Retiring racecaller Alan Thomas calls on Queensland politicians to get to the track
RETIRING racecaller Alan Thomas has called for Queensland politicians to show their faces at the races to get a first-hand understanding of the problems confronting the sport.
The golden voice of Queensland Racing believes one of the main issues confronting the code is no-one in racing seems to have the ear of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Thomas points to how the political connections of Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys and chairman John Messara are getting things done with prizemoney increases and tax relief in that state.
“Racing Queensland has simply got to have someone who has got an ear to the Premier,” Thomas says.
“I am sure (interim administrator) Ian Hall is doing the best job he can under the circumstances.
“But we need a gun chairman, a gun CEO and a gun board and more importantly someone high up in racing who has a line to the Premier.
“In the old days you used to come to the races, if the Labor Party were in Government, you would get (former Racing Minister) Bob Gibbs at the races.
“You could say ‘Bobby we’ve got a problem’, he would have a talk to (former Premier) Wayne Goss and get it fixed.
“Further back in time when Russ Hinze was the Racing Minister, he could have a talk to Sir Joh and get things over the line.”
One of the many frustrations of the Queensland Racing industry — which is bracing for an announcement of prizemoney cutbacks in the next fortnight — is there is a disconnect between participants and politicians.
No other sport is tied so heavily to the fate of Governments, but Thomas cannot remember the last time he saw a high-ranking politician at a Saturday race meeting.
“In a state sense, I cannot remember the last politician I saw at the races who was here because they are genuinely interested,” Thomas said.
Thomas, who will retire on Boxing Day after 43 years of broadcasting, believes that racing must move with modern times or it will continue to struggle.
He has loved cricket’s experiment with the pink ball, day-night Test and insists racing must look at new innovations.
“Night racing is going to be the future — if you have it in right areas programmed and marketed correctly,’’ he says.
“Test cricket is now trying to get into a space when people don’t need to take time off work to go to the sport.
“Racing must look at different ways of doing things and I think trying to stage more races at night is one way forward.”
Story courtesy Ben Dorries Brisbane Courier Mail