Jenny - Clean


THE historic fourth Cox Plate win by WINX provoked plenty of comment from our readers – not that the majority was of the WEDNESDAY WHINGE variety – but LETSGOHORSERACING decided to have our say on what would be a fitting finale to the career of one of the greatest champion gallopers of all time.

TALK of a Harbour City swansong for the legend WINX presents the opportunity for the best racing administrator in the country – Peter V’landys – to catapult Sydney onto the world stage.

If connections don’t want to take Winx overseas – and the wonder mare has nothing to prove after clinching a fourth Cox Plate on Saturday – why not invite the best to OZ to race her.

Peter V’landys was the driving force behind success stories like The Championships and The Everest. Why not the Showdown in Sydney (perhaps they could rename the Queen Elizabeth for one year) – a swansong where more millions are offered in stakes to lure the major racing countries to send their best to challenge Winx?

What a bonanza this would prove for the Sydney Autumn and it would silence that dwindling group of critics who continue to highlight the fact that trainer Chris Waller and owners Debbie Kepitis, Richard Treweeke and Peter Tighe have resisted the challenge to head overseas like connections did with previous champions like Black Caviar, Sunline and company.

As now retired former champion trainer Peter Moody, one of the biggest fans of Winx who endured his share of problems with the great Black Caviar winning at Royal Ascot, often says: “If they want to race her, then they can come Down Under.”

Why not! And Mr V’landys you are the one that could organize this blockbuster which would pack Randwick to the rafters. Might we dare to suggest that it would be more popular than The Championships and wouldn’t draw the same flak as lighting up the Opera House sails before The Everest? It would be a fitting finale to a great career for the wonder mare that has already won almost $23 million in prizemoney.

Controversial British commentator Matt Chapman questioned if English star Cracksman, winner of the recent Champion Stakes at Ascot, should be rated ahead of Winx in the World Rankings before her fourth Cox Plate win.

Commendably prepared to eat some humble pie and apologize to connections, after being labelled a dickhead by Chris Waller, Chapman was confronted by owner Debbie Kepetes at the presentation with a message: “You know what, he will probably still say Benbatl is not that good at home. He still won’t think she’s the world’s best, but my God, in my book she is. There you go Matt. They came. We conquered. Bring on everything you want to bring. She is amazing and please look at how she does it and appreciate what she’s done.”

Chapman gave credit where credit was due after the stunning win on Saturday where might we suggest the Poms and Irishman Aidan O’Brien were given a lesson in ‘tactics’ by the Waller stable. They are used to having a pacemaker in races and no doubt the plan was to try and upset Winx by controlling the Cox Plate pace with Rostroprovich and Benbatl. They were arguably out-foxed by Waller who elected to send stablemate D’Argento forward which left the internationals struggling to lead and Winx in the box seat in the small field. 

But back to the point we wanted to make – and the timely invitation from Ms Kepetes to ‘bring on the best you can’, well why not? How about programming the Showdown in Sydney and inviting Europe, the UK, Ireland, America and Japan to send their best to challenge our champ before she heads to the breeding barn?

Winx might not have been to Royal Ascot, the Breeders’ Cup or even the Hong Kong International but this would be a fitting chance to silence the last of the doubters and send her off in style.

Just imagine our champion mare giving the likes of British superstar Cracksman, Japan’s Almond Eye and the dual Prix de L’arc de Triomphe winner Enable windburn. And for good measure the heir to her crown, stablemate The Autumn Sun, could be included in the field.

What a fitting finale and blockbusting drawcard to the great career of Winx that would be – food for thought Mr V’landys or something that Australian racing can only dream of?



AMONG the many contributions to the WHINGE we received in the wake of last weekend’s memorable two-day Cox Plate feature – some of which were critical of the MOONEE VALLEY track, this was an interesting one.


‘I watched in awe the wonder of WINX winning her fourth Cox Plate and what I am about to write should in no way be interpreted as criticism of her champion qualities but it needs to be said.

‘Might I suggest that the Cox Plate in 2018 could be described as a tale of two horses, two trainers and arguably the application of two sets of Rules of Racing?

‘In one corner we have Jarrod McLean, better known as stable foreman for Victoria’s top trainer Darren Weir and in the other Chris Waller, the Sydney counterpart of Weir who prepares the legendary Winx.

McLean had hoped to embark on a giant-killing role in the Cox Plate with Trap For Fools which came to his stable with some exemplary form in Western Australia. It’s history now that the horse’s nomination for the big race was rejected and the young trainer has wound up in hot water with stewards.

McLean has been charged with allegedly giving false evidence to stewards after an investigation into the ­stabling of Trap For Fools. He will be referred ­directly to the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board.

Investigators claim McLean knowingly sent false information, via text messages to stewards regarding Trap For Fools on October 19, saying the horse would be sent to Darren Weir’s Warrnambool stables at 4.30am the ­following day.

RV’s Compliance Assurance Team visited Weir’s ­stables at 3.50am on October 20 and found the horse already there. Stewards allege that, when questioned about the discrepancy, McLean then told investigators Trap For Fools had arrived at Weir’s stables the previous night, between 6.30pm and 7pm.

Stewards claim the text message was false and/or ­misleading in “that Mr McLean knew at the time of sending it, Trap For Fools was already at Mr Weir’s Warrnambool stable and had been for some time”. They assert that Trap For Fools should have been at McLean’s Yangery complex, not at Weir’s Warrnambool base where McLean is Weir’s stable foreman.

Giving misleading evidence is a serious charge and could have dire consequences for McLean but any close observer of racing would have to pose the question: If you read between the lines and consider the close association between Weir and McLean, what are stewards suggesting? Should punters interpret that McLean was being assisted in his preparation of Trap For Fools for the Coongy Cup and Cox Plate by Weir? It’s an interesting scenario.

Then we have the other side of this Cox Plate tale that involves another contender in D’Argento, which, unlike Trap For Fools, was a starter and in a strange way may have played a more significant role than the majority of those fans cheering Winx on would know.

There are the ‘form experts’ who follow racing closely who believe champion trainer Chris Waller ‘out-foxed’ his international rivals by declaring a change of tactics with D’Argento. Hands up all of those who have seen the grey lead in his races! You won’t get many takers as it is contrary to his normal racing pattern.

When D’Argento ran favorite and fifth behind the European Benbatl in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes at his previous start he settled last. When he finished a close second to Hartnell in the G1 Epsom at Randwick before that, he settled seventh.

Yet it was at the 11th hour decided that in the small field in Saturday’s Cox Plate he would be ridden forward. Smart tactics one might suggest considering the on-pace bias that dogged the Valley track during the two days of the carnival.

Then there are those cynics who say it didn’t harm the prospects of stablemate Winx – not that she needed any help disposing of her rivals in the big race for the fourth consecutive time. Let’s face it she was a class above Benbatl (the import that finished second), Humidor (third despite pulling up lame and ending his spring campaign), Avilius (fourth, running on late as expected as he prepares to run 3200m in the Melbourne Cup),  Rostroprovich (fifth, the Irish Derby runner-up that was caught three wide in the small field), D’Argento (sixth, gone on the home turn), Savvy Coup (seventh, smart across the Ditch, but outclassed against these) and poor Kings Will Dream (broke his pelvis, retired from the race in the back straight and fighting for his life let alone his career).

Now, don’t think I am in any way suggesting Winx should not have beaten this bunch. She is a freak, a superstar, a genuine world champion and claimed an historic fourth Cox Plate, I believe, with something in reserve. What I am saying is that Waller may have out-smarted rival training legends like the Irishman Aidan O’Brien and the Sheik’s No 1 man, Sayeed Bin Suroor, who are so used to having ‘legitimate’ pacemakers in races in Europe and the UK, which is not permitted in OZ. No doubt they expected Rostroprovich (out for the exercise in preparation for her goal, the Melbourne Cup) to set the pace for Benbatl (his only hope of stretching the neck of Winx despite being rated a bit below the best of the staying crop back home).

Alas the plans of mice and men went up in smoke when D’Argento was left in front and dictating (yes, Kerrin McEvoy did report it was not his intention to lead). Don’t for one moment think that new Chief Stipe Robert Cram and his team were sitting on their backsides and didn’t suspect that some might believe there was a hint of ‘team riding’ here – which I am not suggesting for one moment. As the official Stewards’ Report reads: Dargento: Connections advised would be ridden closer; led. Rider Kerrin McEvoy reported that it was his intention to be more forward however it was not his intention to lead, but after having begun well and with not a lot of speed, he was left comfortably in the lead.

It made not one iota of difference to the result – Hugh Bowman was caught wide early but quickly slotted into the box seat in the small field. What I am hoping, in view of the ‘big stick’ approach being taken to the stable switch with Trap for Fools and the not so high profile Jarrod McLean, is that the spotlight is on Waller and D’Argento next time he steps out during the spring carnival and that a simple ‘change of tactics’ will not suffice. If stewards allow the grey to be ‘ridden quietly’ after the stable saw the need to have it with the on-pacers in a race as high quality and important as a Cox Plate, it won’t be a good look.

There will be those who will say I am Waller-bashing or guilty of the tall poppy syndrome of challenging a champion. That is a load of garbage. But like many others I believe this was an aspect of the running of the Cox Plate, amid all the Winx hype, that needed to be raised and not swept under the carpet.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: YOU make some interesting comparisons BOB. LGHR is happy to provide a platform for you to have your say. On the subject of the Valley track it was biased but the critics should spare a thought for the track manager and his staff. What more could they have done?



THE resolution of problems between industry stakeholders and the Queensland Government over distribution of Point of Consumption Tax revenue hasn’t halted the sniping as the following WHINGE contributions indicate.


‘CLAIMS that the Labor Government should have moved sooner to avert strike action at TAB tracks in Queensland last Saturday are a bit rich coming from the LNP.

At least Labor continues to do something to improve prize-money in Queensland. All the LNP did when they were running the show was make promises that they didn’t deliver on.

Then Racing Minister Steve Dickson absurdly claimed Queensland would finish ‘a furlong in front of NSW and Victoria’ under his Government.

And Tim Nicholls, then Treasurer and Member for the electorate covering the major racing precinct in Brisbane, failed to deliver on his promises concerning the redevelopment of the Eagle Farm track.

Delicate negotiations leading to deals like that struck between the Government and the racing alliance don’t happen overnight. By the time an agreement had been reached it was too late to program TAB racing on Saturday.

At the end of the day the strike did lead to the confirmation by Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe last Friday of an annual $26 million boost in prizemoney for Queensland racing which leaves the LNP legacy looking quite sick.

One might suggest that the LNP, left with little else to say, were desperately saving face when Shadow Racing Minister John-Paul Langbroek suggested the strike could have been avoided if the Government had reached a deal sooner.

“There's no doubt that the deal should have been done way before yesterday (Friday) afternoon, it was a Government that refused to listen and refused to negotiate. What this has shown over the last couple of days is the arrogance and incompetence of the Labor Government when it came to implementing a new tax,” Langbroek told the media.

Sorry John-Paul what this has shown is that racing in Queensland is now better off by at least $26 million in prizemoney annually – and that’s $26 million more than the LNP failed to deliver to the industry they continue to tell us rakes in so much revenue and employs so many people.

Talk is cheap!’



THE there was this one from JIM MANLEY of the GOLD COAST:

THERE was a strong message from the end result to the strike action which resulted in a loss of TAB race meetings in Queensland on Saturday that should be heeded by the Labor Government.

It took the intervention of an independent, highly respected businessman and former NSW racing administrator in Gary Pemberton to break the deadlock in negotiations between the industry and the Queensland Government.

One has to ask how effective the Racing Queensland Board, headed by Steve Wilson and appointed by the Government, had been in the bid to break the deadlock over distribution of Point of Consumption Tax revenue.

Should this control body of high profile business identities assigned the task of ensuring racing runs profitably and smoothly not have been able to negotiate a quick resolution between angry industry stakeholders and the Government?

We keep getting told how hard new Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell and industry bosses worked toward this resolution but at the end of the day it appears that it was an outsider in Pemberton who virtually overnight brokered the deal which provided a $26 million annual prizemoney windfall for stakeholders.

Treasurer Jackie Trad and Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe released a joint statement acknowledging racing’s importance to the State’s economy but noted ‘racing hasn’t been at its best for a long time and continues to face challenges’.

The Government has committed an ongoing annual $26 million to be paid into gallops prizemoney, the first $18 million of which will be injected from Friday.

In return, the Government has asked for an undertaking from the industry that it will seek broader industry reforms to ensure racing’s long-term sustainability. The Racing Minister said reforms were likely to come with a change in the ratio of Non-TAB to TAB racing, where Queensland has the highest proportion of non-TAB meetings in the country.

“We want to see that change. Work with industry in a range of ways to improve the strength of the industry that feeds back into making it sustainable,” he said.

Now that will be interesting. How about double header TAB meetings on a Sunday with one in the south-east and another in the country and please no addition to the too many already allocated to Toowoomba where it seems to have degenerated into a one-horse race?

The gallops also awaits the response of the trots and dogs which are likely to now be looking for a Government hand-out as well. Most of us won’t have a problem with the greyhounds receiving their fair share or more – they pull their way.

But the ‘red hots’ are nothing more than a sideshow these days and deserve no more than they are already receiving which many believe is too much. Any one care to bet on the harness King-pin not pulling in some political favors. Don’t forget – bet responsibly!

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