Jenny - Clean
 

TRAINER JOHN ZIELKE RELOCATES TO GOLD COAST RATHER THAN BATTLE UNWINNABLE SITUATION IN TOOWOOMBA

THE racing industry on the Darling Downs is buzzing with rumours concerning the relocation of the strong and successful John Zielke stable from Toowoomba to the Gold Coast.

Zielke spoke to letsgohorseracing at the weekend and said he was looking forward to the next chapter in his training career which has already taken him from North Queensland to Brisbane’s Doomben then the Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba.

Zielke said the situation at Clifford Park had worn him down and rather than just sit back and cop it like many of his colleagues were forced to do he had decided to move on and had acquired stables in Ken Russell Court near the Gold Coast track.

“I’ve been welcomed with open arms and already feel at home on the Gold Coast. There was no point continuing in a situation that had become impossible,” Zielke said.

He did not elaborate but those close to racing in Toowoomba say there has been mounting ‘bad blood’ between the stable of Zielke and that of the all-conquering Ben Currie stable which now dominates Downs racing and continues to grow in size and success.

With the departure of Zielke and another top trainer Michael Nolan moving his team to stabling formerly occupied by Rex Lipp the huge gap in stabling on-course at Clifford Park has reportedly been filled by the Currie stable which is building numbers to a level never seen before on the Downs.

    

 

DOOMBEN IS OFF - WILL RQ POCKET THE PRIZEMONEY YET AGAIN?

THAT'S the question on the lips of most stakeholders who believe that the BRC wants to protect the Doomben track for the carnival and RQ is keen to pocket prizemoney by programming only one extra race at a metropolitan meeting or a few at provincial - saving them tens of thousands every time there is an abandonment.

WHINGE FROM AN INTERSTATE OWNER WITH HORSE IN AT DOOMBEN

BARRY G of SYDNEY writes:

'RATHER than fork out the air fares to make a trip to Brisbane to see a horse I have a small interest in run on Saturday, I decided to check if there was any chance of the Doomben meeting proceeding.

It would have been easier booking a flight on the next Moon landing. No-one wanted to tell me then after a half dozen calls one gentleman, who warned me not to quote him, suggested the chances of racing were 'a million to one'.

Is it so hard with all the rain that is predicted just making an early call and letting people know late on Friday when there is no chance of them racing on the Saturday?

Friends tell me there would be little hope of racing for a number of reasons, the main one being they wouldn't want to chop up the track on a Heavy 9 or 10 surface with Doomben being relied on so heavily for Carnival racing in the absence of Eagle Farm. No doubt they'll wait until early in the morning to make that decision.

It's also a big bonus for Racing Queensland with the prizemoney saved and only one extra race programmed next weekend rather than do a deal with the Sunshine Coast and race at Doomben from 11am on Sunday and then at the Sunny Coast into the night.

But that would take a bit of thought - something there isn't much of in the brainstrust at racing in Queensland these days.

 

 

RV CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE to INDUSTRY: INTEGRITY NO. 1 PRIORITY

‘I am sure you will be aware of recent media coverage in what is being referred to as the Aquanita Case. The material that has been published is deeply concerning to me personally and to the Board and management of Racing Victoria.  

We understand the anger and frustration that has been expressed to us by so many people within our industry, whose passion, commitment and hard work has made horse racing in Victoria the envy of racing jurisdictions across the world for many decades. 

I want to reassure you that the Board and management of Racing Victoria consider the integrity of racing in this State our number one priority. We understand that without confidence in the integrity of our sport, we do not have a sustainable future.

As an organisation, we have provided significant resources to our integrity team in our effort to ensure that racing in this State is conducted on a level playing field for all participants.

It is that investment that has uncovered all the evidence that warranted charges being laid against eight individuals in the Aquanita Case. 

Rest assured, we will continue to review our resources, technology, processes, training and structures to continue improving how we prevent and detect any actions by those people attempting to gain an unfair advantage.

Our message, which is supported by so many within the Victorian racing industry, is loud and clear. If you break the rules, you will be found out and you will be prosecuted.

Whilst not commenting on the Aquanita Case, we know that those found to be breaking the rules are a very small minority, but unfortunately they tarnish our great industry. 

As a result, we are also working to ensure the penalties for those that are found guilty of breaking the rules are commensurate with the severity of the breaches and the potential damage they do to the broader industry.

I'd like to acknowledge and thank those leaders in racing in our State who have come forward in recent days to support the work of our integrity team and the role they play in protecting the reputation of racing in Victoria. It is that united commitment to fairness in our sport that will protect our future. 

Ours is a great industry that is a vital contributor to the State, a major employer and a source of unparalleled passion and entertainment. As a Board, we are committed to protecting that for you.’

Yours sincerely,

Brian Kruger
Chairman
Racing Victoria

 

WATERHOUSE: ZERO TOLERANCE – WILLIAMS: LIFE FOR DRUG CHEATS

LEADING Australian trainer GAI WATERHOUSE has called for zero tolerance of anyone involved in the doping of horses.

PATRICK BARTLEY reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that her comments follow the publication of text messages from former Aquanita employees charged with allegedly doping horses on race day that suggested a horse may have received a ‘‘top-up’’ of bi-carb before running in the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

Despite the information in the texts, no charges have been laid against any trainer with horses in that race and there is no suggestion that any committed any racing offences.

Waterhouse, who had two runners in that year’s Cup, said there was no place for cheats in racing. ‘‘We can’t have people like this as part of our sport. We need to be on a level playing field and it looks like we were not,’’ she said.

‘‘It is unfair to owners. It is unfair to punters and it is unfair to the public.’’

Geelong-based trainer Jamie Edwards had the only Australian bred runner in that year’s race, Sertorius, his first Melbourne Cup runner. Sertorius finished 12th. Edwards told Fairfax Media he would be happy to finish last in every race if he knew it was run without anyone getting an unfair advantage.

‘‘I may never ever get a chance to have a runner in the Melbourne Cup and certainly 99.9 per cent of Australian trainers are probably in the same boat, so when you do get that opportunity, to then find out that there is a chance that it potentially wasn’t a level playing field, well it’s pretty disappointing isn’t it?’’ Edwards said.

A directions hearing will be held next Thursday.

Caulfield Racecourse was a stark and lonely place yesterday as the club staged an eight-race twilight meeting. The long line of stalls that the Aquanita team used to occupy remained vacant, with just a few leaves swirling about instead of a group racehorses preparing for battle. The owners’ bar the MRC generously constructed for Aquanita has long been nailed up.All streams of racing maintained that the Aquanita scandal was one of the great blights on the sport.

‘‘Whenever you bring cash into a sport, you always find the cheats following. It’s been happening ever since I came into racing,’’ champion trainer John Hawkes said.

‘‘Of course they’re all trying to get the edge. But at the end of the day they’re just cheating. You’ve only got to look at sport everywhere. Someone’s trying to get money by doing the wrong thing.‘‘OK myself and my two sons mightn’t be well liked by some people in the industry but they all respect us for doing the right thing.

‘‘It’s driven by money and money is just so vitally important to these people that they use cheating to obtain it.’’

One of the most respected syndicators in Australia, Terry Henderson, who runs OTI said ‘‘it’s simply and utterly disgusting’’.‘‘It’s put a cloud over the industry and it’s just chipped away at our credibility to the sporting world,’’ he said.

‘‘But what’s even worse is that now it’s affecting those international horses that are coming out here for our showcase racing.

‘‘Our international reputation is vital and these scandals are just a hindrance.’’Some Caulfield members believe that a special meeting of members must be triggered after Saturday’s $1.5 million Blue Diamond Stakes.

Some owners at Caulfield were highly critical of the inaction of theonce robust Victorian Owners Association.

Said one owner: ‘‘The owners association was set up to protect owners and guard against their rights. The association now has gone from a group fighting for better conditions to a boys club.’’ While the small crowd cheered home the second winner, those in the inner sanctum of the sport were speculating on where this investigation would reach in the coming weeks.

Next week, there is another directions hearing for those involved in the nearly 300 charges. Strangely for Caulfield denizens, they were more preoccupied with how racing would be affected by the scandal than in backing another winner.

MEANWHILE, Lloyd Williams, the most successful owner in Melbourne Cup history, has urged authorities to run cheats out of the ­industry for good, describing as “disgraceful” allegations two Cup horses were doping targets in 2015..

GLEN MARLANE & MICHAEL MANLEY report for the HERALD SUN that Williams, who won a record sixth Cup last November with Rekindling, had three starters in that race — The United States (14th), Bondi Beach (16th) and Kingfisher (19th).

He said it didn’t matter what event was under question as he applauded chief steward Terry Bailey and his team for their diligence.

“Whether it’s the Melbourne Cup or (a) maiden at Donald, it’s disgraceful,” Williams said.

“The authorities should ­remove all these offenders from racing ... I congratulate Terry Bailey and his team on the apprehension.”

 

THE WEDNESDAY WHINGE – but you can HAVE YOUR SAY on any day of the week:

WE received several emails concerning the return of ARCHIE BUTTERLY with his new-look website, www.jeebung.com. Several could not be used because contributors have verbally attacked and named the person they refer to as the ‘alleged victim’ in his stalking case. Under the law, www.letsgohorseracing.com could be guilty of contempt if identification is made. Please be aware of this.

Here are the ‘whinges’ we have chosen to publish:

‘ARCHIE NEEDED WITH MAINSTREAM MEDIA TOO BUSY KISSING ARSES’

BARRY DUCKWORTH of BRISBANE writes:

‘WELCOME back Archie Butterfly. How sadly you have been missed in recent times. We need someone like you to tell the full story that the mainstream racing media won’t because many of key identities are too busy kissing arses.

You only have to look at the Eagle Farm redevelopment story. Not a word on how bad it is going in the Murdoch Media until Archie made his return and gave it a bagging. All of a sudden the No 1 ‘spin doctor’ for RQ and the BRC steps up to the crease with another of his propaganda pieces.

Nothing much has changed at the good old Courier-Mail since Bart Sinclair retired to take up a golden handshake courtesy of his old mates at the Farm. Sorry there is one thing that has changed the circulation has dived to an all-time low and the Form Guide, now sponsored by Ladbrokes replacing UBET, is the worst in the country.

It’s refreshing to hear that Archie will retain his ‘hard hitting style’ but adopt a new approach – less go for the threat personal attacks and swearing – more researched, quality stories to ‘keep the bastards honest’, especially in the racing industry.’

 

‘PLEASE ARCHIE DON’T ADOPT A SUCK UP AND SURVIVE MENTALITY’

ANDREW WILSON of GOLD COAST makes this plea to ‘the Butterfly’:

‘WHILST my mates and I were pleased to see the return of Archie Butterfly with a new blog we just want to protest at his apparent ‘suck up and survive mentality’ when it comes to harness King Kevin Seymour.

We thought Archie would be the last one to be intimidated by the political power that King Kev and his mates are said to wield. But his stories about Seymour in recent days have us all a shade bewildered.

Does Archie not realize that the moment he was gone it was back to the bad old days on the track at Albion Park?

Is he not aware that certain high profile identities from the ‘red hots’ – past and present – are dining out on his demise and making a laughing stock of him behind the scenes?

It’s time mate to renew the attacks on Seymour and his disciples like Dixon, the Bantam, Dopson and Raedler. Failure to do so and interest in your new website will soon wane.’

 

‘CONSPIRACY THEORIES ON THE REAL REASON FOR ARCHIE’S ARREST’

BECAUSE I AM CLOSELY LINKED TO THE ‘BOYS IN BLUE’ PLEASE WITHHOLD MY IDENTITY (identity checked and verified by LGHR):

‘THERE are so many conspiracy theories doing the rounds about the ‘real reason’ for the arrest of Archie Butterfly that one wonders if ‘alleged stalking’ is the real reason.

Did the ‘bobbies’ jump at an opportunity to square Archie up for things he had written that embarrassed them when an opportunity presented itself?

The racing rumour mill is in overdrive that the Butterfly was simply going into bat for a prominent lady in Queensland racing and her family and that the ‘allegations against Archie’ are simply a smokescreen.

When it comes to who would want to see Archie thrown in jail and his website closed the list is endless.

He has made few friends in harness racing where some people have powerful influence; he has taken on a major gambling syndicate in this country and those who allegedly work for it under disguises; he has been very critical of the coppers at QRIC and the job they do; his fight against those who prey on children has been well document and the list of enemies he must have in the pedoephile network has to be endless; then there are the high profile politicians and legal identities he has named and shamed; not to mention the fall-out that could occur as a result of an upcoming appeal in a high profile case that he has been closely monitoring.

Take your pick – the number of people who want to bring Archie down – is seemingly endless which again poses the question: Who is the victim in this supposed stalking charge and is it a smokescreen? Here’s hoping what unfolds during the case isn’t censored and that the media does the right thing and covers same even if, as some are suggesting, there is already a major conflict of interest that could eventually embarrass one major publisher.’

 

'TWO 'JOKE' RACES AT WEEKEND - AT DOOMBEN & SUNSHINE COAST

DANNY MORTON of BRISBANE is no fan of punting on south-east Queensland racing:

‘AS a punter I have to say that I continue to lack any confidence betting on racing in south-east Queensland.

Victoria has its ‘Weir factor’ and New South Wales the ‘Chris Waller dominance’. Both stables are becoming increasingly difficult to follow and those who back the favourites both saddle up would be a long way behind. There is no way punters can follow the predictions of either top trainer pre-race. As champion trainers they make pathetic tipsters.

But in Queensland it’s totally different having a punt. If it’s a hot favourite you don’t have to assess the form as much as will it miss the start, sit wide, pull up lame or on many occasions simply get slaughtered.

There were races at Doomben and the Sunshine Coast over the weekend that punters would argue were on the nose. In both well backed runners had what you might call no luck at all. For legal reasons I won’t go into detail.

It just happens to often in Queensland and when stewards do inquire into runs or riding tactics it seems there is nothing more than a slap on the wrist. We’re used to that in Sydney since Ray Murrihy retired. Here’s hoping it doesn’t spread like a disease to Melbourne where some punters are suggesting things are going from good to worse.’      

         

‘IS QUEENSLAND RACING HEADED FOR ANOTHER ‘FARM’ EMBARRASSMENT?

AS a BRISBANE-BASED TRAINER, I would ask that you do not reveal my identity, for OBVIOUS REASONS:

‘PROMISES, PROMISES…the racing industry is sick of hearing them about the new Eagle Farm track.

Is this redevelopment on track as Racing Queensland CEO Eliot Forbes insists or will it be just another major embarrassment for the state that never seems to get anything right?

Photos published of sections of the new Eagle Farm surface certainly raise grave doubts over claims by Dr Forbes that the rebuild of Eagle Farm ‘will deliver an industry best surface’.

Of course he is going to dismiss suggestions that the project is doomed to fail. This is the same bloke and organisation that were happy enough one day to race on the then rebuilt track during a carnival but changed their mind overnight following a mutiny from top trainers, the majority from interstate, who threatened a boycott.

It’s hard for the industry to believe anything that RQ tells us when it comes to the Eagle Farm redevelopment. As for the Brisbane Racing Club well, by all reports, they have conveniently passed the buck to RQ and taken the easy way out.

Dr Forbes told his ‘spin doctor’ at The Courier-Mail this week that suggestions the track was dead were ridiculous and reiterated the completion date was ‘still unequivocally on target for spring racing, 2018’’.

“We’ve chosen best practice every step of the way and (when completed) it will be the best track that Eagle Farm has ever seen,” he said.

One would hope so! If this latest venture – costing the industry more millions that could be better allocated to prizemoney – proves a failure then the ‘good Doctor’ and his entire Board should be shown the door.

And by the way where does the ‘Invisible Man’ – the new Racing Minister – stand in all of this. Hasn’t he been conspicuous by his absence since being appointed after the recent election win by Labor?’

 

‘HOW MANY FREE KICKS IN THE GUTS OF QLD RACING DOES SKY GET’?

LUKE QUIRK of BRISBANE sent this interesting email about the race broadcasting ‘blues’:

‘HOW many times are the powers-that-be going to allow SKY Channel to kick racing in Queensland in the guts before they fire back?

It was left to BRC CEO Dave Whimpey to respond to the latest coverage back-hander when SKY CENTRAL bumped a Doomben race last Saturday to take coverage of a second string event from Newcastle.

Now we all keep hearing what a wonderful man Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys is for the industry in general. What a load of crap! He is only interested in monopolizing the interests of his own state and that has been highlighted by recent situations involving Victoria and Queensland. He’s the one calling the shots at SKY which continue to affect racing in the north.

Dave Whimpey was right when he declared: “Queensland is being marginalized by the treatment of our partners. Punters betting on Queensland frankly deserve better. The BRC deserves to have its product showcased alongside Sydney and Melbourne. That’s what the punters want.”

The Courier-Mail reports that a well-placed source south of the border said much of the angst being vented in Queensland will continue unless a deal is struck for Sydney and Brisbane to share in a 52-week free-to-air deal.

“The current contract is unambiguous,” the source said. ‘‘NSW provincial has priority over Queensland. They can supersede that problem if they go to a free-to-air deal with Seven. The contract can be rewritten and put Brisbane on a level footing with Sydney. This is a neat solution for Queensland and Brisbane racing.”

Well what the hell are RQ and the BRC doing about this? It looks like they are sitting on their hands and don’t want to upset SKY. Is it any wonder that Queensland continues to be regarded as a backwater on the national racing scene?’

 

ARCHIE’S’ BACK WITH NEWLOOK WEBSITE – log into www.jeebung.com

GOOD news for all those fans of ARCHIE BUTTERFLY who has launched a new-look website, which can be logged into www.jeebung.com.

The ‘Butterfly’, who independently closed down his super popular itsnotnormalisit.com blog after hitting a hurdle several weeks ago, is adopting a new approach to his latest venture.

It will still be ‘hard hitting’ when it comes to ‘keeping the bastards honest’ in all things from horse racing, to exposing those who ‘prey on innocent children’ and matters of general public interest that the mainstream media for some strange reason choose not to pursue.

Archie promises not to ‘go the personal attack as much’ and ‘to tone down the swearing’. Here’s one of the first stories he has written and it makes you wonder why the mainstream racing media isn’t asking a few questions about this – the state of the new Eagle Farm track.

The photo and story are courtesy of ARCHIE BUTTERFLY at www.jeebung.com where you can log on to read a lot more as one of the most read websites of its kind makes an overdue comeback:

THIS is Eagle Farm as of Saturday (February 10).

Jesus H Christ.

What are these lunatics doing to our once best track?

The sunken roofs you see in the photo below just above the running rail and the second grill of the fence are those of what I call the Atlantis Stables, the supposedly ground-breaking horse accommodation constructed in the infield of what used to be the course.

These stables are a fatal accident just waiting to happen. Someone is going to die down there in heavy rains, it’s an absolute certainty. A totally preventable and utterly disgraceful one too.

How on earth were these stables ever approved for construction by the Council? Perhaps a look at the BCC electoral donations register might enlighten you.

The big question though is this.

Where’s our grass track?

And why are the BRC dragging the chain on getting it back?

The simple answer? The Board of Directors of the Brisbane Racing Club don’t really want Eagle Farm to be a race course. They want it to be a housing unit development. A development that will make them all rich.

Their ultimate aim is to sell the Farm lock, stock and barrel to the highest bidder.

Bugger that.

This is our track, not theirs.

It’s high time that we demanded it back.

 

GROUNDHOG DAY FOR SCHOFIELD – LIKE A CAT WITH NINE LIVES 

GLYN Schofield faces further scrutiny from stewards inquiring into his winning ride on Emperor's Way in what was a controversial dead-heat with Almost Court at Randwick on Saturday.

CHRIS ROOTS reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that Emperor's Way made a late charge to run down Almost Court and the judge could not split the pair, which drew a raft of comments on social media when the photo was published. "We looked at the photo and were happy with the judge's decision as we always do with dead heats," chief steward Marc Van Gestel said.

However, Van Gestel had concerns about Schofield's decision to come outside of leader Almost Court and The Bandit in the straight. Schofield was forced out from inside Sizzling Bullet at the 300m mark and did everything possible to get the outright decision. However, three stewards gave their versions of the Schofield ride after a run appeared between Almost Court and The Bandit at the 300m mark as he went for that outside run.

Schofield reasoned that he had chosen to go to the outside because he thought the leaders would tire after going head-and-head in front for much of the 2000m.

"I had made the decision to go to the outside because I could see the two horses in front rolling around and didn't know if a run would appear between them," he told stewards. "I made the decision because I didn't want to lose my momentum waiting for a run and by doing that I never lost momentum or ground."

 

 

PUNTERS SERVED UP ANOTHER DISH OF WEIR WINNERS OR LOSERS  

MICHAEL FELGATE, host of popular preview show, RACING PULSE, is either a ‘glutton for punishment’ or thinks that the punting fraternity are a ‘naïve bunch’.

Each week he lines up ‘champion’ trainer Darren Weir for an interview to talk about his legion of chances over the weekend and more times than not the information is useless.

Felgate sees it as a coup securing the valuable time of Weir and many would agree – the same as the talking heads in the racing media in Sydney who continue to hang off every word that another ‘champion’ trainer Chris Waller feeds them on race eve.

Punters prepared to invest on the Weir and Waller selections are arguably out of pocket big time. One only has to look at recent Weir declarations about Cliff’s Edge ‘not being able to win 1st-up’ before it was well backed and bolted in not to mention the disgraceful performance of Tosen Stardom at its comeback last weekend.

Felgate started his interview with ‘Weary’ on Friday looking back at last week. Weir revealed that Tosen Stardom might not run in the Australian Cup for which he is early favorite. “The gut buster he had last week was not an ideal way to start his preparation. He will be fine but we will probably change plans and go to the Blamey before heading up to Sydney. We haven’t totally ruled out the Australian Cup but it is unlikely.”

Here’s what Weir had to say about his chance at the Valley on Friday night and then Flemington on Saturday. Despite a huge number of runners he steered clear of both venues in declaring Stellar Collision his ‘best of the weekend’ at Morphettville. In early betting it has been $2.7 to $2.5 and I know that my ‘old mate’ Pete will be following the Weir advice and backing it to lose with Betfair rather than win. Time will tell!

Limestone makes its much-awaited comeback at the Valley. It has been $2.8 to $1.8 in early betting with Weir declaring: “I am looking forward to seeing her run really well. It is not that easy but I am hoping she will run well.” He is obviously beaming with confidence about a horse that should win by a ‘furlong’.

Of his runners in the Torney Night Cup at the Valley, Weir said: “Parthesia has come out with heat in a leg. The other pair (Master of Arts and Ormito) are on an Adelaide Cup path. Master of Arts is going great. He has just had a nice preparation and is an each-way chance.’

After steering punters completely in the wrong direction with Cliff’s Edge, Weir had this to say about the horse’s chances in the Hayes Stakes at Flemington where he will clash with stablemate Peaceful State, both are $5 chances.

“Obviously the barrier helped Cliff’s Edge last start. It’s a difference scenario tomorrow. He’ll have to roll forward which will make it a bit harder. Peaceful State is in great shape. We haven’t done much with him since his first-up run. He got a long way back because of the draw but should be closer this time.”

Jockey Johnny Allen, who rode them both at their latest starts, has opted to go with Cliff’s Edge but Weir said the talented rider had trouble separating the pair. “Peaceful State will be better suited over further but I give him a slight edge,” Weir said.

Asked about his two runners in The Vanity – Twitchy Frank and Anchor Bid – which will have their work cut out against the resuming and brilliant Aloisia, Weir said: “Twitchy Frank just put in a poor one at Caulfield. We will ride him more positive out of the barrier tomorrow. Anchor Bid will be ridden to be strong late. She is on course for Adelaide.”

On the prospects of Handsome Thief and Ken’s Dream, favorites for the fifth at Flemington, Weir replied: “It’s hard to split horses sometimes. I think the four kg turnaround will favour Handsome Thief but Jarrod (stable foreman McLean) is leaning to Ken’s Dream.” A bit each-way for the stable yet again.

Import Kings Will Dream has been backed into $2 on the back of two impressive wins with Weir’s assessment: “I think evens is a smidgen short. He rises in class and has a sticky gate but can’t do much more than he has.”

He was positive about the chances of another Flemington favorite for the stable in Imperial Augustus.

So there you have it – as Felgate would insist a wonderful ‘inside run’ on the chances of the Weir stable hopes. You be the judge!

 

WEDNESDAY WHINGE – Have Your Say on any day of the week:

RACING NSW ‘STILL DREAMING’ ABOUT UPSTAGING SPRING CARNIVAL

LEX BAGLEY of MELBOURNE sent this unashamedly biased bagging of Racing NSW:

‘WHEN will they ever learn?

Racing NSW continues its bid to upstage the Victorian Spring Carnival as the most popular racing event in this country.

The latest bombshell from Harbour City is that the world’s richest turf race, The Everest, worth an absurd $14 million in 2019, could be run on the same day as the Caulfield Cup.

Fairfax Media reports that despite The Everest clashing with Melbourne's Caulfield Guineas program in its inaugural running last October, a later Labour Day long weekend next year could push it further into the spring schedule.

Without a drastic switch in spring programming, it means the 1200m slot feature, which morphed into a marketing machine for its inaugural running last year, will vie for the spotlight with one of Australia’s most revered races and traditional Melbourne Cup lead-up.

In contrast to past comments by Racing NSW supreme Peter V’landys, who offers no apology for any clash between major events in his State and those in Victoria, VRC Chairman Amanda Elliott has adopted a more palatable approach for anyone who loves horse racing in this country.

Just hours after announcing Lexus (thank the racing Gods it wasn’t one of those maggot corporate bookmakers) as the new sponsor and added prizemoney for this year’s Melbourne Cup, Ms Elliott urged Victorian clubs not to be distracted by Sydney’s latest attempt to upstage them with The Everest, successor to the previous NSW blockbuster, The Championships.

Ironically neither event, despite a mountain of free publicity and millions in State Government support, will come with a bull’s roar of attracting similar crowds or betting turnover to the major spring drawcards in Melbourne, even if The Everest managed to usurp the Caulfield Guineas last year.

“I'm sort of sick of dealing with this whole ‘what have NSW done now?’ The fact that The Everest may have a potential clash with the Caulfield Cup, I think Victoria needs to get on with it,” Ms Elliott said.

“Whatever NSW does we shouldn’t have knee-jerk reactions to it. Our racing scene down here is absolutely fantastic. It’s robust, the racing is spectacular.

“Let's not all fly into a fit every time we see some headline about The Everest. We need to just run our race here, make our Victorian thoroughbred landscape as good as it can possibly be,” she said.

“Victoria has always been a leader in Australia of racing. Let's not step back from that. If they want to run their race just let them run it.

Here’s an excerpt from a Media Release on the economic benefit of the last Melbourne Cup carnival. Eat your heart out Mr V’Landys! As long as your little bum points to the ground, The Everest and The Championships will struggle to get within cooee of this:

THE 2017 Melbourne Cup Carnival economic impact study has once again highlighted the substantial contribution made by the homegrown event to the Victorian economy.

The Carnival contributed a record $444.5 million in gross economic benefit to the State last year; a 4.1% increase on 2016 and a 22% boost since 2013.

The value-added contribution, a measure of money spent by visitors to Victoria, also saw a new record, with the 2017 figure reaching $225.8 million. This was up 4.4% on 2016, reinforcing the Carnival’s status as a major drawcard for interstate and international visitors.

VRC Chairman Amanda Elliott said: “The four days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival are the four most attended race days in Australia, with the event providing an economic benefit to Victoria of more than $444 million.”

The 2017 Melbourne Cup Carnival was also responsible for:

The employment of more than 20,000 staff and contractors working for more than 900 companies at Flemington in the lead-up and during the event.

Attracting 16 international horses, including seven from Ireland, four from the UK, and two from Germany.

 

NOTHING RQ DOES ON BROADCAST SCENE SURPRISES THE PUNTERS’

ALBERT WILLIAMS, a regular contributor from REDCLIFFE, weighs into the race broadcast debate:

‘WHY are most punters not surprised that Racing Queensland is procrastinating over a deal that would provide a better broadcast coverage for the Sunshine State?

The Courier-Mail reported last week that as New South Wales moves closer to striking a year-long Saturday free-to-air agreement for Sydney racing, officials in Queensland face a looming deadline to join the party.

Those of us who prefer to stay at home and have a punt enjoyed a brilliant service on Network Seven (Channel 7 & 7 Two) last Saturday and will continue to do so right through to All Aged Stakes Day on April 21.

The story goes that Racing NSW is keen to stitch up a deal with Seven to extend the free-to-air arrangement to every Saturday of the year. If Queensland unbelievably turns its back on a similar deal, for some strange reason, Sydney is likely to ‘go it alone’.    

This is an almost instant and readymade answer to the problems that have confronted the SKY Racing coverage of the main Saturday meeting in Brisbane for too long. If RQ refuses to accept this opportunity to overcome this anomaly it will reinforce the argument that what they are doing is not in the best interests of the local industry or stakeholders, which includes the punting fraternity.

For too long SKY’s premier Thoroughbred Central has afforded second rate treatment to Queensland racing at the expense of mass coverage of NSW meetings, including the major near Sydney fixture every Saturday.

The Courier-Mail reports that Racing NSW has agreed to reduce its current extended provincial coverage to ‘vision only’, allowing more time for Brisbane. Now that would be a major breakthrough.  

When questioned on the issue RQ Chief Executive Eliot Forbes produced one of his classic quotes: “One of the key drivers in Racing Queensland’s five-year strategic plan is to review and maximise its media rights opportunities to grow revenue and further increase returns to industry participants.” One would hope so Dear Doctor.

If reports are correct that the funds needed for Queensland to join the free-to-air deal are ‘peanuts’ by comparison with the potential for increased wagering revenue from such a venture, failure to launch would arguably provide another reason to question the competence of those running the show and the RQ Board for allowing it.’

 

MORE OF ‘GET ON’ WITH MATTY HILL AND LESS OF ‘RICHY RICHO’

WE received this interesting email concerning the popular, but at-times much maligned, Thursday night show, GET ON, which is broadcast by racing.com, from BRIAN SINCLAIR of MELBOURNE. It reads:

‘WHAT a breath of fresh air Matthew Hill is to racing in Victoria – but not only as a caller.

The programs he now hosts on racing.com are a pleasure to watch adding to his talents as one of the most entertaining broadcasters this country has seen since Bert Bryant.

Get On is a program that my punting mates and I like to watch but get infuriated with at times. If only they could get the personalities on the show right.

When it comes to form commentary and previews, David Gately and Clint Hutchison, are musts. We don’t need any others.

Instead of using these parasite corporate bookies to sponsor the show why doesn’t racing.com link with the TAB which, after all, provides the bulk of prizemoney through its betting turnover? Let’s not forget the majority of the profits from the corporates like Sportsbet, Crownbet and Ladbrokes, are channelled off-shore.

Most punters couldn’t care less what former top jockey Simon Marshall (with his sprayed on tan and whitened choppers) has to say. Nor can they cop the idiotic remarks that flow from the mouth of Matty Campbell. Both of those guys should get the boot.

Now as for a host of the show can we please keep Matty Hill? He was no-nonsense, yet entertaining and a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, the news from him that regular ‘star of the show’ Jason Richardson would be back in the chair when his commitments to the Winter Olympics were over was not what most of us wanted to hear.

One request from the bulk of punters and it lies at the feet of Channel 7 and racing.com: Is there any chance ‘Richo’ can remain in South Korea freezing his aggots off after the Games conclude? As it is we have to put up with his inane commentary and arse licking on Channel 7 when the big race days are on. He has lost most of those who were once fans with his decidedly newlook which is obviously designed to win political points with those who matter (and that doesn’t include the punters who help pay his massive wage).’

 

‘SIDESHOW BOB’ HIGHLIGHTS THE ‘SLAUGHTER JOB BY ‘WILLOW’

AS a TRAINER who has had a gutful of the attitude of CRAIG WILLIAMS for far too long please let me remain anonymous in this pat on the back for my new hero SIMON ZAHRA:

‘ON behalf of a legion of punters bouquets to co-trainer Simon Zahra for saying what we were all thinking about the slaughter job by Craig Williams on Smart Coupe at Caulfield last Saturday.

Zahra’s post-race response to the Williams’ ride went vital (courtesy of First Light Racing capturing the moment on Periscope as Williams spoke to the owners) with the trainer they call ‘Sideshow Bob’ less than impressed by the top jock’s explanation.

Zahra and his cousin, Matthew Ellerton, who train in partnership, won the race with Booker but he was far from happy with what Williams told the owners of Smart Coupe after she missed the start.

It started with him rolling his eyes and as Williams explained: ‘If they let ‘em go 20 seconds earlier, we’ve got no problem. Just as they went to go, she was in her (head) shake, so she’s missed it hopelessly. She’s lost four lengths, five lengths, and then they’ve gone quick for the first furlong, and then they’ve all pulled up and found position. I feel she ran really well when nothing went right for her.”

As Williams departed, Zahra could not control his displeasure at the ride: “You can’t win from back there. She missed the start and it was all over. It was a missed opportunity. Big time. We wouldn’t have beaten the winner, because she’s got a better turn of foot but we would have run second.”

There were others just as upset by the ride of Williams who bounced back quickly winning the Group 1 Orr Stakes on Hartnell. But there are a growing number of trainers refusing to book him on the basis that the champion jockey decides his own tactics and if they go wrong blames the horse.

We understand that one of those is now retired Peter Moody who showed what a great judge he is when employed as a form and paddock specialist comments expert for the racing.com coverage at Caulfield on Saturday.

What a pleasant change it was from the likes of that goose, Shane Dye, who showed his complete ignorance of form when a panellist during a couple of the recent Cup carnivals.

Give us ‘Moods’ every day and not one of these ‘know all’ jockeys who didn’t have a clue about the form when they were riding and have even less these days from the sidelines.’

   

THERE ISN’T A SECTIONAL SLOW ENOUGH TO RATE RQ IN THIS RACE

WE’VE had a few inquiries about the promised provision of sectional times for TAB meetings in Queensland and here is an example from PETE TOWNSEND on the GOLD COAST:

‘TWO years ago Racing Queensland promised they would provide sectional times for the major meetings which would be of great assistance to those who want to bet on the product in the north.

Unfortunately, like the return to racing at Eagle Farm, that seems to have drifted into the too hard basket and is just like everything else that RQ says it will do – floating out there in never, never, land.

Sectional times is a service that punters can log onto, free of charge, on the websites of Racing Victoria and Racing NSW. It is a terrific service and this just highlights again how far Racing Queensland is lagging behind.

Back in June 2016, Brad Davidson (then writing for the Gold Coast Bulletin) reported that Brisbane Racing Club officials had confirmed a new state-of-the-art timing system was still on track to be installed within a month. It’s now almost two years down the track and nothing has happened.

Despite criticism at the time of the sectionals being produced, a BRC official told The Gold Coast Bulletin that the installation of Trakus was definitely still going ahead and would progressively be available at other major TAB venues in the State.

So where are we placed with sectional times? Are punters, who can get these for free in Victoria and NSW, expected to pay ridiculous prices being asked by second rate websites specialising in this information?

Like everything else in Queensland – especially the Eagle Farm track – it’s a case of wait and wonder if it will ever happen and when it does just how good will the product be?’

EDITOR’S NOTE: LGHR contacted Racing Queensland on the issue of Sectional Times and were advised as follows by Corporate Affairs Manager Darrin Davies: ‘My understanding is that the Trakus system was in the process of being installed at Eagle Farm to provide sectional times. However, that has been put on hold while the remediation of Eagle Farm is completed. The installation will continue once the remediation project has been completed.’ When asked if at that time these would only be available for Eagle Farm, Mr Davies replied: ‘I’m only aware of Eagle Farm.’        

 

 

BUS CRASH KILLS 19 PUNTERS RETURNING FROM HONG KONG RACES

IT was a tragic end to a day at the races at Sha Tin on Saturday when 19 punters were killed in a bus that crashed returning racegoers to the city in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club issued a statement following the death of 17 men and two women and a further 40 being treated for injuries:

“The Hong Kong Jockey Club is most saddened to learn that a public bus transporting passengers following today's race meeting was involved in an accident with numerous casualties reported.

“The Club would like to express its deepest condolences to the families of the victims and sympathies to those injured. 

“The Club is closely monitoring the situation and considering how it can help."

The double-decker bus was returning to Hong city central when it turned over on a bend on Tai Po Road – the second longest road in Hong Kong (the photo above is courtesy of THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST and shows the devastation at the accident scene on Saturday night).

One passenger told the South China Morning Post the bus felt it was going faster than usual.

“It was much faster than I normally felt in a bus,” the passenger said. “And then it was like the tyre slipped and the bus turned. It was really chaotic in the bus. 

“People fell on one another and got tossed from side to side.”

Police arrested the driver for dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm. He was injured but it was unclear whether he needed hospital treatment, a police spokesman said.

 

SAME OLD STORY FROM ‘WEARY’ ON EVE OF BIG RACE AT CAULFIELD

ON the eve of another big race day in Melbourne it’s the same old story for punters from champion trainer Darren Weir.

Hot on the heels of the success of well backed Cliff’s Edge which Weir told punters could not win last weekend’s G3 Manfred Stakes, there’s a touch of déjà vu with Tosen Stardom in tomorrow’s G1 Orr Stakes.

Speaking at the launch of the Festival of Racing, Weir said he was thrilled with the condition of Tosen Stardom but his outside draw in the field of 14 was going to be difficult to overcome.

“If he’d drawn well, we’d have looked for him to settle midfield with cover and then use his sprint in the closing stages,” Weir said. “Now I’m not sure where he’s going to be. He’ll go back but how far back that will be up to the jockey (Damian Lane).”

Despite the ‘slow’ from Weir – which punters have become accustomed to with his ‘glass half full approach’ to top stable fancies, Tosen Stardom has firmed from $6 to $4.6 in Fixed Odds betting and one punter had $7,000 on him.

Weir also has last year’s winner Black Heart Bart engaged in the Orr. He is a $6 chance from barrier three. “That works out nicely,” Weir said. “There’s going to be good speed in the race. He’s going well but, as an older horse, he’s still got some issues we’ve got to deal with.”

Another Orr runner for the stable is Brave Smash, heavily-backed at his comeback in the G2 Australia Stakes at the Valley but performing below expectations (in contrast to what Weir had predicted) and beating only one home.

Surprise, surprise, Weir is expecting an improved run from Brave Smash. “Craig (Williams) pushed the button a bit too early in the Australia Stakes,” Weir said. “I’m not saying he would have won but he could have finished second or third and we’d look at it as a better run.”

Weir has elected to give Burning Front a short break instead of trying to make it three Carlyon Cup wins in a row at Caulfield. He has handed the baton to Gailo Chop to try and make it three in a row for the stable.

“He looks amazing. Obviously he’s got a bit of improvement to come but when he’s in this sort of order he always runs well,” Weir said. “Even if he doesn’t win I’m sure I’ll come away happy.”

Weir’s top hopes on the day are: R1, Gallic Chieftain; R3, Native Soldier; R4, Gailo Chop; R7, Prevailing Winds; R8, Tosen Stardom, Black Heart Bart & Brave Smash.

If Weir runs true to form the shortest of those Gailo Chop is probably a risk and Tosen Stardom, which he has put the ‘slows’ on will more than likely storm over the top.

    

 

EMPLOYEE OF BRISBANE BETTING COMPANY CHARGED WITH FRAUD

A BRISBANE man has been charged with making hundreds of thousands of dollars from fraudulent bets.

AAP reports that police allege the 31-year-old fraudulently gained more than $150,000 from betting outcomes, as well as using his status as the employee of a betting company (thought to be UBET) to channel money and place late bets on races around the country.

Detectives from the Queensland Racing Crime Squad are investigating whether some of the money was used to invest in shares in interstate greyhound and thoroughbred racehorse syndicates

The man was arrested at his Red Hill home in Brisbane's north-west on Wednesday morning and charged with fraud, to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on March 7.

 

WEDNESDAY WHINGE – Have Your Say on any day of the week:

WEIR’S ‘TIPS’ STARTING TO WEAR A BIT THIN WITH THE PUNTERS 

HUNTER ADAMS of MELBOURNE gives champion trainer DARREN WEIR a blast over his tipping prowess:

‘AS regular and for a long time successful punters on Victorian racing my mates and I refuse these days to be influenced by predictions from some high profile industry figures on how their horses will perform.

We bet almost exclusively on the thoroughbreds in Victoria. We have too much respect for our money to invest on racing in Sydney. And the last thing we would do is take advice from champion trainer Chris Waller who has to be the worst judge when it comes to describing his horses' chances.

Over the years we have learned to respect the opinions expressed pre-race by some of our best trainers, the likes of Peter Moody (before he retired), Mick Price and rising stars like Henry Dwyer.  

We have been big fans of Darren Weir as a trainer but when it comes to his pre-race comments (especially those on radio) he has to be the worst judge of all time. Some punters just do the opposite to what he says when it comes to backing his horses.

Let’s take a closer look at what he had to say last Friday leading into the meeting at Caulfield when he had a number of strong fancies.

Asked for the best bet from his big team heading to the races on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Weir declared for Twitchy Frank, a last start Flemington winner over the same trip when it led throughout.

“He’s a fit horse with a great racing style and will take a bit of running down,” Weir told the RSN racing show.

It’s history now that Twitchy Frank, heavily-backed into $2.5 favoritism, never looked like leading, was under pressure in third place on the home turn and dropped out to beat only one home in the race won by Paris Rock.

His stablemate, Lucky Cat, which Weir said would struggle to beat Twitchy Frank home, ran third after firming from $8 to $5. “From a punting point of view I would rather back one up on the speed than another that settles back,” he warned.

Stewards reported that apprentice Ethan Brown stated that Twitchy Frank had raced flat and may have come to the end of his preparation. The old standby of ‘a veterinary examination failed to reveal any abnormalities’ was added.

One race later at Caulfield and the Weir-trained Last Week, a promising stayer solidly backed to run $2.3 favorite, went even worse than Twitchy Frank – failing to beat a solitary runner home behind Double Bluff.

On the chances of Last Week, Weir told RSN: “Very strong over 2500m last start – one happy horse – nothing has changed. If he can bring his Flemington form to Caulfield he will be in the finish.”

Alas, for the legion of punters who followed Weir’s tip, Last Week went like a mule and turned in an absolute form reversal finishing a dismal last – he lost lengths in next to no time.

Stewards reported that apprentice Ben Allen told them Last Week settled further back than intended before being carried wide rounding the turn however was disappointing in the straight. Allen further stated in hindsight it may have been better to allow his mount to stride around the field approaching the 800m and if he had taken this action, he would not have been carried extremely wide around the home turn. There was the usual ‘post-race veterinary examination failed to reveal any abnormalities’ and the punters went home poorer and no wiser. What’s next – a spell or a form reversal?

This is all becoming a bit monotonous with the Weir horses. They are virtually impossible to follow because of their form which isn’t just mixed but totally inconsistent – first one week and winning brilliantly – unable to pick their feet up the next.

WEIR SAID CLIFF’S EDGE COULDN’T WIN

The worst was yet to come for the punters though when Weir was asked about one of the promising gallopers in his stable, Cliff’s Edge, which was resuming in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes. And this is what got right up the nose of my mates and I.

Here’s what he had to say when asked about the chances of the colt that measured up to Group 1 and weight-for-age level in the spring: “I would have to say ‘no’. He is a hard horse to get fit early on and needs a run or two. Once he hits form he is fine. I would think he would need the run tomorrow. He had a nice spell – maybe not tomorrow but down the track.”

Cliff’s Edge, well backed at nice odds despite the ‘slow’ from his champion trainer, stormed home to win courtesy of a rails-hugging ride by John Allen. Not a question was asked by the stewards of Weir about how much better the horse went than he had predicted.   

It’s not as though this was a one-off situation. It’s happening all the time with the man they call ‘Weary’ who just puts that stupid look on his face after one that he said couldn’t win comes out and supposedly surprises him – declaring ‘I didn’t think he would do that on what he had shown us in his work.’

Sorry Weary but your pre-race comments are wearing a bit thin and even though some of your media mates excuse it on what they call a ‘glass half full’ approach to stable chances some of the punters have had an absolute gutful.’

 

RADIO SHOW INTERVIEW  WAS’ NO GREAT INSIGHT FROM ‘WEARY’

BRIAN TUTTLE of MELBOURNE give MICHAEL FELGATE a back-hander for praising the ‘insight’ from ‘WEARY’:

‘MICHAEL Felgate, the effervescent host of the Racing Show on RSN, won’t be too keen to revisit one particular comment that he made after a lengthy interview with top trainer Darren Weir late last week.

Running through the weekend chances of the top stable, Felgate and form guru Clint Hutchison probed Weir on a number of his fancied runners.

They hit a hurdle when he declared Twitchy Frank the best of his big team for the weekend. It ran closer last than first. Weir then suggested that Cliff’s Edge couldn’t win and would take a run or two. It came out, was pretty well backed for a horse that that stable didn’t fancy, and won impressively against Group class.

Now what I object to is the comment by Felgate after the interview with Weir when he suggested: “Gee it’s great to get this insight from a trainer like Darren Weir on his top chances for the weekend.”

Sorry Michael but if that’s the best that ‘Weary’ can do punters must be feeling a little short-changed. And it isn’t as though this is the first time the champion trainer has got it totally wrong.’

 

‘ONE HAS TO QUESTION IF TIPSTERS HAVE CONFLICT OF INTEREST?’ 

AS a TRAINER whose horses seem to get tipped frequently I would prefer to remain anonymous in making these observations:

‘IF the leading tipsters are such bad judges that the majority of best bets are getting beaten each Saturday then it’s time to employ someone else and pay them the big bucks to steer punters in the right direction.

More often than not the one they all declare for the day not only gets beaten but performs like a dromedary. Let’s just call it a coincidence because it couldn’t be anything else.

I am not suggesting anything untoward but some are questioning if some of our top tipsters are a little too close to some stables and trainers?

Is there a conflict of interest when it comes to tipping if they are being paid by media outlets to find winners and at the same time acting as consultants to top stables?

Interestingly, after Darren Weir declared Cliff’s Edge couldn’t win (before it came out and bolted in when backed at good odds) one top tipster who has an association with the stable didn’t put it in his four selections which are heavily followed by a legion of punters.

Despite the Weir declaration that the horse couldn’t win, the lady who judges their fitness in the parade ring, tipped Cliff’s Edge so she must not have shared the opinion of the trainer that it wasn’t ready to win.

Also, one of the best judges in the media fraternity in Clint Hutchison, who, incidentally interviewed Weir with Michael Felgate on RSN when he told punters that Cliff’s Edge couldn’t win, took no notice and tipped the horse..’

 

SURELY THIS BLOKE’S TIPS WEREN’T POSTED AFTER THE EVENT?

ON the subject of tipsters, we have no way of confirming this but a long-time contributor to the WHINGE insists this is correct.

He claims to have gone onto an under-siege website in Queensland where a well-known media identity tips each week.

Our subscriber is adamant that when he looked for selections after a few races had been run at Doomben last Saturday none had been posted.

When he revisited the site after the meeting was called off he claims that the tips had suddenly appeared and the tipster had managed two winners, a trifecta, three quinellas and his best roughie.

Our contributor made this observation: ‘Perhaps the racing identity in question is adopting his ‘red hots’ philosophy where he seems to be able to declare the winners before and after the races – such is how that code continues to operate since the demise of Archie Butterfly who most punters believe was ‘keeping the bastards at least a bit honest’.’

 

NEWLOOK FORM GUIDE HAS TO BE THE JOKE OF THE DECADE

BARRY BUTLER, of BRISBANE, says he has bought The Courier-Mail Form Guide for the last time and rates the newlook Ladbrokes version as a ‘load of rubbish’:

‘THE new UBEAUT Form Guide that replaced the one in The Courier-Mail that was funded by UBET has to be the joke of the decade.

Punters are unanimous in their rejection of the newlook Guide which is nothing more than a mountain of advertising for Ladbrokes.

It’s nice to know that News Ltd is content to bed down with an organization that contributes little to the racing industry in this country and sends most of its profits off-shore.

The print is so small that for the older punters like me they almost need a magnifying glass to read it. God only knows what happens when the carnivals arrive, the fields are bigger and there are 10 races instead of nine. Something will suffer.

Whilst we no longer get any comment for meetings in Adelaide and Perth it is interesting that every runner is covered at the Albion Park trots where the turnover wouldn’t get within a bull’s roar of meetings that are being neglected. That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Or is someone having some influence there?

Is anyone at News Ltd aware that a prohibition of credit betting with corporate bookies like Ladbrokes will come into force shortly? Probably not, Rupert doesn’t care who or where he gets his profits from and in this media monopoly world it’s obvious what the readers want runs a long last.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: HERE’S an interesting story from THE GUARDIAN in LONDON concerning corporate bookies closing down the accounts of successful punters:

BOOKMAKERS were urged to “get a grip” on the subject of punters being restricted and having their accounts closed, as it was debated before a group of Parliamentarians (in Britain recently).

A packed committee room in the House of Lords heard representatives of punters and bookmakers discuss the extent of the problem and what might be done, and the betting industry was urged by Lord Lipsey to start taking the issue seriously.

“I have a slight feeling about this that it’s like the fixed odds betting terminals,” Lord Lipsey said, referring to a recent report which predicted the Government will soon reduce the maximum stake for gaming machines in betting shops to just £2. This is a prospect that fills bookmakers with horror and wiped £660m off their stock market value on Monday.

Lord Lipsey’s suggestion was that, left untackled, the issue of restrictions and account closures might also lead to unwanted, severe regulatory intervention. “Bookmakers need to get a grip on this,” he told those present and his thoughts were echoed by Viscount Astor, sitting alongside him. “We should be congratulating winners, not denigrating them, if we want racing and betting to grow,” he said.

Those comments seem to confirm the impression of recent years that the bookmaker lobby in Parliament is no longer so powerful or effective as it used to be. The betting industry was not strong in numbers here. Richard Flint, chief executive of Sky Bet, came to put the bookmakers’ perspective and struck a conciliatory tone.

“The UK gambling industry, reputationally, isn’t in a good place and you’d have to be an unusual person to disagree with that,” he said afterwards. During his speech, he accepted that bookmakers should get better at communicating with customers at risk of being restricted or having their accounts closed, adding he was happy to work with the Horserace Bettors Forum on how that might be done.

But he asserted that, as far as Sky Bet were concerned, “a tiny proportion” of customers were affected and that 97% went unrestricted, even though betting on horse racing was “growing very strongly”. “Contrary to myth, we don’t close accounts simply because a customer is winning,” he said.

“We run a business, not a public service. We run it to be a commercial success. We must have the ability to say no to customers who we believe will be unprofitable for us in the longer term.”

But Flint did not immediately dismiss the suggestion of a “minimum bet” rule, which has been introduced in some states in Australia, requiring firms to lay advertised odds to a certain amount of money to any interested customer. However he suggested it would come at the expense of popular offers like “best odds guaranteed”, which in his view could not profitably be maintained alongside such a rule. He imagined a two-tier system, in which punters who still wanted access to such offers would have to relinquish their right to a minimum bet level.

Simon Rowlands of the HBF said bookmakers were too quick to restrict customers or close them down “and the consequences for racing are harmful and are not being taken seriously enough”. Each account closure might represent a fan lost to racing, he said. Bruce Millington, editor of the Racing Post, said the problem was “affecting more punters than ever before” and that “a fair deal” was needed between the two sides.

 

GOOD NEWS FOR THOSE WANTING TO READ QRIC INTERNAL REVIEWS

WE continue to receive emails concerning the transparency of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission BUT THERE IS SOME GOOD NEWS.

THIS was the latest and the contributor JIM MUNRO posed his question to QRIC as well. He has updated us with some important information which is run at the bottom:

COULD you please ask whoever is responsible why are there no Internal Reviews available on the QRIC website since September and why were those which were determined up to September removed when it was announced they would remain on view for six months?

Racing NSW appeals aren’t removed after only six months and I’m wondering why such a short exposure has been adopted by QRIC?

I hope you’ll be able to obtain answers to these questions.’

JIM MUNRO’S query prompted a quick response from QRIC’s Media and Communications Office Jason Rawlins, which read:

‘I’VE spoken with the legal team and checked our website. January’s internal reviews haven’t gone up yet to allow for the 28 day appeal period to lapse but they’ll be up soon. Otherwise, all other reviews are on our website. Here is a link to the December reviews for your perusal https://www.qric.qld.gov.au/2017/12/?post_type=decision and you can go to the “Archive” on the right hand side of the QRIC’s web site to click on the month you’re after to check the reviews for that particular month if you wish. Hope this helps. Any queries please feel free to contact me again.

JIM advised LGHR yesterday: ‘They’re up now and there’s even an Archive which I hadn’t noticed before.’

 

 
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