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STEWARDS STAND DOWN SAM KAVANAGH IN  INTERESTS OF RACING

ROSEHILL trainer Sam Kavanagh has been stood down by Racing NSW stewards and will face an inquiry next month to answer eight charges relating to the use of cobalt and caffeine and the raceday treatment of three horses.

"Stewards formed the opinion that Mr Kavanagh's continued participation in racing might pose an unacceptable risk to, prejudice or undermine the image, interests or integrity of racing," a release from chairman of stewards Ray Murrihy stated.

CHRIS ROOTS reports in the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD that stewards considered submissions put by Anthony Hartnell of Atanaskovic Hartnell Lawyers on Kavanagh's behalf before exercising delegated powers available under AR8(z) to suspended the trainer's licence.

Kavanagh had trained under a cloud for the past couple of months and prepared Tales Of Grimm to win  the Scone Cup last Friday.

He has admitted making misleading statements to stewards before admitting to the raceday treatments to Gosford Cup winner Midsummer Sun before his win on January 9 as well as to Ceda Miss and Palazzo Pubblico, which also won, before the Warwick Farm meeting on January 7. There are mandatory bans related to several of the charges he is facing.

Stewards have gathered information from phones and computers during their investigation,  "in respect to race-day administrations to multiple horses in the Sam Kavanagh stable and the supply of race-day medications to Mr Kavanagh".

They also have "incriminating evidence given by a person interviewed with respect to race-day administrations to multiple horses in the Sam Kavanagh stable".

 Stewards deferred Kavanagh's suspension until Wednesday on the condition that he does not enter, accept for or start a horse in a race or official trial during the seven-day period. Kavanagh was advised of his rights of appeal.

Meanwhile, John McNair will face a stewards inquiry on June 4 into the presence of methylamphetamine and amphetamine in the post-race sample taken from Normandy after it ran fourth  at Newcastle on March 18. Swab samples taken from personnel involved with handling horses at McNair's training base, have all returned negative results.

 

CONFERENCE AN OPPORTUNITY TO PUMP UP THE TYRES OF ‘LITTLE KING KEV’

JOHN O’BRIEN of BRISBANE sent this interesting email:

‘RACING Queensland hosts the Australian Racing Conference this week and there is one thing you can count on – supporters of the under siege local All Codes Board Chairman will be doing their best to pump up his quickly deflating tyres.

With the national spotlight on the Sunshine State – where racing politics degenerate from terrible one day to horrific the next – there will no doubt be a plan in place to ensure ‘little King Kev’ secures as much positive exposure as possible.

After all he is being anointed as the successor to Racing Australia chairman John Messara, another breeder, when his term expires next year. Unfortunately, by then the ‘apolitical’ boss of everything racing in Queensland may have been put out to pasture by the new Labor Government.

In his welcome message to conference delegates, Kevin Dixon says:

‘Racing Queensland’s strategic direction is centered on creating a compelling racing product to drive participation in the sport of racing and engage with a new audience of race goers and punters to drive attendances and wagering interest. This is a challenge for any sport and is one we are excited to be tackling.

With that in mind, the caliber of our keynote speakers for this year’s conference is astounding and collectively, as an industry, I’m sure we will all take away some useful insights from their presentations.’

WOW – what a load of garbage – the new audience of race goers obviously missed the bus to Doomben for the first big meeting of the carnival there. Only 6,000 turned out – most disappointing indeed for the restructured fixture – especially, as someone so succinctly pointed out they get tens of thousands to a Broncos’ home game in Brisbane on any given day or night, regardless of the opposition for the leisure dollar.

And as for the wagering interest – well punters large and small still steer well clear of betting on the Queensland product, largely because of the massive upsets, the poor performance of many favorites and a general lack of confidence in policing of the racing.

As for the caliber of the keynote speakers for the conference which the little King described as astounding, well I’ll let you be the judge in a couple of areas there.

One session focuses on ‘The Future of the Wagering Landscape’ where two of the main questions for discussion will be:

· HOW does racing ensure that thoroughbred racing remains the wagering product of choice for wagering customers?

· DOES the racing product need to change to retain existing customers and attract new ones?

Perhaps they could be addressed firstly to Gerard Daffy, Media Manager for UBET, which has received so much positive publicity from their form guide stable-mates at The Courier-Mail in recent times.

Daffy might like to explain why it takes UBET so much longer to post Fixed Odds markets compared to the bigger and more popular operators. He might also like to explain why so many former RQ employees are now working as market framers (one might question their credentials) at UBET. And why, as recently as last week, a greyhound owner invested $200 each-way on his dog which won at healthy Fixed Odds only to discover he had been paid the odds to $20 each-way (without being told the bet had been reduced) and when he tried to telephone to find out why he was put on hold for so long that he finally hung up.

Then we have a session on ‘Breeding’ facilitated by Radio TAB race-caller David Fowler. He’s the bloke that regularly interviews little King Kev on his show (the Monday Arse-lickers some call it) and asks him all the feel-good questions while they back slap each other about what a wonderful job RQ is doing under Dixon’s leadership. It’s finger down the throat stuff but rewards where they are due and Fowler bobs up with a Conference gig.

His panel includes Vin Cox from Magic Millions. Wonder if Fowler or someone will be prepared to ask him how many millions racing in Queensland is contributing to their ‘big day’ at the Gold Coast next January and in future years.

Perhaps he might also like to ask Breeders’ Association boss Basil Nolan if he thinks his group will suffer when a breeder with common interests is shown the door at RQ and replaced by someone driven by more independence as Chairman and how much bleating he will be doing if that happens.

No doubt the overwhelming panel response to the first question on the discussion list: ‘What are the critical issues for the breeding industry?’ will be unanimous – appoint more breeders to key positions running racing.

Another session facilitated by Fowler – he is going to be busy at Conference (little time to get King Kev some sandwiches and a cold one) – involves ‘the issues facing racing administrators’.

Hope they have plenty of time here as one of the panel members is Darren Condon, CEO of Racing Queensland – given a free rein he could probably speak for a week about the pitfalls of loyalty from certain colleagues and the outrageous suggestion that a high profile integrity head is being groomed by the current hierarchy to replace him, not to mention the on-going saga of the ‘live baiting’ dramas and what is happening at the Commission of Inquiry.

When the conference draws to a close and the shuttle buses leave the CBD with many weary and hung over delegates heading to 10,000 day at Doomben the heavy equipment can move in to the Sofitel to empty many loads of bulldust that will have been spoken over the past two days – but chances are the delegates will return to do it all again next time and the back slapping will be repeated over and over again.’

 

POLICE RAID GOLD COAST OFFICES OF OFFSHORE BOOKMAKER BETJACK

POLICE have raided an offshore bookmaker suspected of owing millions of dollars to some of the country's biggest punters and who has links to Melbourne gangland figures Mick Gatto and Tony Mokbel.

NINO BUCCI, PATRICK BARTLEY & NICK McKENZIE report in THE AGE that properties connected to Vanuatu-based bookmaker Betjack were raided on the Gold Coast on May 7, but the company has continued to offer odds at race meetings across Australia.

Queensland detectives swooped on three betting companies, but have laid charges only in relation to one bookmaker, who allegedly defrauded about $450,000 from 19 victims in Queensland, NSW and the Northern Territory.

The raids targeted "boiler room" schemes – companies that exist for only a short period of time before being dismantled and re-established under different names. It is not believed the companies were linked.

Computers and financial records were seized from Betjack, which has been the subject of dozens of complaints from punters across Australia. The company operates a Gold Coast call centre.

It is believed police are investigating whether an associate of  jailed drug lord Mokbel, Jack Doumani, had taken over the business from Ben Joyner, a convicted criminal. 

Mokbel, Mr Gatto and John Khoury, his long-time business partner, are believed to have taken over the company and made Mr Doumani manager.

Mr Gatto denied to Fairfax Media that he was involved in Betjack, but said he knew that Mr Doumani operated the business. He would not comment on whether he had spoken to Mr Doumani since the raid.

Mr Gatto was also reportedly investigated over links to Betjack in 2013.

"Keep me out of it," he said.

In 2008, Mr Doumani was banned from holding a Victorian liquor licence for 15 years over his involvement with the Red Lion Hotel in Kilmore, a venue owned by Mokbel's estranged wife, Carmel.

In 1999, he was co-owner of a $100,000 racehorse, Danislew, originally bought for Mokbel.

Mr Joyner has previously been investigated over boasts he had information about the infamous 2013 All Aged Stakes, the Sydney race that led to a NSW stewards inquiry and a highly publicised spat between trainer Gai Waterhouse and John Singleton, owner of More Joyous.

More Joyous had been the favourite but lost under an injury cloud. It was alleged some punters were informed of this before the race who subsequently won big money backing others to win.

Mr Joyner has also reportedly claimed to have leaked information from jockeys about upcoming races to punters, who went on to win hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Racing authorities across south-east Asia have been deeply concerned about the existence of offshore betting companies, as they do not pay tax and cannot be reprimanded by the host industry.

Professional punters who were lured into gambling with Betjack believe now it was nothing more than a rogue gambling outfit with deep criminal undercurrents.

One punter told Fairfax Media that he was owed $700,000 and knew of another million dollars in gambling debts that Betjack owes.

"They were a frightening outfit. The moment you owed them, there would be a thug that would kick your door in and I'm just talking 24 hours after the money was lost.

"But in my case, I was owed $700,000 and was told: 'If you don't want your head blown off, keep your mouth shut'.

"They revelled in intimidation and were known Australian-wide as a con operation that would cold-call punters to put money into their account and that's the last you would see of it.

"In Sydney, I'm told that a winning punter was threatened with severe injuries if he told the police what was happening inside the Betjack operation."

Fairfax Media reported in September that Racing Victoria had started an investigation into Betjack, which had been accused of fleecing punters across the state.

Racing Victoria chief executive Bernard Saundry said this week that the organisation had received complaints about Betjack that had been referred to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

The company had refused demands to comply with Racing Victoria's race fields policy, it has been alleged.

"Punters electing to bet with unapproved offshore bookmakers are not only transacting with a business which is undermining the racing industry by paying no race-field fees, but they may risk doing their money cold," Mr Saundry said.

Punters are lured to Betjack through cold-calling and the offer of up to $5000 in free bets – which is illegal in Victoria.

However, winners complained that withdrawing their winnings was slow or sometimes impossible.

It is believed punters at a Melbourne golf club were owed up to $150,000, which they have been trying to recover without success.

Another punter allegedly lodged $50,000 in his Betjack account, which after a winning streak swelled to $250,000. Unable to withdraw the whole amount, he was eventually paid back his original $50,000 and told never to bet with Betjack again.

It is also speculated that companies such as Betjack cannot be charged for not paying the winnings of gamblers because it is thought unlikely those bets were ever placed. For example, a punter who wagers $100 on a 2/1 bet and wins, but cannot get their $200 winnings or $100 original stake from the offshore bookie, is considered to have been defrauded only $100 – not $300. 

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay, from the Queensland police fraud and cyber crime group, said the man charged after the raids had allegedly operated the gaming website from January 2008 to April 2012.

John Robert Hanneman, a 54-year-old from the Gold Coast suburb of Southport, is facing fraud charges and will face court in June.

In 2012, it was reported that NSW police suspected that International Sports Online, or other betting websites linked to Mr Hanneman, had netted up to $4 million.

Detective Superintendent Hay said punters were allegedly invited to enter a contract with the websites, which promised them high returns. The victims allegedly transferred money into a bank account, and the company claimed the funds would be used to bet on national and international sporting events.

"After contact from telemarketers, the complainants were then contacted by sales staff who often worked quite aggressively to encourage further investment and suggested they invest in very tight timeframes or risk missing out," Detective Superintendent Hay said.

"Investments were allegedly never made and when victims tried to retrieve money, the accounts were wiped.

"Phone calls were left unanswered and companies disappeared."

Mr Hanneman is reported as having said in 2012 that he had not been operating the websites.

"I'm telling you mate, I've been stitched up big time," he said. "I do marketing for these people. That's as far as I go."

 

NEW GOALS FOR LETSGOHORSERACING WEBSITE

THE aim of LETSGOHORSERACING when first established was a non-profit website designed to be different to the hundreds of other racing websites operating throughout the world. Nothing has changed on that front except that our emphasis has been on feedback. We listened to what you wanted and learned that racing stakeholders, punters and followers were keen to HAVE THEIR SAY. This was reflected in the response to the WEDNESDAY WHINGE which has seen the popularity of this web site (through hits) soar to incredible heights. It has also drawn detractors from within the industry - especially in Queensland - from officials who aren't used to having the job they do put under the microscope which has rarely happened for many years in the mainstream racing media. Websites like ours and justracing have got up the nose of officials at RQ and will continue to do so. Despite legal intimidation which we are told is aimed at closing us down or intimidating us into refusing to follow up controversial issues letsgohorseracing and the Wednesday Whinge are here to stay. But that means increasing costs to fight these legal threats, improve the quality of our website and to overcome that we are now accepting advertising and have decided to pursue a LETSHORSEHORSERACING LATE MAIL SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE. It's unique, it's different, it's affordable. YOU CAN SUBSCRIBE NOW.

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'SILKS AND SADDLES' with TERRY BUTTS 

SILKS & SADDLES is a popular weekly column written by respected racing writer TERRY BUTTS that we run courtesy of one of Australia’s leading rural newspapers, the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER. Butts is an old-style racing journalist who shoots from the hip and takes no prisoners. He resents the 'suck-up and survive' mentality of some of the new breed of racing journalists in the print and broadcast media. 

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