Jenny - Clean

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.

WHY DO WEIR AND MOODY APPEAL MORE TO PUNTERS THAN WALLER?

JIMMY CURTIS of MELBOURNE poses an interesting question:

'WHAT is it about trainers like Peter Moody and Darren Weir that appeals to punters so much more than Chris Waller?

Perhaps it’s the fact that Moody and Weir come across as down-to-earth knockabout, likeable Aussie blokes while Waller – for better or worse – gives the arguably wrong impression that he’s a Kiwi spiv.

Waller (pictured above by the Sydney Morning Herald) and Weir are both shy characters who have risen from battler status to the best in their field – but that’s where the similarities end.  

Moody, another one-time bush battler now said to be finished with the racing game, continues to slay them in the aisles as guest speaker at functions around the country. His fans refuse to believe that Moods will not be back.

Weir might not have the stats at this stage to rival what Waller has done but the punters love him and are quick to point out that he does have a Melbourne Cup on his mantelpiece.  

When he does tip one to the public Weir is normally spot-on. He appears genuinely apologetic in the eyes of the punters when a stable outsider salutes. In contrast form of the Waller horses is near on impossible to follow as are his ‘tips’ which on most occasions are nothing short of woeful.

It has got to the stage in Sydney racing now where some punters are starting to vent their anger over the fence after races where Waller second strings – often backed for plenty – land the money and an easing favourite – which he has at times tipped as his best of the day – performs like a mule. Punters have had enough.

They rate his post-race interview performances and shedding tears when he wins a Group 1 as very un-Australian or that look of serious concern that shrouds his dial whenever he is asked to explain a form reversal or poor performance. It just doesn’t sit well with punters.

But in the case of the ‘glass hall full’ Weir, just as much admired by his racing media mates in Victoria as Waller is in Sydney, he comes across as far more genuine and believable to the punters.

And that’s despite what one leading scribe so rightfully quoted a punter as saying of Weir: “You leave him out, he just beats you. He’s one of those rare trainers that you back the trainer, not the horse. He’s just become an irresistible force.’’

They can write what they like about him in Sydney, Waller can break all the records even surpass the greats like TJ Smith, but in the eyes of the modern-day punter in the popularity stakes he will never live in the same league as Moody and Weir.

EDITOR’S NOTE: HERE’S a story written by MATT STEWART for the HERALD SUN this week on DARREN WEIR:

A PUNTING mate who has gambled his way through eras of many dominant trainers says Darren Weir (pictured above by the ABC) does his head in.

“You leave him out, he just beats you,’’ my haggard mate laments, then adds: “He’s one of those rare trainers that you back the trainer, not the horse. He’s just become an irresistible force.’’

It was a rare weekend of relief for his scrap-scavenging rivals, off the back of a Warrnambool three-day carnival where Weir rampaged with eight winners.

Weir won the first two in Adelaide but that was it.

He had a “doughnut’’ at Flemington.

Those who took advantage knew it was a rare chance.

Mick Kent had his greatest day out on Saturday with a Group 1 in Adelaide and a double at Flemington.

Others who now train in Weir’s growing shadow, such as Henry Dwyer, Lee Freedman and Tony McEvoy, had multiple winners.

Weir’s almost scary growth will not entirely shut-out his rivals, of course, but he is on the verge of becoming the most dominant Victorian trainer of the modern era. This, at a time when so many are struggling to survive.

When Freedman and David Hayes dominated for a decade, it was a shared feast. Peter Moody won a string of premierships but others, such as Hayes and Mick Price, were always on his heels.

Moody’s unexpected retirement has propelled the Weir juggernaut further.

He has no clear rival, flogging those who traditionally dished out floggings. The trainers Weir is hammering are themselves giants.

Hayes is always competitive and is closest but, with more than two months remaining until the end of the season, Weir is certain to win his third straight trainers’ premiership.

Weir has 82 city winners to Hayes and Tom Dabernig’s 65.

Next best is Chris Waller (34), whose satellite stable has swamped the likes of Price, Freedman and Robert Smerdon.

Weir trained 253 statewide winners to land his first Victorian title in 2014-15, trained 298 the following season and, with 264 winners so far, will chase that down easily this time.

It’s not merely the numbers that are daunting but the power of the punch, the reach.

Weir took two horses to the Gold Coast for the Magic Millions in January. It was his first trip there. They both won.

He has a powerful team heading to Brisbane for the winter and will have swarms in Adelaide over the next fortnight. He will unleash an army on the spring carnival.

He dominates with waves of runners at both ends of the spectrum; stayers — many of them now imported, jumpers and sprinters.

God forbid he starts buying precocious two-year-olds.

Weir has a phenomenal appetite for growth, one that belies his laid-back personality.

He has so many horses at Ballarat that you’d need a calculator to count them.

His satellite numbers at Warrnambool are swelling.

Once a trainer becomes the new go-to man — or woman, in Gai Waterhouse’s case — prosperity becomes both inevitable and untapped.

Look at Waller.

Weir, the bushie who once trained for bushies, now trains for the world’s elite.

Perth’s biggest owner Bob Peters now sends his best horses, the ones that have outgrown the west, to Weir.

Paul Fudge asked Weir if he could have a wander around his stables a few months back and is now on the books, along with long-time client Gerry “Jayco’’ Ryan.

Fudge is worth $640 million. He has many passions, but his greatest is horses.

It’s funny looking back at that scene at Berriwillock in November, of Weir wandering bashfully down the main drag with the Melbourne Cup under his arm. No one could believe “Boss’’ and Noelene’s kid had pulled it off.

Never has an image — of a shy bloke who got lucky once, with a roughie, ridden a dream — told a more distorted tale.

Footy fans are worried that Greater Western Sydney has been given all the first-pick breaks and will make the competition pay by steamrollering its rivals for years to come.

There are no caps or ceilings with horse trainers, just market forces.

And those forces will only make Weir bigger.

 

FANS OF RAY MURRIHY SAY HE MADE THE MISTAKE OF STAYING TOO LONG

ANDY WHITE of BRISBANE has this take on the retirement of Australia’s most high profile steward RAY MURRIHY:

‘MY friends and I have followed racing all our lives and were once great fans of top steward Ray Murrihy (pictured).

But like a lot of other top operators we would respectfully suggest that ‘the Sherriff’ stayed in the job for a shade too long. And now he is talking about life after racing – in another sporting field.

Those of you who follow racing in NSW – the Sydney area in particular – might agree with our assessment that Mr Murrihy has been just going through the motions for too long now. Why would a change of environment make any difference?

The ‘top cop’ of racing that he once was would never have tolerated what has happened in more recent times, especially the form reversals from some of the top stables and the second string winners from the multiple runners in the Chris Waller barn, often when he has a favorite that drifts in price while the one that salutes is well backed. Read that as you will but little ever seems to happen from inquiries and the punters have become more disillusioned with Sydney racing.

The writing was on the wall when Mr Murrihy’s son-in-law, Greg Rudolph, recently quit the Racing NSW stewards’ panel to become CEO at the Hawkesbury club where he will no doubt do a good job.

The jury is out on how successful Marc van Gestel will be taking over as Chief Steward when Ray Murrihy hangs up his pork-pie hat in June. He hasn’t exactly been all that tough in the role when he has acted in the absence of ‘the ‘Sherriff’. Here’s hoping another state is not going to get a Chief Steward – like Queensland – who just goes through the motions each Saturday without rocking the boat.

Speaking of north of the border well it’s about time that Allan Reardon followed Mr Murrihy’s lead and hung up his binoculars too. If ever there was the need for some fresh blood then the panel in Queensland is it. Punters have been walking away from betting in the Sunshine State in recent years and it doesn’t look like improving.

One might suggest that the answer would be to lure Terry Bailey from Victoria to either Sydney or Brisbane to clean the joints up or put a cat among the pigeons but it’s long odds that will happen. There is no chance high profile administrators likes Messrs Messara or V’landys would want someone like Bailey in control of the stewards and it just wouldn’t happen in Queensland no matter who was running the show, administratively or politically – would it Grace Disgrace?’

EDITOR’S NOTE: I am convinced that no amount of protest will make one iota of difference to the way integrity operates in racing in Queensland. My advice is steer clear of betting there and in Sydney and just focus in Victoria where it is a level playing field and as a punter you can be confident of getting a fair run for your money. For those who missed it, here’s a story by ADAM PENGILLY for FAIRFAX MEDIA on the retirement plans of RAY MURRIHY:       

THE famous pork-pie hat may be destined for the rack, but for how long?

As the state's top racing cop Ray Murrihy prepares to close the book on 46 years as a steward – the last 21 years at the helm of Racing NSW – he hasn't shelved the idea of his famous trademark headgear being carted across to another sport. But just not yet.

"I'll be happy to have a break and see what opportunities might present themselves – I don't like the word retirement – but I'll certainly be doing something," said Murrihy, who will step down on June 3.

"There's been a lot of opportunities from time to time I haven't been in a position to take. There might be an opportunity, there might not be.

"I've done some work with NRL and provided some advice to other sports and if that was to happen, well and good. I haven't openly sought that. I've done it more on the basis that thoroughbred racing has a long history in regulatory and betting matters and to assist in that regard.

"If the opportunity came that interested me, then yes [I would take it up]. Again I haven't really turned my mind to what will happen next."

But no doubt other codes will be clamouring.

Murrihy's most famous dalliance with rugby league came when he was asked to help investigate the Ryan Tandy betting affair in 2010.

And bookmakers have only stepped up their involvement with the country's biggest sporting organisations through regulated advertising as sports wagering continues to carve into racing's traditional market share.

It also heaped pressure on sporting codes to maintain pace with their integrity measures, which have long been considered inferior to the personnel and multimillion-dollar spend of the racing industry.

But having almost sifted through the dramatic cobalt cases that have rocked racing in the past two years – in what Murrihy described as some of the most "complex" investigations he has undertaken – the grandfather of seven is ready for a change.

"There has never been a dull moment," said Murrihy, whose deputy Marc Van Gestel has been named as his replacement. "I've been asked what I will do and this job I've likened to being in a front loader washing machine ... you're on the inside spinning around and the real world is going on outside.

"It's impossible to detach yourself from the industry for an hour, an afternoon or a day."

Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys described Murrihy as "the Black Caviar of stewards". He may not consider himself unbeaten in more than two decades of arguing cases in NSW, but there haven't been a whole lot of losses.

Racing Victoria's chief steward Terry Bailey, Racing Queensland's head honcho Allan Reardon, Hong Kong's top stipes Kim Kelly and Steve Railton as well as British Horseracing Authority's Jamie Stier have all worked under Murrihy's tutelage at one stage.

And he has endorsed Van Gestel as the man to lead the panel after his retirement.

"Importantly, Marc should have the reins to set up the panel the way he wants it and it just wouldn't have been fair if I stayed around any longer and he was left in that holding pattern," Murrihy said.

"If everything had worked I mightn't have been here two years ago, four years ago or five years ago, but I'm pleased I'm healthy and I suppose it's an achievement to be here for this period of time. I take pride in Marc now stepping up and he's an exceptional young steward."

Van Gestel started as a trainee steward in 1989 and was always in the box seat to take over when Murrihy called time after his other deputy, son-in-law Greg Rudolph, announced last month he had been appointed as Hawkesbury Race Club's chief executive.

"I have every faith in Marc's ability to step up to the chairman of stewards role," V'landys said. "Marc is an impressive professional and fearless individual with immense experience."

 

TIP FORMER TOP BROADCASTER WILL BE APPOINTED TO RQ BOARD 

DENNIS WILSON of BRISBANE sent this email:

‘THOUGHT you might like to know that the latest appointment tip for the Racing Queensland Board is retired broadcaster Alan Thomas.

Story goes he has long time ties with the Labor Party harking back to the days when shrewd businessman Ian Brusasco had plenty of influence and some might say helped orchestrate the return from the wilderness and the end of the National Party era in Government not to mention playing a key role in the privatisation of the TAB.

Politics aside AT has probably forgotten more about racing than some of the current appointments to the Board and those calling the shots at RQ or in the Racing Minister’s Office could ever hope to inherit.

Whatever happens if they don’t do something soon about appointing the remaining Board members and finding a suitable CEO it will be time for another election and who knows a whole new racing ball game.

Perish the thought!’

 

MOTIVES BEHIND NICHOLLS APPOINTMENT OF KRAUSE TO SHADOW ROLE?

DREW SINCLAIR of GOLD COAST has his say on racing’s latest political movers and shakers in QUEENSLAND:

'IT’S easy to see the motives behind Tim Nicholls appointing Jon Krause as the new Shadow Minister for Racing (in Queensland).

The fact he comes from Beaudesert is a blatant attempt to convince those concerned that country racing will have a voice despite the fact the new Opposition leader’s electorate is smack in the middle of the racing precinct of Eagle Farm and Doomben where he has close ties with the Brisbane Racing Club.

Anyone who cares to read the speech made to Parliament by Mr Krause in opposition to the Racing Integrity Bill which his mob lost on the casting vote of the speaker would quickly realize that his knowledge of the industry would struggle to fill the back of a postage stamp.

He echoes the same old political sentiments that we have seen come from many of those who have obviously prepared him for the job – like Tim the Toolman and Steve ‘furlong in front’ Dickson. All you do is bag the way any Labor Government handled racing, get plenty of bouquets when you bash the crap out of Bob Bentley and Bill Ludwig and, of course, talk about the wonderful job that Kevin Dickson and his LNP mates did when they were running Racing Queensland. That last one shows what little knowledge he has of racing in this state and that Mr Krause is simply playing the political game.

One feels for those on the LNP side of politics who are a furlong in front of Mr Krause but don’t get a look arguably because they jumped into bed with the three time loser Lawrie Springborg. One feels for Jann Stuckey who tried hard as Shadow Racing spokesperson in more recent times.

But what about John Paul Langbroek? Admittedly he has bigger fish to fry but surely they could have added racing to his portfolio which already includes Commonwealth Games and then of, course, there is Ray Stevens, the one that most in the industry would like to see taking on the Government from the Opposition when it comes to racing. But he made the mistake – many moons ago – of voting against Tim the Toolman and his papers are obviously marked not to have anything to do with racing.

After reading what Mr Krause had to say in the debate on the Racing Integrity Bill – you might care to reproduce it or parts thereof – it is obvious to anyone that knows racing politics that the one really running the racing show will be Tim Nicholls – and that arguably isn’t a good thing for clubs and stakeholders outside of the south-east corner.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: Delighted to oblige Drew – here’s the extract from Hansard on what Mr Krause had to say during the Integrity Debate in the Queensland Parliament:

Mr KRAUSE: I do not know why they are getting so excited about me expressing my lack of confidence in them. I would have thought that much was clear at this point in the term. Confidence is a very fragile thing: it is a very fragile thing in the racing industry and it is a very fragile thing in the economy. It is a bit like reputation. When I used to work for a financial institution I fondly recall that one of the board members used to say that reputation arrives on the back of a tortoise and it can be gone like a hare. I think we can say that that is exactly what has happened to the Queensland racing industry under the stewardship of this minister and this government. This government has shattered confidence again in the Queensland racing industry. It did it once before during the Bligh and Beattie years and now history is repeating itself.

Ms Grace: How do you know? You were not here.

Mr KRAUSE: No, I was not here, Minister, but I was—

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Farmer): Order! Two things: (1) Minister, I appreciate that you have very passionate views on this, but I am going to ask you to curtail your interjections; (2) Minister and member, I remind you that we do not have conversations across the House. Address all of your comments through the chair, please.

Mr KRAUSE: Yes, Madam Deputy Speaker, I was just taking the minister’s interjection. Who can forget the scandals and mismanagement that went on during the Bligh years and the fact that they destroyed country racing in Queensland. It was the LNP that rebuilt country racing in Queensland and put some confidence back in the entire industry by putting in place a board that was dedicated to building racing —not tearing it down and not destroying confidence. Unfortunately, we have seen the destruction of confidence in the racing industry yet again. The lack of consultation with all parts of the industry is scandalous, and the capricious action taken by this government to sack the entire Racing Queensland Board last year on the back of a scandal or an issue in one code alone is absolutely disgraceful. It shows that they have learned nothing from the Bligh years and Bob Bentley —

Mr Dickson: And Bill Ludwig.

Mr KRAUSE: Bill Ludwig as well —which destroyed confidence in Queensland racing. My electorate of Beaudesert and the Beaudesert area in particular has a big stake in the racing industry and the thoroughbred industry, and hundreds of jobs depend directly and indirectly on the racing industry.

Mr Rickuss: Don’t you have 120 trainers there?

Mr KRAUSE: Something like that, member for Lockyer. There are many trainers. It is a great industry, and during our term in office great works were undertaken by Racing Queensland under the stewardship of Kevin Dixon and the minister for racing at the time, the member for Buderim. A sum of $4.7 million was injected into that course to bring meets back and they now have over a dozen meets. It took an injection of confidence in the industry to be able to bring those meets back, to get the people back and to get more people training there. In fact, at Beaudesert their training roster is so full that they almost need another expansion already to accommodate them all. The Showcase Country Series was a great thing for Beaudesert racing and in fact for all country racing. The capital investment enabled more meets to come from other courses when there was work being carried out through other capital injections at other courses, which is all a great boost for the local Beaudesert economy. When the Racing Queensland Board was sacked last year, confidence in the local industry and the statewide industry disappeared on the back of a hare just like reputation does. When it comes to racing here in Queensland, the reputation of those opposite disappeared on the back of a hare around that time as well.

I will be opposing this bill because I have no confidence in the stewardship of this government in the racing industry. The racing industry has no confidence in this government’s stewardship of the industry, and we should all be opposing this bill.

 

BETTING AT COAST HAS ALWAYS BEEN A CHALLENGE FOR PUNTERS

MERV the MAD PUNTER from BRISBANE makes a long overdue comeback to tell of his punting day at the Gold Coast:

‘AS a punter who has vowed so many times in the past never to bet again on those big days at the Gold Coast I think I have finally learned my lesson.

I am convinced that on Magic Millions and Hollindale Stakes days it is near on impossible to win unless you adopt the ‘pick them with a pin’ method.

Last Saturday I gave the joint a reprieve but here’s how my punting played out on a day that will remain such a graveyard in my mind that I have vowed once and for all never to bet on the Gold Coast again.

The rot set in for me when Court’s Star turned in a massive form reversal to win. He had been beaten 11 lengths by Canongate (one of his rivals on Saturday that finished down the track) in a slightly weaker grade over the same track and distance when favorite at his previous start. He pulled up with a poor recovery rate that time – so I know how he feels.   

THEN we witnessed what could only be described as not one of the better rides of James Macdonald on hot favorite Impending in the Ken Russell Classic. He seemed to lose his compass in the straight and by the time he located it the race was over and the odds-on favorite was a certainty beaten.

BY the time we got to the sixth it was pretty obvious the track was playing to the front runners (despite the winner coming from near last out wide in the first). Now a lot of us punters had jumped into Coolring three starts back when he was a short priced favorite for the Toowoomba Weetwood but after watching him enjoy the run of the race he could not withstand the finishing effort of the roughie and locally trainer Choice Bro. On the back of Coolring’s third to Malaguerra in the G3 Star Kingdom at Rosehill he was entitled to win at Toowoomba. But he didn’t. Then he went home and last Saturday week on the goat track at Hawkesbury ran 6th of 9 behind Furnaces. Back up the highway to the Gold Coast and stepping out in the PM’s Cup the Bjorn Baker galloper jumped straight to the front from a wide draw and never looked like getting beaten. I might mention they didn’t forget to back him either. A bit hard to follow! 

I turned a blind eye to the horror stories of past Magic Millions and Hollindale Cup days and was convinced things had to take a turn for the better for us punters and jumped into the good thing of the day Hauraki in the big race. Disaster again, the punter’s pal Michael Cahill (he never wins on a favorite when I back it) jumps Leebaz straight to the front at long odds and never looks like being run down. That’s the same horse that at his previous start beat one home in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick. And before you tell me I know it was G1 weight for age, the track was wet and he had won the G3 Easter Cup at Caulfield a start early – not to mention he is prepared by the all conquering Team Hawkes – but I might add he did get beaten nearly 16 lengths at his previous start and was struggling to keep up with the Clerk of the Course from the home turn. And he had won the one race in 12 months in a close finish!

Almost out of ammo – but for the fare home – out came the mobile and onto the phone account with my favorite corporate – he’s the one that only robs me twice a month instead of five times. Find the leader in the last, there it was Takedown, trained by Gary Moore – it ticked all the boxes, it was a leader – at last victory but unfortunately it was too little, too late, but at least I lived to fight another day albeit it won’t be at the Gold Coast.

Perhaps my shocking week had finally ended. Thinking back I was a dill. The rot set in when I worked on the theory that once you’re a three time loser, your luck has to change. Sadly, that wasn’t the case with Laurie Springborg  - then again politicians are like horses – some of them are destined to be bridesmaids their entire life – and he’s one of them. I was tempted to try to revive my political gambling life with a hefty wager on Miracle Mal to win in July. But I decided instead that the odds might be better of me winning Gold Lotto.’

  

‘IF THIS GRUB IS FOUND GUILTY HERE’S HOPING THEY THROW AWAY THE KEY’

NATALIE SHAW of MELBOURNE writes:

‘EVERYONE is entitled to their day in court and considered innocent until proven guilty but if the charges against one-time trainer Bruce Akers are sustained he should be locked up and they should throw away the key.

Just read the allegations against this for Olympic wrestler and you will be sick in the stomach. This is one of the worst animal cruelty cases Australia has seen.

If ever the training review policy of Victoria needed to be changed this was a timely wake-up call. The circumstances surrounding this case are almost unbelievable.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS is only part of the above email that we could publish. The rest was with-held for legal reasons. Below is a FAIRFAX MEDIA story that explains what it refers to by ADAM PENGILLY, who is quickly emerging as one of the best young racing writers in the country:

A SUSPENDED racehorse trainer facing a raft of serious animal cruelty charges twice had a ban placed on his thoroughbreds racing or his license revoked – before being cleared to resume on both occasions – while authorities were warned one of his horses was suffering an extreme and rare case of malnutrition almost a decade ago.

Fairfax Media has seen a document tabled to Racing Victoria expressing grave concerns for the welfare of horses under the care of ex-Olympic wrestler Bruce Akers dating back to 2007.

At least one of his thoroughbreds was said to be suffering from a little seen condition related to bone density called "big head", said to be only sparingly found when horses graze on tropical and sub-tropical grasses which give off substances which act to bind calcium.

The calcium deficiency causes facial bones to swell and the head to become abnormally large.

The horse was an unraced three-year-old at the time, but was deemed to have sufficiently recovered to have his first start almost three years later under the name Mib.

The "big head" case was the first of two occasions Racing Victoria officials placed a ban on Akers racing or trialling horses or didn't renew his licence, but twice he was given the green light to resume training.

He still held an official restricted licence when the discovery of 22 dead horses on his Bulla property was made last month.

The second time Akers' licence was not renewed was when he failed to meet the minimum number of starters required in the 2012-13 season.

He re-applied and was granted another ticket in August 2014, but still did not have a single horse go to the races in the 21 months leading up to April this year. July 2014 was also the last time stewards visited his property.

The claims will only intensify pressure on authorities as to how Akers was able to have horses under his name – and still be classified as a registered trainer – given his long and chequered history.

Racing Victoria claim Akers' property was inspected on five different occasions between March 2009 and July 2014 and his licence only lapsed for a second time on financial grounds. They said there were no welfare grounds for him not to be later re-licensed.

Victorian stewards conducted 1127 stable inspections last season, an almost 200 per cent increase on the past four years.

In a statement provided to Fairfax Media, Racing Victoria's executive general manager of integrity Dayle Brown said: "We were already in the process of reviewing our trainer licensing policy before the matter involving Mr Akers came to light.

"It is now central to our discussions and considerations when reviewing the obligations of our licensees to meet required welfare standards as we too were saddened by what unfolded at Mr Akers' property.

"The welfare of the horse is of the utmost importance to us and the matter involving Mr Akers was terribly disappointing for all within the industry. 

"Whilst Mr Akers had essentially operated as a breeder over the past five years having not trained a starter since 2011, if we can prevent a repeat of this tragic event via the ongoing review of our trainer licensing criteria then we will certainly seek to do so."

Racing Victoria were advised the veterinarian sent on the 2007 visit, Dr Tom Brennan, was "extremely reluctant" to give the green light for Akers' horses to continue racing or trialling given the physical health of Mib and others.

Racing Victoria's integrity department, which included then chief steward Des Gleeson and his successor Terry Bailey, had themselves commissioned the veterinarian to visit Akers' property and inspect his horses at the time.

They indefinitely prevented Akers from racing or trialling any horses despite the trainer maintaining his licence until May the following year when Racing Victoria did not approve a renewal pending an appeal over animal cruelty charges which were being heard before a County Court.

Dr Brennan's report also claimed Akers was unable to trot the horses up for him because he was lame himself. Dr Brennan declined to comment for this story.

Dr Brennan is currently not practising and has been embroiled in horse racing's long-running cobalt scandal in both NSW and Victoria.

He has denied knowingly injecting horses with cobalt and has appealed a six-year disqualification in NSW imposed by stewards and a five-year ban in Victoria handed down by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board.

Akers was granted his licence back in October 2008 and the ban on his horses heading to the track lifted two months later after they passed a battery of tests by independent veterinarians on his registered thoroughbreds.

Akers was last month charged with 92 animal cruelty offences after dozens of racehorses were found to be dead or severely malnourished on his 100-acre property on the outskirts of Melbourne. He faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

Akers had been no stranger to run-ins with authority, sentenced to six months jail, suspended for two years, on three counts of animal cruelty involving eight horses in 2005. 

Akers' daughter Jennifer was also charged over animal cruelty involving four mares in 2002.

Akers is due to reappear in court on June 20.

AKERS TIMELINE

1993 - Ex-Olympic wrestler Bruce Akers first granted owner/trainer licence

2002 - Akers' daughter Jennifer charged over animal cruelty involving four mares

2005 - Akers sentenced to six months jail, suspended for two years, on three counts of animal cruelty involving eight horses

January 2007 - Akers' horse Born To Swing is euthanazed after suffering a fracture in an Echuca barrier trial, Racing Victoria place ban on his horses trialling or racing

March 2007 - RV commissions veterinarian Dr Tom Brennan to inspect several of Akers' horses, one diagnosed as suffering extreme case of malnutrition called "big head" causing swollen facial bones due to lack of calcium

May 2008 - RV does not renew Akers' licence pending appeal before County Court on animal cruelty charges

October 2008 - Akers granted new owner/trainer licence, but ban on racing horses remains in place

December 2008 - Independent veterinarians tick off on health of Akers' horses and they resume racing following month

April 2011 - Akers has his last runner in a race and does not train a winner from 91 starters spanning back to January 2009

July 2013 - Akers' licence lapses after not meeting minimum number of starters required for 2012-13 season

August 2014 - Stewards inspect property and grant Akers new licence

April 2016 - Akers still has no starters in 21 months after approved for new licence and 22 horses are found dead of starvation on property on outskirts of Melbourne.

 

SOME INTERESTING THOUGHTS FROM QRUG CHAIRMAN IAN MCCAULEY

Dear Committee,

THERE is initial disappointment in seeing the Queensland Racing Integrity Bill passing through Parliament. The Integrity Commission is now law and I am advised it will be physically separated from Queensland Racing Operations by 1st July.

It will be interesting to observe whether a bureaucratic system can be a success and prove to be a cost effective method of achieving a high level of integrity within the racing codes. Time will tell.  

The Minister had advised the then Opposition Spokesperson for racing (and I believe Parliament) that the historical cost to RQ was $14 million per year and that would not increase with the Integrity Commission. This needs to be monitored. Watch the budget papers!

The operations section of the Bill doesn’t appear to be greatly altered by the amendments.

During discussions with many industry participants over the past several months I can’t identify anyone that said they didn’t support the general principles of separating the codes with participants electing their own Boards thus enabling the industry to break the current debilitating master–servant relationship.

The even broader concept that appeared to be supported was to attempt to get bipartisan support for a new structure that achieves these principles and in doing so try to have the industry sheltered as much as possible from election results. The NSW and Victorian structures, although different,  do appear to achieve those outcomes.

An example of an operations structure that may very well suit Queensland thoroughbred racing participants that achieves these outcomes is attached. The current Act with some amendment appears to allow for this.

I understand that harness and greyhounds may still support the separation of the codes.

Con and I would appreciate it if any one of the Committee doesn’t think we should pursue the principles as described above please respond to this report accordingly. If the Committee give 100% support, Con and I can begin to test the water on Thursday next, at an ATA Qld Branch meeting to which we have been invited to give a talk.

This objective could be a key reason for continuing QRUG.

There are other lesser tasks including monitoring the performance and cost of the Integrity Commission as well as acting as a clearing house for clubs that are being picked off individually by either Queensland Racing or the Integrity Commission.

There may be other tasks that members of our Advisory Committee might like to nominate in order to give QRUG reason to exist.

Yours Sincerely, Ian McCauley –Chairman (photograph – courtesy of Herald Sun)   

 

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