Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The company Australian Pacing Gold Ltd has a monopoly on a license to print money by selling standard bred yearlings to protect, and a complex web of interests and conflicts caused by these interests driving its response to the challenge of the new and competing Nutrien Equine Standardbred yearling sale and race series.
So it is no surprise to find that the APG associated company Club Menangle – which is chaired by the same person, Robert Marshall, and which holds 1/3 of the equity in APG – has entered the fray and is fighting dirty.
What is a surprise is that Club Menangle is playing it so dumb.
I strongly suspect that the dual Chairman’s hubris will come back to haunt him, and cause severe financial damage and loss to both companies.
Below in italics are extracts from a public statement issued last week by Club Menangle.
It is a patently absurd collection of deceptions and lies.
The comments underneath are the truth, and the words are my own.
Nutrien Equine approached Club Menangle in May 2020 seeking agreement to conduct three races in 2022 as part of a proposed futurity series.
Club Menangle responded on 22 May, 2020 and formally advised Nutrien Equine the dates proposed conflicted with the Sky Carnival of Miracles, the Bathurst Gold Crown Series and other existing race commitments through until the end of April 2022.
Well that – if you will forgive me for being crude – is absolute and utter bullshit.
This is why.
- The harness racing calendar for the year 2022 is yet to set, either in NSW or across the nation
- The dates proposed by Nutrien Equine for its race series do not clash with the Carnival of Miracles. That carnival is held in late February/Early March. I should know, because I go to it every year. Here I am below at this year’s.
- Nutrien Equine’s proposed dates do not clash with the Bathurst Gold Crown Series. That series is held in March each year, and was run from the 17th to the 21th of March just three months ago.
- There are no existing race commitments at present, because the calendar has not been finalised (see 1 above)
A further request was received from Nutrien Equine dated 19 June, 2020 seeking Club Menangle’s consideration to hosting its proposed Futurity Races between 11 March and 29 April, 2022.
The Board of Club Menangle considered the 19 June request at the Board meeting held on 25 June, 2020.
If you believe that the board actually genuinely considered the Nutrien request, you obviously believe in fairies.
What really happened at the board meeting is that the blokes around the table fell around the floor laughing, and declared that there was as much chance of Nutrien Equine running a race series at Club Menangle as there was of those bastards running their series on the moon, or Lazarus being 100 percent fertile.
Club Menangle has reiterated the comments made in the earlier letter to Nutrien Equine indicating the dates requested are unavailable in the metropolitan racing calendar at Club Menangle, for the reasons originally advised.
Lies, lies, lies.
In its response, Club Menangle emphasised no racing at Club Menangle would be countenanced in March of any year, which might impact on the promotion and conduct of the Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival.
Well that must be somewhat of a surprise to the Bathurst Harness Racing Club, because on the 21st of March this year Club Menangle ran the Group 3 Ainsworth Game Technology Autumn Gift, just one day after the Bathurst club’s Smooth Sating Pacing Cup and Allied Express Trotting Cup meeting featuring heats of the Gold Crown was run.
Club Menangle also had a race meeting meeting scheduled for Tuesday the 24th of March, the day after the heats of the Gold Chalice were run at Bathurst, although this competing meeting was subsequently cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Now I have only been following harness racing for 50 years (well 51 actually – Mum took me to opening night at Albion Park in her womb), so perhaps I am mistaken, but I could have sworn that the trainers of some of the horses that ran in the $18 360 Open Pace, the $24 480 Odds and Evens Stakes, and the $30 000 Group 3 Ainsworth Gift were eligible to race in the Bathurst Gold Cup, and might have too if only black type glory and superior prizemoney hadn’t been on offer for the taking just 24 hours later at Menangle.
I am very surprised that the Directors of Club Menangle were able to forget this clash of dates with Bathurst, given that one of the Directors making the decision to knock Nutrien back on the basis of non-competition with a competing club is Mr G.J. Campbell OAM, the Executive Chairman of Ainsworth Game Technology, the sponsor of the Group 3 Gift (and also of course the supplier of poker machines to Club Menangle and its myriad of associated companies).
In fact, I was there on the night cheering Belle of Montana’s stable mate Havtime home in the Ladyship Pace, and have a vague memory that Mr Campbell may even have presented the trophy to connections of Molly Kelly, the winner of the Group 3.
Club Menangle remains committed to supporting the Bathurst Gold Crown as the first Group One 2 Year Old race series held in the New South Wales Racing Calendar.
Club Menangle and the Bathurst Harness Racing Club which hosts the Gold Crown series are completely separate entities, with unrelated corporate structures and discrete interests of their own.
The directors of each club carry responsibility for the advancement of their own club and its members, and that club only, and those interests do not include protecting a monopoly over racing or a race series held by the other.
It also a grave corporate offence to promote or practice anti-competitive behaviour, or to participate in cartel-type behaviour designed to ensure a benefit – for example, the hosting of the first Group 1 two-year-old races series in NSW each season – is enjoyed and/or will continue to be enjoyed by the other company.
Of course the comparison made by Menangle between the nascent Nutrien race series and the Gold Crown is trite in any event, as the Nutrien event does not hold Group 1 status, or indeed any Group race status at all.
It also demonstrates the inherent sexism often practiced by the Directors of companies whose boards are comprised predominantly of males. The Bathurst Gold Crown for colts and geldings is not the only Group 1 race run at Bathurst in their carnival week. The Group 1 Bathurst Gold Tiara final for the girls (fillies) is also run on the same night as the Gold Crown.
(the sardonic chauvinist reference to ‘the girls’ is contrived and deliberate, a device designed to illustrate my point).
Nutrien Equine has been again asked to submit potential dates, post April 2022. A number of other requests for information have also been sought from Nutrien Equine.
We not only want to muck Nutrien around by playing ducks and drakes on the dates, but also want to extract confidential information from them for our viewing, and that of the Chairman too, who also happens to Chair the competing sales company APG.
Robert Marshall will of course declare his deep and direct conflict of interest and leave the board room during any and all discussions about Nutrien Equine, because that is what the law demands of him, and our Chairman is a law abiding bloke who deeply respects the Corporations Act, as the minutes of our meeting to discuss the Nutrien series recently will prove.
The minutes that we are sending our admin girl running at a hundred miles an hour to doctor amend now that we have read this article, and thought to ourselves ‘Holy Ms Graham, first name Britt’, we might be in a bit of it ourselves if we don’t get the liquid paper out pronto.
Club Menangle is the premier harness racing track in New South Wales and accordingly it is our desire to conduct any race series of significance at our venue. However, in order for this to occur, the placement of any new series must work in with existing commitments.
If you believe that Club Menangle have any desire to host the Nutrien sale series, or indeed that the directors of the club regard the race series as one of significance, then you simply have rocks in your head.
The opposite is in fact true.
See above re existing commitments.
The lies just get deeper.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I will tell you why in a minute.
As at this time, in the absence of potential dates post April 2022 and the additional information requested by Club Menangle, the harness racing industry should note the Nutrien Equine request currently remains unresolved.
Yes we’ve told them to naff right off. Twice now. But we haven’t quite resolved the issue yet, because holding the reins of power has made us so cocky that it has blinded us to the reality of our legal obligations as a company, and the penalties for failing to meet them.
In our myopic state of ignorant darkness we actually believe that if we act soberly outside the boardroom, and frown and pretend that we are trying our best to assist these people who want to steal our Chairman’s company’s auction sales, then other people will believe that we are trying to accommodate them too.
Stop trying Mr Marshall and company.
The only people you are fooling are yourselves.
And you are making fools of yourselves too.
That I suspect though, is the very least of your worries as the Nutrien lawyers start circling, and ASIC investigators begin opening a brand new file.
Author’s statement – I have no skin in either the Nutrien or APG games, and derive no financial benefit from either organisation, although if one offered the right amount for a PR role or a demolition job on the other I would certainly have to pause to consider it. Right now though, my interest is simply in truth, the trots and cutting through wanton lies. I call it keeping the bastards honest. I’m not sure what the bastards I’m trying to keep honest call it, but I hope they have a swear jar and donation envelope for the Daniel Morecombe Foundation handy when they do.