By Godfrey Smith

SOMEONE close to Melbourne Cup winning trainer Mark Kavanagh needs to tap him on the shoulder and suggest that he should stop behaving like a spoiled brat or uncooperative arsehole every time the media tries to interview him.

Kavanagh has always been hard to handle but since riding shotgun with the cobalt controversy appears to have a giant chip on his shoulder whenever questions are asked about his horses or his stable.

It was a tale of two trainers when one of the nice guys of the racing media in Victoria, Warren Huntly, simply tried to do his job and glean some pre-race information for punters prior to race meetings on the public holiday Monday.

Kavanagh carried on like a prize prick, refused to directly answer questions about the prospects of his horses and it was obvious he even had the easy going Huntly flustered.

Ironically, one interview later Robbie Griffiths could not have been more co-operative in providing information on one of his stable fancies which by the way, unlike Kavanagh’s, wasn’t a well in the market debutante at Sandown but struggling to win at Hanging Rock.

Griffiths, on the comeback trail after a serious operation for a life threatening brain tumour, was pleasant and simply pleased to help punters out with some information. Kavanagh, obviously still smarting and blaming the racing world for his cobalt road-block, was petulant and burred up at any question that might help those who provide the prizemoney he races for – the punting public.

It’s time the racing media put a ban on Kavanagh because he’s not much more co-operative if a horse of his wins unlike his comrade in arms from the cobalt days, Danny O’Brien, who has put the past behind him (at least on the surface) and got on with the business of training winners and threating the punters and racing media professionally.

Is there a requirement when trainers are licensed to deal with the racing media (we realize there was a problem for a while when Lloyd Williams threw a hissy fit but soon got over it when he won a Melbourne Cup or two). If officialdom does have some say on this then perhaps it’s time they tapped Kav on the shoulder and had a quiet word with him.

If not it’s going to get to the stage where just about every punter in the country who likes to following racing in Victoria will be death-riding runners from this once great Melbourne Cup winning trainer’s stable.   



WHY is it the majority of horses that suffer cardiac arrhythmia and turn in a shocker always seem to be a heavily-backed favorite or well in the market? It just doesn’t seem to happen as often to the bolters.

There was another case of punters doing their hard-earned cold when the plunged even money fancy, Tunero, which looked the good thing of the day at the Sunshine Coast, was never in the hunt and tailed off last on Saturday.

No doubt we will be accused of singling out ‘champion’ trainer Chris Waller once again. But with so many horses some are bound to race below their best. They’re not machines but that doesn’t excuse the second string runners (backed at good odds) winning races where their more favoured stablemates get beaten and next to nothing is said about it – especially in Sydney where many punters argue that Waller has too much lee-way with stewards.

But back to the Sunshine Coast and here’s the official report from the race on Saturday that must have cost punters around the country a small fortune:            

TUNERO: Stewards questioned jockey M. McGillivray regarding the performance of the gelding, which weakened and finished a distant last. He indicated that after being slow to begin and over-racing in the early stages the horse travelled comfortably until being placed under pressure near the 600m at which point the horse did initially respond to his riding however commenced to weaken and shorten stride from the 400m. He indicated he eased the horse down from the 250m.  A post-race veterinary examination revealed the horse to be suffering from cardiac arrhythmia. Connections were advised that a veterinary clearance must be supplied and undergo an ECG, and also must trial satisfactorily prior to racing again.

At least cardiac arrhythmia is a more acceptable excuse than some of those in the past (for form reversals) like ‘didn’t travel well from Sydney’, ‘hasn’t settled in to new stable surroundings in the north’ or simply ‘absolutely stunned by the poor performance and cannot provide an explanation’.

Here’s a message for stewards, which they probably won’t bother even reading: Perhaps if you gave these horses suffering cardiac arrhythmia a month or two on the sidelines (a la the three months compulsory ban if they bleed) we might not see this problem so often. Something has to cause it and before the ‘experts’ start bagging us for being ignorant of the problem spare a thought for the poor old punters who don’t even get a run for their money.

They might as well line up at the ‘red hots’ at Albion Park where if QRIC doesn’t do something to put some of the panel there out to pasture and employ a hard-hitting ‘racing cop’ to clean the joint up – even the free admission will be playing to empty stands which it just about does on most nights now.

But from what we hear there is plenty happening off the track that IS going to make stunning headlines in the months ahead. Stay tuned!         


IT’S no secret to anyone who reads letsgohorseracing that we have three favorite jockeys – Linda Meech, Ben Melham and Luke Currie.

Linda lost her way a little after being unceremoniously dumped from one of the favorites for the Victoria Derby which actually went a furlong worse with new rider Mark Zahra in the saddle.

Ben is back in business after an injury sidelined him and has shown that he can match riding skills with the best in the country on any given day.

And Luke is riding the crest of a winning wave that has seen him ride feature race winners from Perth to the Gold Coast and in Sydney and Melbourne.

Over the long weekend all three showcased their talents – Currie with a winning double at Caulfield on Hanseatic and Jentico while Meech won on Vaucluse Bay then on Monday at Sandown Melham was successful on Sense of Humour and Currie on Blow Torch.

MICHAEL LYNCH reports this week for FAIRFAX MEDIA that CURRIE has quietly established himself as one of the top Victorian riders in recent years and is now hoping to show racegoers in Dubai and England that he can match it with the best overseas.

Currie's partnership with leading trainer Tony McEvoy has been the platform for his success. The duo has won major races with sprinters Sunlight and Hey Doc in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia.

Now the pair are looking to repeat those successes with ambitious raids on Dubai with stable stalwart Hey Doc and potentially with star mare Sunlight at Royal Ascot, the summer carnival that is the highlight of the English flat racing season.

Currie says he is now on target for his overseas raid and that Royal Ascot is also still on the agenda now that Sunlight is recovering well from after suffering a bone chip to a hind leg in the paddock as she recuperated from the exertions of her spring campaign.

A trip to Royal Ascot would also break new ground for the jockey/trainer combination but it remains on the cards for super mare Sunlight, one of the speediest horses in the country.




WHEN a lad's grand-dad comes from Clermont, he's worth listening to, even when he's talking about Thangool, population 741.

Raoul Burner gives Archie the chip, and your humble correspondent loves it. If the world was black and white you'd be living in the apartheid era in South Africa, and if there was only right opinion and all the rest were wrong you'd be sporting a swastika on your arm.

Being Australian is about loving democracy, and basking in free speech, and respecting other people's views even when you might personally think they're bloody stupid.

But most of all being Australian is about loving racing. Anyone who doesn't is a clown.

Raoul's not, and below is what he has to say.

Thanks for taking the time to write in mate. Keep sticking it up me, and keep up the good work.

You can too sportsfans. Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or John at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. and disagree with me or he any time you like. As long as your language isn't obscene and your views are cogent, I'm sure we can talk Lucky into printing it.


I read in letsgohorseracing you bagging the Thangool race meeting on Saturday.

The club and QRIC Stewards should be getting a pat on the back for their effort in having the meeting proceed.

Thangool was the only country club racing that day. The closest race meeting was Sunshine Coast 468km away.

56 horses and 17 jockeys got a run they would not have otherwise had.

The Stewards changed the distance on the Benchmark 65 because the chute was too wet and they moved all the races forward to get the meeting completed.

There was a storm between 10.30 and 11.30 with 6.8 mm of rain.

That was not the problem.

There was inclement weather to the north threatening all day.

Going home to Yeppoon after the races, between Biloela and Dululu, a lot of paddocks had a massive amount of water laying on them and there had been numerous flash flooding instances across the road.
A lot of local patrons would have stayed home because of the weather.

There were only half a dozen ladies there, so fashions of the field would not have been feasible. (A Miss Wet T-Shirt may have been an option with the younger group).

Only about half a dozen regular male patrons attended, plus the connections of the horses.

The day was saved for the two bookmakers by a bus load of blokes from Tennum Sands having a buck’s party.

My grandfather (who probably ran his SP book out of your grandfather's hotel at Clermont) always maintained that 'you gotta turn up every Saturday'.

That was the case at Thangool on Saturday.





By Archie Butterfly

GAVIN Lang is an absolute champion, a legend of the sport of harness racing who has won three Inter Dominion trots and four times been the nation’s leading driver. But he’s doing it a bit tough at the moment. Conventional treatments have failed to stem the progression of the rare form of lymphoma that’s trying to kill him, and at age just 62 he’s hit the home straight and it’s all or nothing now.

Gav’s going to throw the dice and try a unique treatment that’s only available in the US, which means it’s hellishly expensive. To help him out the wonderful folk from the Caduceus Club have set up a Go Fund me page. Their aim is to raise the 100 grand necessary to pay for the treatment, without which Gavin is 8/10th’s cactus.

Lucky and I urge every reader of this site to dig deep into their pockets and throw something into the hat to give a great harness hero a fair go at kicking back and beating the Jack Dancer. Whether its 2 bucks or 2 thousand, every dollar counts when you’re counting the days.

Here’s the link to the Go Fund me page. Don’t be shy.





ARCHIE BUTTERFLY questions whether the Albion Park harness racing Stewards’ Panel was asleep at the wheel at the weekend & reinforces the opinion of the few surviving punters at the ‘red hots’ in Queensland that the Chief Steward needs to go & some of his off-siders are well past their use-by date.

Don’t ever say you didn’t hear it here first

HERE We Go Again, and Again, and Again and ….Run Boy! Run!

I used to write a lot about what looked to an amateur (cough, cough) eye to be decidedly odd driving tactics in the first race at Albion Park each week, the one that carried the big pool boosting jackpots for the First 4.

It was obvious to me what was going on, but it was hard to get many people believing in what they saw with their own two eyes, so eventually I just gave up.

Not everyone did though.

So close your eyes and imagine this.

There is a $15,000 jackpot thrown into the pool for the First 4 at Albion Park last Saturday night.

The jackpot stimulates wagering interest in the exotic proposition so much that by start time for the race there is almost 89 grand in the First 4 pool. No other race on the night breaks a thousand bucks, not even the feature $20,000 Rising Stars final, for which the F4 pool is a measly $713.

There are only three horses at single figure odds to win the first race. Every First 4 punter in the land has the three coupled up in their bets. All a lad or lass on the make has to do is put two of the three on top and leave the other one out completely, and if their First 4 lands they are in the money, big time. Happy days!

Of course, to make it happen they have to get the one they left out of their Top 4 beaten, but that’s easy – with a bit of luck or bad management, Noddy will fix that.

Noddy is Peter McMullen, the eldest of the brood of McMullen’s, Dawsons and others from the same sire or dam lines that dominate the driving ranks in Queensland racing. He’s a damn good driver, as his pool room shelf full of awards and accolades proves. But sometimes Pete just has off-nights or brain snaps.

In the first last Saturday night at the Creek steering the second fav Run Boy Run around the track he appeared to have both. Everything just went to shit at once, and it was all his little sister Dannielle’s fault.

Pete was leading after a few hundred metres, and he was doing it easy too, but then that bloody Danni whipped around the field on the third fav that he had planned to keep in the death and caught him totally by surprise.

Who could blame Noddy for being caught out either? After all, no-one who went into a race with a plan to keep their rival out wide without cover would ever expect that the horse that he was planning to keep out would whip around the field early and try to take the lead, especially when it’s a horse that always gets settled early and then whips around the field trying to take the lead.

No, that just made no sense at all. So Noddy nodded off to have a quick nap, or at least that’s what he said when called into the stipes’ room anyway.

Dannielle’s horse’s rapid hoof steps gave Noddy a rude awakening though, so he pulled out the stick and shouted “Run Boy Run” to Run Boy Run and gave it to the sleepy bugger for a good 400m or more, driving him hard like you’d expect a top reinsman to drive his horse to the line.

The only problem was that there was still a lap and a bit to go, and Noddy had just made his horse run a first quarter faster than Popular Alm.

There was only one thing that was going to happen from here, and it did. By the time they hit the home turn a lap later for the real run to the roses Run Boy Run couldn’t run anymore. Like in the Cinderella story, his coach turned into a pumpkin.

And the very astute First 4 punters who had left him out of their bets got the pie.

All $7,902 of it.

Thanks for coming suckers.

Some of us have had a good night.

Run Boy Run NZ (Pete McMullen): Stewards questioned driver Peter McMullen regarding the tactics adopted, in particular the reason for placing the gelding under pressure to hold the lead from the 1600 metres through to the 1400 metres when challenged by Secretagent Tycoon.  Ultimately, Run Boy Run NZ was unable to hold out Secretagent Tycoon and raced behind this horse until commencing to weaken from the 400 metres to finish in seventh position beaten 20 metres. Peter McMullen explained that Run Boy Run NZ races best when leading and he was initially caught unaware when Secretagent Tycoon moved up quickly three wide from the 1700 metres. He said Run Boy Run NZ then had to build on its momentum in an attempt to hold the lead but at that stage Secretagent Tycoon had gained the advantage and was able to cross the lead. Mr McMullen further stated that his best chance in the race was to lead and to keep Secretagent Tycoon without cover, a plan which did not eventuate. Stewards advised Mr McMullen that he had erred in his judgement by placing undue pressure on Run Boy Run NZ when that gelding had clearly lost its leading position. Stewards were not satisfied that this one error reached the requisite standard for an unacceptable drive charge to be laid.

EDITOR’S NOTE: MEMO QRIC – If you don’t already realize punters have zero confidence in your stewards’ panel at the trots – the chairman should be the first to go and a couple of others should have been pensioned off years ago – their use-by date is long expired.


Quotes of the Week

“IF you have a gun or a bow and arrow, you don't need urban society to provide for you. There's something quite empowering, quite freeing about that.” – Bridget McKenzie, Federal Minister for Shooting Ducks and Spending Aussies’ Money on Shooting More of the Bastards, 2015.

“Only until the bullets run out sweetheart. When the magazine on the semi-auto’s empty and you’re out of ammo, and all the ducks are flying around shitting on your head, it ain’t real empowering at all. Not unless you’re the duck. Quack quack.” – Archie Butterfly, Bon Vivant, 2020


Joke of the Week (Cruel Joke)

THE QRIC was established for three purposes:

  • to maintain public confidence in racing
  • to ensure the integrity of racing and betting
  • to safeguard the welfare of racing animals

The harness racing whip rule was introduced to stop drivers bashing the crap out of their horses by striking them full force with a whip delivered with the full force of the arm and shoulder. Whooshka! Ouch.

It follows then that to properly safeguard the welfare of pacers, ensure the integrity of the sport, and maintain public confidence in the game at a time when it’s rarely been lower, you have to enforce the no-bash whip rule with an iron fist.

Agree? Of course, you do.

Then how do you explain this? It’s from the Albion Park Stewards Report on Saturday night.

Matt Elkins (Jumping Jolt) was fined $200 under AHR rule 156 (2) in that he engaged the shoulder when applying the whip on entrance to the home straight.  Stewards directed this fine be suspended for 56 days in accordance with QRIC policy.

QRIC has a policy to suspend sentences for drivers who flog the crap out of horses, does it?

Who signed off on that?

Matt Elkins flayed his horse with a whip delivered at brute force somewhere between eight and 10 times from the turn to the post by my count. Try walking through the ring at the Ekka and beating a horse with a stick and see how you go.

Bet you don’t get a suspended slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket like driver Elkins did.

When are these clowns in charge and those they are supposed to regulate going to wake up and realize that if brutes don’t stop beating horses to make them run faster on a race track, then soon we won’t have any horses running around race tracks at all.

Oh well. We can always tie the drivers up in harness and make them run around the tracks with a horse hitting them. Wonder how they’ll like it then?

Giddy up!


Why the Whip Rule Must be Strictly Enforced

IF you ever need an example of why the whip rule must be strictly enforced, and why the Stewards need to come down like a ton of bricks on jockeys who breach it, then just take a look at the replay of the action down the home straight in the main race at Caloundra on Saturday, the Listed Sunshine Coast Cup.

Not because the winning jockeys in the three-headed hell for leather tussle all the way down the stretch breached the rule by striking their horses with the whip more than five times prior to the 100m mark, but because they didn’t.

If any jockeys in Queensland had any cause to inadvertently exceed the allowable number of urgings with the stick it was Dale Smith, James Orman and Boris Thornton as the trios’ mounts Persuader, Niccanova and Scallopini drew away from their rivals at the 300m and engaged in one of the most exciting titanic tussles seen on a race track in this State all year.

This trio of gifted riders were flailing the reins like whirling dervishes and giving it everything they had in what became a survival of the fittest as their mounts went head for head, neck to neck, whither to whither from the furlong and a half pole, and the temptation to do a Dittman and try and lift their horses to the line must have been absolutely overwhelming; but they didn’t.

Jimmy Orman gave it to Niccanova exactly five times prior to hitting the 100m mark, and Dale Smith did to Persuader too. Young Boris Thornton – who by his ride on the winner Scallopini proved beyond any doubt that he is right up there with any jockey in Queensland – may have given it to Scallopini five times too, but I only counted four.

That’s not the point though: the point is that none of these three jockeys riding for their lives breached the rule, and the reason that they didn’t breach it is that even in the hurly burly of a battle to the death they were counting their strikes, and complying with their obligations both to the Australian Rules of Racing and, more importantly to the welfare of the animals entrusted to their care.

They should show this video to kids at the commencement of every apprentice school session, and the Stewards should show it to every rider who breaches the whip rule too, for as well as it being a shining example of top-shelf athletes performing at their very best, it is also the ultimate demonstration of how highly skilled professionals conduct themselves on a racecourse, and the reason that there is no excuse whatsoever for belting the shit out of horse.

Bravo boys! That was just brilliant. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back.


Stewards, Give Yourselves an Upper Cut

POOR Boris Thornton copped a nine-day suspension for careless riding for supposedly exerting undue pressure between the 1000m and 700m marks on jockey Matthew McGillivray to his inside aboard Crack Me Up, and purportedly squeezing him in so hard toward the general direction of the rail that Eminem had no alternative but to ease and check, thus landing himself three-wide for the rest of the race.

I reckon the Stewards’ finding was bullshit. All Thornton was doing was riding competitively, and at no point did he ever cut across Crack Me Up’s line without giving McGillivray the requisite clear length and a bit, and at no stage did he ever force him in toward the rail in a manner that could be described as anything other than the strong, hard riding that punters expect from the jockeys riding the horses they’ve backed

If Matt McGillivray lets himself get out-muscled by a curly little muppet from Melbourne then that’s his problem, not the curly-headed kid’s. If we scrub jockeys for engaging in a little bit of the old bone and muscle when prime positions in running are on the line, then what’s next? Do we start warning riders off for wanting to win races? Puh-lease!

Boris Thornton did nothing wrong other than perform his role as a rider to the highest of standards, and at no stage did he endanger any other rider or horse, particularly not Eminem and Crack Me Up.

We all know that the appeals system’s a farce, but if this kid doesn’t appeal then he has rocks in his head, which I find very hard to believe.

Thornton’s been hard done by, very hard done by in my humble view.

The wrongs need to be righted, and the matter set straight.

Boris Thornton is no cheat. He’s just a bloke who did his best and has been hard done by in return.

The kid deserves better.

 The punters do too.


Questions, questions and more questions – just don’t expect any answers

HERE We Go Again!

Saturday’s Queensland metropolitan meeting was held at the Sunshine Coast.

Major James Williamson was the Chief Steward at the Coast, and looks after the Friday night and Sunday meetings, but the Chief Steward of Thoroughbred Racing in Queensland, General Peter Chadwick, absolutely outranks him.

The pair sit together on the Stewards’ Panel at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.

Williamson plays the role of boss, and Chadwick plays one of the workers.

It’s a bit like General McArthur allowing the sergeant-in-charge of Nauru during WW2 to command the whole US and Aussie armies on the battlefields in the Pacific Theatre,

Mr Chadwick is sentencing his Queensland career to death by a thousand cuts.


The Man Who Rode a Double When He Wasn’t Even There

LAST year I wrote a story expressing my concerns about jockey Ryan Maloney taking mounts at weights that he wouldn’t have a hope in making unless he was cut in half and put through a wood-chipper like that bloke in the movie Fargo.

After somehow starving himself enough to ride at 55 plus an allowable half kilo over to land a plunge for DVD aboard Cotton Fields on Wednesday, Maloney was back at it again at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday and had to be replaced on two mounts at or around the same weight.

In what was a most puzzling ruling, the Stewards once again let Maloney escape without a fine or even a suspension when he had to be replaced on Queen Kay in the 3rd and Whypeeo in the 5th because he couldn’t make the weight, accepting his explanation that he was overweight due to illness.

What illness? Ryan rode in the first and he rode in the eighth, so how sick could he have been? And have you ever seen a sick person who puts on weight rather than sheds it?

It all seems a bit odd doesn’t it, but nowhere near as strange as the Stewards’ panel not chaired by the Chief recording Maloney as absent in their official report and requiring him to provide a clearance before his next ride.

Absent? What the hell? I’m sure that I saw Maloney ride back to back winners in the 7th and 8th races. What sort of drugs were the Stewards on? Were we actually all watching the same meeting?

Obviously not!


Wayne Wins the Inaugural Cyril

THE 46-year-old bush hoop, Wayne O’Connell, has never been the most fashionable of jockeys, or one of the more in-demand, for reasons that his five per cent strike rate amply illustrates.

The unheralded jockey is rather partial to a puff of the silly billy too, as his record shows.

I doubt that Wayne’s ever been named rider of the week anywhere, at any time, but he has now, for jockey Mr O’C is the inaugural recipient of the Cyril Small Memorial Award (the Cyril) for Ride of the Week, and deservedly so too.

Did you see the lad’s ride on the 100-1 shot Major Luck in the 5th at the Gold Coast on the weekend? If you didn’t, do yourself a favor and snatch a look at the replay. It was Cyril come to life on Vo all over again.

Wayne made his own Luck alright. He pinged the Major straight to the front, went like last week’s pay, must have been three times the length of the grandstand in front at one point of the race, and his crazy brave tactics almost saw him land the prize.


Sadly, he and the Major fell in a hole with about 50 to go, but hey they still snatched a prize cheque for fourth, and no-one expected that.

Bravo Waynie my boy. What a spectacle. You deserve a celebration.

Don’t go out too hard though son, and whatever else you do don’t bogart that joint.


The Race for the Title is On – Big Time

THE Brisbane jockeys’ premiership is wide-open as we reach the half-way mark in the 2019/20 racing season and is anyone’s for the taking. Here’s what the ladder looks like after the weekend, assuming that Racing Queensland has updated it.

37        J. Byrne         

37        R. Maloney

35.5     R. Fradd

34.5     B. Nothdurft

34        S. Thornton   

Jim Byrne sits on top of the ladder for a few more days at least with 37 winners, but with a badly broken leg certain to keep him on the sidelines for at least another couple of months his chances of snaring the title are all but Gonski.

Ryan Maloney is the par excellence of riders in Queensland and keeps kicking home winners week after week, but weight issues and the limited number of mounts they bring with it are going to be his big hurdle. If Maloney rode at 54kg you would grab your ticket and get in the queue now, but he doesn’t, so the big question is whether a jock who rides at 57kg can win a premiership? I can’t remember one, but I guess we are about to find out.

Robbie Fradd is well and truly in the race to succeed his brother-in-arms Jeff Lloyd as the State’s No 1 hoop and being a natural bantamweight who can comfortably ride a few kilos lighter than Maloney he is a huge chance of doing it too. All he has to do is stop missing those damn starts and give away running up arses. C’mon Robbie, it has to be for a bloke of your ability.

Baylee Nothdurft is a kid on a mission, and he’s getting there fast. The inevitable upcoming loss of claim might slow him down a bit, but I doubt it. Nothdurft’s grown from a boy to man in the past 12 months and his riding is the equal of anyone’s, and the firm support of the State’s leading stable means that he will get more than his fair share of rides. If he can avoid copping suspensions, Nothdurft is the one I would be backing to become the first apprentice in a long, long time to wear the senior premiership jockeys’ crown.

Steph Thornton is the wildcard. She’s been absolutely carving them up since Stephen Baster surrendered his license and started selling real estate to avoid it being taken from him and she moved north. The way she’s riding in such a purple patch of form at the moment put Thornton right in among the roses in the run for the title. Only a fool would write her chances of taking out the big prize off.

The dark horse in the title race is going to be apprentice Nick Keal.

This kid is nearly as tall as Ben Simmons so weight is always going be an issue for him, particularly in town, and Keal languishes down the ladder in 11th place with only 14 metro winners to his name. Don’t let that distract you, for the kids back from a month in the bin and he’s hungry, big time, as Keal’s quick-fire five winners from his past 15 rides show. If he can keep the weight down and keep out of the Stewards’ room I reckon this kid will be coming home with a wet sail.

Buckle in sports fans, this premiership battle is going to be some sort of ride. You wouldn’t miss it for quids.


Strike Me Roan

LET’S take a quick Captain Cook at the best and worst strike rates of Brisbane trainers who have had 50 or more runners during the season. It makes for fascinating reading.

Best Strike Rates

26.6% David Van Dyke

17.2% I’m legally not allowed to name this Brisbane-based trainer for legal reasons

(EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m assuming Archie is referring to TG – don’t think there’s any embargo on me naming him)

17.1% Robert Heathcote

15.8% Steven O’Dea

15.6% Chris Anderson

15.4% Matthew Dunn

15.0% Michael Lakey

15.0% Tony and Maddysen Sears

14.6% Trent and Toby Edmonds

Worst Strike Rates

3.6%   Les Ross

6.4%   Kris Lees

7.6%   Chris Munce

7.8%   Mark Currie

7.8%   Barry Lockwood

9.4%   Peter and Will Hulbert

These are the numbers.

Draw your own conclusions.


Been Out to the Races at Thangool Lately?

NO, me either.

A couple of dozen people visited on Saturday though.

They caught the courtesy bus from Target.

You’d just hope they didn’t buy a new frock at the big red and white center of retail haute couture while they were waiting, for they would have sadly disappointed to discover that there were no Aussie Day fashions on the field.


Hannah Phillips had a good day. She rode two winners and second, and walked away with $1,400 in her pocket, less petrol. With a bit of luck she saved money and the environment by catching the bus in from Target.

Rider Isabella Rabjones had no luck, but the kid still has the coolest name in racing.


It’s a Long Way Down, But the Ride’s Real Fast

MEANWHILE, up in Townsville the former Matt Dunn-trained Zamex, which only a couple of years ago won a pair of Saturday Highway races in Sydney, and ran second in a race to Niccanova in town, continued on his fast career trajectory to Mt Isa by running last in a race for the second time in succession.

Oh how the mighty have fallen, and how damn quickly too.


Tumbling Apprentice Budler Bounces Right into the Saddle

NO? Don’t feel silly, for until a few hours ago I hadn’t either and even then, I only discovered his name because trainer Edward Cummings declared him as the rider for Maggie’s horse Bright Idea in Race 7 at Goulburn on Tuesday.

Now Bright Idea is no hope in the world of starting – look at the horrible looking thing, she’s more likely to start in the RSPCA handover stakes than she is in a horse race. I’m half tempted to call them myself – but Damon Budler is a name that we all should remember, for this late starting 4 kilo claiming apprentice from South Africa has a bit of the real deal about him, and don’t you worry about that.

Just like Jimmy Orman, Budler is a former gymnastics star, but unlike Jimmy he did his tumbling and twirling on a trampoline, which if you think about it is pretty good training for a jockey when it comes to the balance, strength and c-oordination stakes. You wouldn’t get that in your tick and flick paperwork training sessions at the Racing Queensland-run apprentices’ school that’s for sure.

Damon the Trampoline Tumbler only hopped off the mat and jumped into the saddle to become a professional jockey about six months ago at the somewhat advanced age for an apprentice of 35, but he’s taken to his new trade like a duck to water, and is slaying them everywhere at the NSW provincials. ‘

He’s won on eight of his last 22 rides, five of his last 10, and four of his last 5.

This man is on fire, and he’s only just begun.

If he has half a brain Budler will bring his claim up here to Queensland before he outrides it, and in this quality apprentice-starved State he will rapidly become a big gun and earn enough to retire back to the trampoline by the time he’s 40.


ARCHIE BUTTERFLY looks back on a tough week for him on & off the track:

Grubby Does a Jesus v Lazarus, and Brings a Dead Horse Back to Life

DOES anyone remember my story about the suspicious ride on Helsun last week?

That’s the one Nathan ‘Grubby’ Day appeared to handle most peculiarly in the weakest Maiden in the world.

I wonder if the Stewards have obtained the betting sheets and finalized their adjourned inquiry into that particular slaughter job yet? 

If they haven’t, I’d strongly suggest that they obtain the tote and bookie records for Race 6 at Doomben on Thursday as well, for they may find these rather interesting.

Why Race 6 at Doomben?

Well, old Grubby and Helsun stepped up from their what-the-f*ck fourth in a Maiden last week to a Class 1 on Thursday, and wouldn’t you know it they just blew the field away.

There was no mucking round running up arses and into fences by jockey Day at Doomben this time. Open space on the outside was all the little bloke was interested in, and I tell you what Helsun liked it too, for he steamed down the outside to win by an ever-increasing two and a half lengths running away against a tougher field.

There are four things about the win that I’d like to say.

  1. Archie is not just a pretty face, and knows a hot one when he sees it
  2. Taking top odds of $26 early about a horse who wins like Phar Lap gives you a very good feeling as a punter, and lots more money to punt with
  3. Grubby Day should be punted
  4. If the Stewards throw up the all-clear on last week’s ride, then they should be punted too.


Has Some Bald Poker Bitten Off a Whole Lot More Than He Can Chew?

THERE is a very, very strong rumor floating around that a certain Brisbane boat and Ferrari lover has engaged a former footy player turned top legal man, whose name ain’t Tam, to conduct a forensic examination and audit of the books of a leading race club, and that the lawyer’s still far-from completed probe is showing up some rather interesting, if not somewhat peculiar, results.

Those in the know are whispering that a rather high-profile man about town with one or more well-known weaknesses may be about to learn a very hard lesson about the price of messing with men far more powerful than he.

Those without secret skeletons inside are always happy to have their closets flung open.

But those who do have plenty to fear – and a whole lot more on top.

Watch this space!


Here We Go Again

CAN anyone explain to me why a man employed and paid as a Chief Steward would sit on the stipes’ panel at a Saturday metropolitan meeting, while his deputy filled the role as Chairman that in every other jurisdiction would be filled by him?

I’m talking about Peter Chadwick of course, Queensland’s Chief Steward, who last Saturday allowed his already highly-experienced subordinate Daniel Aurisch to run the Doomben show while he copped the top coin for simply working as one of the plebs?

I have to admit that I just don’t get this guy Chadwick.

He doesn’t like officiating at midweek meetings and hasn’t turned up to one in town all year.

He does like being in the spotlight at high-profile meetings like the Magic Millions, and chair those panels; but at regular Saturday meets he often takes a back seat and lets Aurisch or others run the show that he’s supposed to be directing, which for a bloke whose job it is to lead is downright odd and bizarre and just plain strange.

Does Peter Chadwick actually want to be our Chief Steward or not? I’m for one just not sure. One thing I am certain of though is that there are plenty out there who do, including some well-known names presently plying their trade abroad.

If this keeps up it might be time that the QRIC Commissioner started inviting them to send him their CV’s.


The Best Kept Secret in Town

HAS anyone out there in reader land been to the Albion Park dogs lately?

You should, because it’s the best kept secret in town.

CEO Luke Gatehouse and President Les Bein run a great show, and are ably assisted by a bunch of great staff who are flying in the face of the common wisdom that no-one wants to go to greyhound meetings anymore by succeeding in bringing people back to the track in droves.

The food used to be terrible there until six months ago, but the venue has had a half-million dollar facelift, a new F&B management team led by a brilliant bird named Raquel has been installed, the food on the new menu is absolutely crackerjack, the drinks are cheap, the races are exciting and the innovative promotions that the club runs are wonderful.

Thursday night was green and gold night in celebration of upcoming Australia Day, and every time a dog wearing the 5 (gold) or 6 (green) rug won a race the club shouted the bar and every punter copped a free drink. What a great idea, and what a wonderful night was enjoyed by all.

A big well done to all involved.


A Huge Thank You

THANK you to the many readers who have sent cards, flowers and messages of condolence upon the passing of my dear Dad. Your beautiful words and blessings have brought great comfort to my family at this sad time and are tremendously appreciated.


Well Isn’t That Odd (gers)?

PETER Moody and Boom-Boom Benny’s old man Mark (aka Boof) Currie have been the best of mates since they were young blokes.

The pair grew up together in adjoining towns, Currie in Charleville, Moody in Wyandra, moved to Sydney together as teenagers to work for TJ Smith, and have remained great friends ever since.

Why, some even claim that Moods acted as a mentor to young Boom-Boom, and shared a whole lot of secrets with him, even the name, number and address of his vet.

I don’t believe the camels who cast this sort of claptrap around for a single second, just as I turn my back away from people who posit that there is some symbiotic relationship between the rise of Ben Currie as a trainer and the appointment of the former Racing Queensland manager Ogden as CEO of the Toowoomba Turf Club.

Some people are just full of sh*t, just like that Archie Butterfly who suggested that Grubby Day might have given Helsun a sore back in that Maiden, or that David Van Dyke might have a 30-year history of training horses that have been hit, although of course never, ever by him.

DVD’s an angel you know, that’s why he became Kembla Grange’s leading trainer at age 23 after just two years in the game, right in the middle of the era where racing in the Gong was hotter than the shots Roger Rogerson’s boys used to whack up the arms of drug dealers who were stupid enough not to pay the corrupt cops their rightful vig.

Anyway, there’s no accounting for clowns, so why waste your breath trying to explain to them that Dave VD was never for a second guilty of any of the near half dozen breaches of the racing treatment (drug) rules that he copped fines or outings for, and that it was always someone else’s fault, usually a high-functioning secret junkie desperate for some cash for a hit.

The same sort of cynical arse-holes who say these things about the Alligator man are now whispering that Peter Moody’s inquiries about returning to the sport that he walked away from after being banned for cobalt might be linked to the appointment of Blair Odgers as CEO at Pakenham.

What’s that?

It’s Blair Odgers saying it?

No way!

Why would the man who trained Black Caviar want stalls at Pakenham?

What is he?

Boof Currie or something?


EDITOR’S NOTE: PETER Moody confirmed to MATT STEWART in an exclusive on RSN in MELBOURNE today that he will be returning to training with a boutique stable of horses for a group of special owners to be prepared at a property he owns outside Melbourne.


Debunking the Myth of the Dud Flemington Twilight Meeting

THE critics (led by racenet’s Stephen Brassell) have come out in droves to take a shot at the VRC about holding a twilight meeting last Saturday afternoon.

Here are the facts and figures, derived from the Victorian TAB Win and Quadrella pools for the nine race cards at Flemington on Saturday 11 January – a usual afternoon meeting - and last Saturday 18 January, the much-criticized twilight card.

Hold onto your hats.

Saturday 11 January (Afternoon)

Combined Win Pools - $1.2 million

Early Quadrella - $204 000

Regular Quadrella - $1.02 million

Saturday 18 January (Twilight)

Combined Win Pools - $1.4 million

Early Quadrella - $220 000

Regular Quadrella - $1.6 million

That’s right readers, the total take on the twilight meeting in just these three wagering pools was $800 000 more than it was the week before at an afternoon meeting held at the same track with the same number of races.

The difference would have been more too – up around the million dollar mark – if not for the five-horse race in the Listed Kensington Stakes and the seven-horse race in the stayers race won by High Bridge, for the pools on those races were well down on the equivalent races at the afternoon meeting the week before, the reason of course being punters don’t like betting on small fields with compressed odds.

Every other pool was up though, by a long way.


Stephen Brassel Does a Terry Bailey & Puts His ‘Expert’ Foot Straight into His Big Fat Mouth

STEPHEN Brassel bagged the crap out of the Flemington twilight meeting in his Armchair Punters column on Racenet.

Under the headline Flemington twilight meeting hardly appetising for punters and the sub-header Twilight Meeting Struggles, this is what he said:

The Flemington twilight meeting experiment didn’t exactly fill participants with enthusiasm and that was pretty much the case for punters as well. Despite the best intentions of the VRC Saturday’s, twilight meeting at Flemington just didn’t work.

I wasn’t there but caught up with some friends to watch the day's races however by the time the second half of the meeting kicked into action everyone was getting ready to go out for dinner and totally switched off.

It seemed like most people were ‘raced out’ after Rosehill and Eagle Farm were over and the venue had emptied out before the first leg of the quaddie was run at 6.30pm.

If there were better races on it may have kept some people interested but the reality was it wasn’t a day or night meeting and just languished somewhere in between.

For those who wanted a day out to watch the races with friends most venues end lunch service around 3pm and that’s when the first race at Flemington was being run.

We’ve got another twilight meeting coming up at Flemington on February 8 and it's a Sunday. I wish them luck with that one as the kids are back at school and if you are finishing at 8pm I doubt that’s going to be palatable to the family unit at all.

But still, if the VRC didn’t have a go then they were never going know.

I think Stephen meant to say that if the VRC didn’t have a go they were never going TO know, but irrespective of the grammatical error the fact is that the VRC do know and so now do you sports fans, whereas Mr Brassel is speaking through his rose coloured glasses and his arse without having done a scintilla of research or fact checking, and is throwing out ill-formed and ignorant opinions that aren’t worth a pretty penny.

For the love of pizza, by his own admission Stephen Brassel wasn’t even at the track. How the hell would he know if the meeting worked or not? His credibility is shot to pieces before he even starts. Strike 1.

Brassel claims the twilight meet wasn’t appetising for punters, but clearly he hasn’t done the turnover numbers like we have above, so that’s Strike 2

As all good yuppies do our man from Racenet’s going out to dinner at six o’clock instead of knuckling down for an early evening of Flemington punting backed up by a night session betting on one of the best trot cards of the year at Ballarat that featured the Oaks and Derby heats and the Group 1 Cup, so there you have Strike 3.

Lunch service ends at 3pm when the races kick off apparently, or at least according to Mr Brassel. God only knows where he punts, but in the majority of pubs and clubs around Australia you can usually get a feed off the public bar menu all day long, and if not dinner kicks off at 5 or 5.30 in most joints and Maccas and KFC are just down the road, so what’s the problem? Strike 4.

People were ‘raced out’ after the last at Eagle Farm and Rosehill our man reckons. Really? What sort of Melbourne punter gives up the ghost after a crap meeting in Brisbane or Sydney ends? None that I know, and certainly not those who lifted the quaddie pool by nearly $600, 000 or the win pools on the last three races at headquarters by just a tick under a hundred grand, that’s for sure. Strike 5.

There’s another twilight meeting coming up on Sunday the 8th of February – when the kids are back at school – and clearly that’s not going to be palatable to the family unit at all pronounces Stephen. Puh-lease. When did the family unit not named Waterhouse or Tripp or the like start punting together? Do we let primary school kids punt at the TAB or online with the corporates these days? In what State or Country? There are a few gaming regulators keen to find out. Strike 6.

Brassel does get one thing right though. If the VRC hadn’t had a crack they would never have discovered that the racing industry in Victoria – and beyond, courtesy of State-based POC taxes – could reap millions of dollars more in revenue by disregarding the ill-formed opinions of so-called racing experts like Stephen and Co, and putting races on in the time slots where people will punt most on them.

Enjoy your fried rice at the Flower Drum old mate. You can catch me and the boys punting down at the Kuranda Pub after the last course if you like.

We do.

Like punting that is.


Kozzi Kozzi Kozzi – Oi! Oi! Oi!

KOZZIE Asano is the toast of the town in New Zealand right now.

The kid is kicking the senior jockeys’ arses on the national premiership, and taking riders of the ilk of Opie Bosson, Leith Innes, Michael Coleman, Lisa Allpress and Sam Collett to town.

A few years ago he tried to get a license to ride in Queensland, but the brilliant judges in charge of the apprentice jockey ranks in the Sunshine State didn’t want him, and the potential masters (and mistresses) up here didn’t either, despite the entreaties of good judges like my mate Greg down at Deagon who was pushing Kozzie’s barrow.

More fool the fools hey?

Kozzie has ridden 70 winners already to put himself 16 wins ahead in the open jockeys’ premiership race a week out from the turn of the season, and is at unbackable odds to lead the cream of the senior riding pack home, and in the process become both the first kid since J-Mac to win to the title and to kick 100 plus winners home.

All this from a kid that Racing Queensland deemed not even good enough to ride in the bush.

A picture paints a thousand words they say.

 If it’s true, then a premiership title paints a million more.

EDITOR’S NOTE: SADLY the RQ Licensing folk are considering relicensing that grub Dan Nikolic to return to riding in North Queensland where he reportedly has the backing of an influential businessman who should know better. A tweet did the rounds on Friday claiming Nikolic had been granted a license. Fortunately it was a hoax – fortunately that is for QRIC who can make enemies without losing fans like us who are keen to support them.   


18 Months for Equine Murder? – You Get Longer Sentences for Stealing a Packet of Chips

‘ONE of the great issues that racing is gunna have in the next five years is animal welfare, and we’re going to be proactive in ensuring that we have the world’s best practice in that regard’ – Peter V’landys, Racing NSW CEO, 2019

Anyone who has ever read my crap knows that I am a huge fan of the Racing NSW CEO Peter V’Landys.

Pete is the king of the hill when it comes to racing administration, and he has done more for the thoroughbred (and harness) codes than any other person in charge of either code in this country, ever.

Mr V’Landys brilliance doesn’t make him Peter Perfect however. Even Christ had failings, and Achilles had a heel.

Peter’s is animal welfare.

Does anyone – Peter V’Landys included – truly believe that the world’s best practice on all matters animal welfare includes sentencing dastardly horse killers who drive their Triggers, Silvers, Eds, Phar Laps and Winx’s to the glue factory in their own floats to just an 18 month disqualification for their murderous might be/should be crimes?

To any reasonable person the answer of course is no. Taking a gorgeous four-legged lottery participant to be slaughtered when they become no longer economically advantageous to you is abhorrent, and an utter repudiation of all that decent minded horse lovers hold dear.

A small-time, no-name, bum country trainer named Ian Symons who had trained just 31 winners in almost 30 years since he was granted a license by Racing NSW s clearly not a horse lover, or at least not one in the sense that you and I are.

For a couple of years Symons trained a slow horse named Snippet Assured. It was no good, racing 20 times over four years for zero wins and just four placings in the bush, earning only 15,000 bucks in prizemoney, a pittance when compared to the price of buying and training the slow mule of a thing.

It didn’t mean that he had to die though.

But Snippet Assured did.

Trainer Symons killed him. He drove him to the knackers, copped a bit of cash in hand for his soon to be cactus carcass, and then drove away.

His offsider Rachel Wotzlaw, a registered stable hand, messaged the lessees of the horse to tell them that the old bugger had been sent to live with a bunch of warm-hearted slow horse re-homers who would love and care for old Snippets until his dying day.

She was lying through her teeth of course.

Symons copped two years from the Stewards for driving a horse to its death. The penalty was reduced by six months in recognition of his plea of guilty to horse murder, as all horse killers’ sentences should be, especially when they have been sprung bang to rights and have no option.

Wotzlaw was given six months for her role as an accessory after the fact. It was reduced to four because she put her hand up when she had no other option too.

Racing NSW is all about the best practice standards in animal welfare for sure.

Just ask Peter V’Landys.


Be Careful What You Wish For Blood Suckers, Because You Just Might Get It           

IN the week since I wrote an article probing the inexplicably late arrival of Alligator Blood at the Gold Coast racecourse, crash or no crash, and raising issues about why the star colt travelled to the track on its own rather than with its stablemate engaged in the event two races before, the Editor of this site Lucky Lingard has been inundated with emails calling me a Karmichael Hunt and claiming that I wouldn’t know shit from clay about Elephant Juice, history, 23-year-old junkies who rise from nothing to become premiership winners within two years at a track that was rife with wretchedness, trainers who repeatedly record winning strike rates in the one in four range, and half-clever folk who get tips about forthcoming troubles and lay forward defences.

Strangely, these abusive messages that may or may not have been intended to intimidate either Lucky, yours truly, or both – good luck is all I can say – all seem to have come from similar IP addresses, which either shows that the sender is a fucking idiot, or that they are too old and dumb to understand how computers world.

Whatever – their loss is my gain.

One thing that appears abundantly clear is that the senders don’t realise that I used to live in Sydney and the Gong in the late 80’s and along with my sidekick Simon hustled pool for a living, so we could forge a bank to enjoy our afternoons at the track.

You meet a lot of interesting people when you travel around at night with pool cues trying to do the best you can, like to partake in a puff or snort or two on your travels, and wake up each day at noon and head for brekky at this race track or that, don’t you worry about that.

Not unless your name is Dave anyway.

Know what I mean?


Jason and the Argonauts

THE aged gelding San Carlo is almost certainly the most-over rated pacer in Australia, and the reason is that the most over-rated racing commentator in the country Jason Bonnington continues to spruik the never-was walker at every opportunity he gets.

Now it goes without saying that anyone who needs to listen to Bonno’s opinion to help them find a winner at the trots should just give up punting. He’s a joker and a fool, and a loud-mouthed goose at that, and if the bloke could pick winners then he wouldn’t be spending his Saturday nights at wind-blown tracks so far west of Melbourne that they might as well be in the Nullabor. He’d have a decent haircut, a proper shave, a decent set of threads and a set of elocution lessons behind him too.

But Jason doesn’t, and that’s because he doesn’t really have a clue. Which is the precise reason that he reckons that San Carlo is a Grand Circuit pacer and a champion in waiting, even though the thrice broken down and busted standardbred hasn’t won a race in the big city for two years, and probably never again will.

Bonno the Clown was tipping San Carlo to win an Inter Dominion not that long ago. As usual he was wide of the mark, but no-one was surprised.

San Carlo did however record a huge victory at Mildura this week. Massive it was, a $7,000 race in which he led, kicked and won by the length of Archie’s appendage. He ran great time too, only 0.1 seconds slower than the future Hall of Famer Renaissance Art, winner of four from 32, ran in the NR 55-61 event over the same distance a couple of races later.

Barry and Belle are just shaking in their boots.




THE TOWNSVILLE TURF CLUB has been caught in the cross-fire of some controversial publicity in recent times so we decided to ask President MALCOLM PETROFSKI for an update on what is happening at Cluden and here is his response:

IT’S almost a year now since the flood and after a very thorough process of planning the rebuild is well underway. 

The rebuild will provide for the Townsville Turf Club long into the future. The quickest solution was to just rebuild what was onsite, but the committee decided to rebuild for the future.

 We are undertaking other build projects in parallel to the insurance rebuild and these include a new jockey and stewards’ facility, improved parking and road access for trainers and the new parade area so the public can now be part of the atmosphere of live racing.

A successful Federal Government grant application, matched by RQ and a larger amount from TTC will now see brand new jockey and steward facilities built, with equal floor space for both female and male jockeys.  This move has freed up space in the Members’ Grandstand for an amazing dining area.  

The Members’ grandstand will not only house a dining facility, but also a sports bar with plenty of glassed viewing onto the parade ring and track. The TAB has been very supportive with a new fit-out in both the upstairs and downstairs areas of the Members’ grandstand. This building will be a show case for our club and be able to operate on any day of the week not just race days.

The old grandstand and Party King area will also undergo a transformation, and this will take it back closer to its original form while keeping some of the modern necessities. It is planned for the new day stall tie-up area to be directly behind this stand again giving the public a chance to visit trainers and view their horses from the safety of undercover walkways. No longer will many of the horses be hidden away from the public.

Infrastructure on the site both above ground and below will now be reliable and state of the art with many power saving features. Concrete pathways will lead patrons around the site and remove the many trip hazards that we had before. There will be lifts, ramps and designated parking areas to assist with access.  Special consideration has been given to ensuring as much infrastructure as possible is set above the one in 500-year flood level, including the main communications room and the power board will be kept high and dry.

The planning process has been long and very detailed including working extensively with heritage departments, planning departments, architects, insurance forensic accountants and project managers. It’s important to remember that this was not a planned rebuild so we did not have 12 months to get ready.

Insurance companies don’t give large sums of money to the insured party to carry out the work, the vast majority goes direct to the lead contractor who makes all payments after sign off from the loss adjuster and forensic accountant team. This also takes time. The Club is using all its available funds to achieve the best possible outcome for industry and the community. We do not have the luxury to draw on the Racing Infrastructure Fund for our upgrade.

There has certainly been a lot going on and all the while we have been lucky to continue to race on what has been described as the best track in Queensland now with our average starters per race continuing to improve.

TTC look forward to seeing everyone soon at the new Cluden Park where the beer will be even colder and the view even better than before.



OUR thoughts are with ARCHIE BUTTERFLY, his beautiful wife MAGGIE & their family who lost their beloved father, grand-father & best mate & Archie's No 1 fan, his dad - one of nature's gentlemen - this week after a long battle with illness. Our deepest sympathy to the SHEEHAN family at this sad time - MAY HE REST IN PEACE. 




 IF SKY Channel is handed exclusivity to cover racing in Queensland under the new media rights deal then the Sunshine State deserves what it gets.

Forget about the supposed ‘big stick’ approach of demanding improved treatment from SKY, there’s a need to spread the coverage around.

Perhaps it isn’t economical to share the new contract among SKY, Racing.com and free to air coverage but that’s the only answer that will ensure Queensland gets a fair deal.

This is the chance to end the second-hand treatment Queensland receives from SKY for its loyalty courtesy of the reported orders from Peter V’landys whereby the secondary, crap meeting outside of Sydney is given preference of coverage over the major metropolitan meeting in the north. It’s simply not good enough and has to end.

But it won’t if the RQ decision is influenced by CEO Brendan Parnell, a former boss at SKY who arguably will be pushing for his old mates to win the contract back. And don’t expect any favours from Mr V’landys who associates say is not a big fan of Brisbane Racing Club chairman Neville Bell.

Fortunately, there are still some influential identities in Queensland racing prepared to have their say and one of those top trainer Rob Heathcote believes an improved new media rights deal is essential to safeguard the future of the industry in the north.

Heathcote has been openly critical of racing officials in Queensland and was one of the leaders of a strike last year which resulted in an increase in prize money from the Point Of Consumption tax. He was also outspoken about the state of the previous Eagle Farm track and the debacle which finally saw the on-going and embarrassing problems corrected.

The media rights for Queensland racing are up for renewal by June. There is a consensus among Queensland industry stakeholders that the current SKY Racing coverage favours second-tier NSW meetings ahead of Brisbane metropolitan races with pre and post-race interviews. This was highlighted again on Saturday when the parade ring coverage of Eagle Farm was relegated in some races to subscription channel SKY2 while viewers were bored shitless with a seemingly endless preview of some back of Bourke secondary meeting outside Sydney.

Heathcote said it was vital Queensland received the best possible deal when the new contract was signed. “It doesn't matter if the new contract goes to SKY, Racing.com, free-to-air, or a combination of all three,’’ he told AAP. “What must be assured is we get a guarantee of the best coverage and the most money for the industry.”

There are many stakeholders who insist that means keeping Brendan Parnell out of the negotiations because of a perception he will still have a conflict of interest after working for SKY which is known to despise Racing.com.

An interesting sidelight saw this column piece written by Richie Callander on the super popular racenet website last week:

MARY Bell led the way for many women when she was elected to the board of the Melbourne Racing Club in 1993 holding the position of Vice-Chairman between 2006-09.

It was great to see her on the Gold Coast last week but it was her husband Neville, current chairman of the Brisbane Racing Club sitting alongside former MRC Chairman Mike Symons, a man with a huge amount of influence at Racing.com at the Magic Millions Sales that sent a buzz around the ring.

There were big crowd in attendance each day and Neville and Mike chatting didn’t go unnoticed by many in the arena.

The Queensland media rights are close to being decided so the long discussion certainly drew the attention of many.

“Sounds good. We barely get a mention in Adelaide at present so if Brisbane joins that may be the end of us”, a prominent South Aussie trainer who was nearby quipped.

With a re-shuffle of the deck chairs soon to take place at the good ship Radio 4TAB perhaps the involvement of Racing.com would provide openings for a few high profile identities who might be looking for new jobs, spearheaded by race-caller David Fowler.



ARCHIE BUTTERFLY somehow found the time to review the week in racing & harness racing despite an interlude (picture courtesy of the Paparazzi) with an Amazonian Princess - read his account of what happened further down in the column:

We Are Very Confused Commissioner – Please Explain

ON Friday morning the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission issued a press release about two dead and two very ill horses.

This is what it said:

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) has issued an animal welfare direction to the owners of two currently registered thoroughbred race horses found in various stages of neglect at a Pimpama property.

The Commission’s veterinarian and Integrity Investigations Team (IIT) attended the property earlier this week after the case was referred from the RSPCA.

Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett said sadly, one registered race horse had died on the property prior to Commission staff attending and due to the poor condition of a second horse, it was humanely euthanized yesterday.

“Two horses remain in a serious condition and arrangements are in place for their care,” he said.

“Whenever the Commission receives an animal welfare report, the response is swift and in this case it was immediate.”

Commissioner Barnett said an animal welfare direction has been issued directing the owners to immediately increase nutritional and feed intake under veterinary advice and to further address the health of the horses under the guidance of a veterinarian.

“Any change in the horses’ condition must be reported to the Commission and the owners must not move them from the Pimpama property without approval,” he said.

“The RSPCA referred the case to the Commission when it was established the horses are currently registered as race horses,” he said.

A couple of hours later the QRIC issued another press release labeled a clarification.

This is what it said:

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) would like to clarify that the owners of the Pimpama property where two horses were the subject of an animal welfare direction today are in no way responsible for the neglected horses.

The horses are on agistment only at the Pimpama property.

The owners of the horses to which the animal welfare direction was directed do not reside on the property.

The property owner has been co-operative in assisting the Commission in this investigation and the on-going care of the neglected horses.

There is a bit of an issue here – a big one really.

Racing industry folk will understand immediately what the problem is with the clarification, but for the benefit of casual followers of racing allow me to explain.

No, on second thoughts, let’s allow Business Queensland to explain, for the information relayed by  that august organisation cannot possibly be explained away and discarded as the works of an alleged malcontent hippie racing writer with a series of ill-explained or described grievances against those involved in the sport for which the hippie has had a life-long love.

Agistment is an arrangement that two parties enter into when an animal is taken and fed or pastured for payment.

When agisting an animal, both the animal owner and property owner may be a 'person in charge' and so have a duty of care to the animal. Whether you are agisting an animal on someone else's property or providing agistment on your property, both parties must agree on and understand their responsibilities. If you fail to meet your duty of care, the animal could suffer and you could be charged with an offence.

Agistment is an arrangement whereby the owner of a property takes in an animal to be fed and pastured. Both the property owner and the owner of the animal have a duty of care to ensure that it is properly fed, watered and cared for.

Simple really, isn’t it?

I pay someone like the retired harness racing legend Kevin Thomas to look after my horse at his Washpool Lodge property while it’s spelling, and KT does exactly what I’m paying him to do and looks after the horse in an outstanding manner.

That’s what agistment is. Owners of horses don’t agist their own horses, unless they do it on their own property. They pay fine, upstanding and highly reputable people with a commitment to ensuring the best welfare of animals at all times to do it for them because they don’t have the land, skills, time or labour to do it themselves.

What part of that don’t the QRIC understand?

All of it seemingly!

Now I don’t know the particular circumstances of this case, or who the owner of either the neglected horses or the farm are – they are certainly not Kevin Thomas, or any other reputable industry provider who provides the best of care for animals – but I have to ask myself (and you) this question in general terms: How can the owner of a property where horses are agisting not be responsible for the welfare of animals being spelled on their property, while the owners of the horses who don’t live on the property are?

Unless there is some secret clue that I am missing, it just doesn’t make sense.

Under the Queensland Racing Integrity Act (Part 193), aren’t Animal Welfare Directions supposed to be given to the person in charge of the animal?

Wouldn’t that be the person or people living on the property where the animal is starving, being neglected, or in this case dying?

How can a horse owner who doesn’t live on the property and/or isn’t there be held responsible for the welfare of a horse in a paddock on that property?

The whole thing is an absolute mystery. Much of what the QRIC does or doesn’t do is.

For the benefit of those of us without state-funded tertiary degrees Commissioner, would you do us a favour and please explain.


Was it Just a Misjudged Grubby Day at Doomben or Was it Something Even Worse?

HELSUN – Slow to begin. Stewards opened an inquiry into Jockey N. Day’s riding, particularly over the final 400m. After taking evidence from Jockey Day and Trainer D. Markey the matter was adjourned to allow Stewards to view the previous starts and also examine the betting records of the race. A post-race veterinary examination did not reveal any significant findings other than some lacerations in the horse’s mouth and a laceration of the off hind chestnut.


Why have the Stewards opened an Inquiry into Nathan ‘Grubby’ Day’s ride on Helsun in the world’s worst race, the Maiden at Doomben last Thursday?



(a) The Stipes are a panel filled with paranoid pedants? or

(b) They have two eyes, and are thus not too blind to see? or

(c) Chief Steward Chadwick wasn’t at the races, yet again’

(d) any combination of the above!

Nathan ‘Grubby’ Day’s ride on Helsun in Race 2, the Maiden at Doomben last Thursday – the one that I called the worst race in the world in my last column on this site – was either the hottest piece of work since Rihanna ground her booty in the video for the song S&M, or the second worst ride that I’ve seen in 50 years at the track, the worst one being Danny Hobby’s when he fell off Strike Softly in the 1983 Bunbury Cup.

Here’s how the race at Doomben unfolded:

Grubby appears to be daydreaming in the barriers when the starter Mr Smith or Lister hits go, and as a result Helsun – the opening favorite who has blown faster in the betting than an Ekka week westerly wind – misses the start by a couple of lengths and lands a conspicuous last.

Helsun settles and picks up the bit, and because he’s a whole lot faster than most of the crustaceans in this crab’s race the horse starts to kick up on the fence and passes a few, and for a second it appears that he is about to land a spot three back the fence and get the ‘gun’ run.

Grubby’s not having any of that however, so with only clear daylight and the horse on the leader’s back in front of him he decides to stand up in the irons and let the mule one of the fence ahead of him ease back and take his run. It does, and five or so furlongs later Zofgold goes on to win the race.

Day’s mount is now four back the fence, although between the 1000 and the 800 the little Aussie battler does his best to let another one in ahead of him by easing about two lengths off the horse he has let cross, but Mulholland Man’s rider Justin Huxtable isn’t interested in putting himself into a pocket, so Grubby’s stuck with it.

They come to the 800, and from now until the turn there is clear room for young Nathan to either ease Helsun off the fence and hook around the leading pack, or to punch up onto Zofgold’s back, but he does neither, instead electing to just keep restraining his mount so it’s 2-2.5 lengths off that horse.

The field rounds the home turn and hits the straight, and young apprentice Adin Thompson aboard the soon to be 16-1 winner eases off the fence and hooks around the leader’s heels. Grubby has two obvious options, to follow him and slingshot off his back at the 200m, or to use the ever-widening gap that slow horses running backwards have created for him and hook around the leader and Zofgold’s heels now.

No prizes for guessing what Day does instead. He sticks to the rail, where the only thing he can see ahead of him is horses’ arses, and I’m not talking about the mug punters who have invested their hard earned on Helsun.

They reach the furlong pole, and despite his numerous errors of judgement so far Grubby is still a chance of pinching a win against all odds, for the leader’s laying down and Zofgold is plodding along struggling to bridge the gap. All Day has to do is punch Helsun up, use his momentum to roll around the leader into the gap inside the other horse, and he’s home.

I don’t need to tell you that he doesn’t, do I? Nah! Grubby steers his horse hard against the rail right up the back of the punctured balloon posing as a racehorse in front of him, and as it picks up he appears for all the world to steer it back into the rail again. Zofgold lays in, just like tired chasing plodders the world around do, but even before he does it Grubby has grabbed hold and checked Helsun back a length and a half or two.

We’re at about the 50m mark now, and thanks to his rider’s poor decisions Helsun is no hope of winning. He starts to pick up really quickly for a few strides, but being an animal welfare man Grubby puts a stop to that after 20m and stands up in the irons and lets his horse coast into third.

‘Strike me pink’ the race caller Josh Fleming says.

He’s being very polite indeed I say, and don’t you worry about that.

Leave the worrying to Grubby instead.


What a Shame They Didn’t Run Straight Over Both of Them

WHAT sort of f*ckwit runs onto a racetrack during a race, and what type of imbecile mate jumps the fence to push off a security guard and help the dickhead escape?

It’s a real shame that the idiot didn’t keep veering toward the inside rail and take his equally stupid mate across with him. A couple of crushed morons might fertilize the soil and help the Cranbourne course proper grass to grow.

If you see either of the idiots walking drunkenly down the road give them a kick in the head for me.


I Told You Didn’t I?

IN last week’s column I bemoaned the lack of picking close finish capability among our current crop of alleged top-flight race callers, and lo and behold along comes one of the subjects of my scorn and proved me 100% right.

Did you hear Terry Bailey call Causeway Girl the winner in the Listed Kensington Stakes at Flemington on Saturday afternoon, when Bold Star clearly beat it by at least a half head? What the hell was Bailey thinking? It’s not the first time he’s got it wrong in Victoria or when he was calling in Sydney and another reason Matt Hill got the No job in Melbourne when Greg Miles retired?

Oh my goodness, what an absolute Barry Crocker.


On the Topic of Bold Star

A mate of mine was asking me just a couple of days ago who I’d like riding for my life in a close finish.

I said Mick Dittman, but he declared that retired jocks didn’t count, so I switched to J-Mac.

After watching Dwayne Dunn pick Bold Star up and carry it over the line on Saturday arvo I’ve changed my mind again.



WELL I did ask Maggie to come out to the doof-doof dance party with me – begged her even – well sort of.

So how’s it my fault that left on my Pat Malone in a strange town I strike the same bloody problems I seem to strike all over Australia, and indeed – prior to the imposition of the oppressive conditions of my probation that have stranded me on terra firma north of the Tweed for three years – around the world?

Can I really help it if tall, gorgeous Amazonian South American sheilas find my spiderman cap (borrowed from my two-year-old grandson, at his insistence) irresistible? What am I supposed to do, beat the poor girls off with a stick? Perish the thought. Violence isn’t my thing unless my family has been threatened, or if it’s absolutely necessary. FFS I’m a peace-loving hippie living in a rainforest in the mountains! And I’m on bail. There is no way that I’m going to risk jail by running around physically repelling glamorous 21-year-old birds who can’t keep their hands off me, just to keep Maggie happy.

If she wants to make up excuses about having to start work at 7am the next morning, or not liking loud music and alcohol-soaked events, or needing to babysit the grandkids, then that’s her problem and hers alone. If I’ve told her one, I’ve told her a thousand times; Butterflies don’t love in cages, we flit and fly around looking pretty and there’s no changing that for anyone, wife of 25 years or not.

You make your bed and Archie and the recently come of age six feet three Chilean supermodel sleep in it, that’s what I told her, and I stand by that immutable truth.  Maggie of course doesn’t agree. She claims that I’m a randy old man who’s totally full of Edgar Britt. Like all lies of course, it’s sort of half true, and that’s why I’m writing this column from a secret location in a deep dark forest hidden under a log where the crazy, violent cousin of David Tua can’t find me.

She’s just jealous I reckon sports fans. Who wouldn’t be, I guess?

It’s a hard knock life.


Hope Springs Eternal in the Human Breast

A five per cent share in a two-year-old gelding named Hilflager was offered for sale on the bloodstockauction.com.au website last week.

It attracted a top bid of $7,250 – which puts a value of $145,000 on the horse, which is huge overs in my view for reasons that I will explain below – but that very generous (crazy?) offer failed to meet the owners’ expectations expressed by the reserve price.

The reserve was $30 000 – for five per cent remember. This values Hilflager at $600,000.

Have you ever heard the saying you would have to be kidding?

The horse only brought $30,000 as a yearling, for the whole of him not just a few hairs in his tail.

Hilfager’s had only one start. Admittedly it was in the half-million-dollar Inglis Banner sales restricted race on Cox Plate Day, but he got beaten out of sight – 13.4 lengths – in a dud race in which the winner couldn’t break 60 seconds over a 1000m on a Good 4 track. Maidens run faster in trials at Deagon.

I dunno who the Mr or Mrs selling five per cent of their share in the horse is, but they made it clear that they are doing it out of disgust with their (presumably former) equally dud trainers Hayes/Hayes/Dabernig decision to geld the very slow nag against their 1/20th share wishes. Hilfager had a potential stud career ahead of him apparently, which might come as some surprise to the breeding industry, and his atrocious debut performance was all the fault of a bump that he copped on the corner when a horse going twice his speed pushed him out of the way, just like you do when you cut up the inside lane to overtake some clown going 60 in a 100 zone in the right hand lane of the M1.

30 000 bucks for a share in this donkey? Puh-lease.

What was it that Darryl Kerrigan used to say in The Castle?

Tell ‘em they’re dreaming.


A Review of Saturday’s Huge Night of Harness Racing at Ballarat

VIC OAKS – Heat 1

Stylish Memphis monstered her opponents in the first heat – her performance was simply stunning. The Purdon pair of Amazing Dream and Sweet on Me may have had the better of her in the NZ Group 1’s, but this little Mark Jones-trained filly has improved out of sight, and on Saturday night’s performance Stylish Memphis seems to have the Oaks at her mercy. She did a power of work early, sat in the death while they ran the second fastest lead time of the night – 1.5 seconds quicker than AG’s White Socks in the Cup, and 1.8 seconds better than Maajida in the next heat (see below) – crossed to the lead about a mile out, and then did at both ends by coming home in 55.4 and absolutely braining them in a mile rate of 1.57.3. If the bookies bet you evens about her in the final you should be getting down on your knees and saying 1000 Hail Mary’s.

VIC OAKS – Heat 2

The Emma Stewart trained 2YO Breeders Crown winner Maajida is the great white hope for Australia in the Oaks, and she was very good too coming in fresh off a four month break to lead most of the way to win in 1.59.3, but that time was a full two seconds slower than Stylish Memphis’s, and Greg Sugars had his foot flat to the floor bringing her home in a final half of 56.5. She will reap a whole lot of improvement from the run, but on the evidence of Saturday night it is very difficult to see Maajida troubling the quinella pair from the first heat.

I will tell you what though, the fifth placed filly Its Ebonynivory might. I don’t know what’s in the water out at trainer John Yeomans place – in fact I don’t even know who the bloke is – but this 100-1 shot having only her third career start, and her first in nearly nine months, was just enormous. Sure she sat four back the fence in the run with a soft suck, but gee if young driver James Herbertson had been gifted a little bit of luck in the home straight and gained a split instead of having to ease back and hook wide around the leading pack at the 100 she would have run second for sure, and if the filly had gained a run at the top of the straight I suspect that she might just have caused the boil over of the century by knocking off Emma’s short priced favorite.

She’s one to speck at odds in the big one for sure. Neds are betting $101, and you can probably boost it to $120 odd, so there would be worse ways to spend a hundred bucks than having 20 x 80 on the vastly improved and perhaps rapidly improving roughie.

VIC DERBY – Heat 1

This race was all but over when Kate Gath took Pacifico Dream to the lead after a couple of hundred metres in a lead time that wasn’t much faster than I can crawl, and when her opponents let Gath get away with a first half of 62.6 it was shut the gate and head for the tote window if you’d backed the favorite. Dead set, some of these other drivers should be given compulsory lobotomies or locked away in a dungeon as accessories to murder.

Pacifico Dream ran home in 55.9 and 26.6, but I wouldn’t get too excited about that because an NR 59 pacer could too if handed a race in gift wrapping like he was. You can only meet the challenge put in front of you, and beat the field you’re racing, but if you are looking for one to back in the final out of this race – and I reckon you’d have to have rocks in your head – then the runner-up Mach Da Vinci is the one that you’d want.

Trained by the highly talented young horseman from the NZ South Island Paul Court, this colt was enormous in running second to Governor Jujon in the Simpson Memorial at Menangle after the winner was allowed to commit grand larceny in front, and would have knocked off Pacifico Dream in this one if only the Ballarat Club weren’t dinosaurs and had a sprint lane. He’s a fair shot in the final if he’s lucky enough to draw the right marble.

You Are My Sunshine did all the work in the race and battled on well to run third, and he’s a rough chance in the final too if he gets the luck of the draw. The rest of the field that finished behind these three are a million to one come show time.

VIC DERBY – Heat 2

The Dr John Mammino-owned Queensland star Governor Jujon looked like Poppy in winning this heat, but as much as I hate to be the holder and thrower of the cold water in the bucket it’s my melancholy duty to let you know that:

  • Just like last time out in the Simpson Memorial he had the plum draw;
  • Just like last time out in the Simpson Memorial he had a soft run;
  • He didn’t beat much in the heat on Saturday night;
  • Colts by Camnibest don’t win Derbies (fillies by the sire don’t either);
  • Grant Dixon isn’t a Group 1 driver’s shadow.

The Governor got a soft spin straight to the front from barrier 2; no-one put any pressure on him so he ran a lead time 3.6 seconds slower than the fastest heat winner; he ran a two second slower mile rate than the fastest winner as well; the Governor looked impressive running home in 27.5 but you and I would too if a bunch of fools let us walk our first half in 60 seconds plus; beat the high-priced but highly disappointing Perfect Stride into second, and a no-name pacer (Hesty) that won an NR 46-52 at Gunbower four starts back and then got pummeled in an NR 56-62 a start later into third; is sired by a stallion that has never thrown a real Derby winner (Leos Best’s win in the lowly Redcliffe Derby doesn’t count); and will be driven by the bloke who single-handed cost the Colt a spot in the Inter Dominion final.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that even at this early stage of his career the Governor has run a faster half-mile than Colt Thirty One did at the same age, and the Colt won the Vic Derby; the Dixon-trained star is multi-dimensional, and can win from the front, back or centre, meaning that he can be driven to suit the conditions and the draw; the pacer’s a winner, with a record of eight wins and two seconds from his 10 career starts; his mother once won a Three-Year-Old worth a couple of thousand to the winner at a Wangaratta meeting; and there ain’t really any standouts in this edition of the Derby, which renders our local star a live chance.

After such a long run of outs wouldn’t it be great to see a Queenslander win the Vic Derby for the second time in just three years? I’ll be rooting for the Governor. But I won’t be backing him.

VIC DERBY – Heat 3

The winner of the final comes out of this race for sure and certain I reckon, and it will be either the heat winner Line Up or the fourth placed horse Bad to the Bone.

Line Up was enormous. He ran the fastest lead time of the night by a full second after being attacked like a lunatic by Smooth Deal in a drive that I am sure won’t make Mark Purdon’s career highlight reel;  kept rolling along at high speed in front when he was entitled to wither; recorded an amazing 1.56.2 mile rate over the 2710m trip, which was two seconds faster than the Governor and 3..5 seconds faster than Pacifico Dream; and in the run to the line was comfortably holding Mach Dan who’d done no work in the run and had the soft sit on his back throughout.

As I said, Line Up was enormous, and if it weren’t for the fact that Bad to the Bone was in the final field you would almost declare the Anthony Butt-trained colt a certainty. But Bad to the Bone is in the final, and that well and truly sets the cat among the pigeons.

This bloke’s form doesn’t look all that much on paper, but don’t be deceived. I first spotted Bad to the Bone as a tall, rangy, regal looking but light-framed unraced two-year-old at Barry’s place on a visit to see Belle, and it was obvious even then that he would be one of those pacers that needed time to mature and would come into his own as a three or four-year-old, depending on how quick he grew and filled out that lean frame when puberty hit. That he was able to perform as well as he did at the elite two-year-old level against the fast-developed juveniles from the All Star barn was in my view somewhat of a miracle, or perhaps better put, a testament to the genius of the older brother Purdon.

If the track talk is right I’m not the only one who picked the Bettor’s Delight colt as a future star either, for the rumors are that he was the subject of more than one decent sized offer to buy in the run up to this series, but Barry and his wife Katrina (who is a part-owner of the Bad boy) and their friends, the Ryders, Whittakers and Coles, are no fools when it comes to pacing, and love winning good races too, so all bidders were reportedly rebuffed.

It was a good call too, because if Line Up’s run in the heat was enormous then Bad to the Bone’s was nothing short of gigantic. He came around the field at the 1200 in a much faster personal third quarter than the leader to leader 30.1 split suggests, got worked by Purdon the Younger (Mark – oh dear Sir, what were you thinking?) on Smooth Deal along the way, sat parked – which is not yet his go – in a last half of 56.3, and fought to the line like a caged lion. Don’t worry at all about the 12m margin between him and the winner, because driver Craig Demmler gave him a soft run to the line once he realized that he had the rest of the field covered, and it could have been a whole lot closer if he had wished.

I haven’t spoken to Barry Purdon yet so I’m not sure, but I very strongly suspect that regular driver Zac Butcher, who was otherwise engaged in NZ piloting Belle around Alexandra Park over the weekend (let’s not talk about that) will fly over for the final, and with no disrespect to Demmler who did his job well, having Zac drive a horse puts a couple of lengths on it before a race even starts.

There are only two negatives to Bad to the Bone’s chances of winning the Derby.

One is that as far as he has come over the past 12 months the colt still has a fair bit of maturing to do, and will be far better again later in the season and more particularly in his four-year-old year; and two is that in my humble opinion he is at that stage of his career best suited sit-sprinting and sweeping home off a fast pace, so if they go slow up front he might have some problems.

I doubt they will walk in a Vic Derby final though. They rarely do.

Mach Dan was a competent run, but IMO he’s not good enough to win a Derby; Virgil was adequate but is not as good as his stablemate the Governor; Smooth Deal was slaughtered; and the favorite Be Happy Mach was simply atrocious.

We will have another look at both the Oaks and the Derby finals after the barrier draw.


There are five things to take out of this race.

  1. Australasia’s fastest ever horse on home turf My Field Marshal is f*cked. Absolutely and utterly f*cked. His run was terrible, and the horse should either be set for the Ekka this year or retired.
  2. Greg Sugars drive on the winner AG’s White Socks – the pacer that brilliant Barry Purdon turned around – was simply superb, one of the best front running steers you will ever see. To paraphrase Bob Hawke’s famous declaration about our America’s Cup win, if the connections of the Kiwi don’t offer him a triple sized sling then they are bums.
  3. Mark Purdon’s drive on Self Assured seemed very odd, particularly when he hooked it out in the back straight on the bell lap. I’m not quite sure whether the brilliant four-year-old struggled to handle the unfamiliar track or whether it was something else that caused Purdon to stop and steady it up at the moment you would have expected him to hit the go button, but either way gee wasn’t it a run and three-quarters? The leader came home in 54.7 seconds; I reckon last season’s Queensland Derby winner came home in about 53 and a half.
  4. If I’m correct – and I’m only a maybe a tenth or two of a second out if I’m not – then Chase Auckland must have run its final half in close to 53 seconds. It was one of the most enormous runs you will ever see. Like many I dropped off this one-time superstar juvenile after his seemingly lack-lustre performances in the Chariots of Fire and Miracle Mile around this time last year, but the all-star training duo from the All Star Stables have weaved their magic, and oh baby Chase Auckland is back. An amazing run by an incredible horse, and one that when repeated will just about win him any Group 1 race going.
  5. The Australian pacers can’t hold a candle to the Kiwis. The Tiger’s gone, San Carlo’s shot, Bling It On is too old and the bloke who can turn back time Stuart Hunter’s in exile in America, the Colt can’t break 55 for his last half unless all the cards fall right for him, ad the Emma Stewart (and, strangely, now also Peter Tonkin’s) horses don’t tend to hold up in G1 company once they clear the age group ranks, and the retention barn facilities – particularly at Menangle – somehow mysteriously seem to slow them down. We’re a million to one of singing Advance Australia Fair after any of the upcoming Grand Circuit races, unless you’re singing it for our Aussie-owned Belle (of Montana).


The Ghost of Vin Knight Floats Across the Ballarat Track

THE all-conquering Emma Stewart/Clayton Tonkin stable – if they still are that; Tonkin has now taken out a license in his own name again, all these years after the Blue Magic scandal, which gives a bit of weight to certain rumors about things such as surprise stable visits that are floating around harness racing circles at present, produced 14 starters in the heats of the Oaks and Derby, and nine of them came into the heats first-up after an absence of four months or more, which is a highly unusual training strategy that we haven’t seen since the days of Vinnie Knight before he shot himself in the head, or at least that’s what I’m told.

Did channeling the spirit of Vinnie work for the training pair with the consistently best winning strike rates in harness racing history?

I’m not sure.

Maajida won the second heat of the Oaks first-up, but her stablemates Treasure and Jemstone went like busted bananas. Amelia Rose went like one too in the first heat.

Pacifico Dream resumed from a spell to win his Derby heat unimpressively, and Mach Dan and Mirragon were equally as unimpressive qualifying for the final; but Be Happy Mach and Adapt (the Here De Angels of the harness racing world) were very plain and didn’t make it to money time, much to the surprise of many, but not this little black duck.            

Emma Stewart is still training winners at a rate of about 45% outside Melton, but in the big city her overall win/place strike rate has plunged to the lowest I can remember in years, and I just can’t figure out why. Or couldn’t until recently anyway. I now suspect that it’s due to madcap ideas such as trying to mirror the English thoroughbred regime of running horses sparingly at the trots, and on the overall evidence of Saturday night failing miserably.

Emma and Clay have dominated the big races in Victoria during the past decade, but not many if any of their pacers have come into Group races or the heats of Group races first-up after long absences from the track, and it’s not something I’d be doing with my horses I can assure you. Then again, I’ve never won a trainer’s premiership or a couple of million dollars in prize money, not unless you count a lucky streak or two on the punt anyway.

Still and all, I reckon coming into Oaks and Derby Heats first-up is akin to madness, and although I very much doubt such an event occurring, if Stewart and/or Tonkin happen to win either big race I will happily stand corrected and declare that I have been too.

I’d still like to know why Clayton Tonkin has suddenly again taken up a trainer’s license, and why the authorities gave it to him; just as I’m keen to find out why Australia’s most successful stable didn’t have a single runner in the Inter Dominion series, or why their horses never much seem to kick on after the age of four.

I guess just like Stewart/Tonkin’s strange first-up strategy, and the question of why Vin Knight would be at the pub laughing and joking with his mates one minute, and stone cold dead in a car on a lonely road with a shotgun by his side and a bullet in his head the next, some things will always remain a mystery.


Conor v the Cowboy


What else can you say?

McGregor was devastating, simply brilliant. The Cowboy didn’t have a clue. I don’t think anyone could or would have against the Big Mac in that form. We paid the 57 bucks to get the fight on at home and I don’t begrudge spending a single cent of it, for watching the exquisite savagery of Conor McGregor yesterday brought out the deeply buried but never forgotten primal instincts handed down for millions of years through our genes. It was the fight fan’s equivalent of watching Da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa.

You wouldn’t want to meet that Irish bastard in a dark alley when he was desperate, that’s for sure.

Simply brilliant.

A Fairytale about Alligators Written By a Bunch of Racing Writers With Vivid Imaginations?


EVERY punter in Australia by now knows the Alligator Blood Magic Millions story, or at least they think they do, but are there a few things wrong with the tale?

The first is the reporting.

Respected racing writers Steve Rodgers and Mark Oberhardt told the 17 remaining readers of The Australian that the Alligator arrived at the Gold Coast track under police escort.

Nathan Exelby repeated the tale to the 26 people that read The Sunday Mail. Chris Roots took it a step further and reliably informed the 38-strong audience of the Sydney Morning Herald that the Alligator’s police escort was riding a motorcycle, which given Queensland’s draconian VLAD laws is a brave thing for anyone, even a copper, to do.

Ben Dorries did a brave thing too. He told the tens of thousands of readers of Racenet not only that the Gator arrived on course shepherded by coppers, but also that Channel 7 broadcast.

It was a cracker of a yarn, an absolute doozy. The only problem is that when you investigate what actually happened, they were fed total bullshit. Dorries, Roots, Exelby, Oberhardt & Rodgers were relaying as fact an event that never actually happened – at least not as they were told it did.

The Alligator didn’t arrive at the course under police escort. David Van Dyke’s partner Emma Lehmann drove him in under her own steam, with one-time Survivor runner-up, Tara Pitt, riding shotgun in the passenger seat. Exelby admitted as such in his column in the circulation sinking Courier-Mail on Monday, although strangely he neglected to print a correction or apology to readers for the fantasy that he’d weaved for them the day before.

None of the other racing experts attempted to correct their furphy either, which is not quite cricket is it? No, it’s not, and it’s bloody embarrassing for these blokes too. Journos are supposed to source and check their facts no matter how tight a deadline they might be on. These guys have let the side down big time sports fans, and the people they have let down are you and me.

False news is no news. That’s why you’re reading this right now – because you can depend on our stuff being accurate and properly researched – don’t you worry about that.


Back to the Alligator

DAVID Van Dyke told the Stewards that due to the crash on the M1, Big Al was no hope of making it to the track within the prescribed two-hour before the start time-frame, and Racin’ Nathan faithfully reported it without question.

There’s just one problem.

As per the QRIC public decree issued on the 25th of November 2019 – just six weeks before the Millions – all runners in Group races & those of $100,000 plus in stakes, have to be on-course THREE hours before starting time, not TWO.

The 3YO Magic Millions Guineas was due to start at 3:15pm, which meant that all runners in the race had to be stabled on the course by 12:15pm.

By trainer Van Dyke’s own admission Alligator Blood left his Sunshine Coast yard at 10:15am, and it was a minimum 2 hour and 15 minute trip to the Goldie even in traffic that was sailing smoother than a Sydney to Hobart winner entering the Tasmanian harbor.

Do the sums.

Even if all went to plan the Alligator wouldn’t have arrived on track until 12:30pm. In other words, he would have been there too late, and if the QRIC were fair dinkum about their three hours strictures he should and would have been ineligible to line up in the race.

The connections of the other runners in the Guineas have been had.

The so-called rules have been snubbed and blown into a thousand pieces.


A Few Random Questions That All Sportsfans Should Be Asking

  1. Why were no other runners in the Guineas caught in the traffic jam? At least four of them came down from Brisbane for the race. They had to travel the same highway. How come they didn’t get stuck?


  1. Why was Alligator Blood brought down in a large, multi-horse truck on its own? The Guineas was Race 6, and Van Dyke had a runner – Constant Flight – in Race 4, so why were they brought down separately?


  1. Why did the Alligator need to come down in a big truck with only his mate the pony along for the ride with him?


  1. Why were two Van Dyke employees in tow, one of them who was not even supposed to be on duty that day?


  1. Why were the pair so keen to take a so-called back road (which wasn’t at all – it was a major thoroughfare) on their own, without the coppers escorting them?


  1. Why would the two stable staff need to make or take 57 phone calls back and forward to Van Dyke along the way? Why wouldn’t they have just stayed on the phone?


  1. Why was the three-hour rule introduced by the QRIC in the first place?


  1. Why was Robert Smerdon (way back when) having his horses bicarbed on course within two hours of the start time for their races?


  1. Which trainer has multiple breaches of race day treatment rules on his rap sheet, including two three-year sentences that he served concurrently for bringing horses to the track tanked full of the dreaded Elephant Juice?


  1. Who is the only trainer to have recorded a better strike rate than Ben Currie three years in a row, during the Tornado’s reign as Queensland’s premier trainer?


  1. Is it the same trainer who currently boasts a 50 per cent (or more) better winning strike rate than the top three trainers in the State?


  1. Is David Van Dyke the best trainer in Australia? His strike rate says he is. Boom Boom Benny’s did for a while too.


  1. Does any of this mean anything at all? Or is it just sheer coincidence?

We don’t know, and we’re certainly not suggesting anything untoward. We are just laying out some cold hard facts for your consideration, that’s all.

But gee, wouldn’t you think someone in charge of racing integrity might be asking themselves the same questions.

Then again, wouldn’t you think they’d know their own Rules?

Nah, this is Queensland isn’t it?

The place where phantom police escorts bring horses to courses, journos write imaginary stories gleaned from invisible sources, and pink pigs fly.

My oh my, the whole thing would just about make a grown man cry – especially if he owned the runner-up.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We would welcome any response from those mentioned above that might explain the questions that we have raised.


Speaking of False News

ANYONE who believes the hand-wringing, bleeding heart clowns who claim that climate change is responsible for the dreadful bushfires that have beset the east coast of our nation is both a moron and an absolute and utter fool.

Australia’s been burning for centuries. Why do you think the Aboriginal nations living on the rich and abundant Eastern seaboard for 50,000 years and counting were nomads, while the desert dwellers whose homes were in places where food, water and shelter were hard to find stayed still?

It was because of the fires Freddy. The sparks in the drought-ravaged tinder dry forests that turned into infernos, the blazes that the First Australians learned to tame by setting fire to the forests first as they retreated to safer grounds to the north, west and south.

FFS, Captain Cook and his crew spotted the country afire and recorded it in their diaries 250 years ago. Dorothea Mackellar – who was a full-blown lezzo btw, back in the days when it was a jail-able offence – wrote about flood and fire and famine, and droughts and flooding rains. Where do you reckon she got the idea from? She didn’t make it up, did she?

But these idiots screaming Climate Change, Climate Change are.

Australia as a continent is millions of years old.

White men have only been recording temperatures for 100 years.

WTF would we know about the cold and heat cycles?

Nothing, that’s what! And 2/3rds of that or less again.

Climate change my arse.

And those seeking to turn a tragedy into a green political baseball bat can go and kiss my arse too.

The victims and their families, and indeed all Australians, deserve a whole lot better.


Gender Discrimination is Always Dubious

IN the weeks leading up to the Magic Millions I raised the issue of the unlawfulness of the huge taxpayer-subsidized bonuses paid to the strictly all-female connections of the first runner home in each of the 2YO MM Classic and the 3YO MM Guineas.

It’s an issue I intend to take up directly with the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission in due course, and quite rightly so, for why should a horse owned by a bunch of sheilas who are predominantly fronting for their husbands have any more claim to the additional half-million dollars on offer in the 2YO or the extra quarter-million thrown at the Guineas?

If you were a boss offering a male employee almost double what you paid a female employee for doing exactly the same work you’d be hung, drawn and quartered. If you paid them 10 times their salary for doing less work you’d be shot.

So how on earth could the Magic Millions folk be allowed to pay the connections of the 10th placegetter, Dubious, $250,000 on top of the already over the odds $20,000 it earned for being beaten out of sight in the Guineas behind the Alligator, just because it was (on paper at least) owned solely by women? In these equal opportunity days how the hell could that be legal?

It can’t, and it’s not is the answer.


The Worst Metro Maiden in the Whole History of the Racing World

HAS there ever been a worse race in the entire history of Brisbane racing than the 2nd at Doomben on Thursday, the something or something else Maiden that Archie can’t write the name of for legal reasons. The name doesn’t matter anyway. It’s the superior class of the 11 champions in the field that’s important.

Between them these Group 1 winners in the making had raced a grand total of 147 times without success and not at meetings at yuppie wanker joints like Royal Randwick or Flemington either.

This mob were way to cool for those povvo schools; they’d been running into Everest style form at quality tracks like Esk, Nanango, Warwick, Dalby, Kilcoy Gatton, Rockhampton, Ipswich and Toowoomba. Admittedly they were getting beaten a little way`- a collective total of 86.4 lengths at each of their most recent starts – but hey, that’s only an average losing margin of 7.9 lengths, and remember these are horses on the way up, and they were competing against the cream.

Two of the top fancies had even earned more than 20 grand in prizemoney, although admittedly it took them 44 and 21 starts respectively to do it, but we can’t all be Maggie and jag a Thunder Mania in our first Queensland ownership expedition, can we?

And anyway, what’s the fun of owning a horse like Thunder who you back off the map at debut and buy a Port Douglas unit from the winnings, and then steps up to a Group 2 at their second start before being put away to be set for the Triple Crown during the Winter Carnival? B-O-R-I-N-G! I’d rather race every second week in the bush for six months before coming to town. It gives you something to look forward to every fortnight.

The track record over the 1350m at Doomben is 1.17.09.

The Thursday Stars ran 1.21.48 in Race 2 yesterday afternoon.

Doomben Ten Thousand (Million) watch out here they come!


Boom! Boom! Boom! – Jimmy Goes Zoom

JAMES Orman kicked it like JT yesterday and took ‘ém to town, bowling a hat trick to take out the last three races and a treble at the big D and landing at least one crocodile fighting Ormanite up in the jungles of Far North Queensland a $461 triple legged all up.

Given that the bloke in question hooked him up with his missus it’s about time the scrawny little tight jodhpured, tight arse kicked something back to cupid, and no doubt he’s happy about it too. James would be even happier that not a cent of what we’re certain he will deceptively claim to a sling came out of his own pocket too.

If you get the impression that I’m a huge J. Orman fan, then you’re absolutely right. James is a gentleman, a consummate professional, a great jockey, a wonderful partner, a fabulous father, and he has a hot mother to boot.

What most people don’t know is that he’s both off the scale intelligent and the holder of the unofficial world 100m record. Yes sports fans, it’s true, and Maggie and I were there to witness James’ dash down the Kirby Road hill to become the first man in history to break nine seconds for the hundred. I broke 10 the night I discovered him coming around to pick up my daughter for a Tinder date and intercepted him out the front with My Axeman too, but the 27 year age gap and gut full of sheer terror gave him a slight edge, and allowed him to retain his pretty boy scone, much to my chagrin at the time.

The Orminator and I have kissed and made up since then, and it’s all good. So is he, and yesterday’s effort was both a ripper and a just reward for a hard-working young man with his head screwed on tight and both eyes on the big prize, which is maximizing his God-given talent by riding winners and earning as much money as he can and should to set he and his family up for life.

That’s the wrap and a bit of a back story, but now comes the bad news.

As good as Jimmy is a jockey – and make no mistake the Or-Man is very, very, good – there was one rider younger and better at Doomben yesterday.

Oison Orr is his name, a 22-year-old Irish rider who won the 2017 apprentices’ title at home and is held in such high esteem that the master trainer Dermot Weld uses him as one of his top three jockeys and legs him aboard in big races at home and abroad. If Weld puts you on you are in the big league, don’t you worry about that.

Orr is out here doing what a young bloke from his homeland with the same first name and a similar birth date did a few years ago when he was pretty much unknown anywhere. Oisin Murphy was that fellas name, and he came out to Australia to learn from our top jockeys – the best in the world – and polish the rough diamond of his skills that were later to gleam so brightly that he, in the space of less than 12 months post his Aussie stint, was riding Group 1 winners, and soon after ascended the heights so fast that today at the tender age of just 25 he’s a millionaire and universally regarded as one of top 10 riders in the world.

Oisin Orr wants to become Oisin Murphy – what serious jockey wouldn’t – and that’s why he’s here.

Who knows whether he’ll make it quite that high, but if young Orr can be half what Murphy has become, he will go down as one of the greatest jockeys ever to ride the winner of a Maiden at Doomben on a lazy Thursday afternoon.

I’ll back him in.



God Speaks at the Creek; But When a Bulb Fails in a Forest, Does Anybody Hear? - AKA Dancing in the Dark at Albion Park


‘LET there be light’, the Chairman of Albion Park and his band of merry blow-with-the-wind men at Albion Park shouted as their justification for knifing the Caesar of the trots Kevin Seymour AM recently in their successful Shakespeare-style - or should that be Bolshevik era - Board room coup.

It took God a while to respond - he was busy over Xmas celebrating his boy Jesus' birthday - but just after the finish of the fifth race on Saturday night the big man spoke, and he did it loud and clear.

In an act of symbolism more stunning than letting his lad hang nailed from a cross, in one of those well-known acts of God, the man upstairs turned out the lights and bathed the Creek in brilliant pitch black darkness.

No-one in charge at the Creek could work out how to turn them back on, which wasn't overly surprising given that as per usual outside of election periods and carnivals offering free food and grog, next to none of them were actually there. If there was a club electrician on course - the fixed price odds on the TAB are 12-1 and blowing like a tropical cyclone breeze - then they couldn't fix it either.

So the 37 people who had bothered to go to the track packed up their paperback edition of the 'Betfair Guide For Dummies' and their laptops, picked up their kerosene powered lanterns and walked home in the dark.

Racing Queensland CEO Pins Parnell didn't offer any explanation for the highly embarrassing fail, or make any attempt to explain to disgruntled punters the reason why Queensland's premiere harness venue doesn't have back-up power.

The Albion Park Chairman, who has presided over the club’s six straight years of substantial financial losses, didn't say a single word. Most of the absent friends probably didn't even know that the meeting had been blacked out.

God said you asked about the future of harness racing in the state and I answered.

Queensland's Racing Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe asked where Albion Park was.

Donald Trump pointed the finger at the Ayatollah and Iran in a tweet. 

Prince Harry said it was all his Dad and William's fault.

The Greens blamed it on global warming.

A unemployed animal activist wearing a kaftan put out a press release declaring it was Karma for flicking horse's bums with whip.

Scott Morrison called for a Royal Commission into Blackouts at Paceways in Breakfast Creek, then jumped on a charter plane to Hawaii.

Gerry Harvey smirked and said 'See, it wasn't only us'.

The rest of the Australian racing world just laughed.

Wise men say that after the darkest knight comes the brightest dawn.

Bloody spell-check.

They meant to say lightest prawn.


My Name is Mud

I landed the world’s most unwanted double at the Magic Millions meeting, with both Alligator Blood and Outback Barbie - the pair that I declared as the lays of the day (on the racetrack at least) - landing the biscuits and making me look like an absolute fool.

Oh well, it wasn't the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last.

The only consolation is that my best bet of the day Invincibella won under double wraps, so I guess you could say that every dark cloud has a silver lining, even those clouds covered in mud and bearing the name Archie.


Is TABCORP preparing to axe the Queensland arm of 4TAB?

WE'VE been unable to confirm the following because those at the top are keeping Mum and those further down the food chain are blissfully unaware.

Usually impeccable insider sources reliably inform us that  as part of the company's post-Tatts merger strategic plan to rationalize duplication and cost, Tabcorp is going to take the axe to Queensland's local racing radio station 4TAB at the end of the financial year in June. 

The word from those in the know is that Tabcorp - wrongly thought of by most  simply as the operator of the TAB, when the corporation is in fact one of the largest corporate bookmakers in the world - intends to keep the 1008 frequency, but will be changing the brand and producing all of its shows out of Sydney and Melbourne, with local content coming in via a sub-contractor arrangement rather than continuing the current system of direct employment of presenters and producers.

This spells bad news for a number of well-known Queensland racing identities who work at the station, or at least for those who aren't particularly well established in the savings stakes and/or, according to the form guide, are threes on to blow their redundancy payouts on Bollinger bubbles and the big bad punt.

It won't affect the station's ratings too much though, particularly for the shows other than live racing. Very few listen to them anyway.


The Stayer of the Century

PRIMITIVO will go down in the record books as the winner of the 2020 Magic Millions Stayers Cup (now called the Trophy), but the best staying performance of the carnival was really that of the co-trainer of the 2YO Classic winner Away Game, Mr Ciaron Maher.

Maher was here, there and everywhere during Millions week. Swanning around at the polo dressed like Omar Sharif. Down at the beach races looking like he was about to pull out his country guitar. At the races looking like he was going to the beach. Half-pissed pissing against a fence at the Pointsbet VIP party in a mansion on the canal near midnight of big race eve. You name it, Maher was at it, and he was looking as fresh as a daisy each and every time. 

If there was a better performer at the Gold Coast than Ciaron Maher, then I didn't see it. Back him now in the early pre-post markets for the Cup. This bloke can stay all day, and night.


Trainer of the Week

DAVID Eustace is the trainer of the week, and daylight is second.

Lucky Lingard told me that this young bloke was a gun trainer way back at the time Ciaron Maher surprised most of the racing world by entering into a partnership with him, but like many people I clung on to my belief that Maher was the head trainer and Eustace his lackey.

How wrong could I have been? 

David Eustace is the trainer, not Maher. Ciaron does the management and media side of things for the operation, and he does it brilliantly too, but the young Englishman Eustace is the one who prepares the horses, and man doesn't he do it well?

Outstandingly in fact.

These are two nice blokes parking their egos and using their unique individual gifts for the benefit of the whole. What a great Australian success story they are, even if one is a Pom (but that doesn’t seem to matter to local racing pin-up girl Michelle Payne). Well done lads.


Peter Moody Puts on a Master Class in the Art of the Gee-Up to Raise a Million Bucks For the Bushfire Appeal

ON the topic of Maher, isn't it wonderful to see Peter Moody using his sublime media skills and popular following to raise who knows how many bucks in donations for the Bushfire Appeal by urging Ciaron and fellow wild-haired trainer Simon ‘Sideshow Bob’ Zahra to shear off their signature locks for the cause? 

All we need now is for the hirsute pair to submit to a session with the clippers, but the strong whisper around the track is that Ciaron is more than a little reluctant, not because he doesn't want to help out the paid and volunteer fire fighters and the victims, but because he knows that Moods has played the wedge better than Johnny Howard ever could and has got him an absolute beauty. 

The current state of play is that Maher is declaring that he'd rather throw a big donation out of his own kick into the fund than give racing's greatest gee up merchant the satisfaction of smug smiling at his shaven dome, but when you consider how much this could raise it’s a lot of money even when you are flying, so the question of whether Ciaron holds the line or succumbs to Moody's public entreaties is going to be interesting.

My tip is that Moods has a few more ideas and a bit more ammo up his sleeve, and that if Mr Maher doesn't submit his scone to the razor soon he may well find himself up for more than his famous locks are worth. I am not at liberty to elaborate, but we will all be watching this space with great interest.


In Queensland the Rules Seemingly Don't Apply to Apprentices - Or to Some of Them Anyway

I would like you to take a look at the running of Race 2 at the Sunshine Coast, which you can do by clicking on the replay here.

What I want you to pay attention to is the ride of Corey Bayliss on Shinshinto, the horse in yellow and purple silks with a black cap wearing Sadde Cloth 5 and starting from the inside barrier, and specifically I'd like you to closely watch what Bayliss does (and doesn't do) from the 600m mark on.

In summary, this is how it rolls.

Shinshinto lands in the box seat third the fence and gets the ‘gun’ run. 

The field reaches the point of the home turn  and, instead of kicking the horse up and off the fence around the leaders, Bayliss inexplicably tightens the throttle and eases the horse a length further back off them. 

Shinshinto scoots around the turn under its own steam and shoots back into third behind the leaders at the top of the straight, and from this point all the way through to the 200m pole Bayliss is presented with two clear options to give his mount its best chance to win the race. One option is to shoot the yawning gap that the horse outside the leader Versetto has created by rolling out two or three horses upon straightening; the other is to come off the fence and around Versetto into the open daylight that the horses on Shinshinto's outside have presented to him by not being able to keep up.

Again inexplicably, Bayliss elects not to do either, and instead decides to give his horse a slap on the left side with the whip and steer it back into the fence, tugging back on the reins as he goes, in the process allowing the horse in the Currie colours that is a clear length behind him at the time to whizz through and shut the door on him and his run to the outside.

Never mind, the run between the leader and Versetto is still there. You could drive a truck through it. Or you could if you wanted to, or weren't Corey Bayliss anyway. He doesn't take that run either. He just sits, and sits, and sits until finally when it is all far too late he slowly slides into the gap and steers Shinshinto to the line under triple wraps in fourth place.

It's an ugly watch, and a most alarming one too.

What's just happened is so blatantly obvious that the Stewards have no real choice to call Bayliss in for a chat.

This is what they report about their discussion.

SHINSHINTO – Had some difficulty securing clear running shortly after passing the 200m.  Stewards questioned apprentice jockey C. Bayliss regarding his riding over the final  600m. Of concern to stewards was the level of vigour shown by  apprentice Bayliss from the 500m until the 400m, and again apprentice  Bayliss’s vigour when approaching the 100m where there  appeared  to be a run presenting itself to the inside of VERSETTO  and he appeared not to place the horse under heavy pressure to obtain this run. Apprentice Bayliss explained the horse raced greenly at its last start and he was instructed therefore not to pressure the horse too early around the turn as the horse may become unbalanced. He agreed that he had not placed full pressure on the horse to obtain the run inside VERSETTO over the concluding stages. He explained that this was due to VERSETTO racing greenly and inclined to lay in and therefore he anticipated the run may close. Stewards, after viewing the patrol footage with apprentice Bayliss, advised him that  whilst he should be  mindful of instructions, in this circumstance he had erred in not placing more pressure on his mount rounding the home turn and that whilst they accepted VERSETTO did have a tendency  to  shift in, that in similar circumstanced he would be expected to avail himself of a run of this nature. Stewards, in considering the matter in its entirety, felt that given apprentice Bayliss’s status as an apprentice, did not deem his actions to be culpable under the rules and therefore took no further action.  

Now that's utter tripe, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the issues that are of concern about Bayliss’ ride are not restricted to the lack of vigour he displayed between the 500m and 400m point of the race, and again approaching the half-furlong (100m) pole; the whole ride from the turn on is a worry, and a big one too.

Secondly, what really happened at its previous start - which it won when ridden aggressively by the way - is that Shinshinto resented being hit by Bayliss with the whip in his left hand. He hit the horse hard on its left side a few times at the 300 and it started to duck in a bit, so Bayliss straightened it up, but then hit it hard again left handed and it bored in again, but this time Bayliss briefly lost control of the left rein, so naturally when being ridden with only a right rein the horse shifted sharply to the right. It wasn't because it was racing greenly at all, it was a combination of those two factors. You can see it as clear as day on the replay of that race by clicking here.

And thirdly, as any mug with one or more eyes can see Versetto was shifting OUT not IN all the way down the straight, and it was only after Bayliss had belatedly decided to steer Shinshinto into the gap that had been staring at him for 100 metres that the other horse turned his head in, and by that stage they were only about 20 yards from the finish post and it was well and truly all over red rover anyway.

Let's be serious. We are talking here about a young man who has been a professional jockey for almost four years, has ridden in nearly 1500 races and booted home almost 150 winners, sits fifth on the metropolitan apprentices’ premiership table, and is inside the Top 20 on the all comers title ladder.

We are also talking about a young rascal who not all that long ago copped a six week suspension for failing to give a hot favorite named Tumbler every chance to win a race at Doomben, and then not long after was suspended for two months on unrelated betting charges.

Wouldn't you think that Bayliss' quite extensive record in the saddle, his history of riding horses in a manner that denies them a proper chance to win, the apprentice's susceptibility to the punt which is so strong that it compelled him to place a number of bets in full public view at the Brekky Creek Hotel only 50m from the QRIC offices, and parity in sentencing against the string of recent suspensions handed down to junior jockeys such as Baylee Nothdurft, Michael Murphy and Clayton Gallagher (just to name a few) might be very important factors that the Stewards would take into account when deciding to issue a charge and sanction against him for what can be kindly described as a butcher job, or more cynically suggested may have been the hottest ride in Queensland so far this year?

Of course they should have been, and it is a no-brainer that Bayliss ride merited the issuing of a charge of either failing to ride his horse on his merits, or failing to give his mount every chance to win, or both. That the Chief Steward James Williamson failed to lay these charges against Corey Bayliss must surely set alarm bells ringing all over the State, and the cock and bull reasons for not doing so that Williamson placed on record in the official Stewards’ Report should set flashing lights and flares off too.

These peculiar rides by Bayliss on horses high up in the betting market have been happening all too often over the past couple of years and something must be done about it. Either it's all just sheer pilot error, in which case the Stewards must ask him to show cause why his license to ride in the city shouldn't be revoked; or it's something altogether different and far more concerning too. But instead of doing their integrity jobs properly and acting to protect public confidence in the sport and punters faith that it’s safe to bet, the QRIC boys and girls simply gloss over Corey Bayliss slaughter of Shinshinto as if it didn't happen, and that's just not good enough.

Something is rotten in the state of Queensland racing. I 'm not sure exactly what it is, all I know is that it stinks.


Harley Revs Up But a Hurricane Named Belle is About to Blow In


THE high-class Emma Stewart-trained four-year-old pacer Hurricane Harley is the little boy with the little curl right in the middle of his forehead of the trot world. When Harley's good he is very, very good; but when the undersized sometimes superstar is bad like he was in last year's Vic and NSW Derbies, he's absolutely bloody horrid.

Harley was good in the Hamilton Cup on Sunday, very, very good. He didn't beat much, but on the track you can only conquer those who start beside you, and this bloke did it effortlessly, sitting in the death the whole race yet still running home in a low flying last half of 54.3 seconds and a final quarter of 26.1. That's a brilliant run by anyone's standards, and Harley's march toward the Chariots of Fire and possibly the Miracle Mile continues apace.

There are two big problems blocking the path ahead of the little superstar and his connections big time Group 1 dreams however. 

The first is that both the Chariots and the Mile are run at Menangle, and on the evidence to date it seems clear that Harley likes the roomy Western Sydney track about as much as the wife of a prominent racing identity likes his well-known girlfriend, as ‘Godfrey Smith’ reported earlier in the week after the pair’s confrontation at one of the biggest MM functions.

Admittedly Hurricane Harley has had only two starts at the Menangle track, they being a year ago in the heat and final of the NSW Derby, but gee he was (by his lofty standards) poor in both, and didn't at all seem to handle the track in either. In his defence he had some throat problems as a younger horse that seem to have disappeared with age and attention, so perhaps those ordinary performances may been an anomaly, but despite my love of the horse, at this stage I'm not convinced at all. 

It doesn't really matter in the end though, because the second thing blocking Harley's path to Group 1 glory is my mate Dean's girl Belle of Montana, the reigning NZ Filly of the Year and North Island female all-comers champion, and if our trainer Barry Purdon elects to take her to the Mile then it’s all over Red Rover before the race even starts, and it’s goodnight nurse, and goodnight Harley, and goodnight everyone else because nothing's going to stop Belle's ascension to the ranks of the racing greats other than bad luck.

Harley might be able run home in 54 and a bit after working, but Belle can do it on her ear in 53 and almost certainly even faster. Stay home and pick off the easier local races is my advice to Emma Stewart and her co-trainer Clayton, for horses who get windburn and their hearts broken are hard to bring back from the brink. 

Just ask Princess Tiffany's trainers Mark and Nat.


The Art of Slaughter and a Tired Horse Screaming Out For a Spell

THE official Stewards’ Report says that star four-year-old and race favourite Lochinvar Art paced roughly at the start of the Group 2 Shepparton Gold Cup on Saturday night, and by inference suggests that was the reason that the horse that everyone expected to lead got crossed, and then crossed again, and again, and ended up buried four back the fence for the trip with no hope in Hades of winning.

Me, I'm not so sure. Yes Lochinvar art was a bit scratchy in the early stages, but what I saw was a reinsman who never features in the top 10 on the premiership table (David Moran) make the wrong decision to restrain the horse rather than risk it skipping for a few strides, seemingly blissfully ignorant of the fact that the result of his ridiculously conservative call being the same as if he had shown a bit of dash and found his luck falling the other way.

The end result was that Lochinvar Art had no hope, and was predictably beaten out of a place. Don't give up on him on the evidence of that debacle though, for this is a really, really good pacer and he remains an excellent live chance in any of the upcoming feature races that neither Belle nor Kiwi superstar Self-Assured contests.

San Carlo is a real good pacer too, but long injury enforced absences from the track, age and the passing of time, and an extremely arduous Inter Dominion campaign in Auckland recently seem to have caught up with him, for the moment anyway. This bloke’s performance from the death in the same race on Saturday night was, to say the least, bloody awful, and his fast fading seventh combined with the unusually intractable way he reefed and pulled and refused to settle suggests to me that San Carlo is a tired horse running on weary legs and needs a good rest if he is to have any hope of getting his mojo back. 

Straight to the spelling paddock he must go.


Sennachie is a Star, But Hooked on Scotch is the Sun

Sennachie is not only the best named greyhound in Australia (say it phonetically - Zen Archie - and then tell me that you are surprised to learn that the name means professional storyteller of history and legend in Gaelic), but as his track record win in the Group 1 Pest Controller's Gold Bullion at Albion Park on Friday night proved, he's the second best middle distance racing dog in Australia too.

Hooked on Scotch is better (he's beaten Sennachie each of the three times that the titans have clashed), but the other three speedsters that round out the top five - Feral Franky, Whiskey Riot and Good Odds Harada - aren't, as we saw at AP when Sennachie brained them by 10 and 12 lengths respectively, despite both top flight greyhounds being a whole lot closer to him at one stage of the running and losing rather than making ground on Steve White's star over the final 200m of the race.

It was a simply amazing performance, and watching it makes you wonder just how good Hooked on Scotch really is, given that Jason Thompson's boy has been giving beatings to Sennachie at an age when really he was still just a pup yet to turn two. It's frightening to think what HOS might turn out to be when fully mature, but one thing I'm quite sure of is that as lightning quick as his 10 month older rival ran on Friday night, his 29.41 time is not a track record that you would bet your life on still standing the next time that HOS comes to town.

The mere thought of the pair's next clash is mouth watering. Bring it on!





THE LNP Racing spokesman John Paul Langbroek is drawing a desperately long bow blaming the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission for the seven retired racehorses discovered among the remains of 22 dead horses in a barren paddock near Toowoomba.

Langbroek found another opportunity to take a pot-shot at the racing industry pet-hate of the Opposition when he suggested: “Labor can no longer deny that their own QRIC is failing at its core business: to ensure that animals are well cared for before, during and after racing.

“It is sad and devastating to see reports of Queensland's second instance of abuse and neglect of ex-racehorses in less than four months.”

Queensland Racing Industry Commissioner Ross Barnett said the owner of the horses is not and has not been a licensed racing industry participant. “Among the deceased and horses in serious condition seven can be identified as ex-racehorses,” he told AAP.

Biosecurity Queensland says inspectors and a vet visited the property and directed the horses' owner to feed them after complaints were made. But that just resulted in a bale of "mouldy garden mulch" being dumped in the field, according to founder of Australian Farm Animal Rescue Matters, Marjorie Pagani.

"It's totally unacceptable," Ms Pagani said. "They're in acres of dirt. We have foster carers ready to help."

The RSPCA said it referred the matter on to Government authorities weeks ago because the charity organisation does not have the resources to deal with large numbers of livestock.

The Queensland Government is conducting an independent inquiry into the regulation of abattoirs and other facilities accepting horses for slaughter and the management of former racehorses. The final inquiry report is due to be handed down at the end of the month.

Certainly someone in Government has to take the blame for dragging the chain of this matter. But QRIC can hardly be held responsible for taking no action against a non-licensed person responsible for caring for all of these horses, seven of which were thoroughbred and raced many years ago.

The LNP has been accused of a ‘witch-hunt’ against QRIC which has never been properly accepted by many in the industry, which some long-time observers concerned that if it is politically shut down as a result of a change in Government integrity will return to the bad old days in Queensland when it was ‘open slather’ and the ‘crooks had a field day’.

Perhaps John Paul Langbroek should be looking more closely at whether the slaughterhouse at Caboolture has been closed and if Racing Queensland – where there seem to be some heavies who would prefer to see the LNP in Government – has taken steps to ensure that the owners of that disgusting outfit are not still major sponsors at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club.

FATHER of the YEAR meets ARCHIE and his HAREM at the MILLIONS


SHOULD anyone from the sycophantic mainstream media have been awake early Sunday morning after their all-expenses paid drink until you fall down or spew Saturday/night post-Millions party been down at the pool at the QT pub on Sunday morning they would have observed a most unusual sight, one featuring two highly talented racing writers who tell it like it is, and an incredibly lovely intelligent young woman who is Winx to the pair's happy clapper, and clearly has the measure of both of them.  

The hardy milers on the quick backup might also have spotted Archie's hot sister showing off her tatts and her bits in a tiny swimsuit too, and if out of envious curiosity and a desire to prove to their dickhead mates that Archie 's full of Edgar Britt when it comes to relating tales of his extraordinary luck with the ladies the cynics had ventured up to one or more of the three hotel rooms your humble correspondent had been floating through over the course of the weekend - none of them his my own, that was on a different floor - they might even been able to claim a rare sighting of my other three sisters sleeping as God made them and dreaming of Big Brother.

(Editor's note: Archie doesn't have a sister, does he? I’m sure he doesn’t).  

You’ve probably already guessed that the racing writer with the babes of sisters was me sports fans, but you wouldn’t have picked that the less handsome fella with the lovely daughter was my mate Richie Callander, father of Chookie, a hyper intelligent young woman who clearly throws to her dam side.

Now, a word of caution punters: if you’re ever at a men’s lunch that Richie’s hosting and he starts waxing lyrical about how hot my sister in the little pieces of lycra posing as a swimsuit was, take his ratings with a huge grain of salt, for the big fella was weighed down by a handicap greater than the 61kg that The Candy Man carried on Saturday in that he didn’t know about my three sisters having a wee nude nap upstairs, or realise that they were in the field.  

(Editor's note: I've just rung a couple of Archie's mates to check, and they say he definitely does not have a sister. What the hell is the maniac on about?)

Richie didn’t know about the Butterfly girls because I didn’t tell him, and the reason that I didn’t tell him had nothing to do with not wanting to interrupt the flow of a most interesting, wide-ranging, off-the-record discussion about racing, and it wasn’t because I was worried that he’d think I was boasting either. Hell, there were still the stories from Friday night to tell, the ones about my other two sisters.

No, the reason I never mentioned the harem clan to Richie was a whole lot simpler than that: I was enjoying watching the most outspoken man in the mainstream racing media - the fella with well-informed opinions and the take no prisoners approach to telling them – turn into Mary’s little lamb under the spell of the greatest lion tamer to walk the earth since the one who won the Vic Derby in 2010.

I’m talking young Brooke Callander, a seed that has not only not fallen far from the tree, but which has also sprouted up to put its sire in the shade. If you want to know the real Richie, make sure you spend some time with him in his baby girl’s company, because what you see then is a furlong separated from what you see, read or hear from the top bloke when she’s at school and freed from the restraints of love, admiration and adoration he can let loose and act and talk cool. If he tried it while young Chookie was around he’d be brought back to earth faster than that poor Ukranian plane that the Irani’s shot down, and if someone gave you $1.30 about that proposition you could put the house on it and bank the cheque before they even got to the barriers.

I’ve always believed that you can see the worth of a man in the way that he looks at his kids, and when Richie looks at his youngest foal the stars in his eyes shine brighter than Alpha Centauri, and twice as bright again. That makes Mr Callander one of the favourites in my market for the Real Good Bloke Cup every day of the week, and it was an honour and a privilege for me that he shared both his time and a glimpse of his soul with me as we floated around like lilypads in the pub pool as the still pissed punters and my other three sisters slept.

Young Brooke’s a lucky girl to have a Dad who loves her as much as Richie does, but in having her as a daughter the Big Fella’s even luckier. Good on ‘em both and the rest of the Callendar’s too. Who needs to be able to tip winners when you can sire champions instead?

(Editor’s note: I’ve now triple checked, and it’s absolutely certain that Archie does not have even one sister, let alone three. I tried ringing the bastard to find out what he’s on about, but Maggie answered the phone and told me he’s in hospital in traction. Some sort of accident where he walked into her right fist while she was practicing her jab, hook, uppercut, straight combination after going through the photos on his phone from the Magic Millions apparently).


The Queensland Taxpayer Sponsored $250 000 Race at the Goldie for Cats, Camels, Squibs, Goats and Ducks

THE quarter of a million bucks that Racing Queensland splashes out on prizemoney for the prestigious Magic Millions Maiden is money well spent, for over the past 10 years the race has churned out a vast parade of high quality specimens that have subsequently attracted huge offers of $200 a head from enthusiastic glue factory owners in the racing Mecca of Belgium, aka the slaughter house at Caboolture.

Just take a Captain Cook at the roster of champions who have taken out Australia's richest maiden race for non-winning walkers during the past decade if you need any proof that your hard-earned jumping jack flash splashed at Gerry's gee gee meeting is the best quarter of a million that the State Government has ever flushed down a dunny on your behalf.


ONLY other win was in a BM70 on a wet track on the Kenso. Beaten out of sight in Invincibella's race on the weekend, and likely to be next seen in the big $5,000 Class 2 at the Grenfell Picnics later in the year. 

Problem Solver

WON two races in its life, the MM Maiden and the MM Gosford 3YO. Last seen running second last at Rosehill in a BM88.


BOASTS the brilliant record of two from 39, his only win outside the Maiden being in a Class 1 at Gosford. Ran a sterling race for 5th in a Class 2 at Ballina on Sunday a week ago. Only real claim to fame is that jockey Laura Cheshire has straddled him a few times recently. Lucky horse!

Wolf Cry

ABSOLUTE champion that never won another race. Best performance after the Millions was a second in a trial at Stony Creek, but a pair of consecutive 9ths in midweek BM78 races after that convinced its owners that boys who cry wolf shouldn't be on race tracks, so off he went to God knows where.

Elle Lou

THIS Hawkes-trained sheila was the best of the lot of them, going on to win six other races in her career, including a Group 3 restricted to fillies and mares. Sadly from an annals of history point of view they were all on wet tracks, even the Millions Maiden win. Her stable name was Ducky.


NOT much. Wins at Doomben, Caloundra, Warwick, Gatton and Ipswich, but finished 9th of nine last start at Tennant Creek, the Gympie of the north, beaten about 20 lengths. The connections report that he wasn't quite wound up, and would improve by the addition of a rocket jammed up his arse. Stewards are still pondering how to report the gear change in the race book.


ANOTHER slug that never won another race after the Millions Maiden. Last start 8th of nine beaten 10 lengths at Narromine was a tad disappointing. His 7th of nine in a Class 2 at the picnic races at Louth (where?) was a bit better. Reportedly was being set for a rich $2.50 Class 1 Maiden at the Mud Island Cup meeting but pulled a hammie swimming over and had to be retired before it drowned.

Number One Gun

NOT quite. Did win three more races after the Millions triumph, but midweek restricted events at Canterbury, Gosford and Wyong aren't quite the Caulfield Guineas. Was reportedly being set for the rich Betoota Riches to Rags Class B Cup, but connections aborted the plan and retired the misfiring Gun after he ran 17 lengths last of nine in a trial at Canberra. 


ANOTHER swimmer who got lucky that it came up mud on Millions day. Won the Maiden on a bottomless Heavy 8, then won a BM80 and a BM85 in the mud in town before recording his sole win on a non-sodden track in a Class 6 at the Gold Coast. Did have a crack at the big time before connections gave up and pulled the pin. Ran 10th of 10 to Desleigh Forster's flyer Adebisi in the Razor Sharp at that attempt. Would have run 11th but there was a late scratching at the barrier. 


A wonderfully named horse to finish off my hatchet job on the decidedly unmagical Millions Maiden. Backed up his victory in the little big one run as the first race on the second Saturday of January each year with wins in Class 2's at Clifford Park, Toowoomba and the home of the leaking sprinkler at Ipswich with ..... nothing. A couple of old stagers reckon that his 13th of 16 in a midweek no metro wins race at Doomben wasn't as bad as it seemed. They said it was worse. 


Meaghan Markle Makes Archie Sparkle 

SOMEWHERE during our 72 hours of cutting a coke, dope and grog-fuelled swathe through the Magic Millions weekend backing winners and beating off a throng of starry-eyed female admirers, my wingman (who is one of my closest friends) opined that Meghan Markle was only a six out of 10 in the looks department, and added that he was being generous at that price.

There's a no-taste imbecile born every day, isn't there sportsfans? The punter, formerly known as Prince Harry, ain't one of them, and nor is yours truly. That's why both of us reckon the royal female Eminem is worth cutting your left leg off for, and why Harry and the hottie called their kid Archie.

Next thing you know he'll be telling us that David Fowler, Darren Flindell, Josh Fleming and Matt Hill can call photos, and that Barsby, Bunny and Terry Spargo can't.

Nah, he won't. My mate ain't that stupid.

Speaking of the Bantam ....

There's a wild and I'm certain totally untrue rumour sweeping across the harness racing desert plains at the moment that following the Et Tu Brutus-style slaying that Fowler and Co inflicted on The King last month a huge change in sponsorship branding is about to occur at Albion Park – as soon as they get the lights to work.

This clearly fantastical whispering wind blowing says that every race currently called the Kevin and Kay Seymour (Stakes, Classic, Championship, Triad, Pot of Gold, Rising Stars, Young Guns, Sprint, Stayers, Cup and a whole lot more) is about to renamed the David and His Short, Fat, South Australian, Former Bookie Friend (Stakes, Classic, Championship, Triad, Pot of Gold, Rising Stars, Young Guns, Sprint, Stayers, Cup and a whole lot more).

Why are we so certain that the jungle beats are playing the wrong tune?

Because it costs money to sponsor races, and poker machines and six tips a race spruiker services are just like crime and certain high-profile fence sitting punters.

It doesn't pay.

A Right Charlie

DID anyone read the report on Page 2 of The Australian on Saturday about the Magic Millions written by the paper's young buck so-called racing writer Charlie Potts?

Of course you didn't. No-one reads The Australian anymore. After this howler by Potts that's no surprise at all.

The right Charlie is writing about Dusty Tycoon, and instead of doing what real journalists do and asking questions about (a) why the state body Racing Queensland has jumped into bed with one private company selling race horses and not others, and (b) how come nobody is investigating the company that charges up to $120,000 a year in training and admin fees, Charlie starts waxing lyrical about the Robert Heathcote trained Mirunners mule and his 'young jockey Dylan Smith'.

That's a bit of a problem, because Dylan Smith isn't actually a young jockey at all. He's a rising NRL footy star who plays fullback in the NRL for the West Tigers.

The jockey that the right Charlie is actually referring to is Dale Smith, a somewhat un-young 38 year-old former Victorian hoop who rides regularly for the Robert Heathcote stable and has been on the back of Dusty Tycoon since day one at the track.

We all make mistakes; but we don't all have them published on Page 2 of the country's only national newspaper, and we don't all label them EXCLUSIVE.

As Kim would say to Kath, how embarrassment! Not only that the right Charlie who the paper purports to be an expert on horse racing made such a basic error, or even that Rupert's supposedly top-shelf sub-editors in the Racing Department missed it.

No, the embarrassing thing is that the right Charlie calls himself a racing writer at all.


The World's Biggest Heist Since the Great Train Robbery of '63

I have what in these days of instant gratification and collective ignorance is regarded as quite a weird quirk, and that is I like to look back at history and learn from it. So in pursuit of that crazy kink I was trolling over old trot records last night and while doing so I stumbled across the records of the 2007 Queensland Harness Awards.

Be Good Johnny won Queensland Horse of the Year. 

It was the greatest heist since Ronnie Biggs and the boys knocked off the 2.6 million pound payroll from the train in Ledburn back in 1963.

Be Good Johnny had won the Miracle Mile for the second year in a row in 2006/07, which was an extraordinary effort worthy of the highest of praise, but there was a wee horse in the Mile field that ran second to him that by any fair-minded trot fan's reckoning undoubtedly did a little bit more than Johnny did that season.

That wee horse was Black's a Fake, perhaps the greatest pacer ever to set foot on an Australian race track since Cardigan Bay more than 30 years before, and if the legion of fans of Paleface or Pure Steel or Poppy or any other champion of the past half-century wishes to argue the toss, then I want to fire back by asking them one simple question: How many Inter Dominion's did their idols win?

Blackie of course won four, more than any horse in history before or since (the aforementioned three pacers won none), and his second was recorded that season when the champion held off the almost certainly drug-fuelled New Zealander Winforu - trained by the later disgraced dope cheat Geoff Small of equally carbed up ID winner Elsu fame -  and battered Johnny in the process.

(It's interesting to note that the one-time Tasmanian claimer turned trans-Tasman superstar Flashing Red was pulled out mid-series after returning an off the scale bicarb reading in a pre-race test prior to the start of Heat 2; Red was owned by the Vice-Chairman of the Gold Coast Harness Racing Club Norm Jenkin and trained by Stuart Hunter with whom controversy so often rode shotgun. The previous year Hunter had been named Queensland Harness Achiever of the Year, and Flashing Red awarded the Horse of the Year title).

The Miracle Mile was Be Good Johnny's sole victory over Blackie that season, and was a little fortunate too because an injury interrupted prep saw the Natalie Rasmussen superstar go into the race well underdone. Fully wound up, Blackie took Johnny to town in their other clashes in Grand Circuit races that memorable season, with the champ giving his great rival a shellacking in each of the Victoria Cup, the Sunshine Sprint and the Winter Cup (now known in his honour as the G1 Blacks a Fake), ending his racing year with 10 wins from 14 starts and seconds in the Mile and a heat of the Inter Dominion.

Be Good Johnny on the other hand won only five of his 13 starts, three of them in pretty ordinary affairs. Yet somehow the Horse of the Year judges - whoever they were - saw fit to award him the title over the pacer who had his measure eight days every week when fit, and proved it too.

What a goddamn disgrace.

David Fowler was gifted the Media Excellence Award the same year, and Chris Barsby won the Chairman's International Study Scholarship, which wasn't funded by the Chairman at all but rather by a trot fan that we all know well.

I wonder if Kevin AM's recovered from Moses' slaughter of the Colt in this year's ID series in Auckland yet? I know I wouldn't have. But then again I would never have had Grant Dixon steering.


A Testament to the Outstanding Leadership of the Man Some Call the Titanic

BAR from a brief sojourn running the old Everton Park TAB next to the fruit shop into the ground, a couple of years acting as his people's proxy in the lead trot role at Racing Queensland, and a failed 12 months stint in charge of the sport in NSW, the former Telecom technician to the stars and wannabe but never was race caller DJ Raedler has been at or near the helm of the principal trot club, Albion Park, for the better part of three decades.

It hasn't been pretty.

Fifteen years ago there were 474 licensed trot trainers in Queensland and 370 drivers.

For fear of the awful truth being revealed Racing Queensland no longer publish licensee numbers, but as of the last time they did in year 2016 there were just 293 trainers and 213 drivers left, and by virtue of a number of factors those numbers are over-cooked to buggery too, for there were actually only 25 drivers who went round at Albion Park last weekend. 

He's done a great job running the sport has Damian Raedler, a wonderful job indeed. With captains like him steering the ship who needs icebergs?


The Race That Makes a Stallion - One or Two Anyway

THE so-called experts claim that the Caulfield Guineas is the race that makes stallions.

At Geebung State School our teacher Tony Fleming taught us that in maths X was the unidentified, and a spurt from a hose was a drip, and so if you added X and Spurt together all you ended up with was an unidentified drip.

Based upon the wild claims about the Caulfield Guineas by a whole lot of mainstream media mouthpieces it's very difficult to mount an argument that Mr Fleming was wrong.

Know how many winners of the race have actually gone on to become great sires over the past 20 years? 



Two have become good, but not great, sires.

Show a Heart and All Too Hard.

The other 17 are a bunch of blank shooters (Star Spangled Banner), battlers (Helenus), mental cases (Helmet), and no-name nothings in the breeding barn. 

All of Which means that any broodmare owner prepared to punt $77,000 on sending their girl to Autumn Sun is as silly as the fools who actually believe that John Messara didn't pull the pin on his so-called champion's racing career to protect his stud career after his limitations were exposed when he staggered over the line in the Rosehill Guineas to beat the Kiwi superstar Arrogant, winner of one from 10, that being a Maiden at Matamata.

The same unidentified drips swear black and blue that the Coolmore contested by three-year-olds in the spring is a stallion maker too, at least in the years that a colt wins it. 

Show me them.

Brazen Beau and Zoustar have both been hyped to the heavens as the next Godfathers of the Australian racing scene, but with six-figure service fees and just a solitary Group 1 winner between them (Sunlight, daughter of Zoustar) the kindest thing you can say is that there's a sucker born every day.

Northern Meteor looked like being a champion sire and gave us six Group 1 winners from just a couple of crops, but his untimely death from colic meant that we will never know just whether he had a lucky early kick or was a freak who would have become one of the all-time greats.

After that you have a few middling stallions in the form of Star Witness, Sepoy and Headway - who between them have produced just two Group winners (Alizee and Global Glamour, both top class mares when racing their own age and sex, but neither the sort of galloper that are likely be widely remembered in 20y years’ time) - and then you have daylight shining on sweet Donald Duck all.


The David Fowler Foot in Mouth in Photo Finishes Disease Spreads South

WHEN he was calling in Hong Kong, Darren Flindell was known as Mr Accurate, a dead-eye dick in a photo who would never pick a close finish wrong.

So what the hell has happened? Just like his No 1 calling counterpart, Josh Fleming in Queensland, these days in photos half the time Flindell can't seem to pick his own nose, let alone a bob of the head winner.

Race 2 at Warwick Farm last Wednesday is the perfect example. J-Mac was in front all the way down the straight on Rammstein and going hell for leather, but he was flat out and any monkey could see that he was a sitting duck for a swooper. The mug punter in the Smithfield Tavern who'd been drinking pots of heavy to chase down his nips of rum since opening time certainly did, because when Tommy Berry came charging down the outside on Travest he let off a whoop that would have woken up kids 2000km away in Woodridge. 

Even to the naked eye every bugger in the TAB knew that Travest had got up - he'd clearly won by a head - but Darren Flindell didn't. He called Rammstein in real time, and then repeated his mistake even after the slowed down footage of the finish had been played. It was until after the Sky crew stopped the slo-mo low shot right on the line that Sydney's premier caller realised his error, which of course was way too late for any punter who'd backed J-Mac and rung the wife to tell her that he'd be bringing her home a diamond ring for dinner.

Flindell backed it up with a couple of beauties on the weekend - a head margin is clearly too close to call - but he's not alone, because Matt Hill down in Melbourne did it too, a couple of times.

It's neither of their faults though, because the DPI vets advise that the dreaded David Fowler foot in mouth in photo finish disease has been sweeping the country, with reports of the virus being seen all over the eastern seaboard. 

Thankfully the West Australians have managed to erect a bantam proof fence to protect Perth punters from the agonising effects of being called a winner when you're not, or not getting a verdict from the caller at all, and as a result they still pick bobs of the head accurately over there on the other side of the Nullabor. 

If only we could be so lucky.






THE Magic Millions Day circus may have had a happy ending but there were lessons to be learned for those running the show.

With traffic chaos becoming all too common on the highways north and south of Brisbane and the Gold and Sunshine Coast Clubs calling for more primary meetings, rule changes need to be considered.

Should starters in big races be required to arrive on track by 10 or 11am? It might be an imposition on stables but would overcome the near disaster that confronted MM Day.

There are two sides to the happy ending that resulted from the intervention of a police escort to get starters to the track when officials made the right decision to delay races to accommodate the delay.

The apologists in the mainstream racing media have gone to great lengths to highlight these unprecedented steps weren’t taken purely to ensure hot favorite Alligator Blood got to the post in time for the $2 million MM Guineas. There were many others held up in the traffic log-jam on the Gold Coast Highway as well.

But the question will always remain unanswered: ‘Had it been an outsider trained by a battler would they have moved montains to help?’ – Of course not!

Or as one reader told us: ‘A few years back my wife and I were held up on the Gateway Arterial Road in similar circumstances on our way to the Airport. We arrived an hour before the flight was due to depart but were told we were too late. Would police have given us an escort in similar circumstances?’ – Of course not!

Don’t count on what happened on Magic Millions day creating a precedent in Australian racing – it was most certainly a one-off. They won’t be holding up the running of the Melbourne Cup for a police escort to get a runner to the track.



CRITICS of relatively new and much maligned Queensland Chief Steward Peter Chadwick have been quick to urge racing observers not to paint him as the lifesaver of the Magic Millions day disaster.

Those close to the action are pouring accolades on Ian Brown, the former Chief Stipe at the Gold Coast now working for the Turf Club, who successfully negotiated the police rescue of those MM runners caught up in the Highway traffic tangle.

The unkind barbs continue against Chadwick with one contributor emailing LGHR: ‘Even at the SKY televised barrier draw poor old Pete looked more like the office boy than the Chief Steward while his First Lieutenant seemed to know more about what was happening.’

Chadwick and his QRIC team were under fire from leading turf scribes (local and interstate) over a lack of punter information concerning horse fitness ahead of major races on Magic Millions Day.

One of those who feature prominently was the highly-fancied and previously unbeaten Farnan from the Gai Waterhouse stable which was among the favorites for the $2mn Two-Year-Old Classic.

CHRIS ROOTS, Racing Editor of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, wrote:

A number of horses struggled to prove their fitness ahead of the Magic Millions races this weekend, including Farnan, which was one of the favourites for the Classic.

Not that many people knew about it, with the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission failing to keep punters informed.

The regular checks of Magic Millions horses took place on Thursday but the QRIC didn’t make public that vets had concerns about Farnan. He was re-examined on Friday and again on Saturday morning before he was cleared to run, which was announced on race morning.

But in days when betting starts way out from races that is simply not good enough.

The wheels move slowly at QRIC. There is currently an inquiry underway into a positive swab to a party drug returned by a stakes winner during the Brisbane winter carnival that has yet to be made public.

When the Herald put questions about the swab to the QRIC last year, the response was "no comment" as it was an ongoing inquiry. No confirmation of the horse or the race.

It is understood after more than six months, the QRIC is getting nearer to announcing a date for hearing about the positive swab.



WHILE Chris Roots and his colleague in Brisbane, Racin’ Nathan Exelby, took the opportunity to fire another pot-shot at QRIC, they conveniently dodged the chance to fire an overdue barb at the stewards’ panel in Sydney.

Both were too busy praising the performance of the terrific Chris Waller-trained mare Invincibella overcoming a wide alley, a slow pace and difficulties in the run to win the $1 million feature for Fillies & Mares.

No-one is arguing that Invincibella is outstanding. What got up the nose of many punters was the dress-rehearsal she had for the MM off a freshen when sixth in the Listed Christmas Classic at Randwick won by her stablemate Madam Rouge.

Here’s what LGHR wrote after that run:

SYDNEY racing continues to frustrate punters and one of the main races at Randwick on Saturday was a terrific example – unless you happen to be one of the excuse merchants from SKY or the mainstream media.

Madam Rouge sat wide and outclassed her rivals, including Signore Fox, in the Listed Christmas Classic. Trainer Chris Waller admitted post-race that he told jockey Kathy O’Hara not to be concerned if she got caught wide.

Perhaps he should have adopted similar riding tactics at Madam Rouge’s previous start when she never got a crack at them and ran last at Rosehill.

While Madam Rouge was coasting to victory those who follow the form didn’t miss the run of stablemate Invincibella warming up for a trip to the Gold Coast when Team Waller gang tackles the Magic Millions in a fortnight. And she’ll be very hard to beat.

Here’s what the stewards saw:

INVINCIBELLA: From a wide barrier was shifted behind runners in the early stages. Rider H Bowman stated that the mare settled back in the field as anticipated and he elected to wait for Signore Fox to improve and follow that favoured runner into the race. He added that he commenced to ride Invincibella strongly from the 500m when Signore Fox commenced to improve. However, Invincibella was one paced and took some time to respond to his riding. He added that with the strong head wind in the straight he elected to not expose Invincibella to the outside and inside the final 100m when making good ground improved to the inside of Signore Fox to provide the mare with the best opportunity to finish the race off.

MEMO PUNTERS: Add to your form guide for MAGIC MILLIONS DAY: If there is a strong head wind in the Gold Coast straight be very wary of INVINCIBELLA running up to her best form.

There was no chance of the Chadwick chain gang opening a retrospective and even less of it happening with their supposedly smarter counterparts in Sydney, who include Wade Birch (remember him from his days in Queensland). Sadly, many punters say they have given up on seeing Waller getting anything more than a slap on the wrist these days regardless of what happens in Sydney racing. We've got more confidence than that in the stewards down there.



‘THE coverage on the Seven Network was extremely interesting but could have done without Jason Richardson – he’s an overrated, giggly bore. Just when you think it’s a day without him the bloke bobs up on Seven or racing.com.’

‘WHEN will punters finally recognize that Luke Currie is one of the best jockeys in the land? His two winning rides at the Gold Coast on Saturday for Maher-Eustace on Etana and Away Game in the big one were nothing short of spectacular.’

‘THE Candy Man might have got beaten on Millions Day but thanks for the memories this campaign and here’s hoping Barry (Baldwin) gets him back to winning form for at least another campaign or two.’

‘MADAM Rouge is flying for Waller and continued on her winning way in the MM Snippets but did you see the run of the South Aussie Kemalpasa which should have just about won?’

‘MICHAEL Rodd either knew that Vega One had a massive class edge on his rivals in the MM Cup or gave him a sore back from the wide draw. They flew him in from Singapore to take the ride but there are any number of locals who could have sat wide without cover and won on Vega One.’

‘TONY Gollan seems to have a habit of bobbing up on big race days and showed that winning the last two million dollar races on Saturday. My mates and I have been great fans of Outback Barbie but we couldn’t come into her after that woeful effort at Eagle Farm despite knowing she pulled up with a problem.’

‘I was surprised to hear RQ CEO Brendan Parnell tell Racing Radio from Victoria doing an outside broadcast that Millions day turns over more money than the Stradbroke meeting. Just a query, what was the crowd at the Gold Coast? We kept getting told it would be well over 20,000 but didn’t look anything like that on TV. An audited turnover record of the MM meeting would also be well received but that's probably commercial in confidence. '

‘DID you cop the looks-could-kill glance from the wife of a prominent racing identity at one of the biggest MM functions when she and her husband were greeted by his supposed girlfriend? It was the talking point of gossip doing the rounds on Millions week. Who says the little wifey is the last to know?’

‘FULL marks to those who attended the Magic Millions and contributed over a million dollars to the bush fire appeal. They started donating at the polo and didn’t stop. It’s good to see it wasn’t all about getting drunk, having a bet and spending up big on horses.’




By Archie Butterfly

SO Tony Fung, the man behind Aquis came from nowhere to be the largest player in racing in Queensland, made his money in global financial services, property developments and investments – did he?

That's what Nathan Exelby tells us in his pants down tribute to Mr Aquis in The Courier-Mail today.

The problem is that Racin' Nathan wouldn't know research from reflexology, and doesn't know shit from clay. If he did he would know that 'Hong Kong' Tony Fung didn't make his own money at all, but rather that he inherited it from his old man King Fung-Hey, one of the smartest hombres you would ever meet, who ran merchant banks that were alleged to be fronts for high-scale money laundering of profits from the then opium trade, and that he had quite a close association with a number of questionable racing and gambling identities too, principally a chap named Stanley Ho whose name is mud in the Integrity Departments of Gaming Commissions across the globe, and whose family company is under investigation in relation to its involvement in the Barangaroo Casino in Sydney right now.

Many of the same folk who tell that tale - pretty much every informed finance journalist in the world - also suggest that Hong Kong Tony may himself have been deeply involved in the Macau Casino junket racket too. That game was circumventing the strict Chinese Government rules about shifting stinky cash off shore by using dodgy pawnbrokers disguised as jewellers to pull all sorts of tricks to turn 10 dollar watches into million dollar Rolex's, and then turn the Rolex into cash deposited into an Isle of Man registered bank, then sprayed across the world banking system through $2 shelf companies until it gleamed shiny and clear.

I am not saying these people are telling lies but I do know that there is a dirty cloud over the picture Exelby is painting of Hong Kong Tony. Why doesn't Exelby shed his laziness and do a wee bit of research and lay out to his readers exactly where the Aquis money came from rather than just parroting Fung's people's PR spin?

Why didn’t Nathan ask Tony Fung how and why the revenue and turnover at the pissant Canberra Casino he bought a few years ago has suddenly rocketed through the roof?

Or why he was so reluctant to submit to a thorough probity check by the Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming and why he pulled out of his fantasy plans to spend $8 billion dollars building a new casino on a cane field at Yorkeys Knob, a tiny little haven for sea changed retirees just over the way from my joint?

How about getting really daring, and asking Hong Kong Tony why he thought the progeny of his pretty average race performed sire Spill the Beans were selling for six figures before one had even raced?

Or whether he thought those prices were good value for the buyers, considering that Beans’ sons and daughters are even slower than he was, and are struggling to run placings at places like Rocky, Townsville and Mackay?

Perhaps Nathan could even ask Mr Fung his opinion about the very odd occurrence of his star in the making sire inexplicably dying on the eve of his first very slow kid hitting the track? 

Or what Spill the Beans died of? Aquis CEO Shane McGrath told the press that Aquis were having extensive tests conducted to determine the cause of their stallion's death, but has never released the findings of the tests, so it's both a fair and utterly obvious question for a racing editor to ask.

A daring journo would ask whether the payout value of the horse's mortality insurance was based on the average yield from its yearling sales too, but hey this is Nathan we are talking about here, so let's not hope for too much.

Actually, when it comes to Nathan Exelby and some of his mainstream racing media mates the biggest criticism we hear is their lack of concern for the punters and the stakeholders at the expense of upsetting racing’s supposed power-brokers.

We’d be fools to expect them to ask any tough questions at all. In the case of Equis, that's a job for the highly experienced former police investigators now in charge of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission – over to you fellas.


The Great Queensland Stewarding Spectacular – Or How a $1.35 Favourite Gets Beaten Without A Word Being Asked


TOOWOOMBA trainer Mark Currie is a bloke who has come under a fair bit of QRIC attention in recent times, both for his own doings and for his close association with the alleged doings of his son Benjamin. The relationship between the trainer and the integrity body isn’t good, so bad in fact that if you stood on Racecourse Road and shouted through a megaphone that the Curries and QRIC both think the other are Karmichael Hunts you’d have to pay to get anyone to disagree with you.

In these circumstances you’d imagine that the QRIC employed racing stewards would be watching the activities of Mark Currie like hawks and would swoop on any issue that arose with a scent that had the faintest whiff of a scandal. You’d be wrong though; that would require too much basic common sense.

Mark Currie trains a horse named Hautclere that went around in Race 6 at Kilcoy on Saturday.

Hautclere had previously been trained by Simon Zahra and Matt Ellerton in Melbourne. At its last run in Victoria four starts back before coming to Queensland the horse had finished fourth to Turn the Tide beaten less than a length in a race at Ballarat.

Turn the Tide started the $2.80 favourite in a $125,000 BM78 at Caulfield on Saturday afternoon. Hautclere was running around in a Class 3 in the bush worth $21,000, which is why it started at 3-1 on ($1.35), particularly after its past three starts in races at far superior venues, the Gold Coast (2nd and 5th) and Toowoomba (1st) in which it pinged and led or sat second to a flyer in front.

A horse like Hautclere draws a good barrier (4) and leads at Kilcoy and its goodnight nurse and shut the gate. It didn’t lead though. It jumped only average, and then the fun began.

This is what the Stewards saw.

HAUTCLERE – Buffeted between runners on jumping. Forced wider near the 600m and raced wide for the remainder of the event.

Take a close look at the replay and tell me that they are not seeing things that aren’t there.

Hautclere doesn’t get buffeted between runners on jumping. It simply gets crossed by the eventual winner Remember Mary after its rider Beau Appo elects to sit up for a few strides instead of pumping the horse forward like each of its jockeys has in its past three starts.

It’s just a coincidence of course that Josh Oliver, the rider of the winner that crosses the 3-1 on favourite as if its pinned to the track, is a regular jockey for the Nolan/Currie clan. Skye Bogenhuber will come into this story later, but its only coincidence that she rides regularly for the Nolan/Currie’s too.

So, there is no buffeting. The Stewards have forgotten their glasses.

We get to the 600.

Hautclere is sitting one off the fence, and Appo decides to go. He is not forced wide – not in a million years – he chooses to pull out and attack.

Watch. He’s the horse the red arrow is pointing at.

Note also the ones inside and behind him.

Okay, so we’ve passed the six pole and Hautclere is one off the fence and the one inside isn’t forcing him wide, and the one behind him is too far back to do anything to him.

That one, in the pinkish sleeves under the 600 marker peg, is ridden by Bogenhuber.

Here they are a few strides later when Appo goes.

Note that the one inside him is still on the fence.

You’re not sure from that angle?

Well how about this one, a few strides later again?

It’s pretty clear now isn’t it?

So, tell me how the Stewards could have possibly seen what they recorded in the official report?

After all, this footage is taken from their film, not mine.

À couple of real funny things happen next.

Bogenhuber’s mount Quart Pot, the third favourite, cruises into the race under double wraps and is absolutely bolting as it pushes up into the spot that Appo has just vacated on the $1.3 pop.

At this stage of the race it looks the winner for all money.

Skye pulls it out approaching the tight-turning home bend into the very short straight.

Currie’s horse is for reasons unexplained rooted. The winner is under the whip. All jockey Bogenhuber needs to do is cuddle Quart Pot around the corner and its home.

Disaster strikes.

The poor dear loses control of the horse, and it spears about four-wide.

Then it gets worse. Quart Pot runs sideways and ends up eight-wide.

Its winning dreams – if anyone other than the mug punters ever had them – have turned to dust.

The leader kicks, Hautclere runs backwards at 60 km/ph, and Bogenhuber’s mount steams home for second in the 100m she gives it to half balance up and then shift in five horses.

A three’s on shot has run like a mule and finished out of a place.

The third favourite who looked a bird at the 400 has gone via the cape and got beat.

The second favourite who was backed for a stack late has won.

Red lights should be flashing all over the Moonee Valley of the North course. It’s time to hold correct weight, call for the betting sheets and call the trainers and riders in. That’s obvious, to everyone but the Stewards.

The connections of the beaten $1.3 pop have been around racing for a while, and understand the pressures that Stewards are on to ensure that races run on time. They aren’t stupid either, so to suck up the five or 10 minutes in which the Stewards might call them into the room for a chat before they have to start preparing for the next race, they ask to see the patrol film so that they might ascertain whether there are grounds to lodge a protest against the third placed horse.

Hautclere has finished a fading length behind the third-placed horse, it hasn’t been anywhere near it since just after the jump, and anyone can clearly see that when it was crossed then the other horse was at least a length and a half, and probably two lengths clear. The whole thing is simply a ruse.

It works. The Stewards fall for it. Suckers. There is no inquiry into how a 3-1 on favourite managed to get beaten almost five lengths, and no questions are asked of jockey Bogenhuber as to how her mount managed to go via the cape when it was traveling like a winner, or why it laid in so sharply in the straight when she belatedly decided to straighten it up.

To add insult to injury Hautclere isn’t swabbed.

They only dope winners is obviously the QRIC’s inalienable theory of racing.

They have obviously never heard of George Freeman, or Big Philou.

Queensland racing integrity is once more bathed in brilliant sunshine, and the Stewards are covered in glory.

The punters meanwhile have simply done their arse.

Some of them anyway!

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more.


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