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CLOD LAND DEBATE TO DETERMINE WHO IS RUNNING RACING IN QLD

FEELINGS are running high as BRISBANE RACING CLUB officials stubbornly refuse to accept a direction from RACING QUEENSLAND to move SATURDAY’S OAKS MEETING away from EAGLE FARM after being inundated with complaints from stakeholders.

Here’s an example of what the industry is thinking which should send a message to the BRC that they are ‘shags on a rock’ when it comes to opinion of the track that has become known around the country as ‘Clod Land’.

JIMMY C of BRISBANE writes:

‘WE are about to find out who is really running racing – the control body or the big club – and whether the Minister has the courage to make a stand on the Eagle Farm issue.

If (Racing Minister) Grace Grace forces RQ to back down on this issue then she is a ‘disgrace’. If the BRC has its way and the carnival continues at Eagle Farm on Saturday then trainers and jockeys should boycott the big meeting.

It’s a simple as that. The track is not up to the standard required for regular Saturday racing let alone a major meeting of the Winter Carnival. The selfish and stubborn attitude being displayed by Neville Bell and his Board makes one wonder whether they have the best interests of the industry at heart or simply those relating to the profits of their club regardless of circumstances.’

 

TIME FOR GOVERNMENT TO STAND DOWN THE ENTIRE BOARD OF THE BRC

MARY J of BRISBANE writes:

‘IT is time for Racing Queensland or the Government to intervene and stand the entire Board of the Brisbane Racing Club down on this issue of the Eagle Farm track.

They should appoint an Administrator to oversee a resolution to the problems that are getting worse by the day. It is obvious that the Board of the BRC are not prepared to do the right thing by the industry.

The problem is the continued weakness of those involved at the coalface in Queensland. The Trainers and Jockeys Association are sadly influenced by individuals who are too close to those calling the shots at the BRC. As for the Owners Association well they seem to have been conspicuous by their silence on this issue which is quite strange.

It took a stance by champion Sydney trainer Chris Waller and internationally acclaimed jockey Kerrin McEvoy to force Racing Queensland off their behinds. The feelings expressed by that duo are those of most of the headline acts that have bothered to travel north and confront this track farce.

The time has come for Grace Grace to climb out from behind the rock where she has been hiding and support the Racing Queensland stance to make the BRC relocate the Oaks and Stradbroke meetings.

If she doesn’t and heaven forbid supports the BRC pig-headedness on this issue then the Premier should get involved. This whole issue has become very political and the entire eyes of the racing nation are on what happens next in Queensland.’

 

TRACK DEBACLE PUBLIC RELATIONS DISASTER FOR INDUSTRY IN QLD

GREG J of GOLD COAST writes:

THE Eagle Farm track debacle has become a public relations nightmare for racing in Queensland.

If the BRC gets it way and the decision by RQ is overturned then the Oaks meeting at Eagle Farm will again make racing in the north the laughing stock of the nation.

Regardless of how safe the track is or if mug punters are prepared to continue betting at Eagle Farm the ones who are suffering in this whole affair are the horses, the people who race them, the trainers who prepare them and the jockeys who ride them.

I haven’t mentioned what this is doing to the image of racing in Brisbane or the BRC who are seen as a Board of selfish ‘stick in the mud’ dinosaurs who refuse to accept reality.

They seem to forget that $10 million of industry and taxpayers’ money has been wasted on this track which has failed to deliver after delays of more than a year in its redevelopment.

Haven’t the politicians been conspicuous by their silence on the issue? Grace Grace has finally been dragged into the fight between RQ and the BRC. This will be a test of her metal. Tim the Toolman Nicholls, who, along with the LNP, many in racing blame for this disaster, has done his best to dodge controversy and hide under a big rock despite being the MP for Eagle Farm.'

 

BRISBANE RACING CLUB MEDIA RELEASE EXPLAINING THEIR STANCE

THE Brisbane Racing Club has requested an urgent meeting with Racing Queensland to discuss the venue for Saturday’s Oaks Day meeting.

The BRC has consistently said that the Eagle Farm course proper is not performing to expectation – the Club shares the frustrations of owners, trainers and punters. However, the track is safe for racing. Racing Queensland acknowledged that today in a media statement.

The BRC does not agree that the Oaks Day meeting should be moved from Eagle Farm.

Initial analysis of betting turnover showed that yesterday’s meeting compared favourably with the corresponding meeting during last year’s Brisbane Racing Carnival.

As the BRC has consistently said, punters like to bet at Eagle Farm. That has been the case despite the obvious challenges presented by the track upgrade.

The BRC was surprised by Racing Queensland’s decision. After yesterday’s race meeting at Eagle Farm, Racing Queensland had stated that the remainder of the Brisbane Racing Carnival would be held at the track. This afternoon, the BRC was notified that Racing Queensland would move the meeting.

The BRC requested more information from Racing Queensland. As of tonight (Sunday), Racing Queensland has not responded. Racing Minister Grace Grace has agreed to attend a meeting tomorrow. The BRC hopes Racing Queensland will agree to the meeting.

Track builders Evergreen, who took over maintenance of the track in March, have tonight advised the BRC that the track is safe to race this Saturday.

Track staff worked on Eagle Farm today as per the maintenance plan. Racing Queensland officials did not visit Eagle Farm today (Sunday).

 

CALL FOR MORE DETAILS RELATING TO SACKING OF YOUNG STEWARD

A RETIRED CHATERS TOWERS TRAINER has sent this email to the DAILY WHINGE seeking more information on the RECENT SACKING of a YOUNG CADET STEWARD in NORTH QUEENSLAND. It reads:

‘I write to ask why your northern correspondent for Silks and Saddles doesn’t (or hasn’t) yet mentioned the recent sacking of the young cadet steward who has been attached to the Townsville office of Queensland Racing.

It is the talking point of the north – and has been mentioned all over the country in various media outlets but not a word from (Terry) Butts who usually has a bit to say about most things up this way.

 I am reliably told the girl, Jess Portsch (a cadet on cadet wages) was the chair of the big meeting at Gordonvale two weeks ago and that she apparently made a mistake completing a form associated with a swab that was taken from a horse at that meeting.

Seems to me and to everyone I have spoken to, including jockeys and trainers, that it was a hefty sentence for a mere misdemeanour – a minor wrongdoing. As a cadet she should not have had to shoulder that responsibility let alone get the sack.

When the full facts are revealed I hope your correspondent or your website relays them as we believe she was badly if not wrongfully treated.

That too should be a subject of investigation by QRIC. As should the fact that a horse at Hughenden on Saturday carried 2.5kg more than its allocated weight, while at least three other jockeys at the meeting were available, including  leading country rider Bonnie Thompson.

 

 

BACK-FLIP OVER ‘CLOD LAND’ – OAKS MEETING MOVED FROM THE FARM

IN one of the biggest overnight back-flips in the history of Brisbane racing the Queensland Oaks meeting will not be run at ‘Clod Land’, which Eagle Farm has been christened in the eyes of the racing fraternity.

Industry insiders are claiming that Racing Queensland, facing a threatened boycott of the new track by top trainers and jockeys, overruled the insistence by Brisbane Racing Club chairman, Neville Bell 24 hours earlier that: “This track is safe for racing and we will race here for the rest of the carnival.:

Living up to their modus operandi of procrastinating when it comes to important decision making on controversial issues, it seems officialdom could not agree immediately on where the Oaks meeting will be moved to when the obvious choice would appear to be across the road at Doomben.

Champion trainer Chris Waller headed the charge of protest against the disgraceful state of  Eagle Farm after Saturday’s meeting. THE AGE reported that Waller wanted urgent talks with RQ administrators about the standard of the track surface.

PATRICK BARTLEY quoted Waller as saying that punters, breeders and owners were disadvantaged by a race meeting being held at Eagle Farm ‘considering the condition of the surface’ which was ‘far from satisfactory’.

THE AGE claimed some trainers and owners from the south had even abandoned plans of travelling to Queensland because of the condition of track.

“The track is obviously not good enough. How do you explain to punters and owners about horses that lose 16 to 20 lengths of form racing on a track like that,” Waller said?

“But we must be unified in our call for changes and after I speak to those at the club I will make a formal request to the Australian Trainers' Association requesting a change of venue,” he said.

The track was again roundly condemned on Saturday when it played in the heavy range despite no rain for more than a week. After the first race, Kerrin McEvoy said it was the worst track he had ridden on.

The Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup was run on a heavy track with many saying that next Saturday's Queensland Oaks meeting and the Stradbroke Handicap the following week must be moved to Doomben.

Local trainer Liam Birchley was among the many to raise questions after the last race on Saturday. “It is going to kill our industry here. I am sick of going to the races and telling my owners that their horse has worked well and has a winning chance only to see them labour on this track. It is like throwing darts and guessing how they will go.”

Bell was stubbornly refusing calls for the meeting to move as late as Saturday evening declaring conditions were obviously far from satisfactory but ‘the main thing was stewards and jockeys believed the track was safe’.

Bell said critics had to understand moving the meetings would cost the industry millions in lost revenue and achieve little.

Finally, 24 hours after one of the most embarrassing days in Queensland carnival history, the penny dropped at Racing Queensland before a bucket full landed on the heads of someone supposedly running the show or the message burrowed its way under the big mushroom to Racing Minister Grace Grace.

“The decision, in light of the track performance at Eagle Farm yesterday, was made in order to present the best possible surface for Group 1 racing,” an RQ statement said.

“RQ has consulted widely with industry associations and gained feedback from a wide selection of members including the nation's leading participants.”

RQ said the consensus was that the track was safe but inferior.

“Racing Queensland is committed to providing the outcomes that are in the best interests of the industry as a whole and that includes a racing surface befitting the quality of the horses and races being contested,” RQ chief executive, Eliot Forbes, said.

Stakeholders are pleased that at last someone is listening but won’t be satisfied by half measures – they want the Stradbroke meeting moved as well – and EAGLE FARM CLOSED.

In the meantime the Racing Minister and the Government is entitled to ask on behalf of the Government how $10 million on industry funds and taxpayers’ money has been wasted and what can be salvaged from this terrible mess.

If the answers aren’t satisfactory then RQ should sack the BRC Board and replace it with an administrator or the Government should sack the RQ Board and put some people in charge who can regain some respectability for racing in the Sunshine State.     

 

 

THE BLACK KNIGHT REINCARNATED AS FARM HEADS BURIED IN QUICKSAND

IF they were auditioning for the role of the Black Knight in a Monty Python film, it would be hard to separate the talents of Racing Queensland CEO Elliot Forbes and Brisbane Racing Club Chairman Neville Bell.

The Black Night is a fictional character, who appeared in a scene of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, guarding a bridge (in reality a short plank) over a small stream which could easily have been stepped over by King Arthur.

Although supremely skilled in sword play, the Black Knight suffered from unchecked overconfidence and a staunch refusal ever to give up – similar qualities that Messrs Forbes and Bell seem to be displaying in their battle to defend the indefensible Eagle Farm track.

Despite another day of humiliating attacks from just about every section of the industry from punters to trainers, jockeys and owners, high profile officials refused to accept a call to have the two remaining Group 1 meetings of the Winter Carnival moved from Eagle Farm to Doomben.

BRC chairman Bell told Nathan Exelby of The Sunday Mail that the club shared the frustration of punters and industry participants. “We don’t want heavy tracks for Group 1 meetings when the weather has been good. But this track is safe for racing and we will race here for the rest of the carnival.”

Greg Radley told the SKY Channel audience that the major reason the BRC would not move the Queensland Oaks, Derby and Stradbroke meetings the next two Saturdays away from Eagle Farm was because yesterday’s card attracted more racegoers than the combined attendance at the big meetings at Doomben the two previous weekends.

That suggestion has been greeted with much hilarity by many who attended those meetings. One former top official said: “The crowds they claimed were at Doomben were, in my opinion, exaggerated and I  attended both days. If they reckon there were more than twice as many at Eagle Farm today (Saturday), with all due respects they must have been counting fingers and toes instead of just heads.”

The Eagle Farm track which threw back giant clods of dirt and was rated a Heavy 8 despite no rain falling for over a week copped a merciless bagging from top jockeys and trainers. After the first race Kerrin McEvoy described it as ‘the worst track I’ve ever ridden on’.

Many other top riders and trainers were equally uncomplimentary.

“This track will kill our industry unless they do something about it,” Liam Birchley told The Sunday Mail. “I’m sick of coming to the races and telling owners their horse is going good, but having no idea how they are going to run. I’m horrified I have to come here and keep throwing darts wondering how they will go.”

Gold Coast-based Toby Edmonds said the track was in trouble. “The track is what it is (but) what have they got planned to try and fix it?” he asked.

It seems at present the BRC is only concerned about addressing their short term determination to press ahead with Eagle Farm features over the next two Saturdays – which stakeholders have described as a ‘bury their head in the sand mentality’ and a refusal to address the real problem.

They are equally angry with Chief Steward Allan Reardon for what is seen as a rubber stamping of the stubborn BRC and RQ stance. Reardon said there were no safety concerns but did refuse permission for the track to be rolled half way through the day because it might provide a ‘fast lane’ for some runners.

Whilst the BRC and RQ have no intention of moving the big Eagle Farm meetings  both have conceded a long-term solution needs to be addressed after the carnival. Whether this means shutting Eagle Farm down for major repair or replacement of the new track is causing much debate considering the financial plight that racing in Queensland faces.

RQ CEO Forbes told The Sunday Mail: “At this stage there is no intention to make any adjustments to the program. We will have a debrief with the BRC and give due consideration to all relevant factors.

“From a longer term perspective everyone is committed to getting the surface into the best shape possible and investigative work as to the best way forward has already commenced.

“I want the best solution. This has to be the number one track in the whole state. We will leave no stone unturned in getting this right,” Forbes promised.

Time will tell!

 

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