The long disquiet within the Victorian racing industry has erupted into outright warfare after Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association (TROA) Chairman Jonathan Munz’s call for Racing Victoria CEO Andrew Jones to be sacked in an extraordinary broadside directed at the executive and board.

Munz’s latest and most direct statement against Racing Victoria was prompted by the announcement of a new one per cent levy on prizemoney on the eve of Christmas.

RV announced on Friday that would introduce a subsidy scheme for 30 per cent of any rise in workcover fees for trainers. It would be set at one per cent of prizemoney for the next two years, costing around $3 million a year.

WorkCover subsidy scheme to ease financial burden on Victorian trainers
An additional 1 per cent levy on prizemoney will fund a Racing Victoria subsidy scheme aimed at reducing WorkCover expenses for trainers.

In a press release sent out late on Wednesday, Munz called for immediate board and management change at Racing Victoria, with demands the new levy be scrapped and the $3 million cost be subsidised by internal savings.

“TROA wants to support trainers in these areas, but the money needs to come from RVL’s general budget and not taken out of the pockets of owners,” Munz said in the statement.

Munz has made no secret of his disdain for the performance of current management and board of Racing Victoria, but has never publicly called for the sacking of Jones before.

However, the decision of RV to announce the prizemoney levy on the eve of Christmas has seen him raise the stakes in his war of words with the RV management and board.   

“There is supposedly at least $10 million of spending wastage that can be saved in the existing RVL general budget and another $10 million of cost savings available from inefficiencies in the integrated media business, which includes Start there please,” he said.

Munz claimed that there was already a lack of transparency from Racing Victoria on the two per cent levy taken from prizemoney for horse welfare, while a further one per cent is taken from jockey welfare.

The TROA chairman said Jones “is doing a terrible job and needs to be sacked”.

“There is widespread dissatisfaction across the whole industry with the performance of RVL. Jones is regarded as arrogant, out of touch and lacking racing knowledge and experience,” he said.

Munz also accused RV of pursuing a “misconceived, radical strategy that has alarmed industry investors and participants.”

Munz also reiterated his stance that the Racing Victoria board, which is currently without a chairman, needs a ‘major refresh’.

“They have enabled and encouraged this situation and if anything, are seen as more culpable, given that they appointed and have failed to manage and control Jones and failed to respond to concerns about the damage being done to the industry,” he said.

Munz is part of the advisory committee which is being consulted about the board director position left vacant when chairman Brian Kruger resigned in June.  

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Jones was contacted by The Straight. He chose not to comment directly and pointed to the Racing Victoria response to Munz’s comments, where it defended the new levy, saying it was broadly in line with what has occurred interstate.   

“There is nothing new in Mr Munz’s comments. He continues to misunderstand that there is one pool of funds and all expenses are paid from that pool,” RV acting chairman Mike Hirst said.

“At a time where trainers are doing it hard the Board has decided to temporarily reallocate some of that pool whilst also cutting RVL expenditure.

“The majority of reasonable owners are happy to support their trainers noting deductions from prizemoney in Victoria are in line with or less than those in other states.”

The latest development comes after a spring carnival beset by rumours of board challenges and political intrigue in Victorian racing.

Racing Victoria has been accused by participant groups of not listening to their concerns and not consulting with them on significant changes. A recent strategy day with those stakeholders raised more questions than answers for those who wre involved, which included a TROA representative.

Problems, not solutions emerge from RV talkfest
This week’s ‘strategy’ meeting in Melbourne has not convinced participants that Racing Victoria will engage with their concerns.

Prior to that a number of the stakeholder groups that are recognised in RV’s constitution - including the Victoria Racing Club, Moonee Valley, and the associations for owners, trainers, breeders and bookmakers - wrote a letter calling for an extraordinary general meeting, to bring about significant change in the boardroom.

However, as The Straight has previously reported, stakeholders were persuaded by the office of Racing Minister Anthony Carbines to wait until the end of the spring carnival before raising their demands for action.