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MY CALL: TO BORROW AN OLD EXPRESSION, 'A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS A DANGEROUS THING'

By David Fowler | Tuesday, October 16, 2018

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB. David, who is a keen form student and punter, has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in the racing media. His personal blog, ‘My Call’, appears exclusively on HRO.

I’ve seen “history repeating itself” when non-racing media people write about or commentate on the industry.

Generally, they will only dip their toes in the racing waters when they deem them to be choppy or rough. In other words, a big ticket item that attracts interest outside of the converted.

They can’t resist the bait and overnight become self-appointed knowledge tsars on what is a unique business.

And that’s where their troubles begin time and time again.

Reporting can range from mildly embarrassing to downright cringeworthy.

To borrow an old but valuable expression, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

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The Alan Jones / Opera House / barrier draw bushfire is an excellent case in point.

Before going any further, it’s worth putting on the table if Alan Jones wasn’t a central figure in all of this, it’s media prominence would be considerably less.

The hatred and/or jealousy of Jones is palpable. That’s not a personal judgement but a statement.

Yes, his interview with Opera House CEO Louise Herron was tense but not ground-breaking. We’ve heard this sort of encounter many times previously.

The claim of misogyny on Jones’ part was tiredly predictable. Don’t you think the same delivery would have been offered if it was a man?

But Fairfax media who has led an hysterical response on this Opera House issue had to dig deeper.

Another angle to skewer Jones.

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So began the suggestions of the link to the Herron interview and Jones pushing The Everest barrel to cultivate or enhance his racing interests.

Cue “history repeating itself”.

Fairfax’s “investigative” reporters Patrick Begley and Kate MyClymont proceeded to produce a grab bag of facts about Jones’ racing interests and connections that should raise an eyebrow.

It was pathetic stuff.

Jones had business connections with Godolphin and Arrowfield Group who had Everest runners.

Yes, so?

Jones, as a part-owner of stallion Snitzel, stood to make a financial windfall out of the success of Redzel and runner up Trapeze Artist.

How is that Jones’ fault?

Jones has had racing interests long before The Everest, well declared, and they bear no connection with his push to have the barrier draw displayed on the Opera House sails.

Begley went even further, lamely suggesting a Jones’ horse Showtime could have been an Everest contender. Cue “little knowledge etc etc.

But because these stories come under bylines of repute, certainly in McClymont’s case, non racing people do indeed raise the proverbial eyebrow.

Those with an understanding of the business just shake their head.

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But the lack of racing knowledge and misrepresentations extended further than Jones.

Social media provided innumerable hissy fits about advertising, promoting gambling, and even showing the race on the Opera House sails.

Most, if not totally incorrect on occasions, were certainly misleading and, yet again, based on a wafer-thin knowledge of the racing industry.

But the proof is always in the pudding and on this occasion the “weekend racing experts” served up a poor dish.

More people attended Everest 2018 and more money was bet compared to 2017.

I appreciate and understand politics, for example, but don’t write about it because I’m knowledge shy on the mechanics of the business.

Like many, I wish more important media people than myself could adopt the same philosophy when a racing matter lands on their desk.

Or, maybe their appetite wouldn’t be as ferocious if Alan Jones wasn’t involved.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
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