SKY coverage of country TAB meetings at Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns has been given a major boost with the appointment of ex-Townsville Turf Club CEO, Michael Charge, to provide regular trackside hosting on its Thoroughbred Central Channel.

Rockhampton Jockey Cub PR man, Darren Nufer, reports that punters nationwide got their first look at the expanded television coverage last Thursday at Callaghan Park.

Charge is no stranger to the camera having regularly fronted the SKY cameras providing mounting yard mail for Townsville “as part of my duties for the TTC”.

But after 11 years he quit the club as CEO last month and negotiated a deal with SKY that will see him covering all TAB meetings from Rocky to Cairns. Charge will provide punters with his pre-race insights at TAB meetings in Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.


It is not an easy assignment as apart from the distance (more than 1200km) there is considerable variance in form and different personalities in the respective centres. Trainers, jockeys and horses seldom make the trek from Rockhampton to Cairns and vice versa except perhaps for the annuals.

According to Nufer “the move is a positive step in the right direction for Rockhampton racing” which was also buoyed this week by the announcement that south-east Queensland thoroughbred racing and breeding operation, Aquis Farm, would offer a bonus of $100,000 for buyers of any horse from its draft at the upcoming Capricornia Yearling Sale that goes on to win the 2YO Classic (1200m) at Callaghan Park next year.  

Aquis will offer five yearlings at Rockhampton Showgrounds on Sunday, April 2.

Interest in the sale was exacerbated somewhat by the impressive win by sale graduate Helarocity on Saturday night at Toowoomba – his fifth from nine starts.

Lot 2 this year is Helarocity’s full sister (Ferocity-Shezabon) and will certainly attract keen interest.



STILL on Rocky, the RJC has taken a bold step to increase its Club 100 corporate membership concept to Club 150 – and has been overwhelmed by the result.

While some clubs in the north are struggling to retain their 100 clubs (Cairns is currently on an advertising campaign offering attractive incentives for more members) the Rockhampton Jockey Club has received a positive response to its new corporate membership concept, Club 150.

Said Nufer: “The expanded format is on track to see a record number of businesses involved this year.”

And yet another major Rocky highlight in the coming days is the inaugural Rockhampton Racing Gala Ball, to be held under the stars at Callaghan Park on Saturday night. It is almost a sell-out.



PROMINENT Central Queensland trainer, Trinity Bannon, is suing the Mackay Turf Club and a leading local owner for more than $700,000.

In documents filed in the Mackay District Court last week, Bannon, a former leading jockey, claimed she suffered a broken collar bone, dislocated shoulder and other injuries that brought on depression and anxiety after being struck by a horse at the Ooralea track in September 2014.

Bannon said the accident short-circuited her successful race riding career. The former Victorian, who relocated to Mackay to complete her apprenticeship 10 years ago, rode nearly 500 winners – mainly in North and Central Queensland for prize money of more than $4.6mn.

After the incident she retired from race riding and began a training career. She currently has four horses in work at Ooralea.

She claims the horse All Rosie, owned by Darren Symons, with whom she had a long association, bolted from the swimming pool area at Ooralea and struck her as it galloped towards the stable area.

She claims the gates between the two locations had been left open.

The documents, filed in the Mackay District Court, claim she was unable to continue as a jockey because of the incident and pain killing drugs she has been prescribed are banned by Racing Queensland.

She said yesterday she undergoes massage therapy twice a week, but still suffers and requires a further operation.

“Hopefully then I can function without the aid of pain relief.

“Currently it hurts not just to ride a horse – but driving the car and float as well”.

She is claiming $350,000 for loss of future earning capacity, $125,000 in reduced earnings, $55,000 for commercial assistance and $60,700 in damages.

It is not known when the matter will be heard.



IN days gone by the stipendiary steward in Australia was both judge and jury. And most licensees accepted and respected the fact. 

But no longer. Jockeys and trainers appeal their sentences at a rate far in excess of what used to be. Most with good reason.

Australians have become more legalistic and changes to racing’s appeal system are also under question.

A steward, supposedly with years of experience in racing matters, may have his interpretation of a racing incident completely over-ruled by a QCAT judge who might know absolutely nothing about the racing game and all of its intricate rules.

But that’s only part of the problem. If a licensee wins on appeal at QCAT is he/she not entitled to at least legal costs and reimbursement for loss of income?

There were no astronomical legal fees in the days when stewards were judge and jury. Their action was swift and – compared to today – seldom contested.

But back then a jockey knew if he pulled one up he would get at least 12 months disqualification.

Today it is six weeks – even for the most blatant case.

Also there is no consistency of penalties between states as the recent ice and cobalt inquiries clearly indicate.

And back in the days when stewards ruled the roost and had all the clout the rules applied equally to all.

And, mostly stewards had the rightful respect of all.

Whose idea was QCAT anyway?

Wasn’t it set up to settle petty disputes between neighbours and councils over fences, trees and dogs barking?

Really, should the Administrative Tribunals be such a vital part of racing’s judicial system?



COMMONSENSE has finally prevailed.

Trevor Woodham, the starter/steward who RQ ruled could not fulfil duties for QRIC to which he was seconded on race days, is back doing what he does best. That means he no longer answers to RQ and is back behind the barriers on race days and official trials at northern tracks.

BUT commonsense at the Deagon bunker is still an issue.

Take the case of THE Bowen Turf Club that race again on April 9. The club was told recently by RQ that the starting stalls they currently use on loan must be returned to the Townsville Turf Club because “Every TAB club must have two set of stalls”.

We all know that is absolutely not true – but then Bowen was told by RQ that Townsville was “being precious and that they wanted the stalls back”.

When told this, new TTC Chairman Malcolm Petrofski emailed RQ stating his club is quite happy for Bowen to retain and use the stalls.

Negotiations are now in the final stages for their purchase.

Mind you, the cost of transporting them back to Townsville is around $3,000, according to Bowen secretary Emily Harvey, who added that the TTC had been very helpful during negotiations.

She didn’t have the same kind words for Racing Queensland…..however!

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