Jenny - Clean


THE much awaited arrival in cinemas across Australia of the Michelle Payne Melbourne Cup winning movie Ride Like A Girl has met with mixed reviews.

In the eyes of the racing world and feminists across the land it will no doubt be a blockbuster but in the eyes of some hard-line movie reviewers it has received only two stars.

Respected media reviewer Leigh Paatsch, didn’t seem all that impressed by the film, when she wrote:

THE history books famously record Michelle Payne achieved her history-making 2015 Melbourne Cup win aboard a 100-to-1 shot.

However, the odds are much shorter that Ride Like a Girl, the new big-screen biopic telling the story of her stirring victory, will be a box-office winner.

The Australian public can’t resist an underdog yarn. So they certainly won’t be turning down the chance to tag along on Payne’s rags-to-riches journey to become the first female jockey to take out the Race That Stops a Nation.

This is not to say Ride Like a Girl is a good movie. Far from it. The quality fluctuates throughout from quaintly endearing to faintly awful.

The filmmakers continually overcook what should have been a very simple and straight-forward dish, often by piling hefty helpings of corn and ham on the side.

Nevertheless, what should keep Ride Like a Girl in the good graces of Australian audiences are its heartfelt portrayals of the ultra-determined Payne, and also the remarkable family who shaped her indefatigable will to succeed.

With one notable exception, the acting on display here is average at best.

Teresa Palmer as Michelle Payne never really convinces as a jockey, but does excel when it comes to conveying her character’s tough-as-teak personal ethos.

Sam Neill cops the worst of some wonky, clichéd scripting as Paddy Payne, Michelle’s hard-nosed horse-trainer dad, and head of a rough ‘n’ tumble household that lives and breathes thoroughbred racing.

The sole breakout star of the cast is Michelle’s brother Stevie, playing himself.

A close ally and confidante of his sister from childhood, Stevie was the strapper of his sister’s winning Cup mount, Prince of Penzance. He also knows how to chime in with a funny line or two (something the movie could have used more of).

It will be interesting to see what people make of the prominence of disgraced ex-trainer Darren Weir, who appears often (and in a disarmingly warm and positive light) as a key character in the tale.

Even if you’re only slightly aware of the misdeeds that saw Weir (played here by Sullivan Stapleton) banished from racing, his presence here feels like an uncomfortable distraction, to put it politely.

As for Ride Like a Girl’s all-important racetrack sequences, they are passable enough, but not quite as exhilarating as first-time director Rachel Griffiths and her team have been making out while promoting the movie.

2 stars**


In contrast, Caroline Russo, was a great fan in her review of the movie when she wrote:

TRUE stories are films I love to see and one I have been waiting for is the film that spotlights the only female jockey in history to have won the Melbourne Cup 2015, Michele Payne.

First time director Racheal Griffiths, has delivered a film that captures the heart and souls of Michele Payne’s journey that from a little girl says she wanted to win the Melbourne Cup and as fate brings together Rachel was at the right place at the right time when Payne won the race that took to the hearts of all in the global race world that stops the nation.

Teresa Palmer does an amazing portrayal and was said by Griffiths that she was the only choice to play the lead role. Sam Neill acting the father Paddy is perfect, and with real-life brother Stevie Payne, who steals the show in so many ways and just adds more to the warmth of this film.

Griffiths was inspired to make the film and again for female creatives to come together this was ironic and immediate in actions to follow up on this.

“It is the only sport in the world where women compete with men and it is the most dangerous sport in the world,” Griffith says.

“When I saw Payne lean down to hug her brother Stevie and found out about Paddy Payne and the many siblings (in tragic circumstances, her sister Brigid died after a fall), Griffiths saw in this story a classic Australian sporting film – the prize, the obstacles, the win – with a woman at its centre.

“To top it was when she told the world to ‘get stuffed’. I thought, that’s the girl Australia’s going to root for because she’s the outsider, she’s 100 to 1.”

Rachel Griffiths also said she wanted to make a film that would make men cry and you have to be hard as steel not too.

It was stated for Payne to get the project of her life in the film was hard to adjust to at first with getting the family behind it, but when brother Stevie was cast all changed, and they are over the moon.

The film does stay to pact with her life which shows an insight into family background and her father’s relationship, with the challenges along the way and the fight to win. She is an inspiration to the sporting world and many young women now growing up.

Must-see film 5 stars I cried like a girl and loved it.

Five stars*****

WE, at LGHR, suggest you make it a ‘must see’ and draw your own conclusions. (PHOTOS used above WERE SUPPLIED).



WITH the Spring Carnival moving into full swing in Sydney the state of the Rosehill track is causing concern for punters and an embarrassment for officialdom.

Full marks to CHRIS ROOTS of FAIRFAX MEDIA, one of the few high profile turf scribes in Sydney who cares about the interests of the punting fraternity, for raising the issue of the surface at Rosehill last Saturday causing consternation among jockeys and trainers.

Roots rightly commented that the six metre rail position at Rosehill generally helps leaders but jockeys had to ride to the track bias and keep close to the fence to have the best chance on the weekend. The way it played clearly affected results, which is not ideal.

It means that a lot of backmarkers have to be forgiven, while leaders probably got presented with better opportunities, which is not good enough heading into the carnival for many trainers.

Roots offered some light at the end of the tunnel when he reports that whilst it was far from a perfect racing surface last Saturday, Australian Turf Club general manager of Race-courses, Nevesh Ramdhani, believes the improvement will be dramatic in coming weeks.

“We go back to the true rail for Golden Rose day (on Saturday week) and that section of track inside the fence (last Saturday) is in great condition,” he said. “We had to protect that section of the track because of what (meetings are) coming up.

“The weather gets warmer from now on and we are expecting rain as well and that will help the tracks. We had a dry winter but at Rosehill it seemed to rain when we raced, which took a toll on the track. We have two big meetings at Rosehill – the Golden Rose and Golden Eagle and it will be at its best for them.”



MEANWHILE, in BRISBANE after what could only be described as a relatively fine week they served up a SLOW 5 track at Doomben.

The form assessors roared: Give us a break – it hasn’t rained for months – this is simply confusing.

Speaking of confusing, that’s how some angry punters described the explanation for the form reversal that the Stewards accepted from the connections of the long-priced winner of the last race at Doomben in El Campeador?

This is what the Tony Gollan stable representative told Stewards’ Chairman Peter Chadwick and his panel:

The gelding had improved since its second-up start from a spell and may have also appreciated the step back in distance and the lower weight carried in today’s race.  

That's sounds fine, but the form guide tells us that:

(a) The additional weight that El Campeador carried last start (58kg as opposed to 54kg on the weekend) was because it was racing in a BM80 race as opposed to Saturday's Open Handicap.

(b) The gelding has always raced better over the mile journey of its previous outing than the 1350m trip that it won over on Saturday. Its prior record over the 1350m was one win in an Ipswich midweek Maiden, a third in a Class 4 at the same track and a third in a BM80 at Doomben behind the very limited Bushy. It's hardly awe inspiring and it’s no indication that the horse would relish the 10,000 trip.

On the other hand El Campeador had previously raced 19 times over the mile or thereabouts, for three wins, six seconds and a third.

We can only assume that the Stewards’ Panel must not have had a form guide handy when they accepted the explanation for the amazingly improved performance.



TRAINER Adam Trinder didn’t deserve the anonymous derogatory texts, emails and phone calls he received after brilliant mare Mystic Journey was beaten in a boilover in the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington last Saturday.

Trinder told MATT STEWART, Racing Editor of RSN, he was gutted by the reaction from ‘some bad eggs’ and had received abusive phone calls from the moment he walked into the mounting yard after the mare’s shock defeat.

“All from blocked numbers – stuff like she’s a dog, you should dig a hole and shoot her, really derogatory stuff,” Trinder said. “I couldn’t believe it. I honestly wanted to take her away and hide her.”

“I’ve been extremely open and upfront with the media, everybody,” he said. “I’ve been under no illusion about her being the next Winx and that she would win every start. But you get these idiots. I have to be honest it was really distressing.”



WHILE the political and social chaos in Hong Kong continues to degenerate into fighting on the streets, the city’s No 1 sport – horse racing – has remained largely unaffected.

The SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST reports that for whatever combination of reasons – the HKJC’s neutrality, the need for an escape, the benefits it provides as a taxpayer and charity donor, the fact the sport is a core part of Hong Kong’s culture and identity – racing seems to be in a bubble.

Other businesses are suffering crushing losses from the turmoil, but betting turnover has been up at every meeting so far, attendance is only slightly down and other than introducing bag checks and having more security on site, it has basically been business as usual.

But given the civil unrest keeps escalating, it was only a matter of time before the two worlds collided and we have reached the point where the Jockey Club has made a change – albeit minor – in the face of a potential problem.

Tonight (Wednesday) at Happy Valley, the Class Two Cheung Hong Handicap (1000m) is being run as the opener on the eight-race card. It is the best race of the night and would typically generate a lot of turnover.

For context, there were 19 Class Two events at a midweek Happy Valley meeting last season and the earliest was race six, but the rest were either the last or second-last events on their respective programmes.

The change has been made because of one horse – Hong Kong Bet – who is part-owned by one of the most polarizing figures in Hong Kong, pro-establishment lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu.

He was thrust into the spotlight when he publicly defended the white-clad men who indiscriminately attacked civilians in Yuen Long in July, while he was also filmed shaking their hands and thanking them.

A group started a campaign to have Ho’s Jockey Club membership taken off him, as well as demanding that Hong Kong Bet be withdrawn from all races going forward.

The Jockey Club’s determination to not pick sides ensured that didn’t happen and the Tony Cruz-trained sprinter is ready to make his return to the races after winning two of his six starts last season.

There is a genuine fear this situation, in a combustible environment, could create a flashpoint at the track, so it has been moved to when the fewest people will be there to try to minimise that risk.

The Jockey Club has an all-encompassing statement when it comes to issues about the civil unrest:

“We will closely monitor the current situation in the community, and will remain vigilant on any scenarios that may affect the race meetings. In any case, the club has well-established procedures for every race meeting to ensure the safety of its staff, customers and racehorses.”



THE SCMP also reports that champion trainer John Moore has paid tribute to former Hong Kong horseman Geoff Lane, who died in Australia at the age of 80 on Sunday, saying ‘you wouldn’t find a nicer guy’.

Lane was a star apprentice in Melbourne early in his career before winning the senior jockeys’ championship in 1959-60, collecting a host of features – including three Victoria Derbies and a Cox Plate, before being forced into an early retirement because of weight issues.

He made the move to Hong Kong in the early 1970s, where a higher weight scale allowed him to continue his riding career with a lot of success for a decade.

After hanging up his saddle, Lane became an administrator at the Jockey Club – spending time as a stipendiary steward among other things – before getting a training licence for the 1988-89 season.

He spent 16 years as a trainer at Sha Tin, collecting 349 winners while his horses earned almost HK$187 million in prize money.

Lane had to retire from Hong Kong after the 2003-04 season at the age of 65, but moved to Macau where he continued his career for another four years before settling back in Australia on the Gold Coast. He was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame for his impact as a jockey in 2013.

Moore, who rode and trained against Lane, described him as “a very good mate”, saying he deserves a lot of credit with helping to build the profile and credibility of Hong Kong racing as it transitioned into the professional era.

“Geoff was one of the first of the professional jockeys with a big name to come to Hong Kong. He was the nicest guy and a very good rider,” Moore said.




UNSER FRITZ, a keen follower of racing especially in Queensland, became such a popular contributor to HAVE YOUR SAY at LETSGOHORSERACING that we gave him a column of his own. Here is his take this week on all things racing:



IT was only a couple of weeks ago that I was telling a somewhat sceptical John Lingard that this young jockey was a superstar, and the best jockey in Perth.

Like many who have been brainwashed by the cult of Willie (Pike), John smiled, nodded and clearly didn't believe me.

Well Jade's showed you now hasn't she, and be assured her six winners on the weekend were no fluke. Remember too that she is far from getting the pick of the plumb rides, as demonstrated by the fact that her 20-1 winner in the feature race was a Willie Pike reject.

Now that trainers are beginning to realize how good Ms McNaught really is in the saddle she will start picking up the best rides in races, and only the sky is her limit.


L. MEECH doesn't pick up the plum rides either, but is there any jockey in Melbourne other than perhaps the enigmatic Ben Melham who is in better form at present?

Linda is simply flying, and that's because she is a wonderful rider who is as strong and as clever as any in the business. She can ride them from the front, she can ride them from the back, and she can ride them from the middle.

If Meech was a man she'd be the leading rider in Victoria. What's that? She already is? Why am I not surprised?


ARCHIE Butterfly (where is he now?) always maintained that Liam Birchley had been charged with the wrong offence, and that when the trainer got past the internal processes he would be cleared. Archie was right.

The question now though is this: If it can't be proven that Birchley administered any unlawful substance to his horse despite the VCAT member clearly believing he did, then how can it be proven that anyone else other than Greg Nelligan did?

This decision could open up a whole can of worms.



SPEAKING of cans of worms, what on earth is going on down in NSW when it comes to the trots?

Pacers are regularly coming out one week and looking like Pure Steel, and then going like absolute crabs the next.

Something is clearly wrong, and I don't pretend to know what it is.

But just like racing in Brisbane the issues need to be identified, addressed and cleaned up, otherwise no-one is going to invest their hard-earned on the highly dubious product.



NSW harness racing might well be on the nose, but our home-grown star named Brittany continues to rise and rise and rise.

Earlier this year I attended a horse sale with Ms Graham and spent the day in a box at the Inglis Warwick Farm complex with the lovely young woman. She never stopped working for a second all throughout the day, studying form as if her life depended on it, watching replay after replay, interviewing everyone who moved, prepping her show, and even bidding on a horse or two in between.

Brittany's professionalism and commitment to her trade knows no bounds, and her hard work is reaping rewards because she's rapidly becoming the No 1 anchor on SKY 1 and rightly so. Her future in race broadcasting is so bright that Ms Graham's gotta wear shades.



THE Moonee Valley mob can shout all they like, but as good as the Cox Plate is - and it's fantastic - the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is even better. It's the race of all races, and is won by only the best.

It almost defies belief that Queensland resident BJ Smith took a Kiwi horse all the way across the seas and ran second to the immortal Alleged. It's one of the greatest, and most under-appreciated, training feats in Australasian racing history.


THE French Derby winner Sottsass is little known here, but gee he's some sort of horse. Take a look at his win in the Qatar Prix Niel last night. My goodness!

The rival jockeys kept the superstar colt and his rider Christian Demuro in a zip fastener all the way down the straight a'la Emancipation v Sir Dapper in the '84 George Ryder, except that when Demuro found the gap at the 100m the Derby winner went seven times faster than Sir Dapper did and won with his head on his chest.

This is one serious galloper, and as much as I love Enable and rate her the best horse in the world, she's going to have to lift a gear to beat this bloke.


OVER four months and five starts this unbeaten Godolphin owned, Charlie Appleby trained two-year-old Shamardal colt has gone from winning a weak Wolverhampton Maiden on the all-weather track to annihilating his opponents in the National, the premiere Group 1 race for juvenile gallopers in Ireland.

Look out Derbies, Breeders Cups and maybe even Arcs when this excitement machine comes back next prep.


SURELY they jest about David Fowler taking up the suddenly vacant caller's spot in Honkers.

For a start the Rooster is a loyal son who is extremely close to his parents, as evidenced by the fact that he has shared a house with them for the vast majority of his 50-something years.

And his efforts have ensured that his much-loved non-journalist father Max continues to be granted the equivalent of media access each year which enables him to enjoy a free ride into the highly restricted areas of the race track, presumably so that he might report happenings back to his son between races (while some owners have been refused entry on big days in recent times because of safety concerns in the saddling enclosure).

It's unlikely that David would want to go it alone in Honkers and leave his aging folks, particularly at a time when the blinds are closer to being drawn than open.

Secondly, the Rooster might be a competent caller - you may even call him good if you're a lover of the monotone book-ended by exclamation mark like inflections at the start and finish of races - but even David's biggest supporters could claim that he's not on the top shelf when it comes to picking photos.

That Honkers crowd are a little odd: they like their callers to pick the bob just as Darren Flindell, the out-going Brett Davis and some time ago Terry Spargo have done for decades.

Sadly it's one skill that our Brisbane boy doesn't really have, and it's bound to be a deal breaker, if, of course, there was ever a deal to be had or broken.

Some wags say that the prevalence of poker machines in the nearby Macau casinos might be an attraction for a man who loves to play the bandits in his leisure time. We certainly don’t share that view.

We are the first to defend David from his many ‘tall poppy’ critics and are unashamedly proud of what he has achieved on and off the track (where the great man Kev Seymour backed his rise to Chairmanship of the Albion Park Harness Racing Club).

In our experience David has always been only a recreational punter who bets amounts that he can afford, and as far as we are aware his finances (which are his own business) are very well managed, his credit rating is first class, and his tick with the bookmakers is always paid in full and on time.


DON’T write the Tasmanian mare off. She was second-up, and it does funny things to horses.

Mystic Journey is still up to her neck in any race that Adam Trinder chooses.

Gatting knocked us all out of the quaddie thanks to a gun ride by a gun rider in Jamie Kah, but that's racing isn't it? In my opinion the West Australian won't won another race all Spring.



SUNLIGHT is a certainty. Call me mad if you wish, but keep your powder dry until after the race.


LUKE Murrell from Australian Bloodstock reckons that Cross Counter is superbly weighted and a certainty in the Cup.

I think the rainy weather in Melbourne at present has sizzled his sinusitis.

Cross Counter was my biggest betting win of the carnival last year, but with that weight it's a million to one in 2019.

There's one thing surer than death, taxes, and a fraudster ever digging themselves out of a punt sunk hole with their last, and that is that an overseas bred and raced (at some time) horse will win it. Which one? We will have to wait a few more weeks yet to find out.


THIS year's cross-code Grand Final double looks a lay down certainty.

Load up on The Roosters and Richmond.



DISREGARD all the bluster and bulldust you're hearing about the length of coach Seibold's contract.

For goodness sake, the bloke had just taken Souths into third place in the 2018 comp and won Coach of the Year when the Broncos signed him. He's not the problem, the corporate office of Paul White and Karl Morris is.

The Brisbane side can't go a yard because these buffoons spent millions on back-ended contracts for the volatile trundler Matthew Lodge, the gay deceiver Anthony Milford, and the broken down crock Darius Boyd.

As a result there was and remains no money available to the Broncos to buy the halves they so desperately need, and no dough to poach a hooker from the Damien Cook/Jake Friend/Cameron Smith top shelf.

Without a spine a footy team is a jellyfish, and sadly due to terrible ill-management by the bosses in suits that's the Broncos fate for the next couple of seasons.

Clean out head office if you're going to clean out anything, and leave Seibold alone to do his best to make something out of the wreckage.



IT’S interesting to see Dean Shannon back at the helm of the fledgling corporate bookmaker that has made a huge dent in the Australian wagering market over the past couple of years.

The wheels seemed to fall off a little after his departure last year, but now that Australia's pre-eminent online bookie (sorry Tom) has hold of the reins again punters should be able to expect big things over the Spring Carnival, and plenty of innovative and unique wagering options. 



WE raised this issue in our maiden column last week, highlighting the dubious replacement of junior claiming apprentice Nick Keal with the senior rider Robbie Fradd.

The Courier-Mail's Nathan Exelby thought that was okay, but we disagreed and said so.

Now in his inimitable fashion Exelby appears to have flip-flopped and is questioning the replacements on the weekend for the stood down Baylee Northdurft.

He's a week late in our opinion, but I guess it's better late than never.



LGHR has already raised this issue, but it's worth raising again.

Why does the State of Queensland keep pumping up the prizemoney for the privately owned and run Magic Millions races that are restricted to yearlings sold at that sale, and the odd wildcard entry introduced to shut down the very questions that I'm asking?

It's not widely known, but a lot of this extra prizemoney - the lion’s share of which as always will be snaffled by Southern raiders - comes out of the Tourism budget rather than the Racing one, on the claimed basis that the Magic Millions is a driver of tourism to the Coast.

That seems a ridiculous claim given that the MM meeting is held during the summer school holidays in January, when most sleeping establishments are already booked out jam-packed by non-racegoers.

 It's high time that the Opposition called the State Government to account on this issue and demanded that Anna and Jackie produce some stats to back up their very wobbly heightened tourist number claims.



HUH? Who's running in that?

Peter V'Landys, take a bow.

Look out Rugby League, a new age is about to dawn.






TERRY BUTTS (pictured) farewells a great old mate GEOFF LANE

Friends are like diamonds...found everywhere…

Mates are like diamonds...Rich and Rare.

THAT sums up the Geoffrey Stanislaus Lane, the Golden Boy who so sadly and so suddenly left us.

Ours was an association that really started in 1955.

I was the 11-year-old strapper for a horse named Cheerywood when he contested the Albury Gold Cup.
G.Lane, the 16-year-old Golden Boy from Melbourne, was the jockey and for 60 years we joked how he came back after an unlucky fourth and apologized for his ride.

He went back to Melbourne breaking all records, including big race wins on his favourite Lord, plus many, many others, and five Victorian Derbies.

He was apprenticed to Phar Lap’s strapper Tommy Woodcock (though he never spoke a lot of him), was a great mate of Brian Courtney, and, of course, had a firm association with the Filipino fireball  Babe Yasmael .

One of my clearest memories was meeting him at the Caravelle Hotel (no longer) in Hong Kong on the night he arrived from Melbourne with Joannie and babies, Samantha and Samuel, to kick-start his riding career.

Weight had just about forced him out of the saddle in Melbourne but the higher scale in Hong Kong allowed him to continue to do what he did best - ride winners.

Lane was a virtual unknown when he arrived at Happy Valley to ride against the mostly Chinese jockeys on horses that were trained mostly by white Russians, including George Sofronoff, father of Queensland legal heavyweight Walter.

He soon became a celebrity and I can still hear the jubilant roars of “Laaarnay” resounding from the packed stands of the Valley almost every week.

And such was his standing in the racing hierarchy of Hong Kong that on his retirement from riding he was offered a trainer’s licence that he held unblemished until he reached the retirement age of 65.

He returned to Australia and for the past several years has been acting as an advisory steward at the Gold Coast because “I had to do something”.

We have kept in close contact all these years and only recently I questioned his (an octogenarian, mind you) about the pitfalls of  scaling the stewards’  viewing tower for every race at the Gold Coast. He just laughed it off.

“Keeps me fit and besides, they know I am watching”.

What a bloke – with a devotion to his wife, family and to racing that will never be surpassed if ever matched.




THE racing community in Australia and Hong Kong has been saddened by the sudden death of former international jockey Geoff Lane.

Melbourne-born Lane, 80, spent his retirement years on the Gold Coast where he remained actively involved as a steward for Racing Queensland and hosted Ambassador Travel tours back to his old stamping ground of Hong Kong for International Day.

Lane, who was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2013, started his apprenticeship with trainer Tommy Woodcock at Mentone in 1953. He was five times champion apprentice and in 1959-60, the year he completed his indentures, he won the senior Melbourne jockeys’ premiership.

In a brief career, the length of which was seriously curtailed by weight problems, Lane was associated with many fine horses, riding more than 400 winners as an apprentice and capturing some 76 feature races.

His big race wins included three Victoria Derbies, three VRC Oaks and three VRC St Legers, the AJC Oaks, the Caulfield Guineas, three Caulfield Stakes, two Toorak Handicaps, the Futurity Stakes, four Memsie Stakes and four St George Stakes, two Sandown Cups and a Williamstown Cup, four Alister Clark Stakes, two William Reid Stakes and the W.S. Cox Plate. Outstanding horses with which he was associated included Lord, which he rode to 17 wins, and Dhaulagiri, which he rode to 13 wins, headline by the 1961 W.S.Cox Plate, and to placings in the Melbourne, Caulfield, Sydney and Brisbane Cups.

Rising weight and constant dieting caused Lane to announce his retirement in 1964 at the age of 25. Three years later he made a successful comeback, but weight problems again forced his retirement in 1971.

He then moved to Hong Kong where a higher weight scale allowed him to continue riding with much success during the next decade. On retirement, he took up an administrative position with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and later became a successful trainer.


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