full capacity yet and you are not helping. Your marquee is also taking up space that would be more usefully occupied by a pluto pup stand or a tarot card reader (Don’t sneer Neilo, we all need help in the last!)

But it’s probably the talk of another trip to Ascot that gets on my goat the most. I can forgive greed as I love to get to the bottom of a terrific trough myself. I would like to think it was too much of the rum rumble on Friday night that led to the Cav Crew talking up a second tilt at Ascot. One only had to see the poor mare in the Ascot parade ring last time to see that she wasn’t happy. Who would be? Anyone would resent being leered at by a bunch of chinless toffs dressed up like undertakers. She busted her gut to win despite Happy Hands and she deserves not be put through the draining rubber suit experience again.

There is an old racecourse adage that says nothing improves a horse’s performance like ownership but that owning a horse doesn’t necessarily improve an owner. Let’s hope for Black Caviar’s sake there is improvement in both.

Backdoor Benny deals dud cards to duped fans

A former first grade rugby league coach once said that “League is a simple game played by even simpler people”.

That some Tigers supporters actually believe in Benny Elias (alias Backdoor Benny) and his “mates” attempt to paint themselves as the saviours of the Balmain Club show that some of the supporters are even simpler than some of the former players.

The plan is of course for the development of the old Tiger’s Leagues Club site on Victoria Road, Rozelle into a multi-tower monstrosity that honours the gods of greed and stupidity.  Benny and the Board of Tigers want these poor duped sods to turn up at a proposed march to support Benny’s twin-towers on 2 March. Just how many actually turn up will tell us just how simple they actually are.

Speaking of simple.  Just how simple was it for the Balmain Tigers Board to make the decision to allow a current Board member, Benny Elias to sign a deal with it?

It has been well documented by Fairfax Media (‘thank you Kelly Burke”) that former Balmain player (I refrain from using words such as “legend”, “star” or “champion” as I may vomit), Benny Elias’s company Fordmont owned a 50% stake in Rozelle Village Pty Ltd – the company seeking to redevelop the troubled Rozelle site.  It appears that Elias didn’t disclose in the first instance that he would gain financially from the development.   Arhh just a small detail Benny – perhaps too many knocks on the melon in many a melee. He preferred to simply sell the “idea” to fans at club matches by trading on his faded past.

In a recent open letter, local Leichhardt Mayor, Darcy Byrne urged Tigers fans not to take part in a rally in support of the 24-storey proposed redevelopment at Rozelle.  Byrne said that he believes there was still no guarantee that the redeveloped site would include a permanent home for the NRL club.

This whole saga has been developing since 2009, when Elias, still a club Board member signed a heads of agreement with Board member David Trodden and others to take over the stalled development of the Club.  What a deal!  The agreement was to write-off the Club debts of over $23M in exchange for the Club’s property for the princely sum of $1.  Of course since that time the Club has paid many hundreds of thousands of dollars back in fees and interest and the Club is still close to $10M in debt.

Fabulous work by the Board it would seem.  The Tigers Board has or has had on it your standard rugby league mix of beaks, business and boofhead types plus the odd Olympian. So with such a solid crew what happened?   One would have thought any deal would have had a well-structured business plan as the basis of any negotiations.  You can be forgiven for thinking that it was obvious that a tendering process should have been undertaken to gain the very best deal for both local residents, the club and the fans.  However it appears that when the board thought business, they thought of “funny business” or to be more accurate “Benny business”.  Or was it that they were so impressed with Elias’s work as the chairman of Chameleon Mining that they thought this is the deal of the century?   As Elias said at that fatal member’s meeting, “The only option if the proposal is voted down is to close the leagues club doors.”  Yes particularly when no one else was asked to the party except Benny and his band.

As the stench continues to rise over this whole sorry barn dance, as links to the Obeid Clan and the other usual jokers around the money cesspool come to light the real question here is whether the Board of the Club is capable of impartially deciding what is best for the future of the Club and the local community or more concerned about preserving past glories and practices as well as seeing that their little mate, former Board Member Benny “does good”.

If the Board actually cared about their local Rozelle community and the West Tigers Rugby League tradition then they would stand up and say we made, in good faith a very bad business decision and now we urge all Tiger supporters to “simply” say “no” to these rough-headed flash rats with their gold teeth and chains.