IT’S always good public relations to say something nice about a foreign venue when you are a guest on a major occasion and no place better fits the bill than Hong Kong during International week.

Diplomacy rules with the Hong Kong Jockey Club – dating back to the days when the Brits ran the show – and stakeholders walk on egg shells ensuring they don’t offend.

Winx’ trainer Chris Waller, making one of his rare missions outside Australia to run Comin’ Through in the G1 HK Mile at Sunday’s International meeting at Sha Tin, was saying all the right things about Hong Kong racing to the local media. 

Superstar jockey Joao Moreira had a lesson in diplomacy when he quit Hong Kong for Japan – only to fail a test that would allow him to take up a permanent riding contact there.

He was allowed to return to Hong Kong after champion trainer John Size moved heaven and earth with the Jockey Club whose boss Winfried Engelbrecht-Breges laid down the law to Moreira reminding him that this wasn’t a place where he could come and go as he pleased when it came to plying his trade.

Waller told TRENTON ACKERS, an Aussie racing writer who now works for the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, he is well aware of the ‘lucrative’ prospect of one day training in Hong Kong but is not prepared to give up his star Australian gallopers, at least for now.

Following the departure of trainer Michael Freedman and the looming retirement of John Moore at the end of next season, the Jockey Club is determined to lure a big name to fill the void.

The New Zealand native, who is now based in Sydney, has made no secret about his desire to evolve his stable into an international operation, with goals to send more horses overseas targeting big races.

“Gee, it’s a very lucrative place to train, I envy the trainers that are here,” Waller told the SCMP. “Where I am lucky however is turnover. There are always good horses not far away and we are spoilt over the past few years with some good ones, obviously Winx but now a couple of young ones.

 “That is the sacrifice you have to make, giving away those real distinct, good horses.”

With a quarantine stalemate between the Australian Government and the Jockey Club stifling the transport of horses between Australia and Hong Kong, Waller said he would have brought more horses to Sunday’s International meeting if a resolution was brokered in time.

The deadlock, which has dragged on for over a year, also put a red line through any possibility of Waller bringing Winx to Hong Kong last year.

“It is a bit of a shame because she has got a huge following over the world,” he said.


WITH Comin’ Through’s owner, Sir Owen Glenn, hell-bent on international success, Waller will travel the brother of multiple Hong Kong Group 1 placegetter Criterion to Dubai for the World Cup meeting in March.

 “You need depth in your stables to be able to bring horses. It would have been nice to bring a few, that’s for sure,” he said.

“Funnily enough, not being able to easily come (to Hong Kong) probably makes the desire to come even stronger. With our stable, we want to be more international and you can just see how hard it is getting to Europe and getting to the Breeders’ Cup, but Hong Kong is very achievable.”

While Comin’ Through is only rated a rough chance in the Hong Kong Mile, Waller said his horse relishes a change of environment and races well fresh.

“He is a horse that just lost a little bit of form. If you go back a few months he ran second in the Doncaster Mile and he won the Doomben Cup.”

Waller also hinted at a possible Hong Kong campaign next year for up-and-coming star The Autumn Sun, saying he had local owners keen on the prospect of racing on their home turf.

However, it will be a matter of timing for Waller with the colt set to have only a short time racing with a rich career as a stallion beckoning for the dual Group One winner.

“He is owned up here so obviously they’d like us to consider it, as long as it doesn’t affect the horse in any way,” he said.

Here’s what one of our contributors had to say about the Waller-Hong Kong situation: ‘Chris heading to Hong Kong – pull the other one! He’s got it too good in Sydney. The King of the Castle where rarely a week passes by and one of his second string horses doesn’t salute while the favorite goes woeful. It happened on Saturday. Of course the explanation always seems to be noted. And why would he walk away from one of the best teams of horses to compete against much better trainers in a foreign environment where he most certainly wouldn’t always get his own way. One million to one CW moving to Honkers’.     



The DAILY TELEGRAPH’S RAY THOMAS, regarded by many as the ‘spin doctor’ for Racing NSW and its high-flying CEO Peter V’landys, was hot off the blocks with another ‘exclusive’ this week.

What on the surface looks like just another Sydney ploy to try and destroy the success story that is Melbourne racing and its Spring Carnival may be even worse that it seems if the mail delivered by the well-informed MATT STEWART, Racing Editor for RSN, is close to the target.

Hot on the heels of the absurd prizemoney being offered for The Everest and The Championships, the latest brainchild of Racing NSW will apparently be ‘officially’ announced as early as today after Thomas was given an exclusive ‘earlier’ in the week.

As one emailer (from Sydney we might add) asked of the Wednesday Whinge: “When was the last time good old Razer provided some constructive criticism of anything in NSW Racing – from raising questions over integrity on the track to the big money races which seem largely designed to profit the major stables – not to mention the fact that the bread and butter trainers were hunted out of Sydney long ago.”

According to the Thomas ‘scoop’, the new race will be run during the Sydney spring carnival and, at more than $7 million, will be worth more than the Melbourne Cup and second only to The Everest which runs for the ‘rich and famous’ at an absurd $14 million.

Racing NSW officials deny they are attempting the mission impossible of taking over as the pace-setter in Australian racing or of upstaging the Melbourne Spring – which not even the blind mind at the gate with the Labrador is prepared to swallow.

But through some strange coincidence next year The Everest clashes with the Caulfield Cup and there is speculation that this new race could be run one week later, the same day as the Cox Plate.

If the mail from Matt Stewart is correct, Racing NSW is trying to sabotage the Spring Carnival. Here’s what he wrote in the column ‘UNBRIDLED’ this week:

Could Cox Plate day be in the sights of ransacking Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys?

A second, even more alarming pitch has emerged in the wake of our report this morning that NSW will announce tomorrow that Sydney will stage three $1 million-plus races during the heart of the Melbourne spring carnival.

But “Unbridled” now understands there might be a second scenario for three $1 million-plus races, one worth as much as $8 million, at Randwick on Cox Plate day.

The $8 million race, a source said, would be in direct competition to the Cox Plate.

This scenario is merely speculation but if correct would take already tense relationships between NSW and Victoria to all-out war.

When asked about the speculation Moonee Valley Racing Club chief executive Michael Browell texted; “Let’s just see what happens tomorrow.” Racing NSW is expected to reveal its plans at 10am (today, Wednesday).

No-one can stop V’landys from crashing the Melbourne spring carnival with rich pop-up races, an act of aggression described by one administrator as “utterly destructive.”

V’landy’s latest salvo, on top of the 2017 emergence of The Everest, which will this year collide with the Caulfield Cup, has shocked Melbourne administrators. In all likelihood, those administrators will meet in coming days to consider the latest Sydney move and whether V’landys can be stopped.

One said V’Landys was “trashing” the historically good relationship between NSW and Victorian racing and would ultimately harm both states.

Racing Australia chief executive Barry O’Farrell told “Unbridled” that nothing can be done to prevent one jurisdiction crashing into another’s territory, particularly if the proposed races were not pitched to include Group status.

In theory, RA is Australian racing’s governing body but it would require constitutional change to empower it to over-rule radical alterations to existing race programming.

O’Farrell said the Pattern Committee, essentially a sub-committee of RA, could only intervene if there was a pitch for new races to have Group status.

The Everest for instance, has no such status.

O’Farrell would not comment when asked if RA should be empowered beyond its key roles of implementing the broad rules of racing, managing the Stud Book and overseeing the sport’s technological advances.

“You’d have to put that to Frances,” O’Farrell said, referring to RA chairman Frances Nelson.

O’Farrell said the constitutional amendments required to enhance RA’s powers would be “complicated” and would require powerful individual race-clubs to forfeit some of their power, which he said was not likely.

Thomas reports in the Daily Telegraph that the introduction in the past two years of The Everest, which has been run on the same day as the Caulfield Guineas, has proven that the Sydney and Melbourne spring carnivals can co-exist. He insists that betting turnover, on-course attendances and television ratings have soared at Randwick and Caulfield on Everest Day.

What he doesn’t say is that the race crowds in Sydney on big days – even when the superstar Winx is running – are still a major embarrassment when compared to the carnival blockbusters in Melbourne.

And no amount of prizemoney will change that – but it could wreak havoc on the quality of the big races run in Victoria in the spring. It’s time O’Farrell declared where he stands as far as Racing NSW is concerned and the spineless Racing Australia stepped in and stopped what is regarded an all-out attack on the Melburnians from the Sydneysiders who seem to find it impossible to win if they are forced to compete on a level playing field.  



WITH all due respect to the innovative KOSCUISZKO concept, Racing NSW seems determined to pour more money in major races that will be won by the major stables, the big owners or the international visitors.

In contrast Victoria seems to spread the spoils across the bread and better contenders and this has reaped rewards that one could argue will never happen while the current attitude exists in NSW.

Just look back at the last week and the crowds that turned out for a new feature meetking on Sunday, when the Jericho Cup was run at Warrnambool not to mention the record of more than 10,000 who attended the Wodonga Cup last Friday.

Rather than us trying to explain, here is part of a report on the Jericho Cup from MICHAEL LYNCH in the MELBOURNE AGE:

AUSTRALIAN racing is known for producing sprinters and milers, horses who excel over short trips in helter-skelter dashes where speed, and then more speed, is the only desired quality.

So it’s something of a surprise that the latest innovation from Racing Victoria is a flat race over a marathon trip of 4600m, the sort of distance that even jumps horses rarely attempt save for curios like the Grand Annual at Warrnambool.

It is therefore fitting that the inaugural Jericho Cup is being staged at the same seaside venue, where the famous horse from World War I, Bill The Bastard, will be honored.

The race is named for the event first staged in the Middle East 100 years ago by the Australian Light Horse. Approaching the end of the First World War, the Australian troops were planning a major offensive against the Turks. In a bid to distract the enemy and not alert them to the fact that a major initiative was due to take place, the Australians organized a race meeting.

The main race was called The Jericho Cup over three miles and was won by Bill the Bastard, probably Australia’s Greatest War Horse.

IN the aftermath of Sunday’s different but popular meeting at the ‘bool that attracted the biggest crowd outside the Grand Annual carnival in May, here are extracts from a report by MICHAEL MANLEY of the HERALD SUN:

LESS than a month after training Santa Ana Lane to win the VRC Sprint Classic, Anthony Freedman claimed Australia’s longest flat race the Jericho Cup (4600m) with High Mode underlying the trainer’s versatility.

High Mode was ridden to victory by Clayton Douglas, who continued his love affair with the Warrnambool track, as in May he claimed the Grand Annual Steeple and Brierly Steeple on Gold Medals.

And garnering almost as much acclaim was the run of the 11-year-old warhorse Crafty Cruiser who finished second.

The inaugural running proved to be a huge success with an estimated 5,000 people in attendance.

Freedman’s racing manager Brad Taylor said the Jericho Cup wasn’t on the stable’s radar until one of his part-owners Darren Costigan spotted it and came up with a plan to get him to the race.

WODONGA is a township on the Victorian side of the border with NSW, some 300km north-east of Melbourne. It boasts a population of less than 40,000 and a good deal of those took the day off to join the 10,000-plus at last Friday’s annual Cup meeting.

For some reason Victorians seem to embrace major Cup meetings on any day of the week but the Sunday features are especially popular. There was a suggestion once that before being granted Saturday status some of the major Queensland carnival days outside of Brisbane should be run on a Sunday. The response from Toowoomba to this proposal was: “No-one would go. They have to get up the next day and go to work.”

Regardless there are still those in Queensland who believe Sunday would prove a better drawcard for Cup days in Townsville, Cairns, Rockhampton and (heaven forbid, wash our mouth out with soap) even Toowoomba.



TOWNSVILLE Turf Club president MALCOLM PETROFSKI has had a burr in his saddle since we ran some criticism from a contributor in the north last week.

The critic started his attack on the TTC committee with: TO say things under the new regime at Cluden are running smoothly would be gross misrepresentation with several sackings of key staff in recent months, resignations of committee and general dissatisfaction among the entire racing community.’

He was highly critical of the annual report and even had a pot-shot the presentation of beer for Sunday’s racing meeting at Cluden declaring refrigeration had been turned off during the heatwave and that it would be served up ‘luke warm’.

Petrofski responded with: If the natives you refer to are the members I would welcome their questions and input at the AGM on Monday night starting at 05:30PM at Cluden Park.

‘We like any business continually look for the best fit of people for positions, sometimes we get it right sometimes we get it wrong, in general I think we get a lot more right than wrong.’ 

The TTC boss fired off another email to us after Sunday’s racing meeting with an assurance that there had been no complaints about the coldness of the beer at Cluden that afternoon:

‘I took it on myself to drink a number of beers today, checking quality and for temperature, all very cold.

Interviewed 20 patrons all happy, one complained beer was to cold - can’t please everyone!’

After Monday’s AGM Petrofski fired this broadside at critics:

‘AGM over.

No curly questions?

Everyone there even signed their real name.

So the beer is still cold, no curly questions and the auditor spoke and was approved by the members for another year.

I don’t know what else to say?’



TALKING of the north and being left speechless, veteran trainer TERRY BUTTS, who for years penned his popular ‘Silks & Saddles’ column for the North Queensland Register, was back in the winner’s circle at Cluden on Sunday.

Former south-east Queensland galloper, Writtinco, debuted for the Butts stable and landed one of the plunges that he has become renowned for as a trainer of many decades.

But there was a downside to the win. Butts wasn’t there – or even aware that Writtinco had won.

He explained to LGHR: “I spent the day in the Townsville General Hospital. The f…n mare nearly killed me loading her on the float to go to the races.

“She pulled backed and charged out backwards over the top of me. I was very, very lucky. I didn’t know she had won until an hour after the race.’

But a few dozen sherbets (yes they were cold), a pocketful of loot and some TLC from long-suffering wife Cathy and Sir Terrence was that night back in the land of the living with a smile on his dial.



PUNTERS who regularly contribute to the WHINGE have questioned whether apprentice Nathan Punch should have been questioned over his ride on the highly fancied Invincible Al at Moonee Valley on Saturday.

They believe that Punch was on a hiding to nothing the way the Valley track was playing and faced a mission impossible because of the race pattern of Invincible Al which requires him to be ridden back. The track appeared to be heavily favoring the on-pacers.

The RV Stewards’ Report read: Invincible Al - when questioned, apprentice Nathan Punch explained that he was instructed to ride his mount where comfortable. However, in his opinion, he was not travelling very well in the early and middle stages. He added that he wanted to improve his position earlier than he did, however he was caught to the inside of Thermal Current passing the 500m and had to restrain his mount to get to the outside of that gelding. He further added that when he got to the outside of Thermal Current, he did not want to put his mount under full pressure at this stage as Invincible Al only has a short sprint and is best saved for a final run.

Ironically, the story of the race can be revealed from the sectional times. Invincible Al ran the quickest last 600m of 33.24. The winner, Our Luca, which led, ran the same sectional in 34.04 – the only horse to record a worse time for the last 600m in the eight-horse field was Angry Gee (34.11) and it finished last.

That just about says it all!



THERE is an unconfirmed story doing the rounds, which we are led to believe is correct, that the popular Maurice Logue has been terminated as the manager of the Training Department at Racing Queensland.

Logue was appointed the new head of training and jockey welfare at RQ during the era when Dr Elliott Forbes was CEO. He had filled a similar position in NSW for many years.

A former jockey, Logue won the 1983 Doomben Cup on Lord Seaman. He rode more than 750 winners during his riding career and was a popular choice for the role at RQ.

If the above is correct perhaps RQ might like to issue a Media Release explaining the situation to stakeholders.

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