Jenny - Clean



ONE of Australia's biggest punters, who once employed a team of people to wager about $2 million every week on the country's racing codes, is poised to exit the local industry in protest over uncompetitive betting markets.

ADAM PENGILLY reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that the mysterious bettor, who is only known in racing circles as "Dr Nick", is on the verge of abandoning Australian racing as bookmakers struggle with increased levies, including the point of consumption tax.

While it is impossible to ascertain how big Dr Nick's operation has become in Australia, industry insiders estimate the punter accounts for about six per cent of all money wagered on Australian racing with his bets placed by an army of runners.

He was known to employ some of the sharpest minds in Australian racing and would then dispatch people to racecourses and TAB outlets across the country to place his bets, which would range from low-key midweek country racing to major Group 1 days.

Such is the volume of money wagered by Dr Nick's syndicate, the bets have a significant impact on market fluctuations in all races.

Sources familiar with Dr Nick's practice suggest he's already one of Britain's biggest punters and will likely focus more on that jurisdiction while basing his operation overseas.

It is another worrying development for the Australian racing industry, which reported a sharp downturn in overall wagering on a number of major spring carnival meetings in Sydney and Melbourne this year.

Dr Nick was only rivalled by Zeljko Ranogajec as one of the biggest gamblers on Australian racing.

Australia's record prizemoney levels for thoroughbred racing will come under enormous pressure after the exit of Dr Nick, with both NSW and Victoria waging an arms race to lift stakes money in recent years.

"They're killing the goose that laid the golden egg," renowned bookmaker Robbie Waterhouse said.

"This is all in response to the increasing taxes being imposed on Australian markets and it's unbelievable someone as big as Dr Nick has turned his back on Australian racing."

The majority of the country's foreign-owned bookmakers reported huge cuts in profits of their Australian operations after the introduction of the point of consumption tax, levied at different rates by state governments.

It has left bookmakers increasing their margins on betting markets, resulting in some of the industry's biggest punters lowering their turnover. Other professional punters are having their accounts shut by odds-makers who don't want to take their bests.

Australia's biggest online bookmaker Sportsbet reported a $40 million hit to its profits for the six months to June 30 this year.

Asked about Dr Nick's Australian exit, TopSport director Tristan Merlehan said: "If someone that is regarded as the best in the industry can't make it work, how are the professional or low margin punters on the precipice going to do it? That's going to further exacerbate the reduction in turnover I feel - and he stimulates the market and backs a few runners [in races].

"There needs to be something done before it's too late. Five years ago for every $5 we held on racing we held $1 on sport and now it's up to 50-50. It's certainly been a massive change and it needs to be addressed.

"It's just been a case of the margins have steadily crept up from all operators and it's just making it more difficult for professional punters with low margins and high turnover to survive in the marketplace. If they're not profitable they have to dedicate their resources to another market.

"Unless something happens all these big increases in prizemoney are going to have to be changed. It doesn't look like there any changes on the horizon and these people are saying 'if we don't talk with our feet then nothing's going to move'."





  1. My Kiwi Mate

Has performed okay throughout the series, but likely to find itself buried way back the fence, is totally outclassed, and has no chance.

  1. Sicario

Miracle that its even here. Draw a line through it

  1. Ashley Locaz

At 20-1 this All Start Stable fourth or fifth stringer is the huge value runner in the field. His manners at the start have been atrocious during the series, and as a result he’s had to do it hard in every heat but has performed outstandingly given these handicaps. If he begins solidly from the mobile arm and holds a slot in the running line you’d have to give him a sneaky chance off the right tempo.

  1. On the Cards

Archie’s great white hope, but no-one else’s. Barry Purdon’s number 1 stable driver Zac Butcher has defected to stablemate Mach Shard, despite it having a worse draw, but old folk like me remember Vinnie Knight pulling the wrong rein when he chose Bag Limit over Jodie’s Babe in an Inter Dominion too, so even the greats occasionally get it wrong. It’s too late for me to bail, so I have to declare the horse the Purdon’s call Ace half a chance, even if my heart’s not in it.

  1. Ultimate Sniper

Have you ever seen a horse so short in an Inter Dominion final? On what it’s done in the heats it probably deserves to be too, and if Sniper comes out and wins by 10 lengths in a track record no-one will be surprised, least of all me. Yet I still have these niggling little doubts. There’s just something about this superstar that always worries me, and that is his propensity to put in the oddly unexpected Barry Crocker. For that reason, and the fact that 4-year-olds have an appalling record in the Grand Final, I’m prepared to bet around him, probably at my peril.

  1. Mach Shard

The buzz out of the Barry Purdon yard is that AG’s White Socks is the stable’s number one pick, but I’d rather be on this bloke. He is the right age, has competed credibly against the cream of the crop coming through the age ranks, was enormous in each of the heats, and in particular his sixth in round three was an absolute bottler, with him actually taking ground off the Sniper in the straight, albeit off a far softer run. The genius Zac Butcher has plumped for him over On the Cards, which is a pretty fair pointer to his chances. At near 100-1 he’s the greatest value since Vegemite was on special at the Geebung Four Square back in the early eighties for fifty cents.

  1. AG’s White Socks

As noted below he’s the pick of the Purdon yard, and on the strength of his wins in the first two heats why wouldn’t he be? AG’s not for me though. I reckon both of those heats were run perfectly to suit, and his wins were thus flattered. There is no way he is going to receive the same luck from the 7 marble in this final, and he could well find himself parked outside Sniper after 400m, which wouldn’t be good for his or any horse’s health. Pass.

  1. Triple Eight

Has come ahead in leaps and bounds over the past few months, and despite the 6-0-3 numbers recorded against his name Triple Eight’s heat runs have been great. Drawn in I may have given him a bolter’s hope, but barring miracles from the car park draw his hopes look forlorn

  1. Chase Auckland

Has been wonderful without winning in the heats but drawn behind Kiwi Mate is a plague that you couldn’t have cursed him with if you tried. No hope.

  1. San Carlo

A huge disappointment in the series for mine. Yes there have been excuses – a gallop in round 1, the death seat in 2, and a punctured tire in 3 – but still he just hasn’t looked the same horse that he did in Melbourne. Drawn on Sicario’s back off the second row means that idiot Jason Bonnington’s favorite horse (his number 1 band is probably Status Quo) will end up near last early, and in San Carlo’s current form that’s far too big a mountain to climb.

  1. Cruz Bromac

Can you believe that this warhorse is $7.50 in the betting market? 23 wins from 50 starts, more than a million dollars in prizemoney, a win and two seconds in the heats, victor in the New Zealand Cup, third in ID18, won the Len Smith Mile. It’s pretty good form, and he will be coming through early on stablemate Ashley Locaz’s back and then almost certainly going up and around. Cruz is a huge chance, and my number 1 selection.

  1. Classie Brigade

Good horse but not good enough yet. First emergency and unlikely to get a run.

  1. TheFixer

The unluckiest horse in the world during the heats, and his bad luck continues with this horror draw in the final. It may not be as bad as it seems though, because he will be coming out directly on Sniper’s back, and the face is certain to be pressing forward. He’s a very, very good pacer this bloke, and with an ounce of luck he’s in the final up to his eyeballs.


  1. Cruz Bromac
  2. The Fixer
  3. Mach Shard
  4. On the Cards

Lay – Ultimate Sniper, AG’s White Socks, Chase Auckland

E/W Roughie – On the Cards





We Care So Much About Horses That We Send them out in the Midday Sun

CAN you imagine sending your two-year-old kid out at 12.23 in the afternoon to run 1.2 kilometres under the blazing sun on one of the hottest days of the year?

I hope not, because you’d be headed straight to prison if you even countenanced it, and quite rightly so too.

Yet the Queensland racing authorities were steadfast in their insistence that young horses of the same age would be forced to run at top speed over the distance in the mid-day sun at Doomben last Saturday, and claimed that it would all be cool because they had an ice machine on hand to help the juvenile gallopers beat the heat, and plenty of water, and a bit of shade, and some barrier attendants who are highly unqualified in the diagnosis, assessment and treatment of heat stress on hand to help out, a couple or few vets too.

What a farce the commitment to animal welfare by those whose wages are paid by gambling turnover on racing really is.

Punters generally don’t care about animal welfare; they just want to back winners, and if a jigger’s what it takes to find one, then happy harping all day it will be.

Racing Queensland doesn’t care. It’s stocked by public servants with no industry experience, and their managers who do know the difference between an exacta and a quinella know that if race meetings are rescheduled or called off their salaries will be negatively affected, so when forced to decide between running a horse race full of walkers in 40 degree in the shade heat or missing their mortgage payment and having their families kicked out of their home they race for bugles and start pumping out Da Da Dump, Da Da Dump, Da Da Dump, Da Da Dah!

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission is paid to care about the welfare of animals – in fact it was established for that very purpose; or at least that’s what we’re told – but the problem over there is the same as it is at Racing Queensland, that being that without revenue from non-stop gambling turnover no-one is going to get paid at all.

Industry participants care, but how many struggling trainers with a dozen or less in the stable want to miss out on the chance to win prizemoney just because it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the footpath, or boil a billy by leaving it out in the parade ring for five minutes or fewer?

How many owners are prepared to pass on the possibility of scoring a 50 grand pay check in preference to making sure their horses don’t sweat? Or jockeys forsake a full book of nine rides at $220 plus winning percentage a pop?

They are all rhetorical questions, and all have the same answers. Some, but not many. The racing train must go on, and on, and on, and…

Why do we even pretend that we care about the welfare of the horses that we bet on, train, ride or race when by participating in the sport we tacitly consent to rules that expressly allow jockeys to beat them with a whip? You can’t stun a horse with a prod, but you can bash the crap out of them 173 times over the final 100m if your twitch fibres are fast enough to allow you to do it.

Go figure hey?

Two and a half years ago well-known former bookie Dominic Beirne was asked this question by racing writer Brad Davidson in an interview for The Daily Telegraph:

How can Australian racing officials ensure racing remains relevant in society today?

This below was Beirne’s reply.

To be relevant, you have to firstly exist. As we’ve seen recently with the greyhounds, there’s no certainty of relevance if you don’t behave well. About 10 years ago, the Australian Racing Board under Andrew Harding got on the front foot with important issues of public interest — whip usage and tracking horses from birth to death to ensure they’re treated properly.

And just one last question: In the middle of a heatwave, when there was no rain for the week and supposedly the BRC dams are running out of water making it near on impossible to use too much on the tracks, how could Doomben be deemed anything less than a GOOD 4 for racing on Saturday. It was in fact in the SOFT RATING – go figure punters when you’re doing your form. And rather than ask for answers to this all we got from those ‘experts at SKY, like Weekend at Bernie’s and Sam the Proud Maroon was: “Don’t worry it will be GOOD when they start racing”.

Go figure!


High Quality of Stewarding in Queensland – And Cross-Dressing Geldings Running Around Like Cinderella Wearing Only One Slipper

THE former Dick Van Dyke-trained speedster The Mechanic - who early on in its career looked like it might be a decent horse, but isn’t – cast a plate on the way to the barriers to compete in a cats’ race on the Bundaberg sand worth five grand to the winner.

For unknown reasons presumably related to the absence of a farrier (on a racetrack!), the flea couldn’t be reshod. So, for equally unimaginable reasons, the Stewards allowed it to run around with one plate on and one plate off.

Imagine running away from the cops down the Queen Street mall with only one shoe on. You’d become more than somewhat unbalanced, wouldn’t you? And get caught before you could make it from Hungry Jacks to Jimmy’s on the Mall.

That’s exactly what the Mechanic did. It ran last, beaten a dozen lengths by a nine year old superstar that three starts ago had been thrashed by seven lengths in a slow race at Gayndah.

When questioned by Stewards about the poor performance jockey Tall Paul Hamblin was very disappointed in the gelding’s performance. He told the stipes that he was happy with the run to the middle stages, but that when he asked for another effort of the horse it failed to respond.

Trainer G. Richardson was advised by the Stewards that should anything come to light in the coming days which may explain the poor performance of the horse he must report it to them.

Stewards reported that: A post-race veterinary examination of the mare revealed no apparent abnormalities.

Except for the fact that SHE’S actually a GELDING, and bunny-hopped around Bundy wearing only one shoe.

Fortunately for the connections The Mechanic made it to the finishing post by midnight and avoided turning into a pumpkin.

Unfortunately for the poor punters the one-shoed hopscotching chaff bandit started $1.70 favourite, and they did their dough before the gates even opened.

It’s all about integrity sports fans, or at least that’s what I’m told.


You Just Have to Love QTIS – The Greatest Waste of Money Since Anna Bligh Spent Gazillions Building Desalination Plants When It Didn’t Rain for a Month

HAVE you ever been to Texas?

Not the place in the cowboy movies, the joint in Queensland.

Me either.

Grace Darling went there on Saturday to race in a Maiden off the back of a near year long spell and form that read 6000 from its past four starts, beaten all up by more than 50 lengths.

The race was worth five grand to the winner.

The QTIS bonus was worth five grand all up too.

After beginning awkwardly and shifting out abruptly Grace Darling won it.

The Stewards didn’t ask a single question about the mare’s rapid improvement, but the Queensland breeding industry moved ahead in leaps and bounds.

Gee that was money well spent.


The No Jockey Late Scratching Crisis Continues but Racing Queensland Has a Solution – Sort of

TWO horses were late scratchings from the last race at Atherton for not having anyone to ride them.

One was supposed to have been ridden by apprentice S. Gittos, who buggered up his foot after his mount in the first smashed him into the side of the barriers.

The other was pulled out because it was the tenth horse in a 10-horse field, and even while Gittos’ foot was in one piece there were only nine riders at the meeting.

A horse was late scratched at Texas for a similar reason.

Racing Queensland are rumored to be investigating the possibility of issuing temporary 457 visas to the great, great grand-nephews of outback Afghan camel riders of the 19th century in order to ensure that we don’t need to import a cage full of monkeys from Africa so that every horse accepted for a race in Queensland can have a jockey too.


Charters Towers Has the Answer However

ÒNLY three horses were late scratchings at Charters Towers for not having jockeys.

The Stewards reported that one was because it was second emergency and its trainer didn’t want to make the eight-hour trek from Mt Isa on the off chance that it might get a run. The fact that it was number 14 for a 12-horse race at a meeting at which there were only 10 jockeys apparently had nothing to do with it, just the same as the scratching of two horses in Race 4 had nothing to do with them not having anyone to ride them either.

They were just glitches though. Otherwise out at Charters Towers they have the solution to the jockey shortage crisis well sussed.

The answer?


Keith Ballard has a gold card; Jason Barbarovich and Frankie R. Edwards are getting one soon; Jason Hoopert, Jeffrey Felix, Terry Hill and Ray Hancock are all over the hill side of 40; and the comeback kid Rick A. Nelson (they love middle initials in the bush, probably because the jockeys and their brothers all have the same first names) who can’t quite make the 59 even on a 41 degree day – which is no surprise given that he has only recently returned to the saddle after a two decade absence - is pushing the big Five O.

Age shall not weary them, and it makes sure that slow horses have old, fat riders too.

The word out of the Deagon bunker is that the Racing Queensland boffins are tonight bunkered down preparing comeback contracts for Scrivo, Leggy, Kelly Schweida and Lyle Plumb to return to race riding. Good judges reckon that the jockey ranks will be improved by their coming back in boots and spurs too.


From the Vegas Penthouse to the Shitsville Nowhere Cellar

WHILE the under 40 and non-South African jockey ranks in Queensland continue to rapidly thin, one of the more promising apprentices from this State in recent years was seen spurring slow ponies around in Gunnedah on Saturday for winning purses of 11 grand.

Clayton Gallagher had five rides for a win, a third, a sixth, a seventh and an eighth.


One Plus One Equals a Hundred, Not Two

BUSH trainer Craig Smith was fined $100 for presenting SIDINA with the incorrect saddlecloth.

But Smith had two in the race, so if he presented the wrong saddlecloth on one, wouldn’t logic suggest that he presented the wrong saddlecloth on the other one too?

Go figure!


Wilcock Scores a Threesome

SOPHIE Wilcock rode a treble in Roma.

Lucky horses I say.

Hannah Phillips scored a threesome at Bundaberg and Skye Bogenhuber netted one on the Downs too.

Poor old Maggie was stuck with just four rides in the sand on me.

She was bloody unhappy about it too, as you can see from the PHOTO ABOVE taken at the Pullman in Palm Cove yesterday arvo.


Coke Ain’t It – Not Unless You’re Watching From Archie’s Side of the Stand

Remember the old ads that declared Coke Is It?

The Coca Cola Company lied – just like they did way back when they invented Santa and told us that cocaine was a fine Class 1 drug to have in your soft drink.

Young Irish apprentice Tom Sherry believed the bullshit for a while, but after almost derailing his career after testing positive to the now banned Colombian marching powder the 20-year-old leprechaun wised up, moved to Australia and switched to Fanta.

On Saturday afternoon at Newcastle little Sherry rode a treble, and good on him too.

On Boxing Day the little bloke gets his just reward for abstinence. Maggie’s put him on her horse French Response in the Class 1 at the Castle, one of Frenchie’s lead up runs for The BMW. If he kicks it home as expected she might even keep him on in the Group 1.

Just say no to drugs. We don’t need them in racing.

Not on the course proper side of the fence anyway.


The JC Show Just Rolls On

I think the last time I gave the King of Capalaba a mention in one of my columns John Catton was training at a strike rate of 40 per cent. Now it’s 60% from his past 10 starters, and 80% the place.

Perhaps the little fella can train after all, or maybe sludge just rises to the top.

Let the scoreboard be your guide.


The Light Shines on the Dark Knight

VINNIE Knight was a legend of Australian Harness Racing, or so they say.

The same people who say it also say that he raced his horses clean and that he really did shoot himself in the head after a fun night out because of lament and lost love for Lisa Justice. For donkey’s years people have blamed her for his passing, and some fools still do.

There’s a very strong rumor that Vinnie wasn’t squeaky clean and was about to squeal, and that other crooks topped him, just like they did the main witnesses in the Blue Magic affair.

Mildura is the magic word, and if you remember it then that is all you ever need to know.

I gave journo Andrew Rule a pasting in my column this week for his disgraceful attack on Bill Waterhouse, but we all make errors of judgement. His story on the torching of Gordon Turner’s stables 30 years ago should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the story of Vin Knight, the blurred lines between truth and lies, and the definitive connections between Victorian harness racing and organized crime.

You can read it here

I strongly suggest that you do.


The RAD Board Tells it Like it is on Cobalt – But Archie Has the Retort

IF the rules say lemonade is performance-enhancing, so be it. This Board cannot re-interpret the rules. What they say, they say. Whether or not cobalt does or does not affect performance is a matter which we are not interested in.

Those are the opening words of Judge James Bowman, the Chair of the Victorian Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board, on Monday at the opening of trainer/rider Steve Pateman’s appeal of his conviction for what is probably the highest cobalt reading ever seen in this country, if not the world (1200 off a 100 threshold).

Sadly, the Judge is 100 per cent correct.

If the Rules of Racing say that a bloke jockey can’t wear lipstick, then Estee Lauder it just can’t be. It’s bloody stupid of course, just the like the cobalt rules, but what the hell can a racing man do if he turns up in pink lippie or his horse throws a positive to the by-product of a standard B12 injection?

Bugger all is the answer. The rules are the rules are the rules.

Racing lawyers need to start looking out of the box and start bringing competition law and tort into their arguments on all matters lipstick and cobalt if their innocent clients are ever to have a chance of beating these bum wraps.

When they do and they start winning, just remember that IT was Archie who devised the riding instructions first.




SINCE I penned my last story on Justracing on 4/8/16 and sold all the racing domain names and websites that I owned to undergo a medical procedure before semi-retiring, I’ve been offered several jobs writing racing stories. Some even came with a “name your own price”, which was flattering, but as the racing industry is its own worst enemy and is pretty much beyond help from an animal welfare perspective, I just wasn’t interested in starting writing again. More than three years on, I have made an exception and have penned the following story and whilst I wouldn’t know letsgohorseracing website owner John Lingard if I passed him in the street today, he’s kindly agreed to put the following article up on his website.

What I have written won’t be popular in some racing circles, but I make no apology for that and really couldn’t care less how racing hierarchy feels, as life is not a popularity contest and each person needs to be true to themselves in their daily life.

I advocated getting rid of the whip in racing for many years on Justracing and in late 2019, with the topic firmly back in the spotlight, I thought there would never be a better time to get mobile and do my bit to get the whip banned. In making the aforesaid statement, I fully understand that the harness racing industry has done a terrific job to scale the whip use down in their industry to its current level, but unfortunately the harness industry is “guilty by association” with the thoroughbred industry, so as the public perception is that a whip is a whip, it needs to be banished permanently from both the harness and thoroughbred industries.

What Quadrella of events occurred to necessitate my needing to bring the racing industry to account in a very public way – via not only penning this article, but also a campaign involving multiple anti-whip billboards on major highways?

In order, the four Quadrella legs were won by – The 7.30 Report, RadioTAB anchors, Mark Zahra and Glen Boss.

Some within the thoroughbred racing industry ranks slammed the recent ABC 7.30 Report footage that was taken at a knackery at Caboolture for the way it was presented. My thoughts are that millions of Australians from across all sectors were absolutely disgusted by the footage that was aired. I don’t give a damn whether “they” acquired the footage over two days, two months, two years or two decades, what was captured on film was what I’d call “an absolute and utter disgrace that would shock the average Australian”. In part, the footage portrayed the racing industry, which I’ve been involved in for over half a century, in a very poor light - yet again – and that exact same scenario has been a constant now for many years.

The Australian racing industry across its three codes sadly has a long and sordid history of atrocities being committed and it needs to get its house in order - and keep it in order. Most members of the general public would have reasonably been entitled to think that the racing industry would have been jolted into immediate and long-term harsh remedial action after the greyhound live baiting scandal broke in mid-2015, but naturally the extraordinary amount of negative publicity at the time has really amounted to nothing, as in the four years since, the racing industry has been rocked by a plethora of more bad news stories. The person whom many in racing circles declared “the best trainer in Australia” and a “master trainer” - Darren Weir – was outed for four years over possession and use of jiggers and recent newspaper reports have since advised that police investigations are ongoing and that Weir may, in due course, face “animal cruelty” charges. One wouldn’t have to be allocated an over-abundance of grey matter at birth, to draw the conclusion that it would be a million-to-one and drifting that Weir was the only licensed thoroughbred trainer in Australia to be in possession of and/or using jiggers on racehorses.

The second leg of the Quadrella that raised my ire was when two RadioTAB anchors who are regularly on the airwaves Monday to Friday inclusive, when I’m out exercising between 5.30am and 6.45am, openly mocked “protestors” who were at the Melbourne Cup the day before. I accept the protestors are a minority group, but we live in Australia, which is thankfully a democracy and it therefore follows that these people are perfectly entitled to exercise their democratic right to protest lawfully – in an attempt to get their message across. Love them or loathe them, the facts and realities are that the protestors against aspects of racing conduct themselves in a peaceful manner and don’t commit any anti-social acts in order to gain media attention. It is my considered opinion that it would take more guts to stand in front of a pro-racing crowd with banners decrying the industry than to mock them publicly on a racing radio station.

People need to understand that the history of our world is littered with stories of minority groups that rose from total obscurity to change the course of certain aspects of our daily life. From one solitary person standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square, to a few “do-gooders” as they were called at the time, starting the anti-smoking lobby, they have all come back to haunt those who initially mocked them.

The third leg of the Quadrella is Mark Zahra and the fourth leg is Glen Boss. Both are Group 1 winning jockeys and in the case of Boss, he’s even won three Melbourne Cups, the point being that neither is a poor battling 50-kilo bundle of joy from the bush who apart from plying his trade as a jockey has to work as a labourer at a factory through the day - just to get by financially.

For his part, Zahra rode Southern France to win the Zipping Classic at Sandown on 16/11/19. The only thing Zahra conveniently forgot to do, as he’s required to do under the Australian Rules of Racing was to count to five, as that’s the maximum allowable number of times he can hit his mount with the whip, prior to the 100-metre mark. Via either watching a thoroughbred race live on television and/or reading thoroughbred stewards’ reports after a race meeting both bear testament to the fact that the whip rule is flouted by jockeys on a daily basis around this country. In the video footage of the race in question, the Zipping Classic, Mark Zahra first hits Southern France with his whip at the 575-metre mark. One could raise the question. did he really intend in the next 475 metres (575-metre mark to the 100-metre mark) to only hit his mount another four times? It’s history that Zahra won the race on Southern France. To their credit, the Racing Victoria stewards were straight on to Zahra’s overuse of the whip in that race and they hauled him in, over what would be about the millionth whip infringement of the whip rules by a jockey in this country since the new rules were introduced. Here’s what the Racing Victoria stewards report on the day stated:

Mark Zahra, rider of Southern France, pleaded guilty to breaching the provisions of AR132(7)(a)(ii) in that he used his whip on eleven occasions prior to the 100 metres. M Zahra had his licence to ride in races suspended for a total of six meetings to commence midnight 23 November, 2019 and to expire midnight 28 November, 2019. Further, Mark Zahra was fined $3,000. In assessing penalty Stewards took into account that he was first placegetter in a Group 2 race, his record in this area and the totality of his whip use.

So as per the aforesaid text, Zahra got fined $3,000. That is what I would call “totally ridiculous”, as his five per cent share of first prizemoney, exclusive of any “slings” that he may get from the numerous happy owners of the horse, is $9,000 (the jockey gets five per cent of first prize which in the case of the Zipping Classic was $180,000). If I were a jockey and I was going to still get to retain $6,000 of my $9,000 earnings for blatantly breaking the whip rule, I cannot see how there is any deterrent whatsoever in the aforesaid stewards ruling. If I was running the show, which sadly I’m not, or I’d sort some of this rot out in about five minutes, I would fine the jockey his entire $9,000 minus what the current losing riding fee is as well as give him a lengthy suspension, during which he could seek tutoring on counting to five, which is probably something that he mastered when he was about a five-year-old.

Australia-wide did the jockeys learn anything from Zahra’s $3,000 fine and a bit of a suspension? Don’t be stupid, of course not, because just seven days later at the Kembla Grange “metropolitan” Sydney meeting the following Saturday, in a new $1 million prizemoney race called “The Gong”, Glen Boss did the same as Zahra and forgot to count to five before the 100-metre mark. Again, to their credit, this time Racing New South Wales stewards nailed Boss for hitting his mount Star of the Seas 15 times before the 100-metre mark and amazingly according to the stewards report on the matter, Boss, who has been a licensed jockey for 30-odd years, obviously also encountered a problem understanding what “consecutive strides” actually are. The full stewards’ transcript on the whip issue of Boss reads:

RACE 6: The Gong 1600m: Star Of The Seas – Prior to the declaration of correct weight, the Stewards identified from the inquiry room that G. Boss had struck his mount on 15 occasions, including on 13 consecutive strides, prior to the 100m. When Stewards could not be satisfied that Star Of The Seas had gained an advantage resulting in it finishing in 3rd placing in the race in accordance with AR221(2), they declined to exercise their powers under AR132(10) and did not proceed to a formal protest. At a subsequent inquiry G. Boss pleaded guilty to charges under AR132(7)(a)(ii), in that he used his whip on 15 occasions, 10 more than what is permitted under the rule, and AR132(7)(a)(i) in that he used his whip on 13 consecutive strides. G. Boss's licence to ride in races was suspended for a period to commence on Sunday 24 November 2019 and to expire on Sunday 8 December 2019, on which day he may ride. In addition, G. Boss was fined the sum of $4,000.   

Given the what I call “patronising piffle” that alleged “racing journalists” write, on virtually a daily basis, it’s amazing to me how major whip infringements like Zahra and Boss aren’t unceremoniously bagged in the writings of these “racing journalists”, but I guess in life, and moreover in racing, it’s just easier to look the other way and pretend that no problem exists.

Only a few people in Australian racing are prepared to rock any boat on the whip issue. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the sole Chief Steward at a thoroughbred race meeting in Australia, with what I’d call enough “testicular development” to uphold a protest over whip use, was Racing Queensland steward Paul Gillard. Interestingly, Gillard, a former jockey himself, and his panel, which consisted of another former jockey and trainer, Neil Boyle, along with Daniel Aurisch and Trudi Frazer upheld a protest at Caloundra over whip use in March 2016. A precedent was set that day by a panel of stewards who were doing exactly what every steward in Australian racing is employed to do, which is enforce the Australian Rules of Racing. It’s not rocket science – there are a set of clearly set out rules and they are enforceable. As an analogy, if I fail to obey clearly set out road rules and choose to drive down the road at 130kmph in a 100 zone, is it the police officer’s fault for pulling me up and booking me?

To show exactly how stupid the whip rules in this country are, if you simply look at the two examples that I’ve set out above, Zahra loses $3,000 of his $9,000 – so in terms of his percentage of his winning riding fee, he loses 33.33% ($3,000 fine) meaning he gets to keep 66.66% ($6,000). In the Boss case, he, via his fine, loses $4,000 of his $5,000 riding fee for running third. So Boss loses 90% and gets to keep just 10%. Both jockeys blatantly breach the whip rules by hitting their respective mount a very similar number of times, yet the percentage they get to keep is vastly different between two different States. Rather than just pen this story and bag the current “stupid” whip enforcement system, how would I fix it? My immediate “fix” would be that the jockey who is so blatantly in breach of the rules loses his entire five per cent prizemoney earnings irrespective of where he finishes (remember up to 10th in the Melbourne Cup earn $100,000 prizemoney so the jockey whose mount runs 10th in that race gets $5,000) and the only money he or she is entitled to keep is the current losing riding fee - as at the date of his or her indiscretion – which is currently about $180. He or she also gets suspended immediately for one month for the first offence, two months for a second offence and three months for the third and each subsequent offence. By invoking my idea, we’d soon see how quickly some of these jockeys take to learn to properly acquire the hardly amazing skill of being able to count to five.

In fact - I’ve got a much better idea. Let’s get rid of the whip altogether in racing forthwith, as for starters, punters are absolutely sick and tired of jockeys that cannot operate within the current rules. If the jockeys have no whip, they can go back to being horsemen and horsewomen and ride horses out to the finish line hands and heels. In thoroughbred racing the powers that be along with the trainers, jockeys and owners all publicly say “ah the new padded whip doesn’t hurt, it just makes a noise”. What a crock of fertiliser that one is, but the thoroughbred racing industry has successfully pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes with that lie, since the padded whip was introduced in 2009. I may look stupid, but rest assured I’m not, and I’ll bet you a pound to a pinch of the billy goat fertiliser derivative that if I walked up the main street of any town or city in Australia that you care to pick and randomly selected members of the public to give themselves a real good hard whack in the leg with a “padded whip” that the vast majority would say “it hurts”. The thoroughbred industry will say “oh yeah it might hurt a human, but a horse has a hide whereas a human has skin” and all this allied rot. Unfortunately, apart from the television personality named Mr Ed, some decades ago, horses can’t talk, so even if the hide/skin scenario had any small amount of truth about it, the general public will continue to think that hitting horses in 2019 with a whip is not in line with community expectations. I venture to say that 99% of thoroughbred owners have never even held a padded whip, so in reality they aren’t even qualified to say whether it hurts or not, but if they were to give themselves a real good hard whack on the leg with the seamed section, they’d soon become very educated on the subject. It’s simply a fact that with a very minor change in the angle that the jockey’s whip hits the horse at, either intentionally or unintentionally, the seamed section of a padded whip is capable of hurting. The stitching of a padded whip is such that if a horse was hit with the stitched seam there’s hardly a person born that would say it doesn’t hurt. But talk is cheap, so to that end, I went and bought a commonly available and Australian Racing Board approved padded whip and last Sunday I took that padded whip to the Marburg TAB harness meeting and I randomly selected a cross section of attendees, primarily licensees, but also included some members of the public and I showed them a “padded whip” and afforded each the opportunity to hit themselves with it on their leg. Of the 20 or more people whom I gave the chance to hit themselves with the seamed section of the padded whip (not the flat front or back), all except one agreed that a hard hit with the seamed section hurt. Thankfully, thoroughbred stewards have the authority under the Australian Rules of Racing to come down hard on a jockey where the “seam of the flap is the point of contact of the horse”, but with a horse at full gallop and a jockey wielding the whip in a very fast motion, the simple facts and realities are that there’s not a person born whose eyes would be able to detect if the jockey was using his or her whip within the rules of racing on that score. I stand to be corrected, but I can’t recall ever reading in any steward’s report where a jockey was ever charged and/or fined for hitting their mount with the seamed section of a padded whip. Interesting also is the fact that all whips that jockeys use are black in colour, which makes it even harder to detect any slight indiscretions with its use. As an analogy, you don’t send a black pacer around in a race with white gear, as it’s a no brainer that any abnormality in respect of the gait of that pacer would stand out like a beacon in Sydney Harbour at 10pm.

The racing industry will also say the whip doesn’t promote a horse further forward of where it would have finished, had the horse not been hit with the whip, so whilst common sense isn’t very common in the racing industry, provided the racing industry isn’t talking with a forked tongue on that topic, then by the simple extrapolation of that statement, banning the whip won’t make one iota of difference to the result of any thoroughbred or harness race, as based on their own wording, the whip is incapable of making a horse run faster.

I believe the harness industry can – and should - move quickly to get rid of the whip entirely from their sport and via the harness industry setting the precedent through banning the whip, the thoroughbred industry would be left like a shag on a rock, which would surely prompt that industry to also ban the whip. Why should the harness industry ban the whip? Well it seems totally Irish to me that the harness industry can race at Brisbane’s RNA show with no whip allowed to be used, with the obvious primary aim of that strategy being not to offend the non-racing adults and children that attend the RNA, yet 10 minutes down the road at the TAB meeting at Albion Park, the whip is always on the agenda. The “Irish” part of my equation comes into it on the basis that on the Sunday night at the RNA Show, the pacing final is worth $10,000 in total prizemoney. At the Albion Park TAB meeting the night before, the total prizemoney for a normal race was just $6,650, so no whips are allowed in a $10,000 race with thousands of members of the public watching, but whips are allowed in a $6,650 race at Albion Park with virtually no crowd present. If that scenario alone isn’t a reason to just get rid of the whip in harness racing, well I don’t know what is. 76-year-old Denis Smith, who has been licensed in the harness racing industry for 53 years, also writes a weekly harness story for the Ipswich daily newspaper, The Queensland Times. In part, Denis wrote in his column on 16/11/19: “We have the lows of whips and the treatment of horses at an export facility north of Brisbane. The sooner the racing supremos understand that the whip must go and that abattoirs must learn that the un-rehomable must be treated with total consideration and kindness in the process, the sooner that gallops and harness will rebuild the public support they once had. The simple truth is that we ignore public opinion at our own peril. What was acceptable in the ‘age of the horse’ will not wash today and it is racing which has to change, not the potential punters”.

Then when men like successful businessman and six-time Melbourne Cup winning owner, Lloyd Williams, call for the whip to be banned in this country, one would reasonably think that he’s worth listening to.

We all have a front row seat to change this right now. The “followers” will do what they always do and look the other way – it’s easier that way. I won’t look the other way. I’ll do something constructive to try to right this wrong and leave the world a better place for the next generation of Earthlings.

There is no question that banning the whip will happen one day – so we may as well do it now - and get it over and done with. Why the hell is it the responsibility of the next generation to do something that we’ve had decades to resolve, but just haven’t quite got around to doing yet? By banning the whip, the racing industry can move forward, instead of having to endure constantly declining attendances and betting turnover at big race meetings like the Melbourne Cup. With no whip in sight, the under-30 demographic of today, who are the future of not only the racing industry, but the entire nation, may enjoy a day out at the races without having to witness horses being hit with a whip. If the young people of today are being raised to play rugby league, but not keep a score of the game, as “it’s all a bit of fun and we don’t want winners and losers” – well how the hell will whip use be allowed in racing when we current older people are merely dust and these now young people are running the show?

Owners habitually say “we love our horses” and that’s supposed to be music to my ears and give me a warm and fuzzy feeling all over. The problem is that if “we love our horses” why do all owners allow a contracted rider, namely a jockey, to potentially what I’d call “belt the fur” off the horse, every couple of weeks – when that horse races? As an analogy, if a parent were to publicly state that “we love our child”, would it then be right for that same parent to hit their child with a padded whip every couple of weeks, even if that child was trying its hardest at the task that he or she had been set? In modern day Australia, the answer is the parent would be met with the full force of the law and would be in court on assault charges. Yet strangely in the racing industry, it’s somehow easier to just go with the flow “and look the other way”.

In closing, I also advise that from an integrity perspective, I instructed the people I employed to do my artwork to change the racing colours in the billboard photo, so as to protect the identity of the horse and jockey in my photo. Additionally, I advise that the whip action has not been altered from my original photo. Furthermore, all associated costs in the multiple currently displayed billboards have been privately paid for by myself and not so much as $1 was raised for the project via contact with any other “protestor” group that some in the racing industry choose to “mock”.

If you don’t believe any of the aforesaid text has any traction, then please click on the link below. Mainstream “racing journalists” who were on course at Flemington naturally saw nothing, as remember “it’s easier to look the other way”, but one female journalist penned this most interesting story about what she spotted in respect of the 2019 Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare.  

EDITOR’S NOTE: Phil Purser founded the Justracing website in 1997. He was named the 2005 media award winner for “the best print story by a newspaper, journal or website” by the governing body of racing in the State of Queensland – Racing Queensland. His first foray into the racing industry was via his calling harness racing at the Maryborough (Queensland) Showgrounds as a 12-year-old in 1967. Until his semi-retirement in late 2016 due to a health issue, he was Australia’s largest website owner, operating four racing websites with daily content Monday to Friday inclusive. He remains to this day, one of the few people in Australia who has owned winners across all three codes of thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds. He’s the author of a 2006 published 606-page racing book, which contains cumulatively scores of biographies of racing people from across all three codes. He championed the cause of female jockeys in this country to the point where Jim Haynes in his 2015 published book “The Big Book of Australian Racing Stories” reproduced, with permission, Phil’s 2005 website story “Those Hopeless Sheilas Go Okay” back in an era when most males in thoroughbred racing considered female jockeys just “hopeless sheilas”. Amazingly, just 14 years on, the thoroughbred industry is heavily reliant on female jockeys. In 20 years of owning and operating racing websites, Phil put the first race club, first thoroughbred stud, first jockey and first trainer on what was then new technology called the Internet and along the way he helped scores of apprentice jockeys and young harness drivers on their path to success, by not only penning stories to give them a public profile, but also through his generous sponsorship to the Mini Trotters Association at not only race club level, but also at major events like Brisbane’s RNA Show. In 2005, one of his four racing websites raised enough funds to ensure Australia’s first female jockey, Wilhemena (“Bill”) Smith, a female who had ridden as a male, as females were banned from being jockeys back then, had a proper grave and appropriate headstone erected for her in Herberton Cemetery. She lay in an unmarked pauper’s grave at that cemetery before Phil got involved and righted what he saw was “a terrible wrong”. In 2010 Phil, his wife Denise, jockey Cecily Eaton and Lynlea Small, a licensed trainer and the wife of Group 1 winning jockey in four states, Cyril Small, organised a fundraiser function at Kedron Wavell Services Club in Brisbane for Chinchilla-based thoroughbred trainer Andrew Donnelly who had been badly injured in a trackwork fall. The fundraiser raised $30-odd thousand and gave Andrew some valuable breathing space to recover from his serious injuries and today Andrew is back training winners. An avid racing photographer, Phil also heavily promoted the three codes of the racing industry by placing tens of thousands of fully captioned photos across the various websites over two decades between 1997 to 2016. For many years, his opinion on all things racing was sought, when he was a regular on RadioTAB and television station Briz 31 and he had numerous educational punting articles reproduced in major publications like Practical Punting. As recently as August this year, Phil was the sole member of the public to answer a call in the weekly harness column of the local Ipswich newspaper, The Queensland Times, from the Marburg Pacing Association, for ideas from members of the public to increase revenue streams for the club. The club committee adopted his recommendation on the night of his presentation and a “50 Club” was formed whereby 50 individuals or businesses each put in $220 annually with a variety of prizes for winners. The 2019 version of the 50 Club has already been drawn and the club now sees the 50 Club as being capable of creating a valuable long-term revenue stream.

The current Australian Rules of Racing in respect of whip use read:

AR 132 Limits on the use of a whip by a rider

(1) A rider may only carry in races, official trials, jump-outs, or trackwork a padded whip of a design and specification approved by Racing Australia (“approved whip”) which is in a satisfactory condition and has not been modified in any way.

(2) A person must not have in his or her possession: (a) a whip which is not an approved whip; or (b) an approved whip which has been modified in any way.

(3) The Stewards may confiscate any whip which: (a)is not an approved whip; or (b)is an approved whip which, in their opinion, is not in a satisfactory condition or has been modified in any way.

(4) If an apprentice jockey breaches subrule (1) or (2), the master and/or other person in charge of the apprentice jockey at the time of the breach may also be penalised unless 68 that person satisfies the Stewards that he or she took all proper care to ensure the apprentice jockey complied with this rule.

(5) In a race, official trial, jump-out or trackwork, or elsewhere, a rider must not use his or her whip in an excessive, unnecessary or improper manner.

(6) Without limiting the generality of subrule (5), in a race, official trial or jump-out a rider must not use his or her whip: (a) forward of the rider’s horse’s shoulder or in the vicinity of its head; (b) using an action that raises the rider’s arm above shoulder height; (c) when the rider’s horse is out of contention; (d) when the rider’s horse is showing no response; (e) after passing the winning post; (f) causing injury to the rider’s horse; (g) when the rider’s horse is clearly winning; (h) when the rider’s horse has no reasonable prospect of improving or losing its position; (i) in a manner where the seam of the flap is the point of contact with the horse, unless the rider satisfies the Stewards that that was neither deliberate nor reckless.

(7) Subject to the other requirements in this rule: (a) prior to the 100 metre mark in a race, official trial or jump-out: (i) the whip must not be used in consecutive strides; (ii) the whip must not be used on more than 5 occasions except where there have only been minor infractions and the totality of the whip use over the whole race is less than permitted under subrules (7)(a) and (b) and also having regard to the circumstances of the race, including distance and context of the race (such as a staying race or a rider endeavouring to encourage the rider’s horse to improve); (iii) the rider may at the rider’s discretion use the whip with a slapping motion down the shoulder, with the whip hand remaining on the reins; (b) in the final 100 metres of a race, official trial or jump-out, a rider may use the whip at the rider’s discretion.

(8) A trainer, owner or their authorised agent must not give instructions to a rider regarding the use of the whip which, if carried out, might result in a breach of this rule.

(9) A person must not offer any inducements to a rider to use the whip in a way that, if carried out, might result in a breach of this rule.

(10) An owner or that owner’s authorised agent, trainer, rider or a Steward may lodge a protest against the placing of a horse where a rider breaches subrules (5) or (7) during a race.

(11) Notwithstanding the provisions of subrules 7(a) and (b), a PRA that has charge of the conduct of jumps racing may provide separately, at its own discretion, for the regulation of the use of the whip in jumping events under its own Local Rules. If that is done, any provision of that kind will not be limited by subrules 7(a) and (b).

JOHN LINGARD, the EDITOR of letsgohorseracing and RACING AROUND PTY LTD, the website publisher, has been a great fan of Phil Purser and what he has contributed to and achieved for the three codes of racing in Queensland. We have no hesitation in supporting his stand for WHIPS TO BE BANNED. 


ARCHIE BUTTERFLY takes an in-depth look at all things HARNESS RACING & his FAVORITE RACE – the INERDOMINION


VOTING is about to close in the first contested Board election held at Albion Park since Lucky Creed was racing around right-handed off 100 metre handicaps.

With the votes soon to be counted the bookies are still struggling to frame a market on the outcome.

The Bantam (Fowler) is said to be extremely confident about being re-elected, so much so that he’s crowing about it as a certainty.

The crew close to King Kevin Seymour AM are quite certain that their man Brad Steele will be elected too, with neither side willing to put their necks on the line and vouch an opinion about who will win the third spot up for grabs.

It’s going to be a very interesting to watch the results whichever way they fall.

After being suckered by the State Government when they closed Parklands and screwed six ways to Sunday in the decade since, will the Albion Park club members be brave enough to believe the politicians promises about a new ‘world class’ track when there is no site selected, no contract signed, and no money set aside specifically in the piggy bank to build it?

Kevin Seymour and his supporters don’t, but the Bantam does, and that’s what this election is all about. That and perceived treachery in the name of self-interest and a long-desired spot on the Racing Queensland Board when the Whirlwind (RQ Chair Steve Wilson) blows off back to rowing boats on the Brisbane River, and the thoroughbred slot becomes available after Quirky steps up to replace him as Chairman.

Or at least that’s what I’m told.

The election won’t be the end of the intrigue either, for the Chairman (or woman) of the AP Board is not directly elected by the punters, but rather by a vote of the Board. If both the Man of Steele and the Bantam get up in the vote then there will no doubt be a spill for the Chairman’s spot, and the Board members will be forced to show us all where their loyalties lie.

It’s going to very, very interesting indeed.

Watch this space.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As a postscript to the above we received this email from a prominent and long standing harness racing participant and follower of the code in Brisbane.

‘IF Feathers Fowler upsets King Kev’s wishes and survives the Albion Park committee vote it will be the greatest boilover since Polly Put the Kettle On.

The adage in harness racing for decades has been: What Seymour Wants Seymour gets – and that applies to everything from politics to business and his play thing – the red hots.

If Fowler survives it will be a major embarrassment and blow for King Kev. But if Seymour’s man Brad Steele is then elected Albion Park Chairman by the Board, which would save face for King Kev, the situation becomes untenable for a toothless Chook.

Let’s face it Steele has the business acumen and harness background that far usurps what Fowler has achieved as a race caller and media commentator not to mention where Albion Park has landed under his chairmanship where they have to throw the gates open at Carnival time to attract fans.

After watching the politics of harness racing in Queensland for more time than I care to remember might I suggest (and many in the same boat as me share the same opinion) that either Seymour or Fowler have to go.

Who would have thought that the one man who has not only helped Feather survive but also built his reputation on the back of some very bad behind the scenes publicity would be the one to face humiliation?

For some of us there will be a touch of irony if David fells Goliath in this battle of the heavyweights of harness racing in Queensland.    


INTERDOMINION 2019 - The Colt and Cold Regret

AFTER the third and last round of heats the field for the Interdominion Grand Final has been determined, and tragically our Queensland boy The Colt isn’t there. He should have been, and if a driver of the calibre of Zac Butcher or Natalie Rasmussen or even Dexter Dunn brought over specifically from America had been steering Mr Seymour’s star he would have been.

I’m not going to rub salt into anyone’s wounds, but there are some gaping questions to be answered about how and why a Group 1 winning pacer who ran the fastest last mile in the first round of heats could only finish 9th, or why his driver Grant Dixon told the world that he had to go forward and make his own luck in the second heat to earn enough points to compensate for his horrible error of judgement in the first round, and then froze like a rabbit in the spotlight and tried to go back instead, ending up three wide and flattening his horse so much that it couldn’t ping when he finally drove it decently in the last round.

Most of all though I want to know why any driver of a live chance in an Inter Dom in their right mind would not go over and drive at the host track to get a feel for it prior to coming over and butchering a great pacer’s only chance of ever winning an Inter Dominion (only chance because Belle of Montana is going to win the next three). It’s the sporting equivalent of madness. How on earth did Moses think he was just going to turn up to the tricky Alexandra Park in Auckland on which horses run around in the opposite direction to Australia, and come, see and conquer against rival drivers who have raced there a thousand or three times?  I don’t understand it, and I never will.

I feel sorry for Kevin and Kay Seymour. This should have been the couple’s 50th anniversary of involvement in harness racing present, but instead they’ve floated away from the City of Sails with the sporting equivalent of scurvy. It’s just not fair, but then life isn’t either.

Allow me to say just one thing.

I reported more than a year ago, and have repeated endlessly since, that for all his greatness The Colt had a glaring Achilles heel, and no, it wasn’t Grant Dixon. He’s just a handicap. The real problem was always that Colt Thirty One couldn’t run faster than 55 seconds for the final half mile, and horses that can’t break 55 just don’t win Grand Circuit races. I said it once, I said it twice, I said it a million times, and I was absolutely right.

Guess what time The Colt ran for his final half-mile last night?

55 seconds neat.

Say no more.


Belle of Montana

JUST as a long time ago I told readers about The Colt’s fatal flaw, I also told you from before even her first start that my mate Dean Shannon’s then filly Belle of Montana was a once in a generation superstar, and although it took a long time for the hardened fans of Nat Rasmussen and Mark Purdon’s All Star Stable to believe me – thank God for that, because I would never have been able to snatch the double figure prices early that lifted me (temporarily) out of poverty – no-one is disbelieving me anymore.

What Belle did by winning four Group 1 races and smashing the all-time Zealand mares record over 1980m at Addington while still an immature three-year-old filly is unprecedented, and it has been my great privilege to have been there with her, Dean, trainer Barry and driver Zac every step of the way, including collecting the trophy for her first G1 win at Alexandra Park on NYE last year.

That was great, but what Belle has done in the first two starts of her second preparation over the past fortnight is even better, for post a spell the genius Barry Purdon has turned Belle from a machine into a monster.

In their Inter Dominion heat wins last night the brilliant Ultimate Sniper ran his last quarter in 27.3, and his super courageous top-flight stablemate Cruz Bromac went even faster, sizzling home the final section in 26.7 seconds.

Know what our Belle of Montana ran for her final quarter in winning the Group 3 Caduceus Breeders Stakes on the same card?


Eat your heart out rivals.

And look out Miracle Mile.


Big Ba - The Greatest Harness racing trainer in the Southern Hemisphere - Ever, Bar None

BIG Barry Purdon was having a bit of a dry spell by his own lofty standards until Belle of Montana came along, but having a mare who might well be the best of the 21st century so far in your barn does wonderful things for a man, and the last  few times I’ve had drinks and dinner with him Barry was floating on pure air and oozing with the scent of a winner.

As such it’s no great surprise that he’s conjured up a miracle by getting three widely (and incorrectly) presumed no-hopers into the 12-horse final field, and it will be no surprise if any one of AG’s White Socks, Mach Shard or On the Cards wins it at bolters’ odds either, although the general consensus is that they and every other horse in the field will need a Bradbury-like scenario to unfold if they are to beat the amazing Ultimate Sniper.

While it’s a very hard proposition to argue with, I am not entirely sure that I agree.


Even Ultimate Snipers Can Be Shot Down

THE whole world is declaring Ultimate Sniper a past the post certainty in the Grand Final to be run at Alexandra Park next Friday night, and on the strength of the amazing four-year-old’s wins in each of his three heats it is very easy to understand why, because the Sniper has been absolutely incredible doing it the hard way in each and running super-quick time too.

If this was a contest between robots the Sniper would be unbeatable, but it’s not and he is not either, for the superstar has both a hurdle to jump and flaw to defeat, and plenty of real good horses and drivers trying to prevent him from doing this.

The hurdle is the Sniper’s age. He’s four, and only two four-year-old’s have won the greatest race in the harness sport over the past three decades - Shakamaker in 2000 and Jodie’s Babe in 1989 - so the law of averages is not kind to the near certain odds on favourite.

Ultimate Sniper’s flaw isn’t either, for this brilliant pacer has this very odd habit of throwing in a Barry Crocker from time to time, and if you don’t believe me just take a look at his 9th in the Vero Flying Stakes back in March, or his abysmal performance in the Ashburton Flying Stakes only six weeks ago.

Sure, the brilliant All Star Team of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen seem to have turned the star youngster around, and he has been absolutely devastating during the heats, but I for one still wouldn’t want to be taking the silly tomato sauce odds on offer in the final.

We will do a full preview of the big one later in the week.


Archie, Ace, and the Unit in Port Douglas

EVERYONE who is anyone laughed at me when I backed On the Cards to win a two-bedroom unit at Port Douglas in the pre-post Interdominion market, and my protestation that even if Ace runs a place I will win six months’ worth of time share on the unit didn’t stop them. With the bookies rating Ace as a 100-1 shot in the final the chuckling still hasn’t subsided, but more fool the mockingbirds.

On the Cards is there as a live hope in the final and fancied runners like Bling it On and The Colt aren’t, and Ace is a very sneaky chance of pulling off the greatest upset in Inter Dominion history.

You just watch!

I Got a Bad Desire – Oh, Oh, Oh, Maggie’s on Fire

HOW many blokes are married to a bird who has owned three winners and a third from her last four runners at the local dogs, a second placegetter at a NSW Saturday metro gallops meeting, and a winner at the trots in New York, all in the space of a week?

Not many is my guess, and that’s because their name isn’t Archie Butterfly.

Maggie’s always wanted her name in a race book, and I’ve made sure it happened by buying her a few horses as an early present. That’s because I love the girl (although sometimes - especially when I’ve done something wrong and am copping the wrath of Khan - God knows why).

My girl is certain that one of her eight or nine two-year-old’s is going to win the 2020 Slipper, and the fact that only two of them have names so far doesn’t dent her confidence at all. I won’t argue with her about the issue - only an idiot would argue with a gal who can throw a right left right triple shot like the Big M – but rather just sit back and keep checking the mailbox for prize winning checks.

My great hope is that it’s the Snitzel that Sheila Laxon trains that lands the Slipper.

I’ve always wanted an excuse to kiss a Melbourne Cup winner.


A Xmas Gift from Emma Stewart, Andy Gath, Kevin Pizzuto and the Trittons

CAN anyone tell us why last year’s Interdominion winner Tornado Valley was running around at Cranbourne on the weekend for first prize money of less than 15 grand when it could have been competing in the ID heats at Auckland chasing a spot in the Grand Final for half a million bucks?

If you can answer that one perhaps you might also tell us why Tiger Tara isn’t there or any of the horses from the all-conquering Emma Stewart stable. Or any from the Tritton barn, or Kevin Pizzuto’s other Open class pacers.

One would be crazy to suggest it would have anything to do with the rigorous in and out of competition drug testing procedures employed by the Kiwis, or the fact that all the friendly local stewards stayed home?

Nah, perish the thought.

In the full spirit of the season Christmas they just wanted to gift half a million to their poor struggling colleagues across the ditch like Mark and Nat. Good on them too.

Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho.


The Mercury is Rising but Betting Turnover Won’t

HAVE you ever heard of a Group 2 race at the gallops being run over 800 meters and restricted to horses with a Benchmark Rating (BM) of 89 or below?

Of course you haven’t, for the idea is absurd. Group racing is for the elite performers, and Group races are open to all comers, with the only divisions being by age or sex, not by class, which makes Harness Racing Australia’s allocation of Group 2 status for the novelty Mercury 80 series run over the silly distance of 1200m little more than a joke.

This Mercury 80 series is nothing new, but rather a rebadged and rescheduled version of the old one-off Stampede, developed by some  brain surgeon who hasn’t had a look at the bookies’ ledgers, and therefore doesn’t understand that drunks in pubs don’t bet on the trots whether the races are run over six furlongs or whether they are run over sixteen, but has looked at the rise and rise of greyhound wagering turnover  and has wrongly deduced that it’s short duration racing that sucks the mug punters money in and tried to copy it.

Sorry Sunshine, if it was as simple as keeping races short and sweet the 55 second challenge at Moonee Valley, the Bat Out of Hell and the Cannonball at Kilcoy would be the richest races in the thoroughbred code, not the Melbourne Cup. The idea of an 80 scamper for horses pulling chariots has been tried up here in Queensland by Kev, and it failed. That’s because it’s a dud. Punters aren’t interested in races that only restricted grade horses with inside draws can win, as I’m sure Harness Racing Victoria are about to find out over the coming months.

Giving Group 2 Status and $50 000 prize money to a trot race restricted to horses with a rating of no more than NR89 and paced over 1200m is laughable. It does nothing more than highlight the inadequacies of the current harness racing administration regime, and devalues our wonderful sport.




AFTER a year of domination on the global racing stage, it was only fitting that Japan was the overwhelming force at Sunday’s Longines Hong Kong International Races.

While there were plenty of other storylines from Sha Tin – the brilliant Joao Moreira riding half the card, the end of Beauty Generation’s reign, the odds-on defeats of Exultant and Aethero and the failure of Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck – there was one overpowering theme, the strength of Japanese racing.

TOM BIDDINGTON reports for the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST that even without their best horse – Almond Eye was withdrawn from the Hong Kong Cup a week ago (imagine how far she would have won by) – the Japanese still ran rings around their rivals.

Glory Vase was, appropriately, irresistible in the Vase, Admire Mars stunned his rivals in the Mile and had his trainer in tears, before Win Bright, who should apply for a Hong Kong residency given his affection for the place, put the icing on the cake in the Cup.

Hong Kong’s only success came in the Sprint from the amazingly consistency Beat The Clock (pictured above courtesy of HKJC) – and a hometown victory was expected given there was only one visitor among the field of 12.

In all, seven of the nine Japanese horses who made the trip finished in the prize money, taking home HK$49.4 million of the HK$93 million on offer.

It caps off an incredible year where seven horses from the Land of the Rising Sun won eight Group Ones on overseas soil. The previous best was five in 2016.

It started with Almond Eye in the Dubai Turf, Deirdre won the Nassau Stakes in Britain, Mer De Glace (Caulfield Cup) and Lys Gracieux (Cox Plate) saluted in Australia, while Win Bright (QE II Cup and Hong Kong Cup), Glory Vase and Admire Mars tasted success at Sha Tin.

It is just the second time Japan has won three of the four HKIR races on offer, also achieving the feat in 2001 with Eishin Preston (Mile), Stay Gold (Vase) and Agnes Digital (Cup).

Moreira, who sat aboard Glory Vase, knows the ability of Japanese horses better than most.

“What they’ve done here today is very impressive but it’s not a surprise to me. I’ve got to congratulate them for what an amazing job they’ve done to get to the standard that they are at,” Moreira said.

“They have reached a standard that is eye-catching, everyone else is watching them and they are actually scared. You don’t want to challenge those big horses that they have got because you know there is a chance that you’re going to get beaten. Today proves that.”

The four HKIR Group Ones were broadcast into Japan to a potential 44 million homes via the “Green Channel” for the first time today and it was something that Win Bright’s trainer Yoshihiro Hatakeyama was very aware of.

“It was the best day for us, many racing fans are watching the live coverage in Japan,” he said.

While many eyeballs watched from home, the crowd suffered an enormous hit, dropping from 96,388 last year to 27,965, largely the result of the ongoing turmoil in Hong Kong.

But the fall in attendance didn’t affect betting with punters investing a record HK$1.71 billion on the meeting.

“It has been one of the most challenging times to organise it,” Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said. “Our staff have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure this world-class meeting went ahead.

“We deliberately were not pushing our attendance. We wanted to be absolutely sure that everybody who came to the races would be able to go home safely because we knew there was a big demonstration on the island and we didn’t want to take a risk. We had a lot of in-depth planning for this meeting.

“We are more than delighted about turnover, we didn’t expect to get a record HK$1.706 billion.”




IN his column yesterday LGHR Editor Lucky Lingard tipped that at least a couple of shorties would get beaten at the Sunshine Coast last night, and lo and behold the vastly experienced racing writer was right.

There were some other peculiar things that happened at the meet too. Let’s have a look at some of these.

Race 1

RYAN Maloney is riding the Toby Edmonds-trained $2.20 shot Usmanov, which jumps from barrier four in a 1000m scamper. It begins okay but Maloney shows no real interest in hunting through with the leaders and lobs a spot in the one-one. So far so good.

Then for no reason at all, and despite being at least two lengths clear of his roughie rival Bachelor’s Art, Maloney lets his horse drift three wide and allows the roughie up the middle. The Stewards later say he raced three-wide with cover, but unless they can see invisible horses that no-one else can see, that reported observation is a load of crap.  How can you be three-wide with cover when there are only two horses in front of you, and one of them is on the fence and the other racing outside it? Wake up to yourself Emus, what are you trying to do, become Chief Steward or something?

Usmanov looms up to win at the furlong but as soon as it gets to the lead it stops, the extra effort from the unwarranted three-wide trek clearly telling as it fades over the final 100m into third. ‘

Lucky’s tips are off to a flying start.

Favourite backers aren’t.

Race 2

BIRKIN Black is the $2.50 favourite in a race over 1200m. It starts from barrier 2, jumps well and looks like taking the early lead, but jockey Sean Cormack decides that he prefers fighting a horse that has just been suddenly shifted down two gears in three strides to having the wind in his hair, so eases it back into third place. The reefing and tearing competition between horse and rider tells and Birkin Black just battles into fourth place after never looking like winning.

The funny thing is the apparent lack of vigour that the former South African hoop displays in the straight. Cormack must be a member of Animal Lib I reckon, because he only used the whip on four occasions during the entire race that I could count, and just once in final 200m, and even that was a feather light, left-handed, half-sissy slap of the sort you’d imagine the Bantam throwing if someone took the RESERVED sign off one of the three poker machines that he was simultaneously playing at the Albion Pub on a Monday morning after the Press Room.

The Stewards fail to comment. The Emu’s probably getting his glasses checked by the on-course optometrist, a bloke named Ray Charles.

Race 3

THERE were no optical illusions by the rider of the favourite in this one, but rather by Brad Stewart, rider of the third favourite Willo Titto, a last start Ballina winner, and by the Stewards. Eye doctor Charles has obviously been very slow in assessing Chairman of Stewards Emu’s specs.

Willo Titto jumps only moderately, is eased back by Stewart, and lands in a spot one off the fence slightly worse than midfield over the mile journey, which is not such a bad thing given that the Hulbert-trained No Refund is going like last week’s pay in front.

Stewart doesn’t think so though, for after the field has gone about 300m he hooks Willo Titto out three wide as if he’s about to dash around them up to a position outside the leader but it’s a mirage, for all he really does is amble up into nowhere, and from that point on his mount never sees anything less than two horses inside him, and three and four of them on the home turn.

The Stewards are seeing ghosts. After WIllo Titto naturally battles into 8th spot, the Emu’s crew report that he raced three-wide with cover, but just like the incorrect report about Maloney’s mount in the first there is no cover there, only just a horse racing in the death seat and another in the 1-1, and then young Bradley Stewart racing out in the ranges all on his Pat Malone.

As an aside, the tearaway leader raced at Doomben four starts back, and hung out severely on the home turn. When called into the Stewards’ room for a chat about ophthalmological issues and his charge’s errant behaviour, Ben Currie’s former BFF Wild Bill Hulbert declared that he would look to race on bigger tracks in future starts. Then he took No Refund straight to Ipswich, and then back to Doomben.

The Stewards didn’t say a word. They were probably cleaning their new glasses, the ones with the cast iron lenses.

Race 4

THE Kelly Schweida-trained, Mark Du Plessis-ridden galloper Slow Hands goes off as the 6-4 favourite and performs like a busted bum.

The poor horse is probably missing Schweida’s self-declared BFF Wayne ‘Is there anything for me’ Innes, who is presently serving out the tail end of his ultra-light sentence for rather huge multiple frauds gifted to him by the courts as a big thank you for being a stool pigeon and police informer.

Race 5

FINALLY a favourite lands when The Move leads and kicks his rivals’ heads in.

Nothing further to report, except that punters are still trying to recoup on the horse when it was a long odds-on loser on debut.

Race 6

FIRST starter All Native is sent out as the $1.60 favourite.

It misses the start after rider Brad Pengelly appears a fraction slow to respond, is sooled up the rail by its rider, goes to the lead, and then pulls like Wicked Wendy at Bubbles Bath House in the early 80’s and is the first horse beaten in the straight.

Dick David Vandyke says the filly is off for a spell. Let’s hope it’s not to the glue factory house of fun at Caboolture.

Race 7

THE night ends as it began and as it continued for six of the seven races on the card, with a favourite going down.

It’s yet another Edmonds/Maloney combination, but this time the defeat of the $2.30 favourite Nemingah is not its own jockey’s fault – it’s rival Robbie Fradd’s.

Fradd is riding a walker named Lyon’s Mane, which has failed to run a place in 14 previous career starts. It jumps okay and is eased into a spot one off the fence about 7th, and after pulling a little early when Fradd put the brakes on it seems to settle into a slow groove, but at the 1200 the Lyon’s rider pulls it out suddenly and swoops around the field three wide.

It catches up to the leaders – one of whom is Maloney’s mount Nemingah, which is travelling sweetly outside the front running horse – and Fradd looks like taking the Lyon to the lead, but just as Maloney eases the fave to let the former South African who was famously charged with race fixing in Hong Kong across, Fradd puts the brakes on too, leaving Maloney no option other than to kick up and hold his position in the middle.

From then on it is nightmare for the punters desperately seeking to get out by backing the market leader, for once Maloney boots back up Fradd outs the pedal down again, and for the better part of five furlongs the no-hoper gasses Nemingah, and by the time they reach the 300m it’s all over red rover and goodnight nurse, and long before they have hit the winning post favourite backers have headed for the gates and gone to look for bottles they can cash in for 10 cents a pop to scrounge enough dough for the petrol required to make it home.

It was a great night out, and a fun time was had by all. Some more than others. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.

EDITOR’S NOTE: THE LGHR LATE MAIL tipped ALL NATIVE to get beaten and told clients to jump on SIR PELLIAS in the last that NEMINGAH was a risk. Our best of the night – Lickety Lackie – won the second thanks to a Darryl Hansen plonk. But we prefer tipping in Melbourne where our two specials – DEPLOYS ALONE & GOOD THERAPY duly saluted at the VALLEY. As for the Sunny Coast it’s time that Chief Stipe Peter Chadwick used some of his international experience, got off his behind and took a drive up there for one of the meetings and had a closer look at what’s going on. Then again our Asian spy insists when Peter was running the show in Singapore one of his favorite days was Monday – after the weekend races – sitting down with the panel and picking the dead-ens. That surely can’t be true. One thing is true though unless his 'boys and girls' start lifting their act and protecting the punters LGHR is going to continue to provide it's own 'Stewards Report' on races in south-east Queensland. Happy Days ahead!   



FEDERAL MP Andrew Wilkie and Reverend Tim Costello are calling for a Royal Commission into gambling that includes the sports betting industry.

It follows revelations by the ABC that one of the largest sports betting agencies is using secret algorithms, restrictions and delaying tactics to skew the competition and drive up profits.

"Gamblers use these sites in good faith, assuming they're playing an honest game," Mr Wilkie said. "But if this allegation is correct, then gamblers are being cheated.

"Not only should we have a Royal Commission very broadly into gambling generally, including casinos, of course, but now into sports betting as well."

Mr Wilkie has previously called for a Royal Commission into Crown after a whistle-blower came forward with CCTV footage and allegations that foreign high rollers avoid customs inspections and exchange huge amounts of cash with no trace at its Melbourne casino.

"The picture's pretty clear that the gambling industry in this country is pretty rotten. Any sort of national inquiry should look at all aspects of it, including sports betting."

Reverend Costello, chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, told the ABC that "piecemeal" inquiries were not going to cut it, and a Royal Commission was crucial for bringing the problems to light.

"No Government will ever act to reform gambling in Australia because of political donations, because of political capture," Reverend Costello said.

"Only a Royal Commission will actually get to the central question: How has Australia ended up with the biggest gambling losses per head in the world?"

Former bet365 customer account supervisor James Poppleton told the ABC in an exclusive interview that the betting agency has a set of secret tactics that target winning punters.

"You can't win, those that win are stopped. Those that lose are exploited and then they develop cheating techniques as well," Mr Poppleton said.

ABC Investigations also obtained a series of documents from inside bet365 that reveal how winning customers are restricted from betting large amounts with the company.

Bet365 told the ABC in a statement that its service is provided "in accordance with its published terms and conditions and all applicable laws and regulations".

As part of those terms and conditions, it can close or suspend an account at any time for any reason.

Mr Poppleton also claimed these algorithms applied not just to winners, but those who lose as well.

"As soon as you start losing, they'll open you up to lose more and more and more, you can bet bigger and bigger amounts," he said.

"If you stop winning, you're allowed to bet more and more and more. It's the opposite of responsible gambling."

Reverend Costello said the allegations were "truly disturbing and should be investigated".

"Bet365 is using data and algorithms to maximise profits, but in doing so they are exacerbating gambling harm," he said.

"They can and should be using this data to identify harmful levels of gambling to provide help to those who need it, not exploiting people for staggeringly high profits."

Bet365 said it had "a robust responsible gambling policy in place to monitor each customer's gambling patterns and expenditure and ensure that their gambling behaviour is within responsible limits".

Bet365 is a privately owned, UK-based company that is licensed to operate in Australia by the Northern Territory.

Mr Wilkie said Australia needed a national gambling regulator.

"Up until now, gambling in this country has been largely regulated by the state and territory governments, and they have consistently shown they can't be trusted when it comes to overseeing gambling within their jurisdictions," he said.

He believes state and territory governments have become reliant on gambling taxes so it is not in their interest to prioritise consumer protection.

"State and Territory Governments, on one hand, want to maximise gambling revenue and on the other hand are supposed to ensure gambling houses act properly and that punters are protected. There's a conflict of interest that doesn't work," Mr Wilkie said.

Alastair Shields, the chairman of the Northern Territory Racing Commission, rejected the idea that the regulator had a conflict of interest.

He said he has had complaints about restrictions being placed on successful punters' accounts, but there was little he could do about it.

"Essentially, it's a contractual matter between a client and a sports bookmaker," Mr Shields said.

"That's a bit the same as if I go into a shop and the shopkeeper decides they don't want to serve me. They can decide not to do that."






WE assume you will be too busy resting up in preparation for a big day at Doomben tomorrow but on behalf of the punters could you make an exception and head to the Sunshine Coast this evening.

Punters have had a gutful of the beaten favorites at this venue in recent weeks, especially those that look good things and perform like mules without any explanation being sought by your panel.

Tonight there are several odds-on fancies. We are not suggesting anything untoward will happen but if recent history is any guide one or two of them will perform below expectations.

We would ask the same of the stewards in Sydney tomorrow where the Chris Waller stable has half or near half the field in some races but it would be a mission impossible to expect anything different down there.

Most punters have given up trying to follow the Waller fancies where second string horses, backed at good odds, inevitably upset their more favoured stablemates and then the mainstream racing media – rather than ask questions on behalf of the punting public – simply highlight an excuse or terrific training effort by the great one.

Forget about all the prizemoney increases or fancy promotions until the racing police in NSW and Queensland start to lift their acts punter confidence will continue to plummet.

You might notice we didn’t mention South Australia. That’s because racing there has degenerated into an absolute farce. As one well known interstate trainer commented recently: ‘Take some advice, if you head over to Adelaide make sure you take your own jockey.’        



SOUTH Australian stewards have cleared in-form jockey Barend Vorster of any wrong doing following a complaint from an owner alleging a ride was incompetent, highly questionable or corrupt.

AAP reports that stewards held an inquiry following contact from Mark Hoare, the managing owner of the Paul Preusker-trained Marcel From Madrid, expressing concern over Vorster's ride on the gelding at Morphettville on October 12.

Hoare expressed the opinion Vorster's ride was either incompetent, highly questionable, corrupt or that he failed to give Marcel From Madrid every opportunity to obtain the best finishing position.

Stewards heard evidence from Hoare, who attended the inquiry and acted on behalf of the owners of the gelding, and Vorster.

Hoare's submissions included that Vorster was unbalanced at the start, failed to take runs during the race and wanted to stay inside in the straight while he also tendered correspondence from the Preusker stable, signed by the trainer's partner Holly McKechnie, advising the instructions given.

Vorster told stewards he was blocked on a number of occasions.

Officials examined information from a betting exchange that did not reveal any betting activity outside normal parameters.

On the day, stewards noted Marcel From Madrid began awkwardly then near the 200m when improving on the inside of Karlovasi was obliged to alter his course to the outside of that horse before being unable to improve his position over the final stages.

During the inquiry stewards noted Vorster was not unbalanced at the start and there was no clear option to the outside that would have advantaged the horse.

They added had Vorster not elected to take an inside run, stewards may have expressed concern as to why he had not considered that option.

Formerly based in Singapore, Vorster came to Australia earlier this year to ride primarily for trainer Tony McEvoy.



LETSGOHORSERACING is owned & published by RACING AROUND PTY LTD. JOHN LINGARD, a former award winning journalist, sporting & racing writer is the EDITOR. He is the operator of the LGHR LATE MAIL, an economical, leisure punting service which promises no 'get rich' returns but continues to attract clients. LGHR uses a number of contributors, including ARCHIE BUTTERFLY, one of the most-read and controversial columnists in the country & GODFREY SMITH who provides feature articles on a regular basis. We also invite readers to HAVE THEIR SAY in a popular WHINGE section.



RACING Victoria is reportedly set to seek an audit into the betting accounts of two men caught up in an IBAC anti-corruption probe.

The ABC reported on Monday afternoon that Racing Victoria had ordered the investigation into the accounts of Cr Geoff Ablett and property developer John Woodman.

PAUL TATNELL reports for that the hearing previously heard that Victorian-based racehorse bloodstock management company Spicer Thoroughbreds had been involved in payments to a councillor caught up in the corruption probe.

The hearing had heard that Casey councillor Sam Aziz received $5,000 per month so he could supposedly purchase racehorses for wealthy Chinese buyers.

However, Mr Woodman has since admitted that payments made to Aziz, that were passed through Spicer Thoroughbreds, were to influence his role as a councillor.

The ABC also reported on Monday that Cr Ablett, who is a hobby horse trainer, received $60,000 in the past financial year alone to look after racehorse Prima Facie.

This was at the same time there were multiple planning issues being presented before the council which Mr Woodman had interests in.

The inquiry heard Mr Woodman paid Cr Ablett about $5,000 a month to look after the horse, which stayed in the paddock but cost Cr Ablett about $300 a week to look after.

"Are you seriously suggesting that $180,000 is the cost of keeping a broodmare in a paddock?" counsel assisting IBAC Michael Tovey QC said.

"You were getting paid $60,000 a year to look after a one-third interest in Prima Facie, who was just in a paddock?" Mr Tovey said.

According to the ABC, Mr Tovey said the suggestion was "patently ridiculous", despite Cr Ablett claiming he spent 40 hours a week looking after the horse.

"I thought I was entering into a legitimate horse partnership and I never gave it another thought," Cr Ablett said.

Prima Facie never made it to a race track. asked Racing Victoria whether it had ordered an audit of bookmaker accounts of Cr Ablett or Mr Woodman, what action it was taking or pursuing following the IBAC hearings, or whether it had launched any type of investigation into Spicer Thoroughbreds.

A spokeswoman declined to answer the questions, saying ''we [Racing Victoria] do not disclose the specifics of such activities until such time as we determine if a matter is worthy of action under the Rules of Racing''.

“Where there is a matter of public interest regarding licensed or registered racing participants, our integrity department will regularly seek to garner information to determine whether there is or has been a threat to the integrity of the sport,'' she said.

‘’Where appropriate this includes requesting information from other parties, including wagering service providers, to ensure that the integrity department are appropriately informed and can consider whether they need to proceed with a formal investigation or inquiry.''

The Age reported that the owner of Spicer Thoroughbreds, Brad Spicer, had told investigators the payments made by his company were “totally unauthorised” and he knew nothing of them.


A TALE of TWO ARCHIE’S & HOW the PUNT can be a great EQUALIZER.


OUR own ARCHIE BUTTERFLY was over the moon after his family’s exploits at the dogs on the weekend. Here's his story:

IS there any trainer anywhere in the world right now who's hotter than the Capalaba Greyhound Club Chairman John 'JC' Catton?

JC has nailed five winners and four placings from his past 10 runners, recording the incredible strike rates of 50% the win and 90% the place, and what's even better is that three of the winners and one of the placegetters are Hillbilly Jilly and Skip the Line, both owned by Bananabean Racing, a syndicate managed by my wife Maggie and populated by my kids, my God kids and a couple of real good mates, which since its recent formation has recorded the even better strike rate of 75% winners to runners and 100% the place.

Our pair of yappers success is all down to Johnny Catton of course. He’s an absolutely outstanding mentor of chasers, and as clean as a whistle too. There is no live baiting, or drug cheating, or skulduggery of any kind where JC is concerned, just hard work, brilliant talent, and a devotion to doing the best thing by the dogs and looking after their welfare at every juncture.

Maggie's over the moon, the kids are counting the cash, and a blow-in hippy up in  the North Queensland rainforest has landed a very healthy two leg multi at 83-1 across multiple corporate bookmakers, making it a substantial five figure weekend haul when added to the plunges that the kaftan wearing tragic landed in the Inter Dominion heats, on Tornado Tears in the Melbourne Cup ($6, have the bookies lost their minds), and the Newbury Hurdles at 2.30 in the morning. His Gold Coast based lawyer and barrister from Sydney are rubbing their hands in glee.

Sometimes good things happen to good people, and JC is one of them. Well done to him. And for the sake of the TAB agent in Kuranda let’s hope that the hot streak continues until we all reach pension age.



THEN we have the not so happy ending story of ARCHIE ANDREWS, who spends his spare time most weekends punting when he isn’t working and he especially loves a bet on the Sunday gallops at the Sunshine Coast.

Here’s Archie’s tale of woe:

“I’m one of those blokes who won’t have a bet unless I can see the race and being a shift-worker there are some weekends when that means my punting activities are limited which might be for the best.

I didn’t finish work until late afternoon on Saturday but there was still one race to go at Doomben so I plonked on the favorite Soxagon. In his short career this horse has become a real favorite of mine. I remember backing him in a Maiden at Toowoomba when he won like Bernborough.

Soxagon did the right thing by me again when he won at the Sunny Coast. I missed him when he went to town and won at Eagle Farm then ran second at Doomben. He always seems to be very short odds and I though the $2.8 I took on the Fixed Odds on the TAB on Saturday was the right price.

But he let me down and that was to be the start of a terrible weekend. A fellow TAB punter, who had just finished shift work, whispered in my ear that horses from the stable of Soxagon tend to mix their form and that the strike rate has dropped to rock bottom since ‘Daddy Day Care’ took over from ‘Sonny Ben’ who apparently is living the life of a surfer on the Gold Coast these days.

Back to my story of the punt and I backed up at the Sunny Coast where I love to bet. I won’t bore you with all the details but after hearing that one of the best tipsters on Queensland racing, Chris Nelson, had declared the favorites in the last I decided to put my faith in his confidence.

I couldn’t believe it when Picka Plum, which first-up from a bad alley and over 2200m had finished a close second at a Saturday fixture, came out and ran the worst race of his career. He had won five on end before that mind you.

Adding insult to injury Picka Plum, a $1.9 favorite couldn’t finish in the first three.

I figured that Chrissy Nelson, being the great judge he is, couldn’t be wrong twice in the one day so I buttered up on another favorite Pumpkin Diamond in the last only to see it finish third to the well backed Joy’s Reward.

Jim Byrne spanked apprentice Corey Bayliss’s bum and to say that Pumpkin Diamond was never going to win the way it was ridden would be an understatement.

Now I don’t want to be painted as a sore loser and I’ve preferred to ignore all the stories about the bad statistics of favourites at the Sunny Coast (and in south-east Queensland racing in general) but I was disappointed that stewards didn’t even bother to ask why Picka Plum went so badly or even speak to Bayliss about what had to be a terrible ride on Pumpkin Diamond.

Maybe it’s time for me to start listening to my mates and follow their lead in focussing my betting activities elsewhere interstate in future. I’m far from impressed.



YOU have to hand it to the great Australia media mogul Rupert Murdoch who prefers to live in America and deliver a second rate service to those who still bother to buy his newspapers.

We continually get told how to vote, that George Pell is as clean as a whistle, that the Labor Government in Queensland needs to get tossed out at the next election, that there is no Freedom of the Press in Australia anymore and that social media should be shut down. (On the latter we agree if it is being used for the wrong reasons but those like us at LGHR simply provide an alternative service and we all know Rupert hates competition and loves a monopoly in the media).

LGHR subscribes to the on-line NEWS service and as part of that the bonus is Saturday and Sunday delivery of the newspapers in Queensland (if you can call that a bonus). It provides us with the results service in The Sunday Mail which is normally all we use it for.

But on Sunday, because the last race at Doomben was run at the ungodly hour of 5.55 Queensland Time, the Sunday Mail did not have those results – instead a notice which read Race 9 was not available at time of publication.

On a good day you could drive from where we live to the CBD or News Ltd at Bowen Hills in 15 minutes. They have to be kidding if they call this a newspaper. Don’t bother telling us about your millions of readers – perhaps the true circulation figures would suffice and even a mug knows they are going downhill like an out of control roller-coaster.

And while we’re giving Rupert a backhander, here’s one for Foxtel which he shares an interest with another useless Australian company in Telstra, which continues to charge more than it is worth.

If you happen to have a satellite servicer for your Foxtel broadcast – which millions do – then every time a sparrow farts and the smallest amount of rain falls on your roof you will be out of business and receive the message ‘no signal is being received’.

Is the satellite that Foxtel uses a second hand model bought on the cheap. If the same was being used by those monitoring flight patterns then we would have passenger planes colliding with each other every time it rains.

Thanks a million Mr Mudoch for being part of another shit service for the good citizens of Australia not to mention the battling punters who miss watching a race every time the SKY falls in.




The Albion Park Electoral Challenge

THIS is a fascinating story of patronage and betrayal, snouts and troughs, old and new, competent and incompetent, smart and dumb, chickens and foxes, blokes who can fight and fools who forget they can’t, men who play pokies and men who don’t, the past and the future and the past, and electing a leader who can drag the sport out of the swamp that the men who let Kevin Seymour down landed it in, and back up to where it belongs.

I will lay out the story in a serial over the next week, but the two most important things you need to know for now are to Vote 1 Brad Steele, and that the Bantam is gone.

Speaking of the Bantam

Weren’t his tips good yesterday?

David selected three in each race at Doomben – a total of 27 win bets in all – and landed just two, Dusty Tycoon at $2.70 and A Man to Match at $2.25.

Backing the Bantam’s tips would be like betting on him to still be Albion Park Chairman in a couple of weeks’ time.

A loser?


Stephanie Thornton

HASN’T she been a revelation since coming to Queensland?

We understand that there was some ugliness that led to the apprentice’s move north, but every cloud has a silver lining and Stephanie’s seem to have plenty.

Thornton is a damn good jockey, don’t you worry about that, and thanks to her ability and her determination the world is starting to open for the young rider. Good on her too.


The George Moore

WOW, what a race, befitting of the super-rider from Mackay that it’s named after.

Great ride by Mark Du Plessis on Chapter and Verse. He tucked it away worse than midfield on the fence just sitting and smoking his pipe, popped it off on the corner and steered onto Outback Barbie’s back, hooked around it and went bang. If you backed it, you owe the former South African Kiwi a scratchy for Christmas.

If you backed Outback Barbie Jim Byrne owes you one. A victim of circumstances from the wide barrier for sure, but still I’ve seen better rides.

Brad Stewart on Boomsara couldn’t do a thing from the 15 slot. He was always going to be stuck wide, and the Munce-trained horse’s run was incredible. You’d want to be backing it at the Magic Millions meeting, that’s for sure.

I don’t now what’s wrong with the Snowden-trained Sydneysider Brave Song, but whatever it is I suspect that it’s incurable. Put it on your never again list.



I’VE been very critical of MiRunners, regarding it as nothing more than a unit trust sham that gives punters a tenth of a one percent share in a business structure that owns a horse (not a syndicate) and charges them 250% over the odds in fees for the privilege.

I’m not at all convinced that I’m wrong on that count, but what the concept does do is give poor mugs like me a chance to have some skin in the racing game (a smidgen) other than a losing ticket in the second chance draw for a 10 buck bet drawn hourly at the Aspley Hotel.

As most LGHR readers now know, thanks to Feral Frankie and Lys Gracieux and that Jap that won the Caulfield Cup, my daughter won enough money to buy a joint named Frank Lodge in Byron Bay by the rainforest and not far from the sea – aka Kuranda, or Godzone to writers on a three year can’t leave Queensland probation order – and being a broke and a bum who doesn’t even benefit from the distribution of the Family Trust that she started after the big kick, I’ve moved up to join her for the free rent.

Lo and behold the second person I meet in the tiny joint at the top of the Skyrail is a bloke named Jeff who runs the pub (the first was a dope dealer), and would you believe it Jeff owns shares in the Heathcote-trained MiRunners 2YO Dusty Tycoon that has won two from two, and he’s pretty damn excited about it too.

Lots of people who own micro shares in the MiRunners horse are, as we saw at Doomben, so maybe it’s a wonderful thing to get people involved in racing after all.


Either way I’m still not sure that Racing Queensland is acting within the law by getting into a partnership with the private sector money makers running the show. If that’s okay what’s wrong with the Department of Transport and Main Roads being sponsored by Ford?

And how many owners of the horse are there really? Nathan Exelby claims there are 1,000, but authoritatively puts the number at 680. If that News Limited-owned website is correct – and the Exelby fairytale in the News Limited-owned Sunday Mail is wrong, which is highly likely – then after trainers and jockeys’ cuts the MiRunners owners copped less than a hundred bucks each.

Hope they don’t spend it all in one place.


How Many Starters Does It Take to Push a Button?

DOES anyone know why we had two starters at Doomben on Saturday?

Starter R. Smith opened the gates in races 3, 6, 7, 8 and 9, whereas Starter S. Lister let them go in the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th.

What would Mr Rex Kelly think?


Sexy Rexy

REX Terp played on the wing in the top-flight for St George and did his job more than adequately, turning out in 39 games over four seasons and scoring 15 tries, which is 15 more than most of you and I ever did or will.

Rex’s greatest claim to fame though wasn’t his brilliance on the field; it was missing out on selection in the Saints’ team for the 1993 decider against the Broncos, the Grand Final that went down in history as Alfie’s “St George Can’t Play” day after St George got belted.

What sort of a mug was Brian Smith, and why the hell did anyone ever rate him? Do you know who he left out of his side other than Rex?  The Man – Anthony Mundine.

Rex is a Melbourne Steward these days.

The Man just gets beaten around by bums.

Does anyone know where Brian Smith is?

Once were warriors hey?


Robbie Laing

WE wrote about him a long time ago when he defaulted on Racing Queensland and despite the spin for him stories that some journos, for reasons of their own, have run lately, Racing Victoria aren’t falling for it.

God only knows what Laing’s problem is that has got him into so much trouble, but he’s absolutely rooted in racing now, and it’s hard to envisage any way back. It’s sad for a bloke who had scaled the heights, but shit happens and usually it’s at least half the fault of the person it happened to (unless of course it happened to me).



Riding Honors

THE winners were Scott Sweedman and Alannah Fancourt for booting home trebles at Thangool and Kilcoy respectively.

And honorable mentions to Mark Du Plessis, Stephanie Thornton, Ryan Plumb, Jag Guthmann-Chester, Allan Chau, Brooke Stower, Terry Treichel, Nick Keal and Kenji Yoshida for riding doubles all around the place.


Economies of Scale

THEY raced at four venues in NSW yesterday and two in Victoria.

Racing Queensland funded nine meetings across the State.

Is it any wonder our prizemoney is a fraction of theirs?

I guess at least it’s still better than South Australia’s.

Why do they even bother down there?


Weird Stewards Decisions

THERE hasn’t been more than a half a teaspoon full of rain in Innisfail for a month.

The track throws up as a firm 2, or fast in the old language.

The trainer of a horse named Roscommon approaches the Stewards and says that she doesn’t think her horse will be suited by the track conditions that you could see coming a mile away.

Despite the form guide saying that Roscommon has only recently won a better class race in Townsville on a Good 3 surface, the stipes accede to the trainer’s request and the horse is a late scratching.

They would have to be kidding, wouldn’t they?


Raelene the Non-Queen

Is the Rugby Australia boss a dead woman walking (professionally)? Raelene Castle is one strange looking dude. Isn’t she hapless and hopeless too?


Israel the Loon

HE can play footy like a God, but despite Israel Folau’s convictions there ain’t one, and even if there was Izzy wouldn’t be his man on earth.

This bloke is nuts.

Nevertheless, he will settle his case against Rugby Australia for a fortune.

Castle should ask chief sponsor Alan Joyce to stump it.


The Man

OH dear Anthony – beaten by a bum who hasn’t boxed for 16 years, and never really could.

Why did your people let you do it?

An early pass to a dementia ward is surely just around the corner.

How terribly sad!



WHEN ARCHIE BUTTERFLY wrote exclusively for LGHR that there was to be an election for the ALBION PARK HARNESS RACING CLUB committee involving some big names we , at LGHR, copped plenty of flak.

Well here is the ballot paper and interestingly it contains those high profile identities that we predicted wanted to see the back of current chairman DAVID FOWLER and some of the current committee.

It includes BRAD STEELE, the former harness representative on the RQ Board, who, with all due respects, would be a wonderful asset to the club in its time of need.

To those who sent anonymous emails and made those gutless phone calls in the middle of the night - up yours!



Dear Member,

As you are now aware, five members have nominated for committee with myself, Paul Ellis and Max Simpson each standing for re-election.

It has been several years since an election took place.

It has been my pleasure to serve on the committee since 2003 and as Chairman for the last five years.

I would consider most of you would know me well enough by now so the purpose of this letter is not to campaign for re-election. You, the members, will ultimately make that decision.

More importantly, I believe, is to expand on the decision the committee took recently to cease litigation with Racing Queensland, reported in the Courier Mail on November 21.

The litigation had been in train for almost three years and had been a significant financial expense to the club.

The club took the avenue of litigation as a last resort after several years of inaction to a Court Order that committed Racing Queensland to build a $14 million grandstand to replace the Russ Hinze grandstand.

It is worth pointing out that when the decision to litigate was taken, there had been no discussion or announcement by Racing Queensland to either selling or commercially developing the Albion Park Raceway.

This was announced by Racing Queensland in May 2017 and the club subsequently fought a strenuous campaign that the Albion Park Raceway should be retained as a racing venue.

This was also a costly exercise to a club that relies on its’ finite cash resources and Racing Queensland subsidies for existence.

Fighting on both of these fronts took up much of 2017, all of 2018 and a fair part of this year.

Against this background was Racing Queensland’s unwavering commitment to either selling the Albion Park Raceway or commercially developing it themselves.

This was, and is, wholeheartedly supported by the current State Government.

Another key point that is sometimes forgotten is the Albion Park Harness Racing Club is a tenant of the Albion Park Raceway of which Racing Queensland is the owner.

A few months ago, Racing Queensland confirmed a $39 million world class greyhound facility at Purga, scheduled to begin operations in 2023.

Racing Queensland has made a similar commitment to the harness racing industry (and this club), currently short listing alternative sites.

The afore-mentioned hasn’t happened overnight. Almost 12 months ago the Albion Park Harness Racing Club and Racing Queensland were in advanced discussions on an alternative site that later became unavailable.

Taking all of the above into consideration, the committee voted in favour of ceasing the litigation, accepting a compensation figure, and moving forward.

Moving forward encompasses working collaboratively with Racing Queensland, the club’s future assured, and a world class facility to be built.

A world class harness racing facility will be Albion Park’s new home with the club in a position to examine and implement non-racing revenue streams.

It should be said that the committee is also mindful of the industry at large who have been frustrated at the deadlock that had existed between the APHRC and RQ while observing the other codes moving forward.

In conclusion, I had been a supporter of the litigation and campaign to retain Albion Park as a racing venue.

Yet, like anything in life, circumstances change and you must be at least adaptable to change. We believe, taking into account

  • (a) Racing Queensland and State Government’s unchanged position on the Albion Park Raceway
  • (b) Continued erosion of club’s finances through legal expenses
  • (c) Confirmation of the greyhound industry’s world class facility
  • (d) RQ assurance of the APHRC’s future
  • (e) RQ assurance of a world class harness racing facility
  • (f) RQ assurance of a short list of alternative sites to be available for consultation with APHRC in early 2020
  • (g) the frustration of industry participants

The committee made the most pragmatic decision in ceasing litigation and moving forward.

We believe the alternative of continued fighting with Racing Queensland, taking all outlined factors into account, would not be in this club’s best interests.


David Fowler


EDITOR’S NOTE: THE last thing we want to be accused of at LGHR is showing favouritism to our old, loyal mate in his hour of need. Should any of the other candidates for election to the APHRC wish to have their say (or right of reply) then we are happy to publish same on our website.



SHOULD officialdom from Racing Queensland join the think tank of ‘heavy hitters’ from NSW and Victoria attempting to dismantle the carnival clashes that have contributed to alarming declines in wagering turnover?

This is not solely about the spring and how to avoid clashes of major drawcards like The Everest and Caulfield Cup but should also include the peripheral affect any change that suits the two big States might have on the Winter and Summer Carnivals in Queensland.

Let’s face it the north’s traditional carnival attraction – the Stradroke Handicap – faces the prospect of becoming just another feature event if its current prizemoney of $1.5 million is not boosted substantially.

Racing NSW has just completed a Spring Carnival where there were nine consecutive weeks with feature races worth $1 million or more. And this will just provide a framework for the future with more big money races to come.

Where does that leave Queensland if the top stables in Victoria and NSW focus more on the better prizemoney in those two States and target the leftovers in Queensland with their less than elite gallopers?

We continually hear how Winter in Queensland is the springboard for Spring success and that has been true – even this year Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare campaigned in the north en route to the big two-miler. But will this continue to happen?

The challenge to Victorian tradition that Racing NSW has created with its extended spring is here to stay but the dates will be reviewed and the question Racing Queensland officials should be asking is will this encroach onto the carnivals in the north.

Reports from well-informed scribes on both sides of the border, CHRIS ROOTS in SYDNEY for FAIRFAX MEDIA, & MATT STEWART in MELBOURNE for RSN RACING & SPORT suggests the following:

RACING’S heaviest hitters, from both warring states, are working towards dismantling the carnival clashes that have contributed to alarming declines in wagering turnover.

The Melbourne Racing Club has expressed dissatisfaction to both the Australian Turf Club and Racing NSW over the clash this year of the $13 million Everest and $5 million Caulfield Cup.

MRC chief executive Josh Blanksby said he was awaiting clarification from NSW about the impact of the first round of new bidding for Everest slots following the expiry of the three-year commitment of the initial slot holders.

He said the MRC was also awaiting news from Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys following a suggestion that Racing NSW would seek a mid-week public holiday date for future Everest’s.

He said the MRC would review using the Schillaci Stakes on Caulfield Guineas day as a win-and-you’re-in for the Everest. The MRC bought an Everest slot this year.

“There are a number of issues we have and will bring up with Racing NSW and the ATC,” Blanksby said. “On-going, we’re not sure about the positioning of the Schillaci seven days before the Everest.

“And while we cannot be sure what impact the Everest had on Caulfield Cup turnover, and vice versa, we do know that the two biggest turnover hits during the spring carnival were on days where there were two very big races on the same day in two states; Caulfield Cup and Everest and the (new) Golden Eagle on Derby Day.”

Overall wagering plummets on Caulfield Cup and Derby Day were down 17 and 18 per cent respectively.

Racing Australia chairman Greg Nichols told Racing Pulse that two-state clashes of feature races in spring was far from ideal. “I cannot see any advantage of the Caulfield Cup clashing with the Everest,” he said.

Nichols said he understood the rationale of NSW to push deeper into October and November because prior to the creation of the Everest and new pop up races, the Sydney spring carnival “fell off a cliff.”

But he said there had to be a more sensible and respectful way for both states to maximise their carnivals. He said any encroachment of Victoria into Sydney’s autumn Championships would be “retrograde.”

“The best way to accommodate NSW and Victoria is for both to get down, get together and try to resolve it,” he said.

Nichols said a “conversation was about to be had” by a group of “very influential” people from both states regarding an olive branch strategy to the future growth of NSW and Victorian racing.

“I won’t mention their names,” he said.

Just take a look at what the minor racing states now have to compete with and it’s going to get worse as the stakes war hots up:

NSW: $14 The Everest; $7.5mn Golden Eagle; $4mn Queen Elizabeth; $3.5mn Golden Slipper; $3mn Doncaster Mile; $2.5mn T J Smith Stakes; $2mn Inglis Millenium; $2mn Australian Derby; $2mn Sydney Cup; $1.5mn Tancred Stks; $1.3mn The Kosciuszko; $1mn AJC Sires, Golden Rose, Epson, Spring Champion Stakes, George Ryder, Golden Gift, The Hunter, the Gong, Bondki Stakes, ATC aoaks, Coolmore Legacy, Arrowfield Sprint; Randwick Guineas; Redzel, Rosehill Guineas, Percy Sykes Stakes and that’s just the beginning.

VICTORIA: $7.75mn Melbourne Cup; $5mn Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup & All Star Mile; $2mn Caulfield Guineas, Victoria Derby & Mackinnon Stakes; $1.5mn Australian Cup & Blue Diamond Stakes; $1.25 Newmarket handicap; $1.25 Newmarket Handicap; $1 million Caulfield Stakes, Manikato, Cantala, Coolmoore Stud, VRC Oaks, VRC Spring Classic & Australian Guineas – and the number is growing.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA has three $1 million races – the Railway Stakes, Winterbrottom & Kingston Town Classic.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA has one $1 million race – the Goodwood Handicap.

QUEENSLAND has the $1.5mn Stradbroke followed by the $750,000 Doomben 10,000 & BTC Cup; the $650,000 Doomben Cup; $600,000 Queensland Derby & T J Smith; and the $500,000 Queensland Oaks & Winter Stakes.

Then, in the north, the water gets a little murky when we start comparing Magic Millions Day which some in the industry still see as a restriction of trade because not every horse owner is eligible to compete for the pots of gold yet Racing Queensland and the Queensland Government contribute to the overall pool of prizemoney on the day largely arguing that MM draws millions in tourist dollars to the State in the middle of the high season on the surf strip which respectfully is a load of horse manure.

We won’t bother trying to explain the smokes and mirrors of the MM Day prizemoney but it is advertised as two $2 million races – the MM 2YO Classic & MM 3YO Guineas supported by five other $1 million races. It seems that this year they have dumped the support fixture on the same day for the non-MM battlers but that's according to the RQ website which even a Rhodes Scholar would struggle to understand. 

In the opinions of most who follow racing MM is a sales-related series where the proceeds largely go into the pocket of one of Australia’s richest men. It’s a bit rough when the Stradbroke is the only ‘real genuine thoroughbred race’ in Queensland worth more than $1 million while the southern states ‘real genuine races, not sales related ones’ continue to jump in prizemoney in leaps and bounds not to mention everything in NSW from The Everest to The Gong and the one they should run in honor of a couple of the spin doctors for the big V and call it The Wank. It’s like the Big Pineapple, the Big Banana, the Big Prawn, the Big Merino, the Big Lobster, the Big Potato - where will it end?

With 'Genial Gerry' throwing something back into the coffers of racing in Queensland Harvey Norman sponsoring the Stradbroke for $5 million - not likely?     




LUCK’S a fortune, and it favours the brave.

The brave isn’t necessarily the wise, but that’s a story for another day, and involves a whole lot of self-reflection that I’m not yet ready for, so the story here is that there are only 25 pacers lining up for the world championship of the Southern Hemisphere, and only a dozen of them have any chance in hell of winning the damn thing.

I reckon an outsider called On The Cards – known as Ace to his mates – will win it, and that Barry Purdon’s winner will be driven by the greatest reinsman of the 21st century, Dexter Dunn included.

Here’s Archie’s Tale of the Inter Dominion Tape.

Ultimate Sniper

ONCE upon a time I thought this horse was going to be the next Lazarus.

I was kidding myself.

The Sniper is brilliant when he can bully his opposition, but like most faux tough guys he goes to water when the big boys stick their fists up in his face.

I doubt this pea-hearted could be superstar will even make it through the series, but if he does and happens to make the final then his only chance is sitting back off a crazy pace and going bang down the outside in the 25 type quarter we know he’s capable of running if the conditions suit.

He’d have to be lucky though, and gamblers who rely on luck are usually married to women who sneak out on pay night when they’re asleep and stroke the pokie screens during free games.

Ultimate Sniper is all yours, and so are the pokie touching desperate sheilas who can’t count.


Bling it On

CAN a nine-year-old who was on the sidelines for almost two years come back and win the best race in the southern world?

It certainly seems so at present, but I reckon its fools’ gold.

Bling is a brilliant horse, and he has the best driver in the world outside of Zac Butcher, but I don’t think that at his age he can hack four gruelling runs in 14 days.

I won’t be overly surprised if I am proven wrong, but you can have him too.


Cruz Bromac & The Fixer

NEITHER of these horses will ever be rated up amongst them in the pantheon of the pacing gods, but hell, you would love to have shares in either of them. `

The pair is 1 and 4 in the pre-post market, and in the absence of their stablemate Spankem probably deserve to be 1-2.

They will both make the final, and both can win.

Of the two I prefer The Fixer.

He’s a mighty horse; Cruz Bromac is just a warhorse.

Like I said, you’d love to have shares in either of them.


Chase Auckland

WHAT an enigma this pacer is, just like his Dad was.

On his day Chase Auckland can do anything.

The problem is that he is unlikely to get his day four days out of four.

Another one you can have.


Colt Thirty One

THIS is one serious horse, as I have been telling you for a couple of years now.

Is he good enough to win an Inter Dominion?

I’d love to think so, but I still have serious doubts about his ability to run consistent sub 55’s for the last half, and I doubt that he can do it against the top flight from the death, which means Mr Seymour’s boy is coming into the series with an Achilles heel or two.

Then of course there is Moses.

He’s never driven in New Zealand, let alone on the tricky Alexandra Park track. Do you reckon his ex-missus Nat the Ras isn’t going to make mincemeat of him? Or that King Zac won’t do him like yesterday’s pie in the microwave?

The Colt’s best hope of providing Kev and Kay with the 50th anniversary gift they deserve is for Moses’ missus Trista to hold onto their third boy for a fortnight. If she can then the lad born on final night will no doubt be named Colt.


Our Uncle Sam

A rough chance, but no more.

Enjoys an early gallop too much for my liking.

Terrible draw in the first round of heats.


San Carlo

I can’t cop the SKY Channel presenter Jason Bonnington, and regard him as an absolute tosser.

San Carlo is his favourite horse, Bonno’s version of my Belle.

It would grate me to see him proven right, but I reckon that if Carlo handles the right-handed way of going, he is a huge chance of taking out the series.


AG’s White Socks

THIS enigmatic pacer has all the ability in the world but has never quite been able to deliver it.

He has been transferred to the care of Barry Purdon during the past fortnight.

It’s not much time to transform a gunna into a doner, but if anyone can do it, then it’s Baz.

Don’t write him off at odds.


Triple Eight

HERE is one who sneaks in relatively unknown and under the radar of most, but not the bookies.

T8 is an Auckland track specialist who has won 10 and been placed in 20 of his 27 starts at Alexandra Park, and at the age of five is fast maturing and coming into this series as a rapid improver that has won his past four on the sacred right-handed swing. His last start second to the Sniper was huge, and in a wide-open ID he is a huge chance, which is exactly why the digital satchel swingers have him in the top echelon at $12.


Ashley Locaz

THIS fella is a really, really good pacer, make no mistake about that. His form is exceptional, and the gaps in it are few and far between. Don’t forget that he’s always raced in the top tier.

He will need the right luck in the runs, but the $23 is massive.


Henry Hubert, Conviction, Check In, My Kiwi Mate, Solid Gold, Atomic Red, Star Galleria, Dance Time, Another Masterpiece, Mach Shard, Sicario

TEAR up your tickets, if you were silly enough to buy them.


The Devil’s Own

SEE above.

I accidentally had 200 on this cat to win the series.

Blame it on the Kuranda raised Bruce Banner.

The dope.

I’m one too.


On the Cards

ACE is what Barry and Katrina Purdon call him, and they mean it too, and this pair are the best judges of pacing flesh that I’ve ever seen outside of Jean Feiss, and rank ahead of Dean Shannon, Kevin Seymour and Peter Lagan, each of whom are absolute geniuses.

If Baz and Kat reckon a harness racer’s the Ace, then it probably is.

On the Cards was paying $250 on the fixed odds markets before I backed it tonight to win a hundred grand.

It’s $67 now, and still huge overs.



  1. On the Cards
  2. San Carlo
  3. The Fixer




Two Toowoomba Trainers have been stood down after screening positive in preliminary testing for prohibited substances.

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) Integrity Investigations Team (IIT) conducted a no notice testing operation at Toowoomba track work yesterday when one trainer made admissions to drug use, another trainer screened positive to benzodiazepines and when breath tested returned an alcohol reading in excess of the permitted .02 threshold.

Both trainers were stood down pending confirmatory analysis. One track work rider screened positive to opiates but was not stood down.

The IIT operation saw 11 jockeys and 21 track work riders providing samples and breath tests and also resulted in two unlicensed track work riders being referred to the Stewards.

All samples collected yesterday will be sent to a laboratory for confirmatory analysis.




WHEN is Racing Queensland going to stop pussy-footing around and give SKY Channel’s exclusive broadcasting rights the boot.

The media rights contract for Queensland is up for grabs and if doesn’t take over or at least share the spoils when this is announced in the middle of next year, then RQ and the clubs deserve what they get.

Those at SKY Channel know the spotlight is on their performance at present but they continue to crap in the face of the Brisbane Racing Club and Racing Queensland.

BRC Chairman Neville Bell was far from impressed by SKY’s weekend coverage of the start of the Summer Carnival and told AAP: “Once again on Saturday we were playing second fiddle to the minor NSW meeting at Gosford when we had two Stakes races. It just isn't good enough.”

Some of the lead-up coverage of the major races at Doomben on Saturday was flicked to SKY2 to pave the way for ‘Dad & Dave’ to do their boring, drawn out preview from the mounting yard of the second rate fixture at Gosford in NSW. It was an absolute insult and shows just how badly SKY rates a State that has been loyal to them from Day 1.

And to think that the now CEO of RQ, Brendan Parnell, was once a head honcho at SKY. What the stuff is he doing about this anomaly or doesn't he have any start there any more?

It’s time to stop talking Nev and piss SKY off permanently or at least combine the coverage with and end the exclusivity clause. It's obvious RQ isn't going to do anything about it.



THIS email arrived from a prominent country racing administrator, who, for obvious reasons, doesn’t want to be identified:

IT seems as though the Brisbane Racing Club is looking for an industry handout to help buy water for the Eagle Farm and Doomben tracks.

If Racing Queensland bows to the wishes of the biggest club in the State, what about the dozens or hundreds of others who have been suffering because of the drought for some time?

Let’s face it the BRC copped millions to correct the botched job that was done in redevelopment the Eagle Farm track.

If RQ creates a precedent by giving money to finance the watering of Doomben and Eagle Farm as the impact of the drought moves to the city, then every other club in the State that has suffered a similar fate is entitled to put their hand out as well.

Excuse my ignorance but whatever happened to those dams that fed off spring water in the Eagle Farm area? Are these not as effective since the redevelopment project was completed and if not, why was there no consideration given to drought times when this work was done?



ANOTHER matter being raised by stakeholders and punters in Queensland is contained in the following email to LGHR from GRAHAM MARKSFIELD:

IF the reports are true, Racing Queensland is paying 50 per cent of the salary of Sam Hyland, the Victorian now working as a host and form commentator on racing in the north on SKY’s coverage.

Why is SKY not picking up the entire bill? Sam doesn’t seem to do all that much work for RQ although he certainly has learned quickly how to ‘suck up and survive’ as most in the racing media in the north have.

Sam might be a nice guy but most punters don’t rate him as a presenter. The crazy part is that while Hyland, a Victorian, is doing the work that a Queenslander could be doing, Bernadette Cooper continues to parade around on the pony and do the on-the-track interviews during the carnival in Sydney. What’s the story, don’t they have a former lady jockey capable of doing just as good a job down there. It would seem that both Sam and Bernie have some ‘start’ with someone in a high decision making role in racing in Queensland.

LGHR would be happy to hear a response from RQ on this issue but don’t bother asking anymore as they are only interested in talking to the mainstream media. We seem to have been dropped off their distribution list of Media Releases but who cares? Any story worth running is given one-off to The Courier-Mail – it’s the only way Racin’ Nathan can find an exclusive with the belting he's copping from our old colleague Mark 'Obe' Oberhardt at AAP.  



WE welcome another contribution from our good mate, former top bookie GARY GORRIE, nor enjoying retirement in PHUKET:

‘I think it’s time for someone to think outside the box for the future of all racing in Queensland. Now it’s only by some creative accounting the Southeast Corner clubs get close to breaking square each year by putting any grants in as income when it is really a capital injection.

The country clubs only meetings that run at a profit are the Saturday ones and they struggle to make enough to subsidize the losses of midweek and fixed costs. 

Now we could sell off all the country tracks (but should RQ receive the money from the tracks established by the townspeople many years ago) and reduce the prizemoney there and throw it all into the south-east corner.

The social and economic cost from this would be catastrophic and I think politically will never happen and should never. Even if this did happen the southeast corner would still have a deficit. They have to look at reducing costs like in Melbourne now the tote machines are all touch screen, so no wages. All the clubs are losing on tote with the drop in turnover because of the smart phone and corporates. Selling off all the country clubs is like our Government selling banks, electricity, railway, ports and airports. When these are gone what do you do then? We need to be income positive, not sell our heritage and racecourses.

The country clubs have great locations in their towns with many of these places expanding over the years so why not utilize the assets which sit there unused from meeting to meeting.

Victoria has Tabarets in most of the country clubs which are successful. Many clubs have markets on Sunday mornings and our grey nomad population are always looking for RV parks with many Caravan Parks now converted to land developments.

The clubs could also go into the meeting, conference and wedding business. Why not do a big day out band tour going through each town one after the other. They all have bars, toilets and are set up for such a thing. Set up a business plan for all the clubs modifying when needed.

Now I think Mackay (I am biased but know it well) would be a great test after you see the success of Harrup Park Country Club (Mackay Cricket even put a nine hole golf course in there) and I think if set up correctly there are many Government grants available.

So what I am proposing is build a proper poker machine club, function rooms and food bars. The position is ideal with so many houses in the area and plenty of parking. Properly managed it would make more than enough to pay all the prizemoney for Mackay races and the maintenance and up-keep of the track. But it has to be NEW not a rehash of the small function room already there.

We have some wonderful assets very under-utilized that can be developed and turned into a cash positive business to put money back into the industry.

I was very lucky to be involved in the best years of racing but still love it and hate seeing the demise of it. But new ideas and ways of operating are needed. The answer isn’t to close everything down and see many jobs lost. Create new jobs and EXPAND – that is the secret to the success of many businesses.

That’s my pennies worth and I hope others have some positive ideas to put up too.



MEANWHILE, JOHN the FIREMAN, a regular contributor on all things racing in Queensland, has weighed into the debate:

WHAT is RQ going to do with regard to the poor Sky Channel treatment of our product coverage?

A new low has been achieved with part of Doomben the coverage (parading) being televised on SKY2 last Saturday and as usual a second rate service.

NSW took priority over everything with two meetings to cover and horseback interviews to be completed before anywhere else gets covered.

What’s the go with the jam up in the parade ring at Doomben? Can’t it hold a full field of horses?

And on the subject of the sale of Albion Park, how are the proceeds going to be managed and distributed? Is it Harness money, Industry money or whose money?

How long before stakeholders see the plans or location of the future Harness facility, especially if it is being built as standalone racetrack?

I understand the theory and cost savings around putting harness and gallops facilities together but the reality is the consensus would be very unlikely from any gallops club.

To correct the past loss of Gold Coast and now Albion Park it isn’t an unreasonable viewpoint for Harness to have one new modern facility which hopefully meets future racing needs plus achieving multi-purpose income outside of the racing side of the facility.

What innovation RQ provides regarding this secondary income to the project will be very interesting, particularly the process undertaken to make these decisions.

This is important as the product needs to change and the number one priority should be track design and grandstand design (needs to be multi-storey on the finish line with good track views).

As previously said due to current day crowds it shouldn’t require massive race day public facilities. I would like to see the bottom of the stand create a theatre of the horse style parade ring before going onto the track.

Let’s hope RQ are prepared to provide answers.


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