SPECIAL SYDNEY – MELBOURNE AUTUMN CARNIVAL SUBSCRIPTION
IT COULD ONLY HAPPEN IN QLD - TRAINER PHONES JOCKEY AT BARRIER
USE of mobile phones once jockeys start their riding duties is prohibited in Australia but some are saying a recent bending of the rules could only happen in racing in Queensland.
The story goes that a trainer was delayed and by the time he arrived at a south-east Queensland TAB meeting his well fancied runner was already on the track on its way to the start.
This veteran of the training ranks in Brisbane, who has executed many successful betting plonks over the years, complained to stewards that he had been unable to provide riding instructions to his young jockey.
An innovative steward came up with an unusual solution and contacted the starter by mobile phone which was handed to the jockey behind the barriers and the trainer was able to get his last minute message across. The horse duly saluted.
Now you would think that this was a ‘win-win’ situation for all concerned. The mistake that was made occurred at the barriers where the jockey was allowed to stay in the saddle while he took the call.
It has reportedly resulted in a meeting between the Queensland Jockeys’ Association and stewards later this week to rightly discuss safety concerns.
One can only imagine the surprised look on the faces of rival jockeys as the rider, whose father was one of the ‘greats’ of the Australian turf, took the call. The wags are suggesting some of the comments included: ‘Is it dad with some last minute advice?’ or ‘No more money for the favourite.’
Whilst the use of mobiles by jockeys is frowned upon once they begin their riding duties the idea certainly has some merit in the eyes of some punters who have had their say to the new 'Whinge When You Like' section of letsgohorseracing.
‘Perhaps stewards should be using mobile phones to contact the starter more often to remind jockeys when horses have blown alarmingly in the betting that their rides will be closely monitored. That way we might not see so many fancies that ease in the betting then miss the start and race wide’.
Another had this to say:
‘Why not allow jockeys to wear a hands-free mobile when they ride in races. That would enable trainers to give them instructions along the way.
It could be added as a ‘gear change for jockeys’ – similar to blinkers and winkers etc. Can’t you see the gear change list: Jockey Hugh Bowman – mobile phone added? Then again that might create a problem for Chris Waller when he has multiple runners as he can only use one mobile phone at a time. There probably wouldn’t be any need to worry about the favourite though as it normally gets beaten.
They could also add a new Rule of Racing which allows jockeys to ‘phone a friend’. In the situation where stewards had contacted them at the start warning of a big drift in the betting they could immediately go to speed dial and seek advice from their friendly big punter or bookmaking advisor.’
It’s all fodder for a good laugh and full marks to the steward who allowed the trainer some leeway to instruct his jockey in exceptional circumstances. But the safety aspect does leave a little to be desired and perhaps the Clerk of the Course should have held his horse while the jock took the call.
LONG-SUFFERING punters can celebrate a victory of sorts following the ground-breaking decision by the new Racing Integrity Commission in Queensland to launch retrospective inquiries.
Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett says it is important that members of the public who feel the need to report concerns about specific races can be confident these will be investigated and action taken if warranted.
The first example of this has seen the opening of inquiries into the running of recent harness races at Redcliffe and Albion Park on the recommendation of an independent review.
Concerns were raised with the Integrity Commission by members of the public and these were referred to an independent panel of stewards who did not officiate at either of those meetings.
There will be those who say that this overdue new transparency in Queensland racing falls well short of what is required to win back the confidence of punters, especially if it only targets the ‘red hots’.
The other question that needs to be answered is whether there should be a totally new panel, independent of stewards, to investigate serious complaints that are considered warranted. It is hardly fair – and just doesn’t stand the test of independence – to have fellow stewards ruling against their colleagues, especially if this happens, on occasions, to be their superiors.
There is also the question of who decides whether these complaints by members of the public warrant a retrospective inquiry. Perhaps a more acceptable solution to this would be a panel made up of expert form analysts and top professional punters rather than stewards.
Whether the authorities want to admit it or not the gallops in Queensland have been on the nose for years and nothing has been done about it. Punters have walked away in droves from betting, especially on TAB meetings in the south-east corner.
There are suggestions that stewards are just going through the motions because those who have tried to put a broom through the joint have been disillusioned by appeals outcomes and pressure way back when from those appointed by Government to run the industry.
Even in recent Saturdays there have been suggestions of a smell about a couple of races at mainstream meetings but nothing has been even questioned. The situation has reached such a stage that many punters believe the only way turnover will increase on the Queensland product is for a ‘no nonsense, gun steward’ to be appointed to run the show and clean things up. Critics say things have become so slack that the Stewards’ Report from last Saturday’s Eagle Farm meeting was not even posted on the web until sometime Monday morning while other major interstate venues were published the night of the meeting.
Commissioner Barnett insists: “It is important the public has confidence in QRIC stewards to objectively review all codes of racing in Queensland to ensure the Rules of Racing are enforced in the running of all races.
“It is also important that people reporting matters to the Commission have confidence that we will examine the issues they raise and take action where warranted.”
He’s got that right – now let’s see just how fair dinkum they are!
A step in the right direction from Governments and racing authorities would be to give punters a voice on Boards that control the industry. They contribute much more than some of the bums who are currently represented and have influence in the decision making process.
In the meantime, if you have a problem with the way a horse is ridden or a race is run then CONTACT THE INTEGRITY COMMISSION and HAVE YOUR SAY.
HAVE YOUR WHINGE ON
ANY DAY OF THE WEEK
‘BARRY BARKER’ of CAPALABA sent this email concerning greyhound racing in QUEENSLAND:
‘WELL it looks like its bash the greyhounds again and isn't it great to have a Commissioner of Integrity like former top cop Ross Barnett in charge?
Mr Barnett, who is reportedly on a huge salary, commands the new Department of Integrity and it’s obvious by some of his recent press statements that he's really got in-depth knowledge of the greyhound industry.
In a media report this week Mr Barnett had this to say when asked about the number of deaths of greyhounds during races:
In 2016, 67 greyhounds had to be put down trackside as a result of racing injuries, a significant increase on the years before the Commission.
“I think you've always got to think about those numbers in terms of the number of animals who race every week across the year so we get a rate of Injuries and deaths per thousand runners to give it some context,” Mr Barnett said.
“I think we're racing greyhounds about four days a week so you think of the number of racers, the number of runners, you've just got to put that in context.”
Err, Mr Barnett we're not racing greyhounds four days a week. Actually Mr Barnett we are racing greyhounds 10 times a week.
Don't worry Mr Barnett, although it seems you have got no idea what's going on in regards to greyhound racing, you will still get your executive salary paid to you every week.
You might be interested Mr Barnett to know that those 67 deaths represented less than 0.15% of dogs that competed in races during 2016. The fatality rate has never risen better than 0.15% in the past 3 years But then again if you think greyhounds race only four times a week goodness knows what level of knowledge of greyhound racing you possess.’
GENERAL CONCENSUS THAT 'RACING IN QUEENSLAND IS STUFFED'
ALBERT WILLIAMS, a regular contributor on all things bad with RACING in QUEENSLAND, chimes in with a timely email to the DAILY WHINGE:
‘IF I had a dollar for every time someone has told me that ‘racing in Queensland is stuffed’ I’d be a very rich man.
On a daily basis the news grows grimmer for the industry in the north – the latest confirmation that field sizes are diminishing must have contributed to the slump in UBET turnover.
Nathan Exelby reports in The Courier-Mail what we have all known for some time, that the splurge by a cashed-up NSW on country racing is starting to bite into south-east Queensland.
The banana-benders are heading south across the border chasing the big money and there are less visitors from NSW to Queensland, specifically top Murwillumbah-based trainer Matt Dunn who is staying at home or heading to richer pickings in Sydney.
In the prizemoney race Queensland continues to fall further behind NSW and Victoria. The detrimental effect that is having on field sizes is finally being realized publicly – even though RQ seems to be playing their normal game in times of trouble – forget about it and it will go away. This one just won’t!
According to The Courier-Mail Doomben had 63 runners on Wednesday and Ipswich had only 48 on Friday while there were only 55 starters at the Gold Coast on Saturday. Yet at Ballina last Friday there were 91 runners and four of the eight races were won by Queensland horses.
We keep being reminded that more races are being run with Eagle Farm back on board. Perhaps RQ would like to release some figures for the state overall backing up that claim. There are some who monitor racing in the north closely that are claiming the number of races being run is down and that, too, is contributing to the fall in UBET turnover.
Something is certainly wrong when RQ has agreed to immediately trial a new policy on minimum race numbers and field sizes up to the end of July.
RQ CEO Dr Elliot Forbes (why didn’t they do us a favor and leave him in Tasmania?) claims the revised policy will enhance the confidence that trainers and owners can have in the racing program and their ability to place their horses to their best advantage.
He said the trial would provide real data to inform policy decisions moving forward, including demographics, program impact and wagering metrics (that’s a fancy way of telling us the band aid cure makes RQ look proactive in the face of another disaster).
In the past it was the TAB that insisted on minimum numbers as close to eight runners as possible to ensure each-way betting turnover. Five runners in a field might be good news for those owners and trainers who have less competition but it isn’t a good look for racing and far worse from a punting perspective.
As part of the trial, RQ has also removed the previous restrictions on the minimum number of races at race meetings. That being the case perhaps they could follow the Melbourne and Sydney lead and program nine races every Saturday in Brisbane – even if it means putting a Maiden on the card or perhaps introducing a similar Country Hi-Way Series to the one that has proved so successful for big stakes in NSW.
Rather than be proactive it seems RQ is being forced to make decisions to save face. They openly admit the move to restrict the number of starters required for a race is seen as a boost to many country and remote clubs where the previous policy may have rendered some race meetings untenable.
In conclusion, I would just like to highlight my original point – that there is no hope for racing in Queensland when you have a Minister who says everything is hunky dory, a Board that maintains the industry is escaping from the quicksand when most think it is sinking deeper and a CEO who seems to be enjoying a ‘love affair’ with the sport’s biggest enemies, the corporate bookmakers.
And what does the future hold?
If Labor by some miracle manages to hold Government at the next election – just more of the same! If they get the tippy-toe, as expected, racing faces the prospect of another dose of the disastrous ‘Tim the Toolman’ or even worse his former first lieutenant and now One Nation leader in the north, Steve Dickson, who promised us as Racing Minister in an LNP Government that ‘Queensland racing would finish a furlong in front of the southern states.’
Worse still is the prediction that they could be priming ‘little King Kev’ for a comeback. If that happens – and you think racing is stuffed now – you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
UBET – THE UNDER-PERFORMING ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM FOR RQ
By TERRY BUTTS
of the NQ REGISTER
SOME will say the elephant in the room at the headquarters of Racing Queensland is UBET.
For too long UNiTAB or UBET – call it what you like – has performed well below expectations singularly and against its opposition.
The half yearly report – the worst news since the rebranding of UBET – revealed yet another downturn in wagering which was no surprise to most.
In fact, it was expected.
UBET is way behind its competitors and scraped the bottom of the barrel recently when it imposed a $20 limit on all bets wagered at Fixed Price at the busy Broadbeach TAB on the Gold Coast.
Reports emerge daily of UBET refusing bets from those perceived as winning punters – a practice which surely should be against the law.
You can bet with UBET – but don’t back a winner – seems to be the motto.
But there is hope.
In a few weeks ASIC is set to announce its decision on the merger of the Queensland TAB with the giant NSW and Victorian TABs, which would not only be a possible savior for Queensland but would also provide Australia with a virtual National Tote. We can only hope that ASIC fully understands the advantage of that outcome.
The rumored take-home salaries of executives occupying high profile jobs at the under-performing UBET are almost sickening.
You think the country’s leading ‘Postie’ is overpaid?
UBET has made no attempt to compete with other TABS or betting agencies. UBET is usually last to display Fixed Price odds on most venues, and in provincial Queensland does not attempt to attract punters by providing prices often two days after their opposition working on Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville or Cairns TAB fixtures.
There is no incentive for owners to support their horses with UBET a potential market that has never been tested. Two years ago, when RQ was operating on the front foot – and trying to stay abreast, it suggested UBET should text owners after acceptances offering them Fixed Odds or best fluctuation. It is a PR exercise that some clubs use to notify owners of the race, time draw of their horse etc.
Why not offer them a price as well was the suggestion to UBET?
It went into the too-hard basket. UBET said they couldn’t handle it.
Nor could they handle a $500 bet from an owner at a recent Mackay TAB meeting. The prominent local owner asked for $500 on his horse at the on-course counter. UBET said he could have $186 on it. I kid you not.
And you wonder why the turnover is in reverse.
The message owners receive from UBET is: Support your local TAB.
What a joke!
Well, hopefully ASIC will bring us change. Then perhaps a better deal for Queensland with SKY that is owned of course by the NSW tote will follow. And end the contemptuous treatment Queensland currently endures.
At least we can hope.
HAVE YOUR WHINGE ON
ANY DAY OF THE WEEK
LATEST UBET DOWNTURN IN WAGERING SUGGESTS BIG TAB MERGER LAST HOPE FOR RACING IN QUEENSLAND
THE headline on another disappointing result for the UBET wagering activities is almost laughable:
REVENUE DOWN BUT TATTS GROUP STAYS POSITIVE IN QUEENSLAND.
With all due respects the latest turnover report paints far from a positive picture – not only for the company’s wagering arm but also for racing in the north.
It’s just another sad tale of woe for the industry, whose control body, Racing Queensland, has posted unacceptable multi-million dollar losses for the past two financial years and continues to stagger from one disaster to another despite rosey reports from Racing Minister Grace Grace, the Board and its CEO Dr Eliot Forbes.
As usual there are excuses aplenty for the Tatts Group downturn in wagering in the first half of the financial year. The bottom line is that revenue from betting is down 6.3 per cent on the December 2014 figure (from $339.2mn to $317.8mn).
In contrast rival TABCORP, which is Victorian-based, reported a 1.4 per cent rise in wagering revenue to $987 million from the previous year which suggests something is horribly wrong in Queensland.
Tatts Group CEO and managing director Robbie Cooke told Nathan Exelby of The Courier-Mail that the Labor Government’s ‘refusal to limit inducement activity by wagering competitors to punters in Queensland’ was largely to blame.
It’s a crazy situation when racing in Queensland has a long-term deal with Tatts relying on its profit basically for the industry to survive while the control body (RQ) and the Government all but seem to be in bed with main rivals, the corporate bookmakers, who are regarded as parasites on racing reaping millions in revenue that is going offshore.
One could argue that this has not helped Tatts in its massive re-launch and re-branding of the product which one could already declare a failure based on the downturn in wagering. Even allowing for the lack of punter confidence in the Queensland racing product and the refusal of RQ and the Government to force bookies to implement a Minimum Bet Limit, even interest in interstate betting failed to save the day.
Most believe the only hope for UBET is an $11 billion merger deal announced last October between Tabcorp and the Tatts Group which is reliant on ASIC approval. If that body does not give the nod to this next month racing in Queensland will struggle just to keep in touch with the big southern racing states which are already powering ahead in the prizemoney stakes.
RACING IDENTITY QUESTIONS REELEVANCE OF MAGIC MILLIONS
PETER JAMES, a racing identity from NORTH QUEENSLAND, raises some interesting questions about the MAGIC MILLIONS.
His contribution to the WHINGE reads:
‘OVER the last few weeks I have repeatedly found myself questioning the relevance of the Magic Millions from a number of different angles and therefore questioning Racing Queensland’s massive injection of funding that, as far as I know, has not been clarified to the industry.
Why RQ is not prepared to disclose their financial position only suggests a degree of skulduggery and avoidance.
So, do the everyday, run-of-the-mill participants come out better off thanks to Magic Millions? I am referring to the stablehands, strappers, trackwork riders, farriers, feed merchants, vets, jockeys, trainers, owners etc?
Well the successful jockeys and trainers get their standard percentage of prizemoney, albeit astronomically increased prizemoney, and a 'sling' may trickle down to the minions (cough) and of course owners get the rest. But don't some connections get a bill after the race? Overall only a select few gain – most stay on par – some suffer a loss.
The punter doesn't get much of a shake either – with only one favourite saluting, one equal favourite getting home (EQ FAV ran 13th) and a $101 winner (FAV ran 4th).
As for heads on beds and tourist dollars and the myriad other 'results' – absolutely no solid data to go on making it pie-in-the-sky.
However, there are some comparisons that can be made and can be made absolutely, not relying on anything other than cold, hard facts supplied by RQ's website.
In January 2017 there were 29 races run over 1400m – 14 of those races were run on tracks rated between Soft 5 and Heavy 9, spread between the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Atherton, Townsville, Eagle Farm and Goondiwindi.
So let’s discount them on the basis of the state of the track being too variable for any precision. Eight races did not finish in less than 1:23 – for a multitude of varying reasons, at Sunshine Coast, Eagle Farm, Rockhampton, Beaudesert and Townsville. So let’s remove these from the reckoning – leaving seven races run over 1400m on tracks rated Good 3 or 4 – and look at some comparisons.
14 February, GOLD COAST 1:21:23 (35:41) $1,200,000
14 February, GOLD COAST URQ 1:21:70 (35:80) $600 000
25 February, GOLD COAST C5 1:21:92 (34:99) $9,100
25 February, GOLD COAST C2 1:22:28 (35:29) $9,100
28 February, THANGOOL CB 1:22:43 (no sec) $4,550 (Thangool is 12km south of Biloela)
12 February, ROCKHAMPTON BM55 1:22:84 (34:94) $7,800
24 February, CAIRNS BM55 1:22: 99 (36:13) $7,800
Now applying the benchmark of one second equals six lengths (highly unscientific but remarkably accurate) postulates to the 'winner' x so many lengths to the loser x an adjustment for Class etc – ends up miles away from FACTS.
The fact is – the two winners of collectively $1.8 million aren't that much better performers than a Class B in Thangool racing for $4,550. Beat your chest and yell all you like – but believe me the more you go into the results – comparing apples with apples – the more glaring it becomes.
There are few winners in the MM circus – undoubtedly the company itself, the breeders have their snouts in the trough, the handful who enjoy the distribution of prizemoney, the lucky (read mug) punter that jags a 100-1 winner and THE REST OF US CAN GET STUFFED!
The Government won’t even tell us what contributions they make to the privately-owned firm or for how many years they will make it.
One simple question for Grace Grace, Gerry Harvey, Eliot Forbes and anyone else suckling on the public teat: Were MM runners excluded from racing and collecting prizemoney from anywhere they were eligible along the way?
So why can't horses from Thangool, Rockhampton, Cairns or anywhere else in Queensland compete for funding doled out (in the millions) by the same Industry-funded body that okays $4,550 for a country Maiden?
It's not because they're not good enough. It's because they aren't ELIGIBLE!
So how relevant is Magic Millions?’
RACING MINISTER MUST ASK RQ: ‘WHERE ARE THE MISSING MILLIONS’?
THE recent story in The Courier-Mail about the looming deadline for Racing Queensland to reveal infrastructure plans, with clubs across the three codes battling for a slice of an allocated $53 million pot of gold, has raised alarm bells with some current and former administrators.
They are calling on Racing Minister Grace Grace and the RQ Board to convince industry stakeholders that they aren’t being horribly short-changed, or for the Opposition to demand some answers in Parliament to questions being asked about how much is really in the multi-million dollar pool.
Two high profile officials, who are afraid to be named fearing it will harm the chances of clubs they are or were associated with receiving their rightful share of the pie, asked that we publish this email commenting on the situation and raising some very interesting questions.
‘FIRSTLY we would like to raise the following important points:
- THE infrastructure plan for Gold Coast and Ipswich is relatively unchanged since 2012 when it was negotiated by the Bentley Board and approved under the 50% redirection legislated by the then Bligh Government.
- THIS funding relates to the 2012 decision to grant a 50% rebate in wagering tax, retrospective for a 10-year period, back to the industry for infrastructure projects.
- THE total pool of $124.4 million roughly equates to the 50% wagering tax rebate over a period of 10 years (2012-23). The amount has risen from the $110 million quoted in 2012 through increased overall wagering as distinct from wagering on the Queensland product.
- The Dixon Board inherited from the Bentley Board in 2012 a total of $13 million cash, no debt and $110 million in infrastructure funding, as well as an 80 per cent equity in Corbould Park on the Sunshine Coast.
WHAT we would like to know is where are these funds and how have they been expended?
There are politically motivated people who believe that Dixon was feeding an inflated ego during his time as Chairman and others who insist that his Board was living beyond its means. There are others who didn’t like the Bentley Board but concede they were far better managers of industry funds and left racing in a much healthier state in Queensland.
A prime example of this, in the opinion of many, was the extravagant amount of industry money wasted on Toowoomba – realistically only a country venue – where the track roller-coaster saw the pork-barrelling of a new turf track and the alleged propping up of the finances of the TTC. Some believe this occurred because of the closeness of the then Chairmen of the TTC and RQ Board – the latter subsequently seconded to the TTC committee and being tipped to return to his old role with RQ if the LNP wins back Government which would arguably be a disaster).
We were interested to read that RQ has advised The Courier-Mail that the $124.4 million in funds has been broken down to:
Funds on hand $53.1 million
Cronulla Park (proposed greyhound facility) $10.5 million
Two instalments by 2023 of $24.4mn $48.8 million
Brisbane Racing Club loan $12 million
What mystified us was the assertion in the story by Nathan Exelby that this is part of the Tattersall’s Licence Agreement.
We thought that the new RQ TAB Deal was ‘commercial-in-confidence’. Apparently that is not the case when ‘spin’ is desperately needed to sell a story on how successfully the new Board is working to get racing in Queensland out of the financial quicksand.
More significantly, what should have been reported is that the License Agreement is a transaction between Tattersall’s and the Government – the latter would have received the license fee and not RQ.
So cutting to the chase, would a reasonable conclusion be that the license fee has substituted for the 50% tax redirection and that there were no extra funds?
IF THIS CONCLUSION IS NOT CORRECT THEN RACING QUEENSLAND SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF $110 MILLION IN TAX REDIRECTION PLUS THE $124.4 MILLION LICENSE FEE – MAKING $234.4 MILLION AVAILABLE (less the amount that the Dixon Board used for ‘political’ projects like Toowoomba).
That aside, the industry needs to know: IS THE FIGURE AVAILABLE $124.4 MILLION or $234.4 MILLION?
The cynics would suggest this is starting to look horribly like the ‘thimble and the pea trick’.
IN all seriousness, the Infrastructure Plan should be for the Board and CEO of RQ to develop in consultation with the clubs.
The individual clubs across three codes have individual needs and agendas and might not necessarily be compatible with the funds available and the overarching Board objectives.
The Board should have by this late stage made the industry aware of their objectives and direction. After all there is a considerable sum of funds to be spent.
Instead what we get is this ‘spin doctor’ garbage in The Courier-Mal that is useless, means nothing and is designed to calmly sooth the industry into oblivion.
Sorry to disappoint the good ‘Doctor’ and his Board members but this will not work with those of us who have been around long enough to know better and are still prepared to speak out and demand answers.
EDITOR'S NOTE: LGHR would be delighted to publish a response to this from Racing Queensland or for that matter any comment from the Toowoomba Turf Club who seem to have been targeted but RQ only seems interested in talking to sections of the racing media prepared to 'spin doctor' their side of any industry question that is even mildly controversial.
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