Remember when Peter V’Landys was just the Chief Executive of Racing New South Wales?Yes, that seems like a couple of centuries ago. How times have changed.

Today, “PVL”, as he is commonly referred to, is the human headline of choice in his beloved New South Wales. He might as well come out of the closet and fess up that he is in fact running NSW.

When appointed to the NRL Board which runs NSW Rugby League, it was always a fait accompli that PVL would assume the role of Chairman. Board members just make up the numbers and collect their board fees. But Chairmen, and ambitious ones at that, are very different beasts. And Chairman did he become. No coup d’etat needed, just a seamless transition. He didn’t even have to give up his “other” job as the “supreme ruler” of NSW racing.

As for the naysayers in NSW football and racing, who doubted he could do both jobs without any semblance of conflict of interest, PVL did what has become his trademark – proving doubters and detractors hopelessly wrong, and crushing any potential threats and opponents. It’s turned one party rule into an art form.

But let’s be fair and give him the accolades he deserves. Like him or loathe him, PVL is a go-getter. Like Trump, he has taken on the racing and football establishments, and with a compliant and fornicating News Corp media empire, has almost turned into a deity.

Untouchable, unassailable and with an approval rating, if it was ever measured, going right through the richter scale, he has arguably rescued NSW racing and the Rugby League.

Both were literally on their knees with the last rites not far from being administered. Both sports had a very amateurish, bureaucratic and hopelessly inefficient management and administrative structure.

Incompetence was a common thread in the DNA of both sports until the knight in shining armour arrived. There was no Lady Godiva to keep him company on his striking white steed. Just the man delivering all the answers.

Take a look at NSW Racing: the old AJC and STC, the two metropolitan race clubs, are now a distant memory consigned to the scrap heap of racing history. Ditto their Committees and the old guard famous for their Committee lunches at Randwick and Rosehill, commonly referred to as lunches with the “living dead”.

The merged Australian Turf Club (ATC), today, plays its tokenistic role well. It dares not take him on. Like any top class cricketer, he has the runs on the scoreboard.

The Racing CV keeps growing- from famously taking on the corporate bookmakers and winning the vexed and game changing battle over product fees to introducing the Everest. What do you think, Carmel?

Whether a mountain climbing fan or not, it took massive gonads to pinch the ill-fated Pegasus concept from the Americans, tweak it and give NSW racing a race and event to revive and build interest in racing which it so desperately needed.

Rugby League in NSW, like Racing, was in dire straits. The NRL was one of the most bloated sports administrations in the country. Financially, its costs resembled those of a bureaucratic public service department.

When Covid hit and broadcast rights deals were teetering, the NRL was facing a financial Armageddon. And who best to take on the “Mr Fixit” role and also take the scalpel to NRL HQ and to the clubs, but the one man with the track record for doing just that – PVL.

It was done with little more than a whimper of dissent. The NRL season was revived and resurrected, the broadcast deals were back on track and PVL’s role as the messiah of both racing and football entrenched. Who was there to take him on? And what for?

But does a leopard ever change his spots? Watching the podium at the NRL Grand Final last weekend and listening to the various speakers fawning over the saviour of the NRL was both instructive and revealing. And reading some of the News Corp headlines, it was clear. Hubris is like that famous line in Hotel California : “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”.

Across the border in the Covid lockdown state of Victoria, the contrast could not be more stark and defining.

The governing body Racing Victoria has also won accolades and respect for keeping racing going during the darkest hours, days, weeks and months of Covid 19. But that’s where the commonality ends between the two States.

Victoria and NSW have always been different. They even race in opposite directions – clockwise and anti-clockwise- just to amplify those differences. PVL and Giles Thompson, the Racing Victoria Chief Executive, are chalk and cheese. No yin and yang here. Not even a curry puff or a tasty toastie.

Thompson is a dour individual. He’s a genteel bean counting risk-averse Englishman who continues to let the inmates (Clubs) run the Victorian racing industry asylum. He’s not exactly Mr Excitement. Is it any wonder that Victorian racing presents itself in a constant state of dysfunctional flux?

Victorian racing is a racing editor’s dream. It is a never-ending fertile source of negative, unnecessary and unwanted headlines and scandals. It is the gift that keeps giving to a largely lazy, inept and poorly educated racing media. Much more on this soon.

Unlike NSW, where News Corp has a very cosy financial deal with Racing NSW which embargoes criticism of both Racing NSW and its leadership, Racing Victoria and Victorian racing is open season.

It will be even more vulnerable to the blow torch now that News Corp has taken over Racenet.

Expect the Racenet team and some of their feature columnists headed by that intellectual colossus- Richard Callandar replete with new makeover and amazing personality change- to put the Goodfellas type boot right into racing and its administrators in the lockdown state.

Callandar, whom many thought would never get another byline in the Australian racing media, is back bigger than his own massive frame with even an on-camera role with Sky.

The questions being asked in NSW racing circles is how did Ritchie boy land this new role of token golden boy? Was it after a “kiss and make up” bromance behind the tool shed with his arch adversary in a previous life?

Meanwhile, if there was any doubt as to who pulls the strings when it comes to influencing that archaic bureaucratic commercial wagering enterprise called Tabcorp, let those doubts be put to bed. Permanently.

#PeterVlandys #RNSW #GilesThompson #RacingVictoria #RitchieCallander #Racenet #NRL #horseracing