RACING Victoria (RV) is celebrating the increasing engagement, contribution and achievements of women in the thoroughbred racing industry ahead of Saturday's International Women’s Day.
Female participation rates in the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry are at an all-time high and RV has made further growth a key objective in its recently released three-year strategic plan, Racing For The Future. In the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry, women now represent;
· 22% of jockeys (up from 10% in 2004);
· 24% of trainers (up from 19% in 2004); and
· 49% of stable employees;
· whilst 41% of Victorian race clubs are now managed by women.
RV Chief Executive, Bernard Saundry, said the record female participation was pleasing and that it was a fitting time to recognise their contribution to the sport in Victoria.
“Women are now at the forefront of the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry – they are playing an increasingly important role in our sport and we are committed to furthering female participation both on and off the track,” Saundry said.
“Thousands of women across the state are now participating in the sport in a range of vocations such as riders, trainers, strappers, farriers, vets, owners, breeders and administrators. There’s also a strong band of female fans which increases throughout the Spring Racing Carnival.
“It’s been fantastic to see the advancement of women across all areas of racing during the last decade, in particular the increase in our riding ranks, and International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to shine a light on the many females who have contributed to the industry and inspired others through their achievements.”
Victorian jockey ranks have seen the strongest increase in female participation over the last 10 years – with the number of female jockeys doubling to 50 or 22 percent of the state’s riding population.
A record number of females were inducted into RV’s Apprentice Jockey Training Program this year – with six females among the nine inductees – indicating it’s a trend that will continue into the future.
“Over the past decade we have worked hard to ensure the thoroughbred racing industry is an Australian sporting leader in gender equality. It is one of the very few sports where women and men can compete on a level playing field,” Saundry said.
“Racing Victoria is constantly striving to increase engagement in racing and we’re committed to continuing to grow the level of female participation across all areas of the sport.
“From Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Gai Waterhouse to our first year apprentice jockeys, we have females who are inspiring the next generation right across our industry and it’s fitting that we promote and acknowledge their achievements as part of International Women’s Day.”
International Women’s Day coincides with the coveted Super Saturday race meeting at Flemington in which racing’s first lady, Gai Waterhouse, trains the favourite, Emirates Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente, in the $1 million Darley Australian Cup (2000m).
In the day’s co-feature, the $1 million Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m), Cranbourne trainer Nikki Burke is chasing her maiden Group 1 success with Unpretentious, while visiting Sydney jockey Kathy O’Hara – one of five females to ride a Group 1 winner in Australia – will pilot Va Pensiero.
THE More Joyous saga may finally be over, but the ramifications of the case are continuing as Australian racing rulers examine all laws governing the sport.
CHRIS ROOTS reports in the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD that Racing NSW and Racing Victoria have undertaken a review and modernisation of the Australian Rules of Racing as a result of recent high-profile cases that have shown shortfalls in the rule book. "The legal counsel at Racing NSW and Racing Victoria are looking at the rules to modernise and update them at the moment," Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys said.
''They are making recommendations to the Australian Racing Board to bring the rules up to a modern standard, which are being acted on. It is good practice to do so.''
V'landys admitted there was no future in pursuing an appeal against the decision of the Racing Appeals Tribunal in respect to Gai Waterhouse in the More Joyous case on Thursday.
The decision was because of the wording of AR140(a), which Waterhouse was charged under, and the fact it didn't stand up in the courts. "That rule has already been changed," V'landys said. "All we want is for punters to have confidence that they have all the information they need when they are having a bet. That is what that rule was designed to do."
Racing regulators have joined together to carry out a review of the rule book given the changing of society's expectations in the 21st century. "Whenever you are dealing with integrity issues, there will be people looking for loopholes and the review is aimed at removing ambiguities," V'landys said. "We want the rules to be foolproof."
The fact that most big cases end up with lawyers involved has led to the review but stewards still have an important role in drafting new rules.
"Community standards and technology have made changes necessary," V'landys said. "If you look at the whip rules we had to introduce because of what the community expects, they are very clear when it comes to the number of strikes that are allowed. Stewards still do a great job at drafting new rules but our legal counsel gives it a second look to be sure we do not have problems further down the track." The high-profile More Joyous case that rocked Sydney racing last autumn was only part of the reason for the review.
The affair was started by a series of outbursts by the owner of More Joyous, John Singleton, that Tom Waterhouse had information that the mare, trained by his mother, was under an injury cloud in the lead-up to the All Aged Stakes at Randwick on April 27.
The ensuing war of words resulted in Singleton removing all of his horses from Waterhouse's Tulloch Lodge stable.
Waterhouse was fined $5000 for not divulging a neck complaint suffered by the mare in the days before the group 1 race,
The Melbourne Cup-winning trainer subsequently successfully appealed that fine as well as another $2000 fine for not reporting More Joyous had been lame in the week leading into the Queen of the Turf Stakes. ''Racing NSW remains disappointed in the decisions of the Racing Appeals Tribunal as it believes punters should be given as much information as possible,'' V'landys said. ''However, having taken advice from senior counsel, Racing NSW has decided not to appeal. Racing NSW has arrived at this decision taking into consideration matters which will ensure punters receive appropriate information.''
Tom Waterhouse was cleared by stewards during the inquiry but it took Gai Waterhouse 10 months to and two levels of appeal to beat the charges of failing to report the neck problem. While Waterhouse will walk away without a conviction, punter and brothel owner Eddie Hayson is serving a six-month warning off from Racing NSW for not revealing the sources who had told him of More Joyous's injury.
Singleton was fined $15,000 after he pleaded guilty to bringing racing into disrepute in interviews about More Joyous' condition before the All Aged Stakes.
BOB BENTLEY, the former Chairman of Racing Queensland, has denied that his retirement from the Board of Tattersall’s is in any way related to the findings of the recent Commission of Inquiry.
Bentley said he had planned to retire from the Board long before his referral – along with nine others – to ASIC which was recommended by the Inquiry.
Had he been forced to resign in the wake of the Commission findings, Bentley said he would have had to stand down immediately. “That is not the case. I will still be on the Tattersall’s Board until the end of the month.”
The attack in State Parliament by Dr Alex Douglas on Racing Minister Steve Dickson and the state of the industry quoted letsgohorseracing and has prompted suggestions that this website is a mouth-piece for Bentley and his former Board.
Whilst we stand by what we said about the current state of the industry, those critics have short memories. The Bentley Board threatened legal action against letsgohorseracing when it was in power and we were critical of the then Chairman, his Deputy Tony Hanmer and CEO Malcolm Tuttle.
This website is just as off-side with the Kevin Dixon Board which only goes to show that we are not here to promote any side in racing in Queensland but to for the want of better words 'keep the bastard's honest' and protect the interests of those in the industry – especially the punters and the racing public – who, in our opinion, are too often forgotten by the mainstream racing media in their determination to earn Brownie Points with the powers that be.
Here is a Media Release on what Dr Alex Douglas, the Member for Gaven on the Gold Coast, had to say in State Parliament on Tuesday night:
QUEENSLAND horse racing is in dire straits and will become little more than a cottage industry because the Campbell Newman LNP Government is chasing its own political agenda, Member for Gaven, Dr Alex Douglas MP told State Parliament last night.
“Much of the blame lies with the Racing Minister Steve Dickson who does not understand racing to run this industry,” he said.
“Just recently the online letsgohorseracing website wrote that ‘only a minister who is badly informed by industry bosses, departmental advisors or who has no idea of what is going on at the coalface would make some of the outrageous claims of a golden recovery of our racing industry in Queensland’.
“The critical points are that fields have dropped in metropolitan meetings to 70 percent over two years and prize money has not increased to comparable levels even on regional tracks.
“The real needs of all three codes of racing, including throughbred, harness and greyhounds, have been given lip-service by the Campbell Newman LNP Government, while pursuing a base political agenda for its own ends.
“We are seeing every component of our once successful racing industry negatively affected, from the breeders to the jockeys, the clubs and punters.
“Prize money has not been accelerated to anywhere near comparable levels, even on regional tracks in New South Wales, including Ballina and Murwillumbah, while the cost to trainers and owners has continued to rise, sometimes in excess of the costs in other states.
“In the breeding industry, the percentage of mares covered is 35 percent down in the latest year, following the same percentage drop in the previous year.
“Only 1800 foals will be delivered in the following year, and if this decrease continues, in five years our horse racing industry will become almost extinct.
“Recent statements by writers and industry sources raised doubts that the Minister, his department and the LNP Government are capable of reacting fast enough or are able to understand what needs to be done for racing to survive.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: IF anyone doubts the objectivity of this website then read the article in this week’s Wednesday Whinge by Godfrey Smith in relation to the Racing Minister and the state of play in the Queensland racing industry.
ONLY days after Allan Reardon took over as Chief Steward at Racing Queensland one of the state’s leading jockeys has been suspended for six weeks at the conclusion of a controversial running and handling inquiry.
Punters have welcomed this stronger stance from stewards declaring it long overdue despite the fact that Damien Browne will almost certainly appeal penalty incurred after stewards questioned a midweek ride at Eagle Farm.
DANIEL MEERS reports for THE COURIER MAIL that Queensland racing’s most popular partnership has been torn apart after stewards on Tuesday rubbed Browne out for six weeks, meaning he will miss superstar Buffering’s entire autumn campaign.
Browne’s 26-year blemish free career was rocked after stewards found him guilty of failing to take all reasonable and permissible measures aboard Kingtantes in a maiden at Eagle Farm last Wednesday.
Just hours earlier he guided Buffering to a dominant three-length win in an 800m jump-out.
A “shell-shocked” Browne pleaded not guilty and was on Tuesday night weighing up his options. Nash Rawiller is favourite to replace Browne if he is unsuccessful at appeal.
Stewards found Browne failed to take a run between Captain Kitinger and rival Busy at the top of the straight and lacked sufficient vigour between the 400m and 250m.
In a marathon two-hour hearing Browne conceded it “wasn’t my best ride” but said his intentions could not be questioned.
Buffering’s trainer Robert Heathcote, whose wife Vikki owns 70 per cent of Kingtantes, gave his full support to Browne’s ride and aired an audiotape he had sent to the owners about how tricky the horse had been to ride and train in the lead-up to the race.
“I 100 per cent do not believe anything sinister took place. I’ve got no problem with the ride whatsoever,’’ Heathcote said.
“I’ve had a very long association with Damian and never at any stage have I questioned him.’’
A furious Heathcote described Browne as a “cleanskin” and suggested at worse Browne had made a “mistake”.
Betting records showed no abnormality on the race and Heathcote, who was a special guest at the Launceston Cup on the day, said he had told a function he thought the horse would race well.
The decision could cost Browne several hundred thousand dollars with Buffering’s grand final in the $2.5 million T J Smith Stakes (1200m) on April 12. He was also going to be called upon to ride for the Darley operation.
Browne remains free to ride Fire Up Fifi in Sydney on Saturday.
“I’m shell-shocked,’’ Browne said.
“In 26 years of riding this is the first time I’ve been in a situation like this.”
Browne admitted it was a poor ride and conceded he had second guessed himself about what run to make.
“I’m the first to admit it is not one of my best rides. I’m not proud of how I rode the horse,’’ he said.
Stewards questioned how a jockey of Browne’s calibre could second guess himself in a $17,000 midweek race.
Steward Jamie Dart, who was chairman of stewards at the meeting, described Browne in the “upper echelon of riders”
“The ride is not of the standard we expect of a rider of your calibre,’’ he said.
“We do not accept this was a case of error of judgment.’’
Dart and the panel, which included chief steward Allan Reardon, deemed Browne’s ride had cost Kingtantes second spot in the race. The horse finished third.
Browne’s suspension will commence at midnight on Sunday and end on April 20.
Buffering will resume in the Challenge Stakes (1000m) on March 15.
MORE than 50 members of the Rockhampton Trainers’ Association voted unanimously on Sunday to oppose Racing Queensland’s proposal to introduce a starter’s fee.
The controversial idea is designed to off-set Workcover premiums that some of the bigger trainers in Brisbane claim they can no longer afford.
But country trainers (and some of the smaller Brisbane trainers) are against the proposal claiming it is designed only to suit the big boys, some of whom are paying over $60,000 a year in Workcover premiums.
The meeting in Rockhampton was attended by RQ’s CEO Darren Condon who failed to convince the local trainers they should agree to a decision last week by his Board that a $65 fee was to be introduced for all city starters, $35 for provincial TAB runners and $10 for country.
Many believe the fees will be simply passed on to owners, and country trainers, more especially owner- trainers, will be as much as 300 per cent (or more) worse off.
Apparently Condon offered the country trainers a reduced fee of $25 for provincial TAB runners but this was rejected during the two hour meeting.
The starter’s fee decision, which has severely divided trainers in the state, followed an approach by the Queensland branch of Australian Trainers’ Association to RQ last year.
BONECRUSHING COMMENT ABOUT COUNTRY TRAINERS FUELLED THE ROW
THE issue has festered on with some fiery exchanges.
At one meeting an overseas born Brisbane trainer allegedly referred to RTA members as; “those %?@$& grubs in North Queensland”.
However, the RTA, which in fact has more members than the ATA in Queensland, was left out of the decision-making process and last week Condon announced it was a “done deal”.
But it’s not.
On Sunday, at a special meeting called by RTA president Jim Rundle the plan was totally rejected.
Condon was present when five motions were passed rejecting the RQ proposals outright.
One motion related to obtaining legal advice on the prospects of launching a Supreme Court challenge. Another called on RQ to contact all trainers in the state for their opinion and another called on the RTA to make serious overtures to local politicians, Labor’s Bill Byrne and new LNP member Bruce Young whose silence on the issue has been deafening.
“WE will also call on deputy RQ (All Codes Board) chairman Barry Taylor who RTA supported in his election quest – in the belief he was a voice for country racing” Rundle said.
MOTIONS ADOPTED BY THE COUNTRY TRAINERS LEFT RQ CEO SPEECHLESS
THERE was no verbal reaction from RQ CEO Condon when the five motions were passed unanimously.
Condon offered to step outside when the voting on the motions began, but Mr Rundle insisted he stay and witness the proceedings.
“We have nothing to hide at our meetings,” he told the CEO.
And it might be mentioned here that Jim Rundle is not a man to mess with. He is the son of a former jockey, trainer and highly respected steward. Jim had 22 years in local government, many of them as highly respected deputy mayor of Rockhampton.
“I didn’t take out a trainer’s licence until 2004 when dad retired. I wouldn’t have a licence while he was a stipe,” said Mr Rundle.
So the dilemma of the starter’s fee is far from over.
Condon has indicated he intends to contact trainers further north, but obtaining a favourable the response will be no easy task, given the feedback this column has had on the issue in recent weeks.
Seems the feeling is the same in the north as it is outside the metropolitan area.
“We are being used to subsidise the city trainers. It’s that simple,” said a prominent Cairns trainer who echoed the thoughts of many of his colleagues.
“And you can’t just expect owners to pay the premiums. They are battling increased fees already with feed, the drought, transport etc – and no sign of increased prisemomney.
“Owners can’t afford the extra $65 to start nor an increase in training fees to cover it.
“And don’t forget owners get a $200 unplaced rebate over the border,” he said.
Can you argue?
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