Ride guide - but not for owners

Dec 01, 2016

It has been a volatile couple of weeks for racing in Victoria but none more so for owners as the furore caused by the jockey inspired Ride Guide which was broadcast nationally on July 16 and just as quickly quashed by the Vic and NSW Stewards last week. Ride Guide in summary, has jockeys giving general and sometimes specific information to customers of Corporate Bookmaker Ladbrokes - for payment.

What seems to have been mainly lost in the discussions so far is the position of the Owner. Jockeys riding trackwork are paid for their services and although I am only a bush lawyer, this payment in fact creates a contract between trainer and rider and by extension because ultimately the fee is paid by the owner, the owner becomes a third party to the agreement. Like any contract between employer and employee, there is the matter of Intellectual Property gleaned during the term of the contract and the subsequent privacy of this information. We do have to acknowledge of course the difference between general and specific information being handed out but where one finishes and the other starts can be somewhat cloudy. Will this eventually just then become a thinly-veiled tipping service - giving rise to shades of the Chris Munce episode in Hong Kong of a few years ago! In the case of Ride Guide, the passing on of information to the public at large discussed between trainer and jockey is fraught with danger. The fact of life is that the Owner and Trainer pay the bills and are entitled to be protected by the law. The IP created needs to be preserved.

A major discussion point also seems to be the sale of this information via a Company set up by the Jockeys to co-ordinate the venture. Whilst no-one can have any problem with jockeys seeking to increase their income, it surely can't be done using the IP belonging in part to someone else. The Stewards have instantly taken a hard line saying among other things, that the fact that a Bookmaker is actually paying the Jockeys is a bad look for the Industry and will lead to a loss of confidence in the Industry. I would have thought this is a given. Do we need any more bad press at the moment?

This whole episode seems to have been created without due process as obviously the Racing Authorities and the Owner organisations knew nothing about it. No doubt, there is a lot of water to go under the bridge for it to go any further and probably as usual, the Legal Eagles will be the biggest winners. We would urge all owners to think about the ramifications of something like this project as it may be the embryo of other ideas that could also affect our place in the structure of the Industry.