2022-07-22 09:17:38 By : Ms. NANA WU

Melbourne appreciates itself (no one else will) for its ostensible cultural superiority over Sydney, much of which seems to relate to the southern capital’s alleged prowess in major events.

Nothing screams cosmopolitan metropolis like Eddie McGuire suggesting the King Kong musical in Melbourne invite Adam Goodes to open the event (for which McGuire later apologised) or his joke about drowning football journalist Caroline Wilson in an MCG ice bath (for which McGuire later apologised).

MRC chairman Peter Le Grand is retiring, or not retiring. Either one.  Paul Jeffers

To say nothing of the Melbourne Cup. The mark of any great global city, undoubtedly, is a public holiday devoted to shooting injured horses behind a tarpaulin.

Speaking of flogging dead horses, there’s the continuing board split at the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) over the tenure of chairman Peter Le Grand. Late last year, he flagged his retirement for March before telling a committee room in February he’d stay until late this year.

The MRC runs Caulfield Racecourse, Mornington Racing Club and Ladbrokes Park (Sandown), and aims to be “the best and most progressive racing club in the world, conducting ourselves in a socially responsible way”.

Which may be why chins in the Victorian racing community were wagging faster than a dog’s tail over a recent incident at the Caulfield Racecourse pokies barn, the Glasshouse.

It was there that Tim Guille, representing the Mornington Advisory Group on the Melbourne Racing Club board, was accosted by a drunken man who demanded Guille buy him a beer. After the impolite request was rejected, the man – apparently unknown to Guille – got physical, to the point where he had to be removed by security.

We’re told Guille handled the situation professionally. Which is what you’d expect, given he’s head of people and culture at Betfair Australia.

Nevertheless, Le Grand is concerned that forces against him are using the incident (the security camera footage of which was reviewed) as a means to hasten his departure. Guille, a key ally of Le Grand, also seems to lack robust support among the board, though he appears to have done nothing wrong in the circumstances.

The broader inertia affecting the MRC isn’t helped by the 10-person committee – which includes Australian Unity’s Mark Pratt, VicSuper director Patricia Faulkner and former Minters lawyer Roger Donazzan – failing to agree on an incoming chairman in either non-executive director Matt Cain or transport executive Scott Davidson.

And Le Grand, a justice of the peace for more than four decades, seems perennially unable to prevent the outbreak of war.

He’s already (figuratively) punched on with Daniel Andrews’ retiring Racing Minister, Martin Pakula, about the decision to move the 2021 AFL grand final to Perth. When Le Grand called the relocation a “disgrace”, he received a call from Pakula (a favourite of NSW Racing boss Peter V’landys) telling him never to ask for help again.

Le Grand also offended Racing Victoria chairman Brian Kruger by labelling his agency as “gutless” and “weak” when his proposal to overhaul the spring carnival was rejected.

How would you expect a titan of the horse racing industry to feel when the Andrews government made it easier to visit a brothel than the Caulfield Reserve?

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