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AUSTRALIAN RACING NEEDS TO STEP OUTSIDE THE BUBBLE ON WHIP USE
THE racing world’s reluctance to stop jockeys whipping horses suggests it now exists in a bubble.MATT STEWART reports in the HERALD SUN that there is a damaging mood in racing that the world outside the bubble is wrong and that racing is right; that racing can prosper quite nicely, thank you, without being influenced by agendas of politically correct hippies who wouldn’t swat a mosquito.
Jockeys, trainers, administrators, media and even a veteran racecaller with foggy binoculars have gone all insular and defiant over a strong message from the outside world — those millions of hippies! — that whipping horses is simply not on.
Last week’s Catalyst program on the ABC, where it was established that even padded whips almost certainly caused pain to the horse, hardly applied the blowtorch but it had racing and its unpalatable practices in its sights.
The jury is out, probably, on whether animals with brains the size of a golf ball actually perceive pain as we would.
But the point is it looks like it hurts, that it punishes. The horse is galloping its lungs out and these little belters just won’t let up. To those outside the bubble — the millions racing foolishly disregards — that’s how it looks, cruel.
A Sydney Uni animal welfare professor described it as “arguably the most visible form of violence against animals”.
That, not from a hippy covered in mozzie bites but an expert in animal and human interaction. The next day 3AW conducted a poll and 80 per cent said they deplored the whipping of horses.
Of course the racing industry scoffed.
Australian Racing Board chief executive Peter McGauran defended the whip by dissing Catalyst’s scientific conclusions as an “opinion piece of only two pages”.
Others resorted to the tired old angle of “you know it’s really only the negative ones who get involved in those polls’’ and one top trainer produced a lame deflection: “Why are we even discussing this? Look at what’s happening in Syria!’’
A veteran racecaller tweeted whip talk was “boring!’’
Yet the world moves on and has never been more sensitive animal welfare. The more we belt each other up, the more animals appear uncorrupted and best not to be whipped in the name of sport and punting.
You’d swear by industry reaction that the push was for jockeys to ride naked and bareback, not merely without whipping.
No one is even suggesting they get rid of the whip, which even the hippies would agree is important for control.
Racing resents change. There are still safari suits out there. New whip rules came in a few years back and jockeys threatened to strike. But it’s been a seamless transition and the jocks would be the first to admit that.
Now, most barely use the whip. If they do, it’s only in that desperate last furlong where it achieves little more than to look terrible to those millions of “hippies’’ outside the bubble.
One top trainer insisted last week that “some horses are no good without it, just wouldn’t put in’’, which would seem to put the onus back on the trainer to imaginatively, rather than bluntly (or battery driven), come up with ways to coax that horse to put in.
And if the horse won’t put in, why is that flaw any different to a horse who won’t take a gap, can’t sprint, can’t stay, hates it wet/dry, or won’t go left or right-handed?
One retired jockey pushed out of the bubble after a serious race fall now resides in the suburbs with the rest of the hippies, as does former whip enforcer Greg Hall, who has tweeted he now realises whipping “looks terrible”.
Our retired jock is a man of few but well chosen words.
“Whipping looks crap, like we’re punishing them. Stop it and there will still be eight races, eight winners. What’s the problem?”
MINISTER MUST ACT ON INDUSTRY CALL FOR ALL CODES BOARD TO RESIGN
by JOHN LINGARD, EDITOR of LGHR
IT was the biggest story in greyhound racing in Queensland since the live baiting scandal all but brought the sport to its knees – but strangely – perhaps even sadly – it did not rate one line in the mainstream media.
An industry meeting in Brisbane this week, attended by almost 200 stakeholders and addressed by Queensland Greyhound Board Chairman Michael Byrne and Racing Queensland CEO Darren Condon, ended in controversial circumstances.
All but one of those in attendance supported a virtual motion of no confidence in RQ’s handling of the ‘live baiting’ saga and called on the All Codes Board, chaired by Kevin Dixon, to resign or at least stand down pending the outcome of the Government-ordered review.
Only one media outlet – Phil Purser of justracing – covered the meeting in detail and reported on the industry call for action instigated by Queensland Greyhound Breeders’ Owners’ and Trainers’ Associaton president Tony Zammit.
Purser quoted Zammit as intervening before the meeting was officially closed and making the following statement to the floor: ‘I’ve listened to everyone and everything tonight. I’ve had lots of emails and lots of phone calls from people who are absolutely horrified at what’s gone on and I was just wondering if people are feeling the same way?
‘I listened to all the questions and one question I think that everybody here isn’t satisfied with and that’s the question, of due to the fact that Racing Queensland has failed in their duty of care to our industry of owners, trainers and breeders by not taking action when warnings were given by the animal liberation people – Hayley Cotton – and others. Same happened in Sydney and Melbourne.
‘I don’t buy the excuse of an email got lost in the post or lost in the ditch. The report I read in the Gold Coast Bulletin said a number of emails were sent. Now $3 million of our industry money is now being spent on something that could have been fixed a long time ago if Racing Queensland had have acted when all these emails were sent backwards and forwards and our own (Racing Queensland) Integrity officers had stepped in to investigate, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now. We might have got five minutes of publicity then. (loud applause) I firmly believe if it’s happened in New South Wales and Victoria that the greyhound Boards have been stood down and I think it’s because the governments (in those two States) probably said you’ve failed in your duty of care to look after your own industry and I call on Racing Queensland (All Codes Board) to stand down or resign, until a full inquiry has been held and let our own three Board members from the (Racing Queensland) Greyhound Board take over until everything has been sorted out. Cause $3 million wasted is coming out of all our pockets and I am very angry about it.
‘I move a motion that they (the All Codes Board) all be stood down or that they resign until everything has been sorted out. Can I get a seconder? (There was no shortage of seconders). All those in favour (a show of hands was unanimously in favour of the motion being carried). Those against (one hand went skyward) prompting Tony Zammit to comment, “One person. I rest my case.’
This followed a meeting where QGB Chairman Byrne made the stunning admission that greyhound racing ‘not just here, but throughout the country, is very close to death.’
Byrne – but more especially RQ CEO Condon – came in for plenty of criticism during the meeting. In fact, according to the justracing report, Condon was at times heckled and drowned out by protests as he tried to answer questions.
Bouquets to Byrne and Condon for fronting the angry stakeholders and at least attempting to explain the situation but brickbats to The Courier-Mail for failing to report on the stunning outcome to the meeting.
It is another example of the favoritism and biased support that Kevin Dixon has from his good mate Nathan Exelby, the CM Turf Editor, when not one line is run on calls for him and his board to resign or stand down pending the outcome of the Review. More favoritism, more privileged coverage for mates at the top in racing, more neglect of the rights of aggrieved people in the industry to have their say in the one forum that should be a level playing field - the major daily newspaper.
But it’s what racing in Queensland has come to expect from the CM from the days of Bart Sinclair to the current era of his anointed one Nathan Exelby. It doesn’t take much for one of those RQ despised websites – this time justracing – to show them up or highlight bias in the CM coverage.
Here’s hoping that the new Racing Minister Bill Byrne was well informed on the outcome of the meeting. As we at letsgohorseracing having said before. It’s time to stop pussy-footing around on the part of the new Labor Government. Dixon and his cronies should be sacked now, not next week, not next month, not after the inevitable outcome of the Greyhound Review – RIGHT NOW.
The ‘live baiting’ controversy – or more to the point failure of RQ to do anything about this practice – is only the tip of the iceberg. The poor performance of RQ under the leadership of Kevin Dixon continues to be highlighted on a daily basis – the latest drama involving the tracks throughout the state which are in a disgraceful state and continuing controversy over lack of action by stewards and integrity staff, with terrible rumors circulating about distribution of Cobalt in Queensland.
The RQ industry motto ‘We Run As One’ is long dead. It has been replaced by ‘We All Sink Together’ – but rest assured little King Kev and his mates will have already entered the life rafts.
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.
GO RACING in AUSTRALIA or OVERSEAS
WE will provide on a regular basis an upgraded list of the centres and holidays we believe are the best for racing folk to holiday whether they are just down the road, interstate or overseas. At times we will also provide some good racing holiday packages and tips.