Day At The Track

Not the media's best day

07:55 AM 06 Jan 2016 NZDT
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It is really frustrating at times to be involved in harness racing.

You spend the whole year trying to build up the image of harness racing with the wider community and then a couple of misguided articles go viral and the industry has to put up with the media circus that has been the Blair Orange saga over the last few days.

Blair made a misjudgement on New Years Day and has paid dearly for it.

The upside is he has been dealt with by both the RIU and the JCA involved in this case in a professional and competent manner.

All the others tested that day had been out the night before in the same group as Blair which they see as a bit strange as the testing is meant to be random.

They all tested negative except Blair due in no small part in to the fact he is barely 60 kg in the view of those drinking with him.

Blair has done what he did on New Years day countless times before and has always come up negative when tested the next day.

He was as shocked as anyone else by the reading he returned at Omakau.

The coverage given the matter by the main stream media is not something they should be proud of.

It turned a mistake by one of our leading reinsman into a media storm which became the second leading item on both the TV1 and TV3 news that night.

The tone of the items was very negative and did a lot of damage to the image of harness racing.

Yesterday they had a second bite of the cherry, again raking over the coals of the case after a couple of follow up articles in the main stream media about the case.

All of those articles were written by Taylor Strong, a vastly experienced journalist but in this instance he seems to have completely lost his bearings.

Apart from a few comments recorded second hand at the penalty hearing, there is no where in the articles that Taylor Strong had written, any comment from either Blair Orange or anyone else associated with him.

Two of the articles gave the distinct impression this was a serious judicial matter when in reality it is not classified as a serious racing offence by the RIU or JCA.

Impartiality is the cornerstone of being a journalist and Taylor Strong's effort here falls well short of what is expected. 

Sensational headlines like "Failed breath test lands Orange in hot water" just added petrol to the fire and are unworthy of such an experienced journalist.

As in all cases such as this there is no free lunch.

Taylor Strong needs drivers, trainers and owners to trust him when they speak to him and his performance over the last few days has put a huge question mark beside his name according to the people we have spoken to in the last 48 hours.

He has a lot of bridges to mend in the next few weeks or he may find himself interviewing his typewriter a lot more in the near future.



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