TWITTER BOOKIE STING PROVIDES MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS – TOOWOOMBA RACING MAFIA CLAIMS NEED TO BE INVESTIGATED

THE illegal twitter bookmaking ‘sting’ involving Magic Millions winner Coolangatta that cost mug punters plenty has provided more questions than answers.

Brisbane-based Mitchell Fenton, a social media tipster and now runaway bookie, allegedly enticed a number of punters into depositing money into a bank account after they accepted his inflated and ridiculous odds for Coolangatta in the Two-Year-Old Classic.

The raging hot $2.2 favorite duly saluted at much shorter odds that the $3.5 to $6 offered by Fenton who went MIA the moment the race was run and promptly shut down his twitter account and Linkedin profile.

Questions that need to be clarified are:

Are Queensland Racing Integrity Commission stewards pursuing Fenton?

What are the same stewards doing about claims Fenton made on his social media profile boasting of ‘inside mail from a ‘prominent race-fixing syndicate’ allegedly operating on Toowoomba Racing.

Interstate media reports (little, if anything, has been reported on this ‘sting’ by Murdoch Racing) suggest that QRIC has advised disgruntled victims to report Fenton to its ‘Scamwatch’ data base.

Racing Victoria’s boss of integrity, Jamie Stier, had a simple message for punters who took the bait from Fenton: “If it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.”

HERE’S how FAIRFAX MEDIA reported the event:

VICTIMS of what is believed to be a fake bookmaker scam say they’re resigned to the fact they’ve lost their money after the alleged scammer took down his racing Twitter page following the sting.

Queensland racing enthusiast Mitchell James Fenton is being accused of duping a handful of punters into placing a bet on Saturday’s Magic Millions favourite Coolangatta to win at inflated odds.

But after the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained filly duly saluted in the $2 million Gold Coast feature, Fenton’s Twitter page ‘Horse Racing Global’ was taken down and the victims say he has not returned their calls.

At least five victims have contacted The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, alleging they transferred Fenton cash to take odds of anywhere between $3.50 and $6 for Coolangatta to win the Magic Millions 2YO Classic. Licensed bookmakers around the country had her no longer than a $2.20 chance in the feature event.

But after the horse won, holding off Russian Conquest by a head, the @HorseRacingGL Twitter page was taken down.

One punter alleges he sent $1000 via a bank transfer to an account in Fenton’s name, while four other punters contacted The Age and the SMH saying they’ve lost between $100 and $250 respectively. Fenton has not responded to The Age or SMH’s requests for comment.

Victims, who have asked to remain anonymous, have tried contacting their banks to cancel the transfer, but say they’re resigned to the fact they won’t be getting their money back.

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission has been notified about the scam.

“The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) was recently made aware of an online scam involving an unlicensed bookmaker,” a spokesperson said.

“QRIC advocates for integrity in racing, and therefore encourages punters to only utilise betting agents who are licensed to operate. This information can be found at acma.gov.au.

“QRIC also encourages those who believe they have been scammed online to report their incident to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) via the acma.gov.au website.”

But the ACMA said victims should instead contact the ACCC’s Scamwatch.

Fenton is also accused of trying to lure in punters via his ‘Horse Racing Global’ business by promoting what he described as a race fixing syndicate, asking punters for a $99.95 per week subscription to receive insider information, which he says are linked to the ‘Toowoomba mafia’. Details of the service were sent in a text message from Fenton’s mobile number and remain published on Horse Racing Global’s Facebook page.

Other messages from Fenton’s phone number have also been sent to followers asking for a one-off $500 membership for tips. It’s not alleged that Fenton has fixed horse races, only that he promotes that he can provide punters with inside knowledge to be used for betting purposes.

“As a loyal follower and supporter of Horse Racing Global, we are inviting you to an invitation only membership into the Toowoomba Mafia Race Fixing Gang,” the text message, sent from Fenton, reads.

“As an invited prospective member the only requirement you need to fulfil to become a life member of the elitist group is to pay a once off fee off (sic) $500. This is life membership.

“When the race is ‘designed’ and the winner nominated all members will be immediately sent the selection.

“This might sound too good to be true or like pie in the sky but we are simply offering you a loyal follower an entry in to the underground where people here (sic) about stuff like this but never ever get close to becoming privvy to what the sting is.”

The ‘Horse Racing Global’ Twitter page had over 12,000 followers before it was taken down on Saturday.

Mitchell J. Fenton’s LinkedIn page, which listed him as the founder and group chief executive officer of Horse Racing Global, was also taken down over the weekend.

The scam has also been reported to the Australian Cyber Security Centre and the ACCC’s Scamwatch.

SURELY this bloke hasn’t done a runner to such a degree that he cannot be tracked down by police, charged and thrown in the slammer where he belongs.

But before that happens perhaps that astute and highly respected Chairman of Stewards for Racing Queensland, Peter Chadwick, might put him under the microscope about his claims that there is a ‘Toowoomba mafia’ organizing races at Clifford Park.

There have been rumours doing the rounds about certain races on the Downs for some time and this latest claim by Fenton does not help the majority of stakeholders involved in Toowoomba racing who are hard-working, honest racing participants. It needs to be investigated and there’s only one place to start – with Fenton.

  

 

 

 

 

DAUGHTERS PEN TRIBUTE TO DAD FACING HIS BIGGEST BATTLE

VETERAN trainer TERRY BUTTS has been an institution in the racing industry in North Queensland for almost half a century.

Butts, who has been battling ill-health in recent years, continues to train a small team out of his Cluden base in Townsville with help from family and close friends, headed by his wife Kathy and long-time stable foreman Kerry Walker who has been with him for 20 years.

As the clock ticks down on Terry’s colourful and successful involvement across several spectrums of racing, family has arrived from all parts of the world to spend some valuable time with him.

As Butts fights the battle of his life, daughters ANNE MARIE, DOMINQIUE and MELINDA have penned this tribute to their dad who has been loving, inspirational and most of all, unforgettable.

Here is their story:

THERE isn’t a corner of racing that (our dad) Terry hasn’t explored. He called his first race aged 11 at Towong (the upper Murray) in country New South Wales; wrote his first race review for the local newspaper around the same time, all the while strapping, riding work and helping keep the home fires burning for his father’s racing stable in Albury.

After stints in Hong Kong, South Africa and the Northern Territory as race caller and racing journalist, Terry began his bookmaking career in Darwin in 1975. A year later he was lured to Mackay by ‘Diamond’ Jim Beattie, a prominent Brisbane rails bookie at the time. He established himself as a leading bookmaker in the recognized sugar metropolis which had, at times, up to 30 bookmakers in the ring. During that time he traversed Queensland fielding at tracks from Birdsville to the Burdekin and many country tracks in between.

Finally, in 1992, his love of horses won over and he relinquished his bookies’ licence to become a trainer.

Terry has won Country Cups all over the North Queensland racing circuit; from Giftman in 1991 taking out the Townsville Cup, Gordonvale with Closing Time, Cairns Amateurs with a stallion, Kendel Star which became successful as a stallion in Western Australia; the Cleveland Bay with Living On A Prayer, the Mackay Newmarket with Accidental, and the Cairns Cup with I Got One. Glen Boss rode a double at Townsville on Cleaver and Charlie’s Moment for him. From Ewan to Ingham, Home Hill, Bowen, Mackay, as well as a winner at Doomben with Juggling Time, Terry has had many successes over the years at tracks far and wide in Queensland.

Because of his work commitments, dad only ever had a small string of horses. Using his contacts, he often sought horses from down south. He became known as a trainer who could weave his magic by settling them down with personal care and the attention required, getting the best out of them. His training regime was focussed purely on the animal and their best interests, taking them to the local beach in Townsville where he believed the horses could relax and enjoy themselves while doing their work.  

During his years of trainer, Terry was also a journalist at The Townsville Bulletin writing his column, ‘Butts on Monday’, which often contained segments pertaining to local and country racing. In his last stint as a journalist, he penned ‘Silks and Saddles” for the North Queensland Register (which was in later years reproduced by Letsgohorseracing), wherein he informed the racing fraternity of news and events from around the tracks both near and far. He often challenged the racing hierarchy, at times falling foul of them to the great entertainment and enjoyment of his readers.

Terry was ably aided and abetted firstly by his children and then Lennie Shinn and Kerry Donnelly Walker. Kerry has been with Terry for nigh on 20 years, assisting him with enthusiasm and dedication.

From country New South Wales to country Queensland, Terry has enjoyed racing in its varied forms for over 60 years, 30 of those spent in Queensland. He has experienced the successes and disappointments that racing brings. For dad, his loyal owners, staff and family, it has been rewarding ... and one helluva ride.

  His Highlights   

The one outstanding highlight of his early career was as a racing commentator and editor of a Hong Kong newspaper when covering the 1967 English Derby won, of course, by George Moore on Royal Palace.

Highlights of racing: “Too many to mention.”

Highlights of training: Giftman: Multi-Cup and NQ Cups winner which broke down at Eagle Farm two years later when weight forced him out of North Queensland.

Best horse: Kendel Star: Regular jockey, Paul Gordy says he is the only horse he has ever ridden that could win both the Cleveland Bay and the Townsville Cup – and on the same day.

 

EVEN  THE BEST OF THE TIPSTERS HAVE THEIR REAL BAD DAYS

By GODFREY SMITH

IT has to be one of the toughest – at times most thankless - jobs in the land because you are only as good as your last set of tips.

Even the best form analysts have bad days – so punters follow their advice and jump back on the horse because confidence lost everything lost.

A group of my punting buddies decided to risk COVID and head to the Gold Coast for a week of betting, boozing and perving during Magic Millions week.

By Saturday rather than risk their own judgement on the punt they combined to buy some of the high profile subscription services from star tipsters like David Gately, Dean Lester, Mark Hunter, Tom Waterhouse and Vince Aspinall.

Because each of my mates are great fans of the newest kid on the tipping block in Gately their first decision was to purchase his OZ RACING FORM Newsletter containing tips for the meetings at the Gold Coast, Flemington and Rosehill.

Story goes ‘Gator’ regards Melbourne as his speciality but it wasn’t on Saturday when his top tip saluted in only one of the nine races. At Rosehill he didn’t fare much better with the No 1 selection winning only one of the 10 races.

But his ‘special service’ on the Magic Millions was a bonanza result for the boys. Gately found five of the nine winners and in his bulk selections on each race didn’t miss a winner on the card, including two roughies.

In contrast, Vince Aspinall, the bookie whose long-time tipping service is said to be the best in Queensland, delivered one winner (the obvious Coolangatta) from his nine on-top selections. Of Aspinall’s eight specials Australia-wide, not one was successful. Needless to say the boys won’t be buying his service in future.

They also invested in the set of selections from Deane Lester and Mark Hunter at Flemington. Lester was uncharacteristically out-of-form with not one of his on-top tips winning while Hunter found one top tip on the card in his best bet Decent Raine.

We saved the best for last because it cost them the most – the Gold Tips from the ‘genius’ Tommy Waterhouse. Well he delivered them 30 tips and only three won – including Coolangatta, which the boys all thought was a certainty anyway.

In fairness to the above tipsters, who on their day are amongst the best, Flemington is always tough going, Rosehill had a significant bias to the on-pacers which made the task of several favorites more difficult than expected and the Gold Coast on Magic Millions day is never easy.

 

MAHER-EUSTACE PLANNING TO EXPAND STABLE IN SYDNEY RACING

REPORTS that the Maher-Eustace stable are planning to expand their operation in Sydney will be music to the ears of those punters fed up with the domination of the powerful Chris Waller stable.

It won’t change the weekly ritual of a second string winner upstaging a more fancied runner saddled up by the No 1 trainer in the land.

But it will add some much needed competition to the top ranks in Sydney where many punters have simply given up not only on trying to follow the form but also on the stewards’ panel taking any action to correct the situation.

Maher-Eustace – and not Waller or Waterhouse – were the headline act on Magic Millions Day but Team Snowden warrant a special mention as well.

They produced Russian Conquest which gave the ‘declared’ and unbeaten Coolangatta a run for her money in the $2 million Two-Year-Old Classic.

The ‘spin doctors’ in the Sydney racing media were declaring the James McDonald ride more responsible for the filly’s success but Maher was adamant she would have won by more but for his ‘itchy trigger-finger’.

Whatever, Coolangatta and Russian Conquest streeted the rest but still provided more questions than answers when it comes to the Golden Slipper where they are $4 and $11 chances respectively in the early betting.

One of our favorite scribes, Matt Stewart from RSN in Victoria, has declared:

‘Even in the era of Chris Waller, Maher-Eustace are the kings of racing. They were the stars at the Gold Coast, the players.

Coolangatta’s Classic win was the second win in the big two-year-old race in three years for the stable, following Away Game in 2020.

There is no pocket of racing Maher/Eustace hasn’t conquered; they seek out the flash imports, they always seem to have the flashiest two-year-olds, they have completely cornered the jumps market, they’ve even decided to dominate the Jericho Cup, a quaint race not really “intended” for the big players.

Stand by, too, for news regarding an expansion of the Maher/Eustace octopus into NSW.

Maher/Eustace spent over $13 million on yearlings last week, including $1.7 million on a Not A Single Doubt colt.’

Maher-Eustace are the ‘kings of racing’ in Victoria but we can’t see that changing in New South Wales where he has the numbers to dominate and the political influence to ensure he remains No 1.

 

DOWNSIDE OF MILLIONS FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH COVID RULES

WELL the Magic Millions is over for another year. Listen to the racing scribes who do their best to promote the show and ensure a ‘free-loader’s ticket’ into the future and it was better than ever.

Truth is the sales continue to make more money for Gerry Harvey and his company but the race meeting was arguably not a vintage one. Coolangatta remains unbeaten but questions hang over whether he can win the Slipper.

Track specialist Eleven Eleven boosted his prizemoney close to $3 million (courtesy of the Millions carnival) but controversy continues to ride shotgun with the Sydney five-year-old – first was his big win after Alligator Blood was disqualified then on Saturday some argue that Holyfield should have got the photo finish verdict.

The downside of Millions day was the failure to police the wearing of ‘masks’ and ‘social distancing’. Perhaps now that it has been revealed Millions icons, Gerry and his lovely wife Katie, have sadly caught COVID, it doesn’t matter if the poor peasant population get the dreaded lurgy as well.

On this issue we received an email from PAUL which read:

FIRSTLY, someone should tell Mr (Archie) Butterfly that a mandate is not a law there is no Federal or State law that says a mask has to be worn.

SECONDLY, if you are seated while eating and drinking, a mask is not needed and I'm pretty sure those tables are where food and drinks are consumed.

THIRDLY, there has always been one rule for "them" and one for ‘us’ since it began.

To which, ARCHIE replied:

Questions about penalties and enforcement

ARE there penalties if I don’t comply with mandatory Health directions in relation to the wearing of masks?

Yes. If you don’t comply you may be given an on-the-spot fine of $1,378 for individuals and $6,892 for corporations, a court-imposed penalty of up to $13,785 or 6 months imprisonment.

If you refuse a police direction to wear a face mask, you could be given an on-the-spot fine of $206.

Are these rules mandatory?

How is this being enforced?

 

DOES MAGIC MILLIONS HAVE SPECIAL EXEMPTION TO COVID RULES?

Does the Magic Millions Race Day and Sales have special exemption from the COVID rules that apply to the rest of the community and normal taxpaying mums and dads?

Anyone who has watched television coverage from the Sales for millionaires and designed to make money for billionaire Gerry Harvey would think so.

The Rules relating to the wearing are pretty simply: Unless an exemption applies, a person MUST WEAR A FACE MASK AT ALL TIMES WHILST IN AN INDOOR SPACE.

Any person who fails to comply with this Government order without reasonable excuse could face up to six months imprisonment.

Officialdom should be especially stringent on the Gold Coast which has the worst record of COVID cases in Queensland not to mention the least number of citizens vaccinated.

During the week racing.com crossed to its reporter at the Sales and the compere asked: Are people abiding by the COVID rules? The reply: Yes, very stringently.

Behind him were dozens of Sales visitors and next to none of them were wearing masks.

It’s an absolute farce and has prompted suggestions that ‘Genial Gerry’ and his Sales company that makes millions out of a race day restricted to Magic Millions graduates has ‘start’.

Adding to the anger among racing followers and stakeholders who can only afford to watch as millions are spent in the MM Sales ring every day, the Queensland Government then fortuitously declared the borders open just in time for the $10 million race meeting – what a coincidence.

One wonders if the COVID Rules on social distancing will apply during the race day when the Premier, her Racing Minister and an array of free-loaders from Racing Queensland have their snouts in the trough as guests of Harvey and his Magic Millions crew. These rules certainly haven’t applied at events during the week such as the barrier draw and the polo.

This defiance of the mask mandate at the Sales wasn’t missed by our colleague Archie Butterfly at his subscriber-only website, www.peterprofit.com, when he wrote, in part:

THE Magic Millions sales arena is an indoor space, as defined under the Queensland health directions, which are law.

Look at the number of people in the photograph above taken on Tuesday who are not wearing masks.

Anyone who has watched the TV footage from the Sales would be aware that there was hardly a face mask in sight.

Yet each of these people had to register to be there and their identities could be easily established.

Working class mums and grandmas are being arrested for breaching COVID-19 Health Directives by going to a café to order a coffee (without a mask).

Novak Djokovic is all over the news for alleged breaches of the laws instituted to keep Australians safe.

Surely the Queensland Government must act on these wholesale breaches of State and Federal law.

They will – won’t they?

After all, the rules do apply to all!

And this is a State Government funded event.

Spot on Archie – but you forgot to mention it is owned and operated by a bloke with so much political pull that he could almost arrange for the sun to rise in the west and set in the east.

Magic Millions seems to have so much start that when it comes to obligatory mask wearing and social distancing, these rules don’t apply to them. Why?

 

MAGIC MILLIONS NOTHING MORE THAN ORDINARY RENEWAL OF A $10mn (DONATION FROM RQ TO A RESTRICTED SALE) CARD

EVEN the ‘spin doctors’ have failed miserably in their mission impossible to paint Saturday’s Magic Millions card on the Gold Coast as anything but an ordinary renewal of the $10 million event.

If hot favorite Coolangatta fails to live up to his hype then the $2 million Two-Year-Old Classic is only a remote hope of providing the winner of the Golden Slipper. Co-trainer Cairon Maher has been quick to dismiss the critics who expected more of the filly in the G3 Bruce McLachlan at Doomben when resuming.

Bookies obviously believe Coolangatta will be too good or they think the opposition is pretty ordinary. She remains a hot favorite at $2 and the only other runner under double figure odds is the unbeaten Team Snowden filly Russian Conquest at $7. Her stablemate Miss Helfire is next in the betting at $10 backing up from a Gold Coast win last Saturday.

It’s pretty much long odds an upset. The Annabel Neasham-trained Soaring Ambition won the Wyong Magic Millions on debut but that filly has to undergo a further veterinary examination on race eve before being cleared to start.

Hopes of home state success rest with Mishani Spartan, one of three qualified by trainer Les Ross for owner Mick Crooks (who is hardly a battler), along with the Bryan and Daniel Guy youngster Golden Artie, which has drawn wide.

One gets the impression that if Coolangatta is as good as the stable claim she will just win. If not the next best hopes are Russian Conquest and Mishani Spartan, largely because the Ross runner is untapped, unbeaten and unpredictable.

The $2 million Three-Year-Old Guineas is hardly a vintage race either but hopefully this drawcard will not attract the publicity that a recent one did for all the wrong reasons. That followed traffic chaos on the motorway from Brisbane, eventual winner Alligator Blood (then with David Van Dyke) taking a detour, enjoying a pit-stop, winning the big race then returning a positive only to see a massive dummy spit from the owner and court proceedings which seem to have drawn out forever.

Smart Kembla Grange filly Jamaea holds down favoritism in an open betting race but the hiccup in her preparation for the race, which now sees her tackling it first-up, has to be far from ideal.

King of Sparta, giving Team Snowden a strong hand in the richest races on the day, won’t take much support to oust Jamaea as favoritie and has the fitness edge of a big run in the Gosford Guineas since a spell.

I Am Lethal has been low-flying for John O’Shea in Sydney but drawn off the course will need plenty of luck. That leads us to our choice as winner for old mate Chris Waller, who doesn’t have a starter in the Two-Year-Old but can win the Guineas with Starman on the quick back-up from a good win at the track last week. We’ve all seen how they can grow a leg in the space of seven days for Waller so don’t be surprised if this bolts in and the $8 looks delicious odds. Better still there isn’t a Waller second string to knock it off.

Perhaps it might be fortuitous from a punting perceptive to have a look at the ‘Walley World’ line-up on Millions day. He starts the day with Kipsbay which needs a couple of scratchings to secure a start in the Maiden but did grow a leg last start at Canterbury.

Waller has a third of the field (three runners) in the $250,000 MM Open spearheaded by heavily-backed Wheelhouse, which only needs to reproduce its win of a week ago over the track and distance to take beating again. Stablemate Bigboyroy looks a genuine threat if Waller can get the ‘cat’ out of the bag on the Gold Coast. His other runner Reloaded is an upset chance with JMac up – he missed the start in The Gong and was just warming up for this trip in Listed company at Doomben behind stablemate Kubrick last start. Punters who try to follow the Waller horses each Saturday would be giving Reloaded a very good chance of an upset.

Over to the $1 million Fillies & Mares race and both his runners Brookspire and Kiku can be expected to be firing on all eight cylinders. Both have been well backed to test the favorite Snapdancer from the Maher-Eustace stable. Kiku is a Group 1 mare that split Kementari and Apache Chase fresh in The Buffering on a bog track at Doomben. Brookspire was narrowly beaten by a better priced stablemate in the G3 Belle of the Turf at Gosford when a $1.35 favorite. This is one of those cases where you think Kiku is the better of the pair but the stable blows you out of the water, especially after adding the Blinkers to Brookspire. Adding intrigue to the race stable jockey JMac has elected to ride the favorite Snapdancer while McEvoy who was on that horse last start jumps onto Brookspire. It’s like trying to follow the Waller stable on a weekly basis – for punters the answer’s a pineapple.

Heading over to the $1 million Snippets and Waller has Tycoonist and Blondeau – just the sort of race that Tycoonist, after costing punters plenty when favorite at Rosehill last Saturday, could come out and win in a boilover with some of the SKY hosts wetting their pants and declaring it another ‘great training effort’ by Waller.

The Magic Millions Cup features three Waller runners with Nudge one of the most honest mares running around poised to win another big race based on her second in The Gong. Stablemates Oscar Zulu and Sambro both were excellent first-up and cannot be entirely ruled out of featuring in the placings despite their long odds.

At the end of the day we think Waller can win two or three of the rich races on MM Day – certainly LGHR rates his best VALUE RUNNER as  STARMAN in the Three-Year-Old Guineas at $8.           

 

 

WHAT HAPPENED BEHIND SCENES IN INCENTIVISE OWNERS’ DISPUTE?

IT would be nice to know the details of the battle that played out behind the scenes involving the new owners of Queensland staying star INCENTIVISE.

Here’s the sanitised version of what at least one of the connections wants the public to believe as reported today by BEN SPORLE of racing.com:

PART-OWNER Brae Sokolski has confirmed Peter Moody will continue to prepare Caulfield Cup winner Incentivise when he returns to training.

Despite the gelding still being officially listed as 'transferred' on Racing Australia's website after a brave second placing in the Melbourne Cup, Sokolski said the horse will return to Moody's Pakenham stables when the time is right.

"There's nothing in it, the horse is there with (original trainer) Steve (Tregea) and Peter Moody will absolutely be training the horse when he's ready to race," Sokolski said.

"He will come back to Victoria, but he will stay in Queensland until we get the second set of scans at the end of February and then we'd look to bring him back to Victoria and put him in work and start to prepare him for a spring assault."

The son of Shamus Award is recovering from tears to his suspensory ligament and damage to his cannon bones and tendons after claiming three Group 1 wins over the Spring Carnival.

"The horse is just recovering and obviously in the most capable of hands, nobody knows the horse more intimately than Steve," Sokolski said.

"We are very confident the horse will get over these small issues and will be managed very, very cautiously.

"I am very confident we will see him back in the spring, bigger and better than ever."

 

THINK TWICE BEFORE PLAYING RUSSIAN ROULETTE & HEADING TO MMNS

IT wasn’t exactly the news those heading to the Gold Coast for Magic Millions week wanted to hear or read.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer says almost a quarter of all people hospitalised in the state for COVID-19 are on the Gold Coast, suggesting the city is experiencing a "significant surge" in cases.

Dr John Gerrard said the Gold Coast was a region of particular concern when it came to the spread of COVID. During the week he revealed that more than half of the ICU patients in Queensland were on the Gold Coast.

"A quarter of the ward admissions, 101 out of 419 [are] currently on the Gold Coast, suggesting that there is a significant surge of the virus there on the Gold Coast," Dr Gerrard said.

"It's not surprising given the sheer number of interstate visitors which would have caused seeding events to have occurred.

"But I would also point out that the vaccination rates on the Gold Coast are among the low end, the lowest in south-east Queensland at least."

With cases daily now reaching the five figures one would hope that extreme measures are being taken on Millions Day and at the Sales to ensure this virus does not spread any further on what it seems is a far from vigilant tourist strip. 

 

ANOTHER DELAY BEFORE RACING RETURNS ON FARM EMBARRASSMENT?

IT looks like the latest attempt to correct the on-going track redevelopment embarrassment at Eagle Farm is going to take longer than originally anticipated.

Racing Queensland has notified stakeholders that there has been changes made to the race dates calendar in February and March to complement the track refurbishment period.

The changes are:

  • Saturday, February 19 – was Brisbane Racing Club at Eagle Farm, retained by Brisbane Racing Club, however run at Sunshine Coast Turf Club (Corbould Park);
  • Sunday, February 20 – was Sunshine Coast Turf Club, is now Ipswich Turf Club;
  • Wednesday, February 23 - was Brisbane Racing Club at Doomben, retained by Brisbane Racing Club however run at Sunshine Coast Turf Club (Corbould Park);
  • Saturday, February 26 – was Tattersall’s Racing Club at Eagle Farm, is now Brisbane Racing Club at Doomben; and
  • Wednesday, March 16 – was Eagle Farm, is now Doomben.

This suggests a return to racing at Eagle Farm will be late March at the earliest or with luck around Easter. Perhaps it’s in the hands of the weather Gods.

 

WHEN WILL THE ‘RED HOTS’ STOP MAGGOTING ON OTHER CODES? 

WHY does harness racing in Queensland have so much start when it comes to prizemoney distribution compared to betting turnover?

It’s not as though this anomaly occurred overnight – it was going on for years well before the greyhounds emerged as easily the most popular and trusted of the minor codes.

In the space of just five years turnover on greyhound racing in Queensland has increased by 233 per cent. It is currently $1.4 billion.

During that same period (in comparison) the turnover on harness racing in Queensland rose by just 40 per cent, from $500 to $700 million (but only half what the dogs now attracts which is a sad indictment on the ‘red hots’ which continue to lose public confidence compared to greyhounds).

How can the Government or Racing Queensland justify spending almost the same amount in prizemoney distribution on harness racing when the greyhounds provides double the return. It just doesn’t make sense.

And surely those running the show should be looking at why there is such a difference and think about getting themselves a new panel of ‘no-nonsense’ stewards who might start with pumping some confidence into those punters who still bet on the ‘red hots’.    

This suggests a return to racing at Eagle Farm will be late March at the earliest or with luck around Easter. Perhaps it’s in the hands of the weather Gods.

 

MORE THINGS CHANGE IN SYDNEY RACING, MORE THEY STAY THE SAME 

IT was inevitable that champion trainer Chris Waller would return to form at Rosehill last Saturday when he virtually propped up what was a disgraceful Saturday fixture.

Waller provided 24 runners across eight races (he isn’t eligible to content the Hi-Way and Midway events) and had half the field or more in two races which is a sad indictment on what Sydney racing has degenerated to.

His ‘mini drought’ ended with a successful Rosehill treble after an amazing 43 straight runners without saluting. It would be interesting to know what his statistics (runners to winners) are.

As usual – in two of the three wins – it was a stable second-string that delivered, something punters have become accustomed to with Waller and something the stewards don’t seem to care about.

But who would have believed at the start of the day that his stable jockey, James McDonald, would lose the Jockeys’ Challenge? He was a virtually unbackable $1.04 favorite but none of the seven heavily-backed runners that he rode managed to win.

In Queensland Waller warmed up for the big Magic Millions Day with a winning double at the appetiser on the Gold Coast including the feature race, The Wave. Of course it was his second-string Wheelhouse that relegated heavily-backed favorite Lord Ardmore to third place – no surprise at all.

Here was the downside and later upside of the Waller day at Rosehill:

HIS two favorites in the second, FIORDLAND & OVERLORD, ran third and a disgraceful last. Jockey Tim Clark told Stewards that OVERLORD over-raced in a moderate tempo and that in his opinion the horse may be better suited back in trip. So there’s the excuse for a form reversal next time round.

HIS two favorites in the third, AND WE DANCED & SAIGON ran second and third.

HE had half the field in the fifth (take out his runners and it was have attracted four starters) and the Waller stable ran the FIRST 4 – to pinch a line from ‘Razer’s book’ – a magnificent training effort.  

LOVE PLANET went like a hobbled duck when a WALLER favorite in the second where BJORN BAKER did his impression of the champion trainer winning with a second-string (O’MUDGEE, which they didn’t forget to back) over the stable favorite, CANASTA.

WALLER had five of the 10 runners in the Listed January Cup and he ran the quinella with SO YOU WIN (isn’t this the horse that got beaten in Toowoomba when odds-on in a restricted race) and MUBARIZ (betting back to form). Par for the course again, the stable favorite ORDER AGAIN never looked like filling a place after jumping slowly.

THEN Waller had NIFFLER and ZEGALO, both heavily-backed, running second and third in the ninth.

JUST to insert the carrot a few centimetres more into the rear end of those punters following the leading stable TRUE DETECTIVE (the medium of some good bets at odds) knocked off the heavily backed stablemate TYCOONIST in the last.

Of course the usual suspects will bag us for our perceived criticism of Waller once again. We are simply publishing the facts on how his horses run and it’s hard to argue with our never-ending battle to have one price declared by the bookies so that punters can bundle bet his runners – at least that might quell some of the anger being expressed to us and on social media over the second-string runners that continually upstage his heavily-backed favorites.

 

WITH ALL CHAMPIONS NO-ONE SEEMS TO REMEMBER THE BAD TIMES

INTERESTING article by ADAM PENGILLY for FAIRFAX MEDIA which reads:

BRADMAN once made a couple of single figure scores in consecutive Test innings, each without scoring.

No-one remembers those blots like they did his most famous duck, though. He was apparently so emotional after the reception he received before his last Test innings that he played all around one by English bowler Eric Hollies on his second ball. It cost him a career batting average of 100.

When all is said and done in the career of Chris Waller, no-one will remember the time when Santa delivered a sackful of presents to Australia’s most dominant stable and left it without a winner for a couple of weeks.

On Saturday, after 43 straight city runners in Sydney without saluting, racing’s winning machine, well, finally won another race and then promptly finished with a treble. It snapped a streak that started on Boxing Day and left him winless in four straight metropolitan meetings, a rarity in the era of After Waller.

Like Bradman, apparently he is fallible. Like Bradman, the response was swift.

The lull won’t mean much, and shouldn’t, when you’ve won a first Melbourne Cup, a second The Everest, a third VRC Sprint and a fifth Coolmore Stud Stakes in the few months beforehand. He will win a 12th Sydney Trainers’ Premiership later this year and is still nudging record pace to match his career best 189 winners in a season.

But on the eve of Magic Millions week, the pep will be well and truly back in Waller’s step.

He trained the quinella in the feature listed January Cup at Rosehill when So You Win ($6), carrying the Winx colours, outgunned stablemate Mubariz ($6).

Ten minutes later Waller’s Wheelhouse won The Wave, the main race on the Gold Coast, and a couple of hours before that Kingsheir ($4 fav) stopped Waller’s run of outs in Sydney when leading home a stable trifecta from Yiyi ($5.50) and Papal Warrior ($5.50).

It was inevitable that Waller would find winners at Rosehill. He propped up a modest mid-summer meeting with 24 runners across the eight races he was eligible to contest, but it was impossible to think his No.1 jockey James McDonald wouldn’t ride one of them.

McDonald started the day $1.04 to win the jockeys challenge and got rolled. He rode seven favourites and couldn’t get one home.

In the last, he went down a half-head on Waller’s Tycoonist ($2.30 fav), beaten by stablemate True Detective ($7) of all horses. True Detective hadn’t won for almost two years. McDonald jumped off Tycoonist, took a deep breath as he walked up to a mobile phone recording to give his summation of the race, and then fled for the sanctuary of the jockeys’ room.

McDonald’s popularity is such that he makes horses favourite by virtue of the fact that he’s going to be legged aboard them when perhaps a select few shouldn’t be.

But at least he was at Rosehill. Seemingly half of the Sydney riding ranks has been afflicted with coronavirus in the past fortnight and either recovered or still isolating at home. He has much bigger fish to fry on the Gold Coast, where he will ride raging Magic Millions favourite Coolangatta.

That meeting is all Waller will worry about too; he has no time to dwell too much.

And like Bradman’s consecutive ducks, in time no-one will remember that funky fortnight Waller went 43 runners in Sydney without a winner.

 

PUNTERS NO LONGER HAVE CONFIDENCE BETTING IN SYDNEY RACING

FEW interesting comments about SYDNEY racing that have been contributed to us as whinges from the punters – those whose investment keeps racing afloat.

ON the HI-WAYS: If you look at the statistics favorites have a disgraceful record in Hi-Ways. As recent as Saturday we saw the heavily-backed STEPLEE endure a wide run (not one of JMac’s better rides) and then he tells stewards the horse will benefit from the run and appreciate a longer trip.

ON the WALLER second strings beating stable FAVORITES: Don’t you guys at LGHR realize you are wasting your time bashing big Chris every week over his form reversals, beaten favorites and second string winners? Since they drove many battling trainers out of Sydney, Saturday racing would struggle to survive without his numbers. While he has multiple runners raced by some high profile people, don’t expect to see too much action taken even if questions are asked.

ON SYDNEY racing: PUNTERS have just about given up on Sydney racing. The Waller domination, bad rides by top jockeys written off as bad luck; when was the last time a high profile jockey or trainer was not only the subject of a major inquiry (running and handling) but given time to send a message that no-one is untouchable?

COUPLE of queries from the CANTERBURY meeting on FRIDAY night: IT was good to see experienced and respected steward Steve Railton step up to the plate and ask a few questions. He questioned the run of heavily-backed TICK TICK TICK which went woeful. The explanation was the horse got on the wrong leg around the tight circuit and will now be spelled. REMUS was another ride queried. Kathy O’Hara was unable to explain the poorf performance of Remus which she said did not close off as anticipated. O’Hara did have some concerns with the gelding’s action on pulling up which stewards will follow up with the stable. Waller fancy KUTAYHA went like a mule in the last. Jockey James McDonald was unable to offer an explanation for the performance when the horse failed to respond to his riding and weakened. Stewards will follow up with Waller and no doubt he will find an excuse from that reliable book of his which contains endless numbers.

 

THE ‘GOOD THINGS’ DON’T ONLY GET BEATEN IN SYDNEY RACING

THE shock defeat of heavily-backed and tipped runners isn’t confined to Sydney racing.

A classic example was SIG POSITANO at CAULFIELD on SATURDAY. It carried a stack of BIG BETS and was tipped as the good thing of the day by most of the experts.

Once again the one they all liked lost a leg. Stewards pounced and quickly asked connections to explain which may have unearthed a reasonable excuse for the poor performance:

Sig Positano (unplaced $1.8FAV): Rider John Allen reported that the gelding travelled well, however when placed under pressure failed to respond and was disappointing. Trainer Patrick Payne could offer no explanation for the performance, however stated that the gelding may not have appreciated the quick tempo of the event. He added that the gelding had worked well in the lead-up and the stable had expected a forward showing. He undertook to advise Stewards if anything comes to light in the coming days which may explain the performance. A post‑race veterinary examination revealed the gelding to be coughing. A sample was taken for analysis. Stewards will follow up with the stable.

THEN we have the GOLD COAST Magic Millions lead-up on Saturday where that astute stewarding dynamo Peter Chadwick ensured the punters were protected:

Chadwick pounced quickly when heavily-backed MANHOOD performed like a mule in the first: Stewards reported:

MANHOOD - Jockey B. Thompson could offer no tangible explanation for the below market expectation performance of the colt other than it may not have been suited by the prevailing track conditions. Trainer M. Costa advised that the colt has had a good preparation leading into (Saturday’s) event and was most disappointed in its performance, however could offer no explanation. Mr Costa undertook to have his stable vet examine the horse in the coming days and should any abnormality become apparent which may have explained the performance he would advise Stewards. (Manhood) underwent a post-race veterinary examination which revealed no significant findings. A swab sample was taken.

IN the GOLD PEARL:

UNCORKED - Began awkwardly. Stewards questioned jockey B. Prebble in relation to the poor performance of the filly which drifted noticeably in betting. Jockey Prebble advised the filly travelled only reasonably during the event and when asked to quicken from inside the 600m failed to do so and in his opinion, based on this, the filly may have come to the end of its preparation. A post-race veterinary examination revealed a degree of mucus in the horse’s airway and lacerations to the nearside hock. Co-trainer A. Bott advised that it is the stables intention to spell the filly. 

IN the RISING STARS:

BOOMNOVA - Jockey B. Thornton reported that the mare travelled comfortably throughout the event however from the 400m failed to quicken as he had expected and, in his opinion, performed disappointingly. A post-race veterinary examination revealed no abnormalities. (It looks like they couldn’t find the trainer for an explanation).

 

 

QRIC & CHIEF STEWARD NEED TO LIFT THEIR ACT ON SERIOUS ISSUE

WE have reproduced this article written by ARCHIE BUTTERFLY on his subscriber-only website, www.peterprofit.com with his permission and because we feel it is in the interests of the racing public.

EXTREMELY disturbing reports are floating in about a Queensland racehorse trainer with a history of domestic violence order breaches who has been arrested by police and remanded in custody for alleged offences against another woman in the past week.

The licensee is believed to be trainer who won a rich major provincial series final in Brisbane.

Two months ago we were sent a picture of the person at the races wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, and were told that it was because he was on bail for DV breach offences and was required to wear it as a condition of his release. Not wanting to become involved in what at the time we believed were personal matters, we declined to publish the picture or a story explaining it.

This was terrible mistake on our behalf, and we apologise to women in racing and around the world for our error of judgement.

We have become aware subsequently that the reason that this trainer was wearing the electronic monitoring bracelet was because he had been charged with 18 counts of breaching bail, 12 of contravening a domestic violence order, two of attempting to pervert justice, and one each of assault occasioning bodily harm and public nuisance. At the time we did not know this.

Now we are told that the man was arrested at a Downs racetrack and charged with assaulting his new partner.

He is said to be remanded in custody to appear in court again for mention or plea on the 15th of February.

All of this is deeply disturbing on a personal level, and our heart goes out to his alleged victims.

The person's arrest is highly concerning from a racing perspective too, for it is said that reports about his alleged perverse behaviour and violence towards the woman involved in the industry were made to the QRIC and to the Queensland Chief Steward on several occasions, and both the organisation and the individual official were told of his previous arrests and the reasons for them.

It appears that nothing was done, and so the person was free to keep going to the track.

We understand as well, if not better, than anyone about the right to the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial. But we also understand violence, and hate it when it is perpetrated against women. It is that hatred of cowards who hurt females that led us to once be arrested, charged and convicted for giving a coward of this type a taste of his own medicine. As we are still serving a non-custodial sentence for that offence, and feel until its end a deep remorse for our actions, we will say that what we did was wrong, and mean it too, however some might note that the victim of our crime never did it again to a woman, and they would be right too.

Unfortunately the licensee in this story - we won't call him a man, for men don't hit women - seems likely to have gone out and repeated his alleged violent actions against another woman after being freed on bail. Leopards and spots, and in the law we trust, until we don't.

Some senior racing integrity officials in Queensland appear to have a very perverse attitude to those who allegedly perpetrate physical and sexual violence against women, preferring to preserve the rights of accused perpetrators over the rights of their alleged victims. That is why we have a senior race club official hiding behind the name suppression laws and still performing his role while facing two separate counts of rape, and why this latest grub was allowed to continue holding a license that allowed him to go back and get arrested again for a like offence or offences.

It has to stop.

No-one is saying that an accused person should be judged guilty before they are found so. That would be unfair. But it is equally if not more unfair to place the alleged victims in a position where they are forced to leave the industry in order to protect their own physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing by avoiding situations where they are likely or perhaps even certain to cross paths with the male cowards who the police say have criminally assaulted them.

Peter V'Landys has showed the world how to deal with such allegations. His no fault stand-down rule whereby the person is barred from participation in the sport while awaiting trial, yet still permitted to maintain their contractual entitlements and their presumption of innocence is the exemplar in dealing with allegations of these kind.

It is about time that the QRIC and the Chief Steward adopted it.

 

MILLIONS CLASSICS ARE GOING TO NEED SOME ‘SPIN DOCTORING’

THE Magic Millions is just over a week away – with the dress-rehearsal meeting on Saturday – but the big races seem to lack the normal hype.

Coolangatta might be all the rage but most punters are reluctant to take the poison odds on offer especially with the barrier draw – which can be fatal – still to come.

Perhaps the reason that Coolangatta is so short – apart from the fact he is unbeaten and you have JMac combining with the winning combo of Maher/Eustace, is because the big race lacks the normal depth of most years.

And the Three-Year-Old Classic isn’t all that exciting either with the favorite King of Sparta having won just a Kensington Maiden and a restricted race at Kembla.

Not to worry the racing media ‘spin doctors’ haven’t moved into top gear just yet and started rolling out their regular propaganda promoting the wonders of the Magic Millions and its great benefactor Gerry Harvey who profits largely through the restricted sales no matter how much the big race day lacks in quality.

What odds there is a COVID scare during the Millions – you only have to look at what is happening in the jockey ranks in Sydney? Add all the tourists who will be on the Gold Coast – for a lot of reasons other than racing – along with the predictions of thousands more cases daily in Queensland – and the chances of the MM Carnival dodging a COVID bullet have to be long odds.

Then again what will the powers that be do about it? Alarming stories doing the rounds about COVID positives being the reason for the lack of swabs taken at race meetings in the south-east in the last week. Surely they didn’t have to quarantine some swabbing staff and forgot to tell anyone about it.

We would have asked but the last time LGHR sought an answer to a reasonable question from the ‘public servant’ in charge of QRIC until a new Commissioner is finally appointed, we got treated like idiots with an answer that was insulting. So we don’t bother asking any more until someone takes charge that has some idea what the racing industry is all about.

 

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