WE have devoted more space in this week’s Wednesday Whinge to the Gai Waterhouse – John Singleton – More Joyous saga and included some editorializing to go with your e-mails. There are also some interesting comments on the Federal Government’s failure to provide legislation that would help police and racing authorities to carry out investigations of a serious nature. The demise of the Eagle Farm track and plans to replace it with $10mn from Industry Infrastructure Funds attracted e-mails along with a number of other contentious and interesting topics. As usual we have we focus on our theme of THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY news of the past week.
HEADLINE COULD NOT HAVE SUMMED UP OUTCOME OF INQUIRY BETTER
‘A POX ON BOTH THEIR HOUSES’ screamed the headline in the Fairfax Media and it could not have summed up the outcome of the More Joyous inquiry more appropriately.
John Singleton wound up with a fine of $15,000 – it was reduced by $5,000 because he put his hand up – for bringing the industry into disrepute.
One could argue the result was quite an economical outcome for the multi millionaire businessman considering the ‘mail’ he received leading up to the More Joyous inquiry convinced him not to bet $100,000 on his favorite mare.
Gai Waterhouse refused to put her hand up and will fight charges that she failed to notify stewards of any problem with More Joyous which with all due respects the evidence suggests there was. If the mare couldn’t put her head on the ground to pick grass for 10 days after the All Aged Stakes – as Singleton maintains – then she should not have been starting in the race.
Tom Waterhouse was cleared of any suggestion that he had inside information concerning a problem with More Joyous or that she couldn’t win the All Aged Stakes. In the Court of Public Opinion the big loser in this side of the story was Andrew Johns, who might once have been a great footballer but when it comes to racing will be remembered for his ability to exaggerate.
Allan Robinson lived up to his reputation as the ‘Mouth That Roars’ and didn’t really come forth with the sensational information that he promised to reveal. Eddie Hayson ensured the ‘witch hunt’ has already begun within the Waterhouse stable for the alleged mole who he says one of the informants that told of a problem with More Joyous that was baton-passed to John Singleton.
Ray Murrihy and his panel have handled the hard yards controlling the media circus and preventing the inquiry from developing into a free-for-all between warring parties. It is a shame however that lawyer Chris Murphy was prevented from cross-examination. There were questions that in the opinion of some in racing remain unanswered.
INQUIRY WILL BE REMBERED FOR WHAT PENALTY WATERHOUSE INCURS – IF ANY
AT the end of the day the stewards’ handling of the More Joyous case will be remembered for what happens to the First Lady of Australian racing next Monday.
If she is found guilty of charges laid will a hefty fine suffice? Many believe that would not fit the crime considering the revelation that punters lost at least $4 million on More Joyous.
There are calls for Gai to be suspended if found guilty, a big ask, that would be fought strenuously by her battery of lawyers and many believe would not stand up considering the wealth and influence of the Waterhouse name.
Inevitably it will be up to Racing NSW to restore some respectability to the image of the sport which has been dragged more through the mud than it arguably was during the days of the Fine Cotton scandal in Queensland.
The control body needs to introduce new rules if necessary – or have the Government do so – to prevent Tom Waterhouse from linking his bookmaking business to the activities of his mother.
In the eyes of the punting public the family connection between top stable and leading bookmakers will never be acceptable but the anti-discrimination act means that racing authorities cannot prevent this. One could argue that the victims of this conflict of interest are the punting public who are also being discriminated against.
The mail is strong that Racing NSW will examine what ‘checks and balances’ can be placed on the Waterhouse family, with stewards conceding that there was a public perception that mother and son had what some believed was a mutually agreeable arrangement.
Stewards determined there was ‘no evidence’ to confirm that Tom Waterhouse, who runs his online betting business with the help of a multi-million dollar advertising campaign and appearances on Channel Nine’s NRL coverage, had inside information on More Joyous when he spoke with Andrew Johns
Nevertheless, the Chief Steward cautioned him to ‘isolate’ his bookmaking business from his mother’s role as a leading Australian racing trainer.
“You must take care, and we say to you in the form of a direction, you must not in your advertising and commentary, get too close to the bone in using the Waterhouse name and using mother’s name.”
Outside the inquiry Murrihy said he expected Racing NSW might ‘add some layers to his ruling’ but declined to comment further.
“(There simply) needs to be a clear line between what he’s doing and what his mother is doing, being a very successful trainer,” said Murrihy, which should send a message to CEO Peter V’landys to show that he isn’t all talk, no action, as many believe.
There is also the need for stewards to further pursue the evidence of brothel owner and big punter Hayson that two people other than Johns – one he described as a friend, the other as somebody with ‘a connection’ to the Waterhouse stable – had told him More Joyous had been treated by vets all week and shouldn’t run.
‘‘Everyone knew the horse had problems, except poor Singo,’’ Hayson said, which is a stunning allegation against Waterhouse and on racing in NSW and leaves those who backed More Joyous with a sick feeling in the stomach.
NICK XENAPHON HAS GROWING LIST OF FANS FOR HIS STANCE ON RACING
UNLIKE the NSW Sports Miniter Graham Annesley who has adopted arguably a ‘soft cock’ approach in declaring that there needs to be ‘a clear delineation between sport and sports betting,’ the Independent Federal Senator Nick Xenophon has described it as ‘an understatement’ to view the Waterhouse connection as an unholy alliance.
“If there was ever a case for reform of the racing industry to strengthen integrity, this is it,” Xenophon said. “It seems extraordinary that they are giving John Singleton a fine ... they are shooting the messenger for speaking up.”
Thousands of punters will agree. If Singleton had not spoken up More Joyous would just have joined that endless list of fancied runners in Sydney racing that perform poorly with one of the regular excuses accepted for the flop.
Regardless of the continuing calls by the Sydney racing media for the More Joyous inquiry to be done and dusted, racing in NSW has to work hard to win back the confidence of the punting public.
This saga is only the tip of the iceberg. Punters are sick to death of form reversals, flops by favorites that drift in betting and second string runners from major stables upsetting more favored starters after being supported in the Fixed Odds markets.
These are the reasons that many are calling for the Sherriff of Sydney racing to hang up his well worn hat. He has won back some friends during the More Joyous inquiry with a tough stance to get to the truth.
But many still believe that if Gai Waterhouse escapes with a slap on the wrist – by that they mean a substantial fine – then the whole affair will just be another black mark on Sydney racing.
HERE’S A SAMPLE OF WHAT YOU HAD TO SAY ON THE MORE JOYOUS INQUIRY
HERE are several e-mails we have elected to run from what our readers had to say on the subject with apologies to the many who missed out (but some were repetitive):
JP of MELBOURNE: ‘This inquiry can’t finish quick enough for the officials of racing in NSW. It has been a major embarrassment for their product which has been on the nose for a long time.
Just take a look at what has been happening in Sydney racing. Favorites blow like the wind and perform like mules. Acceptable excuses are found for positive swabs. Big stables continue to win with second string horses and if there are inquiries the outcome is mute.
The headline grabbing chief steward has been brought back to earth with a big thud and so has the CEO of Racing NSW who would have us believe that state was on the verge of becoming the pace-setter in Australian racing when Victoria was confronting its share of controversies during the spring carnival.’
AS of SYDNEY: ‘The media has a lot to answer for in this whole affair. In my opinion they have aided and abetted in bringing the sport of racing into disrepute by the coverage that has been devoted to this inquiry.
As Kenny Callander wrote in The Telegraph, he will be glad when the inquiry is wound up. So will a lot of others who love our industry. Gai doesn’t deserve the treatment she has received simply for being a good and protective mum.
The amount of time and space that has been allocated to this sad saga in the newspapers and on radio and television is scandalous. As Kenny wrote even the Mel Schumacher leg pull, the Big Philou doping scandal, or the Fine Cotton ring-in inquiry didn’t create as much intense scrutiny or attract as much media coverage.
Let’s get on with the business of racing. We cannot afford this bad publicity to continue.’
MC of MELBOURNE: ‘Everyone is entitled to a fair hearing but if Gai Waterhouse gets time on the charges that have been laid then I’ll win the Lotto every week for the next month.
There is no way the authorities in NSW would want Waterhouse to take this scandal further and have her lawyers drag it through the courts if she by some fluke happened to be suspended.
Many believe a fine for failing to notify a problem with a horse going into a Group 1 is not a sufficient penalty. One wonders what would happen if the trainer involved was not so high profile.
After the Chris Waller swab case I lost confidence in racing in NSW. With this More Joyous business hot on its heels there are many of us interstate who don’t want to bet on racing there anymore.’
TP of SYDNEY: ‘I believe it was a denial of natural justice that lawyer Chris Murphy could not properly cross examine key parties in the More Joyous inquiry, especially the Waterhouse family.
As soon as it became obvious that Murphy would use freedom from defamation law to probe perception of conflict of interest between the training and bookmaking enterprises of the family it seems he was shut down.
Of course that decision came as no surprise to those of us who were aware that Murphy has been involved in a number of clashes with Chief Steward Ray Murrihy and is not a big subscriber to the Waterhouse legend.
Stewards rightly or wrongly believed that to allow Murphy free rein at the inquiry would have just ignited the already inflamed atmosphere between Waterhouse and Singleton.
Little wonder Chris Murphy tweeted his disappointment during the day at being virtually shut down by the inquiry.’
STEWARDS DID INVESTIGATE BETTING AFTER COX PLATE DRAW FIASCO
‘I noticed with interest that John Singleton made reference and questioned why stewards in Victoria didn’t investigate the Cox Plate barrier draw.
Of most concern are the questions surrounding why Gai Waterhouse would chose to select such a wide barrier for More Joyous when the connections obviously expected her to choose one closer in.
Shouldn’t there have been some questions asked at the time as John Singleton suggested by stewards of Waterhouse just to clear the air on the issue.
It has of course become much more timely with the events involving More Joyous prior to her flop in the All Aged Stakes.’ – Michael O’Farrell, Sydney.
EDITOR’S NOTE: STEWARDS did in fact examine betting records back then and again recently to see if there was a link between Gai Waterhouse and her bookmaking son, Tom’s, operation on the Cox Plate. They found no irregularity then or now. It is however interesting that the barrier selections for big races by connections could be reviewed in future. Here is a story on this subject by ADRIAN DUNN for TVN and the RACING NETWORK:
RACING Victoria stewards have twice examined betting records, including those of Tom Waterhouse, on last year’s Cox Plate and have found nothing irregular.
RV chairman of stewards Terry Bailey said Waterhouse’s betting on the Cox Plate was checked following the controversy attached to Gai Waterhouse selecting barrier 11 for More Joyous.
John Singleton said today in the Fairfax Media that he was surprised that RV stewards did not hold an inquiry into Waterhouse's barrier choice.
Bailey said it was not steward's job to second-guess trainer's barrier selections, but flagged the future of such barrier selection practices given how they're perceived.
He said stewards re-examined the betting again in the wake of the More Joyous inquiry.
“There is certainly nothing there that is of concern,” Bailey said.
“There was a lot of conjecture at the time (Cox Plate) so we were certainly mindful of it then and we went back and had another look at it after the blow up in Sydney.
“We are more than satisfied that looking at Tom’s ledgers that things were above board.”
SOME NEWS & SCUTTLEBUTT OF THE PAST WEEK YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
CONTROVERSIAL JOCKEYS HAVING A GOOD TIME IN CENTRAL QUEENSLAND
ACCORDING to our spies in Central Queensland, two of the most controversial jockeys in the land appeared to be having a very good time when they linked up recently in Yeppoon.
One cannot attend race meetings after falling foul of stewards and the other on the comeback trail cannot ride at TAB meetings just yet. One is from Victoria and the other is from Queensland.
NEXT BEST THING TO BLACK CAVIAR IS A GOOD OLD SING-ALONG AFTER THE LAST
WE received this e-mail from a regular contributor on the Darling Downs in relation to the Winter Carnival in Brisbane which read:
‘THEY might have missed out on Black Caviar but those quick-thinking officials of Brisbane racing wasted no time embracing another blockbuster draw-card.
The news is out, the announcement has been made, they have listened to former race-caller turned marketing guru Wonderful Wayne and will proceed with a sing-along after the last on Stradbroke Day.
Forget about Bruce Springstein, Johnny Farnham or Delta Goodrem, the Brisbane Racing Club has adopted the concept (which WW apparently saw on one of his many travel junkets overseas).
Stradbroke Day race-goers will be invited to stay after the last and join in the sing-along led by Wilson and the other One Hit Wonders of racing in Brisbane.
Is there any chance Wayne and Bart will hoist little Kev onto their shoulders for a racing rendition of ‘For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow’ to be followed by three rousing cheers for the job being done?
They might even get old Fergie to crack out his top hat and tails from Royal Ascot and accompany them on the BRC’s grand piano with his version of Crocodile Rock.’
RQ STEWARDS MORE PROACTIVE IN RECENT TIMES BUT SOME STILL NOT HAPPY
WE had two e-mails pointing out how Racing Queensland stewards have become more proactive in their integrity pursuits in recent times but questioning whether they are as vigilant when it comes to high profile licensees.
Our response is ‘you have to start somewhere.’
Here are the Stewards’ Reports on two more recent inquiries:
JOCKEY DALE MISSEN
RACING Queensland (RQ) Stewards today (May 13) continued the inquiry opened into the handling of DESTARS in Race 7 at the Gold Coast on Saturday, 27 April 2013. Today further evidence was taken from rider Dale Missen, Trainer Les Kelly and owner Mr B. Xantos
Stewards examined betting activities on the race, and reviewed a number of other races which illustrated the riding style of Dale Missen. After carefully considering all of the evidence Dale Missen was issued with a charge pursuant to AR135(a) which reads:
“Every horse shall run on its merits.”
The specifics of the charge being that jockey Missen held DESTARS back from its real and legitimate opportunity of winning the race by:
(a) Failing to move DESTARS into a three wide position into clear running from a point passing the 600 metres until near the 500 metres before TRUE RED moved up on his outside
(b) Failing to take a run between TIGER PRINT and FINE GOLD near the 400 metres when there was an opportunity to do so
(c) Failing to ride the horse with sufficient vigour from the 300 metre until near the 100 metre.
After considering the evidence, Jockey D Missen was informed that the panel rejected his explanation for the manner in which he rode DESTARS over the final 600 metres of the race. In determining the matter Stewards were mindful of the experience of D. Missen as a race rider and their view of having watched him ride other horses in similar circumstances. Stewards formed a strong opinion that his actions over the final 600 metres were deliberate and conscious actions designed not to allow DESTARS to run on its merits. D. Missen was found guilty of the charge and after considering the submissions relating to his personal circumstances on penalty was disqualified for a period of 12 months.
In determining the penalty Stewards considered that this is a serious matter that has the ability to impact negatively on the image of the racing industry.
Stewards considered neither L Kelly nor B Xantos were a party to the breach of this rule.
TRAINER ROBERT BRADSHAW
RACING Queensland (RQ) Stewards (on May 10) continued an Inquiry into a report from RQ Stewards Scott Kelly and Kym Daly concerning their alleged findings during a stable inspection conducted at the stable premises of licensed Trainer Mr. Robert Bradshaw prior to the Sunshine Coast Turf Club race meeting on Sunday, 14 April 2013.
The report alleged that Mr. Bradshaw had administered Kynoselen to the racehorse MAY by intravenous injection shortly before Stewards entered the premises.
After hearing the evidence of Stewards S. Kelly and K. Daly, Mr. Bradshaw accepted their version and admitted treating the racehorse MAY.
Stewards then questioned Mr. Bradshaw about the race preparation of his remaining runners engaged to race that afternoon, MORINGA’S MO JO and DESERT RULER.
During questioning and upon review of the treatment records relevant to MORINGA’S MO JO and DESERT RULER, Mr. Bradshaw provided evidence that MORINGA’S MO JO had been stomach tubed late the previous afternoon.
Stewards ordered the withdrawal of MAY and MORINGA’S MOJO from their respective races.
After taking further evidence from Mr. Bradshaw today Stewards issued the following charges:
Notwithstanding the provisions of AR.178C(2), no person without the permission of the Stewards may administer or cause to be administered any medication to a horse on race day prior to such horse running in a race.
The specifics being that on the morning of Sunday, 14 April 2013, Mr. Bradshaw did administer Kynoselen to the thoroughbred horse MAY, when that runner was engaged to compete in race 5 at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club on that particular day.
Mr Bradshaw pleaded guilty to the charge.
No person without the permission of the Stewards may stomach-tube, attempt to stomach-tube, cause to be stomach tubed or be a party to the stomach-tubing of a horse within 24 hours of the appointed starting time of a race in which it is engaged to be run.
The specifics being that Mr. Bradshaw in the late afternoon on Saturday, 13 April 2013 did stomach-tube MORINGA’S MO JO, which was within 24 hours of the appointed starting time of race 1 on Sunday 14 April 2013 at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club, a race in which MORINGA’S MO JO was engaged to compete.
Mr Bradshaw pleaded not guilty and when defending the charge made submissions to have the matter adjourned to enable him to have further witnesses present. Stewards acceded to this request and the inquiry regarding this charge will resume at 1pm on Tuesday 14 May 2013.
When considering an appropriate penalty for charge 1, Stewards had to consider the seriousness of the breach and the need for a penalty to serve as a deterrent to Mr. Bradshaw and to illustrate to all industry participants that there is no place for incidents such as this in the sport.
Stewards did not feel there were any special circumstances in this particular case that would result in a deviation from the penalty provisions as stipulated in AR.196(5). Mr Bradshaw was subsequently disqualified for a period of six (6) months to commence immediately and to conclude at midnight 9 November 2013.
Mr Bradshaw was advised of his appeal rights.
SUSPENDED JOCKEY FOUND GUILTY OF THREATENING TO KILL TRAINER
RACING Victoria stewards have suspended jockey Steven Vella for two months after he was found guilty of threatening to kill Ballarat trainer Graeme Hicks.
Vella had an altercation in March with Hicks at the Ballarat stables and was charged and found guilty of arming himself with a hammer and threatening to hit him with it.
The second charge was threatening to kill Hicks. Again he was found guilty.
The trainer was found guilty of using racially derogatory or racially offensive language towards Vella and was fined $500.
Vella had his license to ride in races suspended for three months. Stewards ordered that one month be suspended for a period of 12 months.
Steward Corey Waller, who led the investigation, said the penalty reflected the seriousness of the situation.
He would not comment if the stewards' panel judged whether the threat was meant literally or in the heat of the moment.
Waller said police had looked into the incident but had not proceeded with inquiries.
Vella was found guilty of misconduct after an incident with jockey Jack Hill at Ararat races on February 11.
He was ordered to pay a $1000 fine, which was later suspended by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board.
Vella will now have to pay that fine.
Stewards said they took into account Vella's personal circumstances and provocation.
SECRECY SEEMS TO SURROUND THE DRAFT REPORT INTO HANDLING OF OLIVER CASE
RACING Victoria has received a draft of the report into its handling of the Damien Oliver investigation last year.
ADRIAN DUNN reports for TVN and the RACING NETWORK that RV CEO Bernard Saundry told Racing Network today it was given the report prepared by Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna ahead of its release either later this month or early June.
Saundry said RV can make present its views to Perna, but not make any alteration to the report, which was requested last November by Racing Minister come Premier Dr Denis Napthine.
He said RV had been “quite open” to Perna doing a review of the process that the steward’s panel went through.
Saundry declined to comment on what is in the Perna report. Perna is away until the last week of May.
“Sal asked if we wanted to make and that he would issue the report when he returns,” Saundry said.
“We can’t interfere with his process
Oliver was disqualified for eight months and suspended for two months for placing a $10,000 credit bet on Miss Octopussy at Moonee Valley on October 1, 2010.
ARE THESE ‘WALK THROUGHS’ HAVING ANY DETERRENT FOR DOPING IN NWS RACING?
WE had a couple of e-mails again questioning the effectiveness of stewards doing a ‘walk through’ of stabling complexes in NSW on race days.
The critics believe this is a band-aid cure (coming ready or not attitude) for what is really happening and point to the situation that occurred during the past week, as reported below on the Nine Network:
NSW authorities are keen to stamp out doping in horse, harness and greyhound racing after two men were charged with twice giving a winning horse a performance-enhancing substance.
Prussian Secret won the Tamworth Cup and a purse of $40,000 last month, but detectives from the firearms and organised crime squad were tipped off that the thoroughbred had been "drenched" hours before the race.
On Sunday, detectives intercepted the horse a few hours before it was to run in the Gunnedah Cup.
It was tested for the same substance and scratched from the race.
The horse's 27-year-old trainer and co-owner, and a 47-year-old man were charged with facilitating and engaging in conduct that corrupts the betting outcome of an event.
The trainer was also charged with betting offences.
"We will allege that bets were made by those people or on their behalf in relation to the running of the Tamworth Cup," Detective Superintendent Ken Finch told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
The men are the first two people charged by Strike Force Trentbridge, which began early this year with the aim of stamping out animal doping.
"Our investigation will be ongoing in relation to not only that horse but across the board," he said.
Drenching involves administering bicarbonate to the horse before a race to counteract the build-up of lactic acid, allowing it to compete longer and improve its performance.
It remains a legal practice but is prohibited 24 hours prior to a race.
Both men were granted conditional bail to appear in Tamworth Local Court on May 27.
Police will continue to investigate if anyone else knew if Prussian Secret was allegedly doped before the Tamworth Cup and placed bets on that assumption.
The eight-year-old horse has won 15 races in 41 starts, netting a total of $290,000 in prize money since 2008.
Prussian Secret is trained at Tamworth and has mainly competed in country races but also won in Brisbane in 2010.
CHAMPION BRITISH JUMPS JOCKEY CONSULTS COLLEAGUES ON CRIME NOVEL
CHAMPION British jumps jockey AP McCoy is reportedly getting some pretty colorful advice from friends and colleagues about potential plots for his debut crime novel which will be published in November.
It has emerged that the book will be titled ‘Taking The Fall’ and centre around Duncan Claymore, a conditional jockey on the way up whose talent is apparently matched by his inability to keep his mouth shut.
Whether the 17-time champion jump jockey has based the character on any of his colleagues will no doubt be long debated in the weighing room.
McCoy said: ‘It gives you something different to think about. It is quite interesting trying to come up with different plots and can be the topic of conversation when we go out with friends.
‘It’s bringing out the disturbed side of some of my colleagues and friends more than I thought.
‘I am not sure I can put my name to some of their ideas. There have been some of them which would make Fifty Shades of Grey look fairly tame – not that I’ve ever read that.’
TIME FOR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO HELP FIGHT ‘CROOKS IN RACING AND SPORT’
WE had several e-mails calling on racing authorities in the various states to ‘lift their act’ if they want to improve the image of the sport and highlighting the need for greater powers for stewards and integrity departments.
HERE is an example that we hope gets the general message across:
‘ONE has to question whether the State and Federal Governments are serious about cleaning up corruption in racing and sport when the integrity process is being hamstrung by bureaucratic red tape.
You only have to look at the situation in Victoria where police and racing authorities have publicly declared their frustration at lack of Government legislative support to help them do their jobs.
If the politicians in Victoria aren’t prepared to pressure their Federal counterparts to change the rules and they have a Racing Minister who is Premier in Denis Napthine then what hope have states like New South Wales which is on the nose with the punting pubic and Queensland where it is not much better and their Integrity Department has been dismantled.” – Cam Peterson, Melbourne.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Independent Senator Nick Xenophon certainly isn’t sitting on his backside where racing and sports integrity is concerned. Unfortunately his calls for what should be happening are falling on deaf ears – not only in politics but some sporting and racing circles as well. Just on the subject of Queensland where the Integrity Department was dismantled by the new Interim Board over the past year, former Police Commissioner Jim O’Sullivan has been recently appointed as Racing Integrity Commissioner so we can hopefully expect to see some action at the station there.
HERE is a combination of stories from the resources of FAIRFAX MEDIA that have been published on this issue over the past week:
POLICE CANNOT SHARE PHONE-TAP EVIDENCE BECAUSE FEDS WON’T CHANGE THE LAWS
POLICE cannot share phone-tap evidence of criminal activity in racing and sports with the bodies responsible for policing it after the Federal Government ruled out changing laws to allow them to do so.
The decision by the Federal Attorney-General comes despite Victoria Police expressing frustration at not being able to pass on information to sporting authorities.
Fairfax Media revealed earlier this year that international match-fixing gangs were targeting Australian sports, and that police, the AFL and horse racing authorities had asked for changes to legislation to enable police to pass on information gleaned from phone-taps.
Whilst racing in Victoria is streets ahead when it comes to integrity processes even those responsible admit they are frustrated and unable to do their job properly.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton revealed this week that a number of people involved in the state’s racing would face bans if the force were able to share intercepted intelligence.
Speaking with 3AW Breakfast, Deputy Commissioner Ashton admitted he was frustrated by the Federal legislation which was preventing him from revealing information of criminal activity to the Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna.
Deputy Commissioner Ashton said his unit had obtained information concerning trainers and jockeys committing crimes. "We often find information that comes over, most often (through) phone taps, and often through other ways as well that concern us about the racing industry. We sit there across the table from Sal Perna and we say 'we know things, but we can't tell you’.
"Certainly we've asked the Commonwealth through the State Government whether we can have these changes. We've been following the Senate hearings that have been going on in the Commonwealth at the moment in relation to these sorts of powers, but we don't see any progress."
RACING VICTORIA HEAD OF INTEGRITY SHARES THE POLICE FRUSTRATIONS
HEAD of Integrity for Racing Victoria, Dayle Brown, shared the Deputy Commissioner's frustrations, saying he was sick of the information channels flowing one way.
Brown said he had been chasing information from the Australian Crime Commission about racing for months ‘and got nothing’.
“If we can't get the information we can't act upon it,'' he said, regarding both the ACC and police. “We need co-operation from the enforcement body to get the information so we can act.”
Brown said RVL was fed up with the ‘paralysis’ of being unable to go forward with investigations. He said existing and growing integrity threats, such as those posed by big Asian gambling syndicates, meant it was crucial that legislation be changed.
RVL chief executive Bernard Saundry said that change was the ‘No 1 priority’ adding it was up to the State or Federal Racing Minister to get things changed but conceded he was unaware of the current position of Victorian Premier and Racing Minister Denis Napthine on the issue. Well it’s time he and RVL found out where the good Doctor stands on the issue.
While RVL says police are reluctant to release sensitive information to a private body such as RVL, Ashton said he would happily tip off racing authorities if he was allowed to.
RVL Chairman Rob Roulston said he did not accept ‘wide-ranging’ comments in the media this week that racing was ‘full of crooks’.
He said that ‘99.9 per cent’ of people in racing attempted to do the right thing. “Basically it is a clean sport - less corrupt that many sports,” Roulston said.
Instead of worrying about what the bad publicity is doing to the image of racing Roulston too should be putting pressure on his Premier and Racing Minister and if he wanted to take it Federal then Independent Senator Nick Xenaphon would no doubt offer a sympathetic ear.
ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE TELLS FAIRFAX MEDIA THE LAWS WON’T BE CHANGED
More than four months after Fairfax Media revealed Mr Ashton’s call to the Commonwealth to amend the phone intercept act, the top cop said Victoria Police had yet to hear whether the laws would be changed.
However, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Mark Dreyfus told Fairfax Media the laws would not be changed.
"While the Attorney-General has authorized agencies to undertake interception to deal with serious crimes, this information cannot be passed to sporting bodies to conduct in-house inquiries into disciplinary matters," she said.
"However, if the police become aware of a serious offence as defined under the Interception Act that relates to a person involved in the horse racing industry, it is open to the police to investigate the matter.
"The Federal Sports Minister has said that each state must ensure match-fixing is criminalized in their jurisdiction. The Commonwealth has led the way, asking the states to sign up to the National Policy against Match-Fixing."
In February Mr Ashton told Fairfax Media he feared match-fixing syndicates were already grooming Australian sports stars as part of long-term plans to infiltrate local competitions.
He said this week that the racing industry was particularly at risk. The Crime Commission found in 2011 that racing accounted for $2.6 billion, or 93 per cent, of the $2.8 billion Australians wagered on sports in 2008-09.
Mr Ashton said Victoria Police’s sports integrity intelligence unit has already gathered evidence through phone taps that could result in several owners, trainers and jockeys being banned from the racing industry, if police could pass on that information to racing officials.
SURVEY SUGGESTS THE BIG BETTORS ARE BAD JUDGES OR NO FUTURE IN PUNTING?
IF a survey of betting statistics from the major meetings last Saturday is an accurate guide – and it happens most weekends – either the big bettors are bad judges, the bookies are geniuses, or there is no future in punting on horse racing.
A survey of the big bets placed with major Fixed Odds agencies reveals:
BUFFERING, favorite for the BTC Cup, was probably the biggest go around the country with a host of bets ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 to $20,000 and one of $100,000 laid. It is history now that he missed the start, sat wide and ran fourth.
SURVIVED, the sensationally backed favorite that ran second in the Rough Habit Plate, carried many bets from $5,000 to $10,000 and $30,000. The Kiwi remains popular elect for the Queensland Derby after being slaughtered by jockey Jonathon Riddell, whose ride was queried by Eagle Farm stewards. Their report read:
STEWARDS questioned J. Riddell in regards to his riding of SURVIVED rounding the home turn and in the early part of the straight, in particular the reasons he did not progress from a trailing position behind USAINITY around that runner rather than committing to a run to that horse's inside which resulted in him being momentarily held up and obliged to alter course quite suddenly near the 300m to obtain clear running. J. Riddell stated that he was confident a run would come to the inside of USAINITY between STUBOY and HEATER (C. Munce), however when that run did not eventuate he was forced to alter course to the outside of USAINITY near the 300m, coming into contact with TONOPAH. Trainer J. Bary stated that he was satisfied with the decision of jockey Riddell to remain to the inside of other runners as the horse is still inexperienced and has shown in recent starts that it has a tendency to shift its ground when brought to the outside to make its final run. After considering the explanation provided by jockey Riddell, stewards informed him that in their view he had erred by not maintaining a position that allowed him to progress to the outside of USAINITY in the home straight, thus affording his mount clear running upon straightening. Stewards did not feel, however, that his actions were to the extent that would bring his riding within the purview of the rules.
THE end result – stewards gave Riddell a slap on the wrist and the punters did their hard-earned when they should have collected. That’s racing!
MOMENT OF CHANGE carried many big bets ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 and $10,000 in the Goodwood in Adelaide despite a last start Sydney failure. The Peter Moody-trained galloper missed the start and was described by the so-called ‘experts’ as unlucky.
Of 40 horses listed as attracting BIG BETS (more than $2,000) only a handful were successful on Saturday. One that cost bookies plenty was LESS ISMORE at Eagle Farm. Others included the Chris Waller-trained INDEX LISTED and MORIARTY at Rosehill. MIDSUMMER SON and ELITE ELLE were bad results for the betting agencies at Caulfield as were LINTON and MOTIVADO at Morphettville.
PUNTERS ANNOYED STACKHOUSE SUSPENDED FOR DOING HIS BEST
WE received several e-mails from disgruntled punters who backed Cosmic Causeway at Caulfield last Saturday and felt that his rider Daniel Stackhouse was harshly treated by the stewards.
HERE is an example of those sentiments which hopefully gets the general message across:
“I made Cosmic Causeway my bet of the day and invested $200 on the horse which is as much as I can afford. Had it not been for the ride of Daniel Stackhouse I would have done my money.
I was dismayed to read where the young jockey had received a 12 meeting suspension for careless riding in the straight. Had he not pushed out, Cosmic Causeway would have got beaten.
Whilst I am the first to recognize that stewards have a job to do and that safety of all riders is paramount in their minds surely there needs to be some consideration for the punters as well. They did concede that the interference he caused was in the mid range category.
Stackhouse pleaded guilty to causing interference to a beaten horse that was blocking him for a run at a vital stage. These jockeys are riding a fine line between ensuring the safety of other riders, being bagged for getting boxed in and meeting the demands and pressures of the trainers, connections and punters.
I, for one, felt that the ride of Stackhouse warranted a better fate. He was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. He did and he paid the price – a stint on the sidelines.” – Sam Jensen, Melbourne.
EDITOR’S NOTE: WHAT can I say? It’s an occupational hazard for all jockeys who find themselves trapped in a pocket at a vital stage in the straight and full of running. What do they do – pull the trigger and face the consequences or go across the line under double-raps looking like they slaughtered the horse? At the end of the day it is, as you say Sam, a fine line they ride between safety and skill.
ROBBIE HEATHCOTE STAND WINS FRIENDS AMONG THE PUNTING PUBLIC
THERE were also several e-mails in support of the stand taken by trainer Robbie Heathcote but applauding him for lifting his media ban. Here is the one that we have chosen to run:
‘BY the time my whinge hits the deck the Robbie Heathcote drama will be done and dusted but I feel there are things that need to be said about this sad affair.
Full marks to Robbie for his honest appraisal of what occurred when in hindsight he conceded that his reaction was more spur of the moment to the seriousness of the charge.
Few would disagree that he was entitled to be angry at the failure of stewards to call him aside and give him a warning that what he had to say could prompt a charge under the rules if it happened again.
Most experienced and respected stewards adopt the approach of prevention rather than cure and do their best work behind the scenes. If the offender isn’t prepared to listen to warnings or advice then he faces the eventual consequences.
Racing needs more ‘media savvy’ people like Heathcote. He deserved better and so did the punters. The stewards were entitled – more to the point obliged – to question the tactics adopted by Larry Cassidy in taking on Buffering to the degree he did on Listen Son.’ – Glen Wilson, Melbourne.
EDITOR’S NOTE: My thoughts on the Robbie Heathcote case are well documented. Three things failed to happen that could have avoided the situation. Firstly, the stewards simply needed to ask some questions about tactics adopted in the race. Secondly, Heathcote should have spoken to stewards on the day of his concerns before expressing them in a website blog. Thirdly, if stewards were upset by what he wrote they should have called him aside and given him a warning. The charge of bringing the industry into disrepute was over the top.
JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT THE BRC WAS FLYING IT NEEDS ANOTHER $10 MILLION
WE received several e-mails concerning the call for $10 million to be used from the Racing Infrastructure Fund to replace the current Eagle Farm track which desperately needs major work. Unfortunately the issue has quickly developed into a political debate but here are some of the concerns that were expressed by readers:
‘IT wasn’t all that long ago we were being told how successful and profitable the Brisbane Racing Club would be in the future under these wonderful plans being paraded by then Chairman Kevin Dixon.
Now we have the major track in the state resembling a ploughed paddock on the first day of the winter carnival and the BRC looking for another handout from Racing Queensland.
And no doubt with their old boss at the helm of the two major Boards that run racing in Queensland we can expect millions to be ploughed into headquarters. It won’t matter if that money was promised previously to other needy clubs under the Bentley – Labor Government infrastructure plan.
Let’s face it – Eagle Farm and Doomben are in the electorate of Treasurer Tim Nicholls and racing’s No 1 man Kevin Dixon will want to ensure his former club gets what it needs.
Surely someone should have seen this track disaster coming. Perhaps they were too busy blowing their trumpet about pie-in-the-sky development projects for the racing precinct to worry about the one thing that really mattered – the racing surface at Eagle Farm.
The call has now gone out for RQ to again bail the BRC out of trouble – just like it did when Kevin Dixon get his feet under the table as Chairman of the Interim Board.
It looks like another $10 million of funds promised to needy projects in other parts of the state will be redirected to the BRC.’ – As I am an official of a rival club I ask that my identity be with-held. I don’t want my club to suffer because I opened my big mouth.
And this one:
EAGLE FARM PLOUGHED PADDOCK HARDLY A CONFIDENCE BOOSTER FOR PUNTERS
‘LITTLE wonder punters don’t want to bet on racing in Brisbane.
If the lack of confidence at what is happening on the track wasn’t enough now the track itself has deteriorated into such a swamp that it resembles the cushion at Toowoomba.
Easy fix – just take money that was promised to desperately needed projects in other racing jurisdictions and haul No 1 out of the crap. Kev’s our mate. He’ll do the right thing by us.
In excess of $10 million is needed to correct an embarrassing situation which was highlighted on the opening day of the Eagle Farm carnival last Saturday when a downfall of only 20mm saw the track deteriorate from a Good 3 to a Heavy 9.
Punters who had invested their hard earned early expecting the surface to be at the worst dead didn’t have a chance and nor did the owners or trainers who were at least entitled to race on a surface that was something short of a ploughed paddock.
I guess it’s time for the good old BRC to fall back on the circuit they like to kick around. Doomben will be desperately needed as a fall-back option if Eagle Farm has to close for major track reconstruction.
That’s, of course, unless they decide to give Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast – or worse still Toowoomba (where a new track is also planned while others in the industry wait) – for major Saturday meetings.
The punters aren’t likely to want to travel out of Brisbane and do battle with the traffic to the north or south and they certainly won’t be too keen to bet on the Gold Coast where the tight circuit traditionally proves a minefield.
Some of the cynics in the industry reckon what happened at Eagle Farm last Saturday was karma for the BRC decision not to revert the BTC Cup meeting to Doomben after they knew in plenty of time that Black Caviar wouldn’t be coming north.
Standby and watch RQ fast-track millions of dollars to the BRC to ensure that Eagle Farm and the BRC get what they want despite all the promises that were made to needy clubs in other parts of the state.
Who said things have or will change after Bentley and the Labor Government have been shown the gate to the racetrack and consigned to the spelling paddock?’ – Doug Johnson, Gold Coast.
THE UNEXPECTED PROBLEM THAT NOW CONFRONTS THE NEW RQ BOARDS
‘WE were told that increasing prizemoney which ultimately relies on a new and far better TAB agreement would be the major priorities of the new Boards appointed to run the three codes of racing in Queensland.
All of a sudden there is a more important priority – the need for a new track at Eagle Farm – where the minute a few sparrows fart overhead the surface goes from good to heavy and the venue becomes a standing joke in the eyes of the racing nation.
No doubt the orders have gone out from the little man running the show to drop everything and correct the problems confronting his old club.
Well the first thing the new all powerful Board, appointed to oversee the three codes, should be doing is dumping plans for a turf track at Toowoomba. That can wait.
Work needs to be done urgently at Eagle Farm. A new track at Toowoomba is more a political exercise. The turnover wouldn’t improve, in the eyes of many, to any great degree at Clifford Park twilights if they race on a track paved with gold.’ – Alan Brown, Darling Downs.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Politics aside the image of racing has to be right for punters to want to bet and Eagle Farm is the premier track in the State and as such should be regarded as one of the best surfaces, if not the best. It wasn’t a good look on the opening day of the winter carnival to see it deteriorate so dramatically after what wasn’t really a lot of rain. If it costs $10 million to replace the track then so be it, but surely the State Government could be asked to throw in half considering the urgency of the situation and the parlous financial state of racing in Queensland. Then again if the up-coming inquiry proves a success perhaps some of these over-the-top contracts paid to loyal servants and companies that didn’t have to tender might be repaid to some degree and the money put to better use. Then again pigs might fly.
IT DOESN’T PAY TO MAKE PREDICTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO NEW RACETRACKS
‘WERE the Racing Minister and his minders kidding when they distributed a Media Release last Friday trumpeting the new track redevelopment in Cairns only to have the first meeting there cancelled the following day?
This project cost close to $2 million. They would have been better off leaving it as it was. The old track could cop five inches on the Friday and still race.
Now they have four inches over a week and have to pull the pin on the new one.
It seems the new Racing Minister (Steven Dickson) can’t help but put his foot in his mouth. Just read the second paragraph of his Media Release. It makes him look like a real goose.
Surely the RQ boss or his departmental advisers should be warning the Minister of the pitfalls of making these types of statements until new tracks have settled.
To make matters worse – hot on the heels of the Cairns embarrassment (where they were forced to abandon after 106mm fell) came the fiasco at Eagle Farm where a heavy downfall (but only 22mm recorded) saw the track deteriorate from good to heavy and now they want $10 million from RQ to repair it.
In the meantime I guess the industry can expect another two years of propaganda Media Releases telling us what a wonderful job and how transparent the new Government is when it comes to racing in Queensland.’ – Terry Clark, Sunshine Coast.
EDITOR’S NOTE: RACING Minister Steve Dickson was unfortunately an innocent victim of unpredictable weather and I genuinely feel sorry for him that a good news story turned overnight into an embarrassment. I think the bloke is doing a pretty good job in trying circumstances so perhaps we should cut him a break on this one.
Here is the Media Release that came back to bite the Racing Minister:
RACING returns to the Cairns Jockey Club on Saturday, 11 May with the unveiling of its brand new track at Cannon Park
Racing Minister Steve Dickson said the $1.86 million upgrade was expected to put an end to cancelled meets during the wet season.
“This project, part of the Newman Government’s $110 million dollar Racing Industry Capital Development’s Scheme, is about protecting Cairns’ multi-million dollar racing industry from the worst of the weather,” Mr Dickson said.
“The LNP is continuing to deliver on its pledge to rejuvenate the Queensland racing industry and projects like this are just one of the many ways we are rebuilding racing across the state.
“I am determined to create a sustainable future for Queensland racing and this regionally focused funding forms a big part of that commitment.
“The new track has been designed by nationally recognized turf specialists McMahons Pty Ltd to be able to cope with the worst the wet season can throw at it.”
Member for Cairns Gavin King said the project faced some extraordinary challenges during construction, from extreme heat and rain to cyclonic activity.
“In spite of these challenges, McMahons and their local sub-contractors managed to complete the project ahead of schedule,” Mr King said.
“This great effort would not have been possible without Mr Thornton, the Cairns Jockey Club committee and everyone at the club who helped throughout the delivery of the project.”
Work included the installation of a new turf racing surface, along with a significant improvement in storm-water drainage, a new ambulance track, fencing, running rail and upgraded communications system.
Mr King said in addition to the new racing track, the club’s 100 stables had been significantly improved.
“This was a great opportunity to upgrade the stables, with particular attention to the working environment for trainers and general horse safety,” he said.
“The brand new Cannon Park Racecourse will secure the future of racing in Cairns for a long time to come.”
Cairns Jockey Club CEO Graham Thornton said weather-proofing the Cannon Park track would be an enormous benefit to the local economy.
“With this upgrade we are making Cairns one of the state’s leading racing destinations,” Mr Thornton said.
“Racing in Cairns provides enormous local economic benefit not only for those associated with the racing industry, but also retailers, restaurateurs and tourism operators.
“We would like to thank the trainers, owners and racing industry for their patience during the upgrade.”
Then we had the disastrous news from RQ – less than 24 hours later – with the announcement:
Cairns 11 May ABANDONED
Following further rainfall overnight and the state of the track, the race meeting scheduled for Cairns JC on Saturday 11 May 2013 has been abandoned.
Cannon Park racecourse has received 106 mm of rainfall over the past week ruling the track unsafe for racing.
The club will conduct a “phantom” betting meeting in lieu with full tote, bookmaker and hospitality facilities operating.
AUSTRALIAN RACING GREYHOUND REPORT IS RECOMMENDED READING
A report, written by BRUCE TEAGUE, senior Australian Greyhound Racing Writer, has been sent to as recommended reading, especially for those in the greyhound industry in Queensland.
We endorse those thoughts, have accompanied such with a teaser below and suggest you log onto the Australian Racing Greyhound website and read what Bruce has written in full, which starts:
It’s Time, Comrades. This cannot be allowed to go on forever.
A Commission of Inquiry into Queensland racing, just announced by the state’s attorney-general, represents the fourth such examination of racing in recent years. Running it will drag $3 million out of the state coffers, money which otherwise would be better spent fixing racetracks and promoting new business, or paying out some of the $10 million promised to greyhounds following the resumption of the Gold Coast track. It follows an unfavourable report by auditors into the alleged failure of the previous administration to put numerous construction jobs out to tender, and to excessive payouts to former employees, two of whom then went to work for the contractor in question. The process used to select a preferred broadcaster has also been strongly criticised for lack of transparency.
Queensland has also wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants drawing up plans for two new greyhound tracks at Logan and Deagon, neither of which have gained approval. Another million is mooted for plans for a new dual code complex at Ipswich.
To read the full article log onto: www.australianracinggreyhound.com.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the above e-mails should not be interpreted as those of JOHN LINGARD, the owner-editor of the letsgohorseracing web-site. That is why he has added an ‘EDITOR’S NOTE’. Every endeavor is made to verify the authenticity of contributors. We welcome any reasonable and constructive responses from parties or individuals.