HIGH PROFILE PUNTER INTERROGATED BY POLICE OVER ALLEGED BETTING MALPRACTICE
ONE of Sydney's highest-profile punters was grilled at the Police Integrity Commission yesterday over a series of phone taps that have exposed alleged betting malpractices.
RAY THOMAS reports in the DAILY TELEGRAPH that Steve Fletcher was in the witness box most of the day and questioned about sensational claims of sports and racing betting rorts.
The names of a former tennis professional and an employee of a leading Melbourne trainer who were allegedly supplying Fletcher with inside information was suppressed.
Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy said the evidence provided by Fletcher will be closely examined by racing authorities.
"We have some representatives in court taking a close interest in what is being said,'' Murrihy said.
"Certainly if there is any evidence that impacts NSW racing, we will be looking into it.''
STORY SOURCE: DAILY TELEGRAPH - NEWS LIMITED.
ALL ABOARD THE FREELOADERS' EXPRESS FOR THE WEEK THAT STOPS THE RACING WORLD
THE Week That Stops the Racing World has moved into full swing in Hong Kong with an invasion of the best international horses closely followed by hundreds of free-loading journalists from around the globe.
Times have changed from the days when the Hong Kong Jockey Club would win ‘hands down’ when it came to racing junkets. These days there are no free air fares and when it comes to accommodation packages they have a far more selective process.
For years the HKJC heavily subsidized what became known as a pre-Christmas working holiday for hundreds of members of the racing media from throughout the world.
For a fraction of what it would cost an individual to travel to Hong Kong for International Week the racing media was wined, dined and treated like Royalty. All that the club asked for in return was that those granted the ‘freebie’ packages provided proof that they legitimately covered the event.
Those attending for the first time could not believe the red carpet treatment and were the first to return. Others who have been going there for years remembered when it was even better.
The word continued to spread in the racing media that this was ‘the place to be’ every December and the numbers continued to grow. But when Cathay Pacific dropped out as the major sponsor of International Week (to be replaced by Longines), a free watch wasn’t as appealing as a free air fare.
Back in the era when the star Queensland sprinter Falvelon and the Hong Kong favorite Silent Witness were dominating the big day there were some in the racing media almost embarrassed by the magnitude of this ‘junket.’
It reached such dizzy heights that a few media friends confided in a leading HKJC communications official over a few quiet drinks one year that they were 'doing too much.’ Can you imagine that – free-loaders from the media actually complaining that they were being too well looked after?
It had reached the stage where the social side of proceedings had started to overtake what the media was really brought there for to such a degree that some were too tired or hung over most days to even bother doing their jobs properly. Some were so tired they were asleep on the bus on the way to International Day. Others needed a holiday when they got home to recover from the week in Honkers.
Things have changed and now only a selected group secure free accommodation but the rest are still well looked after as part of their media package.
The racing media – from all parts of the world – still converges on Hong Kong as it has this week for the International which starts with the Invitation Jockeys’ Challenge at Happy Valley.
For the Australians there is greater interest this year with the spotlight on one of their own in Zac Purton who has a huge lead over Douglas Whyte in the jockeys’ premiership that the South African has dominated for more than a decade in Hong Kong.
Unfortunately, from an Australian perspective, there is only one runner in the four Group 1 features at Sha Tin on Sunday for massive prizemoney. That is the Stradbroke winner Linton, to be ridden by Damien Oliver, who is rated an outsider in the early markets.
But there will be no lack of action on or off the track during the week. The fashion photographers will have their lenses firmly targeted at two of the glamor girls of Hong Kong International Week.
British beauty Francesca Cumani will be back in Honkers where her father’s horse Mount Athos is one of the main chances in the Vase while Kimberley Mosse, daughter of Gerard, has been regularly photographed there with her Itlaian jockey boyfriend Umberto Rispoli now riding in Honkers.
In early markets on the big races Lord Kanaloa is odds-on to win the Sprint ahead of Lucky Nine; Moonlight Cloud is $2.3 to win the Mile in which Linton is a $19 chance; The Fugue is a $2.35 favorite to win the Vase with Dandino, Red Cadeaux and Mount Athos next in the betting; while local star Military Attack is a $3 favorite to win the Cup.
JAPAN RACING ASSOCIATION FIRES A SHOT AT AUSTRALIA AND U.S. OVER LACK OF CUP SUPPORT
THE Japan Racing Association has sent a not too subtle message -- with the US and, to a lesser extent, Australia in the crosshairs -- to fellow member countries of the International Federation of Horse Racing Association over the lack of support for its showcase international race, the Japan Cup.
TONY ARROLD reports in THE AUSTRALIAN that the JRA's website's preview presentation of the 33rd Japan Cup predicted the $5.19 million feature would provide "another winner from the home team for the eighth straight year, with just three ageing horses from overseas (and) who have just one win among them this season", making up the foreign assault.
"To the disappointment of Japanese fans hoping for a first-hand look at world-class competition . . . the Japan Cup has managed to only draw a pair of Irish-bred six-year-olds in Joshua Tree and Simenon, and seven-year-old Dunaden of France."
Of the three, the review stated, only British-trained Joshua Tree had won in 2013, registering a commendable hat-trick in the Group I Canadian International (2400m) Woodbine but with the win coming three weeks after he had lagged a long way back in 13th place in the Group I Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (2400) in France, in which the Japanese pair Orfevre and Kizuna ran second and fourth respectively.
The last foreigner to win the Japan Cup was British-trained Alkaased (2005) but Japanese horses have filled the placings every year from 2007. British mare Ouija Board, second to Deep Impact in 2006, was the most recent visitor to be placed.
The honour roll had a wonderful mix for the first one-third of its 33-year history, with wins for the US (four), Ireland, Britain, New Zealand and Australia and with the home defence twice successful.
In the next 11 editions, the Rising Sun flew triumphantly seven times, along with winners from Britain (twice), Germany and Italy. But the last one-third highlights the swing to Japan, winning 10 times against the solitary foreign winner, Alkaased.
Clearly, Japan has achieved its aim to be a world force in modern racing, having upgraded its breeding industry by massive levels through the acquisition of classic and/or Group I winners from Europe and the US -- and notably the legendary breeder-shaper, Sunday Silence.
The complicated travelling itinerary is perhaps the main reason why Australia has not been represented in the Japan Cup since Fields Of Omagh a decade ago.
But Australia, too, has had an alarming decline in the quality and quantity of natural stayers -- as the results of feature races at 2000m and further continue to ram home such a sorry state with imported horses virtually sweeping the floor.
STORY SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN – NEWS LIMITED
PURTON KEEPING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE DESPITE BIG LEAD OVER HK CHAMPION WHYTE
WHILE Zac Purton's treble in the absence of bitter rival Douglas Whyte was somewhat "Whyte-esque" in its timing and he has started the season better than than Whyte ever has during his 13-season reign, the Australian still seems determined to keep things in perspective.
MICHAEL COX reports in the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST that Purton's 40 winners from 211 total races not only has him doubling the win total of second-placed Olivier Doleuze and 21-wins ahead of the third-placed Whyte (19 wins). His win total at the same stage of the season has been bettered only once during the "Whyte era", when the South African rode 41 to open the 2003-04 season on his way to his first century of wins in a term.
Whyte was away competing in the World Super Jockeys Series over the weekend, and while the South African is renowned for having big days when his rivals are absent, Purton said he brought the same desire to win to every meeting.
"I've got a fire in my belly every meeting, whether Douglas is here or not," he said. "I'm out there doing my best in every race. I've got a job to do and that is to win as many races as I can. I'm not getting carried away. I'm just getting the opportunities and it's nice to have them, but I've been in this place long enough to know that it doesn't take long for something to go wrong and all of a sudden you are not getting as many opportunities. Hopefully I can keep making the most of them."
OLIVER SAYS MELBOURNE CUP FORM WILL LINE UP IN HONG KONG WHERE HE RIDES DANDINO
DAMIEN Oliver is banking on the Melbourne Cup being the right form line in the Hong Kong Vase as he attempts to add to previous International day successes at Sha Tin on Sunday.
MATTHEW TOOGOOD reports for AAP that among Oliver's rides is the Marco Botti-trained Dandino in the group 1 Hong Kong Vase.
Dandino is one of five horses from this year's Melbourne Cup in the 2400-metre event on the International day program.
Oliver also partners Australia's only representative Linton in the International Mile.
Dunaden (2011) and Red Cadeaux (2012) have won the Hong Kong Vase in the month after competing in the Melbourne Cup. ''I think it just proves that the Melbourne Cup has got stronger and stronger in recent years. So it's a good form guide,'' said Oliver, who won this year's Cup on Fiorente.
Red Cadeaux, runner-up to Fiorente, and Dunaden will be among Dandino's opposition, along with Melbourne Cup third-placegetter Mount Athos and fourth-placed Simenon.
Oliver believes Dandino, which was second in the Caulfield Cup and fifth in the Melbourne Cup, is right in the mix. ''I haven't had a good look at the field yet, but just on his form he'd have to be a great chance,'' Oliver said.
Oliver's win on Fiorente played a part in him getting the ride on Dandino in Hong Kong, after a phone call to Botti. ''I rang [managing owner] Darren Dance first and he suggested it would be worthwhile giving Marco a call,'' Oliver said. ''He [Botti] was impressed with my ride in the Melbourne Cup and he was keen to have me ride the horse.''
Oliver won the 1994 Hong Kong Cup on State Taj and back-to-back Hong Kong Sprints on Falvelon in 2000 and 2001 before those races were elevated to group 1 status.
Dandino was ridden by Craig Williams in the Caulfield Cup and Ryan Moore at Flemington. Oliver thought both runs were terrific and took heart from Dunaden's recent fifth in the Japan Cup after the French horse was 11th in the Melbourne Cup. ''The form from the Melbourne Cup is looking good with Dunaden running so well in the Japan Cup,'' Oliver said.
CHIEF STEWARD AMAZED THAT KATHY O'HARA 'WALKED AWAY' FROM RANDWICK FALL
CHIEF STEWARD Ray Murrihy says he ''can't believe that anyone could have walked away'' from Kathy O'Hara's fall from Natch Catch at Randwick on Friday.
CHRIS ROOTS reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that the fact O'Hara suffered only a cut to the back of her head after slipping off Natch Catch and bouncing up in front of another runner, which trampled over her, amazed Murrihy.
''I had my glasses on her when she came off and it didn't look good at all,'' Murrihy said. ''For her to be out of hospital within 24 hours is incredible because she was hit really hard. You always fear the worst when something like that happens and I can't believe that anyone could have walked away from that. It is a miracle really.''
O'Hara had stitches to a wound on the back of her head but a CT scan cleared her of any damage to her brain. She also escaped any broken bones and was only complaining of a killer headache when she left St Vincent's Hospital on Saturday. O'Hara was even able to tweet on Saturday morning, and said in part: ''Prob go home later today. Have a Nasty cut and egg on the back of my head but I will be back on my feet soon!''
The fall happened when O'Hara lost her near-side iron on turning for home on the Kensington track at Randwick, while outside the leader.
O'Hara missed the winning ride on Zaratone in the Starlight Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday, but tweeted: ''Zaratone!! Go boy!!'' Murrihy said most jockeys ride with just their toes in the irons. ''It is a trend around the world and there is such a small room for error. If something goes wrong … We were just very lucky that Kathy wasn't seriously hurt.'' It has been a bad week of falls, starting when apprentice Jordan Childs and Peter Mertens were involved in a fall at Hamilton on Monday. Childs has two broken wrists while Mertens suffered a fractured skull, broken collarbone, ribs and ankle, and a punctured lung.
STORY SOURCE: SYDNEY SUN-HERALD – FAIRFAX MEDIA
IS RACING QUEENSLAND GRANDSTANDING IN ALLOWING HAYDEN HAITANA BACK TO THE TRACK?
DID Racing Queensland make the right decision in allowing Fine Cotton figure Hayden Haitana back to the track?
The decision taken on Friday by the Board, but leaked to the media a fortnight earlier, has divided the racing public and some in the industry.
Some have accused RQ and its chairman Kevin Dixon of grand-standing and chasing the spotlight for publicity starved Queensland. Others say it was the right move after other figures in the Fine Cotton saga returned to racing long ago.
Highlighting one of the most sordid affairs in racing in Australia and then righting that wrong as far as Haitana is concerned does not sit too well with some of the old-timers in the north.
Here is what respected columnist KEN CALLANDER had to say on the issue in the DAILY TELEGRAPH but we invite your views for the WEDNESDAY WHINGE on this website:
WHAT Hayden Haitana did was terribly wrong, but he didn't kill anyone or even endanger a life and after 29 years he is entitled to have his life disqualification lifted. Haitana claimed if he had not done as he was "instructed" and substituted Bold Personality for Fine Cotton in August 1984 his life would have been in danger from the so called "heavies" of the time.
That may be right, but you can always go to the police.
He deserved to be handed out a lengthy sentence which he was and his time served has included an extended period in jail.
But, almost 30 years - that is time enough.
Bill and Robbie Waterhouse were also warned off all racecourses for having inside knowledge of the Fine Cotton sting, but after serving 14 years they were allowed back on the track in 1998.
Other principals in the case have come and gone, but Haitana has always been the central figure and has been a magnet for ill informed media sensationalists who have painted him as a far worse person than he was or is. I believe he was definitely guilty, but I also think he was a tool for other people who stood to gain a lot more from the horse winning than he did.
Of course, the caper came unstuck and nobody won one cent. Haitana is now a 68 year old grandfather living in South Australia with no interest of again taking out a trainer's licence.
He simply wants the stigma lifted from his name and to be allowed to go to the races with his family if he so desires. I say that is fair enough. The Fine Cotton case ranks high among the great stings of the Australian turf, but there have been worse crimes and they have been perpetrated by far worse than Hayden Haitana.
AUSTRALIAN INTEREST IN HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL HAS VIRTUALLY EVAPORATED
WORD is Linton is "flying'' in Hong Kong but he is also flying solo.
MATT STEWART (who obviously isn't on the free-loaders list heading to Honkers next week) reports in the HERALD SUN that for a handful of years, when Sunline, Rogan Josh, Falvelon, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti and others headed north, the Hong Kong international meeting, to be run at Sha Tin next Sunday, was firmly on Australian agendas.
But our interest in Hong Kong, regarded as one of world racing's top handful of international days, has virtually disappeared.
Australia has not had a runner in the Vase (2400m) since Field Of Omagh ran 11th in 2003 and our last runner in the Cup (2000m) was a year later, when Fields Of Omagh ran 12th.
Our last runner in the International Mile was Scenic Peack, who ran unplaced in 2002, a year after Shogun Lodge ran fifth and two years after Sunline won for New Zealand.
Australia has not had a runner in the sprint since Ortensia ran unplaced in 2010. In the previous decade Australia had a dozen runners in the sprint.
Racing Victoria's international scout Leigh Jordon says it's important Australian racing showcases itself on international stages, particularly Hong Kong which is firmly in our region.
"We are so entwined these days, through our breeding industry, co-mingling of betting pools and so on that I think it's vital we are part of these meetings as best we can,'' Jordon said.
The difficulty, he says, is factoring in a second grand final following our blockbuster spring racing.
"It can't be done as an afterthought, it has to be targeted,'' he said.
"And for many it's hard to think beyond the spring. We've got sprint races and other events worth millions of dollars, so it's no surprise it's seen as the grand final.
"Linton virtually missed the spring to concentrate solely on Hong Kong.''
Jordon said our lack of representations did not indicate our horses were not worthy of Hong Kong's international stage.
"You look at horses like Buffering and Fioremte, both would have been very worthy,'' he said.
Meanwhile, Linton is in great shape for the $2.3 million International Mile according to Malua Racing's Troy Corstens.
He said Linton's handler Carolyn Mason had informed him that the grey had eaten up since losing 13kg on the flight.
Corstens said the only welfare risk for Linton was that he was the only horse in his row of barns and would have preferred some company.
STORY SOURCE - MELBOURNE HERALD SUN - NEWS LIMITED.
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