THE WEDNESDAY WHINGE has a new look but won’t be dispensing with the theme and focus on the THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY side of what is happening in racing. The Whinge will continue to provide an opportunity for The Cynics to Have Their Say. Thanks again for your support for the most read column on this website and one of the most read on racing websites in the country. Our popularity continues to grow despite the bagging it cops from some high profile officials, especially in Queensland, who cannot cope with constructive criticism of any kind. We encourage supporters – and critics – to continue to contribute but plan to restrict the Whinge to less than 10 of the best items each week. Our message to those who continually bag us is simple: IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT YOU READ, THEN DON’T REVISIT THE WHINGE.

OPEN INQUIRY NEEDED INTO CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING KILCOY ABANDONMENT

LETSGOHORSERACING has received numerous emails concerning the abandonment of the Kilcoy meeting by stewards last Sunday due to alleged safety concerns with the track.

Whilst we do not support the ‘conspiracy theories’ that are being suggested by some, there is a need for an Open inquiry into the entire affair and the main question that needs to be answered is:

WHY a Sunshine Coast-based steward from Racing Queensland did not inspect the track in the days leading up to the meeting which was a directive from the previous Head of Integrity and had occurred on a regular basis in the past?

Before we run a selection of contributions to the Whinge which hopefully gets the views of both sides across, this is what letsgohorseracing has been able to learn from its own investigation and it makes for some interesting debate.

Allegations are floating around that some high profile industry identities – or those who are their servants – have jumped at a timely opportunity to criticize Kilcoy Racing Club chairman Con Searle and his senior vice chairman Ian McCauley because of the major fight that they have been waging against the Labor Government’s Racing Integrity Bill which passed through Parliament last week on the casting vote of the Speaker.

The 11th hour cancellation of the Kilcoy meeting on Sunday throws up more questions than answers. There needs to be a clear explanation of why and whether it should have occurred from not only club officials but also Racing Queensland, their stewards and the Jockeys’ Association.

WHAT LED TO THE ABANDONMENT?

LET’S look first at what led to this unfortunate abandonment and whether it could have been avoided. RQ wasted no time circulating a Media Release on Sunday in the wake of what they claimed was anger emanating from stakeholders who made the trek to Kilcoy to race their horses only to discover the surprise cancellation.

The Media Release reportedly emanated from Head of Operations. Declan Martschinke, arguably the most despised official at RQ in the eyes of many in the industry. He stated that upon inspection by RQ stewards and jockeys on Sunday morning a portion of the track was deemed unsafe for racing due to maintenance work that had been undertaken to install cabling beneath a section of the track near the winning post a month earlier.

Officials have explained that this cabling was installed when the club became aware that RQ was proposing to sell its big TV screens that have been used at various tracks. Given the increasing size of the Kilcoy crowds and a desire to promote racing and provide better facilities for patrons, the committee decided to place cabling across (or under) the track and over to the area where marques are erected so that SKY can be connected to the big screens.

When the work was carried out the width of the trenching for the cabling was only 60mm and 600mm deep but an area of 30cm of grass was lifted and replaced when the project was completed.

Club officials inspected the track on Saturday and considered it ‘perfectly safe for racing’. Club chairman Con Searle steadfastly stands by his opinion that it was still ‘safe for racing’ when the meeting was abandoned by stewards on the Sunday.

INVOLVEMENT OF STEWARD WILLIAMSON A SHADE CONFUSING 

That’s the story from the club point of view but it gets interesting and a shade confusing from the time Steward James Williamson arrives at the track and contacts Con Searle soon after 10am on Sunday requesting him to attend an urgent meeting to discuss the safety of the track.

THE showdown that followed between officials and stewards, including Neil Boyle, who was in charge of the meeting, resulted in strong differences of opinion and events that the club claims were both ‘unreasonable and unsatisfactory’.

Searle reminded stewards that when Wade Birch was in charge either James Williamson, who is based on the Sunshine Coast, or Bill Schuck, who was a ‘track expert’ seconded to RQ at the time from the BRC, were required to visit Kilcoy before acceptances during the week a race meeting was being run to inspect the track and provide an early ‘rating’. This was largely because of issues that Williamson had raised concerning the track in the past. There had been no indication to the club that this directive had been withdrawn or that circumstances had changed since Wade Birch left RQ.

Stewards were told by Searle that the club was of the belief that Williamson or a steward would inspect the track in the week before a meeting was held. If that was not possible then a ‘track expert’ employed by RQ would visit.

What the club wants to know is why steward Williamson, who lives on the Sunshine Coast, did not inspect Kilcoy track in the days leading up to the meeting, especially as he appeared to be the driving force behind the abandonment of the meeting after he arrived on Sunday morning.

In answer to queries as to why the previous practice, when Birch was Chairman of Stewards and Head of Integrity, for the track to be inspected before a meeting did not occur, Boyle told Searle: “Wade Birch and Bill Shuck don’t work for Racing Queensland any more’.

That raises the question where the ‘Invisible Man’ – Jamie Dart – said to be on an incredible salary as acting Head of Integrity after his amazing elevation to the job despite being in charge of the greyhound racing when the ‘live baiting’ scandal erupted – stands on the issue.

And for that matter, what about the highly paid Chief of Thoroughbred Stewards in Allan Reardon who we understand lives on the Sunshine Coast. Could he not have dropped into Kilcoy and checked it out if the underlings on the panel were too busy attending to who knows what?

Wow if ever a new broom needed to go through a department, RQ stewarding is it? How about earning your keep Mr Top Cop Barnett (the new Integrity Boss) and showing the industry some long overdue action at the station even if it is off the track rather than on it?

But back to the state of play in this farce at Kilcoy. Bill Schuck, now back working with the BRC on the new Eagle Farm track alongside another former RQ ‘track expert’ in Warren Williams, arrived at Kilcoy on Sunday and declared the track ‘perfectly safe to race on’ but hastened to add that he was not permitted to officially buy into the discussion because he no longer worked for RQ.

The stewards apparently invited jockeys into the room one by one to discuss the safety of the track. Why they did this independently remains a mystery as does the reason for committee members of the club being refused permission to be present and hear what they had to say. There is a precedent that was set for this back in the days when Steve Railton was Chief Steward and there were problems with the Eagle Farm track involving jockeys. Then QTC Chairman Peter Gallagher was front and centre while the racing media was not allowed into the discussion with stewards.

RQ maintains that the jockeys felt the track was unsafe to ride on. In other words they are blaming the jockeys for the decision by stewards to abandon the meeting. Some jockeys are now saying privately that they did not consider it ‘unsafe’.

Whether the QJA would repeat this publicly if pressed only time, or an inquiry, will tell. But, as one cynic said, it wouldn’t be wise for them to disagree with the stewards. And who knows what each jockey said as, it seems, they were not spoken to collectively which is a strange way of inquiring into a safety issue.

HEATED CLASH BETWEEN CLUB CHAIRMAN & CHIEF STEWARD

INSIDERS say there was a heated clash between Club chairman Searle and Chief Steward Boyle when the decision was taken to abandon the meeting. When told of the decision, Searle apparently responded: ‘You’ve got to be joking!’

One could hardly blame him considering his long-time passion for the Kilcon club. This was one of their biggest meetings of the year. There were at least 1200 patrons on course at the time of the abandonment of whom about 300 were Army personnel attending because of the Anzac theme of the day.

From the club’s perspective, officials were said to be ‘dumbfounded and disappointed’ at the circumstances surrounding the abandonment and the damage it did to the image of Kilcoy racing.

They were concerned that stewards did not advise jockeys of how long ago the work had been completed. They insist the track was safe for racing and want to know why the previous directive of stewards inspecting it in advance was not adhered to.

If this ruling has subsequently been overturned then no-one at RQ, including headmaster Martschinke, had the decency to advise the club of same. It certainly isn’t the case with other clubs, especially in the north where stewards travel much further distances to inspect tracks prior to race meetings.

Putting the conspiracy theories contained in some of the correspondence we received aside, RQ needs to establish the groundwork to ensure that this never happens again. It should be a matter of procedure that stewards inspect all tracks days before race meetings. But that makes sense and we don’t get much of that emanating from the Deagon bunker regardless of who is in charge.

 

HERE’S WHAT THE CRITICS & SUPPORTERS OF KILCOY HAD TO SAY

HERE are several emails on this issue that we have elected to run from over a dozen that were received. Hopefully we get both sides of the divided opinions across:

ANDY JACOBS of BRISBANE leads the argument for the critics of Kilcoy Racing Club:

‘BEFORE they start trying to tell us how to run racing in Queensland, Messrs McCauley and Searle should get their own house in order.

Sunday was a disgusting state of affairs when a race meeting had to be abandoned at the last minute because of what many in the industry call mismanagement by the club.

How could anyone running the show not have been aware that the work done to the track did not represent some safety concerns and why weren’t the stewards and the licensees made aware of this beforehand?

There was little sympathy for the plight of the Kilcoy club from Racing Queensland which issued an immediate Media Release stating:

RQ had not been made aware by the Kilcoy Racing Club about the cabling installation works or there being a problem with the track prior to this morning’s inspection and as a result, a review will be conducted into the circumstances surrounding the abandonment of today’s race meeting.

This raises a number of questions:

Who at the club was responsible for monitoring the work and ensuring that the track was in a safe and suitable condition for a race meeting to be held?

If the problem only became apparent late morning why – as a matter of procedure – did a steward from RQ not inspect the track well before this as occurs at most venues or do they rely on a track curator to provide them with this information?

If Kilcoy does not have a permanent track curator then should they be required to employ one if they want to be a recognized TAB venue or even reach an arrangement with the Sunshine Coast Turf Club for their track manger to visit on a regular basis and oversee the condition of the Kilcoy track?

Under RQ’s Meeting Abandonment Compensation Policy, stakeholders who made the trip to Kilcoy believing the races were going to be run on Sunday will receive compensation. Why should the industry have to pay for this and as part of their inquiry into this debacle should RQ consider billing Kilcoy Racing Club for some of those costs?

This is an unacceptable situation and given the demands of the Racing Unity Group in their fight against the Racing Integrity Bill one has to ask if people living in glass houses should think twice about throwing stones at those now responsible for running the industry as a whole.’

 

‘IDEAL OPPORTUNITY’ FOR POLITICAL ENEMIES OF MACAULEY AND SEARLE

BRIAN JAMES of SUNSHINE COAST returns serve for the supporters of Kilcoy Race Club:

‘IT comes as no surprise that political enemies of Ian McCauley and Con Searle have jumped at the opportunity to rubbish them over what happened at Kilcoy races on Sunday.

That’s racing in Queensland – if you can’t beat them, then bag them. The misfortune that befell the Kilcoy meeting on Sunday had nothing whatsoever to do with the brave fight that Ian and Con led to try and halt the Racing Integrity Bill from getting through Parliament.

In the process they made plenty of enemies but they also won a lot of support and friends in racing with the work carried out by their newly formed Racing Unity Group which has been painted political simply because it disagrees with what the Labor Government and its friends in racing want to happen.

What many in racing forget about these country clubs like Kilcoy is the amount of work that is left to volunteers. I won’t argue that RQ should have been advised that a trench had been dug across the track.

It’s a similar situation to the big truck show that occurred at Gatton or wherever it was some time ago that left the track unraceable. The club there did advise the ‘track experts’ at RQ but they did next to nothing about it and the meeting had to be abandoned in any case.

Surely the stewards should have checked out Kilcoy a day or so before the races on Sunday to ensure it was right for racing whether they knew there had been worked carried out there or not. In most country areas – the north for sure – stewards inspect tracks days beforehand to ensure they are right for upcoming meetings. Are those in the big smoke too busy to follow that lead?

Even on race days, do stewards wait until the last minute to arrive? You wouldn’t have expected the jockeys to be there at sparrows but surely there is some responsibility as stewards are in charge of a meeting from early in the morning.

Rather than just throw the blame at the chairmn and his deputy at Kilcoy because they are fighting for a better deal for racing in Queensland on another front, perhaps when RQ conducts its investigation into the circumstances surrounding this they should look at if the blame rests as well within the Deagon Bunker.’

 

AND two small comments to finish off with:

'CLUB SHOULD BE PENALIZED FOR ABANDONMENT OF KILCOY MEETING'

DALE MORGAN of IPSWICH writes:

‘The abandonment of the Kilcoy meeting is a complete joke.

At a time when racing is screaming out for more prize money we see a scenario where a registered TAB club cannot deliver a proper racing circuit and generate income for the industry.

A day of punting dollars lost, patrons turning up to a phantom meeting – talk about bringing the racing industry into disrupt.

Now had this been a licensed person who had brought the industry into disrepute and caused a substantial disruption to racing, they would be looking at a long time on the sideline.

What does Kilcoy committee cop – absolutely nothing – no reprimand, no show cause and no loss of license?

As an example to others, Racing Queensland should show leadership and seek to remove the Kilcoy Committee and its Chair and stand the club’s license down for a lengthy period.’

 

‘SMELL OF A POLITICAL RAT BEHIND THE ABANDONMENT OF KILCOY’

NEIL HYDE of GOLD COAST has his take on the Kilcoy situation:

‘Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like but I smell a political rat behind this abandonment of the Kilcoy meeting on Sunday.

It all seems too convenient. Normally a steward turns up days before to inspect the track. This time, after some work has been done to the track, he fails to show. Then on Sunday all hell breaks loose when he does and the meeting is called off.

Kilcoy Race Club officials, known not to be great fans of those running  Racing Queensland or the Labor Government for that matter, all of a sudden are under fire. They get the blame entirely for not advising of work done on the track. They are painted the villains.

There is no mention of stories doing the rounds that many jockeys were content to race but were forced to follow the flow, started by some in their ranks and maintained by the stewards to have the meeting abandoned.

No-one wants to place the lives of jockeys and horses in danger, most of all officials of the Kilcoy club. They would certainly not have maintained the track was safe for racing for political reasons. Were there Brownie Points up for grabs behind the scenes in all of this? There are plenty in racing who think so.

Let’s hold an inquiry into all of this and while they are at it perhaps a certain steward should be asked if he called a meeting off at another venue where he once was based simply because he wanted to go fishing/

Integrity is becoming a dirty word in racing in Queensland. Here’s hoping this promised new broom arrives and that certain people don’t survive in the new thoroughbred world that is RQ simply because they have become subservient to a whole new group of masters.’

 

‘MAKE ALL OF THOSE IN KEY POSITIONS AT RQ REAPPLY FOR THEIR JOBS’

ALBERT WILLIAMS, of REDCLIFFE, a regular contributor to the Whinge, weighs into the Racing Integrity Bill debate:

‘THE first thing the new Board should do is require everyone who works in a key role for Racing Queensland – from administration to integrity – to reapply for their positions.

The best way of ensuring you get the best possible people to do the job is to throw the lot open for anyone who thinks they can do better to apply.

Talk to anyone – from the stakeholders who deal with these RQ personnel on a daily basis – to the racing public and the punters – the message is strong. Put a broom through the entire place.

There have been calls for far too long for the scalps of the likes of Declan Martschinke (head of operations), Ross Gove (Racing Operations Manager), Jamie Dart (acting Head of Stewarding and Integrity) and Allan Reardon (Chief Steward Thoroughbreds).

Realistically the four of them should struggle to hold their jobs, with the possible exception of Gove. Martschinke is universally disliked and his attitude, in the opinion of most, leaves plenty to be desired. The problem of course will be finding properly credentialled people who want to work for RQ.

Integrity has developed into a joke and there is no place for Dart and Reardon if punter confidence is to be restored. If Ross Barnett, the top cop appointed to head up the new Integrity Unit, is hellbent on ‘learning from Dart and Reardon’ as has been suggested in some reports, then he is destined to be a rank failure as well.

There is a need for the Integrity Unit to employ a special branch of policemen and women who know racing and aren’t scared to jump a few fences and raid a few properties in all three codes. At the track there is a need for a new Chief Steward, one who takes no prisoners and doesn’t build up his kill sheet with nobodies from the ranks of licensees – giving punters more confidence to bet and licensees a belief that there is a level playing field.

Unless the above happens, the Racing Minister’s statement that under the new legislation Queensland will have the ‘strongest integrity regime in the country’ will rank alongside that of infamous claim from one of her predecessors that ‘Queensland within 12 months will be a furlong in front of the southern states’ as the biggest racing joke of all time.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: INTERESTINGLY I am told they are down to a shortlist for the position of CEO at RQ. My informants at the Deagon Bunker have leaked the names of several candidates who are supposedly high in contention. Don’t shoot the messenger if this is incorrect but normally our informants are close to the mark. They say the one most likely to wind up with the ‘poisoned chalice’ will come from: PAUL BITTAR, now back with Racing Victoria after a stint as Chief Executive of British Racing; SCOTT WHITEMAN, current boss of Country Racing Victoria and formerly CEO of the Gold Coast Turf Club; BRENDAN PARNELL, a former Queenslander, who was one of the high flyers at SKY CHANNEL until more recent times; and JASON CORNELL, a sponsorship director and marketing consultant now based in Victoria who was formerly involved with the Hong Kong Jockey Club.   

 

WITH INTEGRITY BILL VOTED DOWN, FOWLER SUGGESTS TIME TO MOVE ON

DAVID FOWLER of CLAYFIELD made this contribution:

‘IT’S a rare for this rival blogger and commentator to use the Wednesday Whinge as an outlet for my thoughts on industry matters.

However, as I am currently on leave, I am a stickler for the old traditions that if on holidays, keep your nose out and let others run the course.

The problem being that the course is often either not run or run with a lack of knowledge.

As one who campaigned publicly for the Queensland Racing Integrity Bill to be voted down, I was naturally disappointed with the ultimate result.

Not totally surprised, mind you, when relying on the nod and the wink of a politician was going to be paramount to the outcome.

For passionate racing folk like myself, this is a poor result. For certain politicians, it matters little.

I have campaigned fiercely for the return of the three codes running themselves so this Bill has knocked that out of the ring.

This is a poor result, particularly for the minor codes.

Notwithstanding all of the above, could I offer one piece of advice?

The umpire, as such, has made the call. It's time to move on.

Let's make the current situation the best we can for the racing industry.

Queensland always has had a lot to offer racing wise. Having covered the three codes in the media for 35 years, I'm confident the talent base is still there.

Those against the Bill couldn't have fought harder or with more passion.

Now it's time to collaborate and work within the model that is on the table.

Is that such a hard thing? I doubt it.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: DAVID’S sentiments seem to have been shared by NEVILLE BELL, Chairman of the Brisbane Racing Club and IAN McCAULEY, head of the Queensland Racing Unity Group, who circularized the following to members following the success of the Integrity Bill:

To all QRUG members and other supporters,

By now you will know that the QRIC Bill was passed in parliament on Thursday night with the support of the two independents, Billy Gordon  and Rob Pyne. The count was 44 all and the speaker sided with the government with his casting vote. The Katter Party and the LNP voted against the Bill.

This is a very disappointing outcome. However, I would like to thank the Katter Party and the LNP for their unwavering commitment to vote "no" and thus support QRUG and indeed most, if not all of the industry. The communication effort of QRUG members and others was outstanding. Regional and non-TAB race clubs were at the forefront. I thank and commend you for that. As a result all members of parliament were well aware of the limitations that this Bill  imposes on the future of racing in this state. We, as citizens, have again witnessed how political decisions are made for the benefit of political parties and politicians, with little regard for their constituents.

I understand that a raft of last minute amendments were included which I have yet to see. Although these may have addressed some of the unacceptable issues  they will not remove the most serious issue regarding the future of our industry. QRUG's promotion of the separation of the codes and the removal of the government as far as practical from the industry gained universal support. This bill denies that opportunity. So the master -servant relationship  between racing and the government will continue, which by its very nature fosters a climate of favour and retribution.

Although some racing participants have indicated to me that the future of our industry is so bleak they in  a position to withdraw or move interstate the majority have assets and careers that bind them to Queensland Racing. History tells us that our racing participants will soldier on and make the best of whatever prevails.

During our 5 month campaign I was privileged to have had a great deal of discussion by telephone , email and in sharing a vehicle with Con Searle who provides our very effective secretariat. I have come to realise that there can be no one more passionate and well connected in Queensland racing, particularly country racing. His personal integrity goes unquestioned. Over that time we developed a vision for thoroughbred racing which we shared with anybody who had an ear available. There were few who seriously disagreed with the principles that we were espousing. During the journey we met a lot of wonderful racing people from both horse codes.

At times our lobbying effort was robust even so, I hope QRUG was seen as credible and worthy of notice. QRUG can be expected to be in the government's  "we hate you file" and may also be out of favour with the new Racing Queensland Board. QRUG's immediate role and objectives need to be reset. Con and I will discuss this with our advisory committee. I would  be happy to receive comment from our members.

Yours sincerely,

Ian McCauley - QRUG Chairman

 

LABOR GOVT GOT THEIR WAY WITH RACING – ‘IT’S NOW TIME FOR ACTION’ 

ANDY FRANCIS of ROCKHAMPTON sent this email:

‘IT might have required a casting vote of Speaker Peter Wellington to succeed but the controversial Racing Integrity Bill staggered across the line and the industry is now saddled with it.

Those who fought hard to defeat it, headed by the Queensland Racing Unity Group, have little choice to accept the loss but are entitled to continue to ramp up their calls for some action at the station from those now responsible for running the industry.

It’s time for Steve Wilson, the new RQ Board chairman, to use some of this outstanding business acumen that Racing Minister Grace Grace has been telling us about to haul the industry out of the quicksand.

Let’s not wait more months for the rest of the Board to be appointed or for a new CEO to take over at RQ, not to mention a few new faces in key administrative roles that have been rotting on the vine for far too long under the interim management that has cost racing in Queensland far too much.

They have promised plenty. They have now won the battle to do the job. Now it’s time to deliver – and that means right now, not tomorrow, next week, next month or next year.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: OUT of all of the speakers who had their say for and against the new Racing Integrity Bill I found this address by Ray Stevens, the Gold Coast MP who hopefully will one day become Racing Minister, the most interesting. Here is what Ray (yes he is a mate of mine) had to say:     

‘I have great news for the racing industry apprentices on the other side of this House, particularly for the newly minted Minister, who has been glad handing around all the tracks across Queensland as best she can —smiling, telling me and other people how much she knows about betting, backing Honey Toast and Prince of Penzance because of the sisterhood and all of these other matters. The great news is that not one thoroughbred has been implicated in the live-baiting fiasco. They have not chased one little black pig, one possum or one chook.

The bottom line is: this bill before the House is the result of the greyhound industry and its disgusting behaviour in relation to live baiting, which all members in this House would say is totally unacceptable. What did the Labor Party do? With a very small minority —I think a couple of thousand participants in the greyhound industry —they took a sledgehammer to smash a walnut in terms of bashing up on the thoroughbred industry. As the minister may or may not know, the thoroughbred industry makes up about 80 per cent of the racing industry in Queensland. It boasts some 30,000 participants. In years gone by it has been served by such luminary racing ministers as Gibbs, Schwarten, Lawlor and Rose. I hadforgotten that brilliant light of the racing industry that was Merri Rose!

I am particularly aware that the member for Rockhampton was pleased to leave the industry, because there are more politics in the racing industry than will ever be seen in this House. I can assure the minister that, in spite of them smiling and so on, they draw their knives to make sure the minister keeps going in the right direction.

What we have here is a government determined to bash up on the thoroughbred industry for a small bit of bad behaviour by the greyhound industry. This legislation seeks to create for the racing industry a board comprising seven members, four of whom have no idea about racing —this is brilliant stuff —and one each from the other codes, that is, two minor codes and the thoroughbred code. Tonight I speak from the thoroughbred industry’s perspective because I do have a reasonable knowledge and a long, 50-year involvement in the industry. The clever Labor Party people seek to put in place a board of which 14 per cent are knowledgeable in the thoroughbred industry. That is really a genius move by the minister. A code that makes up 80 per cent of the racing industry gets 14 per cent of the representation. It sounds like a great old Labor Party stack to me in terms of setting a future direction.

It was the greyhound racing industry that caused this major problem such that we had to sack all the boards of thoroughbreds and start again. There was a cost to industry of a squillion dollars by putting in place this consultant who was going to be paid $20,000 a week or whatever. There was a guy who was in charge—the steward of the greyhound industry —to stop this live -baiting fiasco. He was supposed to make sure greyhounds were run in a proper manner, not offensive to the greater public. I acknowledge that the member for Rockhampton has just come into the chamber; it is lovely to see him. The steward in charge of greyhounds —the steward is the ‘policeman’, for the benefit of the apprentices on the other side of the House— was supposed to hold the greyhound industry to account in terms of its behaviour. That ‘policeman’ was a fellow called Jamie Dart. Because the greyhound industry was so disgusting and so warped, we promoted him to be the head of integrity for all of the codes. There is logic there, but the minister will have to explain it to me in her speech in reply to the debate. In other words, the guy who was in charge of protecting the greyhound industry from that disgusting behaviour was promoted to oversee all codes —thoroughbreds, trotting and greyhounds —because of his successful work in policing the greyhound industry!

This is the government that we are supposed to believe likes the thoroughbred industry. What is even worse, they are moving along in this particular bill to say, ‘We are sending all these tests over to the department of agriculture. We will keep it separate from the racing industry.’ The Minister would know how difficult it is to get any results out of another government department on time, without cost and so on. The worst thing in government is dealing between government departments. No-one who has been a minister would deny that.

Ms Grace: It is coming back, Ray.

Mr STEVENS: That is not what is in the explanatory notes. That will be moved again. I am glad the minister has taken my advice on that matter. She must have pre-empted what I was going to say. Besides that, the minister has decided that it does not matter what it costs: the wonderful Treasurer will fund the whole thing and it will not cost the racing industry a dime. That is not going to last because governments —and it has been proven over many years—have a mentality that says that the racing industry is a rich man’s sport and it should support itself. Unfortunately, that is the bad Labor view that it has taken for many years when it is a sport, a passion and a hobby for many Queenslanders. I can assure you that we actually lose money on supporting our sport!

The government is happy to put millions and millions into the Broncos in stadiums, millions into netball and millions into all other matters surrounding sport. This is a sport followed by many participants directly getting paid —and we acknowledge that it might be around the 30,000 figure—but there are literally hundreds of thousands of everyday punters and everyday people out there following the racing industry and they are sick and tired of the Labor Party coming in and either mucking it up itself or paying a guy like Bob Bentley to muck it up for it. With regard to racing integrity, step 1 on the Bob Bentley trail was that we got him back again, and those opposite said that politically it was wonderful for them. I thank the good Labor Party for that, but I can assure them that wherever I go—and I have been to the trots, dogs and racing—they absolutely hated the former chairman of Queensland Racing that Mr Schwarten flicked everything over to in Mr Bob Bentley, and that was a major part of the vote that transferred to the LNP in winning the 2012 election. Mr Bentley obviously moved off, but they have replaced him with a couple of ministers who believe that they might know something about racing. I do not know what the previous minister felt he knew about racing, but I am sure he was glad to see a new minister get hold of the chalice. The fact is that this government ignores all the time that this is the lifeblood for country and regional communities. It is their social interaction. In some cases it is the only time they meet up. At Oak Park for instance, they take their two weeks holidays and that is their outing for the year. I can assure members that what we will get with only that 14 per cent representation will be demands on the thoroughbred industry that will put country racing out of business and back again in the dark old Bentley days.

Under the LNP we were going forward and country racing was booming. When the minister goes around those country areas, she just has to ask people how they feel about country racing. I can tell the minister the people to talk to because I know them all well. They might smile at the minister and tell her whatever she knows, but it was going very well. Country people were enjoying it, regional people were enjoying it and there was a philosophy that racing in Queensland could again compete nationally against a cashed-up Victoria and a cashed-up New South Wales and we were going in the right direction.

What is this government doing? It is putting the brakes on that and smashing it to pieces with the biggest sledgehammer it could find and putting in place all of these odd-bod stupid committees contained in this ridiculous legislation we have to vote on here tonight and saying, ‘We don’t like racing people.’ I will tell members how much those opposite do not even like racing, and Terry Mackenroth could give them some great advice: this year the Melbourne Cup—and Terry Mackenroth tried it once—is a parliamentary sitting date. That is how ignorant those opposite are—that is, that all members cannot share Melbourne Cup day with their communities because we will be in the House because those opposite do not care about racing.

 

GREYHOUND INDUSTRY WAS IN SUPPORT OF NEW RACING INTEGRITY BILL

BFRENTON WILSON, President of the Queensland GBOTA and Chairman of the Australian Federation GBOTA writes:

‘I take interest with Mr McCauley’s comments regarding the QRIC Bill passed last week in Parliament.

Firstly, Mr McCauley did promote the separation of the codes, but I don’t believe it came from QRUG. It was raised initially at the first racing industry meeting with Opposition Racing Minister Jann Stuckey and the three codes that started on Tuesday 15th December, 2015.

It was actually raised by myself and discussed with those from the other codes who attended, in which Rob Heathcote also attended, and he kindly put that message forward in interviews with the media, the following day at the racing industry protest on the 16th December, 2015.

Mr McCauley and QRUG continually went around Queensland and advised all that they represented the whole racing industry, including in the parliamentary hearings.

The reality is the greyhound industry never got on board with QRUG, nor did they take the opportunity to engage with the greyhound industry, a point I made with Mr McCauley at the last racing industry meeting with the Shadow Racing Minister.

To say that serious integrity issues do not exist across all three codes is being naïve.

The other two racing codes have been quite happy to hang the greyhound industry out to dry, with some even trying to work behind the scenes to have it closed.

These aren’t the actions of friends, and if Mr McCauley wants to look at the reasons why the QRIG Bill passed, then he should look at how the greyhound industry has been treated.

Although no one wants to report it, the greyhound industry was supportive of the QRIG Bill, we have a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy to any form of animal cruelty. We do not support the changes to the Racing Board, the greyhound industry wants self-determination.

Queensland is the only state where greyhound turnover isn’t up over 20%, and reflects the poor management of recent boards and where their priorities lay.

A flourishing greyhound industry with turnover of up to 25-30% is far better for the viability of all three racing codes moving forward. But it appears that the other racing codes only want to work together when it suits their agenda.

I don’t support either side of politics, most politicians either hate or don’t care for the greyhound industry. But the greyhound industry will not continue to sit by and be used.

If the racing industry is actually genuine about representation of the whole industry, not just seeking support for their own agenda, then they need to accept that the greyhound industry has some genuine issues that need to be addressed fairly and with consistency.

I don’t have an issue with Mr McCauley or any other racing industry person. But what has been apparent in my meetings over the past several months, is that they are quick to change the subject when they hear something they don’t like.’

 

UBET THE SORE LOSERS – A BETTING AGENCY THAT PUNTERS LOVE TO HATE

HARRY SEYMOUR of BRISBANE sent this email:

‘ISN’T it amazing when the shoe is on the other foot for the betting agencies in this country?

The minute the odds appear to be stacked against them they pull the ‘big brother’ rule and refuse to bet. This ranges from a punter who is too successful at backing winners having his account closed to sharpies who are exposing weaknesses in the system.

The latest example of this involves UBET which is recognized by most punters as providing the worst service of any of the TABs in the country and far inferior to the service provided by any of the corporate agencies.

Punters have complained recently that UBET has switched off its fixed odds product at certain venues. This largely involves harness racing where UBET is alleging they are the victim of a scam.

In defense of its decision to refuse Fixed Odds betting on same harness racing at Albion Park recently UBET has accused a group of 10 to 15 punters of placing bets simultaneously on the same horse at TAB venues on behalf of prefessional interstate punters.

“They are all part of the same group,” UBET spokesman Brad Tamer told The Courier-Mail. “We are happy to take people’s bets, but we have to manage expectations of returns to the racing industry. We are happy to deal with these people one-on-one, but it makes it hard to make a book when you have a team of people backing the same horse at exactly the same time."

What he means is ‘we don’t mind accommodating the mug punters who lose on a regular basis to us but the moment someone with some knowledge of what is happening starts to win off us we have to shut them down’.

It’s the same old story with the corporates when a punter has a successful run. They simply reduce his investments or shut down his accounts and don’t have to answer to any authority for doing so. It is their God given right – just as it is UBET’s to refuse Fixed Odds betting on races where they think they might lose.

UBET, already the last of the Fixed Odds operators to publish their prices, are a weak-kneed outfit that apparently even managed to lose on the last Melbourne Cup when the roughie of the field saluted. What an ordinary betting organization this is – and to think racing in Queensland has to rely on it to survive!’

 

‘VICTORIA WON’T ADOPT QLD KNEEJERK REACTION TO LEGAL LOOPHOLE’ 

PERCY SIMPSON of MELBOURNE writes:

‘HERE’S hoping the legal loophole that enabled several harness and thoroughbred trainers in Queensland to escape hefty penalties for positive cobalt swabs doesn’t return to haunt racing in Victoria.

Early indications are that the authorities in Victoria will not adopt the same ‘kneejerk reaction’ to legal arguments that swab samples were not tested at accredited racing laboratories. The racing media in Queensland has been quick to highlight how RQ was the butt of many jokes when it happened to them and now it was the turn of Racing Victoria to face the music.

Don’t count on the authorities in Victoria just baring their backsides to a supposed legal loophole like happened in Queensland where one could argue they gave up far too quickly on these positives. RV won’t cave in so easily, that’s for sure.

The latest news is that urine samples taken from three Lee and Shannon Hope horses to return positives to cobalt will be retested by the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Racing Laboratory after claims it was not accredited to carry out the tests at the time. One wonders why the Queensland swabs weren’t retested as surely the original samples would have been stored.

Interestingly, HKJC executive director Andrew Harding (he was formerly with the Australian Racing Board and Racing Queensland) told the Herald Sun there was no material difference in the laboratory’s ­method to quantify cobalt in urine before or after it was ­accredited.

Harding said the laboratory was instrumental in establishing the now widely adopted International Federation of Horseracing Authorities threshold for cobalt in urine and the ­recently adopted IFHA threshold for cobalt in plasma.

“The club has tested for ­cobalt for over a decade and has analysed this element in well over 10,000 urine and plasma samples over this same period,’’ Harding said.

“All samples from horses that have raced in Hong Kong have tested below the international thresholds of 100 micrograms of total cobalt per litre in urine or 25 micrograms of total (free and protein bound) cobalt per litre in plasma.”

It will be interesting how this plays out at appeals level and whether at the end of the day those responsible in Queensland will be accused of pulling the trigger too early in allowing several trainers to escape hefty penalties after being found guilty on cobalt charges.’

 

‘SHERIFF MURRIHY BECOMING AN EXPERT AT THE RACING TWO-STEP’

BOB BLACK of MELBOURNE fires a shot at Racing NSW Chief Steward Ray Murrihy:

‘ONE minute Racing NSW Chief Steward Ray Murrihy is taking champion jockey Zac Purton to task over claims that Australian whip rules cost him a win on Yankee Rose in last month’s Golden Slipper.

The next minute Murrihy is saying he wants to see more flexibility in the application of the whip rule. “It didn’t sit terribly well with me when you’re penalising someone for being one or two over and then in the last 100m they are hardly using the whip at all,” he told Victorian racing radio station RSN.

Whilst admitting stewards have no choice but to implement rules that have been toughened for fear of a backlash from the fruit loops in the Animal Liberation Movement, Murrihy can’t have it both ways. He either agrees with the rule or he doesn’t.

Murrihy claims criticism from Purton was ill-founded. “All this rubbish in the Slipper (Purton saying) if I had been able to hit the horse a couple more times before the one hundred metres I would have beaten Capitalist. I mean pigs might fly.

“Zac was way out of order and I think (Hong Kong chief steward) Kim Kelly may have tugged his coat pretty hard too. Zac might be better commenting on what's happening in Hong Kong.”

Is it my reading of the comment by Murrihy or is he having a shot at former colleague Kim Kelly (once on his panel but now the Chief Stipe in Hong Kong) over the rules that apply there compared to Australia? Interesting times if he is.

After he was subsequently fined $2,000 for over-use of the whip when he won the ATC Sires Produce Stakes on Yankee Rose, Purton rode a double at Sha Tin in Hong Kong and commented: “At least I'm lucky enough to be riding in a place where I'm encouraged to ride winners - it doesn't seem to be that way back at home currently.”

All the banter aside, the new whip rule was a major topic during the Australian stewards’ conference last week and it seems there will be a recommendation to Racing Australia for some flexibility in the application of the rule.

Rather than continue to be made laughing stocks of in the eyes of some jurisdictions overseas, the mail is strong that Aussie stewards want to permit jockeys to use padded whips more from the 200m without fines and suspensions.’

 

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the above e-mails should not be interpreted as those of JOHN LINGARD, the owner-editor of the letsgohorseracing web-site. That is why he has added an ‘EDITOR’S NOTE’. Every endeavor is made to verify the authenticity of contributors. We welcome any reasonable and constructive responses from parties or individuals.

 

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