Hoax Speeches

One of the lesser known presentations Tim does, for obvious reasons, is Hoax Speeches. Tim is assigned a character to play by the client – a personality that “should” be well known by the attendees at the event – and Tim does his research and creates this very believable speaker.

One very memorable presentation he gave was to Racing Victoria in 2012 in the character of Mr Simon Withers. The character’s bio was so well created that apparently some guests were contacting racing organisations in other countries trying to get some more background on Mr Withers.

In order to create maximum shock value, Tim decided that instead of trying to cover up the recent betting scandal that had left Racing Victoria in disrepute (see here), Simon Withers would admit and embrace the wrongdoings.

You can imagine the gradual transformations from smiling faces to utter shock as the speech progressed… until the final moment that Simon demonstrated a “betting game” that evolved into a magic trick and then.. the penny dropped.

For your amusement, here is a copy of the speech Tim wrote for Simon:

(The real people mentioned in the script: ROB HINE – Racing Victoria Chief, BERNARD SAUNDRY – Racing Victoria Chief Executive, DENNIS NAPTHINE – Victorian Racing Minister,KEN LAY – Victorian Chief Commissioner of Police, PETER V’LANDYS – Racing NSW Chief Executive, PETER McGAURAN – Australian Racing Board Boss)

“My name is Simon Withers, Deputy Under Secretary for Racing Affairs from Denis Napthine’s office.

To give you a little background I was with Telstra for three years heading up the Quality Assurance Team, and before that at the National Australia Bank in Developmental Consultancy.

I’ve been involved in racing on and off for the last 20 years including my recent work with Phil A’Vard with Victoria Greyhound Racing so, with my combination of on the ground knowledge and corporate affairs I moved quite easily into the Racing arena last year.

What I’ve been called on to speak about today are the exciting new changes that my office, in co-operation with Racing Victoria, have recently implemented to prevent anything or anyone for that matter, compromising the integrity of our great sport.

As some of you might be unfamiliar with the structure of Racing Victoria, I think its best that I start at the top. Rob Hines, a name you should be familiar with, is the Chief of Racing Victoria. He pretty much rules the roost, no matter what Dennis might like to think. You’ll also hear a lot in the press from Bernard Saundry, Racing Victoria’s Chief Executive Officer, but he’s very much a figurehead. Everything he says, I write. Its Rob Hines who really knows what’s what.

Now recently there was a beat up in the press about Damien Oliver. You probably don’t recall but somebody inside the industry, who I won’t name, reported that Oliver had allegedly placed a bet via a third party on a rival horse way back in 2010. Now Oliver allegedly admitted to placing the bet, but it was only $10,000 and, although it was before my time working in the industry, I was asked by Dennis what should be done to punish him for this misdemeanour.

First of all, as I said to Dennis, where in the rules of conduct does it say that it’s illegal for a jockey to place a bet? Especially through a third party? Everyone assumes it’s in there but I can assure you that it’s not. What Oliver did was simply common sense. I can give you a list of literally hundreds of jockeys who’ve done the same thing – in fact I was talking to one just last week while he was placing a bet.

If you win the race, you get a payday. But, if you bet on a rival and he wins, you still get a payday. Sometimes even more than you would have got had you actually won the race! It’s only good business.

But, unfortunately, due to the media beat-up and the alleged scandal, I was put in the unenviable position of having to determine how Oliver should be punished.

I came under tremendous pressure from my counterparts in the NSW Racing Board who are introducing 10 year jail terms for sports betting offences. But honestly, what good does putting Oliver behind bars for ten years do anyone? Ridiculous! After intensive discussion with Oliver’s agents I came up with a ten month ban on any riding for Racing Victoria – with the exception of this year’s Spring Carnival of course. That way, he’s cleared and ready to race again for the 2013 Spring Carnival.

As Dennis said, “Oliver is a national treasure and the Cup wouldn’t be the same without him”

On the other hand you may have read about the Smoking Aces scandal earlier this year. (See here) Danny Nikolic, a mid level jockey or jockette as we like to call them, allegedly paid kickbacks to a third party to fix a race. He allegedly paid another jockey $5000 to manipulate a race in Cranbourne in April last year. Well, he won the race anyway so there goes that allegation out the window.

Anyway, Dennis made an announcement saying “the Government is ready to introduce new laws if police, racing industry bodies or others in the industry identified a need for change.”

Obviously we have thoroughly looked at the Aces allegations and found them to be completely without merit, however the police still have an ongoing investigation which seems to have become a ‘trial by media’ witch hunt.

The press expressed outrage that Nikolic was still riding six times a week. In the end, just to quiet the storm, I was again called in and asked to come up with a solution. I recommended Nikolic be given 10 weeks community service at Flemington which he’ll be starting in January. Thankfully, that has shut the gate before the horse has bolted if you’ll pardon the pun.

Essentially, that’s what my role is. I am the mysterious “mr x.” The man who steps in and solves the problems that seem too big for everyone else.

That’s why I announced, two weeks ago, the addition of two members to the Racing Victoria Compliance Assurance Team. This team is responsible for overseeing investigations, stable raids, bet monitoring and out-of-competition testing.

We want to create a level playing field for everyone and protect the integrity of our sport.

The main areas our team will be targeting are stomach tubing and the administration of alkalising agents within 24 hours of a race. This sort of thing can give some horses a distinct advantage

Now we all know there are many other performance enhancing drugs that can be administered within 48 hours in advance of a big race that will deliver as good if not better results. But the bottom line is that we are appearing to give the race goers the appearance of transparency.

Paul Sequenzia will be supervising the administration of drugs, while his colleague, Mr Charlie Norris, is our second new team member – he will be looking into any allegations of unfair betting.

Charlie (or Chuck as we like to call him) has a tremendous background in this sort of thing and previous was possibly one of Australia’s greatest bookmakers until his retirement in 2010.

I’d like to show you a bet that Charlie made with me when I first met him in Young and Jackson’s five years ago…”

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