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.

‘SHOULD STEWARDS HAVE TAKEN STRONGER ACTION AFTER 10,000?’

ADRIAN PATTERSON of BRISBANE writes:

‘IT seems pretty obvious that stewards in Queensland are having trouble coming to terms with or interpreting the rule which requires jockeys to give their mounts every possible chance of winning a race.

In the eyes of most punters and close followers of racing if ever there was a justifiable opportunity for the best stewards in the state to file a charge of that magnitude it occurred following the running of last Saturday’s Doomben 10,000.

Perhaps they were ‘gun shy’ after the embarrassment of Toowoomba Weetwood day when they took the big stick to apprentice Skye Bogenhuber and suspended her for two months after she engaged in a lead battle with top jockey Jim Byrne in the Listed Dalrello Stakes.

Many felt that Byrne was equally responsible for what occurred that day and although he held the lead at the time when Bognehuber was unable to restrain her mount, there was strong opinion that he should have taken a sit to relieve the pressure on his horse.

The Chief Steward on the day told Bogenhuber, a premiership winning jockey at Toowoomba, that it ‘wasn’t a good look on a big day’ and that she was lucky to escape with only a two month suspension.

The Appeals Tribunal obviously didn’t agree with his interpretation of her ride and after hearing submissions overturned the two month suspension imposed on Bogenhuber. One might say ‘it wasn’t a good look’ for stewards – especially the Chief Stipe – in fact an almighty gaffe.

Stewards with much more experience were in charge when the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 was run in embarrassing circumstances last Saturday. In fact it was the ‘old head’ and ‘highly paid’ Allan Readon, possessing that wealth of experience of working on panels up and down the east coast who chaired the meeting.

But neither Reardon nor his panel saw the need to take any action against either of three jockeys involved in a lead battle that to say the least was suicidal for their mounts not to mention what might have been more expected from three green apprentices.

Two Blue was expected to lead – it is the normal racing pattern for that horse – the same cannot be said for Fell Swoop and could be argued in the case of Hooked, at least in a sprint like the 10,000. But for some reason internationally acclaimed Zac Purton and Brisbane premiership winner Byrne seemed hellbent on leading.

One could argue the tempo they set gave their mounts little chance of winning. One has to question whether they failed to give each horse reasonable chance of winning – which that rule states. Certainly the stewards either didn’t think so – or didn’t want to overshadow the 10,000 with a repeat of what occurred in Toowoomba on Weetwood Day.

While the interstate racing media questioned what in the hell those jockeys were thinking in that big race in Brisbane on Saturday they could only place their own interpretation on things. The official Stewards’ Report had still not been posted on the Racing Australia website by Monday morning – so most were still in the dark.

There was some excuse made about a technical issue which prevented this from happening. Before we start contemplating conspiracy theories over the 10,000 fiasco, let’s just pose one question: Was there no-one at Deagon capable of posting the Stewards’ Report on the Racing Queensland website?

When it was finally sighted we learnt that:  

Z. Purton (FELL SWOOP), P. King (TWO BLUE) and J. Byrne (HOOKED) were questioned regarding their tactics after leaving the 1000m which resulted in their mounts sharing the lead and setting a fast tempo. Z. Purton stated that it was always his intention to allow TWO BLUE to lead, but his mount was unable to be restrained, particularly passing the 800m, and when HOOKED improved to his outside, his mount shifted out and made contact with that runner. J. Byrne stated that at the 1000m his intentions were to race to the outside of FELL SWOOP, and when FELL SWOOP was crossed by TWO BLUE he elected to move forward to ensure that FELL SWOOP did not improve and force him wider on the track, however after being bumped by FELL SWOOP passing the 800m, his mount was unable to be restrained and for that reason was forced to race three wide without cover. P. King explained that his mount raced in its customary position in the lead, however when he attempted to slow the speed approaching the 800m, FELL SWOOP and HOOKED improved to his outside and this resulted in his mount racing quicker than he had intended. Whilst stewards noted the explanations of P. King and Z. Purton, J. Byrne was advised that in similar circumstances he would be expected to take hold of his mount, particularly when there was a fast tempo set, to allow the horse the opportunity to finish the race off to the best of its ability.

At least on this occasion – unlike Toowoomba – stewards did give little Jimmy a slap over the knuckles and remind him that in similar circumstances he would be expected to take hold of his mount when there was a fast tempo set. One would have thought JB would have learnt his lesson in Toowoomba.

Trainer John Thompson obviously wasn’t as nice in his assessment of the Byrne ride on Hooked as the stewards were. He was reported as giving journalists at Doomben one of the quotes of the year after the 10,000 when he told them: “There was two Group 1s today, the race and the spray I just gave my jockey.”

Thompson – like many punters who did their hard-earned – was fuming after the ride of Byrne. “Months of planning went up in smoke in 40 seconds. I still don't know what he was doing. It was the biggest spray I have ever given a jockey. That sort of hard run can have a long-term effect. He told me (Hooked) was doing it easy. I have no idea what he was thinking.”

The same can be said for Purton, who surely would have been better served taking a sit on the heavily backed Fell Swoop which got so fired up it ended up dropping out in the straight.   

The first 750m of the Doomben 10,000 was covered in 42.21 – remember, that is from a standing start and said to be the fastest early sectional in the history of the big race – as Purton charged off on favorite Fell Swoop to the outside of leader Two Blue, with Hooked to their outside.

That says it all. In conclusion my only feeling is one of bewilderment. How bad has it got to be before stewards take action? One wonders if Byrne and Purton would have got off so lightly had the same tactics been adopted in any race – let alone a Group 1 – in Melbourne or even in Sydney where the retiring Ray Murrihy seems to have mellowed in his twilight years.’    

‘WHAT HAPPENS AT EAGLE FARM IF THE PREDICTED HEAVY RAIN ARRIVES?’

MERV LANE of BRISBANE sent this email:

‘I was interested to read the comments of a lady trainer who I have the highest respect for concerning the new track at Eagle Farm.

The warning by Desleigh Forster that punters should tread warily at Saturday’s Oaks day opener is indeed timely and echoes some concerns about how the new track will play from some leading jockeys.

Doomben has served the industry well during the all-too-long absence of Eagle Farm but has on many days proved an absolute minefield for punters. It has been far from a level playing field.

Here’s hoping that regardless of how Eagle Farm plays that every horse gets its chance. If it is simply a matter that those horses that have found Doomben more compatible to their racing styles won’t find it as easy at the Farm then I don’t have a problem with that.

What will annoy me though is if the wonderful Mr Chris Waller adds to his endless excuse book after a favorite gets done and a stable second stringer salutes: “My horse didn’t handle the new track”.’

 

THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT WILL BE ON EAGLE FARM FOR THE OPENER

MAX STEVENS of the GOLD COAST writes:

‘IT hasn’t taken long for the southern racing media to question the vulnerability of the new Eagle Farm track.

Officials have taken all the precautions they can but after a two-year delay the industry can wait no longer for the return to racing at Brisbane’s premier facility.

Here’s hoping any early hiccups with the track don’t steal the spotlight on Saturday from what the racing public have waited for so long to happen.

There were concerns expressed by jockeys – some more outspoken than others – about sections of the track not being ready for constant racing when public trials were held recently.

With the prediction of some decent rain before the weekend officials are putting on a brave face suggesting it won’t have any bearing on how the track plays – but one has to wonder what they really think.

The club has taken all precautions possible but rumblings have surfaced in interstate media reports about the track’s readiness for the big meetings over the next month.

How the track plays is now in the lap of the Gods. Some say it will play to the front-runners as Doomben has on too many occasions during the absence of Eagle Farm.

But at the end of the day that track has done a marvelous job filling a gap that became far too long because of the procrastination of politicians and administrators.

Two that should largely shoulder the blame will no doubt be there front and centre sharing in the accolades of success on Saturday. They are the local Member and new Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls and the RQ Board chairman who once did his bidding in Kevin Dixon.’

 

HAVE THE WHEELS FALLEN OFF THE J Mc BANDWAGON IN PAST MONTH?

JOHN BAILEY of SYDNEY writes:

‘JAMES McDONALD was ‘high fiving’ and carrying on like he had just ridden the winner of a Group One after Ghisoni saluted in the Glenlogan Park Stakes at Doomben last Saturday.

One could argue that they could have strapped an orangatang aboard and Ghosoni would still have won – he had that big a class edge on his rivals in what was arguably a fairly ordinary Group 3 for fillies and mares.

But more to the point of this whinge and that relates to the strike rate of McDonald in recent weeks. It has been a far cry from his performances during The Championships. In fact I read this week where his bid to become the first jockey in a decade to ride 100 Sydney wins in a season has stalled – some might say almost gone into reverse gear.

McDonald did not ride one city winner in Sydney during the month of May. His lone metropolitan success came at the Scone stand-alone meeting (on Alucinari) and then there was last Saturday’s solitary Doomben success on Ghisoni.

McDonald told ‘giggling Girty’ on the big grey in a post race interview that he was looking forward to riding Delectation in the 10,000. It’s history now that despite a breakneck early speed and the Chris Waller polish that horse failed to fire. But don’t write it off for the Stradbroke – the Waller horses have a habit of staging form reversals for no apparent reason.’

 

QTA WANTS INTEGRITY COMMISSIONER TO INVESTIGATE RQ ON APPRENTICES

AS Terry Butts revealed in his ‘Silks & Saddles’ column this week the Queensland Trainers’ Association has asked Integrity Commission Ross Barnett to investigate serious concerns that Racing Queensland is operating outside the Rules of Racing where apprentices are concerned.

The QTA believes:

(1)  That RQ’s interpretation of the relevant rules, and subsequent way in which apprentice riding permits at various tracks have been allocated, has been both misleading and deceptive.

(2)  That RQ’s actions have discriminated against some apprentices and restricted their opportunities to ply their trade in accordance with the gazetted Rules of Racing.

IN a letter to Commissioner Barnett the QTA president Ross Shannon explains that RQ has been operating with a five-tier category of apprentice riding permits over a period of at least two years - Full Metropolitan, Restricted Metropolitan, Full Provincial and Restricted Provincial Country.

‘RQ has made references to Australian Racing Rule 92 to support their case for this type of categorization. However, the QTA has reason to believe that RQ has erred in the interpretation and application of AR92 and is actually operating in breach of the gazetted rules.

AR92 seems to be quite clear in the way it defines three categories of license for apprentice claim allowances. The only categories referred to are metropolitan, provincial and country.

The gazetted Rules of Racing in Queensland also have clear definitions of which Queensland race tracks fall into the various categories of metropolitan, provincial and country.’

The QTA has requestedCommissioner Barnett investigate the following:

1)     Is Racing Queensland currently operating within gazetted Rules Of Racing, particularly AR92, when it comes to their interpretation and allocation of apprentice riding permits via a 5 tier classification regime?

2)     Why has Racing Queensland Stewarding and Integrity Department allowed this situation to operate for the past two years if it falls outside of the definition of currently gazetted Rules Of Racing?

IT is interesting that another controversial and important issue to the industry in Queensland has been left to the QTA to pursue while the Queensland branch of of the ATA seems to have remained silent.

The QTA only took the matter to the Integrity Commissioner in frustration at a lack of answers from Racing Queensland to their correspondence voicing concerns involving the existing rules. Emails to RQ’s Jockeys’ Advocate Shane Scriven; Racing Operations Manager Ross Gove, Head of Operations Declan Martschinke & Acting Head of Integrity Jamie Dart fell on deaf ears.

One can only hope that when the Integrity Commissioner carries out his investigation he gets a better response and some objective answers from those concerned because the chances are he won’t have a clue about the issues being raised by the QTA.

 

WHY WAIT ANOTHER MONTH FOR IMPORTANT RQ APPOINTMENTS?

OUR SPY in the DEAGON BUNKER reports that the word from within is that a new member of the Racing Queensland Board and a new CEO will not be appointed until June 30.

That’s another month and stakeholders want to know why this process is taking so long. Surely there has been sufficient time for the Government to name a Board replacement for Jim Rundle and for the process of hiring a quality CEO to be complete.

Even some in the Bunker would like to see all jobs thrown open with each of the departmental heads in particular required to reapply for their positions. It would certainly ensure that the best possible person available was found. I am afraid that the new RQ Chairman isn't keen to rock the boat and upset his head honchos regardless of industry feeling.

There has also been plenty of talk down here about just what is happening with that investigation into what occurred when stewards inspected their new ‘digs’ at Hamilton recently.

One nark is running a book on the outcome. He has it two’s on that nothing will be done and 20-1 that the identity in the hot seat will receive nothing more than a slap over the wrist.

Time will tell.’      

 

STORIES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED IN THE MAINSTREAM RACING MEDIA

FEUD BETWEEN RACING AUSTRALIA AND TOP BREEDERS SET TO ESCALATE

A FEUD between the country's thoroughbred racing breeders and Racing Australia is set to escalate with the multi-billion dollar industry's biggest identities on the verge of launching court action to stop them being subject to the rules of racing.

ADAM PENGILLY reports that FAIRFAX MEDIAunderstands a catalogue of breeders – including retail tycoon Gerry Harvey and advertising guru John Singleton – will march Racing Australia up the steps of the Supreme Court to block a number of proposed changes. 

Breeders argue Racing Australia's proposal would allow the racing industry to have power over the breeding industry, while stewards would have the ability to walk onto any stud farm they wish.

They have lobbied NSW deputy premier and racing minister Troy Grant and his Victorian counterpart Martin Pakula over the issue. A letter lodged with Grant included 69 signatures of NSW's most influential breeders claiming the industry is galvanised in its opposition to Racing Australia's proposal.

Harvey and Singleton have lent their support to the letter, stating breeders should be detached from the racing industry when it comes to lawmaking.

"I haven't spoken to anyone that thinks it's a good idea," Harvey told Fairfax Media. "I had a good chat to [Racing Australia chairman] John Messara and I said, 'I don't know why you want to do this, John? There's practically no one who wants this change so why do you want to do it?'

"Maybe it's not as big a deal as the breeders are making it out to be, but it's definitely not as big a deal as the racing industry is making it out to be. All the breeders I know are very responsible for their horses because it costs so much."

Said Singleton: "In the last 50 years is there even one case involving breeders dudding the market with fraudulently presented racehorses for sale? Does Racing Australia have examples? They have no reason for wanting to do this." 

Messara, one of the biggest commercial breeders in the country, fronted a delegation of his angry colleagues at a meeting held at Inglis' Newmarket complex during the recent Easter sales. Racing Australia chief executive Peter McGauran and Racing NSW boss Peter V'landys also attended the conference.

Breeders unanimously denounced the raft of changes, but Racing Australia is maintaining its hardline animal welfare approach. It wants all horses registered shortly after birth, in turn making breeders subject to the rules of racing under a clause included in stallion and mare returns lodged with the Australian Stud Book.

"The next board meeting will further consider the issue," McGauran said. "We can't have large number of horses unaccounted for and we need some authority over a horse's life cycle."

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia tabled its own plans on how the industry would police itself, including the introduction of an Australian Stud Book steward, mandatory 10-year disqualification for any breeder found guilty of an animal cruelty offence and an undertaking all horses would be registered within 30 days of birth. 

It has argued breeders should continue to be regulated under the guidelines of the Australian Stud Book – which was bought by Racing Australia in late 2014 – rather than the rules of racing, which currently make just one reference to breeders in more than 100 pages.

In its letter to the respective racing ministers, it described Racing Australia's move as a "power grab" akin to an end user trying to regulate a primary producer in the manner of "Coles or Woolworths being granted authority over beef and dairy farmers because they are the farmers' biggest customers".

"The proposal by Racing Australia would see a body which is completely unaccountable take control of the multi-billion-dollar industry, which is unacceptable to nearly every breeder I've spoken to," said TBA president Basil Nolan, who pointed out breeders had no representation at Racing Australia board level.

"Breeders aren't against reform, in fact we have put forward a proposal to work with Racing Australia to better regulate our industry. We really would rather avoid going to court on this issue, but the ball is in Racing Australia's court."


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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