Jenny - Clean

IS THE POLY TRACK SET TO BE ANOTHER DISASTER FOR RACING QLD?

THE enforced transfer of two meetings in the space of a week to the All Weather Track on the Sunshine Coast has provoked an interesting response from mainly punters but also some stakeholders.

One of our regular readers arguably summed up the feelings of most when he wrote:

“Whilst the majority understand the need to have an alternative to no racing at all it’s only the needy and the greedy who seem to want to race or bet on these Poly Tracks”.

There were 60 scratchings when the new AWT at the Sunshine Coast was used for the first time last Friday night and the decision to follow that process with today’s washed out Doomben meetings has been followed with another big ‘thumbs down’.

Another 55 acceptors for Doomben were scratched when the meeting was transferred to the Poly Track at Corbould Park. The bottom line was it was a choice of racing there or not racing at all.

Another contributor had this to say:

“Throughout the country punters don’t want to bet on these tracks because they throw up too many upsets and the normal turf form is impossible to follow meaning it’s horses for courses. It’s fine for those trainers who want to take advantage of this 11th hour option but for the punters it just makes the task of finding a winner that much harder.”

Nothing can be blamed for the current predicament but the big wet. One might ask though: Where’s Eagle Farm when you need it?

The worry that punters have is that the trigger finger of the brains-trust at RQ will now be firmly planted on the ‘switch to the Poly Track’ option. What are the odds they are already considering that for the Sunshine Coast night meeting on Friday despite the fact that the rain is due to ease on Thursday ahead of fine days on Friday and Saturday?

LGHR made the suggestion that the Gold Coast primary meeting lost last Saturday should have been run on Sunday as a double-header with the card that went ahead on the Sunshine Coast on an improving track before the rain returned on Monday. That never even got a look in. If it’s outside the easy option, RQ simply puts it in the too hard basket.

But as we’ve said before there is widespread belief in the industry that the majority running the show at HQ’s (that’s Parnell and his bunch of merry men) are paid too much and most of them aren’t worth feeding.

 

‘PETER THE GREAT’ FAVORITE FOR ‘WATER WALKING’ AT OLYMPICS

WE had a couple of emails from readers asking if a prediction by our good mate Archie Butterfly on his subscriber-only website, peterprofit, was an early April Fool’s Day joke.

Archie, who we warn must you is extremely well informed, published rumours that Peter V’landys will quit his role with Racing NSW to run the Queensland Olympics organizing team.

That provoked more questions than answers like:

Is he quitting the ARL as well?

Is this simply a decision by Premier Anastasia because of the deal the Queensland Government did with him to host the last NRL grand final?

Doesn’t the Federal Government have any say in who is appointed to these key roles considering the taxpayer money they’re kicking in?

And, how old would V’landys be when the Olympics are held in Brisbane?

LGHR thinks he would do a great job and can’t wait to see him depart as Head Honcho of racing, in particular, along with rugby league.

Tongue-in-cheek we wonder if an Olympics ‘Peter the Great’ style would mean organizing ‘slot holders’ for certain events with the winners receiving absurd amounts of prizemoney; if he would introduce a new sport of ‘water walking’ for which he would be the early Gold Medal favourite; whether the Murdoch Media would be granted exclusive rights to the event and everyone – families and pensioners included – would have to pay King Rupert for the privilege of watching; and finally if Albion Park could be used for ‘boat racing’ – the conversion cost would be zero.

 

THE LONG-AWAITED COMEBACK OF JAMIE KAH IS ALMOST HERE

RACING.com reports that there will be no easing back into the fray for Jamie Kah, who makes her comeback to riding on Friday at two venues, with a pair of confirmed mounts at the day meeting at Mornington followed by two more at The Valley on Friday night.

Last season's champion Victorian rider, who last rode at the Sandown Lakeside meeting on August 25, will partner Inner Spirit for champion trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace in the fourth race at Mornington before taking the ride on Dawn County for her partner Clayton Douglas in the fifth.

She then travels up to Melbourne to ride Dirty Deeds for the new barn of Simon Zahra in the fourth event at The Valley, before riding China Affair for Douglas in the fifth race.

The 25-year-old then takes a further six mounts at Saturday's Pakenham Cup meeting, including the ride aboard one of the feature-race favourites, Smokin' Romans, for Maher and Eustace.

        

 

NOT A QUESTION BY STEWARDS ABOUT MAJOR FORM REVERSAL

FROM a punters’ perspective, the failure of stewards in Victoria not to question the massive form reversal by Dragon Storm in Saturday’s Sandown Cup was absolutely mind-blowing.

The one-time Kiwi had three ‘duck eggs’ on his form sheet this preparation and got beaten almost 27 lengths at his latest start. And that was in a BM96 compared to the Listed race he somehow managed to win.

Perhaps it was some major gear changes, the rises to 3200m over which he had won or the admission by trainer Mike Moroney that he was more than likely heading back to New Zealand if he didn’t improve. Now the long-term target is the Adelaide Cup.

Rather than ask a question about the massive form reversal, Stewards reported:

Dragon Storm (NZ): Near the 2700m was eased when crowded for room between True Marvel (FR) and Lion's Share. Held up for clear running from the 400m and passing the 300m was disappointed for clear running between Sweet Thomas (GER) and Accountability (IRE) which shifted out slightly. Was then steadied outwards, obtaining clear running near the 200m.

Perhaps it’s one of the reasons the stakeholders prefer Robert Cram as Chief Stipe to Terry Bailey who arguably would have fired a ‘please explain’ at the Dragon Storm camp.

 

POLY TRACK NICE FALL-BACK OPTION BUT USE IT ONLY WHEN NEEDED  

NOW that Racing Queensland has a Poly Track at the Sunshine Coast to fall back on, here’s hoping meetings aren’t transferred at the drop of a hat every time the heavy rain arrives.

It’s terrific to have a standby – and the new surface seemed to play well enough at its earlier than expected trial last Friday night – but there were 60 scratchings from the original meeting on the turf.

That should send a message to officialdom that many trainers prefer not to start on All Weather Tracks not to mention the punters when it comes to betting on them. They can throw up some surprise results.

It’s also difficult from a form perspective with no statistics to compare. That is why the decision to run ‘dual meetings’ at Corbould Park is a smart move – even though the punters would prefer to run on the turf.

 

SPOTLIGHT ON BOSS OVERSHADOWED TWO GREAT LADY RIDES

THE spotlight and headlines were on the farewell of Glen Boss, a true champion of the riding ranks, despite bowing out on a beaten favorite at Caulfield on Saturday.

But we want to highlight a couple of performances by lady jockeys that went virtually unnoticed but are more than worthy of mention.

One was the superb ride of Rachel King on Bluff ‘n’ Bluster in the last at Rosehill Gardens and the other by Samantha Collett on Jakama at Ipswich.

The latter should be shown to Apprentice School on how to ride a horse that misses the start. The Kiwi saved ground from last on the fence, waited in the straight for the split to come then charged home to win. It was a 10 out of 10 effort.

 

PUNTERS CALL FOR ADELAIDE RACE-CALLER TO LIFT HIS ACT

IT’S not an easy job to be a race-caller but Brett Davis from Adelaide is getting caught in the crossfire of punters far too often.

Davis, regarded a topliner in Hong Kong, has done his reputation no favours since returning to South Australia and making some classic blunders in close finishes.

Some might argue that these weren’t too close to call – in fact even to those watching on TV it was obvious that Davis got it wrong in his call.

The inaccuracy of Davis was highlighted again in the eighth at Morphettville on Saturday.

His mates on the form panel were quick to alibi the mistake. Terry Bailey wasn’t afforded the same privilege when he suffered a baptism of fire taking over the Sydney calling jobs from some legends and getting some far trickier angles wrong during his fledgling days in the big smoke.

 

NEED FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF THOROUGHBRED WELFARE BODY

CHIP LE GRAND reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that a two-year examination of the racing industry conducted following revelations that retired racehorses were being slaughtered for human consumption has called for the establishment of a new national body dedicated to the welfare of thoroughbreds.

The report also urges federal and state governments to create a national database to track thoroughbreds through their entire life-span, warning that without this information the racing industry has no way of knowing what happens to its horses in retirement.

The report, commissioned by Thoroughbred Breeders Australia following what its authors describe as a fragmented response to public concerns about horse welfare, lays bare the existential threat racing faces unless it can demonstrate that horses are cared for beyond the track.

A survey conducted for the report found more people were unsupportive than supportive of racing, but this would change if the industry could show improved outcomes for horses.

“It is the thoroughbred industry’s responsibility to ensure thoroughbreds are cared for appropriately from birth to end of life,” the report concludes. “This is not being done adequately now.

“Unless that changes, the economic, emotional and social benefits of horse racing will evaporate.”

The proposed new body, Thoroughbred Welfare Australia, would be established with an initial $10 million budget, principally raised through a levy on breeders, owners, trainers and jockeys, and armed with a mandate to provide national leadership on horse welfare.

Under the funding model proposed, breeders would pay $300 for every new foal, owners $300 for every registered racehorse and trainers and jockeys 1 per cent of their prizemoney share. Racing Australia would be asked to contribute between $1 million and $1.5 million and further funds would be raised through sponsorship and donations.

Former Victorian premier Denis Napthine, lead author of the report, said there was near-universal agreement among racing industry participants that they owed a lifelong duty of care to horses bred for their sport, but no national framework to ensure this happened.

“A horse can be born in the Hunter Valley, sold in Melbourne, Sydney or at the Magic Millions, race in two or three different states and retire in a fourth,” Dr Napthine told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

“You need a national approach to be able to follow that horse and provide the welfare support that horse may need.

“What the community is demanding now, and quite rightly, is an absolute focus on thoroughbred welfare.”

 

RQ CEO BRENDAN PARNELL: ‘The Summer Carnival is Outstanding’ – it’s easy to see why they pay him the BIG BUCKS!

NICE story in the News Ltd media today about the Queensland Summer Racing Carnival written by Gold Coast Bulletin Sports Editor Tom Boswell – pity about the timing.

Under the headline: ‘MORE than $20 million in prizemoney and 31 feature races on offer during Queensland Summer Carnival’ it could almost have been an RQ Media Release if they bother distributing those any more.

It quotes RQ CEO, Brendan Parnell, declaring: “The Summer Carnival is outstanding.”

“What it has done over the past two years, with new innovations like the The Gateway giving the winner entry into The Stradbroke Handicap, The Wave and the Magic Millions day which is one of the great days of Australian racing where there are nine fairytales on offer.

“The best jockeys, the best trainers and brilliant postcards from the Gold Coast will be sent around the world.”

It’s easy to see why they pay Parnell well over a half million dollars each year and some of his trusty lieutenants high six figure sums as well.

The News Ltd story tells us (without one mention of the terrible weather than has the track rated a Heavy 10):

The Tattersall’s Celebration Season Race Day will be held on the Gold Coast this Saturday, while five consecutive weeks of action at the Brisbane Racing Club culminates in the Magic Millions Prelude Race Day on New Year’s Day, with 15 black type races and six chances to secure a lucrative wildcard into Queensland’s richest race day at the Gold Coast.

What the racing public and the punters need right now is not some ‘puff piece’ that will earn Tom a lifetime pass to the RQ media list and functions but whether Saturday’s meeting will proceed and what contingency plans have been put in place.

In fairness a couple of days ago Trenton Akers wrote a story, headlined: RQ officials face scheduling nightmare as deluge threatens Gold Coast meeting.’

It seems RQ Racing Manager Ross Gove has been burning the midnight oil looking for alternatives if stewards determine this afternoon (Friday) that the track will not be safe enough for the meeting to proceed. But the final decision will not be made until 6am Saturday.

The contingencies at present are to run the Recognition Stakes at Doomben on Wednesday (farcical adding a Listed race to a midweek card) and the Eureka Stud Classic next Saturday.

Perhaps during the ‘little lunch’ break at Deagon the brains-trust might consider having a gander at the forecast for the next few days and discover that the BOM predicts the rain to ease over the weekend.

If that’s the case why not make the Sunshine Coast on Sunday a double-header (they have the lights – use them). Retain the originally planned Corbould Park meeting and add the Gold Coast fixture as well.

This Gold Coast meeting is run by the Tattersall’s Racing Club and could easily have been run at Eagle Farm had that track catastrophe not dragged on for so long. Despite all the rain this week the surface there would probably still be on the firm side with the only threat to a meeting being visibility if the rain continued.

There is already some talk of tonight’s (Friday) Sunshine Coast meeting being transferred to the newly-laid All Weather Track – here’s hoping it isn’t as big a disaster as the synthetic one that millions were wasted on some years ago.

All Weather Tracks might ensure that racing continues when the heavy rains arrive but punters around the land have little confidence betting on them.

Facing the current predicament in Queensland, one thing you can be sure of, if there’s an easy way out the boys with the big pay packets at RQ will find it and if there’s a way of stuffing up, well…you be the judge…   

HOOFNOTE: ON another disaster for racing in Queensland we have recevied several messages asking what happened with the TAB on Thursday - not a word in the mainstream racing media as you would expect.  

 

 

OFFICIALS ‘BLINDED BY THE LIGHT’ IN THEIR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

OFFICIALS seem to have been blinded by the light in their plans for the future of racing in Victoria and New South Wales.

By the end of the decade there could be up to five tracks racing under lights in Victoria. These include Moonee Valley, Caulfield, Cranbourne, Pakenham and possibly even Flemington.  

Whilst uncertainty has surrounded Canterbury Park, the venue for night racing in Sydney, the Australian Turf Club’s long-term vision involves night racing at Randwick, Saturday evening meetings under lights and the prospect of even The Everest being run under lights.

Moonee Valley will suspend racing in 2025 to undertake a $2.5 billion redevelopment project. At roughly the same time across town at Caulfield, a $570 million redevelopment will be well underway. Night racing is central to both projects.

MATT STEWART reported recently for RSN that Cranbourne wants to increase its night racing footprint as it becomes the largest training precinct in the Southern Hemisphere.

Pakenham has its own night racing scene and during Cup Week at Flemington, VRC chief executive Steve Rosich told RSN that Flemington, too, had ambitions to race at night.

Then you have the situation in Queensland where there are plans to introduce night racing at the Gold Coast boosting the product already provided by the Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba.

With more racing moving to evening timeslots it will create a predicament for the ‘red hots’ – in Queensland at least – where the code (on a downhill turnover landslide due to lack of punter confidence) had moved extra meetings to the day to maggot off the gallops.

 

PRANK THE TRAINERS RECALLED AS CURTAIN FELL ON CAULFIELD

PLENTY of sentimental memories of the good and bad times at Caulfield when the curtain fell on the famous training track this week.

Many stories were recalled by the top trainers who shared the tower in more recent years but one deserves repeating.

It involved a prank call to Terry Bailey when he was Chief Steward in Victoria.

Peter Moody recalls: “Stewy Webb and Rob Smerdon got hold of Clinton McDonald's phone one day. And Clinton was notorious for fighting with his father Ross in the later years when Ross used to be in the stables.

"They replaced his father's number with the Chief Steward's phone number. Clinton proceeded to ring his father and inadvertently rang the chief steward at about 4:45am one morning.

"And proceeded to tell him in no uncertain terms, in the greatest lot of four-letter words you've ever heard (what he was thinking) … and this went on for three or four minutes.

"The other end there was a 'Mr McDonald …. Mr McDonald …this is Terry Bailey here, the Chief Steward'."

 

JAPS & BRITS GO TOE TO TOE IN ABSENCE OF AUSSIES IN HONG KONG

JAPANESE stars Loves Only You and Lei Papale will take on some of Europe’s finest in next month’s Group 1 Hong Kong Cup, a highlight of International Day at Sha Tin.

The two heroines come up against Aidan O’Brien’s duo of Japan and Bolshoi Ballet as well as the placegetters from the Group 1 British Champion Stakes in Dubai Honour and Mac Swiney, with Noriyuki Hori’s Hishi Iguazu rounding out the visiting brigade for the HK$30 million contest – Hong Kong’s richest race.

It is the headline act of the Longines Hong Kong International Races and a total of 16 individual Group 1 winners have confirmed they will make the trek to Sha Tin from abroad to take on the might of home team in the four features on December 12, which are worth a grand total of HK$100 million.

There are 21 in all who have booked flights, with the biggest contingent from overseas coming from the Land of the Rising Sun – an even dozen – while there are six from Ireland, two from Britain and one raider from France.

The globetrotting mare Loves Only You is the star attraction, looking to cap off a marvellous campaign with another strong performance in an international Group One.

Perhaps it can be blamed on COVID but gone are the days when Australia had genuine contenders on International Day. Guess we’ll just have to rely on our top jockeys when they compete at the Invitational at Happy Valley on the Wednesday before the big races at Sha Tin.

 

ONE WONDERS IF RVL IS TRYING TO DRIVE JAMIE KAH OUT OF RACING 

AFTER sitting on the sidelines for several months courtesy of her breach of COVID-19 protocols, the chances of Jamie Kah winning the Victorian Jockeys’ Premiership this season were, at best, remote.

But for Racing Victoria to rule Kah ineligible for hosting the much-publicized Airbnb party at Mornington is nothing short of ‘nonsense’.

Richie Callander raised the issue on the popular website Racenet this week when he wrote:

They can’t be serious.

The word embarrassing springs to mind regarding the decision by Racing Victoria to rule Jamie Kah ineligible to win the jockeys’ premierships in Victoria for the 2021/22 season.

Jamie Kah is a star and has played a huge role in the past two years of promoting racing to the masses and encouraging young ladies to become involved in our industry.

Being a star doesn’t excuse poor behaviour but wow she didn’t ride carelessly and threaten the well-being on another rider or a horse, she had a party.

Mind you she’d be still eligible for the title if she had ridden carelessly or recklessly.

Jamie along with several other riders made a mistake by holding a get together at Mornington that breached Covid-19 protocols.

It was dumb and selfish and was a poor look, no one is arguing with that.

Jamie agrees and for that, she has paid a huge price missing the entire spring carnival where she had been booked to ride several of the major chances in the feature races.

She also missed out on several highly paid marketing and sponsorship deals due to her error in judgement.

Make no mistake racing has missed Jamie Kah.

The spring carnival was a ripper but it was poorer for Jamie Kah not being there.

What a massive over-reaction.

And if RV doubts the drawing power of Kah they should take note of how disappointed punters and race-goers alike are of her delayed return for the Zipping Classic meeting at Caulfield on Saturday because of a broken nose.

 

WA PREMIER HAS DELIVERED CARNIVAL ‘GIFT’ TO BOB PETERS

ONE of the country’s biggest owners Bob Peters has invested so much in racing in the west that he deserves every win he gets in return.

But what a ‘gift’ the nonsensical Premier of WA, Mark McGowan, has delivered Peters Investments with his ‘border ban’ on interstate horses contesting the carnival.

As Peter Moody so rightly said McGowan needs to pull his head out of his arse and recognise the importance to the racing and tourism industries in the west of the Perth carnival.

Sadly, as a result of his border closure, questions are being asked whether the Pattern Committee should consider downgrading the Railway Stakes from Group 1 status.

The Peters’ star that won the race last Saturday – Western Empire – would arguably hold his own with the best carnival gallopers on the east coast but surely he was entitled to have faced the best in the west as well.

 

HERE’S HOPING RQ HAS A PLAN B FOR SATURDAY IF RAIN CONTINUES

THE major Queensland Summer Carnival meeting on Saturday will be run at the Gold Coast – weather permitting.

Tattersall’s Racing Club will host the show highlighted by the Listed Recognition Stakes and Eureka Stud Classic for the Fillies and Mares.

The Gold Coast track was rated in the HEAVY RANGE on Tuesday and there is more rain predicted later in the week, especially on Thursday.

That begs the question: Does Racing Queensland have a PLAN B should the track be too wet to race on this Saturday?

Of course not! That would make sense!

 

JERICHO CUP IS HERE TO STAY WITH RV FUNDING FOR BIG RACE

RACING.com reports that the Jericho Cup is here to stay, with Racing Victoria set to fund the iconic $300,000 contest from 2022.

Since the 4600-metre race's inception in 2018 as the brainchild of Bill Gibbins, it has been supported by generous contributions from the philanthropist, whose aim was to honour the Australian Light Horse Brigade and their mounts during World War I.

With a $150,000 first prize, all 14 runners home in the Jericho Cup take home at least $4000.

"It makes my pocket very happy," Bill Gibbins told After The Last.

"I didn't really have to commit for four years but I thought it would take four years to get off the ground."

Now into its fourth year, Gibbins recalled working to construct the event and even the possibility of conducting the race at Ballarat in its infancy before calling Warrnambool the race's home.

"I started negotiating to have it at Ballarat ... anyway Warrnambool heard about that and I think a few changed their minds," Gibbins recalled.

"There were really only two choices, have a charge down the straight at Flemington on the 100th anniversary of Beersheba or do it 18 months later at Warrnambool.

"It's just the logical place to have it through the hills and the Grand Annual course."

         

 

AN OCCASION WHEN ‘TAG TEAM’ FAILED – BATTLERS BEAT THE ODDS

ONE suspects the roar of approval that went up around the country last Saturday was as much for the battlers who beat the odds to win THE GONG as it was for the failure of TEAM WALLER to claim another $1 million feature.

We don’t need the Sydney racing media spin-doctors to continually tell us what a champion Chris Waller is and owners are entitled to choose who they prefer to train their horses but it’s good to see the big money being spread around on some occasions.

Waller might have won the nation’s most important race, the Melbourne Cup, with mighty mare Verry Elleegant and the over-indulgent Everest with Nature Strip but this was the feel-good story of the Spring.

Local hero Count De Rupee defied to odds to win the $1 million feature at Kembla Grange for father and son training partnership Robert and Luke Price with their apprentice Brock Ryan overcoming a horror draw to ride the race of his life.

Bookies took a massive gamble against Count De Rupee not only because of his terrible barrier but the presence of Waller who tag-teamed the big race with four runners, headed by Nudge (2nd), Aramayo (9th), Atishu (11th) and Reloaded (13th). Sadly for the leading stable, Atishu plunged from $12 into equal favouritism at $4.8 with Count De Rupee, didn’t fire a shot.

The resurrection of John O’Shea, spearheaded by his win in The Hunter with Lost and Running, and now Count De Rupee’s giant-killing effort in The Gong, has given punters and followers of racing in NSW some hope that it won’t always be one-way Waller traffic, even if he has hundreds more in work than most of his rivals.

 

PLENTY OF GOOD JUDGES THINK HONEY POT DIDN’T GET FAIR START

IT couldn’t have been a worse start – for the stable, the owners and the punters at least – to the Queensland Summer Carnival when soon we will all be expected to bow and scrape to the Magic Millions.

Boom filly Honey Pot, making her debut for the powerful Tony Gollan stable off a spectacular trial win, blew her chances at the barriers in the opening race at the Sunshine Coast.

After being plunged into $1.75, Honey Pot got out to $2.3 when they jumped following support for other runners. Good judges say she should have won, others question if the filly should have been a late scratching claiming she was in the air when the field jumped.

Starters have a difficult enough job as it is without taking into account barrier rogues and youngsters new to the business, not to mention the unsung heroes of racing – the attendants who risk life and limb loading troublesome horses.

We at LGHR have some reservations whether Honey Pot was afforded a fair start but that doesn’t matter. Stewards have the final say and this was their report:

THE start was delayed when HONEY POT was reluctant to proceed to the barriers. Fractious in the barriers and reared as the start was effected and lost considerable ground. Prior to the declaration of correct weight Stewards reviewed the start to ascertain if HONEY POT was afforded a fair start and once confirmed that other than for the filly’s own barrier manners it had been afforded a fair start and correct weight was declared. Trainer T Gollan was advised that the filly would require a barrier certificate prior to returning to the races.

Honey Pot is now out to $18 in early markets on the MM Two-Year-Old Classic behind the dominant $2.7 favorite Coolangatta. Our advice is to jump on now – she is bound to shorten considerably after her next start.

 

‘IT’S NOT SO MUCH WHAT YOU SAY – BUT HOW YOU SAY IT’

RACING Victoria stewards may well have been within their rights to impose a $2,000 fine on top trainer Peter Moody for comments he made about the WA Premier for closing borders to east coast horses for the Perth Carnival.

But it’s difficult to find anyone who agrees with their decision and many in the racing public are questioning how Moody could be penalized for ‘telling the truth’.

Speaking to former RV Chief Steward Terry Bailey in Hong Kong about the situation, he probably summed up the result best: ‘A wise old man once told me it’s not so much what you say but how you say it.’

Moody says he will cop the fine ‘on the chin’. Perhaps that’s because in September, Racing NSW stewards suspended Albury-based trainer Norm Loy for three months for the spray that he gave then-NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Upset that Berejiklian’s delayed lockdown had deprived households of income, Loy called her a “mole” who looked like a “tip turkey.”

Loy has appealed to the Racing NSW appeal panel and is unsure when that appeal will be heard.    

Loy claims his comments were made on a private Facebook forum which was publicized by a third party without his permission. “What they (stewards) have done is an invasion of my privacy and information taken from a private conversation is being used against me. I have no case to answer. It’s not up to them to tell me how to live my life.”

Here’s what some racing folk had to say about the Moody fine:

‘WHAT a disgrace, should have received a bonus not a penalty. Well said Pete you have only expressed what tens of thousands of regular people think.’

‘THERE is still such a thing in society as an opinion via free speech ......and providing there is no racism or threats .....I’d tell them where to stick their fine .....or take it to the Supreme Court.’

‘IT is the best $2k that Peter Moody will ever spend. RV has been clever by fining him as it plays the political game. If I was RV, I would give PM the $2K. $2K would be just loose change to Peter Moody after the spring carnival anyway.’

‘I assume Moody was charged for “conduct prejudicial to the image, interests, integrity, or welfare of racing” – I think it is questionable whether his comments were prejudicial to the interests of racing given he was criticizing a decision that was NOT in the interests of racing.’

 

WHEN IT COMES TO STEWARDS BE CAREFUL OF WHAT YOU WISH FOR

HAS the integrity of racing in Victoria gone backwards since Terry Bailey was basically forced to quit his job as Chairman of Stewards?

Bailey divided the industry and there were many who are still extremely critical of his ‘policing’ style but perhaps there’s a message for those who were delighted to see him go.

‘Be careful of what you wish for’.

Without debating the ‘rights or wrongs’ of how the Stewards’ Department operated during the Bailey era – and whether the controversial ‘fence jumping’ convinced the punting public to have more confidence in Victorian racing is debatable.

The question that needs to be answered is whether the image of racing looks better when the stakeholders are happy with the panel policing the sport.

We saw it many years ago when trainers and jockeys protested after the control body – whether it was their right or not to get involved – sacked some high profile stewards in Queensland.

Not that much has happened in the Sunshine State to improve the situation since though where many believe what is happening on the track has hit rock bottom especially since the latest Chief Steward arrived and in more recent times had his contract extended.

Most punters who bet on Sydney racing these days are far from impressed by the way that stewards deal with ordinary rides by top jockeys, second string horses consistently winning races when stablemates are favorites and a perception that the leading stable should be under the microscope considerably more than some would wish.

But back to the scene in Victoria and there are numerous examples where punters were from impressed by the outcome of inquiries into poor runs by favourites. A classic example occurred during the Cup week carnival at Flemington when Hosier was backed off the map.

Owned by Lloyd and Nick Williams, the import had been unbeaten at his four previous Australian starts but lost a leg during his break and finished tailed off resuming. Here was the Stewards’ Report that copped criticism from Sydney-based racing columnists:

Hosier (IRE) ($1.65 fav, unplaced): Settled outside the leading horse Keats, before the weakening from the 300 metres. Finished a distant last. Rider Jye McNeil reported the gelding felt uncomfortable in its action when placed under pressure and was disappointing. A post-race veterinary examination failed to reveal any obvious abnormality and a sample was taken for analysis. Trainer Robert Hickmott reported the gelding had worked well leading into today’s race and he had no concerns with regard to the gelding’s condition. R Hickmott advised that he will notify Stewards if anything comes to light in the ensuing days which may have affected the gelding’s performance. Stewards will follow up with the stable.

Was that good enough or should Hosier have been ordered to trial to the satisfaction of stewards before starting again?

There remains much conjecture over the outcome of the Cox Plate protest. It prompted leading form analyst Dean Lester to tell his audience on RSN: “I think if Terry Bailey had been in charge that protest would have been upheld.” And he was right!

The decision to throw the book at those jockeys involved in the Airbnb Party was praised by the majority of stakeholders and media for the threat it posed to the continuation of racing during pandemic times. But to many it seemed like these five jockeys were sorted out for special attention, especially after a series of other breaches, including the high profile group of trainers who had a boozy lunch with mates from a leading stable and next to no action was taken. Then there was the prominent owner who jumped the fence without a protective mask after his horses quinellaed the Melbourne Cup – the penalty he copped was a pittance compared to what the jockeys arguably lost during their suspensions over the Spring Carnival.

Now the Supreme Court Judge has cleared top jockey Jamie Kah of lying to or misleading stewards when she failed to mention Mark Zahra had attended the illegal Mornington Airbnb party. Justice Richard Niall was short in delivering his determination saying the finding made by the VRT did not reflect the charge of giving “any evidence at an interview, investigation, inquiry, hearing and/or appeal which is false or misleading”. The two-month ban was set aside, meaning Kah will be free to ride from November 26.

Interestingly in the wake of the Kah outcome (it will be interesting to see if she is awarded costs), FAIRFAX MEDIA reported that the Supreme Court decision was likely to reverberate through Racing Victoria’s integrity ranks.

In February, a stomach-tubing case against Richard Laming was dropped when a steward contacted a colleague - who was also a fellow witness at the tribunal hearing - three times during an adjournment against tribunal orders.

Racing Integrity Commissioner Sean Carroll conducted an independent inquiry into the matter and put Racing Victoria on notice regarding its employment and internal investigations policies.

The way stewards ask and word questions, and the wording of charges laid against participants, is now expected to attract the attention of Carroll’s office following Wednesday’s Supreme Court findings.

Kah, and the three other jockeys who were at the Mornington Airbnb when police arrived in the early hours of the morning - Ben Melham, Ethan Brown and Celine Gaudray - were asked by stewards “who ended up” at the party.

They failed to mention Zahra, who was later found to have attended the Airbnb but had left before police arrived.

Kah had maintained that when asked by stewards a day after the Airbnb party “who ended up being there”, she took that to mean who was in attendance when police arrived just before midnight after receiving a noise complaint.

“If [the stewards] had asked me if Mark Zahra had popped in at all or was there during the night, I wouldn’t have had any reason not to tell you that,” Kah told the VRT during her hearing.

At the Supreme Court, Kah successfully argued that the rules of racing do not impose an obligation on racing participants to volunteer information outside the stewards’ line of questioning.

Melham, Brown and Gaudray were hit with additional suspensions after pleading guilty to lying or misleading stewards.

An hour after the Supreme Court decision was handed down, Racing Victoria announced it was bolstering its Integrity Department as part of the recommendations handed down by Carroll following his inquiry into the dismissed Laming charges.

Harness Racing Victoria’s General Manager of Integrity Brent Fisher will join RV’s integrity services team from January as General Manager of Investigations and Intelligence. From January, the Compliance Assurance Team will report to Fisher and not the Chairman of Stewards.

No point looking back – Terry Bailey has been lost to racing in Australia for now – having moved on from Chief Steward in Singapore to a leading member of the panel in Hong Kong. Here’s hoping those responsible for the appointment of the integrity bosses for racing in Queensland can entice him home before it’s too late for the sport there.

 
 

RULES OF RACING LIMIT THE RIGHTS OF STAKEHOLDERS THAT ORDINARY CITIZENS ENJOY

WE thought it might be timely to publish these interesting observations from one of our regular contributors which read:

‘THERE are many Rules of Racing which limit the capacity of individuals involved in the three codes to enjoy the freedoms of ordinary citizens.......to speak out or express an opinion critical of officialdom is one....... another is that no claim is permitted against the relevant authority for loss or damages suffered in protecting their reputation where a licensed person succeeds in overturning a prosecution for alleged breaches of the Rules.

AR Rule 279 is an example in horse racing

AR 279 No damages for decisions made under the Rules

(1) A person is not entitled to make any claim for damages by reason or in consequence of the imposition, annulment, removal, variation, or remission of any decision made, or penalty, restriction or sanction imposed or purporting to be imposed, under the Rules.

(2) No PRA, Steward, Club, or official shall be liable to any person for any loss or damage sustained by that person as a result of, or in any way (either directly or indirectly) arising out of the exercise of any right, privilege, power, duty, function or discretion conferred or imposed, or bona-fide believed to have been conferred or imposed, under the Rules.

You would think this is a Rule that licensees’ representative bodies would be concerned about where members charged and penalized for an alleged offence subsequently are successful in having their appeal upheld overturning the penalty but in the meantime have suffered significant financial loss and or damage to their reputation.

Harness racing

The relevant rule in harness racing provides:

Indemnity Against Claims

  1. (1) A claim at law or in equity shall not be maintainable by a person to whom these rules apply against any steward, authorized person or official in respect of any action performed by such steward, authorized person or official for the purpose of giving effect to all powers and duties under the rules.

(2) Any steward, authorized person or official performing or exercising powers or duties under the rules shall stand indemnified by the respective Controlling Body against any such claim.

The first section closely resembles AR 279 whereas (2) provides that the controlling body indemnifies the steward, authorized person or official against any claim for damages which admits that a claim is possible.

Then in Queensland the rules of harness racing state that the control body, which is RQ, is responsible for licensing of persons in harness racing.

Granting of licenses and other matters (90).

(1) The Controlling Body may by license regulate any activity connected with the harness racing industry.

While in reality it is QRIC which licenses all participants ...a contradiction brought about by the separation of powers.

The ‘catch’ is that the contractual nature of the Rules is binding on all persons (as described below).

Every applicant for a license agrees to be bound by the Rules which is probably the hurdle that might or would be difficult to overcome.

Division 3: Application of the Australian Rules AR 3: Any person who takes part in any matter or race meeting coming within these Australian Rules agrees with Racing Australia and each PRA to be bound by and comply with them. 

 

 

 

COURT CLEARS JAMIE KAH OF LYING TO OR MISLEADING STEWARDS

A Supreme Court judge has cleared jockey Jamie Kah of lying to or misleading stewards when she failed to mention Mark Zahra had attended an illegal Mornington Airbnb party.

DAMIEN RACTLIFFE reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that the leading jockey lodged a Supreme Court appeal immediately after the Victorian Racing Tribunal found her guilty of lying, where she was hit with a two-month ban, atop of a three-month suspension for attending the Airbnb against government curfew and in breach of COVID-19 protocols.

Justice Richard Niall was short in delivering his determination on Wednesday morning, saying the finding made by the VRT did not reflect the charge of giving “any evidence at an interview, investigation, inquiry, hearing and/or appeal which is false or misleading”. The two-month ban has been set aside, meaning Kah will be free to ride from November 26.

In this 25-page written judgement, Justice Niall said Racing Victoria failed in the particulars of the charge to specifically outline what questions or answers Kah lied or misled stewards.

“Importantly, the particulars do not allege that an answer given to a particular question was false or misleading,” Justice Niall wrote.

“Still less is it alleged that the answer given to any particular question was ‘wilfully false’. Further, it is not clear from the particulars whether it is being alleged that evidence was false or misleading when it was given, or whether having given that evidence, the plaintiff then came under an obligation to state that Zahra also attended and her failure to do so rendered her earlier evidence false or misleading.

“The point at which the plaintiff was expected or required to mention Zahra is not clearly spelt out.”

While the Supreme Court acts simply as a judicial review and doesn’t have the power to dismiss the charge, lawyers for Kah can send it back to the VRT for dismissal, or otherwise negotiate an outcome for costs.

Kah posted a statement to Twitter following the outcome.

“Today, as you probably know the Supreme Court determined my appeal. I am obviously very happy with the outcome,” Kah said.

“It’s now time to move forward. I can’t wait to get back to what I love, riding and being part of our amazing industry.

“Thanks to everyone who has said kind words to me or provided moral support over the last three months, it has been a real comfort through very tough times.

“As I said last time, I won’t be making any further public comment. See you at the races!!”

 

 

 

IT’S THAT TIME OF WEEK FOR READERS TO HAVE THEIR SAY

REBUILDING PROCESS STARTS TO BEAR FRUIT FOR JOHN O’SHEA

LINSDAY from QUEENSLAND is a great fan of JOHN OSHEA:

THE resurrection of John O’Shea as a leading Sydney trainer was never going to happen overnight after his split with Godolphin in 2017.

But that long rebuilding process is starting to bear fruit and that was highlighted last Saturday with the win of stable star Lost and Running in The Hunter at Newcastle.

With probably one tenth of the horses on his books that champion trainer Chris Waller has O’Shea is never likely to be a premiership threat but from a punters perspective it’s good to see someone else stealing some of the spotlight.

O’Shea is a great favourite of the punting fraternity whose fancied runners have a terrific strike rate. When he says they have a great chance, his horses go close to winning – and best of all they rarely get upstaged by a lesser fancied stablemate.

 

SYDNEY FINALLY JUMPS ABOARD THE NIGHT RACING SHIP

MERV from MELBOURNE:

GOOD to see Sydney finally join the night racing circuit even if it was two months after the show got started in Melbourne.

Like everything else – apart from the truckload of prizemoney they throw at the ‘movers and shakers’, racing in Victoria has some catching up to do when it comes to what the punters want.

But just to remind us that nothing changes when it comes to the on-the-track action the first race of the Canterbury nights season and Chris Waller gave the punters the upper-cut they are so accustomed to of a Saturday.

He had four of the six starters and surprise, surprise the $1.6 chance Mojo Classic beats one home while stablemate Field Legend at $6 bolts in. It happens so often that Sydney punters seem to have become blasé about it.

And instead of ordering the horse to trial satisfactorily before it races again, what action did the Racing NSW stewards take? Well, here’s their report: 

MOJO CLASSIC: When questioned J McDonald stated that Mojo Classic raced greenly and didn’t appear to be suited to the tight turning track. He said that he was not able to attribute the heavy going to the gelding’s disappointing performance as it appeared to handle the going satisfactorily. Began awkwardly, shifted in and made contact with Roller Coaster. A post-race veterinary examination revealed no abnormalities. Stewards will follow-up on the post-race condition of the gelding in the days subsequent.  

 

JOCKEYS NOW FIGURE PROMINENTLY IN SKILLS SHORTAGE LIST  

GREG from BRISBANE, a regular contributor, again weighs into the debate concerning the enforced scratching of horses in country areas of Queensland due to a lack of jockeys:

‘ANYONE who cares to visit the Federal Government Skills Shortage website will find that jockeys figures prominently.

Whilst enticing overseas riders might not entirely correct the situation surely it would help alleviate a problem that has become an embarrassment for Racing Queensland – so what’s stopping them?

Just have a look at how many overseas riders from so many countries ride in New Zealand. Why can’t we help the bush by heading in the same direction?

ON another issue GREG has asked what has happened to the much-trumpeted stewards’ footage of racing in Queensland.

It was great to be able to watch this special footage from the TAB meetings, especially for those who pay special attention to doing the form, but now all we get is the normal replay.

Maybe there’s a logical reason but as Dr Julius Sumner-Miller would say: Why is it so?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We can’t help you there Greg. Perhaps one of the RQ ‘spin doctors’ from the mainstream racing media can. LGHR is on the ‘banned list’ for RQ Media Releases because we don’t write what they want to read so in turn when it comes to querying industry problems  we treat RQ the same way and don’t bother asking what the cause is.

 

THE THINGS THAT PUNTERS HAVE TO CONTEND WITH THESE DAYS

MARK, who calls himself ‘the Mad Punter from Brisbane’, has been MIA for a while but found the time to have his say on a couple of races from Doomben on Saturday:

“My mates and I felt for a while that you guys at LGHR were obsessed with the second string winner upsetting favorites from the Waller stable. We felt it was par for the course because of the number of horses he starts.

You can consider us now among the converted. We followed the mugs on Saturday and took the shorts So Taken thinking she was a ‘bird’ to turn the tables on stablemate Kubrick who has ended his drought from the winning list in a big way.

As usual there was no mention of the pathetic effort by So Taken which had a major weight swing on Kubrick. It was left to the stable foreman to tell SKY that he thinks the mare will benefit from the addition of blinkers.

Our other gripe was with the ride of Andrew Mallyon on the hot favorite Morethannumberne in the last. Sure it was slowly away and run an enormous race but talking through our pockets we felt Mallyon could have shown a bit more vigor over the final furlong – not suggesting anything just meant as constructive food for thought.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Three races earlier Andrew was reminded to ride his mounts out to the finish on the roughie ONE STRYKE. Perhaps he was just following the stewards’ instructions.

 

BERNIE COULD TEACH MAXIE A FEW TRICKS ON THE PLAYBOOK

JERRY from the GOLD COAST was keen to add some light-heartedness to the ‘have your say’ debate this week:

We’re sure it’s not the same ‘Gerry’ who did a great ‘suck-up’ job naming one of his many horses PALASZCZUK after the Queensland Premier.

This ‘Jerry’ is a great fan of SKY’S Michael Maxworthy and questions why he needed the lovely Bernie Cooper to explain how the horse TICKLER was named.

The recent Sunshine Coast winner, which lost all chance when it stood flat-footed at the start at Doomben on Saturday, is out of a mare called KISSAME MUCHO.

Perhaps Bernie could seek special permission from an old ‘SKYMAN’ the CEO for RQ to permit her to explain it to ‘Maxie’ on THE PLAYBOOK which airs after the kiddies have gone to bed.

 


 

DEATH OF THE ‘LAST OF THE BIG BETTORS' & FOUNDER OF CENTREBET

THE death occurred in Adelaide this morning OF TERRY LILLIS, Australia’s first corporate bookmaker, founder of Centrebet and ‘the last of the big bettors’.

Terry (picture above, courtesy of NT NEWS), completed an amazing half century of bookmaking at Fannie Bay in Darwin where he fielded and worked the tote since 1969.

ON the eve of the big Darwin Carnival in 2019, GREY MORRIS of the NT NEWS, wrote this tribute:

WHEN singer-songwriter James Taylor penned the words “seemed to be one and the same’’ he could easily have been describing popular Alice Springs bookmaker Terry Lillis’ 50-year association with the Darwin Cup Carnival.

Now 76, Lillis reaches his half century at the home of the Cup in Fannie Bay this month where he has worked the tote and carried a bookies’ bag since 1969.

The first corporate bookmaker in Australia, founder of the iconic betting firm Centrebet and the first sports bookie to take bets on the internet from right around the world, Lillis can claim a lot of firsts in the glorious but highly unpredictable Sport of Kings.

He first laid odds in Alice Springs in the 1960s, a passion that grew into Centrebet when it gained a licence in 1993, went global three years later and was sold to Jupiters.

It was a long way from Alice Springs five decades ago, when betting agencies and casinos were unheard of and men like Lillis were those you went to for a friendly flutter on the horses.

Lillis remembers those times and the reason he first made his way north all those years ago.

“I really can’t remember the first year I came to Darwin, it must have been 1969 because I was only a lad back then,’’ he said.

“We’re having trouble confirming it because the records don’t go back that far, but I do know I was a bookie in Alice Springs and it was a pretty good business to be in 50 years ago.

There weren’t any TABs or casinos around then and I was the man they came to.

“As to why I headed to Darwin that year? Remember at that time of year it’s bloody freezing in Alice Springs and Darwin is the best place in Australia to be in July and August.”

Never one to do things by halves, Lillis has had his own horses run in the carnival with some success, except in the race that stops the Territory on the first Monday in August.

Billet Doux won an NT Derby, Squire Gray won the Palmerston Sprint twice and Royal Sydney and Ima Realist did the same.

The Lillis stable can also point to Quantom Dot winning the Toyota Cup, The Ruffian’s triumph in the Alice Springs Cup, Buntine Handicap, Darwin Guineas and the Derby.

Add Palmyra Boy, who ran second in a Darwin Cup and won the Sky Metric Mile and Lillis has been in the winners; enclosure more than once.

“I’ve raced a lot of horses up there and had a lot of joy, even if I’ve never won the Darwin Cup,’’ he said.

“Royal Sydney is one I remember, Squire Gray was a goodun and Palmyra Boy could have won the Cup with a bit of luck.’’

Lillis baulked at discussing the highs and lows of bookmaking in Darwin and just about everywhere else, including Adelaide and Melbourne where he is still licenced to stand and carry a bag.

“The Darwin Cup is a whole lot of fun and it always has been,’’ he said.

“The prizemoney is getting up now, so if you are a Territorian it’s a great thing to win the Darwin Cup.

“And luckily I’ve got a bad memory and don’t dwell on the bad times in this game. The big thing for me is bookmaking gives me something to do and keeps my brain active.

“I’m retired from all other pursuits and do this to keep me thinking straight.’’

Asked if he had any favourites among greats of the turf like a Tobin Bronze, Tulloch, Galilee or even Rain Lover, that won his second Melbourne Cup the year Lillis first arrived at Fannie Bay, the man himself said he did not have any.

“But I can tell you the horse I hated the most was called Kingston Town,’’ Lillis said without a hint of a smile.

“It took too much money from me at a Broken Hill centenary meeting,” he said.

“I’d lost on every race and we were nearly out of money in the bag when I took on this thing called Kingston Town (in the 1982 Cox Plate at Flemington).

“Somewhere around the corner I heard Bill Collins say ‘Kingston Town can’t win’ and it did, the result was I went home with an empty bag, so he is the horse I hate the most.’’

So how many more years will we see the name Terry Lillis featured in the bookies’ ring?

“Another half a dozen years will pull me up, I reckon even I would have had enough by then,’’ Lillis said.

Thoroughbred Racing NT chief executive Andrew O’Toole said bookmakers and long-term characters like Lillis were foundation stones that had built the Darwin Cup Carnival to the high standing it had today.

“Terry’s an iconic figure in the NT, known as a fearless bookmaker who would take any bet and a bookie and entrepreneur who has been an ever-present at Darwin and Alice Springs Cup meetings for close on 50 years,’’ O’Toole said.

“A former long-time patron of the Alice Springs Turf Club, Terry was also a TRNT Board member, representing Alice Springs from 2006-2012.

“As well as being a bookmaker, he has raced many horses with varying degrees of success over the years, one of his best being the flying Iglesia.

“It just wouldn’t be a Darwin Cup Carnival without Terry, who has been the leader of the betting ring in the Top End at Carnival time for many years.”

NO doubt the story above will be encapsulated in the many obituaries that the death of this great bookie will attract over the next week.

Colleague Garry Gorrie, now living in Phuket, recalls: “I think Terry was the one who took the $1 million bet on John Hewson at very short odds when he lost that election centring on GST after the cake he could not explain became a national topic of discussion.

Another old mate of Lillis, Mark Graham, told us: “Terry was the last of the big bettors unlike the Corporates of today. He was a stalwart at Darwin, Adelaide and Melbourne carnivals and was known to never, ever knock back a bet.”

 

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE AT RQ THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME

RACING stakeholders and followers of the sport in Queensland are still shaking their heads in disbelief after ARCHIE BUTTERFLY posed the question on his subscriber-only website, www.peterprofit.com:

SO WHEN DID A GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY NEED A GOVERNMENT LIAISON OFFICER TO LIAISE WITH GOVERNMENT?

HAS the world gone mad?

Or has Racing Queensland?

RQ is a statutory body set up under State Government legislation.

It is run by a Board comprised of members appointed by the Government.

All of its functions, including the parameters of its financial management and operations, are regulated by Government instruments.

It reports to the Racing Minister, who has the power to intervene in its operations and direct it to do certain things, for example to refuse Ben Currie’s nominations of horses to race.

It is in form, substance and effect a State Government body.

So why does it need to pay a six-figure salary to employ a Government Liaison Officer to deal with the Government?

Racing Queensland IS the Government, or an arm thereof!

Isn’t dealing with the Minister the CEO’s job – the one that gets paid more than half a million dollars a year to perform?

Wouldn’t the $120,000 to $200,000 that RQ are going to have to pay to get an experienced person to fill this role be better off spent on prizemoney or perhaps even used to put ambulances at trackwork so no more jockeys have to lie on the ground in agony waiting for one to arrive as happened at Deagon recently?

THEIR advertisement reads:

RACING Queensland (RQ) currently has an exciting opportunity for an experienced Government Liaison Officer (GLO) to provide strategic advice and expertise by liasing with the Minister’s office, the Racing Industry Governance unit and other Government agencies.

This is nuts.

It is a clear sign of bloated bureaucracy full of too many people with not enough to do, run by mandarins drunk on a COVID rush of extra wagering revenue who are forgetting that turnover is going to bounce back to normal levels now that people are starting to go back to work.

What job are they going to create next? An in-house masseuse? A personal trainer? Some to deliver weekly fruit trays?

Oh, that’s right!

They’ve already got them.

BENEFITS & PERKS OF WORKING AT RQ

WE have generous employee benefits such as EAP, an innovative reward and recognition program offering perks and discounts and best practice HR policies offering flexible working arrangements, paid parental leave, talent management and performance development. We also provide annual flu vaccinations, weekly fruit deliveries, corporate massages, and access to an on-site gym as we value your health and well-being.

SURELY THIS ISN’T DESIGNED AS A ‘JOB FOR THE BOYS OR GIRLS’

HERE’S hoping the rumor doing the rounds isn’t correct and that the Government Liaison Officer role hasn’t been especially created for a close relation of a high profile racing identity.

They say the more things change the more they stay the same. Memories come flooding back of the times when the Bob Bentley regime ran racing in Queensland.

There were some strange decisions made when RQ moved from Newstead to new digs at Deagon. The track mascot, a Shetland pony, was sent packing when Chairman Bob arrived one day to find him dropping a load at the front door of the new office building.

Then there was the decision whether to have a shower or urinal in the men’s amenities – it seems the design didn’t allow for both. Because the CEO at the time liked to take a morning run before starting work, he opted for a shower.

That created a major problem down the track when a high profile Board member needing a leak found there was no urinal and had to use the toilet area. When his specially crafted Italian shoes got soiled he protested loudly and the Integrity Department ‘pig dog’ of the day – a nickname devised by the Chairman – instituted an investigation sending a message to all male staff warning them to ‘shoot straight or face the consequences.' 

When a Racing Minister back then had decided to move on and one of the Departmental high profile first lieutenants feared being left without a cushy job, guess what the Government did?

It instructed RQ to create a separation of powers so that integrity and administration were split which created a major problem as such was the size of the integrity bureaucracy that they took up almost three-quarters of the building.

That announced the arrival at Deagon from the Executive Building of ‘Dr Dolittle and his dream team’ who went about dismantling RQ as it was known – hence the departure of some popular stewards and administrative staff – and Heaven help those who managed to survive but did not toe the line.

We could go on forever but some of the better stories will keep for another column.

 

PETER MOODY SUGGESTS THE WA PREMIER NEEDS TO PULL HIS HEAD OUT OF HIS ARSE…NO TO THE RACING CARNIVAL, YES TO F…G AFL

YOU have to love PETER MOODY for sending a message from the racing industry in the eastern states to the power-drunk dickhead running Western Australia and surely no steward worth his salt will be prepared to penalize the champion trainer for telling the truth.

After news emerged this week that the Perth carnival would be restricted to ‘locals only’ because of the COVID border restrictions in the west, Moody went on the attack and took an extra ordinary swipe at authorities.

Discussing the issue on Ladbrokes’ podcast  Moody on the Mic (which is also broadcast in SEN), the big fella didn’t hold back expressing his sentiments about the WA Government restrictions that make it impractical for interstate horses to travel to Perth

“Well, the disappointing thing is that racing figures obviously didn’t 'pull off' the Western Australian Government like the AFL people did, because every man and his dog was allowed to fly in for the f***ing AFL Grand Final, and players and everyone … and they won’t let horses fly in for the racing carnival,” Moody said.

“I think the Western Australian Premier needs to pull his head out of his arse, and have a look at how many f***ing people the racing industry actually employs in his State.”

There was a brief stunned silence on the four-man podcast, before Rosemont Stud's Anthony Mithen endorsed Moody's comments, albeit "less the expletives".

“Well said Peter, even with the expletives,” Mithen added, before discussing whether the Perth feature races deserve to remain Group 1 this year.

“I endorse those comments, less the expletives, and I think that the racing folk over there in Western Australia don’t deserve to have their [Group One] status downgraded just because of an arrogant Government and a decision that’s out of racing control.

“I think that it’s an opportunity for the racing stables of Western Australia this year, and the status should remain. One swallow does not make a summer.”

 

 

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE TURF EDITORS WHO WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED FOR THEIR HONEST AND INTEGRITY? 

RACING on Saturday remembers Keith Noud – a race-caller, author and media legend in Queensland – but most of all a Turf Editor from the good old days who wore honesty and integrity like a badge of honour.

Unlike a couple of those who succeeded him and changed the face of racing journalism in the north forever, Noud may have been close to the major club hierarchy, especially the BRC in the days of the chairmanship of Judge Broad, but never would he attempt to influence the way his Turf staff wrote their stories.

You would never hear about 'Mr Noud', as the younger members of the team would respectfully call him, taking calls on the Press Room phones at the track from underworld figures interstate then running off to back horses in races that were suspected to have been set-up to win in Sydney.

You would never hear about Mr Noud socializing with high profile stewards to ensure he had unchallenged access to the Jockeys’ Room to run messages back to the then big betting ring bookies informing them of what would be plunged and what would be ‘dead’.

You never heard about Mr Noud surrounding himself with staff that only toed the line, sucked up to survive, or got hauled before management because they were simply doing their jobs of protecting the punters and ensuring high profile politicians and racing officials did not escape constructive criticism.

Much of the honesty and integrity that once existed in the racing media was buried by the time Keith Noud died at the age of 88. But it remained unchallenged during those many years he was Turf Editor of the now-defunct afternoon newspaper, the Brisbane Telegraph and the official race-caller at Brisbane’s metropolitan and provincial tracks.

Mr Noud died in 2001 at the age of 88. He was born at Randwick in Sydney in 1912. His trademark was his ever-smoking pipe and his reputation of being an awful driver. That didn’t stop him heading off annually to cover the Spring Carnival in Melbourne in his trusty old car.

His introduction to racing began at an early age with his father John Noud, a well-known Brisbane trainer who prepared 1911 Caulfield Cup winner Lady Medallist and Highland, which won two Stradbroke Handicaps in 1925-26.

Mr Noud's first job in journalism was as a court reporter for the Melbourne Truth but his big break came with the form guide Turf Life during the depression. In 1935, he answered an advertisement for the position of race-caller for the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

During the war, he joined the RAAF and was posted to Bundaberg as an Air Force welfare officer.

In 1964, after 29 years with the ABC, Mr Noud moved to the now-defunct 4BK in Brisbane to head a three-state turf preview with Des Hoysted in Sydney and the late Bill Collins in Melbourne.

Ten years later he made his last radio broadcast for the station, due to the changing of the format and the dropping of race coverage by 4BK.

In 1975, he was awarded an MBE for his contribution to horse racing in Queensland and services to the community. In 1986 he was honoured in the Advance Australia Awards for his contribution to sport and charity which was endless.

Whenever great races and great calls are highlighted, you will always hear Keith Noud’s voice shouting over the top of the cheering crowd, “ Bernborough is coming from the clouds. He’s coming like a tornado!” And so was born the name “Toowoomba Tornado” by which the mighty Bernborough was known.

The name ‘gentleman’ is rarely synonymous with the racing media these days. But it will always be a standard description for Keith Noud.

When the race that honors his achievements and memory is run on Saturday a couple of those who followed in his footsteps (they never got within cooee of filling his shoes) should hang their heads in shame at the role they played in destroying what was once a vital cog of the racing industry but has now lost the respect of the majority of the punting public.

 

DOES JOHN MESSARA FACE A MISSION IMPOSSIBLE BROKERING A PEACE DEAL BETWEEN PETER V’LANDYS & RACING VICTORIA?

IF John Messara cannot broker a peace deal between his old mate, Peter V’landys, and Racing Victoria then a war between NSW and the remaining states seems inevitable.

Messara faces what many fear is a mission impossible firstly resurrecting some respectability in Racing Austraia of which he is the new Chairman and secondly convincing V’landys to back-off on his seeming obsession for NSW to replace Victoria as the leading racing state in the land.

Many would be unaware of the gravity of the situation with NSW at risk of being cut adrift from the rest of Australian racing if it does not cease its war mongering and return to the discussion table at Racing Australia.  

MATT STEWART, Racing Editor of RSN, reports that:

AN extraordinary scenario where NSW is removed from the “Pattern” and denied Group status for its races is highly possible if Racing NSW and its hostile chief executive Peter V’landys continue to refuse to collaborate with Racing Australia, Racing Victoria and the other states.

Tensions have reached breaking point.

John Messara return to the Racing Australia Chair earlier this year aiming to entice warring states NSW and Victoria to collaboration via the RA Board table.

Victoria had become fed up with relentless assaults from NSW on the spring racing carnival via either pop-up races staged in Sydney at the same time or by lavish prizemoney increases to existing races with the sole aim of dragging horses and participants away from Melbourne.

Each state has a seat at the RA table and the refusal of NSW to take its seat for over a year has halted progress on a number of issues, including whip reform.

Mostly, however, Racing NSW’s refusal to attend an RA Board meeting, and therefore put itself in a position to yield, has allowed it to disrupt with no accountability.

A handful of meetings in the last fortnight have failed to entice Racing NSW out of its corner, bringing the rest of the country closer to abandoning it.

On RSN Racing Pulse this week, Racing Victoria chairman Brian Kruger hinted strongly that while “sub-optimal”, there may be no option but to exclude NSW from the wider racing industry.

He said that if Messara was unable to convince Racing NSW to collaborate that the “other option” was to potentially isolate NSW.

“I know for a fact that every other state is frustrated,” Kruger said.

Kruger did not reveal exactly what isolation of NSW meant but it is believed races run in NSW could be stripped of Group status and be removed from the Pattern, which is the agreed flow of races and carnivals throughout the country.

It is believed a number of major Hunter Valley breeders have become concerned by the aggressive actions of Racing NSW, testing their support of V’landys.

The recent re-appointment of Russell Balding as Racing NSW chairman added to interstate frustration. Balding is regarded as a loyal supporter of V’landys.

A week ago on RSN, Messara said there had been little or no progress in chipping away at Racing NSW.

Asked if a “blow up” was inevitable, Messara said “that would be a fate worse than death.”

“I don’t even want to contemplate it but it’s a possible outcome, one we certainly don’t want to consider or aim towards,” he said.

“But I don’t know what else can happen. We’re not far from getting to a final point I’d say. In the end, it’s either got to be peace or resolution.”

He said recent attempts had merely been “a lot of back and forth.”

“But we are close to a point where a decision has to be made. I just hope this happens in the next week or two or three. I’m not saying it’s going to happen one way or the other,” he said.

Kruger also said no inroads had been made in recent weeks.

“Not really. That would be the short answer to that,” he said.

“There is constant frustration from every state except one. We want to have a meeting yet we haven’t and Racing Australia has not met for over a year.”

He said it was “disappointing” that Racing NSW’s refusal to collaborate meant important animal welfare progress had been interrupted.

“It is a real shame we are where we are at the moment,” he said.

And at a time when tensions are at boiling point V’landys retaliates by announcing that the Sydney Spring Carnival will in future boast the two riches races in the national with stakes for the Golden Slipper and Golden Eagle being boosted to $8 million.

The Golden Eagle becomes the second richest race in the southern hemisphere, behind only The Everest which is valued at $15 million. The Melbourne Cup has been the nation’s leading prizemoney race for most of its 161 years but is now ranked third with total stakes of $7.75 million (which will no doubt be subject to change in the coming months).

Even some of V’landys biggest fans among the top training ranks in NSW want to see the war come to an end and some peace deal brokered with Victoria.

They are far from happy with Sydney's $15 million The Everest clashing with the Caulfield Cup and Victoria Derby Day having to share the limelight with the $7.5m Golden Eagle at Rosehill.

Top trainer John O’Shea echoed the sentiments of many when he told racing.com:

“It's a shame because we always used to love the period of time that we spent in Melbourne, particularly Cup Week, and just the way the programming is now it's difficult to make it down there.

“The reality is everyone has to row their own boat. I can't see - in the short term anyway - much changing. Any solution seems a long way off,” O’Shea said.

 

 

 

MURDOCH MEDIA & SKY RACING ONLY WANT TO TELL ONE SIDE OF THE GERRY HARVEY STORY – IS THERE ANOTHER – YOU BE THE JUDGE?

THE countdown has begun to what can only be described as the annual Murdoch Media arse-lick to one of Australia’s richest men but as usual we will only hear the story of what he does for horse racing with a few charitable trimmings thrown in to make him sound like a Saint.

But it’s only one side of the story to Gerry Harvey who Governments of both persuasions in Queensland have bent over backwards to ensure his private enterprise venture, Magic Millions, fills his pockets on the arguable basis it boosts tourism on the Gold Coast by putting bums on beds.

You will struggle to find stories in the King Rupert’s dailies, on the major TV networks or hear SKY Racing revealing the two faces of ‘Genial Gerry’ because he spends multi bucks with them and has even been allowed to replace front page banner headlines with his advertorial.

Here’s a story written by CHARLOTTE GRIEVE which appeared this week in the Business Section of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD under the headline: PENSIONER IN LEGAL FIGHT WITH GERRY HARVEY’S TRUST OVER HOME EVICTION.

It prompted high profile Sydney lawyer CHRIS MURPHY to tweet:

A story you will not read in the Daily Telegraph or any #Murdoch #media where Harvey Norman spends many $$millions on #advertising.’

‘If you are short of a dollar Gerry Harvey I'm happy to throw in $100 a week towards the rent you're missing and I have friends who will help with the rest of the rent until this widow dying of cancer passes. More to life than material gratification in case you've not noticed.’

‘Gerry Harvey is supposed to be worth $2,500,000,000 or more. Must find it hard to accept that a woman with a cancer cruising thru life on a disability pension $441.10 per week isn't paying him rent.’

Mr Murphy was referring to the STORY of a TERMINALLY ILL WOMAN who has taken on business tycoon Gerry Harvey with a lawsuit to fight a forced eviction from a property that she lived in rent-free with her now deceased husband for more than eight years.

Court documents show Peggy Luker is suing G Harvey Nominees, Mr Harvey’s sole shareholder trust, after negotiations broke down in June last year when Mr Harvey personally visited the property uninvited to suggest she move to public housing before issuing a formal eviction notice.

The Harvey Norman co-founder’s trust owns the property, but Ms Luker claims in her court documents it belonged to her late husband, Garry Dent, who worked as a contractor for Mr Harvey for 15 years on $5,500 per month without superannuation or benefits.

Ms Luker said her husband was “foolish with money” and terrible at record-keeping but reassured her the property was secure on a number of occasions, after the couple made the decision to move from Sydney’s Cremorne to Kurrajong, 75 kilometres north-west of the city.

A spokeswoman for Mr Harvey declined to comment: “There will be no comment whilst the case is before the court. Any comment by either party could prejudice the proceedings.”

In an affidavit, Mr Harvey claims the property was never intended for Ms Luker to remain in permanently and while sympathetic to her situation, he now wishes to sell the property. Whether Ms Luker has any legal claim to the land will now be decided by the courts.

Mr Dent died suddenly in 2017 and Mr Harvey delivered the eulogy at his funeral, held at the Trinity Grammar School Chapel in Sydney’s Summer Hill, where he spoke fondly of the longstanding friendship and thanked Mr Dent for his work over the decades.

Soon after the funeral, Mr Harvey told Ms Luker to vacate the property, according to both affidavits.

Ms Luker does not have any children or immediate family and is suffering chronic health problems. Seven years ago, she had a kidney transplant and her body rejected the organ but the medication to retain the kidney caused her to develop skin cancers.

Ms Luker’s sister suffered the same illness and died three years earlier. Ms Luker has been told there is “nothing more” the doctors can do to prevent the cancers from spreading to other parts of her body.

“The thought of having to move my stuff again is just frightening … I don’t have anything. I’m on a pension. I would end up on the street,” Ms Luker said when contacted by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Harvey’s trust bought the block of land in Kurrajong in the 1970s but after it sat idle for decades, he enlisted his old friend Mr Dent to subdivide, build and sell houses on the land.

The two men had been friends for more than 50 years and had done a number of property deals together.

In the late 1990s, Mr Harvey asked Mr Dent to become a contractor for Harvey Norman although the extent and value of this work is now contested.

Around 2002, Mr Harvey asked Mr Dent to relocate to Kurrajong to oversee the development of an eco-village that involved building houses on 15 plots of land over more than 100 acres amid a nature reserve. “If we make a lot of money out of it, I’ll give you some,” Mr Harvey states in his affidavit.

Mr Harvey says there was no legal arrangement about sharing profits and Mr Dent never complained. However, Ms Luker says there was a handshake deal to share profits over $1.1 million, which later changed to $1.3 million but when the first house sold for $1.7 million, the couple did not receive any money.

Mr Harvey says he first became aware that Ms Luker understood the property to be hers after Mr Dent’s death – the same time Ms Luker discovered the property was still under the name of Mr Harvey’s trust.

Over the past four years, there have been various unsuccessful approaches to settle the dispute. When Mr Harvey personally visited the property with another man in June last year in a last ditch effort to persuade her to move out, Ms Luker felt stressed and asked them to leave.

“Maybe you can get into a Housing Commission or something. Surely you have a Plan B?” Mr Harvey said, according to his affidavit.

A few days after Mr Harvey’s visit, she received a formal eviction notice from lawyers informing her she had two months to vacate the property and would be liable for any damage.

The matter is due for mediation later this month.

Over many years GERRY HARVEY has developed one of Australia’s largest thoroughbred portfolios – hundreds of racehorses, untried stock and a massive broodmare band.

He and wife Katie own and operate Baramul Stud in the Hunter Valley, maintain a large racing string divided between numerous trainers and have Westbury Stud at Karaka in New Zealand. The Harvey’s also own the Magic Millions sales company.

In August the Australian edition of THE GUARDIAN reported that retailer Harvey Norman had revealed it repaid $6 million of an estimated $22 million the company and its franchisees had claimed in jobkeeper wage subsidies posting record profits in the 2020-21 financial year.

The furniture, electrical and white goods retailer announced the move in its annual report following a long-running campaign by Labor and others to shame companies that claimed jobkeeper, only to improve their financial position, to voluntarily repay the money.

Harvey Norman announced a profit before tax of $1.183 billion for the year ended 30 June 2021, an increase of $521mn from the previous year, up 78.8%. Excluding the impact of property revaluation, profits were still up $415.8mn or 66.4%.

A footnote in the annual report states that in August “all of the wages support and assistance received by controlled entities in Australia of $6.02mn… was repaid to the Federal Government via the Australian Taxation Office”. That included $3.63mn for the 2021 financial year and $2.39mn for the 2020 financial year.

Although Harvey Norman repaid all the wage subsidies for its “controlled entities”, the shareholder lobby group Ownership Matters has estimated that when franchisees are included the retailer and its stores claimed about $22mn.

Harvey Norman announced it will give its shareholders a further 15c dividend per share, bringing the full-year dividend to 35c per share.

Shareholders will receive $436mn, of which chairman Gerry Harvey is expected to receive $140mn as the majority shareholder.

In a statement, Harvey said: “The solid results delivered in the 2021 financial year [are] a testament to the strength and resilience of the integrated retail, franchise, property and digital strategy, and its ability to adapt and transition to the challenging retail landscape and continue to navigate the uncertainties presented by Covid-19.”

Companies qualified for jobkeeper wage subsidies on the basis of an anticipated downturn in revenue of 30%, but there was no obligation to repay if revenues exceeded expectations.

According to research by Ownership Matters, 34 of Australia’s largest companies claimed jobkeeper wage subsidies in the second half of 2020 despite actually improving their earnings on pre-pandemic levels, pocketing a total of $284mn.

Harvey Norman joins 21 publicly listed companies that have repaid or promised to repay more than $300mn in jobkeeper.

Labor’s Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Andrew Leigh, said six months ago Harvey had “flatly refused to repay” jobkeeper.

“Harvey Norman has given us the best advertisement for more transparency into the secretive, rorted jobkeeper scheme,” Leigh said.

In Parliament the Independent Senator Rex Patrick, Labor and the Greens have spearheaded a push to require companies earning more than $10mn to declare if they received wage subsidies, as private companies are generally not required to do so.

The Greens have gone a step further, introducing a bill for the money to be repaid.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has resisted calls for more transparency, citing support from business groups including Australian Industry Group, the Australian Hotels Association and the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia.

Frydenberg has said that companies that choose to repay jobkeeper are free to do so and the Government has at times praised them but never lent its voice to calls on other companies to join them.

The racing industry has watched over the years as Labor and LNP Governments have injected a small fortune into his Magic Millions Company under threat from Gerry Harvey to move the event away from the Gold Coast where everyone knows it would be nowhere near as popular or effective.

One wonders how Premier Anastasia and Racing Minister Grace are able to set aside their Labor beliefs and join the ‘pigs at the trough’ on Magic Millions week courtesy of a man who has seen fit to reportedly evict a dying pensioner from her home.

 

QUEENSLAND WOULD NEVER CLOSE ITS BORDERS TO MAGIC MILLIONS

JUST imagine the fallout if the Queensland Government had adopted the same stance as their Western Australian counterparts and declared the Summer Carnival a locals-only event.

‘Gerry and the Pacemakers’ at the Magic Millions would have gone ballistic not to mention the damage it would have done to the big races in Brisbane starting this weekend.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan is an absolute dictator when it comes to COVID protocols and despite her strong stance on border closures makes Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszcuk look like a ‘babe in the woods’.

It was announced his week that the Perth Summer Carnival will be a locals-only event with the WA border effectively remaining shut to eastern states-based horses.

Chris Calthorpe, who runs Air Horse Transport, said on Monday that despite mounting interest from the major stables in Melbourne and Sydney, no horses will be able to make the trip west for the feature races in coming weeks due to WA’s COVID-19 protocols.

The summer carnival gets serious from this Saturday with the staging of the WA Guineas before the running of the Group 1 $1 million races - the Railway Stakes on November 20, the Winterbottom Stakes on November 27 and the Kingston Town Classic on December 4.

“I’ve spoken to some of the biggest stables and everyone is shattered about not being able to get there. I’ve had interest from the likes of Ciaron Maher, Adam Trinder, the McEvoys, Will Clarken and Godolphin were really keen, as well as Chris Waller.

“It’s pretty disappointing. I don’t understand how they can organize a (AFL) grand final but can’t do this. It’s a fantastic carnival and the club can’t do enough for you but unfortunately the border is shut for the second year in a row.”

It wouldn’t have mattered what Government was running the show in Queensland, the borders were always going to be opened by Christmas.

Even those who are not involved in the racing industry in the north know that the political clout of the Magic Millions boss is such that ‘what Gerry wants, Gerry gets’.

The political power-brokers can always use getting families back together for the festive season and opening the gates to the lure of the tourist strip as an excuse but rest assured first and foremost were the demands (let’s call them desires) of one of Australia’s richest men.

 

  

 

 

RACING OUTSIDE NSW RUNS OUT OF PATIENCE WITH PETER THE GREAT

RACING NSW and ‘Peter the Great’ can continue to waste millions of dollars attempting to destroy the Victorian Spring Carnival but once again Flemington produced the best week of racing in the land.

While we at LGHR have spent the week trying to find a winner (we landed the First 4 in the Cup) for our loyal Late Mail Service clients, many of our colleagues in the mainstream media have out-done themselves ‘sucking up to survive’.

As usual one of the exceptions was RSN Racing Editor Matt Stewart, an objective and unapologetic Victorian racing fan, who wrote:

THE rest of Australia has run out of patience with Peter V’landys and his determination to wreck everything outside of NSW. The final straw was staging a rich sprint in Sydney last Saturday that sapped the life out of the Darley. He can’t keep wrecking forever. Stand by.

Outside of Sydney – apart from a couple of ‘media parrots’ in Queensland who will do just about anything to protect their jobs and be seen ‘in the right camp – everyone from the racing public to the punters have had a gutful of V’landys and that includes his ’my way or the highway’ approach to ‘rugba league’ as well.

There are reports circulating that V’landys was conceded the ‘two big jobs are too much for him’. Granted he has been a miracle worker for Racing in NSW – kicked the corporates into gear, put millions in the pockets of not only the high flyers but some of the battling stables in racing – but at what cost?

If part of the plan involves destroying everything racing in Victoria then he is cutting his nose off to spite his face. He can throw all the millions he likes at big races in Victoria and force those south of the border to get off their backsides and retaliate (with more money or a change of dates) but at the end of the day V’landys is destroying the national product not making it more competitive.

That’s why many in racing what to see one of two things happen:

“Peter the Great’ move on from racing and focus his talents of rugby league – God help what many consider our national game if he tries the same stunt with AFL

Or John Messara grows a set and takes on his old mate from Racing NSW. If he’s not prepared to then what’s the point of being chairman of Racing Australia? That body becomes an even bigger farce than it was before. There are signs that Messara knows that and realises he has to get V’landys to toe the line where Victoria is concerned.

 

LGHR CONTRIBUTORS LIST WORSE MOMENTS & RIDES OF CUP WEEK

WELL the big boys in King Rupert’s racing castle have had their chance to nominate everything from the best moments, best training performances and best rides of Cup week.

We wouldn’t be living up to our name at LGHR if we didn’t do the opposite and look for some of the worst moments, worst rides and bad stories the mainstream racing media didn’t want to write of Cup week. Here are those with a little help from the dozens of contributors who rely on us providing a platform for them to ‘have their say’.

WORST MOMENTS:

THE failure of champion trainer CHRIS WALLER who decided not to attend the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday but deciding instead to watch the big race from his family home in Sydney. Contributors questioned whether Waller did not think VERRY ELLEEGANT could win. He had delayed confirming a start until the Saturday before. If nothing else the mare confirmed herself an absolute champion and at least viewers across the world didn’t get to see Waller cry – yet again.  

THE adrenalin got the better of high profile businessman BRAE SOKOLSKI who jumped the mounting yard fence in breach of strict COVID-19 protocols to be with VERRY ELLEEGANT and INCENTIVISE, which he part-owns, after they quinellaed the MELBOURNE CUP. Some of our readers felt his $10,000 fine was a ‘tap on the wrist’ compared to the prospective earnings that JAMIE KAH, BEN MELHAM and MARK ZAHRA suffered with suspensions imposed on them after breaking curfew to attend a party.

THE agonising period between the finish of the CUP when the career of INCENTIVISE hung in the balance after he pulled up with significant swelling in the fetlock until X-rays cleared him of any serious injury. “He got beat by an absolute champion there on Tuesday. We are hoping he’s the new boy on the block for a few years to come,” a relieved and proud trainer PETER MOODY said.

WORST RIDES:

MANY wanted to ‘have their say’ on the ride of BRETT PREBBLE on INCENTIVISE compared to that of JAMES McDONALD on VERRY ELLEEGANT in the CUP. JMac from barrier 18 cruised across and found cover after 500m. Prebble was working four and five deep to the turn out of the straight before settling outside the leader on the favorite then put him under pressure a long way from home. The question was raised: Reverse the rides and would the result have been reversed despite the winning margin?

WE are the last ones to ‘bag’ any ride of our courageous and talented legion of top lady jockeys in this country but might we suggest RACHEL KING would like her time over on NIMALEE, favorite for the G2 Matriach Stakes on Saturday. There’s a good case to suggest a different result had she gone forward instead of back on the Sydneysider which ran a closing 6th to ZAYYDANI.

EVEN the best can admit to a bad ride every now and then. JAMES McDONALD is an absolute superstar, who took control of CUP week highlighted by his Group 1 wins on VERRY ELLEEGANT, ZAARKI, NATURE STRIP and HOME AFFAIRS. Yet it was probably the success of ESPIONA in the Listed Desirable that has him looking to the future. But back to that one bad ride and when questioned over the performance of DESTINATION in the last at FLEMINGTON on Saturday, JMAC told stewards something to the effect: ‘Don’t blame the horse’.

GROUNDHOG DAY AT FARM – FORGET SELFIES, FIRE A FEW SHOTS!  

IT was Groundhog Day at Eagle Farm with the state of the track again an embarrassment for Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club.

Top trainer Tony Gollan predicted what would happen on his popular preview show last Thursday. “Eagle Farm is struggling and will have a few weeks’ break after Saturday. There will be a lot of kickback this weekend.”

The fields were not up to Saturday standard and had it not been for a couple of promising gallopers winning the track would have copped an even bigger bagging.

TRENTON AKERS reported for THE COURIER-MAIL on MONDAY:   

PRESSURE will be on Brisbane racing officials to produce Eagle Farm in a better state than it is currently for its summer carnival fixtures after hosting its last meeting for the best part of a month on Saturday.

The embattled surface held on for dear life after hosting its third meeting in the space of a week with most in the industry keen to see the back of it in its current state.

With the winter rye grass dying off and the summer Grand Prix Couch struggling to grow through, the Eagle Farm surface is as bare as Mars in some patches, causing some horses to not let down properly in the straight.

While the kickback wasn’t as bad as last week after a layer of top dressing was applied, fed-up trainers and jockeys were still scathing in their assessment of the track.

After recently taking over the maintenance of the track, the Brisbane Racing Club will meet with Racing Queensland and the Australian Trainers’ Association in the coming week to clearly map out their plans for its upkeep.

Behind closed doors, Racing Queensland has proposed to rip up the current turf and replace it with a more resilient kikuyu grass, however many are sceptical if it will alleviate the problems with the rock-hard surface.

Eagle Farm’s first meeting back will be on Wednesday, December 1 with its proper test coming 10 days later when it hosts The Gateway meeting in the lead-up to the Magic Millions.

AMONG the high profile guests at the Farm on Cup day were Premier Anastasia, her new beau and Racing Minister Grace. Instead of taking ‘selfies’ at the winning post they should have been taken on a guided tour of the track by the trainers with a message once again to get it fixed. There’s no point talking about with the RQ CEO – he’s always going to ensure it’s right by Christmas – but just doesn’t mention what year!   

 

DOES RACING VICTORIA HAVE ONE COVID POLICY FOR OWNERS LIKE SOKOLSKI & ANOTHER FOR JOCKEYS LIKE KAH, MELHAM & ZAHRA?

RACING Victoria stewards won’t stop high-profile owner Brae Sokolski from attending the final two days of the Flemington carnival despite demanding he be interviewed for jumping a mounting yard fence in breach of strict Melbourne Cup COVID-19 protocols.

FAIRFAX MEDIA reports that as of late Wednesday afternoon, chief steward Robert Cram hadn’t been able to contact Sokolski, whose horses Verry Elleegant and Incentivise ran the Melbourne Cup quinella on Tuesday.

THEY EVENTUALLY DID - SOKOLSKI FRONT AN INQUIRY AND WAS FINED $10,000 - A SLAP ON THE WRIST COMPARED TO WHAT IT HAS COST TOP JOCKEYS LIKE BEN MELHAM, JAMIE KAH & MARK ZAHRA FOR THEIR BREACH OF COVID PROTOCOL.

An apologetic Sokolski said he was overcome by the moment when he leapt into Flemington’s inner sanctum to celebrate Verry Elleegant’s stunning Melbourne Cup win.

It’s unlikely Sokolski will be banned from Flemington for Thursday’s Oaks program or the Mackinnon Stakes meeting on Saturday, but stewards confirmed they wanted to speak to the property financier in the coming days.

Not helping Sokolski’s case will be the fact jumps jockey Aaron Mitchell was fined $300 for not wearing his mask properly in the mounting yard on Melbourne Cup day.

Horse racing was the only Australian sport to continue uninterrupted during the pandemic last year, operating under strict guidelines, and the Victoria Racing Club was granted approval to have 10,000 fully vaccinated patrons at the track for the race that stops the nation.

Stewards and the Victoria Racing Club met on Monday to discuss conditions for visiting Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien, who flew in to Melbourne to watch defending champion Twilight Payment finish 11th.

So desperate were stewards to keep the industry participant bubble intact, they even held a separate presentation for Sokolski and the winning Melbourne Cup owners away from other connections. It was a policy instituted for the four-day Cup carnival.

Speaking after the race, Sokolski said of his exuberant celebration: “[I’m] apologetic about the protocols, but I wanted to be with the mare and Incentivise. Sorry, the adrenalin got the better of me. These moments are once in a lifetime.”

Sokolski has quickly become one of the most influential owners on the Australian turf, having raced 2019 The Everest champion Yes Yes Yes and last year’s Cox Plate hero Sir Dragonet, along with Verry Elleegant and Incentivise, who snared Melbourne’s big cups double between them.

Incentivise’s trainer, Peter Moody, was forced to hose down suggestions the Queensland-bred star had been badly hurt after his gallant second behind Verry Elleegant, claiming the horse would be monitored before being sent for a spell.

 

SAD DAY AT CLIFFORD PARK BUT INCENTIVISE DID DOWNS PROUD

MOST years, the crowds huddled by the televisions at Toowoomba’s Clifford Park are so raucous in the closing metres of the Melbourne Cup it can be hard to hear the winners’ names through the speakers, says local racing industry identity Brett Moody.

That was expected this time, too, ZACH HOPE reported for the BRISBANE TIMES, with hometown hero Incentivise the hot favourite. But with the horse trailing well before the post, “you could have heard a pin drop when they hit the line”.

“There wasn’t a sound and I think that says it all,” Moody said.

Moody is a cousin of Incentivise trainer Peter Moody. They grew up together in the Queensland town of Wyandra, love the industry, and know the significance of the Melbourne Cup.

“It’s hard to know how to feel,” Moody said.

“It was a great boon for the industry here, win, lose or draw, and he’s just run second in the Melbourne Cup. That’s just amazing.”

Verry Elleegant was the reigning Australian Horse of the Year and she proved why as she stunned Incentivise and the field to record a stunning Melbourne Cup victory.

The gelding was born and bred in Toowoomba. Until recently, he was trained by local Steve Tregea, who is still a part-owner and spent Tuesday afternoon watching from his farm.

In Australia’s biggest week of racing, Toowoomba had the biggest name of all.

 “There was a collective sigh [at the finish line], there’s no doubt about that,” Toowoomba Turf Club chief executive Lizzy King said.

“I think everyone here and everyone right across the [Darling] Downs were willing Incentivise across the line. I think we all took it personally. Sorry J-Mac and Chris Waller, but we took it personally because Incentivise is ours.”

Her tongue was planted firmly in cheek as she referred to the jockey and trainer behind the Cup winner Verry Elleegant.

“Truly, to have Toowoomba not only on the national but international stage, and to see the meteoric rise of Incentivise has been quite incredible,” King said.

“We couldn’t be prouder of Steve Tregea – and he’s just wonderful at his craft – who produced a magnificent horse for Peter Moody to shape into a Melbourne Cup contender.”

Veteran bookmaker Pat Kynoch strode past and remarked it could not be that difficult to write a story from Clifford Park on Tuesday.

“The horse was unlucky, everyone cried and we all went home,” was Kynoch’s blunt summation of events.

Brett Moody’s daughter Minnie wore a “Moody Racing” vest like a football supporter would wear a guernsey. She slumped when Verry Elleegant took the lead, relegating the “Toowoomba Tornado” to second, but cheered again when she remembered she had a handy wager on the victor.

 

RACING CERTAINTIES – BOOKIES BLESSED & PUNTERS UNFORGIVING

THERE are two certainties in racing – bookmakers are blessed and punters can be an unforgiving bunch.

The Melbourne Cup result proved that when champion mare Verry Elleegant saved corporates a pay-out of tens of millions of dollars on the hot favourite Incentivise.

Looking for someone to blame a legion of punters who believed the one-time Queenslander was unbeatable targeted top jockey Brett Prebble.

Sore losers were quick to highlight how James McDonald on Verry Elleegant drew even worse than Incentivise but found cover after 500m while Prebble pressed forward working too hard to race outside the leader at the turn out of the straight.

Incentivise spent too much petrol getting across and not unexpectedly had no answer for the finishing burst of Verry Elleegant who enjoyed a sweeter run. It begged the question: What would the margin have been if luck in running was reversed?

The Victorian TAB alone held $8 million on the race, almost a quarter of which was invested on Incentivise. Corporate bookmakers around the country laid the Peter Moody-trained stayer for millions.

Betting agency Sportsbet wound up with egg on their face paying out $5.6 million to punters who had backed Incentivise early. But they probably got plenty of that back in the last 48 hours.

Many of Verry Elleegant’s biggest fans in the racing media deserted the mare after trainer Chris Waller delayed a decision on a start until Saturday. The Cup was one of the few big races that had previously deserted him.

  • THOSE who subscribe to the LGHR LATE MAIL had a windfall with our service recommending the FIRST FOUR PLACEGETTERS on top in their PLAYS OF THE DAY. The trifecta paid almost $400 & the First 4 close to $4,800 on the TAB in Victoria.

 

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