Jenny - Clean

MANIKATO A MAJOR VICTIM OF DIVE BOMBING RAIDS BY V’LANDYS

HOW is the $1 million Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley expected to compete less than a week after the $15 million The Everest is run at Randwick for the same top sprinters?

It simply can’t and unless there is some change to the programming – which the Moonee Valley Race Club is already considering – the Manikato will not be up to Group 1 standard.

In this competitive market where pop-up races continue to be funded by absurd prizemoney in NSW, the Melbourne Spring carnival will continue to be under siege.

Matt Stewart, the bravest turf scribe in the country, who doesn’t believe he has to suck up to survive like some of his colleagues north of the border, calls a spade a spade. His constructive criticism gets up the nose of some very powerful people.

Rather than put our slant on what Matt had to say about this increasingly concerning situation (wakey, wakey new Racing Australia boss John Messara), here is his column for RSN in Victoria which LGHR endorses:

FRIDAY night’s Manikato Stakes is a subpar Group One race.

It’s not because we don’t have the horses. We do.

The problem is they all ran in last Saturday’s Everest at Randwick.

Is this anyone’s fault?

Yes, it is.

It is Peter V’landys’ fault.

The Racing NSW chief executive, lauded in NSW as the great revolutionary, the great disruptor, has made it his dastardly mission to significantly dent Victoria’s magnificent spring carnival – one that benefits all of Australian racing, including NSW – at every opportunity.

He has dive-bombed Melbourne’s entrenched time in the sun with stupidly-rich pop-up races not for the purpose of providing better racing, even for NSW, but to wreck what we have as best he can.

At Randwick on Saturday, for instance, a race called The Invitation has appeared from thin air. It’s worth $2 million for fillies and mares and only exists to put a ding in next Saturday’s Empire Rose Stakes at Flemington.

Likewise, next Saturday’s $7.5 million Golden Eagle at Rosehill has popped up to entice star four-year-olds away from the Cox Plate and Cup Week.

V’landys put a lavish splash of paint on the Everest program, boosting the Craven Plate (G2) to $750,000 and the little-known St Leger to $500,000.

In doing this, V’landys attempted to drag more horses away from Melbourne but failed because both races attracted mostly average runner. Think It Over won the Craven as he had the Hill Stakes at his previous start and his connections will be eternally grateful to the Racing NSW boss.

Few others should be.

STEWART is a proudly parochial Victorian but when it comes to racing he writes from the heart for the whole of Australia unlike some of his colleagues in Sydney who are too busy ‘spin doctoring’ every innovation that Peter the Great finances to destroy Victoria as the No 1 racing state. Gone are the days when respected turf scribes would never have considered selling their souls for a second job.

 


BJORN BAKER STABLE AT CENTRE OF ANIMAL CRUELTY INQUIRIES

RACING NSW stewards will hold inquiries on Thursday and Friday after trainer Bjorn Baker, two of his stablehands and former stable foreman Stephen McLean were charged under the Rules of Racing with acts of cruelty in relation to an incident involving a two-year-old horse at the equine pool at Warwick Farm in August.

CHRIS ROOTS reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that the charges against McLean and stablehands Daniel Henkel and Hannah Olden will be heard by stewards on Thursday, while Baker’s hearing is slated for Friday.

Racing NSW’s investigations and surveillance unit put together a brief of evidence following an extensive investigation, including a video, statements from witnesses and veterinarian reports following an incident on August 28.

Evidence was taken from Baker, McLean and the stablehands last month, as well as Racing NSW chief veterinarian Toby Koenig, before charges were laid and made public on Tuesday.

Henkel and Olden have been charged with committing an act of cruelty on the Frosted gelding, while McLean is charged with failure to exercise reasonable care, control and supervision to prevent acts of cruelty.

Baker, who was not present when the alleged incident occurred, is charged with failure to have sufficient controls, policies and protocols in place to have educated his staff.

The trainer was upset by the incident and McLean has left the stable since it happened.

“I will not comment before the inquiry,” Baker said.

In other news, Warwick Farm trainer Gary Portelli was fined $3500 for a post-race communication to the owners of Ruby Tuesday after she was beaten at Rosehill on October 6.

Portelli pleaded guilty to a charge of conduct detrimental to the interests of racing for the colourful post-race comments.

Meanwhile, Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel would not comment after some stables at Wyong were shut down last month following a report of a COVID-19 case, which later proved to be false.

“It is a police matter and we cannot comment on it,” he said.

 

 

DID ‘GENIAL GERRY’ TIGHTENED THE SCREWS ON PREMIER ‘ANNA’?  

IT came as no surprise to many in racing that Queensland’s COVID road map would see the borders re-opened before Christmas.

The cynics were certain that pressure being applied by one of Australia’s richest men would see Premier Anastacia weaken her stance in time for the Magic Millions carnival.

Call it a coincidence if you like but the road map out might supposedly be targeted at family reunions over Christmas but it coincidentally removes any border obstacles for the Magic Millions Carnival and Sales.

The word in racing circles was strong that ‘Genial Gerry’ has been tightening the screws on the Government in more recent times.

They can always claim that the MM injects millions into the tourist economy in Queensland when any thinking person knows the visitors to the glitter strip come more for the climate, the theme parks and many other attractions than horse racing.

Rest assured the Premier and her first lieutenant, Racing Minister Grace Grace will be wined and dined on Millions week but not far away will be ‘Dashing Dave’ from the LNP. Gerry and Katie always ensure they cover both bases.

 

 

SHOULD THEY REPLACE ‘SWEET CAROLINE’ WITH ‘HEY ST PETER’ AFTER THE EVEREST IS RUN NEXT YEAR?

WHEN the Neil Diamond Classic, ‘Sweet Caroline’, boomed from the speakers at Royal Randwick on Saturday and racing’s lost generation joined in for a sing-along, it must have been music to the ears of ‘Peter the Great’.

Disciples of PVD were adamant this was so much better than that past-its-used-by-date racing anthem ‘Horses’ that Daryl Braithwaite got so sick of performing at the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup that he stepped aside for a Gospel Choir a couple of years back.

‘Horses’ is about as worn out as ‘Up There Cazaly’ and ‘Football, Meat Pies, Kangaroos and Holden Cars’ is on AFL Grand Final Day. It’s not as though they’ll last forever like the football anthems in Britain, headed by ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ when the fans at Liverpool get into full swing.

Cup success is something new for a home-grown Queenslander but what will the locals be signing about if Incentivise puts horse racing in the north on the map on the first Tuesday in November?

In the offices of the Racing Minister and her trusty side-kicks at RQ it will probably be ‘We Are the Champions’; in the outback Slim Dusty’s version of ‘The Melbourne Cup’ seems more appropriate; and for the ferals at the Farm – too drunk to remember what the day was really about – it has to be ‘Horse With No Name’.

With The Everest done and dusted for another year, maybe the message will get through that next time it should be followed by a chorus of ‘Hey, St Peter’, originally a hit for Flash and the Pan which critics say is a bit ironic considering the same horses that seem to line up every year for an inflated – last call $15 million.

Even the cynics like us at LGHR grudgingly agree The Everest card had it all – Chris Waller cried when Nature Strip won (thanks to an unbelievably stupid ride on Eduardo when Nash Rawiller had a brain snap and decided to ‘gift’ the winner an uncontested lead). How much would Masked Crusader have won by had the expected battle up front between Nature Strip and Eduardo eventuated?

A few observations of Everest day: Art Cadeau appeared to get a bigger reception when he won the Koscuiszko than Nature Strip in The Everest; the meeting seems to attract more of the younger generation than the traditional race-goers and for that Peter V’landys deserves praise for bringing the lost generation back to the track; the freedom being enjoyed by those up close and personal trackside (with not a mask in sight) was a bit of a worry so soon after NSW bulldozed the COVID borders; and last but worth a mention was how well the filly by Press Statement named Roots (after the Fairfax Racing Editor Chris) performed. And to think we still remember the days when the good old Townsville Bulletin removed ‘Rootsy’ as Turf Writer because he had a tendency to be more objective than politically sensitive.

But The Everest aside, nothing could quite compere with the compelling Caulfield Cup success story of Incentivise and all those involved from the breeders, to the new owners, the jockey, the trainer and most of all the horse that a year ago couldn't win a Maiden at Toowoomba.

 

 

AN INCENTIVE FOR RACING QUEENSLAND TO MARKET INCENTIVISE

THE Melbourne Cup provides a perfect opportunity for racing in Queensland to promote the home-grown product.

The marketing gurus at RQ, the TAB and the BRC don’t need LGHR to remind them of the opportunity and incentive that INCENTIVISE provides.

How long has it been – if ever – since there was a Queensland owned and bred favorite that was capable of winning the Melbourne Cup?

Race clubs around that state, spearheaded by the Brisbane Racing Club, that host Cup day meetings should have a common theme of cheering home Incentivise (photo courtesy of ABC.net.au) in the big two-miler.

RQ should use some of its too often wasted marketing budget to provide T Shirts, caps and other merchandise focusing on the horse that was bred and is part-owned by Toowoomba’s Steve Tregea, is now trained by one of Queensland’s favorite sons, the Hall of Famer Peter Moody and the Spring Carnival equine hero Incentivise.

The TAB should jump in with a promotion before they are beaten to the punch by the ever-active corporate bookies. Why not provide a free $2 bet on Incentivise to win the Cup for every punter who has a bet on the big day or the big race? Jump in before one of the corporates decides to create history and pay out on the hot favorite before the race is run.

The Incentive story is bound to be the subject of a book or even a movie if he wins the Melbourne Cup. The bush battler bred in Bernborough country that couldn’t win a lowly Toowoomba Maiden that a year later is being compared to Might and Power after beating a horror draw to win the Caulfield Cup.

When Silent Witness was dominating in Hong Kong the club gave free caps, T Shirts, flags in his racing colours and other memorabilia to almost a hundred thousand punters who came to see their hero race on International Day.

Remember the marketing that Winx and before her Black Caviar attracted. Children at the races dressed in similar silks, banners and caps. It’s time for racing in Queensland to share in the spotlight – the sport in the Sunshine State certainly needs something to boast about.

They built statues of Makybe Diva, Gunsynd and others. If Incentivise completes the big double on that first Tuesday in November, RQ should help the Toowoomba Turf Club fund something similar at Clifford Park.

We could go on forever…but never has there been a better chance for racing in Queensland to share the spotlight with the big southern states at Spring Carnival time.

Come on guys and girls – don’t miss this opportunity!    

 

 

EVERYONE BAR THE TEA LADY & STABLE DOG HAVE A RACING COLUMN – SO HERE’S OUR TAKE FROM 'WALLEY WORLD' 

By GODFREY SMITH

IN good old Sydney town where it seems everyone bar the Randwick tea lady and the stable dog have a racing column with News Ltd, the Spring Carnival excitement is hard to contain.

With ‘I love The Everest’ branded on every newborn’s bum these days, we have JMac declaring it will be ‘third time lucky’ for Nature Strip in the $15 million farce.

His handbag, Katie Mallyon, in her column (which no doubt was part of a dual deal done by the beau), declares a heavy track the only barrier to Incentivise winning the Caulfield Cup.

Then there’s delightful training discovery Annabel Neasham telling us why her stable star Zaaki will turn in a kingsize form reversal in the Cox Plate, especially after Victorian authorities bent the rules to allow JMac, big Hughie (don’t ask why the racing girls call him that) and KMac to ride during the Carnival in Melbourne.

Where’s the columnist from Victoria. Perhaps they could get Olle to tell us how he sits a top hope three wide in a Group race with only five starters or allows Brett Prebble to spank his bum on Thousand Guineas day.

And they could get Prebble to explain his stroke of good luck which has enabled him to continue partnering Incentivise in the big Cups. He reportedly recorded an astounding 0.164 blood alcohol reading after being pulled over by police. But in an amazing stroke of luck the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court hearing on Monday was adjourned until February when a police witness was unavailable.

Sadly, for Ben Melham, Jamie Kah and Mark Zahra the same genie didn’t magically appear from the bottle and grant them a ‘stay’ when the trio hit a hurdle after breaking curfew to party at an Airbnb. Perhaps News Ltd could sign-up racing’s hottest couple, Melham and Kah, to write a column on how to celebrate during Cup week and even get a few tips from Jamie’s ex, Clayton, on how to drown your sorrows after a losing day.

But of course there’s no party without punch and I’ve always dreamed of walking a mile in the shoes of that great Kiwi showman and racing trainer extraordinaire Chrissy Waller. So let’s have a bit of fun and I’ll ghost his carnival column, Walley World. So here goes.

‘NOTHING much upsets me in racing these days (I’m too busy counting my money) and with over 20 starters at the big The Everest and Caulfield Cup meetings I’ll be very disappointed if my percentage of the loot doesn’t get into the six-figure mark or even better if we win the only one that counts in Sydney.

It took a while but at least I’ve convinced the stipes that I’m too busy to attend Stewards’ Inquiries on race days. Don’t know why they bother holding them. With so many runners some of my second string chances that get backed at big odds are bound to beat the stable favorites. In any case that’s something my First Lieutenants can explain. After all one of their first tasks when joining Walley World is to learn off by heart our excuse book.

We have 15 acceptors for the big day at Randwick. There would be more if it wasn’t for the major stables not being allowed runners in the Koscuiszko and Highways. What a joke!. Haven’t they heard of restriction of trade? I must raise that with Peter the Great when we meet for an early brekky to get his biggest day of the year, the running of The Everest, off to a great start. Somehow or other that pesky Ray Thomas has weasled his way into an invite. Perhaps Rupert’s boys are looking to give PVL a racing/rugby column (wash my mouth out with soap, there is only one game of rugby and it isn’t league).

Don’t know why I haven’t got a column probably because Rupert won't pay me enough. But I’ll take along a bucket or two of water to breakfast in case his man ‘Razor’ gets a little too close to PVL as he tends to do. Every time I turn around on race day 'Razor' seems to run fair up my rear end but it’s worth it for all the positive publicity.

Now back to finding a winner and if I can just get my hands on some of that lovely loot The Everest offers. For me the perfect scenario would be focussing entirely on why Nature Strip can turnaround the form that has seen him beaten twice in the big race so let’s focus on him going better now and being suited by the wide barrier draw and the big track. But between you and I the stablemate Home Affairs is my sneaky chance and all I can say is ‘Yes Yes Yes’. Being one of the slot-holders in the colt would make it all that sweeter.

As for the Caulfield Cup – the second rate attraction on the day (PVL told me to say that), I managed to get four into the field but they made one of those emergencies – what else would you expect from those grubby Victorians? It wouldn’t happen in good old Sydney town.

Each of them is at the odds my stable loves – around the $101 mark. Great House has been floated to Melbourne (where he is first emergency). We decided not to run in the St Leger at Randwick where he has a better hope but let’s face it the Caulfield Cup (if he sneaks into the field) is worth $5 million all-up (nothing like the $15 mill for The Everest though).

The other three have form that deserves more respect than despised outsiders. Ocean Billy from across the ‘Dutch’ is an Auckland Cup winner getting ready for the big two-miler at Flemington which I’m desperate to win; Selino is a Sydney Cup winner so don’t have to tell you where he’s heading (with a bit of luck I could have a half dozen runners that first Tuesday in November – look out for the second string) and Charm’s Star ran second to Duais in the Queensland Oaks and ran fast sectionals in The Metrop.

Being the no nonsense nice guy and honest Kiwi that I am, let’s try and find you wonderful Aussie punters a winner or two on the big day (chuckle, chuckle). We’ve got Morioko against a bunch of walkers in the second at Caulfield. We gave her a nice warm up from a bad alley in a Group 2 last start and the favorite Vianello is no star and the only one we have to beat. Morioko is my BET of the DAY at CAULFIELD.

Now for the fair dinkum stuff and I feel much more comfortable on home turf at Randwick. I would like to start the day with a bit of ‘Zing’ in the first but will suggest New Arrangement as a safer option a race later, the All Star Mile (not many stars among these though).

Over to the Reginald Allen where I have five runners – this is how Sydney racing should be run every week – plenty of options for the stable. Now Fangirl is all the rage and JMac has tipped her in his column. Hoover Lucy has a Sydney win on the board and I was only saying to the stable dog how Headliner was over the odds and it wouldn’t surprise me if she beat them both. Standby for a second-string win so that those losers at LGHR have something to whinge about again.

After sitting out the Koscuiszko it would only be fitting if Nature Strip or The Everest were to win a major part of that $15 million purse in The Everest. Must remember to pack the protector though – some of those feisty racing media spin doctors are bound to get a bit carried away if he does and I’d hate to see big Rootsy coming at me after a couple of dozen sherbets.

Have to say the Craven Plate is a race I’m really looking forward to. There’s a readymade favorite in Think It Over and plenty of options for our stable presenting his main rivals. Shared Ambition can lead and dictate while Hungry Heart is ready to win out to this trip but gets back and doesn’t want it too wet. Then there’s always the bolter Yonkers who blew them away at big odds first-up. I know one of them will win – between us I think its Shared Ambition despite the fact Hungry Heart has more ability in a hair on her tail (hee, hee).

And we arrive at the ‘get out stakes’ with Cap Breton at double figure odds resuming. This colt is very promising, did have a setback but I’m confident can go close. Who said I don’t tip them at big odds?

With so much attention on the blockbusters in Sydney and Melbourne, I almost forgot the starters I have in Brisbane where I think Desleigh Forster is going so well she should get her own column with News Ltd, even if it were to focus on money management in the finance section. What about Adelaide you might ask? Do they still race there?

I thought Irish Sequel was a bit of a cat before he ended a long run of outs last start and they have him at very short odds to win again at Eagle Farm. Have you had a gander at the strike rate of my favorites?

They’ve had plenty of rain in Brisbane and his only form is in the wet (never won on a dry track). Hold the phone it’s the Farm where the only place they would have to build an arc before the meeting was called off on that bitumen surface. Poor old Kinane – they knocked back $2 million for him to go to Hong Kong – and after racing at Eagle Farm he hasn’t looked like winning since. My bad!

I took No Arrangement out of the sixth (he can win at Randwick) to make it easier to Matowi who despite doubling as the ‘stable dog’ on the Gold Coast can probably beat this mob as most of them eat Pal.

And to finish this (remember it’s tongue-in-cheek all you Waller lovers) column, a Kiwi racing joke from the man himself:

WHY does New Zealand have some of the fastest race horses in the world?

BECAUSE the horses have seen what they do with their sheep!


 

 

DEATH OF DOUG ROBERTS, LONG-TIME FOREMAN FOR ‘BIG BRUCE’

DOUG ROBERTS, the long-time foreman for legendary Queensland trainer Bruce McLachlan and an accomplished trainer in his own right, has died.

LGHR has learnt that Roberts did not recover from a stroke he suffered last week.

Roberts spent time out of the racing industry following the death of ‘Big Bruce’ when he owned a pub at Esk.

He took over the training of a big team when McLachlan’s son, Jason, was suspended.

About eight years ago Roberts set up a training partnership at Deagon with former Hong Kong racing identity Jeffrey Chan.

They trained horses owned by former Australian Turf Club chairman John Cornish who was a great friend of McLachlan.

 

 

WHILE PETER THE GREAT & HIS MEDIA MATES ARE DOING LAPS OF LEAPFROG AROUND THE EVEREST PARADE RING, MUM & DAD PUNTERS WILL BE WATCHING THE CAULFIELD CUP ON TV

WHAT an absolute wank and waste of money!

Let’s piss $15 million up against a wall and encourage our ‘spin doctors’ in the media to declare it the best sprint race in the world.

It didn’t take long – five years in fact – for the novelty to wear off The Everest.

Sure the slot-holders with long pockets have attracted the cream of the sprinting crop in Australia but the same field could arguably have been assembled for $2 million.

Desperately determined to tear down anything Victorian during the Spring Carnival, Racing NSW, headed by Peter the Great, programmed The Everest on the same day as the Caulfield Cup.

The first of these magical pop-up races, pinched from an American idea, has proven a great spring drawcard for Sydney racing. But at any other time than the present when the pandemic reduces crowds, the Caulfield Cup would attract at least twice as many racegoers.

As one objective columnist wrote this week:

‘Strip away all the hype, concentrate on quality not the dough, and what do we have?

A sprint race!

WOW!

The usual suspects have turned up again.

Nature Strip, Gytrash, Eduardo, Libertini, Trekking and Classique Legend.’

Have a look at some of the ‘cash strapped owners’ of the top chances – an Arab oil baron and trillionaire; a Hong Kong billionaire and a couple of rich list knockabout Aussies.

Gytrash is owned by some ‘battlers’ – for the want of a better word, so we’ll be barracking for him despite the fact he hails from South Australia.

And just to complete our story we’ll do a bit more plagiarizing:

‘All the hoopla, all the spruiks, all the promotions, all the dough, and what have we really got?

Just another sprint race!

It is running out of legs The Everest and Peter V’landys and his crew are running out of ideas.

When their whiz bang headline grabbing innovation is taking the connections of the runners down to Bondi Beach and sending them out on jet ski’s to draw their barriers, you know Pete and his pet ponies are grasping at straws, and when no-one checks the weather forecast and they don’t have a second plan, well…..

You can talk up a balloon into a zeppelin if you have the time, the money, the motivation and the lap dogs to bark for you, but you know what happened to the Hindenburg – and it was supposedly ahead of its time too.

In just its fifth year, The Everest is fast going the same way.

While PVL and his media mates are doing a few laps of leap frog around the enclosure mixing with the rich and famous of the racing social set on Saturday, those who keep racing going, the mum and dad punters, will be watching the Caulfield Cup in clubs, pubs and the lounge rooms of their homes – and perhaps taking time out to have watch and wonder if The Everest deserves all the hype.

And if a couple of battlers from Queensland in breeders Steve Tregea and trainer Peter Moody happen to win the Caulfield Cup with Incentivise then that’s the story that should be told. But count on it playing second fiddle in Sydney to The Everest.

 

WHY DON’T THEY LET JMAC & HUGHIE TRAVEL TO MELBOURNE VIA THE TOAD RACES AT PORT DOUGLAS – FOR SOME SPRING R&R?

WHAT A FARCE!

The Victorian Government is likely to grant border exemptions to three top Sydney jockeys to ride at the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup carnivals but local punters will not be allowed on course for Derby day AT Flemington.

For some strange reason what most consider the best meeting in the land – Derby Day falls on the wrong side of a dramatic easing of lockdown, meaning there will be no crowd on course while 10,000 will be allowed to attend the Melbourne Cup, Oaks and Stakes Days.

Amazingly, punters will be required to remain in allocated seats for most of the time and will be split into five zones. Attendees will have to provide evidence of vaccination or have a valid exemption.

The NSW Government, fresh from celebrating Freedom Day earlier this week, has extended the crowd allowed to attend Australian racing’s ‘biggest wank’ The Everest meeting this Saturday from 10,000 to 20,000. If it’s good enough for Sydney then Melbourne should have 20,000 at its four major Cup week meetings as well. After all, in normal times, Victoria gets crowds of 100,000 to their big days while Sydney struggles to attract 30,000.

Arguably designed to detract attention from the time-honoured Caulfield Cup, slot-holders who have horses contesting The Everest on Saturday will be competing for an absurd purse of $15 million.

Meanwhile, James McDonald, Hugh Bowman and Kerrin McEvoy have submitted requests for a ‘domestic border exemption to enter Victoria’ from the Government in that State.

McDonald wants to be reunited with Zaaki in the Cox Plate after Craig Williams turned in a ‘shocker’ on the one-time hot favourite for the WFA Championship in last Saturday’s Might and Power when he was $1.28 and beaten into third place after being laid to lose millions on Betfair.

McEvoy wants to head to Melbourne after The Invitation (another of Big V’s pop-up specials) at Randwick on October 23 to ride at Flemington on Victorian Derby Day and in the Melbourne Cup where he’s secured the ride aboard the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Grand Promenade.

All three jockeys are yet to receive approval from the Victorian Government to travel to Melbourne with McDonald telling News Corp Australia he hopes “to have an answer by Thursday”.

It’s just another example of exemptions for high profile sportsmen and women while ordinary citizens are forced to play by rules set for the general public and ‘get no start’. Perhaps JMac and Hughie might like to make a detour to the toad races in Port Douglas before heading to Sydney – they’ve done it before.

Of course officialdom will point out that should an exemption be granted to a jockey emanating from a red zone, such as Sydney, then Racing Victoria would require that athlete to isolate and present a negative COVID test on day six in Victoria before they are permitted to attend a Victorian racecourse or licensed premises.

 

 

ZAAKI MATCHED ON BETFAIR FOR $3.2 MILLION TO GET BEATEN

CAN you believe that astute BETFAIR punters matched $3.2 million for raging hot favorite ZAAKI to get beaten in Saturday’s Group 1 Might and Power at Caulfield?

It’s almost as unbelievable as the performance of ZAAKI, not only beaten at $1.28, but never really looking like he could overhaul PROBABEEL and NONCONFORMIST.

The racing media can rave on all they like about the recent giant-killing rides of Brett Prebble (on Incentivise and relegating Verry Elleegant to 4th in the Turnbull) and now (on Probabeel turning the tables on Zaaki).

But two things are for certain – Probabeel grew a leg and Zaaka lost one. The experts are attributing the turnaround to the rock hard track at Caulfield on Saturday insisting Probabeel cannot go a yard when it the sting is out of the ground as it was at Sandown.

It would seem a couple of jockeys – and some very astute Betfair punters – had a crystal ball. There was the pre-race radio comment of Dwayne Dunn who reported the word on the street suggested the trackwork of Zaaki had been pretty basic. Then post-race we had winning jockey Brett Prebble revealing his thoughts that the hot favorite was vulnerable.

There was the muddling tempo of the race, what Michael Walker on racing.com described as an ordinary ride by Craig Williams and the taping that Zaaki wore on all four fetlocks.

Williams was quick to declare they may have lost the battle but the war wasn’t over highlighting that Zaaki’s main mission was the Cox Plate where he has blown alarmingly but still holds on to favouritism.

 

HOW MUCH LONGER WILL QLD HARNESS RACING LOSE MILLIONS?

HOW much longer will the Racing Minister or the Labor Government tolerate the inaction of Racing Queensland to address another disgraceful multi-million dollar loss by the harness code?

Let’s face it the bottom line after reading the annual report is that harness racing in Queensland is on the brink of financial collapse. Had it not been for the support of Kevin and Kay Seymour it would have been all over red rover long ago. Can you believe how badly they have been treated by those running the show in recent years?

RQ released the annual report on the ‘red hots’ last week and it reveals that harness racing lost an amazing $7.25 million in the last financial year. That is the code’s sixth annual million dollar plus deficit in the past six years and brings its cumulative losses since 2015 to $40 million.

If this was a private enterprise operation the shareholders would have sacked the Board long ago. But while the Government and the other codes (thoroughbreds and greyhounds) continue to prop the trots up it will continue to happen. The greyhounds, who for too long have played second fiddle to harness racing under both sides of Government, should be protesting from the roof-tops.

Imagine how more usefully that $40 million wasted on the trots could have been used to improve our hospitals and schools. What doesn’t make business sense is continued increases in prizemoney for the rock bottom, multi-million dollar loser.

When will the Government or our weak-kneed Racing Minister declared to RQ: ‘Enough is enough’.

 

WALLER’S ONLY RANDWICK WINNER IN RACE OF STRANGE TACTICS

AMAZINGLY, ‘champion’ trainer Chris Waller had only the one winner at Randwick on Saturday and that wasn’t in any of the Group or Listed races.

Once again the TAB showed themselves to be great judges betting $2 on Waller to train two or more winners which looked like a steal but it wasn’t again highlighting the great uncertainty of racing.

His stable had three runners in the third and was successful with Yiyi, a second string to the well-backed Solar Apex which ran third. The other was Fortified which ran sixth at its first start since that horrible flop when odds-on at Toowoomba on Weetwood day.

We are not suggesting anything untoward by Waller in the race he won but some of the tactics adopted were interesting to say the least.

Herman Hesse from the Maher-Eustace stable was seen as the main threat to Solar Apex which got too far out of its ground for JMac. But who would have expected Glyn Schofield to worry the brains out of Herman Hesse when it should have got an easier lead.

While this was going on Nash Rawiller was smoking his pipe on Yiyi which chimed in and proved too strong with all the SKY ‘spin doctors’ declaring a wonderful ride and another training triumph for the great man.

Here’s the stewards’ report and not a question about why Cognac served it up to Herman Hesse.

Cognac: Rider Glyn Schofield stated that in the early stages he attempted to obtain a trailing position behind Perfect Radiance, however, his mount raced too keenly and as a consequence was caught wide and without cover along the back straight. He added that as a result he was obliged to allow Cognac to stride forward to cross Perfect Radiance and race outside the lead passing the 900m.   

Herman Hesse had to tire and did a good job to finish as close in the circumstances. Cognac dropped out to beat two home and would have slept well that night.

In case you forgot it was Schofield who was before stewards over the sale of a Waller-trained horse to Hong Kong a few years back.

JUST TO REFRESH YOUR MEMORY

This AAP story might refresh your memory:

RACING media identity Richard Callander has admitted he kept a commission from the sale of a horse to Hong Kong but says money has since been paid to the other owners.

Callander, a presenter for former racing telecaster TVN, trainer Chris Waller's racing manager Liam Prior and jockey Glyn Schofield appeared before Racing NSW stewards over the sale of Lil Caesar for an alleged $200,000, not $140,000 as the ownership group was told.

A part-owner of the horse, Callander transferred $129,405.20, $140,000 less his five per cent, into Waller Racing to be distributed among the other owners.

Prior told the inquiry he was paid $24,000 while Schofield received a $10,000 commission from trainer Danny Shum and another $10,000 with Callander receiving the rest.

The deal came to light when Racing Victoria stewards questioned Schofield over the sale of another unraced horse, Equita, previously trained by Brent Stanley.

Schofield arranged the sale of the colt to the Shum stable with the original owners told the price was $200,000.

RV stewards charged both Stanley and Schofield over the sale with the jockey alleged to have received $20,000 and the trainer $70,000 from the sale of the colt for $290,000.

Schofield has told stewards in both states he was unaware of the ruled banning jockeys from involvement in such sales.

Both horses were unraced in Australia but have since gone on to win races in Hong Kong with Lil Caesar racing as Lucky Year and Equita as Dancing Flames.

As we said at the start not suggesting anything untoward with the race on Saturday but from a punters’ perspective (and they are the ones who keep the sport afloat) it makes interesting reading.

 

 

 

SADLY BEN’S ‘PARTY’ HANGOVER TO LAST ANOTHER THREE MONTHS

TOP jockey Ben Melham admitted to stewards he was “blind” at the now infamous Mornington Airbnb party in late August when he was quizzed as to why he had not told them that another top rider, Mark Zahra, was present at the illegal gathering.

MICHAEL LYNCH reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that Melham was on Thursday banned for three months for providing stewards with false or misleading information, his penalty adding to the three-month ban he is already serving for attending the party in the first place.

The penalties mean Melham, who has won the Golden Slipper and ridden numerous group 1 winners as well as placegetters in the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups and Cox Plate, will not be allowed to race ride until March next year.

He will miss not only this year’s spring carnival but much of the other lucrative period of the year, the Victorian late summer/early autumn carnival.

His three-month ban on the lying to stewards charge is longer than the eight weeks given to champion jockey Jamie Kah and to Zahra, who received eight weeks with four weeks suspended.

Young riders Celine Gaudray, who is still an apprentice, and 22-year-old Ethan Brown, Victoria’s champion apprentice in 2018, also faced the same charge of providing false and misleading information to stewards. They both received eight-week bans for that offence, in Gaudray’s case with six weeks suspended and in Brown’s case five weeks.

Brown’s case was dealt with on Thursday after Melham’s.

All five riders are also currently serving three-month suspensions for attending the illegal gathering.

Kah is due to resume riding in late January but is appealing the case to the Supreme Court in the hope of having her time on the sidelines reduced.

Melham had previously been banned for two months on the same charge of providing false and misleading evidence last year when he was faced with betting related offences. He was ruled out for a total of five months on that occasion, only resuming race riding in late May.

Judge John Bowman referred to his earlier transgression when delivering his verdict after reading evidence from some of Melham’s interviews with the stewards.

On one occasion Melham had been asked whether Zahra was present at the party, and when stewards said to him: “you are not sure when he was there”? Melham replied, “no, I was blind to be honest”.

Judge Bowman said that the tribunal would uphold the stewards’ recommendation that Melham be given a further three month suspension, adding that in the circumstances (the illegal COVID-19 gathering, the lying to stewards for the second time) many might feel that the penalty suggested was “merciful”.

He said that the remorse shown by both Melham and Brown had counted in their favour. Both have made arrangements for 20 per cent of any prizemoney percentage for three months after they resume race riding to be paid into charities.

The judge acknowledged that Melham, who is now 33, was at a crossroads in his career and said that mitigation from his legal representative, Matthew Stirling, that he was a very talented rider, was true.

“We accept that without reservation,” said Bowman, before pointing out that by the time his bans run their course Melham will have been suspended for 11 of the previous 14 months.

“It’s not our job to preach to you (but) no one wants a talent (like yours) to be lost to racing. We simply ask you to bear that in mind.”

 

IS SHEIKH MOHAMMED EL MAKTOUM A FIT & PROPER PERSON TO BE INVOLVED IN HORSE RACING IN AUSTRALIA – YOU BE THE JUDGE?

THERE appear to be two sets of rules in Australian racing – one for the rich and one for the not so rich.

Here is what SHEIKH MOHAMMED EL MAKTOUM the owner of Godolphin and Darley has been accused of.

Hacking his ex-wife’s phone and those of her friends using top-secret spy technology provided to leaders of nations for the purposes of counter-terrorism.

Once the phones were hacked the Sheikh could listen to every call she and they made and see every text or message sent, and download all photos on the phones too, which he allegedly did.

Using the Sheikh’s money his agents attempted to buy the neighbouring properties to his ex-wife’s new home, so that he could both further spy on her and as a means to intimidate her to returning to Dubai where who knows what would have happened to her.

He had his eldest daughter who had left home and fled to England abducted at gunpoint from a London street, and breaking every international law in the book he had her smuggled back to the Emirates, where she remains under house arrest and detention.

Another daughter had fled on a yacht, and had been at sea for eight days and was in international waters when her escape craft was rammed by another boat and over-run by armed men. She claims they bound her wrists and dragged her off the boat, then whisked her back to Dubai where she was allegedly drugged to the eye-balls and paraded before international observers as a psychiatric patient, even though she had never been diagnosed with a mental illness.

Sheikh Mohammed has been accused of keeping thousands of child slaves that he and his family forced to become camel jockeys, steering humpers in mad races around the desert that were reminiscent of the Roman circus. When the media exposed it he put up some chump change to repatriate the stolen kids to their poverty stricken homelands and declared himself the great reformer.

He throws gays in jails, tortures journalists who dare to criticism him and runs the biggest drug trafficking port in the world.

ON the racing front the Sheikh’s endurance horse trainer has returned a number of positives from the endurance horses that his boss rides, and in 2011 was outed for two years for positives to steroids. His protégé and employee Mahmood Al Zarooni was banned from British racing for eight years for steroid doping too.

In recent weeks the Sheikh has been exposed in the Pandora Papers for using tax havens and shelf companies to secretly transfer billions of dollars around the world.

Is the Sheikh a fit and proper person to be involved in horse racing?

Apparently the authorities in Australia think so!   

 

EMBARRASSMENT OF SCRATCHINGS AT COUNTRY MEETINGS CONTINUES

A couple of brief but interesting observations of GREG from BRISBANE, a regular contributor to LGHR:

FIVE horses were scratched from the TAB meeting at Rockhampton on Tuesday.

There are a lot of south-east Queensland riders who fly up to these meetings.

On Tuesday some of those were late scratchings which created the problem.

Imagine the crap that will hit the fan if there is a COVID outbreak in the south-east and these jockeys are unable to fly to places like Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville. It will be an absolute disaster.

By the way 107 horses have been scratched in Queensland since August 1 this year because jockeys were unavailable to ride them.

AND on another issue, GREG writes:

I have a concern about how many Training Managers that Racing Queensland has had.

For around nine years I got to know four of the five Training Managers as a volunteer during this time.

A few weeks ago the latest Training Manager left. With the Training Department playing such an important role in the success of Racing Queensland it poses the question: What have there been so many RTO Managers during this time.

 

POINTSBET HAVE TO BE KIDDING CLOSING ACCOUNTS OF SMALL PUNTERS

THE complaints continue to fly thick and fast about the way corporate bookies treat some punters.

The latest involves a guy who says he deposited $200 with PointsBet about a month ago.

His current balance is $91 including bonus bets of $80, so he is losing to them.

But, for some strange reason, Points Bet has scrubbed him.

They apparently took exception because he was only betting one the first five races and taking advantage of the bonus back offer. He only bets $5 or $10.

It’s hard to believe that PointsBet provides the promotion then close the account of a punter who bets in such small amounts.

We would be happy to print an explanation from PointsBet.

 

 

THE BUTTERFLY v BIG RITCHIE OVER THE ‘SUCK UP & SURVIVE’ MENTAILITY THAT SEEMS TO EXIST IN THE SYDNEY RACING MEDIA                             

GOOD to see a couple of mates with a differing opinion in the racing media expressing their views in much-read columns.

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY, on the subscriber only site, www.peterprofit.com didn’t agree with what RICHIE CALLANDER wrote on the popular website Racenet this week and told him so.

We are fans of Big Richie but not of the way the Sydney racing media seems to have this obsession with sucking up to the Racing NSW boss Peter V’landys and for that reason sought ‘The Butterfly’s’ approval to reproduce his column. Here goes:    

Dear Richard

As you know I am very fond of you, and when you are in peak form hold you in high esteem as a racing writer.

Sadly however mate you have been going about as good as Kubrick lately.

Remember him?

He won the first edition of that ridiculous million dollar wank of a race you were spruiking then and have been pumping up since.

Pancho ran second and Prince of Frog third.

Do you reckon we should make it a Group race too?

Mate, you're out of form and need a gear change.

You column was a shocker.

Here are some of the reasons why.

Pull the whip Richard!

And get out of PVL's pocket!

You might see the light of day and a bit of reality when you do.

Cheers

Archie

---------------------------------------------

INCENTIVISE THEN WHO?

Name me five top chances in the 2021 Melbourne Cup, I bet you can’t? Name me five top chances in The Everest, I bet you can.

Richie, you are treating us all like imbeciles.

Incentivise, Young Werther, Verry Ellegant, Spanish Mission, Grand Promenade, Montefilia (the winner).

There are six off the top of my head.

What does it matter anyway?

Does it really matter to the world at large who is running in the Cup? They - punters, non-punters, the public, kids, everyone - are going to have a bet on it anyway. It isn't called the race that stops a nation for nothing.

Who is going to have a punt on a race named after a Himalayan mountain first climbed (in white man history) by a Kiwi?

Punters, that's who.

You are absolutely kidding yourself.

MOVE FORWARD OR SLIDE BACKWARDS

In Sydney, we had a super weight-for-age clash in the $1 million Hill Stakes with Think It Over nosing out Shared Ambition.

What a race it was, two great jockeys, Nash Rawiller (Think It Over) and James McDonald (Shared Ambition) getting every little bit out of their mounts in a head up and head down finish and the two horses giving it their all with both wanting to win so desperately.

A super weight-for-age clash?

In a race in which Shared Ambition ran 2nd beaten a nose?

Shared Ambition has had 15 starts at Group level - three at G1, six at G2, and six at G3 - and has won just one, the Group 3 Neville Sellwood in which he beat Entente and Master of Wine, neither of whom have set the world on fire.

The third placed horse in the Hill Stakes was Cepheus. Two starts prior it ran second last in a BM94 behind Soldier of Love, and the start prior it ran third last beaten ten lengths in a very weak edition of the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle.

I know it's your wife's horse Richard so you are entitled to get excited, but Shared Ambition walked them through the first 1400m of the race in a snail-like time of 1.29.45 on a Good 4 surface.

In contrast Incentivise took them through the first 1400 of the Turnbull in 1.25.59 on a Soft 5, almost four seconds quicker.

It kicked on and won, and your boy couldn't. He was entitled to win by panels, and should have too.

Give us a break.

The bob went to Think It Over and we all know when the number goes into the frame it is only the winner we worry about.

Everybody knows Might And Power won the Melbourne Cup, not nearly as many remember who ran second and yet the margin was only a nose.

Are you for real?

Every punter knows that Doriemus ran second to Might and Power in the Cup.

How could you not? It was the race in which Greg Hall famously went the crow and raised his whip high in the air thinking he'd won it, and ended up with a whole lot of egg on his face.

Puh-lease.

MOVE FORWARD OR SLIDE BACKWARDS

I’m surprised at the criticism of Racing NSW for boosting the prizemoney of the Hill Stakes to $1 million.

What’s up with these people, don’t they realise that if you are standing still you are actually going backwards compared to your opposition. Don’t they like competition, do they just want to sit back and let Melbourne set the pace and be content with being a speed bump along the way?

I cannot believe there are people who are so much against change and innovation.

The first year of the $1 million Hill Stakes produced a great race, in future years it will produce a great field. It is now followed two weeks later on The Everest day by a $750,000 Craven Plate, then two weeks later again by the $750,000 Rosehill Cup (2000m). There is even a $1 million bonus thrown in for the same horse to win the last two races of the series.

Now, what happens next for those of you who don’t understand promotion and innovation is that Melbourne will produce a trump card or two of their own to protect the Cox Plate and stop half of the likely Cox Plate contenders from Australia’s strongest racing state staying at home in Sydney.

Everybody is then a winner.

This is the greatest piece of illogic that I have ever read in my life.

It just doesn't make a scintilla of sense.

What R. Callander is suggesting is that we should promote the bastardisation of Australia's greatest racing carnival - and yes Richard, it is, and always will be - by throwing a million dollars at the sub-standard Hill Stakes, and then throwing another million dollars in as a bonus for winning two races already over-valued by stakes of 3/4 of a million dollars each, the last leg of which is run 3 days prior to the Cup.

By doing that, Racing NSW will force their counterparts in Melbourne to produce an unspecified 'trump card or two' to protect the Cox Plate - which offers $5 million in stakes and a place in history, for winning just a single race - and stop the Sydney contenders from staying at home to race for an all up $3.5 million if they can win three races in six weeks.

Which would leave only the horses that aren't good enough to run in the Cox Plate (or the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups) at home in Sydney to race against each other in sub standard fields competing for these pumped up prizes.

And everyone is winner.

How?

I am just sitting here shaking my head bemused.

What a load of tripe.

UMMMMMMMM

It’s only been a couple of days since the popular NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian stood down amidst an ICAC inquiry and already she is hot property with businesses and I have heard whispers Racing NSW wasted no time seeking her interest in joining its board now or down the track.

Ummm.

Gladys didn't stand down.

She resigned, from both the Premier's job and from Parliament.

There is a big difference.

ICAC is investigating whether Ms Berejiklian engaged in conduct that "involved the dishonest or partial exercise of any of her official functions" or if she refused to "exercise her duty to report any matter she suspected may concern corrupt conduct" concerning the activities of Mr Maguire.

If I were Gladys, and what Richard is saying is true, I would be asking PVL to give me a contract with a very long term and a huge payout clause right now, because I strongly suspect that after the first week or two of the ICAC hearings no-one will be wanting Ms G. Berejiklian within a thousand miles of their boards, particularly Racing NSW.

Glad isn't the victim of here.

The people of NSW are.

 

 

DID VERRY ELLEEGANT RACE MORE LIKE A TWO-MILER IN TURNBULL?

THE apologists for the below par run by ‘champion’ mare VERRY ELLEEGANT in Saturday’s G1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington have found yet another excuse.

Initially they highlighted how the Chris Waller-trained multi-million dollar earner was lethargic in the enclosure but now, it seems, after a post mortem of the sectionals she travelled too fast early.

Now they are saying how Verry Elleegant travelled faster in the early stages of the race than ever before and when forced to follow a similar pattern in the past she has finished no closer than fourth.

That may be the case and perhaps when she is ridden quieter next start we will see the form reversals we have come to expect on a regular basis from Waller horses after they have flopped as favorites.

But if Verry Elleegant went too fast early what about the winner Incentivise which did a power more work, absorbed all the pressure then dashed away at the finish.

We, at LGHR, think Verry Elleegant raced like a mare that is being set for one goal and one goal only – the MELBOURNE CUP – a race that to date has eluded the all-conquering Waller. She’s now a $17 chance for the big two-miler behind Incentivise at $5.5 (that’s with Ladbrokes).

 

FORGET THE EXCUSES, RIDE ON JONKER WAS AN ABSOLUTE SHOCKER

ALL too often some of our high profile jockeys turn in an absolute shocker.

Damien Oliver was responsible for one of those recently when he sat three wide in a small field and should have run second.

It was Nash Rawiller’s turn last Saturday on the Queenslander Jonker in the G2 Premiere Stakes at Randwick.

Jonker, in the opinion of some good judges, should have troubled the winner Masked Crusader instead of finishing out of a place. God only knows what Rawiller was doing in the straight.

The Stewards’ Report read:

JONKER: When questioned, N. Rawiller advised that he had expected to lead on the entire. However, Jonker jumped awkwardly, made contact with I Am Superman and lost some ground. He stated that with the fast early pace Adelong and Rothfire quickly crossed his mount and, as a result, he was obliged to race with cover behind the leaders. He added that in the straight he endeavoured to improve between Rothfire and Adelong where there was sufficient room to do so, however, Jonker did not quicken to take advantage of that run and when Adelong shifted out slightly and Rothfire hung in he was obliged to steady his mount approaching the 300m when disappointed for this run. He added that Jonker continued to be held-up for clear running until near the 100m where he shifted to the inside of Adelong to secure clear running at which point Jonker ran to the line fairly.

DID BOOKIES AT DOOMBEN SUNDAY ONLY WRITE HANDFUL OF BETS?

IT seems there is bad news for those who want to see more SUNDAY TAB racing in Brisbane.

Not much has been said about the Doomben meeting programmed recently but a couple of interesting comments emerged from all places – racing radio in Melbourne.

During a discussion about the success of picnic racing in Victoria, an official spoke about how the Doomben meeting failed to attract on-track support.

“There were only a handful of bookies fielding and I am told one wrote seven tickets and the other five,” he told RSN listeners.

If that is correct then don’t expect too much interest in city Sunday racing in Queensland.

Admittedly, the plan to coincide with the Turnbull Stakes meeting in Melbourne back-fired when the AFL Grand Final was transferred to Perth, played late on Saturday for TV purposes and the big race moved from the Sunday back to the Saturday.

It’s time Racing Queensland realised what the racing fraternity and the punters want: Friday night and Sundays at the Sunshine Coast; Saturdays, largely Brisbane (when they finally get the Eagle Farm track fixed) along with an increasing number of primary meetings at the Gold Coast. Toowoomba has its niche as the Saturday twilight venue and Ipswich is best suited to midweek racing.

 

ONE RULE FOR BOOZY TRAINERS, ANOTHER FOR PARTYING JOCKEYS?

THE inconsistency of integrity and officialdom in Victorian racing is sickening and hypocritical.

While Jamie Kah, Ben Melham, Mark Zahra and co have been made an example of for breaching COVID protocols, the question is being asked: Is there another set of rules for top trainers accused of a similar mistake?

It made front page news when Melbourne’s Herald-Sun reported:

A group of Victoria’s top horse trainers has been caught up in an alleged breach of Covid rules, placing new scrutiny on the industry ahead of Melbourne’s spring racing ­carnival.

Racing Victoria’s integrity team has been made aware of a potentially illegal long lunch near Ballarat.

It is claimed at least a dozen people – mostly trainers – attended the boozy event on Thursday last week at Tuki Trout Farm in Smeaton.

Racing Victoria is investigating the alleged breach.

Several Ballarat trainers were stood down on Thursday night after two lunch attendees were identified as close contacts of a person awaiting a Covid test.

“As a result, the other trainers in attendance at the lunch were identified as secondary contacts and asked not to attend their stables on Friday morning pending the result of that test,” a Racing Victoria spokesman said.

“They were all cleared on Friday night to resume ­attendance at licensed premises and racecourses.”

But Racing Victoria is still investigating the circumstances around the lunch and whether Covid protocols were breached. Figureheads of leading Ballarat stables, including senior members of Ciaron Maher Racing and the Tony and Calvin McEvoy stable, attended the gathering.

The Herald Sun has confirmed Ciaron Maher was not involved. But a Melbourne Cup-winning trainer did attend the lunch.

It is believed the crew travelled and dined together for several hours indoors.

Racing chiefs will be compelled to act strongly if rules were broken at the long lunch, given the severe sanctions handed to the “Airbnb five” jockeys recently.

Some of Victoria’s best jockeys were hit with spring carnival-ending bans following the Mornington Peninsula house party. After that, a livid Racing Victoria boss Giles Thompson said: “We do not have a God-given right to race”.

The trainers were reportedly dobbed in by one of their colleagues which seems to be the same case as the jockeys, despite suggestions it was a noise complaint.

If no action is taken against these trainers then the punished jockeys are entitled to believe there is one rule for one and another for them not to mention the grilling they got from RV boss Thompson who seems to have been conspicuous by his silence on this matter.

 

WE’RE THE SUNSHINE STATE, LET’S EMBRACE IT & DISPENSE WITH DS

THE TAB might think it’s a great idea having no daylight savings in Queensland enabling the punting days to drag out even longer and the desperates to get on the last races in the north when the southern states are done and dusted.

But they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Gone are the days when many in the punting fraternity would put aside an entire day – up to six or seven hours during daylight saving – and devote it entirely to racing.

Dads and even mums who like a punt have so many other commitments these days – like taking kids to junior sports and staying on to watch how they go. When it comes to families punting will never win that battle.

But more importantly, when it comes to Daylight Savings, Queensland needs to remain in step with NSW and Victoria – and not only from a racing perspective. Forget all this garbage about an extra hour of sunlight fading the curtains and making the cows refuse to provide milk, it’s time for the Sunshine State to step out of the dark ages.

New research shows the overwhelming majority of Queenslanders now want daylight saving. In Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, the number is even higher at 70 per cent.

As Peter Gleeson wrote recently in The Courier-Mail:

The biggest loser is tourism (he didn’t mention racing but spare a thought for Melbourne Cup day when Queenslanders have hardly finished breakfast and the first is run at Flemington).

As Gleeso said: There’s an easy solution. The Palaszczuk Government should introduce daylight saving between Noosa and Coolangatta. The good folk of North Queensland could have their own time zone.

Then everyone will be happy: No need for so many new sets of curtains; the cows won’t be confused and the goat riders will be content.

 

‘BIGGLES’ BARBARIC JUMPS RACING BLAST BEGINNING OF THE END

By GODFREY SMITH

THE controversial decision to abandon historic jumps racing in South Australia brought back memories of a former life when I watched the systematic destruction of what was once a thriving newspaper industry in Queensland.

What has one got to do with the other you might ask? Good question but there are similarities.

During the era back in the 80s before politicians barred their arse to Rupert the Great One and allowed him to establish a virtual print media monopoly in this country, Murdoch launched the Daily Sun in Brisbane because he couldn’t get his grubby hands on The Courier-Mail.

It was only a matter of time though before a political party would bow to his wishes. While that was happening I had a front row seat as a bunch of Murdoch newspaper bums from Adelaide helped drive the Daily Sun into the ground to ensure the Courier-Mail (by then owned by their boss) had no competition in Brisbane.

One wondered whether some of these boofheads had even read a newspaper let alone worked in one. Of course when The Sun was closed they were all rewarded with jobs throughout the Murdoch network. They say one of the bosses even wound up parking cars at Bowen Hills on an editor’s salary.

Once again you must be wondering WTF has this got to do with jumps racing in South Australia being abandoned. Be patient! But racing there is like the newspaper industry in Queensland – rooted.

During the Sun era one of the blow-ins from Adelaide was a young bloke who was appointed the Australian Rules writer. His name was Leon Bignell. I had little to do with him but felt he had more intelligence in his little toe than some of the more high profile block-heads who arrived on the same bus north.

My first impressions proved correct – for a short time at least – when Bignell returned home and in 2006 was elected to the South Australian Parliament as the Labor Member for Mawson.

Bignell, who proved a super popular MP, increased his two-party-preferred vote to 54.4 per cent at the 2010 election, bucking not only the State-wide trend but decades of voting patterns in his seat.

Mawson was Labor's second most marginal seat, and on paper it should have been among the first to be lost to the Liberals in the event of a uniform swing large enough to topple Labor from office. Bignell's victory was critical in allowing Labor to eke out a narrow two-seat majority.

Bignell entered Cabinet in January 2013 as the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Recreation and Sport and Minister for Racing (as many portfolios as that Minister for Everything in Queensland, Big Russ). He remained in Cabinet until Labor lost to the Liberals in 2018 when the Racing portfolio was inherited by the controversial Corey Wingard (yet another story).

Affectionately known as ‘Biggles’ in SA media circles, Leon was once caught drawing caricatures of his Opposition colleagues while sitting in the Chamber (here’s hoping they mean the house – but perhaps he learnt that trait on the throne in the Valley). The inclusion of Kangaroo Island in his electorate made racing an even more integral part of his portfolio.

Everything seemed to be going swimmingly for ‘Biggles’ until – shortly before Labor lost Government – he called jumps racing ‘barbaric’ after a horse had to be euthanized at the Oakbank Easter Carnival which he declared should be 'banned'.

The chairwoman of Thoroughbred Racing South Australia at the time, Frances Nelson QC, said it was ‘unusual’ that the Minister would make such strong remarks about an industry within his own portfolio. She reminded him: “This carnival alone over Easter puts $13 million into the local economy every year.”

She said it was all the more unusual because a South Australian Parliamentary Commission had only just debated whether jumps racing should be banned and decided it should continue. "I just find it extraordinary that Mr Bignell can't accept the report of his own committee. It's a waste of time, waste of money and quite frankly very insulting to his peers who sat on that committee and worked very hard.”

That was the beginning of the end for jumps racing in SA and especially the feature events of the Oakbank Carnival. A change of Government has made little difference and now it is all over red rover. The ‘fruit loops’ are crowing victory and forgetting that some of the beautiful thoroughbreds that they claim to be protecting will now be condemned to the knackery.  

The Great Eastern Steeple, a part of history in SA racing, will no longer twist and turn around that remarkable little track at Oakbank where it was once watched by tens of thousands. You really don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

As jumps racing advocate Matt Stewart wrote for RSN: With each running of the Great Eastern, another layer was added to the legend. It became a place for Pilgrims, Oakbank at Easter. It was on the bucket list alongside Warrnambool, Darwin and Birdsville.

The animal liberationists have had a hollow win - the heart and soul of Oakbank, the big jumps races, has been euthanized. Some years ago the same fate awaited the famous Warrnambool Grand Annual Carnival had Victorian Racing Ministers proven as limp-wristed as their colleagues across the border.

Stewart posed an interesting question:

Why does Oakbank need South Australian jumps racing competitors (riders and trainers) to be sustainable? Why can’t Victoria keep it going?

Updated figures are hard to come by but in 2012, it was reported that Oakbank delivered $13.4 million in economic benefit to South Australia.

Just as the May carnival turbo-boosts tourism dollars to Warrnambool, the influx of racegoers at Oakbank at Easter has been an income spike in Adelaide and the hills.

Crowds have dropped significantly in recent years but over 25,000 attended Oakbank in 2019. No other racing event in SA hosts a bigger crowd.

It is irrelevant, isn’t it, that only a handful of local participants still ride or train jumpers? They have little bearing on the economy of Oakbank.

Another jumps advocate, Victorian Mike Symons, says the decision to dump the jumps in SA was more political than economic. As for the iconic Easter races remaining relevant without jumps, Symons says: “Not a hope; no jumps, no Oakbank.”

For some time, Oakbank CEO Shane Collins has been planning for life after jumps racing at Oakbank, adding extra flat meetings and trying to make the racecourse an epicentre for local horse pursuits such as pony clubs.

Collins had been keen to preserve the jumps for as long as he could but he was never going to chain himself to a tree to save it.

In justifying its decision on Friday, Racing SA reported that only 12 jumps races were held in 2020-21, with field sizes of less than five. It claimed SA had less than 10 jumps horses of a state-wide population of 2400.

Racing SA chose an odd year to throw up stats; the year COVID sapped participant interest and robbed Oakbank of a crowd.

Oakbank has been around forever, through good and bad. It seems unimaginable it will be given up without a fight.

And it’s not as though South Australian racing doesn’t need all the help it can get. Saturday meetings are a joke, an absolute disgrace – the latest at Morphettville Parks started with a three-horse race.

There is no comparison between metropolitan racing in SA and the eastern States. In fact punters are more interested in the major Saturday provincial meetings in NSW, Victoria and even Queensland. Now the joint is well and truly stuffed. They should rename that racing.com preview show: SA Racing – GET OFF!

 

HOW COULD VERRY ELLEEGANT PERFORM SO BADLY IN TURNBULL?

TAKING nothing away from the outstanding win of INCENTIVISE in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington on Saturday, how could VERRY ELLEEGANT perform so badly.

It was no surprise that Verry Elleegant was heavily backed to beat the new star of the staying ranks in this country Incentivise. Coming into the race she had won 10 Group 1’s to his one.

At a time when there is an argument over whether Verry Elleegant should be declared a ‘champion’, the winner of almost $10 million in stakes may have finished fourth but it was well below her best.

Stewards questioned the performance and their report reads:

Verry Elleegant: Began awkwardly, shifted in and made contact with Young Werther. Lay in under pressure from the 200 metres. Rider Damian Lane reported that Verry Elleegant travelled well throughout and on straightening he was confident of finishing the race off, however, the mare failed to run on in the straight. A post-race veterinary examination failed to reveal any obvious abnormality. Stable representative Cameron Cooke reported the mare had pulled up well and will undergo a veterinary examination over the next few days and the stable will report any findings to the Stewards.

Those who watch racing closely say she was unusually ‘calm’ in the parade ring and also note that fancied runners from the Chris Waller stable can turn in a bad one then rebound with form reversals. Don’t want to be accused of social media madness but perhaps stable security should be stepped up in Melbourne.

On the surface though Incentivise silenced any critics he had and spanked the star mare’s bum. He endured all the pressure up front then raced away to earn Caulfield Cup favouritism.

We were a little surprised to hear trainer Peter Moody suggest on RSN today that Incentivise is no certainty to run in the Melbourne Cup. Come on ‘Moods’ didn’t you tell us after he won the Makybe Diva that he might not run in the Caulfield Cup?

Another Queensland-bred hero captured the spotlight on a big day in Sydney when REGAN BAYLISS landed a Group 1 winning double at Randwick.

The win of PRIVATE EYE was huge in The Epsom (our good mate Archie Butterfly declared it weeks ago) after Regan had won The Flight on roughie NEVER BEEN KISSED.

Bayliss, who had ridden Startantes in the Golden Rose, accepted the advice of trainer Gai Waterhouse and jumped off the Queensland filly to stick with Never Been Kissed after her unlucky run in the G2 Tea Rose.

“Gai said, ‘stick with me, you’ll ride more winners for my stable in the next couple of years’,” which was no put down for Rob Heathcote but he is based in Brisbane and Bayliss relies on Sydney stables for his rides.

There must be something in the water at the provincials in NSW. Never Been Kissed fell over the line to win a Maiden at Newcastle in September and Kallos graduated to G2 success in the G2 Danehill Stakes at Flemington after winning a Maiden at Hawkesbury.

Punters copped a double-wammy as both were at long odds. Worse still Kallos was backed in from big odds while the much-hyped Godolphin stable Ingratiating went like a mule after being solidly backed.

   

 

GOING TO THE DOGS RATHER THAN DISNEYLAND TO SEE PLUTO

A former Greyhound Racing Victoria employee is being investigated over a missing “trip of a lifetime” to Disneyland that was supposed to be given to a racegoer as a prize.

But the accused former employee, who The Age has chosen not to name for legal reasons, has denied any wrongdoing, and accused GRV of seeking retribution.

The prize, worth $10,000, was part of a Gippsland Carnival promotion in 2017 and drawn at the Traralgon Cup in March that year. Racing industry insiders alleged the prize was not claimed by a racegoer, but was taken by the former employee.

When contacted by The Age, the accused employee said they were horrified by the accusations and willing to cooperate with any investigation: “I am lost for words really. I feel like this is just a targeted attack on me for other things that have happened,” the person said.

The former GRV employee told The Age a non-disclosure statement prevented them discussing the circumstances of their departure from the organisation.

The accused person said they did buy a ticket to travel to Disneyland in the US in 2020 with their own money, but the trip was abandoned.

“They were tickets purchased on my American Express card and refunded by Qantas,” the person said.

The Office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sean Carroll, is investigating, and corruption watchdog the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission has also been notified.

In a statement to The Age, a GRV spokesperson said the organisation asked integrity commissioner to investigate the claims.

“The GRV integrity unit investigated this matter, but was unable to obtain sufficient information,” a spokesperson said.

“The matter was subsequently referred to the racing integrity commissioner.”

                                  

THERE’S OFTEN A SPIN IN THE TAIL OF THOSE STEWARDS’ REPORTS

IT pays to check out the Stewards’ Reports – that’s why the win by Nicci’s Spirit at the Sunshine Coast on Friday night may not have been the form reversal it first appeared.

Nicci’s Spirit after failing badly first-up when fancied at the Gold Coast upstaged Blood Thunder, the hot favorite graduating from an impressive track and distance win in a Maiden when resuming from a spell at only its second start. This sort of class rise is never easy but the field wasn’t strong.

History shows Blood Thunder went like a mule while the winner, Nicci’s Spirit, improved many lengths on her first-up flop when she ran 8th of nine and was beaten over six lengths.

Critics of what they called a massive form reversal from the Tony Gollan-trained four-year-old were quick to highlight how her previous form was good enough to win but hastened to add you can only believe what you see and her comeback run was very plain indeed.

Stewards reported that jockey James Orman told them Blood Thunder travelled well in the run but when placed under pressure entering the straight failed to respond to his riding and weakened noticeably. None of that was news to the punters who backed the short-priced favorite. The sting was in the tail when a post-race veterinary examination revealed Blood Thunder to be suffering from the thumps and having a poor post-race recovery.

One would have thought Stewards at the Sunshine Coast would have queried the form reversal from Nicci’s Spirit but all they reported was that the mare was held up for clear running between the home turn and the 300m.

Not a question was asked about her big improvement after the first-up Gold Coast flop. That was left to the every reliable Michael Maxworthy of SKY who was told by a Gollan stable representative that Nicci’s Spirit may have been in the worst part of the track at the Gold Coast.

That was entirely different to what jockey Jim Byrne told stewards at the Gold Coast on the day when they queried the poor run. He said the mare had settled in a rearward position as per her usual racing pattern but the tempo of the race did not suit her and in the circumstances he was not entirely disappointed with the performance.

Moral of the story – it pays to read stewards report and highlights the need for the panel to be more vigilant on occasions to ensure transparency for the punters.

 

DOES WEETWOOD DAY DESERVE TO MAINTAIN SATURDAY STATUS?

CRITICS are questioning whether Weetwood Day at Toowoomba justifies stand-along Saturday status.

We at LGHR think it does – and Downs racing certainly warrants an annual spotlight – but something needs to be done to improve the quality of the Toowoomba Cup.

No such problem with the time-honoured Weetwood since it was moved to the Spring but the Cup has had a few date changes and fails to attract a field little better than an average Saturday middle distance event in Brisbane.

The Pat O’Shea Plate for the debutantes and the Garden City Guineas are quality support features but these needed to be boosted by another race, perhaps a restricted class provincial Cup.

Clifford Park can be a trap for horses having their first start there. Perhaps that’s why the Chris Waller-trained Fortified – sent out at $1.7 in the first – lost a leg and beat only one home.

Then we had the Tony Gollan-trained Lyrical Girl leading and headed on straightening when a $1.75 favorite and a battling third in race three – hardly the start most punters were expecting.

The question critics of the stand-alone Saturday meeting in Toowoomba are asking is should this be run on a Sunday for a few years – along with Townsville, Rockhampton, Cairns and Mackay Cup days.

Major Country Cups are extremely popular on Sundays in Victoria. The Queensland argument that racegoers won’t attend like they do on a Saturday because they have to work on Monday is as lame an excuse as daylight saving affecting the milking habits of the cows in ‘goat rooter’ country in the north.

 

EVEN THE BEST CAN SLAUGHTER ONE IN A FIVE-HORSE FIELD

DAMIEN OLIVER is unquestionably one of the all-time greats of the Australian turf but his ride on Superstorm in in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes at Sandown Hillside last Saturday was nothing short of disgraceful.

How could a jockey of Oliver’s expertise and experience manage to sit three wide without cover throughout in a five-horse field?

We are not suggesting for one moment that Superstorm would have troubled superstar Zaaki. But because the long odds-on favorite was too short for most punters to back there was more interest in the exotics.

Many punters were keen to back Superstorm to beat home the second favorite Probabeel and but for a slaughter job by Oliver it arguably would have.

Stewards obviously had no problem with his ride as they didn’t ask what he was doing out there, like a shag on a rock, in a five-horse field. To finish as close as it did, in the circumstances, was a super effort by Superstorm.

 

THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH OR TRIP TO LONGREACH

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY reports on his subscriber-only website peterprofit.com that the ever active and reliable punters’ grapevine is abuzz with rumours that TABCORP shouted 50 of Queensland’s biggest losing customers to a ‘free all-expenses paid’ jaunt to the Longreach races last Saturday.

He wrote:

‘I guess they have to get crowds to promote it (the Country Challenge Series Qualifier) somehow.

A rollicking good time was had by some.

The bloke who dropped 30 grand on the day wasn’t one of them I would suspect.

Responsible gambling hey?

Brought to you by TABCORP, the people who care.

Never fear addicted gamblers, help is right at hand.

That bloke walking from the bar to deliver you a round of double scotches just before the first kicks off is the man to see.

The fella in the TAB hat with the free bet vouchers sticking out of his pocket.  

Some say love, it is a river.

No Rose, it’s a free trip to Longreach that you’ve paid for sixty times over yourself, and will pay for sixty times more.

You pay the bloke in the hat’s six figure salary too!     

 

 

R & R – RACING & RUGBY LEAGUE THE UPSIDE BUT OVERKILL FROM RAZOR, RADS, RONNIE & ROOTSY FOR MR RACING & RUGBA LEAGUE

By GODFREY SMITH

MY good mates reckon I wouldn’t survive without my annual dose of R & R - they’re not referring to Rest & Relaxation, more so Racing & Rugby League.

It’s Spring Carnival and Grand Final time and you wouldn’t be dead for quids.

But it got me thinking about R & R & R & R and the ‘overkill’ in Sydney. At the top of the heap we have Mr Racing & Rugba League then there’s his ‘No 1 Fans’ in the racing media – Razor, Rads, Ronnie & Rootsy.

I’ve never been a great fan of Rugby – as opposed to Rugby League – can’t quite understand why you would want to applaud when they kick the ball into touch. Although I must admit the time I enjoyed most was living in New Zealand when the Kiwis lost the World Cup.

Until the Super League War erupted I felt it was disloyal to my Queensland origins to follow Aussie Rules but that changed and I have grown to love the game, even more so after a Grand Final like the one on Saturday evening that saw the Melbourne Demons end 57 years of AFL agony.

Sadly, that will never happen in the NRL while there is no draft – it will always be a competition of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. I’m expecting a re-emergence of the Broncos next season (in my household we support any team that they are playing) and my brave lads at the Cowboys will need to grow a leg just to be competitive.

Who would have thought Manly – my good mates, sugar-free Coke drinking Lindsay and hot-dog devouring John are their greatest fans – could go as badly as they did against the Rabbits? Those bookie boys proved once again they have crystal balls.

What’s that old saying about ‘Greeks Bearing Gifts’ – well punters should have been wary when the texts arrived from the TAB with the good news that a $25 Bonus Bet had been added to their accounts then offering an amazing $4 if Tommy Turbo scored a try in the first 60 minutes for Manly. Sounded a certainty and way over the odds! History shows he did, but of course it was disallowed.

Then we headed to Sunday and who would have thought the Storm would save their worst for last? That's apart from the one-time No 1 bachelor now devoted dad Cowboy Dougo but he loves an upset.

Sure the Panthers played the game of their lives but Melbourne failed to turn up. One of those leading the cheering for the Rabbits was their No 1 fan, Les Bridge and what a great month it will be for the South Sydney colours if Classique Legend – now back where it belongs in his stable – comes out and wins the absurdly-staked, money grab The Everest.

I’d love to see the Rabbits win for two long-time mates, the club’s all-time great ‘Satts’ and one of the best sports journos and good blokes Sydney has seen in Mick Cowley, who sadly has now joined the ‘leg lifting’ brigade. I could never barrack for the Panthers but won’t be too disappointed if whining Wayne bows out on a losing note.

What a weekend of sport and racing it was and there’s another one heading our way. It was R & R in overdrive starting out on Friday night when the only downside was The Inferno failing to run down the Sydneysider Wild Ruler in the Group 1 Moir Stakes at the season-opener of night racing at the Valley.

Zaaki is an absolute superstar but I can’t believe he is $2 and Verry Elleegant at $7 for the Cox Plate. Does there deserve to be that much spread between the pair? Who am I to doubt the bookies? They’re driving around in Audis and I’m back on the trusty Malvern Star – almost as good a look as another mate Jeff when he dons the lycra gear at Rainbow Beach and rides to the club and back pissed on his two-wheeler. Kels is off reef fishing off Cairns at the end of the week but needs to arrive a couple of days earlier to have a good drink with his mates before they test their sea legs.

Another good bloke, retired Darwin bookie Mark Graham – now punting his ears off on the Gold Coast, has just returned from the north where the mail is strong he won 50 grand on a greyhound (and it wasn’t one of his). Story goes it is part-owned by the guy who hopes to remove Anastasia as Premier (now who would have picked him for a dogs man, probably got a leg-up from SKY diver Gleeso when he was Editor of the Bulle).

The enigmatic Nature Strip remains favorite for The Everest in advance of Classique Legend and Eduardo. My mail from the Heathcote stable in the bowels of Eagle Farm (that’s the joint with a bitumen road around it) is not to write off Rothfire too prematurely.

Racing in Sydney steps up another notch with the Epsom-Metrop double on the eve of the League Grand final in Brisbane (Yahoo!) this weekend. Who said the closed borders ordered by the Polish Princess didn’t deliver anything positive to the Sunshine State? But just watch her open things up for the Festive Season – the excuse will be letting Queenslanders back home for Christmas – an ulterior motive bowing to pressure from ‘Genial Gerry’ to ensure there is no barrier to the Magic Millions Carnival.

The ‘breath of fresh’ Annabel Neasham of Zaaki fame will be back in the spotlight on home turf when Mo’unga steps out in the Epsom (don’t be surprised if Hungry Heart spoils the party) while Montefilia and She’s Ideel are the ones the market framers fancy for The Metropolitan (it’s a tough race).

Won’t it be great to have the big man Peter Moody front and centre with stable newcomer, the Caulfield-Melbourne Cup favorite Incentivise, which can truly be claimed as a Queenslander?

No post-mortem of last Saturday’s racing could be complete without mentioning the resurrection of Gai Waterhouse. She and training partner Adrian Bott returned to the Spring headlines winning with Entente in the Colin Stephen, Vangelic in the Golden Pendant and In the Congo in the Golden Rose.

Just when ‘Razor’ thought he was safe on track shadowing ‘Walley World’ all day, he had to revert to the trusty mobile to touch base with Gai and do some ‘spin doctoring’ from an unexpected direction – but he’s an expert at that.

And before we are told to wash our mouth out with soap for not mentioning the deeds of the great one Chris Waller – he did enjoy Group success at Rosehill with Yonkers in the Shannon Quality, Head of State in the Gloaming and Home Affairs in the Heritage Stakes. Just another day at the office – and good to see the brother-in-law has been granted a licence by Racing NSW (they were the ones that let Hong Kong Chrissy back in despite an international agreement) after dodging a bullet on the Gold Coast.

From a punting perspective it did give me a warm, fuzzy feeling when Waller won the Shannon Stakes with a despised outsider while a more fancied stablemate ran down the track.

It was another groundhog Saturday in Sydney racing Yonkers charged home to win (unwanted in the betting) while his well tipped and fancied stablemate Imaging (dropping back from G1s) was the first horse beaten.

On the plus side Yonkers races for some fine Queenslanders, headed by Nev Morgan, David Devine and Peter Tighe – long-time clients of Waller who have invested plenty in the ownership game.

On the minus side it was just another example of why when Waller has multiple runners in any race punters should take the shorter odds and invest in a ‘Bundle Bet’. It will save them from having to replace all those Smart TV’s that get drop-kicked across the room almost on a weekly basis.

 

 

CHAMPION SYDNEY APPRENTICE SUSPENDED OVER COVID BREACH

SYDNEY’S champion apprentice, Tom Sherry, had his race-riding license suspended for four months on Thursday after he breached NSW Health orders by attending trackwork last week and was subsequently found to have COVID-19.

CHRIS ROOTS reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that Sherry, who is currently doing 14 days of home isolation after testing positive to COVID-19, had the test on September 14 but turned up to work the next morning, breaching the health orders in that he should have isolated after the test.

When Sherry’s test results came back positive to COVID-19 on September 15, he immediately reported what had happened to his boss, trainer Mark Newnham, who told Racing NSW.

Sherry pleaded guilty to two charges that his conduct was detrimental to the interests of racing and had breached Racing NSW COVID protocols, while Newnham pleaded guilty to negligence which led to a breach of the rules relating to the Racing NSW COVID protocols. The trainer was fined $18,750.

“I have had to move out of my home [because it was in a local government area of concern a month ago] where I lived with my partner, who is my only family in Australia,” Sherry told stewards.

“I know I have breached the rules and I’m taking full responsibility for that.

“COVID has been tough on everyone, but especially being an apprentice, and it being an important time of year for the racing calendar, I was just trying to work my hardest to get every opportunity I can.

“There was no intention to put anyone in the racing industry at risk because I wasn’t aware that I had COVID-19.

“I know you say that a stuffed nose is a symptom and I should have taken more precautions. If I took a precaution every time I have a stuffed nose or headache, I would never be at the races.

“I’m constantly rundown and constantly feeling unwell because of the circumstances of racing and riding light.”

Lawyer Wayne Pasterfield, who acted for Sherry and Newnham, told stewards he was concerned for the young jockey’s mental health.

“This is a different case to those jockeys in Melbourne who thumbed their noses at rules,” Pasterfield said.

“This is a different kettle of fish. He didn’t choose to get COVID, and he didn’t know that he had tested positive until the next day. He was just trying to do the right thing and unintentionally did the wrong thing.

“Tom is doing it tough because of this, and I’m concerned for his mental health if he isn’t riding.”

Racing NSW stewards were mindful of the mental health effect not riding would have on Sherry, so only suspended his licence to ride in races. It will mean, when he is cleared of COVID, Sherry will be able to return to riding trackwork and barrier trials.

Newnham said Sherry is an outstanding employee.

“The thing that Thomas is most guilty of is work ethic, that he felt obliged to come to work,” Newnham said.

“If all my employees were as keen to come to work as he is, it would be a lot easier to run the stable. There is never a day where he is not at work on time, if not early.”

 

IS THERE SOME POLITICAL CHICANERY BEHIND THE LOY APPEAL OR DOES RACING NSW HAVE SOMETHING TO HIDE WITH COVID POSITIVES?

WHEN are the Sydney racing ‘spin doctors’ for the almighty one of Racing NSW,  Peter V’landys, going to publish the story and identity of the top trainer and jockeys who have allegedly tested positive to COVID-19?

That’s a legitimate question posed today in an EXCLUSIVE by ARCHIE BUTTERFLY on his subscriber-only website, peterprofit.com and we at LGHR are reliably informed that he is spot-on.

It follows the story about Norm Loy, the small-time trainer from Albury who was scrubbed out for three months for allegedly bringing racing into disrepute by tweeting his legitimately held but poorly expressed opinions about the NSW Premier and her decisions with regard to the COVID lockdowns.

Loy has decided to appeal his sentence, and leading Melbourne racing barrister Damian Sheales has taken on the case, reportedly pro-bono (for free).

Sheales has lodged an entry of appearance, which means that he informed Racing NSW that he was on the job for Loy.

Can you believe this?

‘The Butterfly’ reports that within hours Racing NSW had engaged Sydney’s No 1 silk, Bret Walker SC to run their defence to Loy’s appeal.

Walker is said to charge $27,500 a day. The case will take at least a day to be heard, maybe two. Walker will also need time to prepare – up to two days. On that basis the cost could blow out to $110,000.

It doesn’t end there. Insiders say Walker SC has added at least one or even two solicitors to his legal team and is also said to have engaged Junior Counsel to assist him. The estimated costs of this would be: Junior Counsel ($6,000-$8,000 a day) and the lawyers ($5,000 each).

What all this means is that Racing NSW is prepared to spend up to $200,000 to defend an appeal made by a small-time trainer about a penalty for sending a disparaging private tweet about the Premier on a public issue that wasn’t directly about racing.

It just doesn’t make sense and as Archie Butterfly reports: ONLY Peter V’landys has the power at Racing NSW to authorise such a level of spending.

Why has he done it over such a seemingly innocuous issue?

Here’s the punchline from ‘The Butterfly’:

‘I wrote earlier about how the State Government approval for a crowd of 5,000 on Everest Day was contingent upon NSW hitting the 70 per cent vaccination target.

What I didn’t tell you is that a jockey and a very prominent leading trainer had tested positive to COVID after being at various racing and training venues.

Since that time – last Friday in fact – another prominent jockey has tested positive, despite being vaccinated and carrying no obvious symptoms of the virus.

The jockey who threw a positive on Friday had been in contact with several leading Sydney trainers and jockeys at trackwork at a triangular racecourse in the Sydney western suburbs on the day that his test blew up with a plus sign. One of these jockeys is among the best in the land.

The infected jockey immediately notified Racing NSW of the result of his test.

It was kept secret, and the jockeys who had contact with the rider were permitted to ride at Randwick the very next day.

These jockeys were subjected to rapid antigen testing on race morning and recorded a negative result, but so had the infected jockey on other occasions during the week.

There are huge questions about the efficacy of rapid antigen testing, particularly in asymptomatic people who take the test. The Irish Times highlighted that country’s Government’s doubts about it in an article published just yesterday (Tuesday).

This is the question that Archie Butterfly has raised and so should the rest of the industry in this country:

Has the appointment of Bret Walker SC and his team been made because Peter V’landys is desperately trying to keep Sydney racing going until the end of the Everest carnival, and footy until the end of the finals, and is attempting to keep the Premier sweet?

Is this a cynical exercise in political chicanery that is far bigger than Norm Loy, but has cast him as the meat in the Sandwich.

When will the ‘love children’ of V’landys in the Sydney racing media do their jobs and tell the racing public who tested positive last Friday?

Does the NSW State Government know?

Does the NSW Premier know?

Will the Norm Loy appeal not be the only matter that the high priced genius of a silk who got George Pell off conducts on behalf of Racing NSW?’

LGHR was surprised when RSN in Victoria could not get the Racing NSW Chief Steward on air to answer questions about the COVID issue on Saturday morning.

We also wonder how south of the border JAMIE KAH and her party-goers must be feeling when they read what is allegedly happening (more to the point not happening) in NSW, especially after they were hung out to dry by Racing Victoria and its stewards?

 

BRAE NEEDS TO BUILD A FEW BROWNY POINTS WITH GIRL POWER

BRAE SOKOLSKI loves his horse racing, is a super successful owner and looks set to enjoy another big Spring Carnival.

But does he have a problem with leading lady jockeys – with three of the best now having real reasons not to like him.

Just take a look at the Sokolski mantle-piece – and we’ve probably overlooked an important winner – but his ownership success stories include Yes Yes Yes in an Everest; a Cox Plate with Sir Dragonet and the Caulfield Cup with Verry Elleegant.

Last Saturday alone he enjoyed dual Group 1 success in Sydney and Melbourne with Verry Elleegant in the George Main Stakes at Randwick and Sierra Sue in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield.

Sokolski recently bought into the ownership of freakish Queensland stayer Incentivise now the favorite for the Melbourne Cup which won the Makye Diva Stakes at its first run for him.

In the training department his horses are spread around – Verry Elleegant and many others are with Chris Waller; Cairon Maher and Dave Eustace prepared Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet and Sierra Sue is in the Trent Bussutin – Natalie Young barn.

His latest acquisition Incentivise is with Peter Moody who one suspects shares different views when it comes to leading lady jockeys to that of Sokolski.

Moody is the No 1 fan and has enjoyed massive success with Linda Meech who Sokolski sacked from 2019 Victoria Derby favorite Thought of That days before the big race replacing her with Mark Zahra only to see it get badly beaten.

As an owner it was his right to engage the jockey of his choice but it didn’t sit well with a disappointed Meech, who said she hoped the horse got beaten in the Derby and her good friend, Melbourne Cup winning jockey, Michelle Payne, who wound up in trouble after firing a few verbal shots at Sokoski.

At the time Meech said:

“It’s just one of those things. Brae’s a smart enough bloke to stick with the big guns but I hope that it gets beat.

“Of course things like that bother you.

“I’ve had 20 years in the racing game, Brae probably hasn’t had quite as long but I won’t let that get to me, but it is a little bit disappointing.

“I know he wanted a Group 1 jockey but Mark Zahra’s had 262 rides in Group 1s and I’ve had 23 for one winner and he’s had 15.

“I think if you’re any good at maths, you’ll work out he’s had a lot more opportunities, but his strike rate’s pretty bad — same as mine.”

Payne wound up in hot water with stewards for what she had to say on social media:

She leapt to the defence of Meech labelling Sokolski a ‘pig’. "Not for the public to decide but the public can recognize you as a pig," Payne tweeted.

The tweet earned Payne a $1,000 fine after she pleaded guilty to posting an offensive message on social media. The post was deleted but others remained, with Payne branding Sokolski's switch "one of the most ruthless decisions made ... disgraceful".

Sokoski was quick to retaliate to the criticism:

"It's a travesty for there to be any suggestion that the decision is so much as influenced by gender bias. It was based solely on merit, and what we determined was in the best interest of the horse, and the ownership group."

Trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace were in favour of retaining Meech and aired their belief before being overruled by Sokolski, who told RSN at the time that Payne's tweet had left his mother "distraught".

"You're entitled to an opinion. You are not entitled to challenge the right of an owner to make that decision," Sokolski said. "You are not entitled to accuse or imply insidious motives for that decision without any evidence. I've spent my life building a reputation in the business and racing communities for acting with integrity.

"To have this reputation sullied by a reckless act is deeply upsetting. My mother rang me yesterday distraught, having seen the lead story online on the Herald Sun with a picture of me and the word 'pig' in inverted commas. This is the man that she helped bring up."

Just when his critics had put the ‘Brae doesn’t seem to like top lady jockeys on his horses’ scenario to bed, Sokolski weighed into the debate involving Jamie Kah, who Moody says was one of three jockeys being considered for the Melbourne Cup ride on Incentivise.

Kah’s lawyer was accused of stretching the truth when he raised this issue before the Racing Appeals Tribunal. Rather than run some of the whinges LGHR has received on this topic, we’ll revert to what colleague Archie Butterfly had to say on his popular and controversial website, www.peterprofit.com.

‘Was there any need for Brae Sokolski to go public shouting, No, no, Jamie Kah wasn’t booked for Incentivise? It was an unwarranted and an un-Australian act. '

A casual observer might consider from the lady jockeys’ perspective Brae has now had three strikes – one with Meech, another with Payne and now with Kah. Here’s hoping none of those riders have one of his star gallopers in a legitimate pocket at same stage in the future and that it doesn’t cost him another Group 1 success.

 

PROSECUTION INVOLVING REDCLIFFE MOBILE IS LONG OVERDUE

WE reproduce this story by ARCHIE BUTTERFLY from his subscriber-only website, peterprofit.com because of the major interest the matter has attracted:

FOR turgid legal reasons the first court date for the Workplace Health & Safety prosecution of those allegedly responsible through negligence for the accident that very nearly cost young Lara Whittaker her life at Redcliffe trots a couple of years ago has been adjourned until late October.

The wheels of justice turn very slowly – if they turn at all.

The word is that the racing authorities are throwing a couple of underlings under the bus, and attributing blame for the failures that led to the incident to them, instead of admitting that the problem was systematic and that there were no appropriate checking mechanisms in place to make sure that club and race day officials were performing the required inspections of racing structure and machinery before the first.

It is not appropriate to say whether the mobile was or wasn’t checked as required to see if the arms were working properly on the day they refused to fold and almost wiped the Whittaker’s out, but if they were not then surely the responsibility goes deeper than just the officials present, for unless they had forged their check lists and inspect – which I am told they did not because there are not any – then someone or ones higher up the chain must surely be culpable too.

I guess it will all play out in the wish, or in the trial or sentencing anyway.

Let’s just hope the family gets some sort of justice and the industry and harness public gets some certainty that this will never happen again.   

 

FARCICAL ‘TAP ON THE WRIST’ FOR EXCESSIVE WHIP USE BY JMAC

THOSE punters who like to have a gripe to LGHR each week about Sydney racing are adamant that the powerful Chris Waller stable and those closely associated with it enjoy a life-time ‘get out of jail free’ card.

We think that’s a bit harsh and wouldn’t subscribe to that theory for one moment. Like it or not, the ‘pin-up’ boy of the Sydney racing media is the most popular Kiwi export since Russell Crowe, Keith Urban and Sonny Bill Williams.

LGHR has led the way in urging punters to ‘bundle bet’ the Waller runners when he has multiple starters. Statistics show his outsiders have a habit of upstaging the favored ones.

Those results will continue to happen when racing relies on numbers from a stable like his for the very survival of some races at major Saturday metropolitan meetings. It’s a bit sad really.

On the positive side one could argue there would be no Hi-Ways or Midways on the main cards each week were it not for Waller and some other leading Sydney trainers, who are ineligible to compete to give the battles and bush boys some hope in the big smoke.

But back to the punters’ main whinge this week – and it doesn’t focus on a second-string Waller starter upsetting one of his favored runners or the fact he consistently gets away with sending ‘Ducky’ – the First Lieutenant – to stewards’ inquiries because the big kahuna is too busy to attend.

This time it relates to Waller’s No 1 jockey – some say the best in the land – James McDonald and questions being raised why he was treated so leniently by stewards on Saturday at Randwick.

JMac wasn’t even riding a Waller-trained horse when he fell foul of stewards on Akihiro for Gary Portelli in the Midway.

The Stewards’ Report reads:

AKIHIRO: Stewards permitted J. McDonald to ride the colt one kilogram over its allotted weight of 54.5kg. Prior to the declaration of correct weight, Stewards identified from the inquiry room that rider J. McDonald had used his whip on a total of 21 occasions (8 prior to the 100m), which was more than the total amount permitted under the rule.

When Stewards could not be comfortably satisfied that Akihiro had gained an advantage that resulted in it finishing in 2nd place, in accordance with AR221(2) they therefore declined to exercise their powers under AR132(10) and did not proceed with lodging a protest.

At a subsequent inquiry J. McDonald pleaded guilty to a charge under AR132(7)(a)(ii) for using his whip on 8 occasions prior to the 100m and a total of 21 strikes. J. McDonald was fined $1,000.

Even the commentators on SKY were predicting JMac might miss important meeting/s of the Spring Carnival in Sydney. Who were they kidding?

The penalty certainly didn’t fit the excessiveness of whip use by a champion jockey – it was nothing more than a tap on the wrist.

 

‘BUTTSY’ DOING IT TOUGH BUT STILL TRAINING A SMALL TEAM

A legion of friends of veteran Townsville trainer Terry Butts will be sad to learn that he is enduring an extremely tough battle with serious illness.

Butts, who switched to training in the early 1990’s after a career as a bookmaker, never lost his passion for race writing and it was only in recent years he retired his weekly Silks & Saddles column from the North Queensland Register.

The first English speaking race-caller at Hong Kong’s Happy Valley, Butts was also involved in the hotel industry in the one-time British colony. He worked for many years as a journalist before, during and after his bookmaking days.

Butts, now well into his 70’s, has continued to train despite his illness and was unlucky not to win with his latest starter at Cluden last week.

He has won most of the big races in the north, including the Bowen, Home Hill, Ingham, Atherton and Cairns Cups and the Townsville and Far North Amateurs Cups twice. One of his more recent feature wins was with Accidental in the Mackay Newmarket.

 

KAH SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN HUNG OUT TO DRY BY THE RACING TRIBUNAL – THE QUESTION HAS TO BE ASKED: WHERE’S THE CONSISTENCY?

WITHOUT attempting in any way to defend Jamie Kah’s breach of COVID protocol at the much publicised rogue party last month, one has to question whether she is being sorted out for special attention when it comes to penalty.

Where’s the consistency when Mark Zahra, after initially lying about his presence at the gathering, gets a discounted penalty while Kah cops both barrels from the Victorian Racing Tribunal.

Considering some of the penalties incurred for far more serious breaches of the Rules of Racing, not only in Victoria but throughout the land in recent years, Kah seems terribly treated having to spend five months on the sideline.

Yesterday’s pin-up girl of the riding ranks in Melbourne seems to be paying the price for her profile and LGHR for one hopes she wins her appeal to the Supreme Court over the harshness of the two-month ban for providing false and misleading evidence to RV stewards, especially considering the lack of consistency from the Tribunal compared to the fate Zahra suffered.

Eight hours after the VRT today (Friday) increased her original thee-month ban for attending the illegal Airbnb gathering last month, Kah sent out a tweet to announce she would appeal “to defend my reputation as to honesty”.

“I have done so (appealed) because I answered every question asked of me by the stewards truthfully and yet I have been found guilty of giving false evidence,” she wrote.

“My reputation, which I have earned by my conduct over my whole life as an honest person is very important to me.

“I am going to court to defend my reputation as to honesty. It is too important to myself as a person not to.

“I will not be making any further public comment on the matter. The courts will decide the issues.”

Kah did not appeal her original three-month ban, which sees her sidelined until late November. So much for doing the right thing by the industry she has apologized to for making the worst mistake of her career.

 

ARCHIE’S EXCLUSIVE ON THE APPOINTMENT OF A NEW QUEENSLAND RACING INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER

SOME big news was broken by ARCHIE BUTTERFLY on his subscriber-only site, www.peterprofit.com, today and to make up for our absence thanks to work being done by  NBN we republish it with his permission.

ARCHIE is tipping that DR JUNE SMITH will soon be announced as the new Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner and he’s impressed by the choice.

‘The Butterfly’ writes:

‘Dr Smith has a resume to die for. There are two things that you need to know. One is that Dr Smith’s appointment means that the male policing model of racing integrity regulation has been abandoned. The other is that Queensland racing will now have a QRIC Commissioner who not only has a deep and extensive understanding of the sport of racing but also a PHD in law.

All that is left to happen is an overdue overhaul and revamp of the current Appeals System.

 

 

 

INCENTIVISE SILENCES THE DOUBTERS WHO QUESTIONED HIS RIGHT TO BE AT THE TOP OF THE MELBOURNE CUP MARKETS

THE doubters who questioned the instalment of INCENTIVISE as favorite for the BIG CUPS double were silenced when the former Queenslander stepped out at Flemington on Saturday.

In one foul swoop Incentivise, racing for a syndicate of new owners that includes his breeder and former trainer, Steve Tregea, showed the doubters that he IS the real deal.

Having his first start for Peter Moody after winning six races in Queensland by a combined total of 42 lengths, Incentivise came to Flemington and conquered the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes.

In the process he led throughout for Brett Prebble and beat Group 1 Sydneysider Mo’unga and Cox Plate champion Sir Dragonet.

“Once he got on his right leg … I was never really doubtful, but it is different under race speed and pressure, but today he was really balanced and really relaxed which is a bonus,” Prebble said.

“I tried to give him as soft a run as I could just because I thought there is a long way to go. They came at him, I let them get up and about and I asked him for an effort and he dug deep.

“If I had asked him from the top of the straight I reckon he would have opened up and given them something to chase, but I wanted to give him an easy time.”

Moody has targeted the G1 Turnbull Stakes en route to the Cup. “It was very encouraging at this stage of the Spring. We’ve only got one more run between now and the (Melbourne) Cup which will probably be the Turnbull (Stakes).”

Incentivise is now second favourite at $4.6 behind the superstar Zaaki for the Turnbull Stakes. He is a clearcut $4.6 favorite for the Caulfield Cup and a $9 favorite in the all-in market for the Melbourne Cup.  

 

 

 

WHEN WILL PROMINENT BRISBANE RACING OFFICIAL BE STOOD DOWN?

WE’VE pinched a couple of items which you can read for ‘free’ from ARCHIE BUTTERFLY’S subscriber-only site, www.peterprofit.com, but do yourself a favour and fork out the small sum he asks for the ‘best read in racing and harness racing’ every week.

One of his stories that attracted our attention this week appeared under the headline: EXCLUSIVE: Prominent Brisbane Race Club Official to Be Stood Down Pending the Resolution of Serious Criminal Charges.

It reads, in part:

WHISPERS out of George Street suggest that sometime in coming days a prominent Brisbane racing club official will be forced to stand down from his position pending the resolution of serious police charges that have been laid against him.

The official, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is facing allegations of criminal behaviour allegedly perpetrated against employees who were at the time under his direction and control. The charges, if proven, carry a maximum jail sentence of life imprisonment.

The man, who has worked in senior positions across two codes over the past decade, was charged with the offences some months ago, but since that time has continued in an executive role. It appears now after high level intervention that his time in the high paid job has ceased temporarily until the criminal matters have been resolved.

Whilst a person is innocent until proven guilty and some may say this man has been unfairly treated, the nature of the alleged offences and the complainants involved make it untenable for him to continue with the matter hanging over his head.

His on-going active employment in his role sends a poor message indeed to racing participants and the public at large, particularly when the current name suppression enjoyed by the man is lifted and his identity and the nature of the charges that he is facing attract broad media attention.

 

RACE FOUR AT THE GOLD COAST WAS INDEED A ‘STRANGE RACE’

THE BUTTERFLY also writes:

RACE 4 at the GOLD COAST last Saturday was indeed a very strange race.

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY writes on his subscriber-only website, www.peterprofit.com:

THE horse concerned is PIEROPAN.

It is trained by John Smerdon and was ridden by Noel Callow.

Pieropan is a former Victorian that had a record of 23 starts for 2 wins over three seasons before being transferred to the Smerdon stable on the Gold Coast toward the end of last year.

He is obviously a galloper with issues, having had five different trainers (including Smerdon).

Callow, a well-known money rider, was having his first ride on the horse.

Since joining the Smerdon stable Pieropan has had nine starts for one win, that was at his first start this preparation on a Heavy track at Coffs Harbour.

His next three starts were at shorter trips than the 2200m of Saturday’s race.

Pieropan opens at $12. They immediately start jumping out of trees to back him. By the time they jump the horse is in to $3.40.

He’s been backed for a stack and it’s a cold ride by Callow. Is this just a pig of a horse who refused to stay in touch early or did Callow ride him too far back.

The stewards didn’t see a thing wrong and they don’t examine the betting sheets.

Is there something wrong with this race? You have a look at the Stewards’ footage and decide for yourself.

LGHR EDITOR’S NOTE: RION HITCHENER was promoted to Chief Steward at the Gold Coast after punters were calling for him to be moved on from Toowoomba where some felt he had been for too long. This isn’t the Downs sir, it’s the Coast and the Callow ride at least warranted a question or too. Punters are again suggesting you should lift your act. It didn’t take long!

 

 

KAH HEARING EXPEDITED DUE TO ‘SERIOUS ISSUES IN BACKGROUND’

THE racing rumour mill is in over-drive after the barrister for champion jockey Jamie Kah told a directions hearing in Melbourne today (Thursday) that the matter ‘really needs to be dealt with urgently’.

The Victorian Racing Tribunal was told by Damian Sheales that his client needed a date for the hearing ASAP ‘because of other matters going on in the background that really now make this more pressing.’

The VRT, under the chairmanship of Judge John Bowman, quickly allocated next Monday as the date for Kah’s hearing into allegedly giving false and misleading evidence.

“Notwithstanding she is suspended, and she doesn’t have a stay, I don’t really want to raise publicly the things going on in the background, but they are really serious and this really needs to be dealt with urgently to bring to an end finally all her matters one way or another.” 

Kah and fellow riders Mark Zahra, Ben Melham, Ethan Brown and apprentice Celine Gaudray, all face charges of allegedly giving false and/or misleading evidence concerning who was at the illegal Airbnb gathering late last month that led to three-month suspensions for all five riders.

Judge Bowman also confirmed that while Kah and Zahra’s submissions will be provided to the Tribunal in a written form, it was in the public interest for those submissions to be made available to be viewed.

“The last thing you want to do is to create the impression there is some secret or clandestine dealings occurring,” Judge Bowman said. “We do not for a minute think there is any attempt to do that but we want to eliminate any possible cause for concern.”

He said the written submissions would be posted on the VRT website.

Judge Bowman said he also wanted to clarify that the Tribunal has four options when assessing the appeals of jockeys Zahra, Melham and Brown against their three-month bans for attending the illegal gathering.

He said that one of the four options available to the Tribunal was that “if circumstances warrant it, we can increase the penalty.”

Directions hearings into alleged false and/or misleading evidence for Zahra, Melham and Brown are to be also heard next Thursday.

Meanwhile, MATT STEWART reports for RSN that contrasting twists in the Airbnb saga had this afternoon seen Kah granted the all-clear to be involved in an industry awards night and Mark Zahra facing further sanction if stewards’ recommendations are accepted.

Racing Victoria grappled for many hours over whether Kah should be involved in a “virtual” Victorian racing awards celebration on Sunday due to her involvement in the Airbnb soiree and subsequent three-month suspension.

Suggestions RV may not involve Kah created backlash within the racing industry, especially given her error means she will be ineligible for any awards or titles this season, which still has 11 months to run.

Early this afternoon, RV agreed for Kah to be involved and officially receive her Melbourne premiership title and most likely also the Scobie Breasley Medal.

The written submission of lawyers acting for RV was released today. In it senior counsel Daniel Bolkunowic said Zahra’s initial false statement to stewards warranted a two-month extension, with one month to be served concurrently.

Zahra is not just appealing his suspension but challenging the false and/or misleading charge. In seeking leniency, Zahra said he lied initially in order to make his family aware he had been at the party. He ran stewards at 5.50pm last Saturday and told them he had been there after denying it earlier that day. Zahra is also appealing on the grounds of lost earnings.

Racing Victoria’s chief steward Robert Cram first called Zahra at 11:33am on Saturday, August 28. Zahra then returned the missed call at 11:53am.

A transcript of the initial phone call between Zahra was released today.

Details of the call:

Chairman: “Mark … There’s some rumours going around that you were at the Mornington gathering on Wednesday evening. Is that correct or not?

Zahra: “No, it’s not correct.”

Chairman: “That’s good to hear, that it’s not. I’m just wondering where that would be emanating from?”

Zahra: “Yeah, I don’t know … I wasn’t there.”

Chairman: “Yes. You were definitely not there?”

Zahra: “No, definitely.”

Patrick Wheelehan said his client lied at first because Cram had rung when his wife was beside him and wanted her to know before it became public.

It was confirmed today that Melham and Brown will plead not guilty to providing false and/or misleading evidence regarding Zahra’s presence at the party.

Matthew Stirling, representing both Melham and Brown, told the VRT today that Zahra had been at the party so briefly that he wasn’t front of mind when his clients were asked who had been there.

Stirling used an analogy.

“If six people went out to dinner – three couples – and a seventh person joined them for half an hour. They went home and their daughter enquired of them, who was there? If they each stated the people that were there for the whole night but they didn’t mention the person that dropped in for a drink, are they liars? We would say no.”

Rescheduled Directions Hearings relating to the false/misleading charges against all five jockeys will be heard next Friday.

 

TO COMPARE WHAT JAMIE KAH HAS DONE WITH THAT OF DARREN WEIR IS AN ABSOLUTE INSULT

TALK about plumed peacock one day, feather duster the next – JAMIE KAH has overnight gone from the penthouse to the pits.

Now we have Racing Victoria executives procrastinating over whether the one-time pin-up girl of Australian racing should be banned from Sunday’s industry Awards Night.

Ben Dorries reports for racenet.com that high-level discussions about Kah’s participation in the gala event which will be broadcast on racing.com remain ongoing.

Racing Victoria has confirmed Kah will be eligible to win awards on the night including the prestigious Scobie Breasley Medal which recognises excellence in race riding on Melbourne racetracks.

With a record 105 city wins last season, Kah would be the red-hot favourite to win the Scobie Breasley and she will also collect an award for winning the Melbourne premiership.

It has been pointed out that after disgraced trainer Darren Weir was disqualified, Racing Victoria officials amended criteria on the eligibility of licensed people to win awards.

To compare what Kah and four other jockeys did in breaching COVID protocols at a ‘rogue party’ with the ‘sins of Weir’ and what he was disqualified for is an absolute insult.

Racing Victoria has told racenet that Kah’s ban for breaking racing and Covid protocols will not count against her at Sunday’s awards night as these relate to achievements from the last racing season.

However, Kah has been ruled ineligible to win any award in the current racing season, given her ban was imposed this season.

Racing Victoria said, in a statement provided to News Corp: “Racing Victoria (RV) instituted new awards eligibility criteria in 2019 that states, among other things, that any licensed person who is suspended for a period of two months or more, or is disqualified for any period, is automatically ineligible to win any premiership, medal or award in the racing season in which that occurs.

“The criteria also retains a discretionary clause for RV to revoke any premiership, medal or award for any season, if the licensed person has engaged in misconduct that has undermined the sport.

“In light of the three-month suspension handed to Jamie Kah by Stewards on 27 August 2021 for a breach of the Rules of Racing on 25 August 2021, RV has considered whether it would exercise its discretionary power and revoke Ms Kah’s eligibility.

“RV ultimately determined that Ms Kah would remain eligible for any premiership, medal or award in the 2020-21 racing season which concluded on 31 July 2021 on the basis that her breach of the Rules of Racing did not occur during that season and it did not bring into question the integrity of any races.

“RV further noted that any revocation would see Ms Kah’s historic achievements in the 2020-21 racing season officially removed from racing’s history books and that, in its opinion, Ms Kah had already been appropriately penalised for her breach of the Rules of Racing.

“Accordingly, Ms Kah will retain the 2020-21 Victorian Metropolitan Jockeys’ Premiership and be eligible for any other awards to be presented at the 2021 Victorian Racing Awards which will be broadcast on Racing.com this Sunday night after the cancellation of the scheduled dinner event owing to Covid restrictions.

“Under RV’s awards eligibility criteria, Ms Kah has automatically been ruled ineligible for any premiership, award or medal in the 2021-22 racing season which commenced on 1 August 2021 and concludes on 31 July 2022.”

Before the infamous Mornington party there was speculation that RV would use Jamie Kah as the ‘face of the Spring Carnival’. They say a week can be a long time in politics. It seems the same applies to racing.  

She has not been seen in public since being banned for three months over the infamous house party. Now, in a bid to protect their precious image, RV is concerned about her being interviewed when she accepts awards.

The Award Night will be hosted by ‘Mr Goodie Two-Shoes’ of the racing and sports media, Jason Richardson, who ironically shares the same manager as Kah. One thing’s for sure ‘laughing boy’ won’t step on any toes.

OK, Jamie made a mistake – one that no-one expected but will haunt her for the rest of her career. There are some doubts whether she will return to race riding or walk away and pursue her dream of becoming an equestrian representing Australia at the Olympics.

She doesn’t deserve any special treatment but we all make mistakes. Perhaps those officials so keen to crucify her should ask the question: Can the racing industry afford to lose a lady of her public appeal and incredible riding talents?

          

 

 

HOW FAR SHOULD THE RULES OF RACING REACH WHEN TRAINER CAN BE SUSPENDED FOR TIRADE AGAINST NSW PREMIER ON FACEBOOK?

STEWARDS have suspended Albury trainer Norm Loy for three months over his expletive-laden social media attack on NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian criticising her stance on the COVID lockdown.

Loy was charged with conduct prejudicial to the interests of racing after lebelling Berejiklian a ‘…. moron’, ‘stupid …. mole’ and having ‘the appearance of a tip turkey’.

The extraordinary penalty for the tirades against the Premier has raised the question: How far should the Rules of Racing reach?

The posts were made on Loy’s personal Facebook page. He plans to appeal the suspension.

The Australian Trainers’ Association has described the penalty as ‘an affront to free speech’ and Loy has lodged an appeal to the Racing NSW appeals authority.

Loy’s comments were housed in an internal chat room but were made public by a third party without his permission.

ATA chief executive Andrew Nicholl said it was important Loy’s penalty was ‘tested’ because in the ATA’s view, the penalty was an overreach.

Loy told stewards he had been intoxicated at the time of his posts but that he had become angry because he had friends who own horses he trained that were in businesses that were going to the wall.

Racing NSW Chief Steward Marc Van Gestal said Loy’s ‘filthy’ language was ‘well below’ the expectations of participants and brought racing into disrepute.

Loy said: “I think I was harshly done by and anything I post on Facebook is my own personal space. The steward said that I brought racing into disrepute because I have got 2,700 friends on Facebook. I said, ‘I can’t help it if I’m popular’. The population of Australia is 23 million people and I’ve got 2,700 friends, so I found that laughable.”

“The stewards asked me if I did it? One hundred percent I did. I had a bit of a rant on there about the Premier. The thing about it is, I put it on my own personal page. I did not share it publicly. Somebody else has snapshotted it – one of my ‘friends’ – but I don’t think it entitles anyone to snapshot and share what I put on my own personal page.

“This is when I said, and I posted again [after the inquiry], there goes democracy, there goes freedom of speech [for] anybody having a thought about anything at all. 

“Apparently as a licensed trainer in NSW, I can’t have an opinion or can’t vent my anger or anything like that. I mean, it is not about racing.”

 

 

TATT’S GOLD COAST MOVE A WARNING SHOT OVER FARM TRACK?

HOW much has the state of the Eagle Farm track influenced the decision of Tattersall’s Racing Club to move some of their meetings from Brisbane to the Gold Coast?

Much has been made of the two-month impasse earlier this year which saw TRC and the Brisbane Racing Club at loggerheads over hiring agreements for the Group 1 Tatt’s Tiara meeting during the Winter Carnival.

Last Saturday’s meeting of the club at Eagle Farm was a major embarrassment with only 71 starters on the nine race card and three races with only six starters in each.

The transfer of the Jewel Prelude Day to the Gold Coast in November means the tourist strip with host six metropolitan (primary TAB) meetings this season.

That is the most in the history of the club which wants to have 10 each year to justify a redevelopment of almost $40 million which will see lights enable night racing at the Coast. Whether Eagle Farm is back to its best or not, the glitter strip deserves more metropolitan status meetings.

 

VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCES BUT RIDE WOULD NOT HAVE PLEASED DAD

IT certainly wasn’t a ride that dad Mick would have been proud of.

Luke Dittman might have been a victim of a tricky alley but he gave the well-backed Relucent a sore back in the first at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

Little wonder the Chris Waller-trained galloper dropped out badly in the straight after being forced to work three and four wide throughout then pulled up lame in the off fore.

 

FOLLOWING BRISBANE FORM IMPOSSIBLE WHEN THIS HAPPENS

SOME days there is just little point to doing the form in Brisbane racing.

On weights there was no way (barring bad luck) that Adelase could turn the tables on Baanone in the third at the Farm.

Those punters who stepped in and backed Adelase for plenty must have had a crystal ball.

Baanone dropped out badly from the turn and a post-race veterinary examination revealed that the gelding was not striding freely in front.

Like those who backed it, Baanone was exhibiting signs of poor post-race recovery.

The same was the case with another heavily-backed runner in Navy Cross, an interstate visitor from the Waterhouse-Bott barn in Sydney. It performed like a mule despite pulling up with a mild case of the thumps.

 

PUNTERS HAPPY SYDNEY STEWARDS KEEPING WALLER ON HIS TOES

PUNTERS have applauded the move by Sydney stewards to seemingly take a closer look at runners from the Chris Waller stable, especially when he has multiple runners in races.

On Saturday they questioned poor performances by four of his runners at Randwick, including two well backed favorites.

Here are the official reports:

ATISHU (FAV & 4th): Began awkwardly and from a wide barrier then was shifted behind runners in the early stages. When questioned, rider K. McEvoy stated that from his wide barrier his mount was caught without cover in the early stages and for this reason he elected to restrain Atishu back towards the rear of the field in order to avoid racing extremely wide. He stated that at the time he elected to take cover, the field was relatively compact, but soon after the leading division established a margin on the main body of the field, this resulted in him settling further back from the leaders than he had anticipated. He stated that from the 600m he commenced a forward move through the field and on straightening his mount commenced to resent the kickback from runners in front. He added that near the 250m, when being shifted to the outside of Itz Lily, Atishu again appeared to resent the kickback, got its head up and became momentarily unbalanced before then finishing off the race strongly.

SHARED AMBITION (5th): When questioned regarding the gelding racing more prominently than what had been notified by connections, rider K. McEvoy confirmed that his instructions on the gelding, which was resuming, were to settle where comfortable and he had anticipated being in a mid-field position. He added that although Shared Ambition blundered shortly after the start, the gelding immediately took up a forward position and as a result he took advantage of his early positioning and was able to establish a more forward position without placing any pressure on his mount.

SHE’S ALL CLASS (8th): Approaching the finish line was steadied when crowded between Najmaty and Mallory, which was taken in by Jamaea (App. B. Ryan). App. Ryan was reprimanded and advised that he must stop riding and straighten when his mounts shift ground. Rider J. McDonald reported that She’s All Class was fractious again today prior to the event and in his opinion the filly’s run peaked at the 100m. He added that in his opinion She’s All Class would derive a fitness benefit from the performance.

HOOVER LUCY (FAV & 8th): On jumping was bumped by Brigantine, which shifted in. Rider K. O'Hara advised that the filly overraced throughout the early and middle stages. She added that although this may have been a factor in regard to her mount’s disappointing performance, she felt that Hoover Lucy still performed below expectation. A post-race veterinary examination did not reveal any significant abnormalities. Trainer's representative Mr C. Duckworth stated that he could offer no excuse for the disappointing performance other than as indicated by rider K. O'Hara that the filly had raced keenly. He undertook to report back to the Stewards on the post-race condition of the filly in the days subsequent.  

With so many starters any given Saturday it is inevitable that some will attract stewards’ attention. Rival trainers are perflexed at why Waller because of his busy schedule does not seem to have to front inquiries leaving that to his stable representatives.   

 

 

FIELDS FOR EAGLE FARM ON SATURDAY HIGHLIGHT LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN TRACK

THE lack of trainer confidence in the beleaguered Eagle Farm track has been highlighted by the fields for the main meeting of the week – which must be an all-time low for a primary Saturday fixture in Queensland.

At this stage there will be 74 starters in nine races – the biggest field of 12 in the last but only six in the third and fifth and seven in the seventh race.

It’s an absolute disgrace and would be even worse had some top trainers not relented on concerns expressed about the track and decided to start several horses there.

The Eagle Farm fiasco is having a flow-on affect to other major south-east Queensland TAB tracks where fields in some races have attracted a maximum number of emergences.

Sunshine Coast on Sunday has nine races and 143 acceptances with a large number of emergencies. Gold Coast has attracted 105 acceptors for eight races on what is currently a Heavy track.

Toowoomba has 95 acceptors for its eight-raced twilight program and even Barcaldine, where there are eight races, has attracted 98 acceptors making the Eagle Farm fields look even more embarrassing.

To make matters worse, according to the RQ official Calendar Eagle Farm has another meeting next Wednesday; then again on Friday, September 17; then three weeks in a row starting with the Queensland Cup meeting on October 9, 16, 23 & 30.

They have to be kidding!

 

TANTALIZING 24 HOURS OF RACING & AFL AFTER COVID RESHUFFLE

THE decision to transfer the AFL Grand Final to Perth has prompted Racing Victoria to run the G1 Underwood Stakes that day at Sandown.

They had originally planned for the meeting to be on the Sunday September 26 but with the Grand Final being conducted Perth time and for TV on the eastern states in the evening, that has dodged a Saturday clash with the big race.

It’s all for TV these days but just the same sets up a tantalizing 24 hours of racing with G1 Moir Stakes night at the Valley on Friday September 24, the Underwood meeting on the following day and the Listed Ansett Classic (which has been run at Mornington on Grand Final day in previous years) moving to the Sunday.

The changes in Melbourne have provided an unexpected boost for the Toowoomba Turf Club which will host its biggest meeting of the year on Saturday, September 25, now coinciding with the Underwood Stakes.

That stand-alone meeting includes the Weetwood Handicap, Toowomba Cup, Guineas and Pat O’Shea Plate – the combining of these four features proving popular with punters and racegoers.

With the Sunshine Coast racing on Friday, September 24, to coincide with the start of night racing and the big Moir Stakes meeting at the Valley, Doomben will hold a rare Sunday meeting on September 26.

 

NO MORE ‘CHARLIE’S ANGELS’ AS GLEESO TAKES ON NEW SKY ROLE

HIGH profile media identity Peter Gleeson, a long-time supporter of greyhound racing and the gallops, has been appointed Queensland Editor of SKY NEWS.

Gleeso last night ended a three-year stint as host of the popular SKY program, The Front Page, which gives viewers an early look at what will be published in newspapers around the country the following day.

LGHR has been a regular viewer on Tuesdays and Thursdays (no offence to the talented Caleb Bond) when Charlie’s Angels (substitute Gleeso for Charlie) provide the eye candy – beauty and brains combined.

One of them had us rolling on the floor last night when she went on the attack over the open borders to the wives and girlfriends of NRL players suggesting: ‘They let these women into the State so they can give their blokes a great shag before they play’.

Gleeson, who lost his brother Albert in tragic circumstances recently, looks forward to the new challenge and an easing of the late nights of the past three years hosting The Front Page, which he describes as a career highlight.

 

MELBOURNE CUP ONE DAY – WHAT ODDS MM THE NEXT FOR ARIARNE

THE Victoria Racing Club has backed a winner appointing Tokyo Olympics hero Ariarne Titmus official Ambassador for Melbourne Cup Day.

Queenslander Titmus told Network 10’s popular show The Project last night that her former life as a competitive horse rider taught her to be calm and focussed in the swimming pool.

Long before she displayed her champion qualities in the pool, Ariarne owned horses and competed in dressage and show jumping events as a child in Tasmania.

What’s the bet that Magic Millions snap up Titmus as one of their Ambassadors for the big week on the Gold Coast in January.

Premier Anastasia might be standing firm on borders right now but expect a ‘back-flip’ come Millions time when ‘Genial Gerry’ gets into her ear.

 

HONG KONG SEASON OPENER WITH RELAXATION OF COVID RULES

THE biggest crowd since COVID-19 restrictions were enforced over 18 months ago will converge on Sha Tin next Sunday for the season-opener in Hong Kong with club officials expected up to 15,000 fans on course.

The pandemic has curtailed attendance since the Lunar New Year meeting on January 27 last year, with next Sunday’s meeting to attract the first five-figure audience since January 22, 2020.

Only 285 people were on course for opening day 12 months ago – one of many meetings with less than 1,000 spectators on course – and Jockey Club director of racing business and operations Bill Nader hopes the progress is a sign of things to come.

The Jockey Club’s prediction is more than double the biggest crowd of the 2020-21 season, which came when 6,671 people attended the final Sha Tin meeting on July 11.

Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting is the first of 88 for the season, 48 of which will take place at Sha Tin and 40 at Happy Valley.

The HKJC posted a record HK$136.3 billion in turnover for the 2020-21 racing season, smashing its previous mark by almost HK$12 billion while continuing to manage the pitfalls of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The figure represents a 12.1 per cent increase on the previous season and a 9.25 per cent rise on the previous record turnover of HK$124.8 billion set in the 2018-19 term.

 

 

PUNTERS HAVE TO COP ANOTHER TWO YEARS OF ‘PETER PEREFECT’ AS CHIEF STEWARD

WE keep receiving emails at LGHR telling us that Peter Chadwick has taken up a two-year option to extend his contract as Chief Thoroughbred Steward with the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission.

Rather than just run with this news – which has been less than welcomed by many in the industry, including stakeholders – we asked QRIC to comment.

Here is the reply from Acting QRIC Commission Paul Brown:

The Commission can confirm that Peter Chadwick is contracted to the Commission as the Chief Thoroughbred Steward.

With all due respects to one of Mrs Brown's Boys that’s a less than acceptable answer which prompted this response from LGHR: ‘Thank God you won’t be the Commissioner when they finally get around to appointing one.”

The industry and stakeholders are entitled to know if Chadwick has been reappointed for another two years, especially considering the controversy that surrounded his appointment at the start and some of the dark clouds that have hung over him from his days in Singapore.

We are not the only ones who are not fans of the way Chadwick does his job and that is why he has been labelled ‘Plodder’. At least one former Acting Commissioner told him to get off his behind and clear up inquiries dating back two years.

Punters have no confidence in the product in Queensland and the buck stops with Chadwick. One assumes that means two more years of inactivity from the big kahuna and some of his bozos, like the one in the Far North.

Little wonder racing in Queensland struggles to gain respect interstate with a CEO, paid more than $500,000 a year who has apparently had his contract extended by a year and now a Chief Steward that next to no-one wants who gets a two-year option on his.

Go figure!

 

BLAME GAME WHEN IT COMES TO SHORTAGES OF JOCKEYS IN THE BUSH

TERRY MADDEN sent this email:

'JUST an opinion: I was picking tomatoes in Bundaberg and decided to become a horse trainer.

The races were on every Saturday and a few public holidays. There were always a lot of bookmakers and punters, a regular get together, people dressed up, Saturday’s were a popular day out.

So the Hinze administration built Bundy a new track, even with a camber for a grass track. But the Government changed and the Council refused to be involved in the water costs. 

The change of Government started hungry voices within the game about city prize-money. City trainers started bleating about prize-money.

At the time there was only one way to shift the prize-money – take it from Peter to pay Paul – and the city trainers got their way.

Now we whinge about jockey shortages in the bush – what do you expect when a leading trainer can't see the forest for the trees, and refuses to stand up.'

 

WOULD THE LAST ONE TO LEAVE TABQ PLEASE TURN THE LIGHTS OUT

DAVID S wants to have a whinge about TABQ & it sounds a reasonable one at that:

IT’S 6.30 on Friday night (last week in fact) and the Queensland TAB still does not have Saturday’s major race fields up on its website, except for two races at Te Rapa in New Zealand.

What’s going on?

I have to work tomorrow so I cannot put a bet on.

EDITOR’S NOTE: With the major interstate TABs posting Fixed Odds market for the major meetings on a Wednesday, it’s hard to believe that TABQ didn’t have anything up at 6.30 on Friday night. We now they can be slow but surely not that slow. If the TAB would like to respond to this criticism we would gladly publish their reply.

 

PLENTY OF SUPPORT FOR MOVE TO ATTRACT INDIGENOUS JOCKEYS IN THE BUSH 

POPULAR OWNER HELEN YEATES set this thought-provoking email:

THAT was such a refreshing story (on LGHR Monday) about Jonathon Thurston’s involvement in RQ’s Plan to attract indigenous jockeys to careers in racing in the bush.

It just makes so much sense. Imagine what could come of it. It could be taken a whole lot further.

I’ve been thinking for years (and even emailed Tony Abbott many years ago with my ideas but didn’t receive a response) that so much could be done to improve the lives of the aboriginal community and benefit Australia as a whole at the same time.

My vision was, and still is, that instead of throwing money at problems, as has been done and wasted for decades, with very little result, why not use that money to develop long lasting outcomes for the aboriginal people.

There are some wonderful aboriginal people who have so much to offer if given the right opportunity – many have already.

Why not channel this money into developing Sporting Academys (including education), not in the big cities, but in areas where the aboriginal people feel at home. Model them to provide education while also focusing on sporting ability. Provide jobs for other members of the community such as coaches, teachers, police officers,  maintenance, gardening, office work etc. There are a lot of good, competent men and women in these communities who are often responsible for holding families together – the unsung heroes.

If it is well planned and training is given to all involved, I’m sure something like this would eventually reap many benefits. It would have a few teething problems but eventually would lead to a better life for the aboriginal people, allowing them to stay in touch with their cultural values and to have an opportunity to impart their wonderful knowledge of the land and nature while also helping them to fulfil their potential. I’m sure there would be a huge amount of untapped ability there just waiting for some help to flourish. We’ve already got many examples of, not only Aboriginal Sporting Stars, but Entertainers, Politicians and others who are perfect role models like Jonathon – there could be many more in many sports and other endeavours,  if just given the opportunity.

As well as other sports, racing would benefit greatly from this and bush meetings could become a much bigger tourist attraction which would also lead to improved facilities which, in turn benefits the whole community. There’s no reason why city class facilities could not be provided in these centres – they’d be better than Eagle Farm!!  It would take some time but this could be a starting point. They can do wonderful things in deserts overseas, why not Australia? Wasn’t it Johnathon’s vision that resulted in the magnificent Football Stadium in Townsville? Nothing is impossible if there is a will to achieve it. Forget the politics!

It’s probably a pipe dream but who knows. Australia could end up winning more Golds at the Olympics and excel at many other Sporting Events etc.

I know that the Wagner Family and the Premier are copping a lot of flak, but at least they are forward thinking. People like them, Twiggy Forrest and Gina Rinehart would surely support such a proposal – maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree!! With your experience, you’d have a better idea than me.

EDITOR’S NOTE: LEST we forget the feats of the best Aboriginal jockey of them all, Hall of Famer, the late DARBY McCARTHY.

                                   

 

RACING MINISTER COPS BAGGING OVER EAGLE FARM TRACK DEBACLE

SHADOW Racing Minister Tim Mander got stuck into the Labor Government in Parliament on Tuesday over the Eagle Farm track debacle and good on him but to be fair he overlooked some past failings of his own Party.

Here’s what ‘the whistleblower’ had to say about Eagle Farm and Queensland’s poor excuse for a Racing Minister Grace Grace and it wasn’t very complimentary:

‘IF we needed another example of the mismanagement of the racing industry, of course, we need look only to the Eagle Farm racetrack.

Over the past seven years around $14 million has been spent on the Eagle Farm racetrack. It was out of action for an extended period. Our iconic state-leading racecourse was not available because of the mismanagement of this Labor Government.

The track has been a nightmare since the Labor Party tried to upgrade it. There has been report after report and they are anecdotal reports because the industry is too afraid to speak out. They worry about repercussions. They worry that if they speak too heavily against the Government it will affect their future funding.

We hear anecdotal reports about their concerns about the safety of the track, the quality of the track, that interstate trainers do not want to bring their horses here and that local trainers do not want to do that either.

I asked questions of the Minister about this and she proudly boasted about how fantastic the track is and how everybody comes up to her all the time and tells her how happy they are with the track.

She must mix with a very limited group of people who have been commenting that way because, lo and behold, just a couple of weeks after these estimates hearings, where the Minister said that everybody is happy with the track, that there are no problems with the track, stakeholders had a crisis meeting with Racing Queensland. They said the meeting was not bad; they said it was a pretty good meeting.

Interestingly, Cameron Partington from the Australian Trainers’ Association said: ‘We are very pleased that Racing Queensland has finally acknowledged the track needs to be fixed. They have finally acknowledged that.’

Despite what the Minister says, the track needs to be fixed. Fortunately, it does not need to be dug up again, but it needs work on it. Racing Queensland has admitted that. It seems that that will happen over the next short period of time and hopefully we will get to the stage where this track can be returned to be the premier track in our State.

MANDER CRITICAL OF AMOUNT BEING SPENT ON QRIC

THERE were a couple of other issues as well—

Mr Stevens: QRIC.

Mr MANDER: QRIC. I take that interjection from the Member for Mermaid Beach, a keen racing fan. QRIC is something that I do not think anybody in the industry thinks is going well. I think it is $30 million that has been invested in QRIC. It is nearly double the investment in other States.

Again, the Minister will defend QRIC and say how well the industry supports it. In the government’s own papers, only 59 per cent of stakeholders have confidence in QRIC. Only 59 per cent of people have confidence in the body that is supposed to protect the integrity of the racing industry in this State. I do not regard that as a ringing endorsement—59 per cent. Nearly half of the stakeholders in the racing industry do not have confidence in QRIC’s competence or integrity.

That is another fail for the racing portfolio. There is one last thing which I thought was very amusing. This is typical of any Labor government. I refer to the service standards, the effectiveness and efficiency measures.

How do we measure the effectiveness of the vast investment that we make into the racing industry every year? There are two performance indicators. One of them is the ‘percentage of country race meetings in the approved schedule that are conducted’. It is a process—not an outcome but a tick-the-box process. This Government would not know what an outcome is. They would not know how to measure the effectiveness of taxpayer money in an industry that employs tens of thousands of people. That effectiveness measure is an embarrassment. How can anybody apply a KPI like that and expect the Queensland public to have some sort of confidence that their taxpayer money is being spent wisely? I have travelled around many racetracks over the last few months, regional and metropolitan, and it is a great experience. I have yet to meet one person who says they support the Labor Government. Of course, they have to keep their mouths shut because they want the money, but, I tell you what, they
have zero confidence in the Government and zero confidence in the Minister.

SOME FREE ADVICE MS GRACE – START OUT BY LOPPING A FEW HEADS

WHILE poor GRACE GRACE is busy chasing some answers to the TIM MANDER attack from her ‘spin doctor’ – the half million dollar man, RQ CEO Brendan Parnell, we will save her the time and effort.

Mander makes some relevant points about Eagle Farm and the need to correct the on-going embarrassment of the track once and for all but not at any stage does he have any suggestions how to do this.

The Shadow Minister also forgot to mention in his attack on Labor that it was the LNP Racing Minister way back when this all began – Steve Dickson – who declared that under his Government racing in Queensland would be ‘a furlong in front of the two major southern states’ within a year. That was almost as big a joke as his decision to join Pauline and One Nation ‘fish and chips’ shop.

‘The whistleblower’ also forgot to mention that fateful April Fool’s Day – some call it a joke – when then Treasurer Tim Nichols (whose electorate spans the racing precinct of Eagle Farm and Doomben) – declared that one year down the track Eagle Farm would be the showpiece racetrack, one of the best in the land and of world standard. Years later and the LNP think that racing stakeholders have forgotten that foot in mouth statement by Nichols as they continue to blame Labor for racing’s woes.

Those were the days when the Treasurer was running racing by remote control with the two ‘Dicks’ – Steve Dickson the Racing Minister and Kevin Dixon (remember him) the boss of Racing Queensland. What a disaster!

And all the while sitting on the back benches was the best man for the Racing Minister’s job – Ray Stevens – LNP insiders say sent to the salt mines because he dared to vote for his long-time colleague John Paul Langbroek in a leadership spill that involved Nicholls.

Stevens remains the man for the job if the LNP returns to power in a few years’ time with a newlook leader and a worn out ‘three time loser’ seemingly calling the shots from the backroom.

Ray isn’t a fan of QRIC, more particularly what it is costing. One fears under an LNP Government racing will return to the ‘bad old days’ when high profile stewards, who were much loved by the industry, were running the show. Cynics say it was akin to the crooks staging a demonstration when the police chief was moved to another town.

Grace Grace is a poor excuse for a Racing Minister and to declare that stakeholders she spoke to had no complaints about the Eagle Farm track is farcical. She needs to get her head out of the sand (it’s probably the same batch from up at Bribie that isn’t suited to the grass they are planting or smoking at Eagle Farm).

A few other suggestions for Ms Grace:

Show the RQ CEO the door and dispense with some of his useless First Lieutenants.

Get a new Chief Steward who has the respect of the punters and off-load some of the ‘dead wood’ on his panel, like the bozo in the Far North.

Promote Graham Quirk to Chairman of the Board (that will be a bit hard considering the reports that she didn’t want him as the Thoroughbred rep to start with) and give him the support of Members who at least know something about the three codes of racing.

Correct this terrible anomaly which allows jockeys to make a joke of the appeals process and while she’s at it create another body to hear these appeals with some of those currently doing the job at QCAT arguably out of their depth when it comes to racing.

And first and foremost bring in the right people to fix the Eagle Farm track and start lopping a few heads among those who have continued to fail in this endeavor whilst ensuring that the industry doesn’t continue to foot the bills for this with a percentage of costs being met by the Brisbane Racing Club.

 

JONATHON THURSTON FIGUREHEAD FOR RQ PLAN TO ATTRACT INDIGENOUS JOCKEYS TO CAREERS IN RACING IN THE BUSH

IT was refreshing to learn that Racing Queensland has started an Indigenous Pathways Initiative, in partnership with former NRL superstar Jonathan Thurston, aimed at helping to overcome the shortage of bush jockeys.

RQ CEO Brendan Parnell told Larissa Waterson of the North-West Bureau of ABC News that in future RQ needs to do more and engage better with Indigenous communities.

An RQ proposal to lure jockeys from the city to the bush has drawn criticism from trainers and riders, who say it's a Band-Aid solution.

They have rejected the incentivisation strategy whereby to trainers from the south-east would be offered travel incentives for apprentices or senior jockeys to relocate, even temporarily, or on an as-needs basis.

Tanya Parry, the winner of the 2021 country trainers' premiership, told the ABC trainers were bleeding money from travel expenses, animal upkeep and lost prize money. “There are trainers out here that don't have a jockey and they can be scratching horses every weekend, which is a considerable cost. Then you're down another weekend without a start.”

Mount Isa-based jockey Dan Ballard said the problem had been brewing for more than a decade because city jockeys simply weren't interested in relocating. "If you work in the city, you'd be looking at five to six race meetings a week, whereas out here we tend to race on the weekends.

"A lot of jockeys out in the bush have full-time work outside of racing. That would be a big deterrent for jockeys on the east coast coming out here to the country.”

Instead, Ballard believes more should be invested in creating local talent. “When we do have apprentices here, I think there's a complete lack of support from RQ for them. You're better off trying to develop a local talent pool with people who are familiar with the life out here.

“Get the kids coming out of school. Obviously, someone that lives in Mount Isa and has grown up in Mount Isa is far more likely to be happy living and riding and working in Mount Isa".

Parry and Ballard say the local Indigenous talent pool was an untapped market for recruiting apprentice jockeys in outback Queensland.

"A point I've made to Brendan Parnell is that our Indigenous Australians are some of the most natural horse riders I've ever seen," Ballard said.

"There should be an investment in setting up a program that supports and upskills our Indigenous people. The Aboriginal jockeys — they're just natural, they have a natural ability," Parry added.

Mt Isa-based First Nations jockey Terrence Hill, who's been in the saddle for 27 years, says more needs to be invested in providing career pathways for prospective Indigenous riders in the outback.

"A lot of Indigenous people are naturally gifted horse people. Most of them have backgrounds in cattle and working on cattle stations, that's how I started out. There's so much Indigenous talent out here that don't have access to the opportunity to make a career pathway out of riding. More needs to be done to provide them with that option of employment to progress into racing."

 

PAYING A COSTLY PRICE FOR A NEW BETTING TYPE THAT NEEDS TO BE EXPLAINED

TOM CISLOWSKI of BRISBANE raises an interesting question:

ON Saturday I went to the Albany Creek Hotel and had an All-Up Bet using the new Parlay Ticket as advised by the operator.

It involved an All-Up on Brisbane Race 2 No 11 (DEEP SCEIVA) into Race 8 No 3 (BALLISTIC BOY) for $20. My expected return was $414. Instead I received only $182.

It seems that using the Parlay Ticket for Type 1 was not what I expected. I have since discovered that this in incorrect for a Multi Bet and should have been on a Multi Ticket which required a Serial Number for each horse which then becomes an All-Up bet. I never got what I expected. 

I feel that the introduction of this new betting form has been poorly advertised (and explained) with no formal training or examples being provided for staff or patrons to understand this new format.

I write this as a warning and advice to other punters to be aware as it can become an expensive mistake for the unwary.

Keep up the good work of letting people know the shortcomings of the establishment looking after racing.

 

RACING NSW CAN AFFORD MILLION DOLLAR RACES BUT NO-ONE TO FIX A TRACTOR

INTERESTING piece by ARCHIE BUTTERFLY on his subscriber-only website, www.peterprofit.com – take the tip it’s worth the cost of a cup of coffee for a good read:

NSW puts on dozens of million dollar races, including the $14 million Everest.

Sadly however they can’t afford to employ a mechanic at racecourses.

The tractor broke down in the first at Mudgee on Sunday, leaving the starting stalls stranded and stretched across the home straight.

There was no mechanic on course to fix it and the officials didn’t have a clue what to do.

So a jockey jumped out of his saddle, waltzed over, grabbed the tools and fixed it in 60 seconds.

Thank God for the riders – they are not just pretty faces.

IN FACT it was lady jockey MIKAYLA WEIR, who has a similar tractor on her own 100-acre property, that did the job.

 

COUPLE OF BITS & PIECES IN RESPONSE TO YOUR EMAILS:

DAVE B writes: I have been told that the castration case against John Pointon has been defended and won by him, apparently the Judge was not very complimentary of the RQ veterinarian. I can’t find it on the court lists – maybe you or Archie Butterfly might have better luck. Plenty of stakeholders would like to know what you can find as it cost John Pointon a shit-load and dragged his name through the mud with little chance of reimbursement.

LGHR: We asked QRIC for a response on this Dave and were told that the outcome is a matter for the Queensland Police Service. Further inquiries suggest that Mr Pointon won his case but that’s about as much as we can tell you at this stage.

 

GREG J inquired: THERE’S a rumor doing the rounds that the steward from the far north who laughed off complaints from a jockey about the state of the track in Mareeba only to see a horse fracture its knee and euthanized is the pea for the Chief Stipe’s job in Toowoomba.

LGHR: We can assure you Greg that the rumor is way off base. The recruitment process for the role of Senior Steward at Toowoomba is yet to be completed but if you can ‘get on’ that bloke not being in the race take whatever odds you can. In any case he’s worked in Brisbane, Townsville, Gold Coast and now Cairns – some cynics are tipping the next port of call for the 'I've been everywhere man of stewarding in Queensland' might be Thursday Island.

 

MAX W of GOLD COAST has emailed a question about the appointment of a permanent Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner, highlighting the fact that the role has not been filled since the departure of Ross Barnett many months ago.

LGHR: OUR mail is that there were over a dozen applicants for the job and the recruitment process is well underway to find a suitable replacement for Mark Ainsworth who was Acting QRIC Commissioner before his retirement. A recommendation is expected to be presented to Racing Minister Grace Grace within a month.

 

FOR JAMIE KAH IT CERTAINLY HAS BEEN ‘THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES & AN AGE OF FOOLISHNESS’ -  HUNG OUT TO DRY ON & OFF THE TRACK

GODFREY SMITH weighs into the debate over the penalties imposed on five Victorian jockeys for breaching COVID protocols and makes a comparison with what has happened to some stars of racing and rugby league north of the border faced with similar problems.  

A TALE OF TWO CITIES is an historical novel by Charles Dickens set in London and Paris during the French Revolution.

One of his best-selling works of historical fiction it starts: ‘IT was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.

Fast forward almost two centuries – and drawing a long bow one could make some comparisons with the COVID epidemic sweeping the world.

Closer to home it has been the best of times, the worst of times and the age of foolishness for some of Australia’s top jockeys and football stars.

And it has very much been A Tale of Two Cities – more appropriately States – in the way NSW and Victorian sporting authorities have reacted to breaches of protocols during the pandemic.

Five top jockeys – including the face of racing Jamie Kah, Ben Melham and Mark Zahra – could be sidelined for the rest of the year and will certainly miss the Spring Carnival after breaking curfew and attending a late night party at a Mornington Airbnb. Racing Victoria stewards threw the book at the ‘infamous five’ – penalties that have divided the racing community.

Not that long ago champion Sydney jockeys James McDonald and Hugh Bowman made the headlines for all the wrong reasons after attending toad races at Port Douglas while their home state was in lockdown.

The situation involving 12 St George-Illawarra players who breached stay-at-home orders in NSW to attend a party at the home of disgraced prop Paul Vaughan was arguably worse, if not the equal of what happened to the jockeys in Victoria.

Now let’s take a look at what penalties were issued compared to the three to four months that six jockeys are facing with the topliners almost certain to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in earnings and winning percentages etc.

McDonald and Bowman were each fined $1,000 after a Racing NSW stewards’ investigation over allegations they contravened pandemic protocols on their Queensland holiday. Their weak-kneed excuse was that they believed they were complying with Queensland Health orders when they travelled to Port Douglas after being refused permission to ride at Eagle Farm. Yes and the rest of the world believe in the Tooth Fairy.

Both jockeys were filmed taking part in cane toad races at a Port Douglas hotel with the vision posted on social media by controversial bookmaker Robbie Waterhouse. At the time both McDonald and Bowman told stewards they were unaware that Waterhouse had posted the vision which later appeared on a segment of Channel 9’s A Current Affair and sparked public uproar about special treatment for top sportsmen compared to the general public.

Both jockeys were interviewed by Queensland Police and unbelievably told they had no case to answer but that advice changed two days later when they were advised to either self-isolate or return to Sydney.

Bowman told stewards: “We were getting mixed messages about what we could and couldn’t do – it was very confusing.’’ McDonald maintained the jockeys were initially advised they needed to self-isolate for seven days: “We went with the flow,’’ he said.

Racing NSW chief steward Marc Van Gestel said after studying the evidence there was nothing to suggest McDonald and Bowman had knowingly contravened any health orders but issued both men a $1000 fine. Wow – that hurt!

Then we have the situation where the NRL fined 13 – that’s right 13 – St George Illawarra players just over $300,000 and issued match suspensions for breaching COVID-19 stay-at-home orders after they attended what the Sydney media called ‘a gathering at a home’ but we will refer to as a ‘party’ – just like happened last week with the jockeys in Victoria except they didn’t try to hide.

"It's alleged a number of players hid or fled the residence when NSW Police attended the home after complaints from neighbours," the NRL said in a statement.

"It’s also alleged that a number of players gave or were involved in giving misleading information about the event during the NRL’s investigation into the breaches and that some of the players conspired to withhold key information."

The St George Illawarra Dragons did terminate the contract to the end of next year of Australian representative prop Paul Vaughan for his breach of NRL biosecurity guidelines, and handed out more fines to the 12 teammates he hosted at his house on that fateful weekend.

The League had already fined Vaughan $50,000 and banned him for eight matches for hosting the party at his home during the lockdown which breached NRL and NSW Government rules.

Twelve other Dragons players who attended were fined $1,000 each by NSW Police with further fines from the NRL ranging from $2,000 to $50,000.

Vaughan took to Instagram to apologise. "The reality is, I should have known better and I am truly sorry," he wrote. "I have let a lot of people down through my actions, and I hope that this sincere apology shows how deeply sorry I am and that I realise the enormity and stupidity of what I have done. I hope one day in the future, I can get the opportunity to showcase my remorse through better actions on and off the field."

Apart from Vaughan one could argue that the other Saints’ ‘dirty dozen’ got off far lighter in comparison to the six jockeys in Victoria – two of whom were youngsters. One could also argue that if Jamie Kah was living at the Airbnb – albeit temporarily – due to the breakdown of her relationship with fiancé Clayton Douglas then how was she breaching curfew. Of course hosting a party there is another story where it is hard to defend the indefensible.

As for the penalties involved, some of those calling for harsher penalties could be described as hypocritical – having more than their share of skeletons in the closet for breaches of the racing rules.

Champion trainer Peter Moody pulled no punches when he went into bat for the jockeys describing the penalties as ‘way too harsh.’ “It’s not as though they killed anyone”.

Moody told RSN listeners: “In my opinion the penalties were over the top. They have to live with a stupid and silly act. But they now haven’t got a capacity to earn for three months.

“It saddens me that we hang our superstars out to dry. These penalties far outweigh what they have done. We continually punish our headline acts.”    

Racing Victoria needs to listen to the hundreds who have supported the Moody stand – not only on the RSN listener text feed but on social media. Little wonder the mainstream journos are under fire for kicking the crap out of Jamie Kah who only a week ago was their pin-up girl.

You can count of Melham and Zahra picking up the pieces and returning to race riding in December or the New Year but one wonders what this savage and unwarranted attack on her professional and personal life will do for Kah. She struggles to handle positive publicity. Here’s hoping the negativity doesn’t see her lost to racing forever.

Pinching a line from Dickens, for Jamie it certainly has been ‘the best of times, the worst of times and the age of foolishness’. She just needs to focus on forgiveness from her legion of fans. We all make mistakes.

 

NOT ONLY IS THE ROLE MODEL STATUS OF KAH BEING TRASHED NOW HER PRIVATE LIFE IS BEING AIRED IN THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA

FORGET about the role model status and reputation of star jockey Jamie Kah being trashed by a mad moment, she now has to deal with problems in her private life being aired in the mainstream media.

At a time when she was about to become the face of the Victorian Spring Carnival, the record-breaking female rider will be watching the big races on the box deprived of the chance to earn big dollars because of a moment of madness.

Kah and Ben Melham, mentors to young jockeys Celine Gaudray and Ethan Brown, failed to play by the rules and put the entire racing industry at risk by breaking protocols at what some are calling a 'rogue' party in a Airbnb at Mornington on Wednesday night.

Just who made the complaint to police which RV Stewards were later made aware of, is unclear. There was speculation that a disgruntled partner was responsible. That has been denied by police who insist it was a noise problem.

That hasn’t stopped the finger from being pointed at Kah’s fiancée Clayton Douglas, a former high profile jumps jockey turned successful trainer. The relationship between the pair has been on the rocks and  Kah has been living on and off at a $500 a night Airbnb in Mornington in recent weeks.

One would have thought that Kah could justifiably claim that she was not breaking curfew as this was now her temporary home. That does not forgive the decision to party at the Airbnb where police were reportedly called at 11.50pm on Wednesday and discovered Kah with fellow jockeys Melham, Brown and Gaudray along with two other people.

Racing Victoria slapped all four jockeys, who each pleaded guilty to stewards’ charges, with three-month bans. Missing the Spring Carnival could arguably cost Kah and Melham hundreds of thousands of dollars not to mention damage to their profiles and sponsorships.

Kah has admitted being ‘deeply embarrassed and disappointed with myself.”.

“There is no excuse for what I have done and I have let myself down, my family and friends, the racing industry and all Victorians who are doing the right thing in this lockdown.

“I deserve the penalty handed down by the stewards and will take the time to reflect on my actions and its impact on so many people.”

For Melham it means he will virtually have spent eight of the last 12 months on the sideline. He was banned for five months in December 2020 for betting on races and providing misleading information to stewards.

But on a personal basis the damage is even worse for Kah (her fiancée Douglas) along with Melham and his partner, Karlie Dale. They are not entitled to be the target of some of the disgusting gossip doing the rounds on social media. We all make mistakes, have skeletons in our closets and what we do in our private lives – be it right or wrong – isn’t entitled to be aired publicly regardless of how high profile we are.

Kah and Melham now have three months to reflect on shooting themselves in the foot through one moment of madness – if that is what it was.

Ben is a great jockey and will be back continuing to run shotgun with stewards. Here’s hoping Jamie will too – but some close to her fear she could use this as a sign to walk away from racing and pursue her long-term goal of becoming an equestrian representing Australia at the Olympics.

Time will tell!

 

KAH & MELHAM HAVE LEARNT HOW QUICKLY THE WORM TURNS

TOP jockeys JAMIE KAH and BEN MELHAM have learnt overnight how quickly racing officialdom and the mainstream media can turn on them.

It’s hard to defend the indefensible and the top jocks found that out when Racing Victoria stewards today rubbed them out for the rest of the Spring Carnival.

Four jockeys were stood down for breaching Victorian Government and racing protocols by attending a party in an Air BnB after curfew time of 9pm on Wednesday night.

Racing Victoria CEO Giles Thompson was quick to bag the crap out of Kah and Melham accusing them of putting the entire industry into risk of shutdown.

But he was quick to duck questions on how stewards became aware of the illegal gathering attended by the jockeys which has fuelled rumours that they were dobbed in by rivals in the industry.

What has since been revealed is that it was an estranged partner of one of the four jockeys who made the fateful call about the party while police are maintaining they were caught in the net of a noise complaint.

“I was gob-smacked,” Thompson said when asked his reaction to the news. “I couldn’t believe people would be so stupid. It was a slap in the face for those who have sacrificed so much over the last 18 months to keep our industry safe that it makes me so angry. I cannot tell you how stewards became aware of the matter but it is a serious breach of State Government and racing protocols.”

Kah, the golden girl of Australian racing, has learnt a tough lesson waking this morning to the front page headline on the Melbourne Herald which shouted: KAH CRASH – a far cry from the time night long ago when she smashed the record books beating the men.

As for Melham, who many believe for too long has been a victim of tough stewarding in Victoria because of his association in the past with Danny Nikolic, well he has just returned from a lengthy disqualification for betting offences. 

 

IT’S A FULL MOON WHEN WE PRAISE THE CHIEF STIPE BUT AT THE SAME TIME WE QUESTION THE CREDENTIALS OF ONE OF HIS FIRST LIEUTENANTS

IT’S not too often – almost never in fact – that you will read something positive written by LGHR about QRIC Chief Steward Peter Chadwick.

Today is the exception and it involves his handling of an inquiry involving veteran North Queensland jockey Graham Kliese, one of the great survivors and good guys of racing.

It was only after an old-timer of the Townsville training ranks, Terry Butts, who has been in ill-health, called to tell us what had happened that we approached Kliese for a comment.

The story starts at the Laura Cup meeting transferred (because of COVID) to Mareeba in late June and involves concerns over the state of the track, the death of a horse, the behaviour of a jockey and the reaction of the Steward in Charge and officials of the club which arguably bordered on a joke.

After the second race Kliese expressed concerns about a section of the track to Steward in Charge, Paul Gillard, who is Cairns-based and is certainly far from inexperienced having worked on the Brisbane panel and as the Chief Stipe in Townsville and on the Gold Coast.

One race later Kliese rode Break on Through in the Laura Bracelet and sadly the gelding snapped a knee and had to be euthanized which prompted an understandably upset Kliese to express his sentiments to Gillard.

Following the race a delegation of senior riders inspected the track surface, especially the area where Break on Through suffered a dislocated near side knee. Riders (most of them locals) and stewards (Gillard and a Clerk of Scales seem to have been the only ones officiating) were satisfied the track surface was safe to race on.

No action was taken against Kleise over his verbal with Gillard at the meeting but less than a fortnight later he was advised by QRIC stewards in Brisbane that the Mareeba Turf Club had made a complaint concerning his behaviour at the presentation after the last race, the Cup, which he won.

Kliese denies any inappropriate behaviour at the presentation or later during a radio interview when he didn’t even mention the track but at an inquiry into the incident held by a three-way telephone hook-up today he pleaded guilty to basically abusing Gillard over the state of the track when a horse he rode had to be euthanized after the running of the third race.

The panel, headed by Chairman Peter Chadwick, heard the inquiry from Brisbane with a hook-up to Kliese in Townsville and Gillard in Cairns. “I pleaded guilty to a charge of misconduct. The Chief Stipe, Mr Chadwick, handled the inquiry well and I found him extremely fair and good to deal with. In the end I was suspended for a month but only have to serve a week. The other three were set aside pending my good behaviour over the next two years,” Kliese explained.

“The reason I got so upset with Mr Gillard was because I had tried to warn him how bad that section of the track was a race earlier and he just laughed and asked if I was kidding. I also made the inquiry aware that I had suffered two career-threatening falls blamed on bad tracks in the north.”

For those who aren’t aware Kliese almost lost his life in a fall at Home Hill in 2015 when the horse he was riding put its leg in a hole and came down in front of the field. He took legal action against Racing Queensland over the state of the track and won the case.

Then in 2018 another bad track at Cairns saw Kliese involved in a terrible fall that sidelined him for two years so there is little wonder he has nightmares whenever confronted by similar situations (such as that at Mareeba).

Unbeknown to Kliese, through our contacts in the north LGHR has been able to speak to a couple of witnesses to what happened at Mareeba on Laura Cup day and an insider who has provided some very interesting information.

Kliese admits that his ‘behaviour toward Gillard was inappropriate’ but observers tell us he is entitled to question had the Steward in Charge on the day listened to his concerns about the track would this horse have broken down?

The inquiry apparently heard evidence that Kliese had told Gillard, who reportedly laughed off suggestions the track was unsafe, that he should try riding on it himself. When Kliese became agitated after his mount had to be euthanized, Gillard told the hearing that the veteran of 35 years in the saddle had warned him: “I will see you lose your job over this”. Some might say that wasn’t abuse but more ‘fair comment’.

Gillard apparently did not see fit to make mention of the verbal altercation with Kliese in the official Stewards’ Report of the day but witnesses at the meeting say someone in authority had encouraged the Mareeba Turf Club to make a complaint in writing to QRIC about Kliese’s behaviour. That has raised questions concerning their motives.

LGHR has also been reliably informed that a high profile official of the club had the odds-on favourite in the Laura Cup and some are questioning whether it went amiss on the troubled track while Kleise was winning the feature race.

There are allegations that people associated with those running the club were publicly calling Kleise ‘a dog’ for complaining about the track and that the jockey’s wife who was trackside heard this and became very upset.

Kleise didn’t want to comment when we raised this with him. “Serving one week of a month suspension was a satisfactory outcome for me. I have taken measures to rectify my behaviour but it was very upsetting.”

Those close to Kliese say the attitude of a supposed experienced steward like Gillard in laughing when he complained about the track had visibly upset him, then the loss of the horse he was riding a race later caused more angst which provoked the spray that he gave the Chief Steward (which any normal person would be inclined to do). But what tipped him over the edge was seeing the horse lying there dead and not even covered when he rode to the start for the Cup. Only a short distance away were children and their families at a local pony club. Had they seen this dead horse what would that have done for the animal welfare policy adopted by QRIC since the live baiting and abattoir slaughter exposes?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Full marks to Chief Steward Peter Chadwick for showing some compassion and understanding of how upset Graham Kliese must have been and how his behaviour must have been impacted by the life threatening and almost career ending falls he has suffered. One just wonders was the right person on trial here. From the time I worked in the same building as Paul Gillard at Racing Queensland there are plenty of stories to tell but they will save for another day. All I will say right now is that if Chadwick didn’t give Gillard the best dressing down over the events of the day and doesn’t fire a shot across the bows of Mareeba (where apparently racing has been restricted since) then he doesn’t deserve the bouquets we provided for his handling of this Inquiry. Perhaps someone at QRIC should also open an investigation into why officials at Mareeba saw fit to make the complaint about Kleise, who encouraged them to do so and whether a high profile official did have the odds-on favorite that was beaten in the Cup. There are always  two sides to every story.

 

DID QRIC STEWARDS HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TO HEAR A COMPLAINT FROM AN UNLICENSED PERSON ON A SERIOUS ISSUE?

OUR story that was published under the headline: CONCERNS THAT ‘PERSONAL’ FEUD BETWEEN TRAINER AND JOCKEY IN BUSH RACING HAS SPILLED ONTO THE TRACK RAISING SAFETY FEARS prompted a couple of interesting emails.

It also prompted ARCHIE BUTTERFLY on his subscriber-only website, www.peterprofit.com to name the couple involved in the ‘personal’ feud which stakeholders are claiming could lead to carnage on the track at some country venues.

One contributor, who does not know the trainer and jockey concerned, sent us an alarming report about severe interference which led to the much publicized race at Roma last Saturday when a jockey saved an inexperienced apprentice from crashing to the turf. This gentleman, with decades of experience in the racing industry, told LGHR: “I contacted the RQ Stewards but they didn’t want to talk to me as I was not a licensed person.”

Well PAUL T, a respected industry observer, followed that up with this interesting email:

‘With regards to your article that Stewards refused to acknowledge a complaint because the complainant was not a licensee:

The Stewards have seriously misdirected themselves. Generally, the Rules of Racing, the Racing Integrity Act 2016 and the Racing Act 2002 refer to "persons" not "licensees."

A "person" by legal definition includes a natural person, an incorporated association or a corporation.

At a quick glance I refer you to:

Rules of Racing

AR3 - All Rules refer to "persons", not licensees.

Racing Integrity Act 2016

s3(1)(b) - Refers to "persons"

s10(1)(d)(i) - QRIC must investigate complaints

s40(1) - Applies if a "person" makes a complaint to the Commission about a matter relevant to a code of racing.

Racing Act 2002

s4(1)(b) - Refers to "persons" not licensees.

BEFORE receiving this advice LGHR referred the matter to QRIC for comment but have received no response. We refuse to deal with the Chief Steward Peter Chadwick because we are aware of his record of inactivity when it comes to matters of a controversial nature.

 

A BELATED LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEKEND AND WHAT A FORM REVERSAL IT WAS FROM TORRENS AT RANDWICK 

AS we head into another Saturday of racing which takes us closer to the Spring Carnival, here’s a belated look back at what a few of our readers had to say about last weekend:

MARK W, a long-time Sydney punter, was far from impressed by the boilover win of TORRENS in the Gold Coast Turf Club Trophy at Randwick.

“Can someone explain to me how a horse that ran 13th of 15 (beaten 12 lengths) at Kembla Grange only a week earlier, lands a long-priced plunge winning at Randwick?

“In four runs from a spell the horse (Torrens) had done next to nothing, finished no closer than 7th and hadn’t started shorter than $81.

“Someone backs it from $126 to $23 and Torrens bolts in. What hope have the punters got?

We’re used to second-string horses from the Waller stable knocking off his favorites and little being said or done about it and to be honest I wasn’t all that impressed by the Stewards’ Report on this boilover either.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: STEWARDS reported: WHEN questioned regarding the improved performance of Torrens, trainer Ms L Parker stated that at the gelding's last start at Kembla Grange on 14 August 2021, it was unsuited by the firm surface and today it was advantaged by being down in weight by utilizing the claim of App E Hennessy and the step up in distance to 2400m.

 

WHAT DID THEY EXPECT JAMIE KAH TO DO ON MISS ALBANIA?

LEANNE K of MELBOURNE, a great fan of history-making jockey JAMIE KAH, got stuck into critics of one of her rides at the VALLEY:

‘Those brave keyboard warriors on social media need a dose of reality after criticizing the ride of Jamie Kah on Miss Albania in the Carlyon Stakes at Moonee Valley.

In case they missed it the filly drew awkwardly, was rising to Listed class and not all that well placed, then to make matters worse was slowly away and settled near the rear.

Bagging her ride for coming very wide on the turn was ridiculous. Had she tried to come through the field they would have blown up had Miss Albania hit road-blocks. Few horses were able to overhaul the on-pacers at the Valley on the day.

Perhaps those critics should take a look at her winning rides on the debutante Inverell and Black Caviar’s daughter, Invincible Caviar, at Sale on Sunday.’

 

OUR OWN OBSERVATIONS OF RACING LAST WEEKEND 

WORST TIP: WAYNE HAWKES declaring Guineas hope HILAL a good thing when favorite for the Listed McKenzie Stakes. The classy colt, having his first start since finishing a close 2nd in the Champagne Stakes at Randwick in April, never looked like running a place. Jockey Jye McNeil told Stewards that Hilal got further back than intended due to the quick tempo through the early and middle stages and finished the race off satisfactorily. Sorry Jye but that was far from a ‘satisfactory’ performance in the eyes of those punters who followed Wayne’s tip and backed him.

BEST TIP: TONY GOLLAN warning punters that stable second-string VINCO could upstage favorite ROCK AMORE in the BRC Membership Handicap at Eagle Farm. Gollan wasn’t for one moment suggesting Rock Amore could not win but felt the fate of the in-form five-year-old might be determined by his draw on the outside of the field. He tipped Vinco to run over the top and that is exactly what happened. Pity Chris Waller didn’t take a leaf from the Gollan tip book.

BEST RIDE: The ride of TOMMY BERRY on the resuming MO’UNGA to beat the luckless VERRY ELLEGANT in the Group 1 WINX STAKES at Randwick. While Berry overcame barrier 12 on Mo’unga, James McDonald was off the track most of the way from barrier five on Verry Ellegant which bookies were again shown to be terrific judges blowing the favorite’s price to an amazing $4.2 at post-time. Ironically, Chris Waller, who had five runners spearheaded by Verry Ellegant, was the former trainer of Mo’unga which certainly hasn’t lost a leg since joining Annabel Neasham.

Sadly, for Tommy Berry that was the upside of his day at Randwick, the downside came days later when his spring was thrown into chaos after receiving a hefty suspension following the ill-fated fall of the Xtremetime and injuries suffered by jockey Brenton Avdulla in the Silver Shadow Stakes.

Xtremetime suffered serious injuries and was euthanized while Avdulla was severely concussed in the incident before scans revealed he also suffered an undisplaced fracture of the C7 vertebrae in his neck and a small bleed on the brain.

Avdulla is expected to be out of the saddle for an extended period. He will be in a neck brace for the next six weeks before doctors reassess his injuries.

Berry expressed remorse at a Stewards’ Inquiry into the fall and pleaded guilty to careless riding. His 17-meeting suspension starts Sunday and ends on September 30.

WORST RIDE: We saved this one for the Sunday meeting at the Sunshine Coast where CANADIAN DANCER, a heavily-backed debutante from the O’DEA-HOYSTED stable, was arguably a certainty beaten. Risking the wrath of his fans, we felt the ride of BAYLEE NOTHDURFT on the favorite wasn’t one of his best. The Stewards’ Report with James Williamson in charge and amazingly Chairman Peter Chadwick on the panel reported that Canadian Dancer over-raced with its head in the air near the 1000m when the pace steadied and as a consequence shifted wider on the track for a short distance. Our reading of the race had Nothdurft missing the start, then running into rump steak before making his run wide. We felt the filly should have bolted in.

 

CONCERNS THAT ‘PERSONAL’ FEUD BETWEEN TRAINER AND JOCKEY IN BUSH RACING HAS SPILLED ONTO THE TRACK RAISING SAFETY FEARS

MUCH has been made nationally of the incredible mid-race scenes that unfolded at Roma last Saturday when jockey John Rudd assisted apprentice Lilli Barr back into the saddle as she clung to the side of her mount.

As the field thundered towards the post the first time, inexperienced 4kg apprentice Barr suffered severe interference and became unseated from her mount Prompt Reply, which on the video replay can be seen galloping without a jockey on top.

Much has been made of the heroic efforts by Rudd, riding the second favorite in the race, Atyaaf, who angled alongside and helped Barr back into the saddle. The broadcaster said he had never seen anything like it in 49 years of race-calling.

But since the heroics of Rudd went viral, LGHR has received several emails suggesting there was another disturbing aspect to the incident which stewards failed to address. Observers are claiming that Lilli Barr was the latest victim of a ‘personal’ turf war between a trainer and a jockey that is allegedly occurring on bush tracks.

Serious claims are being made concerning the interference that Barr’s mount suffered which led to her being unseated. Stewards obviously did not consider the situation serious enough to take action. After watching the video replay of the incident it’s hard to tell but the stewards’ patrol footage should make things clearer.

One veteran racing man was so incensed by not only this incident but also others which he says are occurring more often and could lead to someone being seriously injured or even killed, that he tried to bring the matter to the attention of stewards without success.

Here is part of what he emailed to LGHR:

“I have an involvement of close to 50 years in the racing industry across all three codes. When I retired from my own professional sport I moved to Adelaide in the late 80’s. In 1993 I was appointed as the Racing Advisor to the South Australian Racing Minister John Oswald.

“I am concerned that there is an extremely dangerous situation taking place on Queensland country tracks that stewards seem blind to and are taking next to zero action about.

“Around March 2021 a bush trainer and his jockey wife separated (LGHR has with-held their names) and went through an ugly divorce. Soon after it became known that the trainer had a new partner (a licensed trackwork rider) who owns several horses in his stable.”

LGHR has received several allegations from concerned stakeholders that an off-track feud between warring parties has flowed over onto the racetrack with concerns that someone is going to get hurt.

Our contributor (who does not know the parties involved) claims the problem that started at Burrandown races in May, which saw a jockey suspended, erupted again in the much-publicized race at Roma last Saturday.

Here is his version of Race 3 at Roma last Saturday which we have edited for legal reasons but believe it should be aired and that QRIC needs to take a closer look at the allegations being made.

“Race 3 was run over 1640m with the race starting from the top of the home straight. From the vision Prompt Reply, ridden by Lisa Barr, a 4kg claiming apprentice at her second day of riding, appears to come from barrier 2 and very slightly brushes the horse to her inside on jumping away.

Prompt Reply (white silks with small purple stars) moves to the hindquarters of the leader that is racing just off the rail. About 70m from the winning post the first time (a rival, name & jockey with-held) moves up and appears to severely tighten Prompt Reply, resulting in Lisa Barr being severely interfered with and almost being dislodged.

Prompt Reply continued on at a fast gallop and was running very wide leaving the home straight when John Rudd rode his mount to the outside of Prompt Reply and miraculously was able to assist Lisa Barr back into the saddle.

The Stewards’ Report put the interference down to a ‘racing incident’. My question is: ‘Did the stewards arrive on track with a guide dog and white cane?’

What has concerned several involved in racing in the bush are alleged comments from a jockey about a certain trainer: “I will destroy this bastard and break his f..king horses’ necks if I get a chance”.

Despite being a tight-knit group, I can assure you that several riders who competed at the Roma meeting on Saturday have had a gutful of the personal vendetta between a jockey and a trainer which needs to be addressed by authorities.

I contacted the RQ Stewards but they didn’t want to talk to me as I was not a licensed person.”

The official Stewards’ Report concerning the incident at ROMA reads:

PROMPT REPLY – Began awkwardly and shifted in. Passing the winning post on the first occasion, was placed in restricted room and blundered when WAMWARRA BAY shifted in marginally and MY TARANAKI (NZ) shifted out marginally, resulting in its rider app L Barr becoming very unbalanced and almost being dislodged. After viewing the patrol footage and taking evidence from all parties stewards could not be satisfied that anyone rider was culpable under the rules and deemed the matter a racing incident.

EDITOR’S NOTE: ANOTHER close follower of bush racing has raised similar concerns with LGHR. He says the problem is that stewards officiating at these bush venues don’t seem to be aware of or want to do anything about this growing feud between a jockey and a trainer. One told us he wouldn’t be bothered raising any issue with Chief Steward Peter Chadwick because of ‘his perceived inability to get things done’. The concerned stakeholder said those wanting to see the issue dealt with were caught between a rock and a hard place. As QRIC still has an Acting Commission they fear the matter will just be hand-passed back to the Chief Steward that they have no confidence in. LGHR understands there are over a dozen applicants for the Commissioner’s job and the selection process has begun. As for Stewards reportedly refusing to deal with complaints of a person who was not a licensee well that is absurd. It’s the everyday punter who keeps the industry afloat and these blokes in their jobs. We understand the frustration of those not wanting to deal with Chadwick and continue to wonder how this bloke holds down such an important job?   

 

 

IT SEEMS RACING QUEENSLAND WOULDN'T KNOW A GIFT HORSE IF IT LOOKED THEM IN THE FACE

WITH an involvement of over half a century in the industry in Queensland, popular racing identity Rod Kidner has arguably forgotten more than some of those highly paid executives running the show will ever learn.

But when Kidner volunteered his experience to help overcome the crisis facing bush racing, especially the lack of available jockeys, the response from RQ was ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

“People throughout the State know me and I’ve got a stack of contacts. I am not saying that I would be an expert at solving racing problems in the country, jockey-wise, but I would be better than the ‘nobody’ they have now,” Kidner said.

“I retired after receiving a redundancy from the horse feed company I had been working for. Sitting around was driving me mad and I just wanted to help. I wasn’t trying to establish a job for myself.”

Kidner was told that the go-to man at RQ was Ross Gove (Senior Racing Manager, Thoroughbreds) so he made an approach. Gove listened, asked him to make a presentation and suggested he should also involve the Country Racing representative but that’s where things went belly-up.

“They finally told me I wasn’t wanted and that country racing is going OK. Believe me, it’s not. It was only after all the negative reports about the lack of jockeys available to ride at country meetings, and the number of horses being scratched as a result, that I offered to help. Racing is failing in the bush and camp-drafting is becoming massive,” Kidner said.

For those who are unfamiliar with Rod Kidner’s background, here is a precis of his CV:

He was a trainer for 35 years racing on all tracks in the NQRA. When QTIS (or QRIS as it was known then) was first started, he was one of a handful of trainers whose fares were paid to travel from the country and attend the inaugural sales at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. The filly he bought back qualified for the final.

For 12 years Kidner then worked as a sales rep for a prominent horse feed company and he covered an area from Cooktown to Gympie, Alice Springs to Darwin and towns in between. He had an involvement not only with horse racing but also camp-drafts, barrel racing, polocrosse and country shows. Over that time he built up massive contacts in the horse industry.

Kidner was responsible for the horse feed merchants he worked for sponsoring the Cairns Show High Jump, the Warwick Gold Cup camp-draft (known as the Melbourne Cup of camp-drafting) and in conjunction with this long-running sponsorship established the Champion Rider of Australia Series, contested by the best 21 men and four women camp-draft riders in the land.

When the drought struck only to be followed by the floods, Kidner organized for his feed company to provide pallets of horse feed to children’s pony clubs in the worst-hit western towns.

“I outlined my background to Racing Queensland believing I could help promote country racing, assist in overcoming some of the problems that have seen it struggle by using some of a lifetime of contacts I had built up.

“I offered to set up racing information stands at all major horse events to promote the thoroughbreds in the country. There is an untapped amount of horse-oriented kids out there that nobody seems to have ever tried to contact or get involved. It’s a nursery waiting to happen.

“I was prepared to be an eyes, ears and ideas man for Racing Queensland in the country. Anything is better than nothing, which is what they have at present.

“But I guess if high profile people are struggling to save and improve country racing or to get things done then they don’t believe an old broken-down horse trainer like me has any chance.

“I just felt after 50 years in the racing industry as an owner-trainer-farrier-feed rep I might have something to offer. I am not in any way politically motivated. I just wanted to put something back into country racing which has given me and many friends so much pleasure.

“I did my best outlining my proposal to Racing Queensland but all I got was a negative response which is sad”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I don’t know ROD KIDNER but have spoken to stakeholders from North Queensland to New South Wales who having nothing but positive things to say about the gentleman – one leading trainer in Townsville and another in Sydney gave him huge raps. His story again highlights the short-comings of Racing Queensland. Here is an organization where the CEO earns more than $500,000 a year – God only knows how much is wasted on salaries paid to his First Lieutenants – and they’re not interested in listening to an industry veteran with a half century of racing experience (volunteering his services) who started out in pony clubs when he was seven before they were born; held a trainers’ license for over 35 years; raced on all the country tracks in the NQRA area and finished his working life with a feed merchant company. It would be a different story if those running the show at RQ had all the answers. Sadly they don’t.

 

 

THE EAGLE FARM FIX IS NOTHING MORE THAN AN ABSOLUTE FARCE

IT’S the weekend and we, at LGHR, are too busy trying to find a winner for our LATE MAIL clients to be worried writing about the Eagle Farm ‘fix’ or ‘farce’ – whatever you want to call it.

So we’ve pinched parts of the story by ARCHIE BUTTERFLY on his subscriber-only site, www.peterprofit.com, which says what we wanted to say anyway. It reads:

SO Eagle Farm is going to get a makeover after next year’s Winter Carnival.

Gee, I could have sworn I told you that six months ago.

“We engaged some global luminaries who are independent of Eagle Farm and RQ to express their views and endorse the way forward this morning,” Racing CEO ‘Pins’ Parnell told his friendlies at The Courier-Mail.

“They have advised on everything from Flemington to Happy Valley, Sha Tin and the new track in China”.

Now there is a wrap, isn’t it?

Do you know how many race meetings have ever been held at the Conghua course in China?

One.

Woo hoo!

Here is a simple question.

Who are these ‘global luminaries’, when were they engaged and in these dark times of COVID lockdowns and the near abolition of international travel, how many times have they actually visited the Eagle Farm track to conduct inspections, tests and modelling.

Yeah, I think we can guess the answer to that one.

Here is ‘Pins’ solution to the Farm woes, as endorsed by anonymous global luminaries.

Race on a cow paddock for another 12 months, and keep allowing horses to go lame or break down.

Say bugger the punters who pay for it all.

All the Brisbane Racing Club to duck all responsibility for a problem that is 8/10ths created.

Ignore the real reasons for the perpetual track failures, because corruption scandals are bothersome.

Pretend that the problem is with the top of the track surface and the grass, instead of being honest about where the issues really lie, which are in the sub stratum of the sand.

Promise a band-aid fix of mixing in some dirt (loam), pulling up the grass and putting down some more.

Grass that according to ‘Pins’ takes a year to grow.

In Queensland – over Summer – puh-lease.

This so-called solution is a joke.

So is the ATA representative Cameron ‘Three Hats’ (or should that be four or five) Partington?

The bloke is brilliant at mouthing the right words, and nodding his head at the right time, and organizing meetings when he is placed under such pressure from his members that he has no other choice, but at the end of the day when it comes to the Eagle Farm issue he is absolutely full of shit.

It’s hard to blame him – almost.

After all, it must be hard for a man to serve so many masters.

Trainers, riders in his sole role as jockey manager, the media, the race clubs and who knows who else.

The path of least resistance is always the easiest, even if it rarely is the most effective.

This isn’t about Partington though, he is just one of many Eagle Farm deniers.

Many blame the BRC for all of this, and in a large part I am one of them.

But the buck stops at the top – and Brendan Parnell occupies the desk.

This isn’t a fix.

Well actually yes it is – a fix wrapped in farce.

EDITOR’S NOTE: LGHR did warn you yesterday that after all the piss and wind those stakeholders who went along to chat with RQ about their Eagle Farm gripes would wind up lying on their backs and letting Parnell scratch them on their bellies.

 

 

IT’S TIME TO START CHOPPING HEADS – STARTING WITH THE RQ CEO

BEN DORRIES of NEWS LTD & RACENET got the job half done when he declared the career of Racing Queensland’s half million dollar man Brendan Parnell was at the crossroads over the Eagle Farm track debacle.

At least Dorries is saying what many of his colleagues in the mainstream racing media and their predecessors didn’t have the guts to. But instead of just taking Parnell to the edge of the cliff he should have thrown him over the side.

Eagle Farm has been the greatest embarrassment for Queensland racing  since the Fine Cotton ring-in and the caffeine crisis. Heads must roll – this crap of let’s not worry about blaming someone is akin to sweeping the problem under the carpet and hoping it will go away.

Dorries reports that Parnell today faces the most significant test of his leadership at a crunch meeting with industry representatives over the Eagle Farm track catastrophe.

Strike action – or more precisely an Eagle Farm track boycott – is looming as a very real possibility if industry participants don’t get the solutions they want from Parnell.

Trainers, jockeys, breeders and owners are entirely fed up with lip service being paid to the dreadful state of affairs which has seen Eagle Farm in the wars since 2014.

They were flabbergasted and horrified in equal measures when they heard Queensland Racing Minister Grace Grace insist in parliamentary estimates recently that she received “nothing but positive feedback” about the Eagle Farm track performance during the winter carnival.

She also claimed the beleaguered Eagle Farm track was following the same profile as the Townsville track which took five years to fully mature.

The industry thinks that is complete and utter nonsense. They now won’t wait another five weeks, let alone five years, for decisive action on Eagle Farm.

They think the Minister has either been living under a rock or been terribly poorly advised. Or both.

Racing Minister Grace Grace is a waste of space – out of touch with the realities of racing – and sends a message that her Government pays nothing more than lip service and financial hand-outs for political points-scoring at Carnival time and during lead-ups to elections.

Her Shadow ‘the whistleblower’ Tim Mander asked some important questions during the Estimates Debate but should be hammering the Eagle Farm controversy while leader David Crisafulli (the jury’s out on him) should also be milking it for all its worth.

Here’s hoping they aren’t listening to the LNP skeletons in the closet from the good old days in racing like Tim Nicholls (whose electorate is smack in the middle of the Eagle Farm precinct) or the ‘three time election loser’ Lawrence Springborg who has returned to a key party role.

The ones the LNP should be using to do some political points-scoring on this issue are John Paul Langbroek and Ray Stevens (who should have been their Racing spokesman all along but was sidelined because he dared to vote for the wrong people in a Party leadership spill – but that’s the goat riders).

Not that Labor has shown any leadership on racing either – the only time we see Anastasia and Grace is when the Carnival party is on or they get the opportunity to swan around with ‘Gerry and the Pacemakers’ throwing more wasted racing and taxpayer dollars into the pockets of one of Australia’s richest men claiming Magic Millions is boosting the tourist industry on the Gold Coast during peak season (watch the borders come down in January).

Rather than get waylaid as LGHR tends to do when it comes to politics in Queensland, here’s a bit more of the ‘truth that hurts’ article by Dorries today:

One of the biggest issues in racing in Queensland is it is so closely tied to the whims of Government whose last priority often seems to be racing.

Let’s face facts. While it has had moments where it has been “OK”, the Eagle Farm track has been mostly a shambles for the last seven years.

In its various incarnations in that time it has been too soft, too hard, had the wrong grass and the wrong profile. You probably couldn’t stuff it up more if you tried. It has been Fawlty Towers type of stuff at times.

There is now zero confidence in the joint.

When Parnell was appointed in 2018, he became the seventh person to fill the CEO role at RQ on a full-time or interim basis in the space of seven years.

LGHR understands he gets paid well over $500,000 a year. Insiders say the RQ Board have only extended his contract by 12 months. If that’s correct it’s not only too long but at least music to the ears of most in racing.   

His predecessor Eliot Forbes quit in the wake of criticism from the then Racing Minister on how the state’s peak racing body had handled the Eagle Farm renovations and rebuilding process.

Dorries reports that the Racing Minister’s recent comments simply won’t be tolerated.

Well what are they going to do about it? Actions speaker louder than words but if you are framing a market there will be threats made at today’s crisis meeting but the parties will emerge kissing each other’s bums and maintaining that the 'fix' is once again on for the beleagured track after being bombarded and conned by more Parnell bullshit.

And as for the Brisbane Racing Club – rather than pass the buck by refusing to take back responsibility for the track they should be using the political clout that people like chairman Neville Bell have to rev the Government up, warning the Premier and her Racing Minister that ‘girl power’ certainly isn’t doing the job.

As for Brendan Parnell, well the Government, the RQ Board, the BRC and the stakeholders should insist that he is the first to go – not next year, next month or next week but RIGHT NOW.

 

DEATH OF AUSTRALIA’S LONGEST SERVING BOOKIE IN NORTH Q'LAND

RUSS Reguson, arguably the longest serving bookmaker in the land, has died suddenly in North Queensland – a week after fielding at the Townsville Cup meeting.

A bookmaker since 1965, Russ was 84 at the time of his death while undergoing heart surgery. He was a legendary figure at race meetings in North Queensland for over 60 years.

One of the nicest guys you would meet on and off the racetrack, Russ (pictured above) was honoured by the Home Hill and Bowen Turf Clubs with the naming of Betting Rings and Auditoriums after him.

A resident of Ayr his entire life, Reguson’s wife, Coleen passed away several years ago. He had four children, David (also a bookmaker), Kerry, Adam and Liam. He was a great-great grandfather.

Liam worked on his father’s stand on Townsville Cup day while David operated separately in the same ring. The two sons spent plenty of time making sure their dad got to the races to work in his 80’s knowing full well he would be a bookmaker until the day he died.

“He was supposedly retired for 10 years but he just kept going. He loved it," David said. His death has been an absolute shock to us all though. He was having some trouble breathing and delayed going into hospital then when he did there were complications with the surgery.”

The family believe that Reguson, if not the oldest fielding bookmaker in Australia, was one of the oldest. He started pre-Decimal Currency and was still willing to give the punters a good bet to the day he died.

“Dad worked on the locals and the southern events. The biggest bet he ever laid was $14,000 on a New Zealand horse that came to Australia back in the 80’s. It got beaten. Back in those days you could have bought a nice house in a top suburb in Townsville for that amount of money,” David recalled.

“He always said it was easier to hold more money in the 80’s than it was these days.

"All he wanted to do this year was turf the old timber betting boards – and upgrade to TV betting board technology like every other bookie – and he did this for the first time at Bowen - in February this year. He was excited to see his name up on the TV’s."

Gary Gorrie, who fielded alongside Russ for years in the North, said: “Russ was a great bloke, a good bookie and would give you a bet. He was the longest serving member of the Queensland Bookies’ Association. He joined about two months before me.”

Known affectionately as ‘Mr Racing’ in the Burdekin region, Russ also did a lot of voluntary work, especially for the local Golf Club.

HIS FUNERAL SERVICE WILL BE HELD NEXT TUESDAY AT 3PM AT THE AYR GOLF CLUB.

 

NO TONGUE TIE FOR EX-BUSH BOOKIE ‘NUGGET’ TURNBULL WHEN HE FIRES UP ABOUT ‘ON THE BIT RACING’

RICHARD ‘Nugget’ TURNBULL, a shoot-from-the-hip former bush bookie who is passionate about outback racing, was quick to retaliate to the response from ON THE BIT RACING.

Our aim at LGHR is to present a platform for opposing opinions in racing, providing these are constructive, so here is what ‘Nugget’ has had to say:

Dear Letsgohorseraing

I’m not gunna hide behind my keyboard as a faceless man and not have the guts or spine to speak my mind.

On the Bit started in 2017. I was approached by Matt Peters to help out with stories I wrote and I took it upon myself to use my phone to stream vision from tracks where I feilded as a bookmaker.

If you go deep in to the archives you will find me with a Winfield Red hanging out my mouth. I won’t mention my friend’s names because I don’t them brought into this but we all got on board and built up this platform.

An idea was developed between us to have a Country Awards Night and I actually took the financial risk in case we done our cash. We actually scraped through with a small profit after I wrote to friends in business to sponsor the night. I worked my arse off to the point of exhaustion with one of my good friends, who is a battler, and put a lot of time, money and hard work in as well.

In the first year we never asked how cameras were financed as one was provided by Racing Queensland and that went to the Central West, a region that went above and beyond with the product they served up along with the Gladstone Turf Club.

A year went by – same phones, no cameras – and we recruited Peter Moody as Guest Speaker for the Awards Night which proved to be a roaring success. We sold out the venue. I provided the labour with my own funds to set up and clean up. But I wasn’t busting my guts again for no cameras, no nothing.

Everyone asked: Where does the money go? We had auctions for stallion services, like the first year. There were plenty of donated items. The year went by and still no cameras. Central West and Gladstone Turf Club continued to produce the product to a top-shelf.

Then COVID 19 hit and admission restrictions were placed on tracks. Money was tight. Then on New Year’s Eve 2020 a potential sponsor for On The Bit revealed to me in the Emerald Jockey Club Members’ Bar that he was there to look at a business proposition which involved betting on non-TAB meetings querying what on-course bookmakers were holding. I smelt a rat and did some research with people that in knew in the on-line betting world.

My belief was that On The Bit was established to promote the racing industry and that Racing Queensland would eventually own the portal and if there was to be any betting on country meetings it would be via the TAB and SKY Channel not some minor player while the clubs continued to race for chicken scraps.

Any-one reading this should ask the question: Is this any way to start a business built by volunteers. What business asks for sponsorships, eg stallion covers, auction items etc.

I’m embarrassed that I wrote letters and asked people for money to fund it in August 2020 after watching On the Bit (after receiving an ABN), sold to outside interests. No disrespect to the people involved. They probably weren’t aware of what had happened in the past or even how On the Bit got started.

But my biggest concern is how the Country Racing Board was not consulted on this in June at the Racing Queensland Country Racing Workshop. This is the part that to me stinks to high heaven.

Here’s hoping there has been no political interference. RQ and country racing should own this portal. I was so dismayed that it retired me from bookmaking. I feel there is no longer any loyalty at the track or morals. I can I always say in my business dealings I always paid, never dogged a bet and always contributed to the sport.

I have friends that I have been mates with my whole life who want to sit on the fence over this. It is deeply disappointing to me that they don’t speak their mind.

Richard (Nugget) Turnbull

 

ON THE BIT RACING RESPONDS TO ISSUES RAISED CONCERNING THE NEW BUSH RACING NON-TAB BROADCASTING AGREEMENT

CAUGHT in the crossfire of concerns raised with letsgohorseracing and peterprofit.com, the Administration and Finance Manager of On The Bit Racing Australia Pty Ltd, has accepted an offer to respond.

This is what KRISTY PETERS wants to say in answer to questions raised and we appreciate her quick response:  

THANK you for taking the time to speak with (ON THE BIT RACING) regarding the emails that you have been receiving about the new Non-TAB vision broadcasting agreement. Based on your conversation, I have prepared the following answers to your questions below. 

Did this contract go out to tender?

YES - On The Bit Racing Australia submitted its tender application in March 2021 and we were advised of our successful tender in June 2021. To find out the requirements of the tender process I suggest you contact Racing Queensland Procurement for more information.

How much is this costing the industry?

The contract between Racing Queensland & On The Bit Racing Australia prevents me from advising any details of the contract due to a confidentiality clause. Perhaps this is an item you could request from Racing Queensland should you feel it necessary to report on.

Claims it is costing some clubs more than others

Under contractual agreements with Racing Queensland, On The Bit Racing Australia sends one camera operator to every country non-TAB race meeting, This fee is paid by Racing Queensland to On The Bit Racing Australia for this service. There is no cost to the clubs in any way, shape or form for this service. 

Moves behind the scenes to have corporate bookies operate on these non-TAB bush meetings

This is not permitted (and never has been) due to Racing Queensland’s contractual agreements with the TAB and On The Bit Racing Australia fully understand this contractual agreement that is implemented.  

Double Dipping

No member of the On The Bit Racing Australia organization charges clubs for the one camera operator to attend country non-TAB race meetings. (I would like to clarify that we only send one camera operator).

On your investigations, you will find it is not our company that charges the clubs for filming/broadcasting services. 

Finally - On The Bit Racing Australia supports and congratulates all racing groups providing news updates, reports on country racing or showing races in Queensland. It is a fantastic industry with many wonderful people who go above and beyond. Country Racing is alive in Queensland and we are privileged to be a part of the exciting times ahead for the industry.

 

ARE SOME MAINSTREAM RACING SCRIBES JUMPING SHIP AT THE FARM?

THERE are suggestions from some of our readers that a couple of key folk in the mainstream racing media have jumped ship in their attitude to the much-maligned Eagle Farm track.

Here’s an example of one email we received from a close follower of racing in Brisbane:

‘I listened to David Fowler this morning on his Press Room Show on Radio TAB which I usually don’t.

David seems to have done a U Turn and is now bagging the Eagle Farm track.

Ben Dorries (from Racenet & The Courier-Mail) chimed in to the discussion saying he was a lone voice for years. What crap, you (LGHR), Archie (Butterfly) and my good mate, Phil Purser, have been saying for years the track is rooted.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: I can remember when a former scribe for a major Brisbane newspaper described Eagle Farm as a goat track in a story he wrote many years ago. He wound up out of work amid suggestions that one of his senior colleagues was far from impressed by his comments which had broken the unspoken deal never to bag anything concerning the QTC or BRC if you wanted to survive as a racing scribe in Brisbane. It is interesting how former Racing Editors with News Ltd are now enjoying cushy jobs on the Farm. Ben Dorries has always dared to be different in his turf coverage which is why we at LGHR have always admired his work. I didn’t hear what David had to say but it’s refreshing to hear that he has finally ‘seen the light’ where the future of the Eagle Farm track is concerned. And for those who keep asking if he has replaced Josh Fleming as the SKY caller in Brisbane. No he hasn’t, nothing has changed except Josh is enjoying a period of part-time paternity leave, helping out his beautiful wife with their new child. He still dashes across to the Sunshine Coast to call the races of a Sunday but doesn’t make the trip to Brisbane of a Saturday where David is doing a fine job filling in while Josh is playing ‘Daddy Day Care’.

 

LEARNING SOMETHING NEW ABOUT RQ BOARD APPOINTMENTS

EVERY now and then you learn something new from the official magazine of Racing Queensland – known as RACE – its third name change BUT it doesn’t happen often.

Back in the day when LGHR worked for RQ, with a lot of help from the wonderful people at The Magazine Publishing Company we changed the design, layout and name of the old, boring Racing Calendar to the Racing Magazine. Achieving that was a nightmare on its own, especially getting ‘Dr Dolittle’ (who constantly had Bob the Builder’s ear) to agree.

But before we get waylaid (there are a million stories in the Naked City of Racing back then) let’s get back to the point of this column and in the CEO’s Message in the latest edition of RACE, there are two newsworthy items that one would have thought were worthy of RQ Media Releases. One related to Government changes to the RQ Board and the other to the broadcasting of bush racing (non-TAB) in Queensland via ON THE BIT RACING.

Perhaps there were some releases made but websites like letsgohorseracing & peterprofit.com are not seen as worthy of adding to the list of major distribution points because we aren’t prepared to ‘spin doctor’ the racing news and more often than not we dare to criticize.

In actual fact the Racing Minister’s Office did circulate a Media Release on the RQ Board changes (once again we’re not on that list but that doesn’t matter as these are so few and far between when it comes to racing – we prefer to read what she has to say in Parliament under questioning from ‘whistle-blower Tim’ from the LNP).

THE RACING MINISTER’S MEDIA RELEASE ON NEW BOARD MEMBERS

Here’s what that Media Release had to say in case you missed it in the local daily (if they ran it and if you are a subscriber, two big ‘IFS’ considering its declining circulation figures these days). It reads:

A harness racing industry veteran and an infrastructure expert are new members of the state’s peak racing industry body, the Racing Queensland Board.

Racing Minister Grace Grace announced the appointment of Jodie Jones and Christopher Edwards, replacing outgoing members, former Queensland Harness Racing Board member Margaret Reynolds and former Channel 7 executive and Sheffield Shield cricketer Max Walters OAM.

“Ms Jones brings more than 30 years’ harness racing experience to the Board as an owner and breeder of standardbreds and a Board member of Harness Racing Australia,” Ms Grace said.

“Mr Edwards is general manager of capital projects and infrastructure advisory with RPS Group in Brisbane, and his experience with large capital programs will be particularly relevant with major racing infrastructure works underway and planned.”

The new directors join Chairman Steve Wilson, Deputy Chair Sharon Dawson, and Board members Dale Cartwright, Graham Quirk and Jane Seawright.

Wilson said he was looking forward to Ms Jones bringing her breadth of the knowledge to the RQ Board.

“With strong industry roots, including life membership of the Queensland Junior Harness Racing Association, and significant experience in the education sector, Ms Jones will be a welcome addition,” he said.

“Christopher’s strong and diverse skill set as an executive and as a board member should serve him well at Racing Queensland.

"As a senior leader at Building Queensland, PwC and Hatch Associates, he boasts sound experience overseeing large capital programs, infrastructure planning, property development, and the delivery of business cases.

"With significant infrastructure works, including the redevelopment of the Gold Coast Turf Club and Greater Brisbane Greyhound Centre, we look forward to leaning on his experience.”

It’s good to learn that Ms Jones – they say her friends call her ‘Bridget’ – joins the Board and has a background of expertise in harness racing which means she would be well aware of how badly that code has deteriorated to the extent it now has to maggot off the back of the gallops and even greyhound racing to survive.

Mr Edwards’ CV shows that the global company he works for has been involved in the redevelopment at the Gold Coast Turf Club and ‘the Greater Brisbane Greyhound Centre’ – we haven’t heard of the latter and just hope that our girl Grace didn’t get it mixed up with a ‘bus company’ instead of the ‘dish lickers’.

 

BATTLE OF THE BUSH – ON & OFF THE TRACK WITH ON THE BIT RACING

THE other juicy item gleaned from the CEO’S monthly message (he’s just a mountain of information and earns every cent of that $500,000 a year pay packet) involves a new broadcast service which we at LGHR have learnt has created major dramas behind the scenes.

Under the headline: ‘Streaming for NON-TAB Racing’, Parnell writes:

THE Queensland racing industry will be more accessible than ever before with the broadcasting of the non-TAB sector poised to commence later this month.

RQ recently approached the market to source a vision provider for non-TAB meets with a primary objective to facilitate better engagement with industry participants, including owners, trainers, jockeys and other important stakeholders (free of charge).

For the first time, more than 200 meetings, incorporating 98 clubs, will be shown in their entirety with ON THE BIT RACING AUSTRALIA, winning the rights to showcase the vision across the State.

Over the next 12 months, all non-TAB races will be streamed live (where connectivity allows) via the OTB website and social media platforms. Replays will also be made available through RQ and its clubs.

Broadcasting of non-TAB race meetings commenced on July 17, 2021 (this final paragraph contradicts the earlier statement about it beginning in late August but perhaps that was a typo with the column being written in July for an August edition and the copy not being edited properly).

This is a terrific concept but talk about opening a can of worms – it has created more rivalry than between warring parties that the BATTLE OF THE BUSH feature race could ever hope to achieve on the track.

At risk of winding up in legal strife we won’t publish any of the emails received but hasten to add it appears to be a private battle between some key identities in the bush who at some time or another, were or are involved with ON THE BIT.

Perhaps the two main questions that RQ does need to answer to settle some of the rumours doing the rounds are: How much this service is costing the industry each year? And does RQ pay the producers of the coverage or the bush clubs themselves (or perhaps both as some are suggesting)?

 

HISTORY CREATED ‘IN A TINY SHIT TOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE’

PETER J of CAIRNS has delivered some bouquets and brickbats in this contribution where we are happy to allow him to let off a little steam even at the expense of our good mate Archie Butterfly, who no doubt will return serve.

He wrote:

IN the present atmosphere of doom and gloom there was a highlight last Saturday at Prairie when Jeffrey Felix rode the card.

It may have been in ‘a tiny shit town in the middle of nowhere, about four hours’ drive from Townsville, with a population of 146’ (as per our good friend Archie Butterfly) but ANY jockey that rides the card ANYWHERE is worthy of celebration - and it couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke to boot.

Jeffrey is based in Townsville, regularly goes up to Charters Towers to ride work, and has a "have saddle - will travel" attitude.

As a yardstick to measure this individual achievement by - the Cairns Jockeys’ premiership won in fine fashion by Wanderson D'Avila last season - was for a haul of 13 winners.

I understand Jeffrey was asked to stay on in Prairie as Mayor.

ON the Chris Whiteley QCAT decision, like it or not it’s a decision handed down by the independent panel charged by the governing body with deciding these matters.

Sure, nobody likes every Magistrate's decision, every umpire's call, every Steward's ruling and God knows the NRL Bunker isn't always popular (especially at my place) - but it's NOT a popularity contest. What point is there in saying - YOU decide - then shit canning the result?

On a lighter note - I took notice of our friend (AB - the paragon of ACCURATE reporting) when he recently bagged the new Stewards’ tower at the Rockhampton Greyhounds. You know - Rockhampton - "the same track where they left the rake in front of the starting boxes a few months ago". Except that happened in TOWNSVILLE!

Live by the sword - die by the sword.

 

TAKE A BOW GREG BLANCHARD – GRAHAM QUIRK SHOWS ONCE AGAIN WHY HE’S THE ONLY ONE AT RQ WORTH FEEDING 

TAKE a bow Greg Blanchard – your unrelenting fight to relieve the acute shortage of bush jockeys by using overseas apprentices looks to have finally hit pay-dirt.

TRENTON ACKERS reports for NEWS LTD that Racing Queensland are considering incentives for country trainers to take on apprentices in an attempt to stop a bush jockey shortage which saw 288 horses scratched last year.

For the first time in years the mainstream racing media (with the exception of David Fowler on 4TAB) has finally reported that officials are struggling to attract riders to outback Queensland with many preferring to base themselves out of the south-east.

Last year 1129 non-TAB races were conducted by Racing Queensland which saw 288 horses scratched due to no jockey being available to ride, totalling about three per cent of acceptors.

At long last RQ CEO Brendan Parnell, the half million dollar man (that’s his annual pay package plus some) has publicly acknowledged the shortage and said it was a major priority to remedy it as soon as possible.

What he forgot to say is that nothing really happened at RQ until Blanchard took up the case with former Lord Mayor Graham Quirk soon after his appointment as the Thoroughbred representative on the Board. Before that his calls to Parnell and other key identities at RQ fell on deaf ears and there were times he felt they would see him at the races and head in the other direction.

With a number of trainers also crying out for more trackwork riders, Parnell told News Ltd that the control body was going through the correct protocols to attract overseas riders to Queensland.

Parnell has passed the buck to the Federal Government on the issue of securing overseas apprentices so hopefully this will encourage Racing Minister Grace Grace to get involved as well. RQ should also send an SOS to Racing Australia if that mob can climb out from under their giant Dome designed to dodge any of the interstate flak flying over Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys moves to torpedo the Melbourne Spring Carnival.

“We are looking at incentives around encouraging trainers to take on apprentices in regional Queensland, what that looks like we don’t know yet,” Parnell said told News Ltd. “The thing we haven’t got accreditation for, it requires Federal accreditation, is to enrol foreign students.

“It is a Commonwealth requirement, which we are working through at the moment then we will be able to go back into the recruitment for overseas trackwork riders and apprentices.

“We would be able to approach a number of countries once that is in place. At the moment we can’t have a foreign student until we get that accreditation.”

Parnell told News Ltd apprentice recruitment numbers were on the improve and are currently outperforming both New South Wales and Victoria.

Queensland’s decentralised nature and huge amount of races on a Saturday meant jockey numbers were spread thin. “The challenge isn’t necessarily recruiting more, it is incentivising them to go to regional Queensland,” he said.

“Our enrolment numbers are good, the last 18 months have been spent in a recruitment drive and over the last three years it is up about 50 per cent – we have the most apprentice jockeys of any major state. We have 54 apprentices, New South Wales has 46 and Victoria is less than that again.”

In the short-term to alleviate the pain, Parnell said some regional clubs were looking at moving away from Saturday meetings to allow the jockeys to compete at more meetings.

This season Ewan, Cloncurry, Chinchilla and Thangool will all host midweek TAB meetings for the first time.

“IT LOOKS LIKE WE HAVE SHAMED RQ INTO DOING SOMETHING”

GREG BLANCHARD, from his base in NUDGEE, deserves the final say but you can be sure it won’t be his last word on the issue if the Parnell promises stumble along at snail’s pace like many in racing believe the Chief Steward at QRIC operates when it is a contentious issue.

“WELL it looks like we have shamed RQ into doing something.

After years of banging on about this catastrophe in Queensland racing it looks like we are finally getting somewhere.

The numbers they say for NON-TAB meetings is 288 while I have a total of 334 which includes provincial TAB meetings. My figures are correct. I counted Stewards’ Reports weekly. (Editor’s Note: Come on Greg, there’s no way in the world RQ would use smokes and mirrors with their figures).

Now this has to be done properly to ensure people are checking on the apprentices.  As for getting overseas youngsters, I have been saying we need to do this for nearly a decade.

I also know of some shameful experiences involving overseas apprentices where bridges were burnt.

I would like to say a special thank you to Graham Quirk, who in correspondence always treated me with respect. It was a shame that others did not follow his lead and because of  that I will have nothing to do with them.

In my experience with Korean horse school students once the courses finished there were always a few who stayed on to work in stables over the last seven years. I can honestly say once courses finished nobody, except for Sarah Mannion, Clerk of the Course at BRC, kept an eye on these kids and helped them and myself as a volunteer.

People who really CARE must be involved and not just treat it as a job. In my experience that is what has been sadly lacking.”

 

A FEW ISSUES THAT HAVE MADE RACING IN QUEENSLAND A LAUGHING STOCK & AN EMBARRASSMENT DURING THE PAST WEEK

A QUADRELLA AT THE 'RED HOTS' THAT ATTRACTED POOL OF $2

IF the racing industry in Queensland needed any further proof how the ‘red hots’ have hit rock bottom, it has been brought to our attention by a few punters who still follow the code.

They have told us how the EARLY QUADRELLA on last Thursday’s REDCLIFFE HARNESS MEETING attracted a POOL of ONLY $2 on the QUEENSLAND TAB.

As hard to believe as it sounds we are reliably informed that is correct. Yes, harness racing in Queensland – which continues to maggot off the back of the gallops and attracts more Government revenue than the greyhounds – has hit rock bottom.

And to make matters worse the TAB JACKPOTTED THE QUADRELLA – or $1.59 of the $2 invested and still managed to DEDUCT their COMMISSION of 41 cents. Can you believe that?

This deserves an explanation from Racing Queensland and the TAB – how can the sport justify its existence and the ‘spin doctor’ garbage it attracts at carnival time when an embarrassing situation like this is swept under the carpet?

And by the way – speaking of Redcliffe – whatever happened to that behind-closed-doors investigation into the mobile catastrophe which almost cost the life of a small child. Were the findings every made public or was that just another controversial issue that harness racing officials hoped would be forgotten.

 

GOOD LUCK TO CHRIS WHITELEY FOR WINNING HIS APPEAL BUT THE NATIVES REMAIN RESTLESS

THE amount of angry emails that we received at LGHR in the wake of the QCAT decision involving the appeal win by jockey Chris Whiteley surprised us. The major were unprintable for legal reasons.

We didn’t think anyone cared any more when QCAT handed down a shock decision – it’s become par for the course and highlights the need for that body to be replaced when it comes to racing matters.

Good luck to Chris Whiteley on his appeal win – his strike rate at the major provincial TAB tracks is terrific and he has always maintained his innocence after stewards charged him when a $1.30 favorite he was riding got beaten in Cairns after fate conspired against it.

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY on his subscriber-only website, www.peterprofit.com, wrote:

“Speaking from a strictly legal perspective the QCAT decision is sound and correct. Talking as a punter, it’s a load of bollocks.”

The Butterfly insists that based on this ruling ‘it is almost impossible for Stewards to prove a jockey rode their horse ‘dead’ unless they catch them on a recording talking about it, or unless they admit it, which no cheat in their right mind is ever going to do’.

For legal reasons we cannot publish the emails received on this issue apart from suggesting that not only punters but some owners and trainers believe that stewards should be taking a closer look at the rides of the ‘fly-in, fly-out’ jockeys who regularly dominate at these TAB meetings in the country.

Sadly, every time there is an appeal decision handed down that the punters or racegoers find hard to accept, they want to blame someone – so the current system cops plenty and on occasions so does the QCAT Member who heard the appeal.

There have been cases where Tribunal Members have arguably shown ignorance to racing matters, like the woman hearing a harness racing appeal who asked: ‘What is that little chariot the bloke is riding in behind the horse?’ With all due respects perhaps this lady should have been adjudicating more domestic issues like barking dogs or trees over-hanging fence lines.

In the Whiteley case, we are not for one moment suggesting Tribunal Member Bevan Hughes knows zilch about racing (in fact we don’t know) but he is a highly-respected lawyer who has mediated more than 1200 QCAT matters. On the merits of the evidence presented at the appeal, his reasons for the decision are sound. QRIC is considering appealing the outcome which will be welcomed by many punters and even industry stakeholders.

Regardless of the outcome, a long-running review ordered by the Labor Government, will probably see the current system changed and a new body established with people possessing knowledge of not only the law but racing replacing QCAT to hear appeals similar to what happens in some other States. There will still be the required burden of proof and natural justice but at least those listening to both sides of an appeal will understand the intricacies of the three codes of racing.       

 

IS EAGLE FARM A ‘FIT’ TRACK TO HOST MAJOR SATURDAY MEETINGS? 

RATHER than LGHR repeat the calls for Racing Queensland to show more urgency in the decision making process concerning the Eagle Farm track we will republish what ARCHIE BUTTERFLY wrote at peterprofit.com which once again highlights the problem:

HOW can Class 6 gallopers at a Saturday Metro meeting (Eagle Farm in Brisbane) run 4.5 seconds outside the track record on a GOOD 4 track?

It’s absurd!

My Mum could run faster than that – and she’s been dead for five years.

You can expect a huge blow-up about the state of the Eagle Farm track from Robert Heathcote and other trainers this week, and who could blame them, for it’s an absolute shocker.

That’s no surprise, I’ve been warning readers of peterprofit.com about this for at least four years now, since the rorts in the construction phase that are the root cause of every single problem were being pulled.

Look how many fancied horses jarred up on that goat track last Saturday.

GEMELON BOLT in R2; SAFEEYA R3; MATOWI R4; WARP SPEED R5; LADY BANFF R6; EELLOH & SPANISH POINT R7 – the list goes on.

Only one of them – WARP SPEED – was actually reported as LAME but if the other horses listed above (and others) were striding out properly on the concrete, then I will eat my hat and yours.

The track is cactus.

All Racing Queensland are doing by tryhing to delay its repair until after next year’s Winter Carnival is inviting law suits and erecting a flashing sign saying ‘Bring It On’.

I will tell you exactly when they will decide to do something about Eagle Farm.

When the Council tick off on the development approval for the third of the planned residential apartment towers in the home straight – that’s when!.

 

 

WHAT A TEAM – BRAE AND BOSSY – BUT NOT EVERYONE’S A FAN

NO-ONE doubts the passion prominent owner Brae Sokolski has for horse racing or his astute eye for a good galloper but one fateful decision continues to haunt the lack of respect that many followers of the sport have for him.

Sokolski, a part-owner of arguably the best galloper in the land, Verry Elleegant, spearheads a syndicate that recently purchase the rising Queensland staying star, Incentivise, which has joined the Peter Moody stable and is now early favorite for the big Cups.

The outspoken owner won few friends with the way ‘golden girl’ Linda Meech was sacked from Thought of That days before the Victoria Derby on 2019 when the horse was one of the favorites. Mark Zahra secured the mount and the three-year-old went woefully for him.

In the fallout from that sacking, which caused a storm of controversy, Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne described Sokolski on social media as a ‘top dickhead’, was fined by stewards and forced to apologise.

But in the court of public opinion the successful owner, who is rarely out of the headlines, has not been forgiven by many in the racing public and emails received by LGHR suggest some even ‘death-ride’ horses he owns which is a crying shame considering Brae’s love for the game.

Publicity during the past week about the choice of a rider for Incentivise for the Spring regurgitated some ill-feeling involving Sokolski and the narcs were quick to pounce.

One wrote: “Brae Sokolski had to be kidding when he said there were three in contention for the ride on Incentivise. What a hypocrite including Jamie Kah in that group when his feelings for female jockeys were exposed for all to see during the Linda Meech Derby sacking when she was riding as well as any male in the land.

“Kah was 100-1 to get the Incentivise ride from the outset. She hasn’t ridden a Cup winner like Glen Boss or Craig Williams has and is probably better off being overlooked for the ride on the boom stayer who in the eyes of many has yet to prove himself outside of Queensland, even if he has bolted in up there.”

Bossy is a great jockey – it’s just a pitty he didn’t let his riding do the talking. Who’s looking forward to his antics, ranting and raving about Incentivise over the next couple of months? As long as he doesn’t start making comparisons with Makybe Diva, we’ll be a bit forgiving.

Sokolski has even explained how he and the connections of Incentivise arrived at their decision to book Boss for the ride. “I've got an amazing relationship with Bossy, both personally and professionally, and he's ridden an Everest winner and a Cox Plate winner for me in the space of two years.

"He was always front of mind for me to ride Incentivise. He's got an incredible track record in major races. I'd argue he'd have the best track record in major races of any jockey in Australia this century”

"One thing I know about Bossy is the higher the stakes, the higher the pressure, the better he performs. I just think it's the right jockey at the right time on the right horse this year, so in my mind, he was always the logical choice."

At the end of the day winners are grinners and losers can please themselves – but there will be those with a dislike for the ‘Big B’s’ – Brae & Bossy – who will be hoping that along the way their Cups dreams hit a hurdle.

 

MANDATORY JABS NOT SOMETHING RACING QLD IS CONSIDERING

IT’S hard to understand why racing authorities are pussy-footing around in declaring the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for participants after all the hard work the industry has done to dodge a complete shut-down for the spot.

Victoria and NSW, the major racing states, have yet to thrash out their position but have not ruled it out. Farcically, but not surprisingly, the one State out of step with the rest is Racing Queensland where officials say ‘mandatory jabs is not something we are currently considering’. Go figure!

Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson has backed the vaccination drive. “Anything we could do to encourage or help people in our sport get vaccinated, we will do,” he said. “If we are able to in some way pay for, or support, vaccinations … we will.”

However, RV seems unlikely to make Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory for participants to compete. The number of jockeys and trainers making use of the vaccination centres at Sandown and Cranbourne racecourses has boosted industry confidence.

Victorian Jockeys’ Association boss Matt Hyland echoed the general recommendations to be vaccinated. “It’s still up to the individuals but everyone is of the view the only way out (of the pandemic) is to get vaccinated,” he said.

In his position as Australian Rugby League Commission boss, Peter V’landys has already put a line though making the jabs mandatory for rugby league players. Wearing his other hat as Racing NSW CEO, he says it is possible racing could take a different stance.

“What happens in rugby league is a different story to racing, because they are two different Boards,” V’landys told News Corp. “In racing, they may have a different view to rugby league. “It’s a (Racing NSW) Board decision and we haven’t considered it at this point.

“The reason we haven’t discussed it is there is not enough vaccines available anyway, so even if we had a policy at the moment the (vaccine) supply is not there.”

Talk about “vaccine passports” and setting up pop-up vaccination hubs at major training centres — similar to the annual flu jabs — remains ongoing. The practicality of pop-up hubs would hinge on government support, staffing and vaccination supply.

Racing like any sporting code and employer must navigate a legal minefield around mandating vaccinations in the workplace but to simply dodge the issue like Racing Queensland has is unacceptable and irresponsible in the eyes of many stakeholders.

 

IS INFAMOUS ‘SANDWICHGATE’ TRAINER AT THE END OF THE ROAD?

AS you know LGHR is a great fan of MATT STEWART, the Racing Editor of RSN in MELBOURNE. He wrote an entertaining piece of controversial trainer Bryce Stanaway, which we have reproduced but suggest you follow his columns daily on the RSN website:

COULD it be career curtains for Victoria’s most volatile, entertaining and sandwich-deprived trainer?

Six years after the infamous “Sandwichgate” at Pakenham, where Bryce Stanaway scratched three runners because he couldn’t find a sandwich, leading to a $2000 fine and threats he’d throw it in, the Torquay trainer is again at a crossroad.

The Victorian Racing Tribunal this week found Stanaway guilty of seven conduct-related charges. Penalty is pending and Stanaway says he will “shut the gates” and sell his horses to the market if he is handed a suspension. “I would say there will be a few that go where people don’t want to see them go, but I’ll have no choice … I don’t want to see that,” he said.

Stanaway has 38 horses on his books.

In October last year 62-year-old Stanaway was involved in a verbal spat with race-day vets and officials at Bendigo as they attempted to sedate his horse Moorabool, which had become badly injured in a race, which Moorabool failed to complete.

Stanaway’s defence was that Moorabool detested injections and that he had been concerned for the horse. Stanaway said “No one’s cared about the horse, it was all about getting Bryce Stanaway.”

The VRT submitted that Stanaway’s behaviour had been “an extremely bad look for the racing industry”.

“He conducted himself in an appallingly aggressive manner towards employees of Racing Victoria who were going about their work in a professional and routine manner. He interfered with the professional veterinary treatment of a severely injured horse.”

Stanaway has long been one of Victoria’s most fascinating trainers. Other than his former good stayer Crafty Cruiser and a handful of others, the ex-Kiwi’s stayers are mostly rank outsiders in country races and usually finish closer to last than first.

On social media, Stanaway had been accused of “running for rebates.” Stanaway complained to stewards last year about twitter posts accusing him running his slow horses too often and for rebates.

Stewards found Stanaway’s horses were in good health and did not object to how Stanaway chose to race them.

The stipes were not as supportive back in 2015 when “Sandwichgate”, a saga in which big Bryce played a central role, made headlines around the world for its sheer hilarity.

Stanaway and equally volatile former Pakenham CEO Michael Hodge had a slanging match, where Hodge told Stanaway to stop “bagging” the club and (according to Stanaway) “scratch his horses”, after Stanaway complained of a lack of sandwiches in the owner’s bar.

Stanaway took Hodge literally and scratched his three horses, attracting the ire of stewards (and probably not punters).

Both Stanaway and Hodge were rapped over the knuckles by stewards. Pakenham had considered banning Stanaway from the track for his “aggressive tirade of criticism” at catering staff who could not find him any sandwiches.

Later in 2015, Stanaway was fined $500 by stewards after it was discovered he had provided an anabolic steroid to a 19-year-old horse on his property who hadn’t raced for a decade.

 

TTC PRESIDENT MALCOLM PETROFSKI RESPONDS TO COMPLAINTS CONCERNING STAKEHOLDER ENTRY CHARGES AT CLUDEN

‘IN response to the recent items raised I think it is important to unravel a few issues that seem to be rolled into a concern about owners privileges.

I will try and keep it short.

Owners’ privileges became an issue after last year’s carnival when we set aside an area for 175 people on the biggest day of the year during COVID restrictions and had 38 people use the area.

The feedback we received was that owners wanted to be in other areas. The area was not bad, in front of the old grandstand with cover, tables, chairs and a bar.

This year we tried a different approach allowing owners to book what they wanted and refunding the entry fee. This did go through the full committee and trainers’ meeting. One trainer on the committee was strongly opposed and raised their concerns.

We communicated and trialed it at the Two-Year-Old Classic about eight weeks ago. It was then communicated to trainers and owners on four more occasions.

At the full committee meeting yesterday we agreed to review it. We had received one verbal complaint, one email and a request from Cameron Partington from the Trainers’ Association plus your column.

I should note that your contributor has not raised it with anyone on the committee, the office or myself. When I ran into ‘Muttaburra’ on Sunday at the track he still did not raise it?

In short, a review is underway and we will do some homework on what happens at other tracks, see what RQ thinks should be supplied and then try again.

The other issue which I think is getting caught up is the matter of people using the float car park for general parking. This became a real issue as we are running out of parking spaces for the floats.

On any given day you could watch people park their cars and head to the entertainment, not the stabling area. We cannot afford the space in the float car park for general parking.

We now use Dommett Street for industry entry on race day and unless you are in the vehicle with the horse we ask that you enter via the front entry.

It’s also important to note that the carpark area is core racing territory. We will continue this and keep parking in this area for floats and essential race day vehicles only. Strappers/Trainers not traveling with the horse can park on Dommett Street and walk in or come via the front gate.

Again we did charge but refunded back. To help with the refund step we will eliminate this and just require the strapper/trainer to show a current license when entering if not with the horse.

This only applies to nine race meetings a year as the rest are free as was last Friday when the issue was raised in your column.

Hope this helps and if anyone has any feedback please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

EMAIL from MALCOLM PETROFSKI, PRESIDENT OF THE TOWNSVILLE TURF CLUB

 

 

PRE-RACE TESTING OF EVERY HORSE TO ENSURE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

CONTRIBUTIONS to the WHINGE went into over-drive in support of concerns from top trainer Robert Heathcote that ‘not nearly enough is being done to catch wrong-doers’.

Heathcote has called for QRIC stewards to have every horse pre-tested at TAB meetings. “Why not take a sample of every horse pre-race and then just swab first, second and third after a race,” he told BEN DORRIES of RACENET and NEWS LTD.

There was a legion of support for Heathcote’s comment: “It means we probably need another vet and a veterinary assistant to attend the race meetings, but so what?”

One cynic took the issue further: “Surely there’s plenty of room to move when you look at the current QRIC budget. It wouldn’t hurt to reduce what the Chief StewardS at the gallops and the trots are being paid and divert that to additional swabbing. Ask most punters and they will tell you that arguably neither of those blokes is worth what they get.”

While Heathcote is still frustrated by the lack of pre-race swabbing in Queensland more than a year after a group of trainers claimed they weren’t competing on a level playing field, punters who had a whinge to LGHR say the problem is far greater when it comes to overall integrity of the sport.

Most blame the inactivity of the Chief Steward at the gallops, Peter Chadwick, while those punters who still follow the ‘red hots’ are far from impressed by the job being done by Harness Chief Stipe David Farquharson.

 

‘QRIC NOT INTERESTED IN PROVIDING YEATES ANSWERS SHE DESERVES?’

THERE has been enormous email support for owner Helen Yeates in her battle to get some answers from the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission why a swab inquiry involving one of her horses took two years to complete.

Sadly, most of those who have followed her ordeal have the same message for Ms Yeates: ‘You’re fighting a losing battle. The more answers you seek, the more issues that you raise, the more time this will be dragged out.”

Like the pre-race testing fears of Rob Heathcote and others, similar thoughts exist that the Yeates case raises questions over whether integrity in racing in Queensland is a level playing field.

One contributor wrote: “Walk away and cut your losses Helen. When all the facts are examined objectively something should have happened by now. The fact it hasn’t sends a message that no matter how hard you fight, it never will. You can draw your own conclusions from that.”

 

RQ NEEDS TO ANSWER QUESTIONS CONCERNING ON THE BIT RACING

IN recent weeks the WHINGE has received contributions concerning a couple of issues at provincial and bush racing level:

RACING Queensland needs to address some concerns being raised by stakeholders involving On the Bit Racing, an outside broadcast service that provides footage of non-TAB meetings.

Stakeholders generally are asking questions whether this innovative and popular service was put out to tender by Racing Queensland and if so how much it is costing the industry.

Some clubs are claiming it is costing them more than others for the service. And there are concerns among some that there are moves behind the scenes to have corporate bookies operate on these non-TAB bush meetings.

 

CHARGING OWNERS & STABLEHANDS ADMISSION IS ‘ON THE NOSE’  

THE other issue that has provided ammunition for criticism involves an apparent Townsville Turf Club policy that inexplicably requires owners and stablehands to pay for admission to meetings where they have horses starting or are working.

Townsville has just completed a successful Cup weekend – their biggest of the year – but sadly this controversy took some of the gloss off the occasion.

One lady owner sent this email to LGHR:

“l am another owner who did not attend Townsville Ladies Day races to watch our horse race at the cost of $70 for us to attend and be given food and drink vouchers to spend on what?

I don't drink alcohol and would not spend $35 on food. We again have to pay another $70 to attend Townsville Cup Day to watch another horse.

We own horses to enjoy the privilege of going to the races, not to suffer an extra cost when every other Club in Queensland gives you free passes.”

We would welcome an explanation from TTC president Mal Petrofski who has always been kind enough to deal with issues of a controversial nature that have arisen in the past.

 

‘ALLIGATOR’ TRAINING MOVE HAS TOUCH OF KARATE KID TO IT

A contributor congratulated outspoken owner Allan Endresz for giving young Sunshine Coast trainer Billy Healey the chance to train Group One winning Alligator Blood.

“Problems associated with the pandemic may have rolled the dice for Billy who has some big shoes to fill after what David Vandyke did with the horse and what Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott promised to do had he reached their stables.

“But Billy has to know he’s on a belting to nothing if the Alligator fails to reproduce top form under his care. With all due respect to Mr Endresz he has a ready-made scapegoat and knowing his hands-on approach one suspects this latest training move has a touch of the Karate Kid to it with Mr Miyagi calling the shots.”

 

QCAT APPEALS SYSTEM IS WHAT NEEDS A GIANT ‘HEAD BUTT’

THE bizarre outcome to the Luke Tarrant – Larry Cassidy head-butting incident again highlights the need for racing to dispense with the QCAT Appeals System.

Tarrant appealed a six-month disqualification for head-butting and verbally abusing Larry Cassidy after a race at Doomen in April last year.

When the matter was heard by this unpredictable mob known as the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal the Tarrant disqualification was unbelievably quashed.

QRIC immediately retaliated – declaring the decision would not make an iota of difference after QCAT amended the decision to a six-month suspension. But because the ruling did not stipulate the terms of the suspension, QRIC has adopted the position that Tarrant is suspended from riding in trials, jumpouts and at trackwork.

It’s an absolute farce and once again shows how some Tribunal Members at QCAT do not fully understand racing and the need for that Appeals Body to be replaced by one that does and one that can deal with Appeals more urgently.

In answer to all those who once again had a Whinge about QCAT, the situation is under review but like so many things where the Government and bureacrats are concerned it seems to be travelling at a pace that makes Chief Gallops Steward Peter Chadwick look like ‘grease lightning’.

 

 

QUEENSLAND RACING SHOULD CLING TO OWNERS LIKE HELEN YEATES NOT CHASE THEM AWAY FEARING INTEGRITY ISN'T LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

RACING in Queensland should be bending over backwards to keep good owners like Helen Yeates instead of chasing them away.

But tell that to the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission or Chief Steward Peter Chadwick and it seems to fall on deaf ears.

A retired school teacher, Ms Yeates got the bug after racing a couple of handy gallopers and boosted her ownership interests only to hit a bump on the road that has her wondering if the pain outweighs the gain.

As if having to endure a two-year wait to see a swab inquiry involving one of her horses completed was not enough. When Ms Yeates sought some answers she was confronted with another unacceptable delay.

There was some light at the end of the tunnel when she took her problems to then Acting QRIC Commissioner Mark Ainsworth. He issued an instruction (before his recent retirement) to Chief Steward Peter Chadwick to provide Ms Yeates with some answers.

That dragged on (firstly Chadwick was on holidays, then the legal eagles apparently had to sign off on his reply) but eventually late last week Ms Yeates received the email she had been waiting so long for.

Sadly the Chief Steward’s response did not address her concerns and she has gone back to the well once more seeking answers. She has also raised the matter of reports that her former trainer is a ‘bankrupt’ which throws a whole new light on the situation. Ms Yeates wants to know if QRIC was aware of this situation which opens another can of worms.

The one thing that the Helen Yeates – Desleigh Forster situation has exposed is the lack of protection from QRIC for owners. QRIC has been quick to pass the buck and tell her that she should seek some of the answers from her trainer. How is that possible without the intervention of stewards or QRIC if the relationship between an owner and a trainer has broken down?

Ms Yeates makes a good point when she says: ‘In response to advice that Stewards are not required to notify owners, my question is: Would they or anyone else in this industry have a job if it weren’t for owners?’’

‘I think it’s about time that trainers and every other participant who benefits from owners, started to realize that they don’t own the horse. Owners have every right to be informed. As an owner, I breed my horses, I know them very well, I nurture their dams and them throughout their lives. I am responsible for them, and as such, I need to know that they are being well cared for.’

The other disturbing aspect of the Kim Alicia case is that Ms Yeates says trainer Forster told her: “If my horse returned a positive swab then another horse in the stable should have as well as she was treating both the same way.”

The other horse – coincidentally owneD by a prominent racing identity (and we’re not suggesting anything untoward there) – never returned a positive despite racing very well at the same time as Kim Alicia.   

One can’t help but feel the frustration of Helen Yeates – to say she has been let down by officialdom is an understatement. Good luck to her getting more answers out of Chief Steward Chadwick – it has taken an eternity as it is.

Many in the industry are watching this case play out with dark clouds over integrity when it comes to answers and the poor treatment of owners without whom there would be no racing.

QRIC already has a legion of critics. It cannot afford many more. If those responsible can’t do their jobs and provide the answers then it is time for the Racing Minister to order an independent inquiry – then again we won’t be holding our breath waiting for that.

 

 

ARE SYDNEY OFFICIALS DRAWING LONG BOW WITH EVEREST CROWDS?

AUSTRALIA’S richest race on turf – The Everest – is due to be run in a little over two months and already officials are optimistic major crowds will be allowed to return to Randwick.

Even this far out that seems to be drawing a long bow considering NSW – and especially the greater Sydney area – is reporting between 200 and 300 new COVID cases daily.

The latest lockdown is due to finish late this month but if the current statistics don’t decrease dramatically what odds it is extended into September?

If they can’t play the NRL Grand Final in Sydney in late September, how on earth can racing officials expect big crowds to be allowed to Randwick on October 16 when the $15 million The Everest is run?

CHRIS ROOTS reported for FAIRFAX:

While racing continues without crowds during the latest lockdown, which is due to finish on August 28, the ATC has been working on COVID-19 protocols to allow punters back quickly for its biggest days of the spring.

“The ATC is planning for multiple scenarios on crowd numbers heading into the Spring Racing Carnival,” ATC chief executive James Barkley said. “We are speaking to the NSW Government regularly and finalising our plans for submission.

“Given the vast outdoor spaces at Royal Randwick and Rosehill Gardens and the very few cases of COVID transmitted outside, this will form a significant part of our COVID-Safe plan.

“ATC has led the way with our COVID-Safe measures since March 2020. We have enhanced our plans further since then. The safety of patrons and the community is paramount.”

The Winx Stand was due to be handed over from the builders to the ATC in early October for the planned opening on Everest day, but the shutdown of construction has made the timelines tight.

“We were well on track before the latest COVID outbreak, and then came the temporary halt on construction,” Barkley said. “Despite these setbacks, we still remain optimistic of being open by Everest day and being able to have some crowds on course.”

Here’s hoping their optimism is rewarded and the same applies to the Spring Carnival in Victoria where at least they don’t have the same COVID crisis that is occurring north of the Border.

 

CHRIS MEAGHER MOVING HIS ENTIRE OPERATION TO BRISBANE

CHRIS Meagher has closed his Mornington stable and will train solely out of Brisbane this season.

RACING.COM reports the Group 1-winning trainer had confirmed that all horses from his Victorian yard had been transported to Queensland last week.

Meagher, who will be unable to relocate until at least Thursday due to Victoria's latest COVID lockdown, said he'd struggled to garner enough support from Victorian-based owners since opening his Mornington stable in 2017, which complemented an existing Brisbane base that he operated with his father, champion trainer John Meagher.

During that time, the stable developed a string of talented horses including dual G1 winner Pippie and multiple Stakes winner Savanna Amour.

Meagher said the COVID pandemic had further exacerbated the challenges of the two-state set-up, with restrictions on how often he could travel to Queensland to see local horses and clients.

"For a team of our size, having stables in two states is very hard to run, especially in this COVID environment," Meagher said.

"We basically had between 10 and 15 horses in each state at any one time and it got to the point where we just had to decide which way we wanted to go.

"Ninety-five per cent of my clientele are based out of Queensland and despite some great success on the track down here, we've struggled to get the support from owners in Victoria we needed to maintain a second stable.

"COVID hasn't helped - before it hit last year, I was going to Brisbane every three weeks and in the last 12 months I've only been there twice.

"The last eight horses arrived in Queensland this morning and I'll get up there when I can."

Meagher will continue to train at Eagle Farm, although he will move to a new stable complex to accommodate his larger team.

In the absence of his recently retired star Pippie, Meagher said there are several new-season two-year-olds and three-year-olds that he maintains high hopes for.

"The Brisbane Racing Club has been great, they awarded me 25 boxes," he said.

"We've got some nice, young horses coming through this season, so hopefully a couple of those can emerge and make it to a nice level.

"If I have one or two good enough over the spring, I'd definitely look to bring them down to Melbourne."

 

JMAC GETS PERFECT 10 FOR 4 RIDES & 2 OUT OF 10 FOR 2 OTHERS 

CHAMPION jockey James McDonald showcased his talent with a winning quadrella at Randwick on Saturday while two of his other mounts on fancied runners were the subject of stewards’ interrogation.

Punters were far from impressive with trainer James Cummings after stable second string Destination was successful while favorite Enfleurage, ridden by JMac, paid the penalty for some early work and dropped out to finish eighth.

Here are the Stewards’ Reports into the McDonald rides:

ENFLEURAGE: Rider J McDonald advised his intention was to obtain a position behind the lead and had expected Switched to hold the lead in the early stages. He stated that when H Bowman, rider of Switched, elected to take a sit, he was obliged to allow Enfleurage to stride forward and share the lead rather than remain racing three wide. He further added that Enfleurage, which was resuming, was not suited by being ridden in this position and consequently failed to finish off the race. He added that in his opinion Enfleurage would be better suited racing with cover.

TYCOONIST: When questioned regarding his riding, J McDonald confirmed his instructions were if the gelding commenced well to go forward and race in a prominent position. He stated that in the early stages, when Promotions, which was positioned to his inside, commenced well, he was obliged to race wide and to its outside. He stated that he had anticipated the leader, Academy, setting a more genuine pace which would have allowed Oxford Tycoon to cross Kingsheir and race on the rail which would have afforded Tycoonist a position with cover behind Promotions. He said that when the pace of the event was moderate, Kingsheir was able to hold its position to the inside of Oxford Tycoon and as a consequence, Tycoonist was obliged to race wide and without cover throughout the event. When questioned as to whether there was an opportunity in the early stages to make use of his mount and cross Promotions, J McDonald stated that his mount was not travelling well enough in the early stages to do so and as a consequence he elected to remain wide and have his mount travelling comfortable, which he felt was in the horse’s best interest.

 

‘MUTTABURRA’ CELEBRATES BIG WIN ON THE TRACK & DELIVERS A SALVO TO THE TTC OFF THE TRACK

ONE of the true characters of North Queensland racing, ‘Muttaburra’ Dickson, highlighted his training skills landing a plunge with Temple Run in the Lightning Handicap at Cluden today (Friday).

Temple Run was a Class 1 horse from the NSW country when he joined the Dickson stable and from five starts has now won three on the trot at Cluden and more than recouped his purchase price.

Formerly trained by Matthew Smith, Temple Run quickly found top form under the care of ‘Muttaburra’ who trains a small, select but successful team out of his Wulguru base.

He made no secret of his high opinion of the Dream Ahead seven-year-old, which is part-owned by his wife. Story goes the new stable star started at eight’s but not before connections snapped up healthy double figure odds.

The Rockhampton-trained Aspen Lad was the best backed in the Lightning ousting the Toowoomba visitor The Tenor from favouritism after it drew off the track. But the John Dann-trained visitor performed ordinarily and was a spent force from the time Nathan Thomas on Temple Run shunted him out of the way on the home turn.

The only downside of the day for the Townsville Turf Club was a reported uproar from owners of starters at the meeting, along with working strappers, who were asked to pay admission to the track.

We received several phone calls about this at LGHR and this was the email from a lady that we elected to run that expresses the thoughts of many on the eve of the club’s biggest meeting (Cup Day). It read:

“l am another owner who did not attend Townsville Ladies Day races to watch our horse race at the cost of $70 for us to attend and be given food and drink vouchers to spend on what?

I don't drink alcohol and would not spend $35 on food. We again have to pay another $70 to attend Townsville Cup Day to watch another horse.

We own horses to enjoy the privilege of going to the races, not to suffer an extra cost when every other Club in Queensland gives you free passes.”

‘Muttaburra’ Dickson, the success story of the day, described the situation as ‘farcical’ and called on the TTC to overturn the decision to charge owners.

“It’s a rort and a joke. There was no point talking to the Chairman or his committee and they don’t have a CEO so I took this up with a number of people. The Chief Steward told me it wasn’t his problem. The Trainers’ Association to their credit are trying to do something about it. I don’t know RQ CEO Brendan Parnell personally but if I see him at the track during the carnival he can expect a spray over this ridiculous situation,” Dickson said.

 

HAVE YOUR SAY ON ALL THINGS RACING & SPORT

ONE OF THE REASONS PUNTERS PREFER JAMIE OVER OLLE & JMAC

WALLY J of MELBOURNE writes:

‘MOST punters are a strange, distrusting breed that tends to talk through their pockets.

That probably explains why they would prefer to back Jamie Kah on a fancied runner rather than Damien Oliver or James McDonald.

Don’t misinterpret what I am saying as a suggestion that Oliver or McDonald are breaking or bending the rules. It’s just a matter of perception in the eyes of the punters.

It’s not often that stewards query Kah over her ride on a beaten favourite. The same cannot be said about Oliver and particularly McDonald where he rides a lot of fancies for the Waller stable in Sydney.

Only in the last week we saw trainer Richard Laming fined heavily over comments he made about a ride by Oliver on one of his stable fancies at Moonee Valley last Saturday. He was expressing to owners his disappointment at the ride.

It cost him dearly and forced him to provide a reassurance that he wasn’t suggesting anything untoward from Oliver. The penalty seems a shade harsh especially considering stewards saw fit to question the ride which to anyone who follows racing was not one of Ollie’s best.

Such is the political sensitivity of many things these days that it seems even the punters are at risk of being thrown off the track if they voice their protest at a perceived bad ride which was once an acceptable practice in racing.’

 

‘OVER A DOZEN CRIMINAL ELEMENTS INVOLVED IN QUEENSLAND RACING’

MURRAY K of GOLD COAST writes:

‘QRIC has its failings but to suggest a return to the good old days where police weren’t actively involved in racing and that was left to the stewards would, in my opinion, be a retrograde step.

It is my understanding that QRIC has identified over a dozen criminal elements involved in the racing industry in Queensland which most punters would be unaware of but I can assure you is accurate.

Add to that a situation where stories are flying around about why a certain out-of-form stable will soon be back in business and there are some major concerns about the integrity of racing in Queensland.

Punters are a good gauge on the effective policing of racing and the majority have no confidence in the integrity of the gallops and particularly harness racing in the Sunshine State.

In fact, without pointing any fingers, they believe that three prominent QRIC stewards are under-achievers and should be told to lift their game or moved to the bush. It’s a sad state of affairs.’

 

QRIC NEEDS TO MAKE THE RULES ON ‘BANKRUPTCY’ CONSISTENT

AN interesting situation has been raised by ARCHIE BUTTERFLY on his subscriber-only website, www.peterprofit.com that is certainly worth a read:

Archie has raised the question whether persons who are bankrupt and in most walks of life unable to run businesses should be allowed to have a trainer’s license or run syndication companies (even through a family trust).

It raises a number of contentious issues and poses the question whether it is a level playing field in some areas of racing in Queensland.

The trainer involved is no small-time operator, has been the subject of a lengthy controversial inquiry involving a swab and reports indicate has been a bankrupt during that time and still is.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We sought a comment from QRIC on the above & we thank Acting Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Paul Brown for his prompt response below:

'BANKRUPTCY is a measure that is used in the consideration of license suitability in Queensland. However, it is not a strict exclusionary measure. Each case is treated on its merits depending on the circumstances of the bankruptcy.

 

SURELY CLUB ISN’T CHARGING OWNERS & STAKEHOLDERS ADMISSION

RICHARD G of NORTH QUEENSLAND sent this interesting email:

‘WE have a situation where a major TAB club outside the Brisbane area are charging owners with horses racing and even some industry stakeholders for admission to race meetings.

When complaints were made the club concerned allegedly said those affected could be reimbursed in future but they have to buy admission tickets on-line then spend that as vouchers during the race day.

As a person who has been involved in racing all my life it was my belief that no owner with a horse racing or stakeholder (trainer, jockey or stablehand) had to pay admission to a meeting.

In fact this situation – which involves a club that should know better – needs the urgent attention of Racing Queensland.’

 

MATTY HILL NOT JUST A CHAMPION RACE-CALLER

PENNY L of MELBOURNE writes:

‘HOW versatile is our top race-caller Matty Hill?

Anyone who follows racing knows he’s the best in the business in Australia these days since he took over at the No 1 caller in Melbourne.

But did you hear his calls of the rowing at the Tokyo Olympics? They were just as exciting, especially when Australia was in Gold Medal contention.

 

 

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS HEADLINE ENTRIES FOR THREE MAJORS

THE three reigning champions Verry Elleegant (Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup), Sir Dragonet (Ladbrokes Cox Plate) and Twilight Payment (Lexus Melbourne Cup) headline a star-studded list of nominations released today (Tuesday, 3 August) for the marquee races of the 2021 Victorian Spring Racing Carnival.

Before the closure of entries for the trio of Group 1 contests at 12pm (AET) today, Chris Waller’s seven-time Group 1 winner Verry Elleegant took her place at the top of the 170-strong list of contenders for the $5 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) on 16 October. She has also been nominated for the Cox Plate (CP) and Melbourne Cup (MC).

Sir Dragonet is one of 153 gallopers, including 43 three-year-olds (38 from the southern hemisphere and five from the northern hemisphere), in the running to claim The Valley’s showpiece event on 23 October. The Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace-trained winner of the 100th Cox Plate also features among the Caulfield Cup (CC) and Melbourne Cup entries.

Twilight Payment, who delivered a second Melbourne Cup last year for his Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien and a seventh for his part-owner Lloyd Williams, is one of two previous winners among the 174 horses nominated for the nation’s most famous horse race at Flemington on Tuesday, 2 November, alongside 2019 local winner Vow And Declare (Danny O’Brien).

As well as the previous champions, two of the hottest horses in the land feature among the nominations and are on a path towards Victoria’s spring features. Former Queensland galloper Incentivise (entered for CC, CP, MC) – now in the care of Peter Moody – is currently the favourite for both cups, while Annabel Neasham’s stable star Zaaki (CP) – who has three feature wins in Australia – is the favourite for the Cox Plate. 

Both horses burst onto the scene during Queensland’s winter carnival, with Incentivise registering six straight wins by ever-increasing margins, culminating in a 12-length demolition of the field in the Group 3 Tattersall’s Cup (2400m). If anything, former British galloper Zaaki made an even greater impression by winning the Group 1 Channel 7 Doomben Cup (2000m) by seven lengths, before following up with another dominant performance in the Group 2 Sky Racing Q22 (2200m). 

Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria’s (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, said: “Today’s release of nominations officially begins the countdown to the 2021 Victorian Spring Racing Carnival, and represents an exciting time for racing fans and punters who will begin poring over the entries and choosing their horses to follow this spring.

“It is always pleasing to see the defending champions headline the entries for the Lexus Melbourne Cup, Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup and Ladbrokes Cox Plate which are Australia’s most iconic races and will again provide a beacon for the nation in these challenging times.

“The Cups and Cox Plate always generate amazing storylines and while defending champions Verry Elleegant, Sir Dragonet and Twilight Payment are familiar names among the entries, we know that opportunities will arise for new heroes to be born and that is what makes the countdown so exciting.

“Can Denis Pagan create more history and train a Melbourne Cup winner? Can Edward or James Cummings join their grandfather Bart as a Cup winner? Can Verry Elleegant cement her future place in racing’s Hall of Fame by adding a Cox Plate to her Caulfield Cup title? There are so many great questions to be answered.

“We’re very pleased with the nominations received today across all the feature races and whilst the international contingent is down on quantity as expected, the nominations from abroad remain high on quality and their journey in the weeks and months ahead will create plenty of interest.

“The challenges presented by the COVID pandemic both internationally and domestically in terms of travel cannot be underestimated and in setting a new global safety benchmark for the Spring Racing Carnival additional challenges have emerged, but we make no apology for that.

“This is the year of opportunity. Take the Ladbrokes Cox Plate for example. Five of the first six home in last year’s centenary race won’t be running this year, paving the way for new challengers to Sir Dragonet to emerge. There are great opportunities for hometown heroes to be created this Spring and for our friends from New Zealand to be major contenders in our Carnival.

“The Victorian Spring Racing Carnival has provided some of the nation’s greatest sporting moments, and with over $100 million in prizemoney and bonuses on offer this spring and a revamped end to the carnival this November, we are confident that it will again deliver fantastic racing for all to enjoy.”

Explosive Jack (CC, CP, MC) – one of five Derby winners in the list of nominations – was one of the breakout stars during the autumn and winter period, having claimed the Tasmanian Derby (2200m), Australian Derby (2400m) and South Australian Derby (2500m) in a superb three-month streak for the Maher and Eustace stable. 

Having been nominated for the Melbourne Cup, Johnny Get Angry (CC, MC), who delivered a fairy-tale victory in last year’s Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) for former AFL Premiership coach Denis Pagan, will now attempt to become only the 17th horse in history to win both races at Flemington.   

Duais (CC, CP, MC), the winner of the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m), could also continue her meteoric rise by claiming one of Australian racing’s crown jewels for her trainer Edward Cummings, whose grandfather (Bart) and great grandfather (Jim) both etched their names into Melbourne Cup folklore. Edward’s brother James and father Anthony will be hoping to do likewise with their leading Cup entries Colette (CC, CP, MC) and Nancho (CC, CP, MC).

The connections of two horses can already start mapping out their spring programs, with Listed Neds Mornington Cup (2400m) winner Mount Popa and Listed The Andrew Ramsden (2800m) heroine Realm Of Flowers having assured their places in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups respectively. 

From further afield, Twilight Payment (CC, CP, MC) and his stablemate Master Of Reality (CC, CP, MC), who has run in the past two editions of the Melbourne Cup, form part of Joseph O’Brien’s quartet of nominations alongside USA Belmont Gold Cup winner Baron Samedi (CC, MC) and Benaud, the northern hemisphere three-year-old who has only been entered for the Melbourne Cup. 

They are among 16 internationally-trained horses holding a collective 28 entries across the three major races in the Victorian Spring Carnival.

Perhaps the overseas nominee most familiar to a local audience is Prince Of Arran (CC, MC), Charlie Fellowes’ popular gelding who has compiled an outstanding record on Australian soil. Incredibly, of his eight runs Down Under Prince Of Arran has only finished outside the first three once, when he came fourth in last year’s Caulfield Cup (2400m). 

His subsequent third under Jamie Kah in the Melbourne Cup (3200m) extended his formidable record in ‘the race that stops a nation’, following a runner-up finish in 2019 and another minor placing on his debut in 2018. Prince Of Arran’s previous visits to Victoria have also produced two victories, in the 2018 Lexus Stakes (2500m) and the 2019 Geelong Cup (2400m).

Another high-profile international entrant is Spanish Mission, who has been nominated for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. Trained by Englishman Andrew Balding, a frequent visitor to Australia in recent years, Spanish Mission has emerged as a seriously consistent stayer with five wins – including four at Stakes level – and five minor placings from 14 career starts. 

In his most recent outing the northern hemisphere five-year-old, who is owned by the US-based Team Valor International, finished third in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup (4014m) at Royal Ascot. His last win came in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup Stakes at York in May, when he comfortably beat Group 1 winner Santiago.

Lone Eagle (CP, CC, MC), trained in England by multiple Group 1 winner Martyn Meade, is also a notable nominee. The son of renowned sire Galileo has a 50 per cent win rate, and recently came within a neck of breaking through at Group 1 level in the Irish Derby.

A little closer to home, a strong Kiwi contingent is headlined by the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained The Chosen One (CC, MC), who finished third and fourth in last year’s Caulfield and Melbourne Cups respectively, and a high-class team of entries from the powerful Jamie Richards stable in Group 1 winning mares Probabeel (CP), Avantage (CP) and Amarelinha (CC, CP).

To view the full list of nominations for the $5 million Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup, which takes place at Caulfield on Saturday, 16 October, please click here

To view the full list of nominations for the $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate, which takes place at The Valley on Saturday, 23 October, please click here

To view the full list of nominations for the $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup, which takes place at Flemington on Tuesday, 2 November, please click here

Today also saw nominations taken for the Spring Racing Carnival’s coveted Group 1 three-year-old classics at Caulfield, the Neds Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and the Thousand Guineas (1600m).

The Neds Caulfield Guineas is Australia’s premier three-year-old mile and the headline race on 9 October – the opening day of the 2021 Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup Carnival.

A total of 278 horses – up from 264 last year – have been nominated for the $2 million race headlined by the heroes of last season’s two-year-old crop in Stay Inside (G1 Golden Slipper), Anamoe (G1 Sires Produce), Artorius (G1 Blue Diamond), Captivant (G1 Champagne Stakes) and Converge (G1 JJ Atkins Stakes).
 
The Thousand Guineas for three-year-old fillies returns to its traditional home on day two of the Caulfield Cup Carnival this year – Wednesday, 9 October – and has attracted 249 entries, 11 more than last year.

Headlining the entries for the Thousand Guineas is unbeaten blueblood Argentia, Four Moves Ahead, Arcaded, Crystal Bound and She’s All Class. 

To view the full list of nominations for the $2 million Neds Caulfield Guineas, which takes place at Caulfield on Saturday, 9 October, please click here

To view the full list of nominations for the $1 million Thousand Guineas, which takes place at Caulfield on Wednesday, 13 October, please click here

 

WHO’S THE GREATER SPRING THIEF – SYDNEY RACING OR COVID?

SUPERSTARS Zaaki and Verry Elleegant headline the Cox Plate entries but cash-splashed Sydney pop-up races are certain to dent Australasia’s weight-for-age championship by the time the big race is ready to be run.

The best mares in the country are being targeted by Racing NSW for the inaugural $2 million The Invitation on the same day as he Cox Plate.

The rich Golden Eagle, to clash a week later with Stakes Day at Flemington already steals some of Australia’s leading four-year-olds from Melbourne.

Sydney and Melbourne will be chasing last season’s star three-year-olds (Hungry Heart, Mo’unga and Ayrton), who turned four on Sunday, with trainers force to choose between running in the Cox Plate or Golden Eagle.

An interesting entry for the Cox Plate Plate is the Queensland star Alligator Blood on the comeback trail after undergoing surgery. He looked good trialling at the Sunshine Coast last Sunday preparing to join the Sydney stable of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott where his early targets at likely to be the Bill Ritchie and The Epsom.

 

WHY WASTE FUNDING ON MUTTABURRA – A PIMPLE ON EARTH’S ARSE?

INTERESTING article by ARCHIE BUTTERFLY on his popular subscriber-only website, peterprofit.com, which has provoked plenty of adverse comment from the ‘goat riders’ – that’s the mob, expert at criticizing but offering no realistic answers to the problem.

It reads:

MUTTABURRA is an absolute shithole, a pimple on the earth’s arse.

There are about 100 people living in the little shanty town, most of them because they’re touched by the sun, the others because they are on the dole and can’t afford the price of the petrol to get out.

The most progressive citizen is the 100 million year old replica of a dinosaur whose skeleton a farmer dug up one day and sent to the museum in Brisbane, where it remains on display.

The Muttaburra mob built a fibreglass model of it that they flog off in desperation as a tourist attraction – or try to anyway – unsuccessfully.

Muttaburra is holding its annual race meeting this weekend. Four hundred people are expected to attend.

Racing Queensland has thrown $53,750 in prizemoney and QTIS bonuses at the card, plus tens of thousands in maintenance money for the track, and another few thousand to have a couple of stewards and starters, a clerk of the scales, a vet, a swabbie, a camera crew and whatever else I have missed.

It is not a TAB meeting, so the return to Queensland racing is zero.

The whole thing is a joke.

This track – and the ones at Aramac and Ilfracombe, and maybe Hughenden too – should be shut down forever, and the meetings moved to Barcaldine and Mt Isa. No-one would miss them, and the money saved could be redirected to the meetings in those bigger outback centres.

It’s just common sense.

What a shame that nobody in charge of racing has any!

 

GIRL POWER TO THE FORE AGAIN CONQUERING THE DARWIN CUP

GIRL POWER was to the fore in one of Australia’s most popular race meetings in Darwin on Monday.

IT was a fairytale ending for trainer Nicole Bruggemann when Highly Decorated made it seven wins in a row, taking out the Darwin Cup, while Jessie Philpot became the first female jockey to win the Territory’s premier racing event.

The NT TIMES reports that Highly Decorated had barely missed a beat since arriving in Darwin, winning six on a trot including the Chief Ministers Cup.

It was only then that Bruggemann decided to give the Darwin Cup a go and, after drawing the coveted barrier one, it seemed almost meant to be.

Highly Decorated hit the front early on and, despite challenges from Terry Gillett’s Ash Grey, the five-year-old held on.

The Northern Territory’s biggest racing event of the year came roaring back from the disruption brought about by Covid-19 last year, with capped ticket sales selling out and several thousand interstate visitors joining locals for a successful day at the track.

About 12,000 people flocked to the Fannie Bay racecourse on Monday for a day of high stakes, high fashion and high spirits, and with a relaxed and social atmosphere and bright sun beaming overhead, the ongoing pandemic causing havoc in much of Australia felt like a world away.

 

 

HOW CAN A CHAMPION TRAINER BE SUCH A TERRIBLE TIPSTER?

HOW can one of the world’s best trainers be such a terrible tipster?

Only Chris Waller can answer that question.

On the eve of breaking his personal best record for winners in a season – 339, set in the 2018-19 season – Waller had a fireside chat with Ray Thomas of the Sydney Telegraph.

‘Razer’, one of his biggest fans in the mainstream racing media, asked the Hall of Famer about his prospects at Royal Randwick last Saturday.

Waller suggested that bookmakers had got it right rating last start winners, Criminal Code and Vitesse, as the best of the stable’s starters.

Here’s hoping punters didn’t follow his early lead and snap up the odds at the time about Criminal Code – not that it mattered much at the end of the day.

Criminal Code, after blowing like a gale in the betting from $3.5 to $5.5 (it didn’t even start favorite), made late ground to finish fourth.

Vitesse, which was entered for two races, wound up a late scratching from the last where she was an emergency, but ran earlier in the day and finished last. Not too sure just what happened there but to be fair no doubt Waller would have preferred her in the easier assignment.

It wasn’t all bad news for the stable though – Waller still managed to land a double with Wairere Falls $4.4 and So Wicked $5.5, ridden by James Macdonald. The only thing the champion trainer forgot to do was tip either of them to the punting public. They must have caught him by surprise.

At least Criminal Code didn’t get beaten by a less fancied stablemate which the punters who follow Sydney racing have found to be the most annoying aspect of another amazingly successful year for the champion trainer.

The racing scribes of Sydney might be singing from the same hymn book: ‘We Will Follow Him’ but the punters certainly aren’t.

 

JMAC MIGHT BE THE BEST BUT IS HE A FURLONG IN FRONT OF JAMIE?

IT came as no surprise that the racing team at NEWS CORP voted James McDonald the No 1 jockey in the nation.

Twelve top racing ‘experts’ cast their votes as the season drew to a close with nine of them preferring McDonald over history-making Victorian jockey Jamie Kah. In fact Jmac bolted in attracting 111 votes out of a possible 120.

Kah, who captured the nation’s hearts becoming the first jockey to ride 100 metropolitan winners in a season in Melbourne, scored 90 votes to finish second, only narrowly ahead of Hugh Bowman who polled 87.

Here’s what some of our readers thought about the poll (and we have to admit those most hot under the collar came from south of the NSW border).

‘So James McDonald is that much better jockey than Jamie Kah. Where did they do the vote? Sydney, of course, where else would you get such a one-sided result’?

‘Taking nothing away from the talents of Jmac – he is a brilliant jockey when he wants to be – but to vote him so far superior was an insult to the ability and achievements of a history-maker in Jamie Kah in beating the males in Victoria.’

‘McDonald has the pick of the Waller mounts and just look at how far his stable finished ahead of the rest in Sydney. It’s just a pity they didn’t do the vote on who the punters trust the most among the top jockeys in this land – Kah would have won by a country mile’.

 

‘A WASTE OF TIME ASKING THE JOCKEYS’ ASSOCIATION FOR HELP’

GREG BLANCHARD, of NUDGEE, still fighting a losing battle for apprentice jockeys and bush racing, has again learnt the hard way that there’s no point going to organizations like the Queensland Jockeys’ Association looking for support if it involves some criticism of Racing Queensland.

Here is GREG’S latest contribution:

'MY latest gripe is about the decline in support for our apprentice jockeys.

Since the beginning of the year there have been only 12 apprentice advocates at meetings race meetings throughout the state.

Ben Saunders is the only advocate who goes to meetings – he was at Toowoomba on 2 January, 27 March, 10 April, 28 April, 15 May, 19 June, 24 July; at Dalby on 6 February, 24 April, 11 June; at Warwick on 20 May; and at Gatton on 30 May.

I contacted the Queensland Jockeys’ Association in August last year (12 months ago) about this problem and I’m still waiting for a reply.”

 

IT’S TIME SOMEONE STARTED LISTENING TO THE TOP TRAINERS

INSTEAD of continuing to bury their heads in the sand, Racing Minister Grace Grace and her trusty side-kicks from RQ, chairman Steve Wilson and CEO Brendan Parnell, should start listening to two of the State’s leading trainers.

Premiership winner Tony Gollan and his outspoken colleague Rob Heathcote are adamant that the Eagle Farm track needs to be dug up and replaced – yet again.

Most agree with them – but some haven’t got the balls to admit it for fear of offending who knows. “They don’t want to upset anyone,” Heathcote told RSN in Melbourne.

Asked by Ben Dorries of Racenet & The Courier-Mail, Gollan said: “My opinion of the track … I think it is actually better now than what it was.

“But is it the track we want long-term – no?

“I want a track with the same type of surface as Doomben, with Kikuyu grass in it that is tough and resilient.

“I want a tough track like that, when we get wet weather it is wet, when we get dry weather it is dry.”

Gollan and Heathcote agree: The time for action is now so that Eagle Farm can be fixed for next year’s Winter Carnival.

One wonders where the Queensland branch of the Australian Trainers’ Association stands on this. They seem to be procrastinating yet again and depending on RQ to do something.

And the half million dollar man at CEO, has been quoted as declaring that the track is safe for racing, needs time to improve and no decision on a replacement will be made for 12 months.

Hopefully he’ll be gone by then!

 

‘PLODDER’ – JUST A WARNING SHOT – TIME TO GET OFF YOUR LAZY BEHIND & PROVIDE THE ANSWERS YOU WERE DIRECTED TO

JUST a brief preview on something we are preparing to publish soon (we've delayed it to allow LGHR & PETERPROFIT.com time to do some further investigating) which again highlights the perceived inadequacies of the RQ Chief Steward Peter Chadwick.

It involves a direction he was given some time ago before Mark Ainsworth departed as Acting Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner.

A promise was made to an owner and big supporter of Queensland racing, who has been subjected to a two-year wait to see a swab inquiry involving one of her horses completed and since then copped nothing but one kick in the guts after the other from officialdom (which explains why she is so stressed out and deserves some answers).

Ainsworth told Chadwick to get off his behind and provide her with some information. The lady owner is still waiting.

Chadwick found time to head off to Mackay for the Cup carnival and one suspects he will be in Townsville for their big annual. Who does he think he is – ‘the half million dollar man’?  

HOOFNOTE: It seems someone is reading us. We are told that after we fired a shot across the bow of Chadwick's colleague, the Chief Stipe at the 'red hots', he actually had his report from Saturday night at Albion Park published early on Sunday morning - not like the previous week when it was Tuesday when punters were waiting to see what happened with a certain contentious issue.    

 

 

THE ART OF SPIN – HOW TO TURN A SILK PURSE INTO A SOW’S EAR

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY and plenty of others who keep a close eye on country racing in Queensland have been quick to pounce after Racing Minister Grace Grace and her loyal RQ side-kicks Steve Wilson and Brendan Parnell produced the ‘good news’ about that prizemoney windfall.

Four million dollars in increased prizemoney for grass roots racing the headline boomed. This will include ‘Every Maiden race at TAB meetings increasing by an additional $2,000 (metropolitan, provincial and regional) and all NON-TAB races to carry a minimum of $8,500 prizemoney (currently $7,450).

THE BUTTERFLY writes (on his subscriber-only website, peterprofit.com, that the REAL FACTS ARE:

THIS time last year NON-TAB races at Mt Isa carried prizemoney purses of 10 grand each.

Then something happened on the way to the circus, and suddenly one morning trainers and jockeys woke up and found the stake money had been cut to $7,450.

Never fear, Gee Gee, the Whirlwind and Pins are here.

Racing Queensland and the Racing Minister are pleased to announce that every race in the Isa will now be worth a minimum of eight and a half grand.

A $1500 cut in prizemoney is being sold as ‘A BIG BOOST AND HUGE WIN’.

Gotta dollar Pins can borrow?

He promises to pay you back 85 cents.

 

PINOCCHIO TOOK CENTRE STAGE DURING RACING ESTIMATES DEBATE AT LAST SOME QUESTIONS THAT NEED ANSWERING FROM LNP WHISTLE-BLOWER

IT comes as no surprise to many that the half million dollar man of Racing Queensland, CEO Brendan Parnell would tell a Parliamentary Estimates Hearing that the Eagle Farm track is ‘safe’ and hand-pass its problems to a ‘firmness’ issue which he failed to say is breaking horses down.

Meanwhile, stakeholders are questioning what rock Racing Minister Grace Grace has been living under when she claims to have received ‘nothing but positive feedback’ from trainers, jockeys and owners during the Winter Carnival.

One of those owners sent an email to LGHR overnight which read: ‘Grace said she walked the track before the Winter Carnival. Thank God that was before she got her nose in the trough in the committee room on Stradbroke day.

‘I don’t know of anyone that she spoke to about the state of the Eagle Farm track during or after the Carnival who told her it was improving and didn’t need replacing yet again at a cost of millions to the industry.

‘My friends and I had a little chuckle when she was asked in the Estimates Hearing about reports Stirling Hinchliffe wants his old job back to make Racing part of an Olympics portfolio. Her response: ‘Don’t believe everything you read in The Courier-Mail!’ With respect that was the only time during the hearings that her nose stopped growing like Pinocchio’s’.

HERE is the lengthy discussion that took place involving racing during the Estimates Hearing with Tim Mander, the Shadow Minister for Racing and former NRL referee, blowing the whistle on quite a few issues that didn’t quite get the answers they deserved.

Mr MANDER: Minister, in the past seven years Queensland taxpayers have paid around $13.7 million for the upgrade of the track at Eagle Farm. Despite this massive investment, recent media reports suggest that Queensland trainers are reluctant to have their horses race on the track for fear of injury. How much more money needs to be spent to make the track safe?

 
Ms GRACE: The member is right: the Queensland government has provided two funding grants to RQ, under the previous government and our government, of about $13.7 million. Since January 2021, RQ has held regular meetings with stakeholders, including trainers and jockeys, to discuss concerns about the track. Recently the Brisbane Racing Club hosted a very successful Stradbroke season, six weeks of world-class racing for the winter carnival. My understanding is that the track during most of that time—and I have the CEO of Racing Queensland here, as well as the acting commissioner of QRIC—was graded as a good 4 for most of the races at Eagle Farm. I receive nothing but positive feedback in relation to that from trainers and I spoke directly to some jockeys and owners on conditions of the track over that period. However, I am aware of recent discussions regarding the track surface and the management of the track moving forward. Trust me, member, and I know you will join me in saying, that no-one wants to see anything but the best facilities at Eagle Farm and certainly we have not held back, as you quoted, with $13.7 million to ensure we have a world-class track. I have met with other club members. I know that Townsville went through a similar situation as this and after three years their track is now very good. I have met with the chair of the Townsville track. Eagle Farm has a very similar track to the Townsville track. The Monteith report did say that it required about a three-year period in relation to that. The RQ Board—and I am happy to go to Brendan Parnell, the CEO of RQ—met yesterday and
this is a No. 1 priority for not only myself but also the RQ Board. I know they received a good response about the track from the thoroughbred representative, Mr Graham Quirk, who is doing an excellent job on that committee. We will continue our stakeholder engagement. I want to be updated very regularly on where we are heading with Eagle Farm and we want to ensure that we will work with trainers and jockeys to ensure that the track is fit for purpose. We have not held back in providing whatever is necessary with some of the best minds in the country in relation to Eagle Farm. The board determined—and I do not want to put words in the mouth of the CEO because I was not there yesterday—that it will be a while before we really know the true benefits of the track. I am happy, if the member is happy, to allow the
CEO, Brendan Parnell, to expand on that, particularly in relation to the meeting yesterday. I know there is a meeting with stakeholders happening next week.

 
Mr MANDER: I will ask a question directly of the Chief Executive Officer of Racing Queensland. Mr Parnell, have you met with trainers recently to talk about their concerns about track safety?

 
Ms GRACE: I would add very quickly, I did visit Eagle Farm before the Stradbroke carnival and walked over the track. That is just to let you know that I have taken a very keen interest.

Mr MANDER: How did you find the track? I am joking!

Ms GRACE: It is a good question. The thing about it is that it looked fine to me and I think it did very well, but we want to make it world class.


Mr MANDER: Thank you, Minister.

Ms GRACE: If you ask a question you will get an answer.

Mr MANDER: Yes, I know. That was a silly mistake.

Mr Parnell: I speak to participants, including trainers, almost every day in this job. I travel the state quite regularly, as the member for Rockhampton and several other regional members know. Amongst that are discussions with owners, trainers and jockeys around the track. The minister referred to the Townsville racetrack, which is a very similar construction: a sand profile with the same couch grass. It took five years until that fully matured. We are into the third year of the Monteith report recommended staged return to racing. We meet as a maintenance control group with Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club each fortnight. To every alternate meeting we invite trainers and jockeys to listen to the progress. The next meeting is due next week to discuss the performance. I will extend on the minister’s comments. Eagle Farm delivered record wagering outcomes during winter. The strongest ever winter days were Derby Day and Stradbroke Day. One must remember that it is a seven-hectare organism that is still quite young and we are only halfway through the third year of
its return to racing. The track is safe. The root system is the healthiest it has been and we continue to work on improving the cushion in that surface.

Mr MANDER: Mr Parnell, are the concerns that were reported in the media inaccurate with regards to trainers being concerned about the safety of the track and the safety for their horses?

Mr Parnell: The concerns were around the firmness of the track, not the safety of the track. The track is safe. The best horses won, the best jockeys won and the best trainers during the carnival. The focus with young turf root strength or maturity has been getting more maturity into it so that it softens the surface, but it is certainly not an unsafe track.

Mr MANDER: Minister, I refer to page 9 of the SDS, where service standards are listed for racing. There is only one effectiveness measure listed. It is the percentage of country race meetings in the approved schedule that are conducted. Minister, is this the lamest effectiveness measure in the state government’s budget papers?

 
CHAIR: Member for Everton, could you recast that question? There is an imputation within it.

 

Mr MANDER: Minister, is this the weakest effectiveness measure in the state government’s
budget papers?

Ms GRACE: No. I think it is actually adequate. These are the service standards that we have. They are listed here in relation to country racing, which is a very important part of racing. This government has invested significantly in country racing. We understand its significance in the racing calendar year. We continue to invest heavily in country racing. We have been the best supporters of country racing by a country mile when it comes to our investment in and support of country racing. Country racing people—God bless them all—are excellent dedicated workers who work in the country racing area and they have never been so happy, particularly following some of the confirmation of prize money that they will be getting under this budget that I will be doing very soon.


Mr MANDER: Minister, the Queensland government invests hundreds of millions of dollars into the racing industry. Don’t Queenslanders deserve more effectiveness measures so that they can have comfort that their taxes are being well spent?

Ms GRACE: I think Queenslanders want a high-integrity, well-run, growing racing industry that prevents integrity measures not being there. As we have done with QRIC, they want to see that our investment produces a very fine product. Queensland has gone from strength to strength when it comes to racing in the state. We have had one of the most successful periods. I want to congratulate RQ, QRIC and the clubs. It was an incredible feat that racing continued and grew during COVID. We want to make sure that we have high integrity and make all of that available to the racing community. I do not think there are too many people who would say that we are not transparent. Annual reports show that the performance of the racing industry is advancing. There are many ways that the racing community and the broader community can get information on racing. We are very proud of what we have done and very proud of racing in this state. I will continue to work with the industry to go from strength to strength, right around the country. The member for Rockhampton is here, and I know that
he is very close to the Rockhampton club.


Mr MANDER: Following on from your comment about Queenslanders being very concerned
about the integrity of the racing system, I refer to the QRIC performance statements. One of their effectiveness measures is the percentage of community members surveyed who are confident in the integrity of the Queensland racing industry. For 2021 that was 59 per cent. Does that meet your standard of people being confident in the integrity of the racing industry, only 59 per cent of people surveyed?

Ms GRACE: That has improved since we took over racing following the MacSporran report. We always aim to make sure integrity is of high standard in this state. I know that QRIC has done an excellent job in the harness, greyhound and thoroughbred industry when it comes to maintaining integrity. Greyhound racing is going from strength to strength. We have maintained integrity in that area. We want to increase that. We make no apologies for those people who are caught out. When it comes to the integrity part that QRIC undertakes, we test 100 per cent of race winners. We have a wonderful science centre that we are investing in to make sure we have up-to-date technology in relation to that. We always want to see better results. Integrity is something that we hold very dear. We have an act in relation to that. We always want to make sure that act works very well. Member, thank you for the question. It is a very important part that we work very hard to maintain. I congratulate QRIC on the work
they do. It is all in one place and it is presenting and doing a very good job in the area of integrity. We will always strive to do better.

Mr DAMETTO: Welcome to everybody here. It is great to have everyone from Racing Queensland and the Department of Agriculture here today to help out the minister. Minister, referring to the revenue expected to be drawn from the state’s point-of-consumption tax in the 2021-22 financial year, can you tell us the amount of income that is expected to be raised and where that money will be spent across Queensland?


Ms GRACE: This is really good news for the racing industry. I fought very hard for this through the CBRC. I thank Treasury, the Treasurer, the Premier, the Deputy Premier and my CBRC colleagues. They will now be getting 35 per cent of the point-of-consumption tax. It means that if you place a bet in Queensland then part of that money will be going to maintaining racing in this state. We are anticipating that that 35 per cent will bring in an extra $41.3 million. This additional money will be going back into the industry for areas like improving racetracks—I can get more information later on—upgrading facilities for racegoers, boosting prize money—there was an article in the paper today; I can go into more detail in relation to that as well—supporting animal care, a very important part of integrity in the racing industry, and creating more jobs in and around racing. As the CEO of Racing Queensland said, the three codes benefit almost 40,000 Queensland participants. We also announced the renewal of the Country Racing Program, which will be maintained for a further two years; they will receive an additional $35.2 million. That is of great benefit to country racing. I know it is dear to your heart and dear to some of our regional members. We will continue to support them because we know that is the biggest event in a lot of those regional and remote country areas. We are investing in their infrastructure, in their facilities and in the training of their jockeys. It was great to see the races out at Longreach recently. I think every jockey who won was a female jockey, which was very good to see. Thank you for the question. We hope to raise additional funds for racing in this state so we can promote and expand. We had the most successful Winter Racing Carnival on record and we have gone from strength to strength in this state with racing.


Mr MANDER: Minister, it has been reported that Minister Hinchliffe wants to get back into the racing ministry saddle. Does that mean that you are about to be put out to pasture?

CHAIR: Member for Everton—

Ms GRACE: Don’t believe everything you read in the Courier-Mail, member for Everton. I am sure that is a question probably better asked of Minister Hinchliffe than me. I am very happy in the portfolio and I am pretty sure he is happy with sport.


Mr O’ROURKE: Minister, in relation to page 9 of the SDS, can you advise how the 35 per cent of revenue from the state’s point-of-consumption tax on wagering will be spent?

Ms GRACE: I gave a broad outline of where the additional funds will go to. I know that the industry is very happy in relation to the certainty and security this now brings to the industry. As they grow, that money will grow. It is a great incentive for the industry, for Racing Queensland, for QRIC and for all of the clubs to ensure we make racing a great part of the racing calendar here in Queensland. In addition, we will distribute around $29 million over the next two years. The investment is made possible by this 35 per cent. I am very happy to confirm that, from 1 September, along with infrastructure grants and improved club funding, the increase in prize money is across all three racing codes—$4 million. Grassroots thoroughbred racing will see a rise of $2,000 for every maiden race at TAB meetings and a rise in minimum prize money to $8,500 for all non-TAB thoroughbred racing, an increase from the current $7,400. I know that the country racing representatives, Graham and his team, will be very happy with that announcement. It is a very good increase for country racing and a very big support for that industry. There will be $1.7 million in grassroots greyhound prize money and nearly a million dollars for harness racing. The investment plan also supports the infrastructure requirements for the industry, with $5 million across the next two years going towards replacing critical racing assets and a more than $3 million per annum increase in club operation, so everyone will benefit from this substantial increase. I am proud that every time someone places a bet in Queensland a guaranteed portion now—35 per cent of the point-of-consumption tax money—will go back into improving tracks, upgrading facilities for racegoers, boosting prize money, supporting animal care and creating more jobs in and around racing. From 1 September, almost 40,000 Queensland participants will start to see the benefits from the increased prize money. The additional funding will support new and improved infrastructure grants and improved club funding. This is fantastic news for the racing industry. It is an investment in a growth plan. It can be found on our website. I know that Racing Queensland already is working towards rolling this out. I look forward to welcoming it on 1 September and am very happy to confirm the reports about these increases.

 
Mr SULLIVAN: Minister, I refer to page 9 of the department’s SDS. I know you touched on this in questioning from opposition members, but as an interested northsider I ask about Eagle Farm. Do you have a further update about the track following the winter carnival?

Mr MANDER: Point of order, Madam Chair: that is exactly the same question that has already been responded to. The member needs to be more nimble and not just follow the script but ask different questions. We do not need to go through the same five-minute response again.


Mr SULLIVAN: Chair, I specifically asked for an update post the winter carnival.

CHAIR: There is no point of order, member for Everton. He is asking for an update.

Ms GRACE: I am sure the member for Everton will be happy to hear this response as well. It is the No. 1 priority. We want to make sure that Eagle Farm gets back to its glory days. As the CEO and I have said previously, the winter carnival was very successful. Post that, we want to make sure we get that track to exactly where it needs to be. We are working with trainers, jockeys and stakeholders and we meet regularly. I know RQ had this on the agenda. I understand that the performance of the track continues to be the subject of discussions within the industry. My understanding is that base for improvement is very good. The root structure is not like it was when it was done prior to us coming to government and which we had to rip up. There is not the thatching that was there before and which required a complete upheaval. We understand that it is similar to Townsville. I have met with the Townsville people who said, ‘Minister, it does take a while longer.’ We are nearly to the point post the Stradbroke season where we are looking to see this grass firm up. I know everyone is looking at it. We have some of the best experts from around Australia looking at this track. Since 2015 we have supported RQ. This is not a matter of money. This is about making sure we get this right. As the CEO said, it is about the firmness of the grass not so much the grass that is there. We will work with everyone on this. We want to make this a premier spot. It is the No. 1 priority not only for me but also for Racing Queensland. They are well aware of the government’s views. I am pleased that RQ and the BRC—I have met with Nev Bell—are on board. I have been out and seen the track. I was there during the Stradbroke season. We continue to engage with trainers and jockeys who are part of the broader group of representatives on the Eagle Farm maintenance control group. We have experts from everywhere looking at the performance of the track. I, and I am sure the member for Everton and you as a local member who is very close to that racetrack, want to see this as the premier racetrack in Australia. Hopefully we can get there.


Mr O’ROURKE: Minister, in relation to page 9 of the SDS can you outline how the country racing program importantly supports the social fabric of rural and regional Queensland?

Ms GRACE: As a very proud Rockhampton member and supporter of the regional track in Rockhampton, you know that the government backs the bush. Country racing is a central part of social and economic life in regional Queensland. There is nothing better than being in the outback and enjoying a day at the races with the locals. Their legendary country hospitality cannot be beaten. I experienced this firsthand in May at the Barcaldine Racing Club’s Tree of Knowledge race day. The atmosphere was fantastic. It was a great race day. Once again, a female jockey took out the No. 1 race in Barcaldine. It is great to see our female jockeys doing so well. The racing contribution to the Queensland economy is more than $1.6 billion a year, with an incredible 46 per cent of that contribution occurring in regional communities. That is a big regional impact. That is why we have backed country racing for a further two years with additional funding of $35.2 million. This is on top of the original commitment of $70.4 million over four years, providing a total of $106 million to country racing and the people of regional Queensland. The CRP, the Country Racing Program, provides $50 million a year to support prize money and bonuses. Now that we have additional money coming through the point of consumption tax we can increase prize money and make sure that we support country racing even more. Our commitment is also to provide a further $2.6 million a year for infrastructure. It is wonderful to see the improvement and maintenance of race facilities that is occurring. The last time I was at Barcaldine it was a dirt track so it was great to see a grass track this time. That came out of the infrastructure fund. Since the program
began more than 220 infrastructure projects have been awarded to 85 of our smallest clubs. That is an injection of not only local jobs but also infrastructure into those areas. From Longreach in the west to Cooktown in the north, investment continues. I thank all the volunteers and people who work in these clubs. They keep country racing alive. We would be lost without them. They do a wonderful job. They are very happy with our Country Racing
Support Package. It is making sure that country racing goes from strength to strength. After two years and all this money being injected into the industry they are far better off. They certainly have benefited from the investment that we have made. As racing minister, I am more than convinced that country racing needs to be supported. I am very proud that the government has provided that support.
Mr O’ROURKE: I know that the Rockhampton Jockey Club benefited from that funding in terms of getting new stables. Could you provide an update on the Queensland Off-the-Track Program?

Ms GRACE: That is a good question. We take animal welfare very seriously. Part of this is to ensure that we have safe facilities for thoroughbreds and all codes racing around Queensland. Our government is committed to ensuring that an appropriate system is established in Queensland to support the transition of thoroughbreds and standardbreds from the racing industry to retirement. In response to the Martin inquiry recommendation, Racing Queensland and the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission have been working together to establish the Queensland Off-the-Track Program to support the transition of horses after racing. Since 1 January, the one per cent prize money levy of Racing Queensland on thoroughbred and harness racing, raising close to $2 million over 18 months, has been used for animal care initiatives, including the Off-the-Track Program. The Queensland government appointed Ms Sharon Cowden as the inaugural chair, with industry stakeholders and animal welfare representatives on the board. It has had meetings. They are currently looking at a number of programs, including an off-the-track grants program which will assist existing rehomers within the community to support retired racehorses that come into their care. There is an acknowledged retrainers program for the retraining and rehoming of thoroughbreds and standard horses. There is also a subsidised lessons program to support retired racehorses as they transition from the racing industry into the community. I am pleased to advise that enrolments for this incredible initiative opened this week. We have taken a stand. We have this money now. We are putting the grants program together. There will be expressions of interest. We will be spending the money in those three priority areas. I am not sure if the Racing Queensland CEO would like to add anything in terms of where we are at in terms
of the spending of the money that has been provided so far.

Mr Parnell: As we have eluded to, the subsidised lessons program was opened this week. We have also entered partnerships with Riding for the Disabled. That is already underway, including in regional Queensland at Emerald. In addition to that, the Queensland Off-the-Track board has now met six times and has a budget approved by the Racing Queensland board to expend on those activities, which also includes some wonderful existing programs. There are some existing retainers such as Save a Horse Australia down at Beaudesert. Toowoomba and Darling Downs trainer Michael Nolan is the president of the Glennie Equestrian Club. It is also a wonderful rehoming exercise as is Jane Gollan’s in Brisbane—the director of Triequithon. A lot of these rehomers are already in place. This funding will
help them speed up and deliver better outcomes for our horses after their careers.


CHAIR: I call to the table the member for South Brisbane for the final question of this session.


Dr MacMAHON: Director-General, the 2021-22 budget gives $41.3 million to the racing industry for new infrastructure as well as supporting animal care. How will the government ensure the industry supports animal care in the expending of these funds?

Mr Cook: We actually did respond to that part of the component a little earlier. I might ask Mr Parnell particularly to talk about some of the issues around animal care.


Mr Parnell: As we discussed earlier, the minister discussed the one per cent prize money levy which has been implemented by Racing Queensland. The entirety of that levy is being returned to after-care activities which we have just extended—subsidised lessons, grants programs, as well as partnerships with the likes of Riding for the Disabled Association and funding for existing rehoming programs. One per cent of all prize money for equine racing will be delivered back to animal care initiatives. In addition to that, Racing Queensland has a number of other activities in the animal care space. In greyhound racing, last year we introduced a greyhound racing injury management scheme to significantly reduce the serious injuries that happen at race meetings. That has been a very effective program which has lowered euthanasia rates by 60 per cent since it was introduced.


CHAIR: That concludes the committee’s examination of estimates for the racing industry.

 

 

RACING MINISTERIAL MEDIA RELEASE ON PRIZEMONEY INCREASE MAKES NO MENTION OF CORRECTING EAGLE FARM TRACK FIASCO

JOBS in Queensland racing are set to receive more support with Racing Queensland set to raise prizemoney across Thoroughbred, Greyhound, and Harness racing and increase funding for critical assets.

Racing Minister Grace Grace today released Racing Queensland’s Investment Growth Plan, which outlines the investment of $28.9 million in funding over the next two years, made possible through the Palaszczuk Government’s Budget commitment of an anticipated $41.3 million to Queensland racing through the Point of Consumption Tax (POCT).

“The Investment Plan will benefit almost 40,000 Queensland participants,” the Minister said.                                                                                               

“It will be delivered through increased prizemoney from 1 September 2021, along with infrastructure grants and improved club funding and allow us to support more jobs as part of Queensland’s plan for economic recovery from COVID-19.

An increase of $4 million in grassroots thoroughbred racing will see a rise of $2,000 for every maiden race at TAB meetings and a rise in minimum prize money to $8,500 for all non-TAB races.  There is also an increase of $1.7 million in grassroots Greyhound prize money and nearly $1 million for Harness racing.

The Plan also supports the infrastructure requirements of the industry, with $5 million across the next two years going towards replacing critical racing assets and a more than $3 million per annum increase for club operations.

Racing Queensland Chairman Steve Wilson AM said the multi-million dollar investment supported the organisation’s strategic objective to ensure a more sustainable future for the industry.

“It is important that we provide all participants with the confidence to continue to work and invest within the Queensland racing industry,” he said.

“As a result, we are providing strategic funding for our three codes, with a strong emphasis on commercial competitiveness at the grass roots and making Queensland attractive for all participants.

“We continue to drive our substantial industry to grow across the whole state to our goal of connecting Queenslanders through great racing and events. Prior to COVID, racing was the number one community event in 62 towns and cities across the Sunshine State.”

Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said the investments were being staged across two financial years, having experienced revenue pressures due to the conclusion of the Queensland TAB minimum payment guarantee last December.

“We want to give Queensland participants the confidence to invest longer term in our racing and breeding industries as we strive to be more competitive with other jurisdictions,” he said.

 

DUST UP & ACCUSATION OF TEAM DRIVING AFTER CREEK FEATURE

THOSE wondering why punters have no confidence in harness racing at Albion Park need only consider reports emanating from what happened after one of Queensland’s major races last Saturday night.

Story (it’s more than that) goes that two top reinsmen had a noisy  altercation in the stabling area (which went close to becoming more than verbal) when one accused the other of ‘team driving’.

Witnesses have told LGHR that had a long-time, prominent Queensland trainer-driver not intervened blood would have been spilled. They say one driver was verbaling the other and had his whip pressed against that bloke’s neck.

The matter was reported to stewards and stakeholders awaited their report which close observers of racing at Albion Park say was not released until Tuesday morning which is highly unusual.

When it did come out the matter was virtually swept under the carpet with no real action apparently taken other than a warning.

That has left the questions that need to be answered: Were claims of team driving properly investigated? Did they call witnesses to what was said if the two reinsmen decided not to be forthcoming? Who know, nothing from the stewards or in the mainstream media.

Like the gallops, under the chairmanship of Peter ‘the plodder’ Chadwick, there is even less confidence at the ‘red hots’ where calls have fallen on deaf ears for the replacement of the current Chairman of Stewards and some of his panel.

Harness racing will never regain public confidence while what many are calling another ‘cover-up’ is allowed to continue. One wonders where QRIC stands on this. We would be more than pleased to publish a response.

 

RSN AT CROSSROADS AS SEN MAKES WHITE KNIGHT OFFER

CRAIG Hutchison’s Sports Entertainment Network (SEN) has launched another bid to take over battling radio station RSN, with the horse racing station’s Board weighing up multiple options for the future of the station.

DAMIEN RACTLIFFE reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that shareholders of the Melbourne-dedicated RSN, which include the three metropolitan racing clubs, Harness Racing Victoria, Greyhound Racing Victoria, and Country Racing Victoria, have met with the Board and have tasked it with investigating opportunities to sell or overhaul the station, which has been the subject of countless reviews and rejuvenations over the past decade.

The Melbourne Racing Club, which owns 20.73 per cent of the station, and the Victoria Racing Club (14.23 per cent) both valued RSN at about $7.55 million in their most recent annual reports.

Network Ten’s former head of sport Dave Barham spent three months from March to June as the station’s interim chief executive, commissioned to review the station’s performance and make recommendations on how the station can improve.

Sources familiar with the review, who were unauthorised to speak on the record, said Barham recommended that shareholders invest more into marketing and promoting the station to increase the customer base. He found the all-sports breakfast show, hosted by Daniel Harford, played an important role in attracting an audience outside of racing and would be more appealing to advertisers than a dedicated racing show.

But some shareholders are reluctant to continue to tip money into the loss-making business when its primary role is to drive wagering revenue via its wall-to-wall race calls and increase engagement in the three codes, and not all shareholders agree an all-sports show is in the best interests of the racing industry. Racing Victoria, in 2019-20, injected $1.136 million into RSN and received just $3000 back according to its most recent financial report.

RSN rejoined the GfK Radio Survey Ratings this year, and in the most recent ratings released on July 6, the breakfast show had a 0.2% share of the market compared to SEN’s Garry & Tim at 3.0%. RSN has not yet been rated during racing’s peak spring carnival.

A white knight offer by SEN - formerly Crocmedia - is perceived as a way for shareholders to sell off their interest and therefore reduce their expenditure, while allowing the station to continue its primary function in broadcasting the races.

Hutchison has been scaling up his SEN business at a rapid rate, most recently launching SENZ in New Zealand in a deal with TAB New Zealand, and is already running his own racing station in Australia - SEN Track - alongside main station SEN. Gerard Whateley and Andrew Bensley are among the media talents under the SEN umbrella.

However, Racing Victoria is also in the process of launching its own integrated media business (IMB) - which emcompasses free-to-air television station and digital platform Racing.com - which offers the chance for RSN to align with the IMB.

RV this month announced that former head of Fox Sports Australia, Peter Campbell, had been appointed inaugural chief executive of the IMB. While RSN does not sit under the IMB as it is co-owned by the harness and greyhound codes, there is a perceived opportunity for the businesses to improve efficiencies by sharing media talent, cross-promote each other, and ultimately share costs.

For example, Michael Felgate, who hosts RSN’s 8.30am racing affairs show, could also work on Racing.com’s coverage, while RSN could tap into Racing.com’s form analysts. Racing.com is also operating at a net loss, but it too is seen as a driver of wagering.

The RSN Board has not been given a timeline on when it must present shareholders with its options for the future of the station, but the station is likely to look a lot different in 2022.

Barham also found a deal tying RSN to Tabcorp under the racing industry’s joint venture until 2024 was preventing the station from accessing advertising dollars from the corporate bookmakers. That deal could potentially be renegotiated under new ownership.

RSN is still without a general manager, while the chairman of the RSN Board Daryl Henry resigned last month, leaving John Stewart to take over the chairmanship. Racing Victoria’s chief financial officer Aaron Morrison, VRC chairman Neil Wilson and MRC’s executive director of racing and operations Jake Norton are also on the RSN Board.

Hutchison was contacted for comment by The Age, but he did not respond.

 

 

OUR old mate GODFREY SMITH is back after free-loading across the Ditch where his beautiful daughter lives with her beef cake boyfriend who looks after the fairy penguins at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch. Godfrey ducked out before the latest Trans-Tasman bubble burst and rather than fall back on a hand-out from Scomo, he has asked to write some columns for LGHR to keep the wolf from the door, so here’s the first of them.

‘BAD WEEK STARTED WITH DUST-UP WITH DWARF COVID POLICEMAN’

IT’S good to be home in OZ, even if nothing has changed with racing in Queensland where the Eagle Farm track is still a major embarrassment and the sport a disaster waiting to happen.

I knew it wasn’t going to be a good week when I headed out for Steak Night at my local club only to wind up in a dust-up with the dwarf COVID policeman for removing my mask to speak to him.

“How was your steak,” he asked as we left?

“Tasted like the carcass of a kangaroo that had been lying beside the road for a week,” I replied, gently moving my mask below my mouth so that the little fella I was staring down out could hear me.

“Don’t you know you can’t take your mask off,” he shouted indignantly?

“PITY I DIDN’T BEFORE TRYING TO EAT THE STEAK,” I snapped back.

“I don’t have to cop this,” shouted the dwarf, scampering off as fast as his little legs would travel, seeking the support of security to haul me out the door.

Things have changed at the club. It seems social correctness has gone overboard but full marks to the club bosses (most of them women, Anastasia would be proud) for employing these ‘little people’ to bark orders at the members.

Better not mention ‘short man syndrome’ or ask what night is the ‘dwarf throwing contest’ so that I could toss this little ‘turd’ out onto the middle of the main road.

And on the subject of political correctness the club now has designated areas for ‘smokers’, ‘gays’ and ‘indigenous groups’. What’s next, one for the ‘goat rooters’ now that the Prodigal Son is back to lead that tribe out of the political wilderness with that tattered photo of Sir Joh still in his trusty wallet or sitting beside his bed?

Preferring to dodge a bullet rather than upset the dwarf pandemic policeman I decided to flee the scene but not before reminding him that my relatives were actually among the first settlers in the area and that he was probably standing smack in the middle of a Bora ring belonging to the Turrbal clan and should thank them daily for allowing him to enter the land that still belongs to them.

In hindsight I should have headed over to my old mate Jeffrey’s place for dinner rather than go to the club. But I only found out late in the day it was his birthday which went through to the keeper when he took the long-suffering missus to Bundaberg for a dirty weekend.

Jeff, a one-time high profile Bobby, still hasn’t recovered from the fateful decision (pre pandemic) to celebrate his 60th in Bali which he describes as the lowest place on earth. “I could just as easily have travelled to a local resort to get robbed when I had a drink and I would have saved plenty,” he continues to tell us.

Can’t really imagine Jeffrey on the back of a Kuta scooter but then again he rides his push bike to the club at Rainbow Beach in his lycra gear. His mates still haven’t stopped rolling on the ground after seeing photos of another birthday bash when Jeffrey and the little lovely went horse riding which earnt him the moniker: ‘That other Man from Snowy River’.

At least even full of drink and bad manners after he backs a loser (which is often) or watches his beloved Broncos get beaten (which is more often), Jeff is an absolute  gentleman compared to the dwarf.

But back to my original concerns that the disastrous Steak Night at the Club was a sign it wasn’t going to be a good week. Rather than watch wankers falling off skate boards at the Olympics, I decided to see what was happening on the racing scene and visited the trusty Courier-Mail site which I see these days has enlisted the support of Racenet since their main men moved on to more cushy jobs with SKY and the Brisbane Racing Club. Just imagine Nathan trying to promote Brisbane racing without mentioning how bad the Eagle Farm track is.  

My day got worse when I read a story suggesting that racing in Queensland will be burdened with the troubled Eagle Farm track for at least another year, even if the sport’s power-brokers bow to calls for the much-maligned surface to be replaced for a third time.

They have to be kidding no-one could procrastinate for this long. If you were running a business the decision-makers would have been sacked long ago.

Sadly that includes a one-time mate, Brendan Parnell, who has come a long way since the days of his television career on the Sunny Coast, to SKY, the TAB and now Racing Queensland where they tell me he gets paid more than $500,000 a year.

Wow, and to think he didn’t even want to pay a small fine for failing to wear a seat-belt that fateful day when he, Christian Letford and I drove from our hotel on the Gold Coast to the Magic Millions Sales only to be pulled over by an over-conscientious motor bike cop doing a bit of revenue raising.

The CM reports that leading trainer Robert Heathcote maintained his rage at the Eagle Farm surface in a Melbourne radio interview on Monday morning shortly after RQ CEO Parnell refused to rule out ripping up the track to start again.

Parnell told Radio 4TAB (the home of his good mate Davey Fowler) that racing in Queensland ‘had issues that needed to be resolved’ adding that ‘key meetings next week would provide clarity regarding what was next for Eagle Farm’.

I’ve only just caught up the rumours suggesting some sweetheart deal that ‘Feathers’ and ‘Pins’ allegedly did (when the former was Chairman of Albion Park) which apparently would have seen one of the best callers in the business, Josh Fleming, rissoled by SKY in Brisbane to make way for Fowler as part of some back-room deal over the future of the Creek. That was until Ray Hadley got involved on The Morning Show on 4BC – story goes he doesn’t like Parnell or the job that Brendan does. Sadly, he’s not Robinson Crusoe.

Heathcote told News Corp: “They did a remarkable job to get through the Winter Carnival. But it’s like Kevin Costner said (in the film Field Of Dreams), if you build it they will come. If you put the prizemoney on they will come and that’s what the winter carnival did.”

MATT STEWART (Racing Editor RSN) is one of my favorite turf scribes in this country, not afraid to offend with constructive criticism. Here’s what he wrote this week:

FOR many in racing, wagering is God. Little else matters.

Those who worry about racing’s shrinking public profile and lack of community engagement – even the rocky status of that iconic Melbourne Cup – are told they are wrong because wagering has never been stronger.

But look at Brisbane.

The recent winter racing carnival, with Eagle Farm as the centrepiece, was a wagering bonanza. The green track was paved with gold.

Turnover exceeded $375 million. Stradbroke day at “the Farm” was up 25 per cent and Doomben and Eagle Farm performed almost identically, with turnover increases of over 25 per cent.

Yet Eagle Farm has been described as a ploughed paddock that should be ripped up. Early in the season according to top trainer Robert Heathcote, the track was so firm as to be a horse welfare risk.

The track that generated so much winter turnover has been a calamity for seven years according to Heathcote and others.

He said that while the wagering through COVID “may stack up,” Eagle Farm had an inappropriate turf profile that he would not plant in his back yard and should be ripped up, for the second time in seven years.

He said many participants in Queensland were reluctant to publicly express their concerns with the Eagle Farm track.

“But the facts are the facts and we have to solve this problem. This track has been the bane of our existence for seven years,” he said.

Heathcote said Eagle Farm cost $1 million a year in upkeep, three times more than Doomben. He estimated up to $20 million may have been spent in failed efforts to improve Eagle Farm.

“We have to make the decision. It’s not an overnight fix,” Heathcote said, saying “merry men” of previous administrations and track crews had mismanaged the track.

He said none of those staffers were still employed “and we’re left with this mess.”

Well LGHR, like many others, would like to know: Where does the blame lie? It did nothing for industry confidence hearing from Parnell not to expect any replacement of the Eagle Farm track for another year.

There are all sorts of stories about what’s to blame with the grass being used one of the main issues; or where the sand that seems to be unsuitable is coming from; and who is going to pay the millions to correct a problem that has already had tens of millions spent on it; or more importantly whether Eagle Farm should be declared unsafe to race on from a horse welfare perspective, or whether stakeholders should simply refuse to start their horses there.

It all seems to be beyond the BRC who have refused to take responsibility for the track back from Racing Queensland and that body has had sufficient time to correct the problems even with the help of outside consultants.

That leaves us with the Government and we have Grace Grace who is back as Racing Minister diverting pressure on the track problem by making a ‘good news’ statement this week which will no doubt focus on more prizemoney.

And then to confuse the issue, the story is doing the rounds that Stirling Hinchliff, who Grace replaced in the portfolio, wants the Labor Government to appoint him special Minister for the Olympics and include Racing in his brief.

What a nightmare!      

 

 

HALF MILLION DOLLAR MAN ON JUNKET TO BUNDY SPIN-DOCTORING  ‘GOOD NEWS’ ANNOUNCEMENT FOR RACING FROM GRACE GRACE

WHILE Rome burned and controversy raged in Brisbane at the prospect of having to dig up the Eagle Farm ‘goat track’ yet again, Racing Queensland’s half million dollar man was enjoying a junket in Bundaberg.

Brendan Parnell, some might say hoping the drama unfolding over the Farm might suddenly disappear during his absence, was busy pressing the flesh at the Cup meeting in Bundy and enjoying a guest speaking role the previous day at a Sportsmen’s Luncheon.

Seemingly oblivious to how many more millions might be wasted on the Eagle Farm fisco; just who might do the job and get it right fourth time around; or whether the industry and taxpayers would have to foot the bill, Parnell was painting a bright future for racing in Queensland.

Piictured above by the LGHR Paparazzi, he told luncheon guests, most of them there for the Cup Calcutta, that Racing Minister Grace Grace had a ‘good news’ announcement to make this week.

Parnell said he didn’t want to steal the thunder of Grace describing her as a ‘breath of fresh air’ back in the portfolio, which some saw as a nice backhander for her predecessor Stirling Hinchliffe.

LGHR assumes about the only thing that Ms Grace could announce that would boost the stocks of she and the Labor Government with stakeholders would be a prizemoney increase but therein lies some problems as well.

If the increase includes more for harness racing in Queensland at the continued expense of greyhounds then there is entitled to be one hell of a crap fight. The dogs are far more popular with punters who have lost confidence in the ‘red hots’ not to mention the way that code is being policed. And the gallops are sick of harness magoting off its back financially.

Parnell did issue some words of wisdom to the Queensland industry, or so we are reliably informed, telling them that it could never expect to compete with the cash-strapped southern states of NSW and Victoria.

And he blamed that on the TAB deal that was done for Queensland which is spot-on.

Now that’s another story and who should we blame for that fiasco – the Beattie Government for the original rushed privatization arrangement or in more recent times the ‘two Dickos’ – Steve (the Racing Minister who told us the Sunshine State would wind up a furlong in front of the southern states within 12 months under the LNP Government before fleeing to join Pauline’s team) or little Kevvie (the then Chairman of RQ who saw two key Board members, Barry Taylor and Brad Steele, resign over lack of consultation on an updated TAB deal).

 

HADLEY BLAMES ‘TEFLON’ PARNELL FOR EAGLE FARM DEBACLE – SUGGESTS THE RQ CEO ‘GETS AROUND WITH HIS HEAD UP HIS BEHIND LIKE A CUP HANDLE’ 

RAY HADLEY on his much-listened to MORNING SHOW on 4BC again paid out on Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell in the wake of the latest Eagle Farm track catastrophe.

Speaking with bookmaker MICHAEL SULLIVAN who runs BLUEBET, Hadley said:

“They want to rip up Eagle Farm for the third time.

“Trainers are saying they wouldn’t have got through the carnival without Doomben. Eagle Farm only just scraped through.

“Gees, they have spent some money on Eagle Farm and all for nothing.”

Sullivan replied: “I’ve got a few horses up there with Rob Heathcote and we won’t take them back to Eagle Farm until they get it fixed. It’s a better surface at Cunnamulla at present. Could they muck it up three times?”

Hadley: “If you get the same people doing the same thing you are going to get the same result.

“Queensland racing tried to give it (the track redevelopment) back to the Brisbane Racing Club and they said ‘no thanks, it’s your problem.’

“They must call the boss of Racing Queensland Brendan Parnell ‘Teflon’ because nothing sticks. He just seems to escape any censure because the Racing Minister (Grace Grace) thinks that racing is something to do with motor cars.

“Peter V’landys is running rings around everyone in Sydney while his equal in Brisbane, Brendan Parnell, gets around with his head up his behind like a cup handle.”

Hadley told O’Sullivan if bookies were framing a market it would be long odds RQ sorting it out while the current CEO was running the show.

   

 

MAINSTREAM MEDIA FINALLY SEES THE FARM AS A COW PADDOCK

FOR so long now that we have lost count of the days peterprofit.com & letsgohorseracing have been lonE voices in the dark screaming for action to address the appalling state of the once great Eagle Farm racecourse, which as a result of corruption, incompetence, cost cuts and on-going trackside construction has been transformed into some abomination akin to a cow paddock.

LGHR echoes those words written today by ARCHIE BUTTERFLY and congratulates BEN DORRIES of RACENET oN having the balls to expose the situation that has again made racing in Queensland the embarrassment of the nation. (Watch your back mate)!

As ‘the Butterfly’ wrote today: Racing Queensland has publicly ignored the problem as if it is not there staring us all in the face.

What gets up the nose of LGHR and our legion of followers is the ‘spin doctoring’ job that the half million dollar man of Racing Queensland, CEO Brendan Parnell, has done with help from his mates in the media (especially SKY, QLD NEWSPAPERS & 4TAB).

On the eve of the Winter Carnival (late May) this was what Parnell had to say and the story it provoked from TRENTON AKERS in The Courier-Mail:

THE Eagle Farm track is the 'healthiest it has ever been' since its controversial renovation with Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell adamant the surface will hold up to four Group 1 meetings in five weeks.

The firm surface has been one of the major talking points in the industry for more than six years but Parnell believes recent work to improve the cushion in the track has had the desired effect.

“The turf is the healthiest it has ever been, it is much longer than last winter and there has been some cushioning done between the Victory Stakes meeting and this meeting so we are expecting improved cushion,” Parnell said. “The rye grass which you sew through winter has come through strongly.”

'With severe kickback one of the main concerns over the surface in the past, Parnell said significant work had gone into eradicating disease out of the roots in order to improve its strength.

“In March last year disease got into the roots,” he said. “Normally you wouldn’t do a big renovation before the carnival but we had to get the disease out. That set us back a period of time and we got through with a shorter grass length with the focus on getting the disease out.

“The disease is all out and the root health is the best it has ever been as a result. A year ago it was a bit frail and the grass was shorter, this year it is not frail and the grass is longer and the rye grass is stronger.”

What a load of garbage that turned out to be. The Carnival is over and the whispered words of many trainers have now returned to crescendo scale with their protests at the state of the Farm evidenced by the ordinary fields on Wednesday.

One day after peterprofit & letsgohorseracing websites fired a shot over the bows asking why the mainstream racing media seemed to be ignoring the problem that refuses to go away, we awoke to these headlines in the CM: CRISIS STRIKES TROUBLED EAGLE FARM TRACK – YET AGAIN & STIFE-TORN EAGLE FARM TRACK BECOMING AN EMBARRASSMENT.

Full marks to Ben Dorries for the story he wrote (even though it seems the maestro of the media at the Farm may have endorsed it with the BRC placing the need to correct the problem squarely at the feet of RQ). It reads:

A growing number of trainers believe the troubled Eagle Farm track must be ripped up again, as it emerged the Brisbane Racing Club will refuse to take back the management of the track from Racing Queensland next month.

The flint-hard Eagle Farm surface has again flared into a major drama and it was an embarrassment to the Queensland racing industry when horse numbers were so limited at Wednesday’s meeting that there were only 47 starters in total across six races.

By contrast, the bush meeting on the sand track at Gympie last Saturday attracted 56 starters across its six-race card.

Late in the day on Wednesday, a posse of trainers met behind closed doors at Eagle Farm and there was almost unanimous agreement that the track must be ripped up for the third time.

The trainers are also armed with support from several big-name Sydney trainers who privately say the Queensland winter carnival was a success only because of the reputable Doomben track.

While Eagle Farm managed to get through the winter carnival despite its issues, increasing amounts of trainers are now limiting the horses they race at Eagle Farm and some are contemplating whether to race horses there at all.

There will be a crisis meeting between trainers and other industry participants, potentially as soon as next week, which will involve both Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club and possible solutions will be thrashed out.

It is understood participants have been told, that if the track is to be ripped up, it cannot happen until after next year’s winter carnival as the huge expanse of kikuyu grass needed for the project would need significant time to grow.

ANOTHER crisis meeting (remember that one way back when the trainers threatened to strike), more bullshit answers from ‘Pins’ to quell the latest drama and a less than confident message from the Queensland branch of the Australian Trainers’ Association who have long been perceived to be in bed with RQ.

The ATA’S local rep, Cameron Partington, told DORRIES: “We are having on-going discussions with our members about the recent and current performance of the Eagle Farm track.

“At this stage we are not in a position to comment, as we don’t wish to unduly influence the further discussions and negotiations over the coming weeks with RQ and the BRC regarding the future plans for Eagle Farm.”

For f..s sake, grow a set mate and stand up for the rights of your members instead of pussy-footing around dancing the two-step with your mate ‘Pins’.

But back to Archie, who like LGHR, has no time for the weak-kneed attitude of many in the mainstream racing media. As he wrote today:

THE old-fashioned and antiquated print, radio and television media have lied to us all, painting pretty pictures of a scene akin to the apocalypse, and extolling Eagle Farm as an elite standard track, when in fact it is worse than those you find in remote bush, two-horse towns. The so-called racing journalists and turf commentators (especially at SKY) have disgraced themselves and their professions by misleading the public in the most unethical of ways.

Jockeys and trainers daring to contemplate dissent have been silenced by threats of excommunication, and their concerns have been shouted down by a small group of heavily promoted trainers with deep, vested personal interests and with no appetite for upsetting their rich apple cart.

One has to ask where Racing Minister Grace Grace and the Labor Government stand on this issue not to mention the deadly silence coming from the new breed at the LNP.

We feel sorry for RQ Thoroughbred Board representative, Graham Quirk, the only one worth feeding at the control body. He was the one responsible for bringing the Olympics to Brisbane. It must be tough for him having to work alongside a bunch of non-achievers with his hands tied.  

At LGHR we will continue to expose the truth about controversial issues like the Eagle Farm track despite being abused, threatened and slagged off all over town by those on the gravy train who place their own cruisy gigs above the jobs they are entrusted by racegoers and industry stakeholders to do.

       

 

ARCHIE CONTINUES TO DO THE JOB OF WEAK-KNEED RACING MEDIA

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY continues to do the job that the mainstream racing media in Queensland turns a blind eye to and today you can read one of his ‘exclusives’ without paying the subscription.

Just log onto www.peterprofit.com and be gob-smacked, like we at LGHR were, when ‘the Butterfly’ poses the questions:

WHY did the Gold Coast Turf Club spend $1.3 million to buy private stables for LEE FREEDMAN to train his horses? Will they be asking for a refund now that he has bailed out?

Archie has invited GCTC Chairman Brett Cook to explain and considering the amount of racing and taxpayer money (tens of millions) that is being injected into the complex to make it a stand-alone Saturday venue with lights to accommodate night racing, the industry and stakeholders deserve some answers.

 

NOT A WHIMPER ABOUT DETERIORIATING STATE OF EAGLE FARM

ANOTHER topic which the mainstream racing media in Queensland don’t seem interested in pursuing is the continued criticism of the Eagle Farm track with horses reportedly pulling up lame after virtually every meeting.

Archie did his own tongue-in-cheek ‘Port Douglas Racing Integrity Commission’ Stewards’ Report on the ‘Brisbane Goat Racing Club’ meeting at ‘Beagle Farm’ on Wednesday.

He listed the following: TRACK rating: Rooted. RAIL: As far out as we could push it. PENETROMETER: Who knows? The ground was too hard to push the pen in. We didn’t bother walking the track because it’s a long way around, and we were afraid of getting shin splints or breaking our ankles.

OFFICIALS: CHAIRMAN of STEWARDS – not PETER CHADWICK – he only goes to the races on Saturdays (LGHR hopes he is attending to that two-year inquiry he has been told to deal with but hasn’t got off his fat behind just yet. It ain’t going away ‘Plodder’ and we can’t wait to see the excuses you make to the lovely lady who owns the horse involved and has been treated like crap).

GENERAL: We offered $35,000 prizemoney a race and could only attract enough entries to program a six race card. Two of them were six-horse races. None of them had more starters than 10. What’s wrong with these bloody trainers? They would rather go to a meeting about how crap the course proper is than race their horses on the goat track and risk breaking them down.

SUMMARY: It was a long three-hour day so we all packed up and went home early, except the trainers. They went to some meeting to listen to Rob Heathcote extol the virtues of the Eagle Farm track. He’s a good bloke that Rob. Everyone in the BRC committee room says so. Enough said!

 

WHY DOES MAINSTREAM RACING MEDIA DODGE CONTENTIOUS ISSUES?

BUT back to the question of why the mainstream racing media turns a blind eye to anything contentious that occurs in Queensland racing – like the state of the Eagle Farm track, whether the RQ CEO is worthy of the $500,000-plus he gets paid and whether punters have any confidence in gallops Chief Stipe Peter Chadwick.

And we haven’t even mentioned the ‘red hots’ where everyone knows there is no confidence in the stewards supposedly policing Albion Park not to mention what is going on (and has for too long been going on) off-the-track at present. WAKEY, WAKEY, GRACEY, GRACEY!

We’ve had a couple of interesting emails about that and why the LNP is not prepared to ask some delicate questions in Parliament. It didn’t bother them why back when the left-overs from the JOH era were calling the shots but now we have new blood the story goes that old friendships in the north die hard and the ‘goat riders’ aren’t prepared to ask the questions that the entire industry wants answered.

As for the mainstream racing media, if you want to survive nothing has changed. The majority are still receiving their marching orders from the same bloke who told them what to do when he was working as a turf scribe from decades ago. The fact he has now been rewarded with another job working for a major club he was basically the ‘spin doctor’ for over all those years in the newspaper industry means nothing has changed.

Those that have toed the line are rewarded and now have plum positions supposedly promoting racing in Brisbane (they are about as effective at that as they were when working in the print media). Others have escaped interrogation in the media after holding down administrative positions that sent minor code clubs to the wall. We won’t even bother talking about SKY.

Up on the Downs ‘Pete’ continues to struggle to keep his head above water but when he isn’t selling horses for ‘Nifty Nev’ he will always find an hour or two to tell you how bad the media man he labelled the ‘Maggot’ continues to be. Pity no-one listens.

In Queensland racing the more things change, the more they stay the same.              

 

 

WEDNESDAY WHINGE – HAVE YOUR SAY on ISSUES associated with the RACING INDUSTRY:

WAS IT A KNEE-JERK REACTION IN SA OR DOES RACING HAVE START IN NSW?

SAM J of SYDNEY writes:

‘LET me preface my following comments with an assurance that I follow horse racing, love a punt and don’t want to see industry personnel out of work.

But can someone explain to me how officials in South Australia can bring racing to a halt after three new cases of COVID were recorded while hundreds are occurring every day in New South Wales – more particularly Greater Sydney – but there is no sign of a shutdown?

In some areas in Greater Sydney residents are being told to remain in their homes and businesses are being closed at risk of bankruptcy, yet the three codes of racing continue on the assumption that it is COVID safe for these to do so.

My brother-in-law has had to temporarily shut his small business, like a lot of others. How is it a level playing field when the footballers continue to play (albeit interstate) and racing rolls on unchallenged?

Either it’s a knee-jerk reaction in South Australia or some high profile identities in the racing and rugby league world (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) in Sydney have plenty of start with the politicians calling the tune.’   

EDITOR'S NOTE: In a gigantic back-flip the SA Government has rescinded its early ban and will allow racing to continue during the lock down.

 

WILL GRACE GRACE TAKE SOME ACTION OVER WHAT IS HAPPENING AT CREEK?

JEREMY K of BRISBANE writes:

‘IS there the slightest prospect that Racing Minister Grace Grace will get off her behind and take some action over the disgraceful state of affairs – on and off the track at Albion Park harness racing?

Just when you thought punter confidence could not dip any lower, it has. When stewards can’t see what it seems everyone else can, including controversial drives in major races of the carnival, then it’s time QRIC appointed a new panel.

As for what is happening off the track, why isn’t Racing Queensland taking an interest? It’s the talk of the town in all codes of racing and has degenerated to a farcical stage.

Will someone please brief Grace on what is happening?

To think of the millions being wasted in distribution to a sport that is a laughing stock when the greyhounds have done so well but get treated like dogs, it could only happen in Queensland.

 

WHO’S DRIVING THE TRUCK WHEN IT COMES TO SYDNEY RACING MEDIA?

NEIL K of MELBOURNE writes:

‘WHAT is it about the mainstream racing media in Sydney that seems to prevent many scribes and commentators from providing constructive coverage of horse racing?

Surely the acceptance of secondary jobs on SKY Channel isn’t conditional of them marching to the beat of ‘Peter Perfect’?

As sad as that sounds, it’s certainly what many stakeholders are asking when they read the continued support for everything Sydney does to destroy the Melbourne Spring Carnival.

Competition is great but not at the expense of the overall product. Come on guys and girls, we thought cash for comment was a thing of the past. How about being a bit objective in your coverage?’

 

GREG CONTINUES TO FIGHT LOSING BATTLE OVER JOCKEYS IN BUSH

GREG BLANCHARD of NUDGEE writes:

ABOUT seven years ago a Korean Horseman High group came to Brisbane.

One of these students was Yunseob Shin, known as Alex. He stayed on and became a trackwork rider for the Rob Heathcote stable before RQ Training asked him to go to Julia Creek and join trainer Grant Wiles, which he did (paid his own airfare and enrolled in RQ Training to become a jockey).

Following Julia Creek he went to Tony Sears in Toowoomba and after completing his allocated jump-outs was given the green light to ride in barrier trials. He was then told he didn’t have the Visa.

Alex was shattered and out of pocket. He moved on to the Liam Birchley stable, still with the dream of being a jockey despite the obstacles being placed in his path.

Because of the Visa problems in Australia he decided New Zealand might be an option. I contacted the authorities there and off he went, where he became an apprentice jockey after a period of time.

Alex then went back to Korea, did his compulsory military service and only this past week became an apprentice in Korea.

Last week I met another Korean lad, who is with Godolphin and visiting Queensland. He has ridden track (even in Melbourne) well enough to be a jockey but can't because of this crazy Visa situation.

How ridiculous is that when Queensland has suffered close to 400 scratchings since August 1 2020 in the bush.

When is someone in authority going to correct this situation?

 

DEALING WITH SECOND-STRING WALLER WINNERS ON A WEEKLY BASIS

KELLY J of SYDNEY

‘MY mates and I (we’re not being half smart – we agree with you most of the time) were disappointed LGHR didn’t raise its weekly rant over second-string winners from the Chris Waller stable at Randwick last Saturday.

‘First we saw Criminal Code beat home the more fancied Papal Warrior then Blondeau was extremely well backed to win while stablemate Oscar Zulu, a favorite that was hard to lay, beat only one home in the same race.

‘The Stewards Report read: Oscar Zulu: Jumped awkwardly, shifted in and made contact with Surf Dancer. Rider K. McEvoy reported that in his opinion the gelding was not suited by the moderately run early and middle stages of the event and after shifting out to improve on the home turn disappointed in its failure to finish off the race as expected. A post-race veterinary examination did not reveal any abnormalities. Trainer Mr C. Waller concurred with the views of K. McEvoy and advised that the gelding also may be feeling the effects of recent runs on heavy tracks. He stated that he would now give the gelding a freshen-up before its next race start and undertook to report back to the Stewards if there was anything amiss with Oscar Zulu subsequent to the race.

‘That Waller excuse book seems endless as does the stewards’ acceptance of ‘reporting back if anything is amiss’ which seems to be par for the course for the beaten Waller favorites these days’.

EDITOR’S NOTE: WE’VE all but given up where multiple runners from the WALLER STABLE is concerned. Our advice, take a BUNDLE BET when you see one backed to beat your fancy being saddled up in the same race by the champion trainer.

 

VICTORIA LEADING THE WAY ON SECTIONAL TIMING TECHNOLOGY

GOOD NEWS STORY OF THE WEEK comes out of MELBOURNE:

AN outdated tracking system which clocked a horse running faster than Black Caviar has been replaced, with the new system - involving Champion Data - to be launched across metro Melbourne this week.

DAMIEN RACTLIFFE reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that renowned for its role with generating AFL statistics, Champion Data has partnered with tripleSdata to deliver Victorian racing with a new timing solution, replacing Trakus which was outdated and provided punters with unreliable sectionals.

As part of the new system’s live testing, in-play sectionals will be displayed on the industry-owned Racing.com during today’s (Wednesday) race meeting at Sandown, with the system to go live at Flemington, Caulfield and Moonee Valley by the end of August.

A full broadcast and digital suite, which will provide punters with sectional data within 15 minutes of a race being run, is expected to be available before the launch of the spring carnival, and the system should also provide broadcasters - including free-to-air partners Seven and Ten - with the scope to graphically display where horses are positioned in running.

Racing Victoria chairman Brian Kruger announced at its most recent annual general meeting in November that the industry was “very close to implementing an agreement with a new service provider, a group called tripleS, who we believe will provide a much-improved service” to the outdated Trakus system.

The flaws of Trakus were highlighted in April, when the John Sadler-trained sprinter Sartorial Splendor was clocked running a 9.52 sectional split over 200 metres, reported as running quicker than the fastest 200-metre section champion Black Caviar ever ran at 9.96.

Respected sectional data provider Daily Sectionals, who provides the industry with sectional data within 48 hours of all country TAB race meetings, later recorded the Sartorial Splendor section at 10.70, highlighting the unreliability of Trakus’ data.

Trakus was described by Racing Victoria in 2014 as world-leading technology, with the industry and state government each contributing $918,310 as part of the initial investment to roll out the GPS system at its three leading tracks.

“If we want to grow the Victorian racing industry and the economic benefits and jobs arising from it, then it is critical to invest in new technology and infrastructure for racing,” then Victorian Premier and Racing Minister Denis Napthine said at the time.

 

NOT EVEN A DRONE WILL BOOST PUNTER CONFIDENCE AT ‘RED HOTS’

SAD as it sounds in the eyes of most punters all the technology in the world won’t help the stewards at the ‘red hots’ in Queensland.

THE COURIER-MAIL reports that such is the effectiveness of the overhead footage from revolutionary drone coverage, that harness racing stewards have requested it to be used in inquiries.

Former Queensland Sheffield Shield batsman Lee Carseldine is founder of the DroneIt Group which has been providing live state-of-the-art footage for SKY Racing broadcasts during the Winter Harness Racing Carnival and reportedly have their eyes on thoroughbred racing after rave reviews from stakeholders. No doubt ‘Pete the Plodder’ will endorse anything that reduces his work-load.

The news that Racing Queensland is set to go to great lengths to try and innovate the drone usage further surprises some who question the cost viability considering the poor turnover on the ‘red hots’ – the worst of the three codes in the Sunshine State. The half-million dollar man, RQ CEO Brendan Parnell, might like to enlighten the industry what the cost of drone coverage are.

Carseldine told the CM: “There is a particular height the stewards (at Albion Park) want. We would love it above the light poles but they want it a bit lower and back from an angle point of view so we have got a good drone which allows us to zoom.”

Punters say the harness stewards need all the help they can get but doubt even the use of drone footage at inquiries will make any difference considering their perceived reluctance to charge drivers for failing to position horses to give them every chance or worse still, team driving, which is allegedly at an all-time high at Albion Park.

 

SHOULD THOSE CHARGED WITH RAPE BE STOOD DOWN FROM JOBS?

PRESUMPTION of innocence is a fundamental principle of today’s law and regardless of the charge there is a legal burden of proof on the prosecution.

There can be no exceptions to that rule but the question is being raised whether a person charged with rape should be allowed to continue working or stood down on full pay until the matter is resolved.

As ARCHIE BUTTERFLY wrote today on his subscriber-only website, www.peterprofit.com:

RAPE is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable.

It is a violation of human rights and personal liberty in the most vile of ways, and victims of the crime suffer life-long damage.

That’s why rape is punishable by imprisonment for life.

So what do you do if one of your employees is charged with this terrible violent crime?

The right thing – that’s what you do.

What sort of message does it send to your employees if you allow an accused rapist to remain in your work place?

How do you imagine the women in your work place feel if you force them to work alongside, or even under, a man who the police have arrested and charged with this evil crime?

A lot of people are asking the same questions.

  

 

‘IF PETER V’LANDYS CAN’T DESTROY THE MELBOURNE SPRING CARNIVAL THEN HE SEEMS HELLBENT ON SYDNEY HIJACKING IT'

FORMER Melbourne Racing Club chairman Mike Symons hit the nail on the head when he declared: ‘THERE is nothing Peter V’Landys won’t do to hijack the Melbourne Spring Carnival’.

MATT STEWART, Racing Editor of RSN, the only leading turf scribe in the land who seems prepared to criticize the Racing NSW supremo, responded: “Maybe Victorian racing administrators are afraid of V’landys, afraid of what he will do next, because with V’landys there are no boundaries, no respect for the greater good, no rules of engagement.

‘V’landys is energised because no-one is game enough to stop him or challenge him. He has the NSW media at heel. His myths, such as claiming funding for races such as the $7 million Golden Eagle would come via an Odds and Evens bet type, are never called out.

‘His supporters relish in his aggression. He prides himself on being “disruptive”, claiming it is his charter, along with a sole responsibility for what’s best for NSW.’

Stewart reminded us that John Messara returned to the Racing Australia chair supposedly in a bid to curtail the monumentally harmful “war” between NSW and Victoria, knowing damn well that that war is being waged almost exclusively by one man.

‘Messara should have quickly expressed his astonishment at V’landys’ latest assault but has said nothing. He may say something after he chairs his first RA board meeting this week. We will wait and see.’

We, at LGHR, watching from afar in no-man’s land – Racing Queensland – won’t be holding our breath. One thing’s for sure though, this has highlighted the gutlessness of the powerbrokers of Racing Victoria to take Vlandys on – not their ‘politeness’ as Stewart suggests.

The success of The Everest has made V’landys even more ‘power-drunk’ and given him carte blanche to do what he damn well pleases in the eyes of the easy-convinced constituents of NSW, regardless of the effect it has on racing nationally.

As Stewart wrote: ‘Emboldened, he kept plundering the back end of spring with Gongs, Hunters and Golden Eagles, arguing that the sunny skies and rugby-free space of late spring was up for grabs and that someone had to take it.

‘Maybe the polite powerbrokers of Victoria fear that by responding with vitriol and condemnation, the Racing NSW marauder will press his foot harder on Victoria’s throat and whack on a $5 million, $10 million, whatever million two-mile race in late October.

‘Maybe he would be devilish enough to take advantage of the vulnerability we created out of necessity and invite Europe’s best two-mile handicappers without burdening them with difficult “nuclear medicine” and scans, and cripple the Melbourne Cup.

‘Maybe the hoax story that appeared on April Fools’ Day, of the $5 million Harbour Cup at Randwick on our Derby Day, will in fact be dropped from the skies.’

IN the absence of any real retaliation from officialdom in Victoria, Stewart is spot-on with his suggestion that: ‘The correct response would be for every PRA in Australia, plus every major stakeholder – owners, trainers, jockey associations – to agree that V’landys’ reckless self-interest is causing great damage to pillars that are crucial to the overall success and attraction of horse racing in this country. Collectively these groups must send V’landys a thundering message of condemnation. Apply pressure.

‘The success of the Melbourne spring racing carnival benefits the sport of horse racing, not just Melbourne horse racing, just as Royal Ascot is a celebration of English racing and Wimbledon is a celebration of tennis.

‘Likewise, the Sydney autumn carnival is a shared showpiece, not just a Sydney hit. There is a very important thing called “the greater good.

‘Carving up jockey ranks, dividing the already-thin ranks of our good horses between states at prime carnival time trashes the most basic attraction of any sport; best against best. Imagine Roland Garros whacking on a $10 million tennis invitation during Wimbledon just because it could and the weather was good. Imagine Newmarket doing something similar during Royal Ascot. Imagine a breakaway soccer league in Europe.

Racing, not only in NSW but nationally – regards top Murdoch turf scribe, Ray Thomas, as a ‘spin doctor’ and ‘public relations merchant’ for everything Peter V’landys does.

Sadly, his Fairfax colleague Chris Roots is starting to follow suit. Do you need that second job at SKY that badly Rottsy?

An old mate of LGHR, Chris wrote a column this week in which he declared:

RACING NSW has become so blase about announcing new multimillion-dollar races that it’s now done by press release, rather than screaming it from the rooftops, with Druitt St happy to leave that to the response of rivals from down south.

Friday was the final insult, no carefully marketed announcement, just take that Victoria. There is no need for Racing NSW to search for publicity because that was taken care of by the critics, particularly in Melbourne.

The unveiling of The Invitation, a $2 million 1400m race for fillies and mares, on Cox Plate day proved just that for critics of Sydney’s incursion into the spring: a focal point of attack.

Throw in a $1 million Group 2 over 2000m on the same day as the Turnbull Stakes, albeit under different conditions to the 2000m test at Flemington, and the now-$1 million George Main Stakes, and there was uproar.

There is a place for innovation in any sport or business. The Everest was the perfect example of taking horse racing forward. It’s an unprecedented success for a sport that had lost its way. It has opened racing back up to the general public, whose interest was waning.

But it has promoted the bitter divide across the Murray which means NSW and Victoria now only co-exist in racing rather than co-operate.

Does The Invitation add to the spring? Certainly! Does it mean races in Melbourne are weaker? Probably! Some would say “tick, tick” for Racing NSW.

Victoria continues to hang its hat on tradition as it attempts to hold on to the most profitable months of the year in terms of revenue. With financial models state-based on racefields fees it means they have the market cornered and it is this part of the pie that Racing NSW has, unashamedly, targeted.

Before The Everest sparked the war, Victoria refused to boost stakes on its carnival races, content in the knowledge that there was nowhere else to race in October and November.

There is competition now, but has it gone too far?

The Sydney spring has lifted betting returns to the NSW industry. It has also increased the return for those who compete at the top end of racing in Sydney and Melbourne, which had been long overdue.

But it has split the best product the sport has, crucially, when it can be shown in its best light and gain maximum exposure.

Days like the Cox Plate, Derby day, and the Melbourne Cup are the showcase of the sport to everyone in the country and around the world, not just punters. As are the Golden Slipper and The Championships, an innovative twist on a traditional date, which has made April racing a focus for the sporting public once again.

The Caulfield Cup and The Everest have shown the benefit of being run on the same day, but this should be the exception rather than the rule.

These big days are where Jamie Kah and James McDonald should pit their skills against each other. Where Chris Waller, Godolphin and the Freedmans aspire to make their names with best bloodstock in the land. They shouldn’t have to make a decision on which side of the border they should compete.

Racing is not doing a good job of wrestling with this dilemma. The infighting is tearing the sport apart and weakening it in an increasingly competitive entertainment landscape.

The one thing you forgot to mention Rootsy – is that it is being caused by the ‘reckless self-interest and my way or the highway’ attitude of one man – who seems hell-bent on destroying the Spring Carnival in Victoria. He’s the one that has muddied the waters.

Ironically, while they want to talk up turnover and prizemoney, an important aspect that is continually overlooked by the V’landys’ cheer squad is CROWDS. And as long as little Peter’s bum points to the ground (and he continues to destroy the great game of ‘rugba’ league as well – Sydney will never attract the massive crowds that turn out in Melbourne for the major race days.

  

 

 

KINANE IS NOT SAME STAR HORSE SINCE HE RACED AT EAGLE FARM

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY saved us the time at LGHR when he wrote this item which we reproduce with his permission from the subscriber-only site, www.peterprofit.com

FIFTEEN months ago, after he had won the Frank Packer Plate at just his third start, the connections of the then boom three-year-old stayer Kinane rejected a $2.8 million offer from Hong Kong to sell him.

It was a staggering amount of money to offer for a gelding, and given that the syndicate of owners has paid just $165 000 for Kinane as a yearling, common business sense would been to sell, sell sell, but racehorse ownership has never been a game of pure ration and reason, it's an exercise in chance, hope and dreams of Cox Plate and Cup Day joy.

So driven by these emotions rather than acumen, the syndicate of owners knocked the $2.8 million bid back and, on the advice of their trainer Chris Waller, they took their star north to the reborn Eagle Farm for the 2020 Brisbane Winter Carnival.

It was the worst move they'd ever made in their lives, one that in the space of just two minute would turn their Cinderella Man into a pumpkin.

The Group 3 Gunsynd Stakes, 23rd of May 2020.

It is a race and date that the poor buggers who own Kinane and refused to sell him will remember for the rest of their lives.

Eagle Farm was rock hard that day, like flint overlaid on a base of steel, despite the official Good 4 rating.

Ratings don't mean much at the historical HQ of Brisbane racing anymore. The course proper there is ALWAYS rate a Good 4, even after six days of torrential rain in a tropical monsoohn, but the connections of Kinane didn't know that then, nor did Winxy Waller. If only they'd listened to us it could all have been different, for we tried to tell them, but our warnings fell on deaf ears.

So off to the Farm they went, and for about 180 seconds it looked like a brilliant call, for their star 3YO had put in amazing performance that day, coming from last to run third, giving away a conservative ten lengths to the leaders in the straight and powering home like a rocket. It was an enormous run that had Derby written all over it.

Then the $2.8 million gelding returned to the mounting yard, and joy in an instant turned to despair.

Kinane had pulled up sore.

Chris Waller immediately pulled the pin on the Brisbane campaign, announcing that he was redirecting his star stayer in the making to the Spring in Sydney, and then Melbourne after that.

It was just a slight setback they all thought.

How wrong even the nation's greatest trainer could be.

No-one knew it at the time, but on that day Kinane's career as a racehorse was dead.

Eagle Farm had killed it.

Kinane came back as promised in the Spring, and a promising first-up run over 1400 metres on a soft track at Randwick had everyone excited again, but the older, wiser heads were quietly questioning why Waller had raced a horse of his calibre in a restricted class BM88 instead of starting his Group 1 campaign in the black type Winx Stakes or the Show County run on the same day.

Their questions became louder when Waller put Kinane in another restricted second-up a fortnight later instead of running him in the Chelmsford or the Tramway. It was just the great trainer's genius many retorted when the issue of the unorthodox campaign was raised, but as we were all soon to learn it wasn't, and they were wrong. Winxy was just praying and hoping for a miracle.

The Caulfield Cup favourite put in a shocker that day, finishing well down the track in tenth place and being beaten home by ability limited gallopers like Sir Plush and Matowi. This time the excuse was second-up syndrome. He'd be better in Melbourne they said.

So down south Kinane sailed to line up at Caulfield fortnight later in the Catanach Stakes, so desperately chasing prizemoney to get him qualified for the Cups that Waller scratched two of his stablemates to get him into the field.

He should have left them in.

Kinane went worse not better, finishing 13th of 16 runners, beaten a country mile without giving a yelp.

Two weeks later he broke down at trackwork at Flemington.

The Cups dream was over.

It was all over.

The Stewards put a bar on him, and off to the paddock Kinane went.

While he was out spelling Waller quietly told the connections that it might be best to move him on, so they sent him back to Melbourne and Mick Kent, who had trained him for one start as a juvenile. Maybe a return to familiar surrounds might get him back to where he was before he went to Eagle Farm they figured.

But dreams are dime a dozen in racing, and theirs was dead.

At the end of last month Kinane appeared for the first time in nine months in a mid-winter benchmark 88 at Caulfield.

He went like a busted banana, but it was only to get worse, for yesterday the horse that only a year and a quarter ago they'd knocked $2.8 million for turned up in a Welter over 1600m at Flemington and ran last, beaten 9 lengths by a bunch of nobodies. The next time we see him will be in an online horse sale with a price tag of 20 grand, or running around jumping over fences at Casterton in a steeple.

Eagle Farm's a great track they say.

Try telling that to the owners of Kinane.

I don't think they will believe you.

Moral of the story?

Never race your good young horses at the Farm.

Always sell when you are offered a seven figure sum.

There is always a new day and another horse.

But there's never another three million.

 

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