WELCOME TO THE NEWLOOK WEDNESDAY WHINGE

MAIN WHINGE THIS WEEK:

PUNTERS TAKE STEWARDS TO TASK OVER STEWART INACTION

AS the fallout continues from the ‘slaughter job’ that ‘top’ jockey Brad Stewart did on hot favorite Ef Troop at Doomben last Saturday there is a consensus of punters’ opinion that stewards have been equally derelict in doing their job.

Whilst some have questioned whether Ef Troop is over-rated, the majority believe that Stewart should have been charged with failing to position his mount to give it every chance of winning the race.

Adding further intrigue to the already questionable tactics are suggestions from south of the border that one of the biggest bets in Australian racing history was lost when Ef Troop sat four wide and finished a certainty beaten second.

Is this panel of QRIC stewards, who are already the laughing stock of punters around the nation for simply noting the explanation of Stewart rather than take any action, simply sitting on their backsides and ignoring claims that a major corporate bookmaker laid a bet to lose $1 million on Ef Troop from one of the biggest punters in the land?

As unbelievable as it sounds, the sources that have brought this to the attention of LGHR are reliable and closely connected to the bookmaking industry. They claim it involved a big punter with links to former NSW international rugby league stars and that the corporate involved is in the news and advertising heavily at present.

What makes the situation even more annoying is that jockeys in Queensland – primarily apprentices – are being taken to with a big stick (a la Corey Bayliss over a bad ride and Michael Murphy for whip use in recent times) while Stewart (regarded by most punters as one of the best in the land) is given a slap on the hand for an out-of-character ride that cost punters around the country hundreds of thousands of dollars.

WHAT VARIOUS CONTRIBUTORS HAD TO SAY IN THEIR WHINGES

Here’s what some had to say in their WHINGES about this latest integrity farce in Queensland racing:

‘THE gallops in Queensland are going down the same track as the ‘red hots’ and punters continue to walk away in droves. How can you have any confidence in the stewards when they adopt this sort of couldn’t care less approach to a slaughter job on what looked to be a certainty.’

‘WHAT a joke, Stewart appears to have successfully thrown stewards off the scent by admitting he rode a bad race. All the more reason he should have been charged with failing to give the horse the best chance of winning. This is a horse that led the Magic Millions field from a wide alley (albeit knocking some down in the process). On Saturday he was racing a far inferior field (some had been beaten in bush Maidens). Stewart showed no early urgency, then sat him four wide with a big weight when resuming from a break. We’ve all seen his riding abilities so it has to be ruled a very out-of-character performance by a quality jockey.

‘HOW could the stewards possibly take no action against Brad Stewart for his ride on Ef Troop? He’s one of the best jockeys in Queensland yet a youngster like Corey Bayliss, far less experienced than Stewart, cops six weeks for taking the wrong option on Tumbler. What’s the point of having stewards at all in Queensland?’

‘FOR those who are suggesting that Ef Troop, which started $1.45, was too short for the average punter to back, spare a thought for those of us who jumped in at the $1.8. Yeah the bookies were generous early on.

‘STEWART gave it no hope at all. You would struggle to find a punter who backed the horse and expected to see it four wide with no cover in a small field. There have now been three shocking rides on three shot priced favorites in a month in Brisbane racing. Little wonder punters are reluctant to bet there.’

‘STANDBY for one of the spin doctors for racing in Queensland in the mainstream media to not only alibi the ride of Brad Stewart but to drag out some obscure statistic suggesting that odds-on favorites have a better record there than they do in NSW and Victoria. Tell that to the punters who have continued to burn their money on what look like good things but blow from odds-on to black odds taking them out of the statistical equation all because some bookies know they can’t win.’

‘DID you happen to notice that after he slaughtered two favorites early in the day at Doomben, Stewart could have won on a broomstick, producing a successful double including a roughie at $26 in Fiery Heights that blew most quadrella punters out of the water? And he continued that hot form at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday. My mates and I have given Brad a miss from back in the days when he rode for the late Bruce McLachlan. We restrict our bets in Queensland these days to the best young jockey in the north in Matt McGillivray.’

 

NATIONAL DROUGHT RELIEF RACE DAY WOULD RAISE PLENTY

THE drought relief fund-raiser planned for Brisbane is a great initiative but the industry in general should look at something major on a national scale.

Why not one major race day throughout the nation when all of those involved donate their earnings and a percentage of prizemoney won to our struggling farmers?

And that would include jockeys, trainers, owners and those in the racing media who enjoy several jobs. Surely they wouldn’t miss a single day’s wages!

We have seen worldwide over the years major fund-raisers for needy causes with some prominent business, entertainment and sporting identities involved.

Imagine a national race day, combined with a telethon (involving the race broadcasting networks as well), culminating in concerts at the big tracks starring some star drawcards that could be televised as well with all proceeds going to a Drought Relief Fund.

Many involved in the racing industry are suffering the effects of this terrible drought in country areas and, whilst initiatives like the one proposed in Brisbane are welcome, something more on a major scale is needed.

Here’s a chance for the racing industry to upstage the Federal Government whose promises in this area are falling well short of what is needed to save our farmers.

Cynical Facebook comment in response to the generous $1 million donation from Racing NSW to the Drought Relief Fund: ‘If Racing Queensland provided that much the place would be bankrupt’.

 

QLD RACING NEEDS TO GET IN STEP WITH DAYLIGHT SAVINGS

WE have received several emails from Queensland contributors urging the local industry and administrators to support a move for Daylight Savings to be introduced in the northern State.

The general feeling is that with Queensland out of step with New South Wales and Victoria, various sections of the industry suffer as a result.

Queensland normally starts later and finishes later making for a bigger day for those who want to follow the three States. It’s enough time out of a Saturday as it is especially for punting dads who have family commitments.

The problem is particularly highlighted at Spring Carnival time like Melbourne Cup Day when the first race in Melbourne is run at 9.30 (or close to) Queensland time and the last is over mid-way through the afternoon.

The farmers have enough problems on their plate at present without wanting to wage another war against Daylight Savings.   

 

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY SIDE OF RACING IN THE PAST WEEK:

THE GOOD

WEIR HAS SUPER SATURDAY WITH SEVEN WINNERS

ANOTHER Saturday of Weir domination with Victoria’s super trainer winning seven races – four at Flemington and one each at Moe, Morphettville and Newcastle.

Highlight of his weekend was the success of Voodoo Lad in the G3 Aurie’s Star at Flemington which staked a claim for one of the few remaining berths in the over-hyped The Everest.

“It was a good day at the office,” Weir said. “I am not sure why Voodoo Lad was not as well found down the straight as he was runner-up in the Newmarket.”

Weir also won at Flemington with Choisborder, $21 to $10, which upset the odds-on Gold Mag; Theanswermyfriend, $4.8 to $7.5, upstaging the better backed stablemate

 

WIDDUP CLEANS UP WITH SANDBAR IN ROSEBUD

BRAD Widdup’s second season in the training ranks in Sydney began impressively when stable star Sandbar got out to surprisingly good odds before winning Saturday’s Listed Rosebud at Rosehill.

The bulk of the horses trained by Widdup are owned by Damion Flower, who has established Platinum Park at Hawkesbury. He was responsible for convincing the long-time foreman for Darley and Godolphin to branch out on his own.

Despite working hard from a wide alley with 59kg, Sandbar, $10 to $6.5, proved a shade too strong for the Chris Waller-trained Charge. Favorite Plague Stone, which got the blows in the betting from $2.8 to $3.7, was set a task by Hugh Bowman before finishing 4th.


ORDER AGAIN MENDS FENCES BETWEEN BJ & THE PUNTERS  

NO punter will ever question the training talents of veteran Brian Smith but most concede they find his horses hard to follow.

The injury-plague Order Again took a few fences to mend those fences with a strong comeback win at Doomben on Saturday defying an alarming betting drift to run at $5.

Despite being slow to jump Order Again swamped the field to beat Time to Torque in the Open Handicap. He took full advantage of a breakneck early pace to clock 1.17.69, breaking the previous class record of 1.17.73 which had stood for 14 years.

Order Again is headed to interstate Spring campaign designed by Smith to compensate connections for missing last year’s Queensland Derby when favorite after winning the Grand Prix because of hoof issues.

Jockey Larry Cassidy declared: “He would have won the Derby had it not been for his bad feet. Brian is a master and to get him back to the races is an outstanding effort.”

 

THE BAD

NOTHING CHANGES IN WALLEY WORLD – SURPRISE, SURPRISE!

FROM a punting perspective the only bright side to another dismal day following fancies from the stable of ‘champion’ trainer Chris Waller at Rosehill on Saturday was the success of heavily backed Paret in the last.

Waller was successful earlier in the day with Quick Defence but as normally happens on a Saturday in Sydney it was backed at odds while a stablemate that was more heavily favored performed terribly.

Quick Defence had been placed once in has last 10 starts. He dropped significantly in class after striking trouble over the track and distance when fifth at his previous start and was backed from $15 to $8.5.

His three stablemates in the race – Estikhrraj ($6 to $4.6, ran 4th), Trafalgar ($8 to $11, 5th) and The Macallan ($3.8 to $3.6 favorite, 7th beating only one home).

Stewards questioned the tactics on Trafalgar and eventually advised apprentice Weatherley to follow instructions in future. They also queried the poor effort of The Macallan. Jockey McEvoy said the horse raced too fiercely when it was unable to find cover. Waller produced one of his regular ‘get out of jail free cards’ and declared that the disappointing The Macallan would go for a spell – yet another one up the rear end for punters who follow Walley World.

Not to worry all’s well as Winx will be back to claim the spotlight, cause Kiwi Chrissie to cry and dominate the headlines next weekend.

 

TIME RUNNING OUT FOR TEAM WILLIAMS TO PRODUCE CUPS HOPE

IF Team Williams is to emerge with another Cups hope in the Spring it certainly wasn’t produced at Flemington on Saturday.

Crocodile Rock pulled up lame at his second run from a spell, again failing to produce the promise he showed last time in when runner-up to stablemate Almandin in the JRA Trophy. That was over the same track and trip last September and the seven-year-old appears to have lost a leg in the interim.

Stablemate Sir Edwin Landseer, making his Australian debut, was specked at odds but dropped out to finish 12th to The Statesman. In fairness it was his first run for more than a year and the Galileo five-year-old has only won the once in 10 starts in Ireland.

 

THE UGLY

EF TROOP INQUIRY OUTCOME LEAVES SOUR TASTE WITH PUNTERS

IT might have been done to death early in the WHINGE but spearheading ‘The Ugly’ has to be the ride of Brad Stewart on Ef Troop while his effort a race earlier on Jadentom was rated by most punters as not much better.

The Ef Troop inquiry outcome has left a sour taste in the mouths of those punters still prepared to risk their hard-earned on the risky Brisbane favorites. Most want to see Stewart replaced on the Tony Gollan-trained youngster when it is next produced.

Jadentom, after racing wide, failed to reproduce his big first-up winning effort from Townsville and the Hatch stable blamed the long trip north rather than the Stewart ride for his defeat.

Interestingly, the race was fought out by the Gollan stablemates Shesees Everything (easily best backed in the race from the time betting opened) and My Girl Hayley. Stewart is reportedly the No 1 rider for Gollan these days although most punters feel safer backing anything that Matt McGillivray rides for the stable.

 

WHAT WAS THE SECRET MEETING WITH RACING MINISTER ABOUT?

THIS is an example of several emails received by LETSGOHORSERACING on this issue that needs addressing by the powers-that-be in racing in Queensland.

“I have been told that on the morning of August 8th, the Racing Minister (Sterling Hinchliffe) attended a secret meeting at Racing Queensland.

This was an invitation meeting to all tracks, all codes.

What could be so important that required a confidential meeting without any trainers/owners/participants of any code could be aware of?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are guessing but assume it related to the behind-the-scenes moves to convince the Government to divert more funds to racing from the Point of Consumption Tax. But we are only guessing. The Racing Minister needs to be more transparent, as does the Government and Racing Queensland. Not only the industry but also the racing public in general are entitled to be better informed where taxpayers money is involved. If POC was not the issue discussed at this secret meeting, then what was?   

 

BEST NEWS STORY OF THE WEEK:

TIME FOR HAWKES TO BITE THE BULLET & LISTEN TO WHISPERER

WORLD-FAMOUS horse whisperer Monty Roberts has raised his voice to a dull roar but nobody seems to be listening when he says he can save the career of troubled sprinter Chautauqua.

“Chautauqua wants to run!” Roberts, 83, told ANDREW WEBSTER of FAIRFAX MEDIA from his home in California. “I want the public of Australia to know that Chautauqua wants to race. There is a problem stopping him from racing and I could educate the whole Hawkes team with what the problem is. I am sad that I am not being allowed to help this horse.

"I’ve seen enough videos of him now to know what to do with him. I know in my own mind exactly what’s going wrong with Chautauqua. But I can’t start telling them because they won’t know it. They can’t try it because they don’t know how to try it. John Hawkes would know more about training horses in one single cell of his body compared to me. But I know equine behaviour and I have the utmost confidence I could help Chautauqua but I am handcuffed. I could tell them within four or five days if he could race in The Everest."

The Grey Flash’s career is in serious doubt after he again refused to leave the barriers at a trial at Rosehill last week.

Roberts, who calls himself "the real horse whisperer" having helped hundreds of racehorses overcome problems coming out of the starting gates, said Chautauqua’s managing owner, Rupert Legh, had been in contact with his camp since then.

"Mr Legh has had six or so conversations with my daughter, Debbie, in the last couple of days saying that he’ll be having some meetings and he will be in touch because he does not want to retire Chautauqua," Roberts said. "Well, if they don’t want to retire him, they need me desperately."

Legh wasn't in a position to comment on Monday night as he was travelling back from the US.

Team Hawkes needs to convince Racing NSW stewards that Chautauqua, who has won nearly $9 million in prizemoney including three consecutive TJ Smith Stakes, deserves at least another trial to prove he is ready to come out of the gates.

"We would want them to provide evidence that they are doing something different," Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel said. "We need to protect the reputation of the sport, and we would need new advice that they are doing something different for us to lift the embargo on Chautauqua."

Van Gestel would not speculate if evoking Roberts’ name would be enough to ensure the horse was given another opportunity to trial.

As reported in the Herald last week, Legh had approached Roberts about coming to Sydney to help the Hawkes stable before there was a sudden change of heart on the eve of last Tuesday’s barrier trial.

"It’s important that the public in Australia knows that I have no anger with anybody," Roberts said. "To say they 'snubbed' me is not a word I use for this at all. They chose to follow John Hawkes. In my opinion, that was showing confidence in John Hawkes."

Roberts dismissed claims that Chautauqua’s refusal to leave the barriers for the sixth time in a row suggested the horse was ready to retire.

"Horses are flight animals," he said. "Chautauqua wants to run. They get together in a group when they are days of age and they run against one another because Mother Nature says the predator will eat the last one out of the meadow. So they race. His particular problem may have nuances that I have to see and deal with, and watch the affect of, before I say it’s time for him to race.

“There is a chance that this horse does not want to race anymore: it’s about a billion to one. This horse wants to race again. He would love to race again. Racing is not his problem. He has another problem. I know — I know — that I am right about it. I’ve seen it in 150 other horses. They have this crazy thing called a starting gate, that’s where the problem is.

"If they [the Hawkes stable] think they can do it themselves, I will be very sad. I want assurances that we would have bilateral agreements on anything that we would do. That John Hawkes would look, see and agree. That Mr Legh would look, see and agree. And I would look, see, and agree."

*******

 

STEWARDS NEED TO INVESTIGATE REPORT OF HUGE BET ON EFTROOP

WAS one of the biggest bets in Australian racing history lost when odds-on favourite Eftroop suffered a controversial first-up defeat at Doomben on Saturday?

Sources south of the border are claiming that one of the country’s biggest and most successful punters of late fell on his sword when a major corporate bookmaker agency laid a bet to lose $1 million if Eftroop won.

Letsgohorseracing has not confirmed the stories that have reached our desk from several reliable betting industry informants but it is something that punters are entitled to have the stewards investigate.

 Top jockey Brad Stewart has questioned his own tactics while leading trainer Tony Gollan has sprung to his defence when stewards questioned the ride.

Ef Troop, which was heavily backed into $1.45, sat four deep under 60kg for most of the race before going down by three-quarters of a length to $41 outsider Mittere in Saturday's QTIS 3YO Handicap.

Stewart said Ef Troop had run well considering his bad barrier (8) and his big weight. Even the blind man with the Labrador at the entrance to Doomben was aware of that.

Punters were far from impressed and immediately went on the attack with social media blogs, especially the popular punters.com.au. Here are some examples of their anger:

tigernewt: I think the adage - odds on look on - applies more so in Qld than just about anywhere. It works because it protects you from a significant amount of corruption and that's where it lives.

Looney49: Give the trainer a bit of blame too, why start your horse first up off a wide gate with a big weight? Nice weight to flatten himself for the rest of the campaign.

Trent17: Cmon they are only getting $200 a ride give them a pay rise ??????

simonmoran222: If you were paid to deliberately get one beaten, you couldn't have done a better job. This horse led the Magic Millions by three lengths, but couldn't lead this dreadful field. What on earth are the stewards doing???? Far worse ride that Corey Bayliss on Tumbler. Pathetic!

But the QRIC Stewards’ Panel spearheaded by high-rollers Daniel Aurisch (chairman), Ian Brown and Martin Knibbs were not as offensive. Their report reads:

EF TROOP – When questioned as to the tactics adopted jockey B. Stewart stated that after beginning well he anticipated that the gelding would gather speed to cross forward and settle outside of EXACTAMENTE. However, it failed to muster early speed at which point he was reluctant to ride forward vigorously as the gelding had shown a tendency to overrace previously. As a consequence the gelding was obliged to race wide throughout without cover. Jockey Stewart conceded that he may have erred in failing to ride the gelding more vigorously out of the barriers. Trainer T. Gollan indicated that he had anticipated the gelding would settle on the speed however noted that as a two year old the gelding, whilst beginning well, took time in the early stages to reach top speed and as a consequence was not overly critical of jockey Stewarts tactics. Mr Gollan added that despite the wide run he was of the view that the gelding was still going to win before dipping near the 200m after which it appeared to lose momentum. Their explanations were noted.

LGHR is not suggesting that the 'bet rumor' is correct but our sources are reliable. We rate Stewart one of the best jockeys in the land when on his game and despite a couple of early hiccups he showed that was the case later in the day.

We are more concerned that if the story of this big bet, alleged to involve a major corporate and a big punter with close former football star associates, is on the ball then there is a requirement for QRIC to look into it and make a report.

Racing in Queensland is dragging the chain on everything from prizemoney increases to administration and integrity but when it comes to wild and weird stories it is the pace-maker.

A good example was Doomben on Saturday when the story was doing the rounds that all the charges against leading young trainer Ben Currie are about to be dropped. Perhaps ‘they’ are confused with the postponement of proceedings announced earlier in the week – then again it is Queensland so anything goes!

 

 

WELCOME TO THE NEWLOOK WEDNESDAY WHINGE

MAIN WHINGE THIS WEEK:

TIME FOR RACING MINISTER TO COME CLEAN ON STARTERS’ TAX

THE Queensland Trainers’ Association has moved quickly to quell concerns among members in the country that Racing Minister Sterling Hinchliffe is poised to introduce a controversial Starters’ Tax.

QTA president Ross Shannon told LGHR (which has received several emails on the issue): “The topic was discussed at our annual general meeting in Rockhampton on Sunday.

“Whilst it is true that some individual trainers in the Brisbane area continue to raise this subject and demand action, at this point in time there does not appear to be a lot of substance to the current rumor.

“Following is advice that I received from a Racing Queensland senior executive when I asked if he could confirm or deny the content of the (latest) rumor.

“He replied:

“All efforts at the moment are around the point of consumption tax (POC) and trying to ensure a return to racing in Queensland. NSW are getting $25 million out of their POC and Queensland currently has no guarantee. Besides, given past history, any changes to WorkCover would need solid industry consultation.”

Shannon said the QTA was confident that unless the Racing Minister was working with individual trainers outside of the jurisdiction of Racing Queensland this rumor could be put to rest.

Unfortunately, some of his members in the north remain wary of Hinchliffe’s motives. “Why then has a leading Brisbane trainer been gloating that a secret deal has been done with the Racing Minister?" one asked.

“They have been after this for ages and one of his colleagues is in the middle of a very messy and expensive compensation claim at the moment that he would love to see disappear.

“Our mail is the latest Racing Minister has some very close ties to some influential trainers in Brisbane, especially in the Deagon area, and that the starters’ tax deal will just be announced without any consultation with country trainers.”

Former QTA President, JIM RUNDLE, weighed into the debate as well informing LGHR:

‘I am looking at all this as the person who headed the original campaign to stop this stupid idea of a Starters’ Tax to fund Workers’ Compensation premiums for trainers.

The original proved to be a failed LNP policy and I fail to see how a Labor Government Minister thinks he can add a silver lining to a failed LNP policy.

With this now in the public arena and RQ stating they are not planning to move on such an issue, the Minister now needs to confirm or deny that he plans to use his Ministerial power to burden the Queensland Racing Industry with a Starters’ Tax.’

 

SHOULD BEN CURRIE BE ELIGIBLE FOR TOP TRAINER AWARD?

SOCIAL media has been in over-drive the past week and LETSGOHORSERACING has received our share of Whinges as well concerning the annual Awards for racing in Queensland.

Whilst the mainstream media coverage has focused on the Horse of the Year Award being the most open in almost half a century, stakeholders have voiced complaints about eligibility criteria for the Trainer of the Year.

AAP reports that the Trainers’ Award will be fought out by Tony Gollan, who won his fifth straight metropolitan title and Toowoomba young gun Ben Currie who set a record for winners in the State title.

Feelings of some stakeholders were best summed up by this comment to the Murdoch-owned racing website, punters.com.au, by a prominent Darling Downs industry identity who wrote (in part – we have edited this for legal reasons):

‘THE Trainers’ Award has to go to Tony Gollan. Ben Currie cannot possibly be considered as he is facing 28 charges.

“Surely the industry cannot possibly consider awarding an individual under these circumstances. It’s embarrassingly laughable.

“Ben Currie has already been awarded the QTIS Two-Year-Old Trainer of the Year at a function that when it was announced the silence was deafening.

“He has won the Toowoomba Trainers’ Award under the guise of being the trainer of Currie Racing whereas in actual fact and admitted under oath by (his father) Mark at his stay of proceedings that he trains in partnership with his son.

“This is (in the opinion of the contributor, Watt Racing) a breach of the Australian Rules of Racing (as he alleges they are not a registered partnership).

“Ben Currie has had two staff disqualified for three months and one disqualified for 18 months. His father, Mark Currie, is currently on a stay of his two-year disqualification.”

The general thrust of the concerns expressed on the Trainers’ Awards issue is that before Ben Currie can be considered as a suitable candidate his charges need to be finalized as does the appeal by his trainer partner and father, Mark.

 

RV STEWARDS PRAISED FOR QUIZZING GRAND NATIONAL TACTICS

PUNTERS who have emailed the WEDNESDAY WHINGE have been unanimous in their praise for the decision by Victorian stewards to quiz tactics adopted by John Allen on Bit of a Lad in the Grand National Hurdle at Sandown on Sunday.

Rob Montgomery, who presided over the meeting, said his panel wanted to examine betting records from corporate bookmakers before continuing the inquiry.

Punters were concerned that Allen rode the Darren Weir-trained Bit of a Lad to get the favorite Self Sense beaten by constantly attacking that horse and benefiting the eventual winner, Cougar Express, which landed some good long priced bets. Cougar Express is trained by Jarrod McLean who has a close association with the Weir stable.

Stewards spoke with Weir, who was in Darwin for the Cup meeting. “He said he didn't tie down Mr Allen with instructions other than not to let Self Sense out of his sight,” Montgomery said. “The only way to beat him was to pressure him.”

Trainer David Brideoake praised the courage of runner-up Self Sense, which he said had been softened up by the tactics adopted on Bit of a Lad.

Some of the social media comments relating to Darren Weir, John Allen and Jarrod McLean are downright defamatory and basically surround punters concerns of team riding.

This is the first major controversial inquiry into tactics for the stewards in Victoria since the departure for Singapore of Terry Bailey and punters around the country will be watching with interest the outcome especially as it involves the leading stable.

 

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY SIDE OF RACING IN THE PAST WEEK:

THE GOOD

PUNTERS HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE BETTING ON VICTORIAN RACING

THE reason punters around the country have more confidence betting in Victoria than any other State was further evidenced by Saturday’s meeting at Moonee Valley.

Just look at the number of well fancied runners that saluted – starting with Naantali, You’ve Been Had, Streets of Avalon and Call Me Handsome. Then there were the heavily backed winners Multaja and Morton’s Fork.

Saturday racing in Melbourne has its share of upsets as well but nothing like occurs in Brisbane or Sydney where at times the form of the Chris Waller stable leaves punters more than a little dumbfounded as does the approach of the stewards when this happens.

 

SHOULD THE FORM OUT OF MISSILE STAKES BE QUESTIONED?

KEMENTARI might have found Pierata a shade to slick in the Missile Stakes at Randwick on Saturday but the Godolphin four-year-old star lost few fans.

One suspects the really firm track did not suit him and that he raced like a horse that was looking for 1400m, finding the trip a shade short.

Whilst the race threw up the predictable claims for a berth in the over-hyped The Everest, few questioned the quality of the form out of it. The first two are obviously class horses but The Monstar and Lanciato which were not far off them are hardly superstars.

 

TARZAN SHOWS HE IS MORE THAN A JANE IN SPRINTING RANKS

TARZAN showed by his win in the Tim Bell Memorial at Doomben on Saturday that he is an above average short course sprinter.

The 1110m win was Tarzan’s first beyond his specialist 1000 to 1050m range and he worked both ends defying a betting drift to salute.

Trainer Stuart Kendrick has done a terrific job with the six-year-old who took his earnings beyond the $300,000 mark.

Jackson Murphy, who rode Tarzan as part of a successful double, summed up the win perfectly: “It was a super run. They wanted to use me from the gate but when I got there he was travellng so well I just had to keep him happy and rolling.”  

 

THE BAD

POWER OF ONE DEALT MAJOR BLOW TO WALLEY WORLD

IF the emails that we received were any guide there were plenty of punters around the country celebrating after Red Alto upset the Waller Army at Randwick on Saturday.

It wasn’t so much that they had backed the Victorian stayer to win the Cindy Sullivan Memorial but more so the ‘power of one’ success story in Red Alto staving off the remaining eight runners that were all trained by Chris Waller.

Waller, receiving his eighth consecutive Sydney premiership award a short time later, summed up the situation perfectly: “As you saw in the last race, you can’t always be a winner, and that’s what is great about racing.”

In fairness, when it was realized that Waller would have all but one runner in the race, he agreed to donate his percentage of earnings from the race to the NSW Drought Relief Fund. That amounted to $4,262 for his horses running second to ninth.

 

RQ MISSED AN OPPORTUNITY TO RAISE MONEY ON JOCKEYS’ DAY

GREG BLANCHARD of NUDGEE writes:

‘I was at Doomben on Saturday for the National Jockeys’ Day. Part of the day is to raise money for this worthy cause.

Now I, as well as others, were surprised there was not one person collecting money or selling caps etc on course.

I believe there was money raised from certain groups who were celebrating in the marquee near the Nudgee Road entrance.

That’s all well and good but it would have been nice if during the day some of the well-paid people at RQ and QRIC had come out to collect as I know many wanted to give.’

 

BRISBANE RACING CAN ALWAYS FIND THAT IMPOSSIBLE WINNER

YOU can always count on racing in Brisbane throwing up a winner that was virtually impossible for the punters to find.

Trusty Lad was the outsider in the five horse opener at Doomben on Saturday yet someone managed to back him from $21 to $13 and he landed the money.

At his only two starts Trusty Lad had finished on for fourth on debut at Toowoomba then was slowly away when 11th at Doomben.

Adding insult to injury for punters Trusty Lad knocked off the favorite Red Stina which drifted from odds-on to $2.5 and was beaten a nose.

 

THE UGLY

TIME FOR STEWARDS TO PLACE A LIFE BAN ON CHAUTAUQUA

IT’S time to stop pussy-footing around with the Chautauqua situation and call a halt once and for all to what has been a great career.

The way things are going Chautauqua will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

His refusal to jump from the barriers is proving not only an embarrassment for the great Hawkes Training Team but also the stewards who seem reluctant to put the grey out of his misery and ban him for good.

Perhaps John and the boys shouldn’t have been so cantankerous and given the American Horse Whisperer the chance to prove he could cure Chautauqua’s problems.     

 

HORSE RACING FANS WILL MISS THE COLUMNS OF ‘PACEWAY PETE’

FOR 40 years PETER CAMERON has entertained readers – largely of the Murdoch Media – will his columns on horse racing.

‘Paceway’ – as LGHR calls him (Cameron once covered the ‘red hots’, not that he likes to be reminded of it) had a style of his own and wasn’t scared to call a spade a shovel.

He was colorful (in the same niche as the great Sydney turf scribe Max Presnell) and his style was different, perhaps a shade difficult to follow for some of the younger brigade of racing followers who still read newspapers rather than the web.

Sadly, the new Editor of The Sunday Mail, made a few immediate changes and one of those was to dispense with the weekly Cameron column which had a huge following.

His predecessor Peter Gleeson is a keen racing man and wisely recognized the value of ‘Paceway’ to The Sunday Mail readership which will no doubt be many less now that they can’t have their weekly ‘fix’ of his unique column coverage of all things racing and politics in Queensland.

 

THANK HEAVENS THIS WAS A ‘FAKE NEWS STORY’ 

SOME racing followers will believe just about anything they read – take this tongue-in-cheek, entertaining story on the popular punters.com.au.

Some of those who looked no further than the headline and the opening paragraphs still found the time to have a Whinge to LGHR.

They should have read right through to the last paragraph first.

Here is what was written:

RACING NSW have announced that they are exploring the possibility of an 'all-Waller' raceday.

The day would consist of nine races made up entirely of Chris Waller-trained horses.

The concept comes in the wake of Sydney's premier trainer having nine of the ten runners in the Cindy Sullivan Memorial Handicap (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday.

"Without having concrete evidence at this stage, it is our firm belief that punters enjoy betting on races where one stable have multiple runners," said a
Racing NSW spokesperson.

"We've seen it down in Victoria with Darren Weir - punters somehow always seem to back the right Weir runner."

"It has forever been a dream of mine to train the card, so I'm certainly open to the idea," said Waller.

Racecaller Darren Flindell is said to be 'shook' by the proposal.

*The above is of course 'fake news'.

 

BEST NEWS STORY OF THE WEEK:

LEGAL EAGLE WHO HAD A FORENSIC APPROACH TO THE PUNT

BUILT like Artie Beetson but with swift sidestep off either foot, Clive Evatt was a distinctive playmaker in Sydney betting rings.

MAX PRESNELL reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that Evatt, who died last week aged 87, was a founding member of the Legal Eagles, described as “a syndicate of three Sydney punters who between 1958 to 1973 changed the face of racecourse gambling”.

Apart from Evatt, the others, Don Scott and Bob Charley, didn’t have a legal bent.

"Because Clive [an old school friend of Scott] was a barrister and I had studied law myself, the Daily Mirror columnist, the late Frank Browne, called us the Legal Eagles," Scott divulged in Winning More.

"Clive was 6ft 7in [200cm] tall and weighed 115kg, wore a dark three-piece suit in a mid-summer heatwave, a black homburg hat, a Christian Dior tie, a brilliantly covered silk handkerchief and a massive pair of binoculars and he stood like a colossus.''

No doubt at the time many who practised law were even more fervent on the racecourse and were given credence as legal eagles.

Perhaps Michael McHugh, who reached the pinnacle of his profession, was linked with them. Yes, they were good friends, but McHugh always did his own figures – and still does.

And when it came to enthusiasm for the punt, Tony Bellanto, QC, was hard to beat. “I’m a logical man, and the favourite is the logical winner,” was his mantra. Wise guys would counter it was also the logical dead-'un.

Morgan Ryan, a solicitor, was another major player. The “little mate” of many in high places, he was well connected on the turf, particularly with Athol Mulley, a great jockey.

But the Legal Eagles were more technical and proved “scientific study can be rewarding”, according to Australian Horse Racing.

Sure, Browne gave them the title, but things turned sour after their coup on a nine-year-old Diatribe, explained by Scott as conforming to the teaching of Pittsburgh Phil, the learned American horse player.

Next start, Diatribe dropped dead without the Legal Eagles' support.

"Their operations were brought to my notice when Mr Clive Evatt junior, the largest and most active of the group trio, stood on my toe in the betting ring with all the enthusiasm of a water buffalo," Browne wrote.

Folklore has it that as schoolboys, Scott and Evatt went to Gosford races with a ten bob stake and were still betting late that night at Dapto dogs.

Scott, with the appearance of a Toulouse-Lautrec on good legs, gave the impression of being more studious.

Even before he linked with them, Charley – always lean and immaculate with a landed gentry background – was a racecourse regular and astute form judge.

After they quit, Scott, now deceased, continued and became one the great authors on how to play the horses.

Why did Evatt drop out? One theory maintains the figures were going berserk because the Fence Jumpers, a bold team of nobblers with potent go-slow drugs, were plying their trade: leaping over stable security and even doping guard dogs en route.

Another centres on the Australian Jockey Club when it was more difficult to get into the members' enclosure than to break out of Long Bay jail. Evatt was apprehended with a press pass issued genuinely, but the AJC committee took exception.

Ironically, Charley later became the AJC chairman and one of the longest-serving racing administrators of our time.

 

 

APPRENTICE SUSPENDED FOR TWO MONTHS AFTER BETTING INQUIRY

QUEENSLAND Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) Stewards have  inquired into the circumstances surrounding apprentice jockey Corey Bayliss betting on thoroughbred racing.

The Brisbane based metropolitan apprentice was today suspended from all riding engagements for two months.

QRIC Commissioner Ross Barnett said on 29 June, Commission staff observed Mr Bayliss wagering at the Breakfast Creek Hotel on two races that day at Geelong in Victoria and Moruya in New South Wales.

“Mr Bayliss pleaded guilty to breaching AR 83(c) which specifies jockeys or apprentices may be penalized if they bet, have an interest in a bet or facilitate a bet on any race,” he said.

“While this is a serious breach of Mr Bayliss’s licensing arrangements it is important that all jockeys understand that the perception of betting on thoroughbred races is an integrity issue outlawed under the Australian Rules of Racing.”

Mr Bayliss was supported by his Master, Trainer Barry Lockwood and Racing Queensland training department representative Rachel Bambry.
His two month suspension commenced today until 6 October 2018.

 

IS THE RACING MINISTER READY TO ANNOUNCE A STARTERS’ FEE IN QUEENSLAND?

WELL informed industry sources are claiming that Racing Minister Sterling Hinchliffe will announce the introduction of a controversial starters’ fee for racing in Queensland in the next few days.

The story goes that the move will see Racing Queensland use massive returns from the fee to take over payments of workers’ compensation from trainers.

Rumours of secret negotiations leading to a deal being brokered between the Racing Minister and some of the State’s top trainers have provoked anger in the country.

One North Queensland-based trainer told LETSGOHORSERACING: “The Queensland branch of the ATA tried to do this when Jim Rundle was running the Queensland Trainers’ Association out of Rockhampton and his organisation managed to stop it.

“It seems now that there is a Racing Minister with closer ties to some influential trainers in Brisbane it will just be announced without any consultation with the country who inevitably will be subsidizing the workers’ compensation payments of their city colleagues.”

As we understand it the bigger the trainer (or the more claims he or she has) the more they pay in workers’ compensation. “There are reports that a prominent Brisbane trainer is facing a massive compensation payout and he isn’t very happy. The city boys have never been happy about what they have to pay,” the country mentor told LGHR.

“The big losers in all of this will be the owners because the starters’ fee will be passed on to them. And you can bet it won’t be small which means once again Queensland racing is the loser as there will no longer be free racing.

“But, of course, the winners will be the big trainers in Brisbane, one of whom was gloating about this happening when he spoke at a function south of the border recently.

"Where are those politicians who are supposed to be protecting the interests of country racing not just a precious few in the big smoke – certainly not in the Labor Government it seems!”          

   

MANZELMAN DOES A WALLER – NO MIDDLEMOUNT WITHOUT HIM?

WITH all the talk about the Chris Waller monopoly on some Saturday fields in Sydney and the domination of the Weir stable and Team Hayes in Melbourne, a couple of readers have drawn our attention to a situation in country Queensland.

Leading Mackay trainer John Manzelman has 28 of the 44 acceptors running on Saturday at Middlemount, a mining town 242km inland from Mackay and Rockhampton.

Supporters of Manzelman say his massive contribution helps Cup meetings like those at Middlemount to survive and without it up to three races would have been abandoned.

Those not so supportive of Manzelman highlight rumors circulating in the industry in the north that his stable allegedly has positive swabs dating back to a Pentland meeting in March. Adding fuel to the fire have been suggestions that his long-time girlfriend has just been granted a trainer’s license.

Rather than fuel the rumors, a response was sought from the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission and here is what Commissioner Ross Barnett had to say:

The QRIC Stewards’ Inquiry concerning Mackay trainer John Manzelmann into two positive swabs at Gladstone on 7 November 2017 and at Pentland on 25 November 2017 is due to be finalized on a date to be negotiated with Mr Manzelmann.  

Tests have determined elevated levels of the prohibited substances Caffeine and Theophylline.

Some in the industry find it quite interesting that dates of hearings are negotiated by QRIC with trainers. Whatever happened to the good old days in racing when licensees were simply instructed to appear at inquiries?

 

 

WELCOME TO THE NEWLOOK WEDNESDAY WHINGE

MAIN WHINGE THIS WEEK:

DAMNING STATISTIC ON QRIC PROSECUTION SUCCESS RATE

JIM MUNRO, a popular harness racing identity whose thoughts on all three codes are highly respected, sent this interesting email concerning the recent Estimates Hearing on Racing:

‘DURING the Queensland Government Estimates Committee hearing on racing held last week John Paul Langbroek from the LNP Opposition asked several questions of Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe, who was assisted by other officials.

One question asked of Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner, Ross Barnett, was how many charges had been made by QRIC and how many prosecutions have been successful.

In his reply the Commissioner explained that QRIC had processed over 1600 charges across three codes and while the Racing Crime Squad does not answer to him 45 persons had been charged with 89 offences by the squad.

Unfortunately, Commissioner Barnett neglected to inform Mr Langbroek  how many of those prosecutions had been successful and unfortunately for us who are paying for this process Mr Langbroek didn't press for a reply to his question on the number of successful prosecutions.

The answer is ONE.

While there have been several QRIC Media Releases on prosecutions for alleged match-fixing in harness racing there are only three of those harness racing prosecutions which have been reported as finalized and only Barton Cockburn resulted in a conviction for which he was fined $5,000. QRIC also disqualified him for life.

Both Dayle March and Leonard Cain were found not guilty of match fixing and it appears probable in the absence of any media reports that other persons named as being arrested and charged have not had the charges determined.

Others allegedly arrested and charged include Marshall  Dobson charged with money laundering, Mick Grant with having prior knowledge, Shane Graham ,Vicki Rasmussen and Stuart Hunter with match fixing, plus an unidentified man from Everton Park reportedly an alleged associate of Graham, while Matthew Neilson is facing charges of perjury in addition to match fixing.

So, in the absence of further and better particulars, we are left to conclude that there has been only one successful prosecution so far in Barton Cockburn.’

 

WHEN WILL PUNTERS ON QLD RACING ACCESS FREE ‘SECTIONALS’?

THE sectional times fiasco surrounding the win by Sabkhat at Doomben on Saturday has highlighted yet another anomaly for racing in Queensland.

In recent months we have received numerous WHINGES from punters highlighting their inability to access free sectionals for TAB meetings as occurs in the southern States.

As one wrote recently: ‘Why can’t I get sectional times on the Racing Queensland website similar to what happens interstate for races in NSW, Victoria and South Australia?’

And another contributor commented: ‘Sectionals are a great punting tool but to acquire them for TAB races in Queensland it seems I have to pay one of the private providers who want to charge an arm and a leg and then add their arguably useless ratings as part of the package.’

LGHR sought an answer to this discrepancy from Racing Queensland and was told the delay in the Eagle Farm redevelopment was to blame – that sectionals times would be available free of charge to punters when racing returned to the new-look headquarters.

We pointed out that whilst this would be a welcome and overdue innovation there was a need for a ‘sectionals’ service at all TAB tracks similar to what has been available to punters interstate for some time.

The RQ answer: ‘Hopefully the introduction of the sectionals system from Eagle Farm will progressively flow on to other tracks but that will take some time.’

It simply isn’t good enough at a time when punters are walking away from betting on racing in Queensland – fortunately not in the same droves as they are from the ‘red hots’ – unless you listen to propaganda from one media identity who misuses his access to the air waves of Racing Radio in what most in the industry regard as a major conflict of interest.

Nathan Exelby reported in The Courier-Mail on Monday that there was an amendment made to the official sectional time of Sabkhat’s blistering Doomben win that made more sense of the way the race panned out.

On course, the semaphore board showed an official time of 1min 18.28sec and sectional of 35.51sec. At that time, according to data provided by Daniel O’Sullivan of BetSmart, Sabkhat’s first 750m of 42.77sec would have been the fifth fastest run over the Doomben 1350m this decade.

However, the official times recorded after the race amended the sectional to 34.28sec, which put Sabkhat’s first 750m at a less frantic 44sec. The 44sec ranks him at 105 out of the 626 races run over the trip at Doomben since 2010.

The Sabkhat mistake was just another ‘bump’ in the road. That aside it’s time that RQ provided punters with a time-frame when they will be able to access ‘free sectionals’ similar to what happens interstate. This dragging of the chain has gone on for far too long but is par for the course in Queensland racing.

 

DOES ANYONE HAVE A CLUE WHEN THEY WILL RACE AGAIN AT THE FARM? 

WE promise not to mention how badly the 'red hots' are traveling at Albion Park and risk a few more hand bags being thrown across the room but the Whinge lit up with more anger when the cost of the on-going Eagle Farm redevelopment disaster was revealed at the State Government Estimates hearings.

Again we relied on that eager racing media beaver from The Courier-Mail, Nathan Exelby, for the latest inside information on everything good and bad involving the Brisbane Racing Club. He’s so busy providing the news, it is little wonder that Racin’ Nathan is struggling to find winners on one of his myriad of outlets from print to radio and now coming off the bench to join that endless list of struggling tipsters at SKY.

Back to the state of play at Eagle Farm and Exelby reports that the Estimates hearings were told $2.8 million had been spent on the ‘renovation’ since July last year with a budget allocation of $3.7 million for the entire project.

As he rightly wrote: “It’s a long way from the ‘$1 million to $1.5 million’ originally speculated when the rebuild was announced last year.”

When questioned at the Hearings by Opposition Shadow John Paul Langbroek, our latest ‘on the ball and well informed’ Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe would not be drawn on a return date for racing at the Farm – largely because he, like everyone else involved in the project – hasn’t got a clue.

“I will not be making the mistake of predicting now when it will be available,” Hinchliffe told the Estimates hearings. “My measure, as it was back then and will continue to be, is having confidence in the participants in the industry and seeing the track successfully remediated and tested by participants.

“That is the only measure there will ever be. I am not going to be making predictions about a date now. What we need for the success of this new track at Eagle Farm is for it to be proven and demonstrated to be sustainable and reliable.”

As one contributor commented on the issue to the WHINGE:

‘Doesn’t Hinchliffe just ooze confidence? But at least he’s not declaring Queensland racing will finish a ‘furlong in front’ like that other predecessor ‘dickhead’ from the LNP. The people of Longman showed at the weekend they have about as much confidence in the team from the ‘goat riders’ as what the racing industry has. They haven’t forgotten the contribution made by Laurence the Loser and Tim the Toolman to this Eagle Farm embarrassment during their days at the helm not that Labor have done much better.’

Or as another emailer wrote: ‘It seems they can successfully build high rise units and shopping centres at Eagle Farm but the one thing they can’t get right and the most important of all is the track. BRC chairman Neville Bell says the shopping complex part of the multi-million dollar development of the Eagle Farm and Doomben racing precincts would prove a wonderful asset and income stream for the members. It’s a pity they don’t have a track capable of racing on at the Farm and don’t seem to know when they will.’

 

SYDNEY STAYING RACES DEGENERATE IN ‘WALLEY WORLD’ DOMAIN

WHILE all the mainstream media focus remains on The Everest – despite its absurd abuse of stakes money – racing in Sydney has degenerated to such a degree that Chris Waller looks set to have a race at Randwick on Saturday exclusively for his own horses.

Adam Pengilly reports for Fairfax Media that Racing NSW was forced to scramble on Monday to find suitable rivals for Sydney's all-conquering Waller, who provided 11 of the 12 nominations for a restricted 2400m race on Saturday.

But the lone ranger who was set to take on the Waller army, Hawkesbury-based Jamie Thomsen, was leaning towards whisking his mare Praise Songs to a Kembla Grange race he had nominated her for on the same day.

Pengilly reports that Waller boasting upwards of half the field in off-season middle distance events is nothing new to Sydney racing, but it appears even he could break new ground with a cast of classy stayers who all share the same home.

Like it or not, there are no provisions in the Australian rules of racing for an event to be cancelled if one trainer boasts the entire field. What makes it worse from a punting perspective is that history has shown a second string almost certainly upstages the stable favourite when Waller has multiple runners in races in Sydney.  

 

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY SIDE OF RACING IN THE PAST WEEK:

THE GOOD

VEGA MAGIC SNARES BERTH FOR OVER-HYPED THE EVEREST

VEGA MAGIC stole the spotlight with a stunning return to racing in the Bletchingly Stakes at Caulfield and quickly snared a berth in Sydney’s over-hyped The Everest.

It seems all roads are headed to the multi-million dollar Sydney feature for anyone with a star sprinter but there is a strong argument that the same field could be achieved for less than half the absurd amount of prizemoney at stake.

Vega Magic raced in blinkers retaining his unbeaten Caulfield record with jockey Damien Oliver claiming had the horse not refused to settle he could have easily doubled his winning margin.

Team Hayes plans to remove the blinkers for Vega Magic’s next start in the Memsie but strangely will return them for The Everest, a race he was unlucky not to win last year.

 

WAS NATURE STRIP OUTSTANDING OR SUNLIGHT DISAPPOINTING?

THE sensational win by VEGA MAGIC tended to overshadow the one-act affair that another star, NATURE STRIP, made of the Lightning Stakes in South Australia.

It was billed as a match race with Magic Millions winning filly Sunlight but despite missing the start Nature Strip raced straight past her for the easiest of wins.

Nature Strip is still a contender for The Everest but questions have been raised as to whether his performance was stunning on Saturday or made look better but the disappointing return of Sunlight.

 

THE BAD

GROUNDHOG DAY IN SYDNEY AS WALLER DOES PUNTERS NO FAVORS

IT was Groundhog Day for Sydney punters on Saturday when ‘champion’ trainer Chris Waller again put them to the sword.

While the mainstream racing media continued their love affair with ‘crying Chris’ highlighting his staggering success rate no mention was made of stable form reversals and second string runners beating home favourites.

Saturday was no exception. The rot set in for Sydney punters in the second at Rosehill when Huanshan ($12 to $8) was successful while the heavily backed stablemate The Macallan ($4 to $3.2) could do no better than fourth.

Worse was to come in the Winter Challenge when Mister Sea Wolf ($13 to $9.5) turned in a typical Waller form reversal while the stablemate that the ‘experts’ all declared in Invizabeel tired to finish fifth after easing from $3.3 to $3.7.

Mister Sea Wolf had failed at four starts since finishing 3rd in the Doncaster Prelude in March. He was however a luckless fifth in the Octagonal but then got too far back when sixth in the Civic Stakes to stablemate Liapari (a dismal 14th to him on Saturday).

Once again the form of some of the Waller horses is impossible to follow but punters are just expected to grin and bare it. The improvement by Mister Sea Wolf didn’t even rate a mention in the Stewards’ Report.

 

MOUNT KILCOY SUFFERING SLOW RECOVERY LIKE HIS BACKERS

PUNTERS also got burned at Caulfield when a second string for top trainer Darren Weir in ZEDINATOR won the race in which heavily-backed stablemate MOUNT KILCOY finished a dismal 11th.

Weir told racing.com after the race that despite their being excuses for the Mount Kilcoy failure he was not at all confident Zedinator would go near winning when he spoke with connections prior to the race.

Stewards reported that Mount Kilcoy, backed into odds-on, pulled up with a slow recovery and was lame in the near foreleg.

 

THE UGLY

BLUEBROOK SPEARHEADED BELOW PAR BUNCH OF FAVORITES

PERHAPS it’s just that time of the season but the favorites seem to be performing badly in Brisbane right now.

Only two of the nine were successful at Doomben last Saturday – SPURCRAFT which fell in at $1.8 and SABKHAT, $3 to $2.7, and never going to get beaten.

From a punting perspective there were more disappointments than success stories. These were spearheaded by the well backed Bluebrook, Makes You Think and Helfuchi.

There were some successful plonks at good odds at Doomben though. Big odds were bet about firmers Brilliant Jet, Archer’s Paradox and Arena Salon. The latter was a bit hard to find for some despite recent placings at Rockhampton and Beaudesert.

 

FOLLOWING THE EASING VAN DYKE FAVORITES IS NO JOKE

PUNTERS have caught on to a theory that horses from the David Van Dyke stable that drift in the betting rarely get the money.

One emailer pointed out to the WHINGE that another good example was the Sunshine Coast on Sunday when Golden Sheaf failed in the first.

Chasing a hat-trick of wins, Golden Sheaf was very easy in the market after opening at a short quote and ended up running last.

Stewards reported that a veterinary examination revealed Golden Sheaf to be lame in the near foreleg. Punters weren’t entirely happy with their lack of action on the failure.

One wrote: ‘With all due respects the ride of Hellyer on Golden Sheaf deserved some questions to be asked. He seemed to show no concern when the horse was running last early and despite making a short-lived burst on straightening it was never in a winning position. From a punters’ viewpoint stewards, the ride deserved to be questioned.’

 

DESERVING OF A BETTER FINISH TO A FINE CAREER

IT seems one of the surprise surviving stewards of the 'Dr Dolittle' era hasn't taken kindly to some criticism from contributors to the WHINGE. 

Hope he's reading because here we go again:

COMMISERATIONS to trainer KRYSTAL JOHNSTON and connections of the good money-spinner CRAIGLEA DEKEN which broke down in the Cleveland Bay Handicap in Townsville on Saturday.

Stewards reported: CRAIGLEA DEKEN – Faltered near the 500m and was retired from the race near the 200m. A post-race veterinary examination revealed the gelding to have severely injured its off front leg and as a result was euthanized on humane grounds.

Craiglea Deken raced 65 times for 16 wins and 21 placings, amassing over $310,000 in Stakes. The five-year-old was 10 times at the Townsville track and deserved, we are told, a more fitting demise.

Some of the stories emanating from how he suffered during the final minutes of his life (not to mention injuries suffered by a strapper trying to help out) was not surprisingly omitted from the Stewards' Report.

We are told it greatly distressed those close to the horse especially the trainer and jockey. If the message hasn't got across to their man in the north - it's the era of QRIC and a time to be a bit more transparent.   

 

BEST NEWS STORY OF THE WEEK:

‘DR NICK’ – SYDNEY’S NEWEST PLUNGE KING HAS BOOKIES REELING

MAX PRESNELL reported for FAIRFAX MEDIA:

THERE’S a world of difference between “Dr Nick” and Cameron Crockett, the linchpins in the Sharpe Hussler plunge at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

“Dr Nick” is a punter in the Zelkjo Ranogajec category, some say bigger, which I doubt as even Kerry Packer didn’t invest as many millions, amounting to billions, over such a long period.

And Cameron Crockett, son of Max Crockett, a breaker who has probably educated more horses than anyone in Australian turf history, tuned Sharpe Hussler, difficult to place in the bush, to a peak performance.

Surprisingly, on Saturday morning, came a call from my mate of over a half century, Max Crockett, in a voice toned to crackling sandpaper: “Maxwell … How do you tip a 50/1 chance?”

He was calling from an Orange hospital, where he is down with emphysema, but raised a cheer when Sharpe Hussler produced a breathtaking finish to score in the Hong Kong Sprint.

Sharpe Hussler was backed from $51 to $15 in a strong betting event. On paper, the opening quote didn’t look flash about the Mudgee-trained rising seven-year-old.

Yet the gelding’s credentials attracted the attention of “Dr Nick”, whose strength has stemmed from his anonymity. Rarely does one who bets so big stay off the radar for so long.

What is he a doctor of? Winning, as far as I can ascertain.

A rails bookmaker at Rosehill was close to comatose after Sharpe Hussler and could only gasp: ‘‘Dr Nick.”

Before Zeljko, most of the big punters had nicknames, even Packer (the Big Fella). Previously, The Fireman (Eddie Birchley) ,the Hong Kong Tiger (Frank Duval) and the Filipino Fireball (Filipe Ysmael) had their bursts in betting rings.

Of course, the horse-playing landscape has changed since coups were launched at the races and the ground trembled with thousands launched. Now it is done with a trigger finger on the mobile phone or computer.

Zelkjo is prepared to play a figures game, get a percentage win on a huge outlay, hardly the action of Hollywood George Edser, who luxuriated in the gambling aspects of finding a winner.

But the excitement of huge money going on added to the racecourse experience, the sense of occasion and while Sharpe Hussler was hardly a return to the times when Hong Kong Tiger was on the snarl, it produced a spark of the good, old days.

As I said, “Dr Nick” is shrouded in secrecy. Turning to the internet for some guidance, I was presented with, amongst other pictures, an unbearded Peter V’Landys, Racing NSW’s strong man.

After the Sharpe Hussler triumph and a short stint in front of the television cameras, Cameron Crockett was on the move.

“I’ve got to get to me horse,” he panted, also being the strapper. It was vintage Crockett. The horse comes first.

But how did he turn Sharpe Hussler around? “He’s a hard horse to place in the bush because of his benchmark rating and I even suggested to the owners it could be better for him to return to Queensland,” he explained.

“However, they wanted to leave him and, having his second preparation with me, I’ve learned a bit about older horses and also about travelling them over the mountain.

“I bring a pony with him and arrived at Rosehill on Friday. The way he walked to the track on Saturday I knew he would go as well as he could and that’s what I told the owners.”

The trainer doesn’t bet, nor does his father – with one exception.

“When we were breaking the [record-priced] yearlings for Tommy [Smith] and Neville [Begg], we would go behind the tote building [where trainers could see] and race for schooners,” Max Crockett recalled yesterday.

 

************
 

                THE SPRING RACING CARNIVAL IN MELBOURNE

MELBOURNE’S Spring Racing Carnival has been an integral part of the city's culture for well over 100 years. Culminating in one of the world’s most prestigious horse races on the first Tuesday in November in the Melbourne Cup, the ever-vibrant city comes alive for the weeks leading up to the 'race that stops a nation'.

While the racing is obviously the focus, there is far more to the carnival than the horses and far more to the city itself. Carnival time is one of the best periods of the year to visit Melbourne and there's plenty to keep you busy when you're not trackside.

To start your day in Melbourne without a coffee would be borderline offensive in this caffeine-obsessed town. Soak up the European vibe by grabbing a seat at Degraves Espresso on Degraves St, ordering a latte and some breakfast, and make sure you've got a copy of the day's newspaper to read up on the latest form & racing news for the next race day.

Now that you've woken up properly, stroll across the Princes Bridge before taking your pick from either side of St Kilda Road. The eastern side will give you a relaxing walk through the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens while the west leads to the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia's largest art gallery and home to a wide range of exhibitions all year round.

No doubt hungry after the morning's activities, you have an almost overwhelming array of choices for lunch. Melbourne is a truly multicultural city so you'll be able to satisfy any craving. The city's Chinatown runs through the eastern end of Little Bourke Street and is the perfect place to grab some dumplings or a bowl of noodles. The surrounding area is packed with other Asian cuisine, so if Ramen, Massaman Curry or Pho is more to your liking, it won't take you long to find your ideal spot.

From there, continue north through the city centre towards the Old Melbourne Gaol on Russell Street, where you can tour the prison grounds and brush up on your knowledge of Melbourne's criminal history in the era shortly after European settlement.

If the Gaol isn’t to your liking, wander a few more blocks north towards Carlton Gardens at the top of Spring Street, where amongst the grand old trees and floral displays you'll find the stunning old Royal Exhibition building which once housed the first Federal Parliament of Australia. Just behind the Exhibition Building is the Melbourne Museum, well worth a visit for the intriguing exhibits on nature and cultural history.

Just a few blocks westwards from Carlton Gardens is Lygon Street, home to Melbourne's huge Italian community and all the magnificent pizza, pasta and gelato that you'd expect to come with it. Fill up on delicious food here before making your way back down to the southern end of the city centre, because no evening would be complete without a few drinks to cap off a day well spent.

Alongside the Yarra River, there are numerous options to sit and enjoy a refreshing beer or cocktail with a beautiful view of the city. A few local favourites include Abory Bar & Eatery, which sits on the northern bank of the river between Flinders Street Station and the water and Ponyfish Island, a tiny island haven in the middle of the river underneath the Southbank pedestrian bridge. Failing that, just head to the strip along Southbank promenade where you can find popular destinations like Ludlow and The Breslin.

And after the perfect end to your day in this wonderful city, what's left to do but head home for a well-earned rest and make sure you're in top form before heading out to the racecourse in the morning? As of May 15th, Betway has last year’s winner Rekindling as the favourite to take out the 2018 Melbourne Cup at 20/1, so don't forget to keep an eye out before the odds shorten!

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Getaway & Go Racing &
Day at the Races FREE Ratings
BN: 55127167

 

RIDING FOR THE DISABLED ASSOC is an international, not for profit organization that provides horse riding & associated activities for people with all types of disabilities. Over 140 RDA groups operate throughout Australia.

For more information or to locate the nearest centre to you, please visit their website at: www.rdaq.org.au.

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