Jenny - Clean

 

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY'S BEEN UP ALL NIGHT FINDING WINNERS & WRITING FOR LGHR

ARCHIE replies to GAZ – The Country Racing Waste of Money and Not Enough Jockeys Debate Goes International – It’s All About Tradition Punters

IF there is one thing that Archie loves in this world it’s a stimulating, good old fashioned debate about issues that matter, and the only things that matter more to me outside of my family are racing and boxing, so big ups and a pat on the back to former Queensland satchel swinger and 120% market framer Gary Gorrie for writing to LGHR to give me a left hook to duck under.

Now I haven’t met Gary personally, probably because he lives in the racing mecca of Phuket, and due to the niggardly conditions of my parole order I’m not allowed to leave the country, not even to go to Tassie, but I’m told by those who know and love him – the Editor of this site Lucky Lingard included – that Gorrie's a good bloke, and I have no reason whatsoever to dispute this highly favorable assessment.

The bloke who was headquartered by the beach at Mackay for many year’s is dead wrong about country racing though, and is wearing rose colored glasses and gilding the lily a tad more than somewhat in his defense of throwing a quarter million or so at unproductive assets that reap only presumed rather than tangible rewards for racing.

Old Gary can bang on about racing being the social fabric of country towns all he likes, but sadly he’s only pulling your, mine and his own chain, and making a very public admission that memories fade with age. I mean just look at the claim Mr Gorrie makes that back when I was just a twinkle in the old man’s eye (which places it at about the early to mid-sixties) Queensland had racing in just about every Country town on every Saturday. Now that’s absolute balderdash, and wildly untrue. Dad doesn’t remember them racing at Mungallala or Cooladdi or Adavale or even in Charleville every weekend when a young buck born and raised out west was chasing my old girl for a horizontal folk dance. He doesn’t remember them racing at Southbrook or Greenmount or Felton or Budgee every Saturday when he was living in Toowoomba and still chasing Mum either. Gary’s speaking nonsense.

Just as he’s speaking nonsense about the country tracks back in his day sucking up all the slow horses and no pony ending up at the glue factory. If that were true how come one of my first memories is Mum threatening to send me to the glue factory like they sent horses that were too slow if I didn’t hurry up and eat my peas? As Gaz knows full well, horses were knackered then, in droves. I wonder if the now motel owner in North Queensland denies climate change too.

He probably does, because Gaz ain’t too great at geography either, as his kind suggestion that I go to the Twin Hills races to see how getting pissed in a squatter’s paddock and shagging some bloke who has just spewed up a bottle of Bundy out the back of the B & S ball lifts the spirit of the whole town. What a load of bunkum! Twin Hills isn’t a bloody town, it’s a massive cattle station. The nearest town is Clermont, where my grandad captain-coached the local team to premiership success while running the rubbity dub at the same time. Harold Leslie ‘Les’ Sheehan was his name; look him up if you don’t believe me or give the well-known Pine Rivers punter Jeff Kelly a call. His old man Jack – who is in the Queensland Footy Hall of Fame – played under Grandad as captain in a Queensland side one season. They weren’t racing everywhere every Saturday then either. And Twin Hills still wasn’t a town, or anywhere within cooee of one.

A bit of once a year racing might raise spirits in Ewan, but they’d only be the spirits of the dead because the one-time mining village is a ghost town now and no-one lives in it. You have to travel 62 clicks up the road to Trebonne before you will see human beings. There is a grand total of 310 of them there, but I doubt most could afford the petrol to get to the races, let alone scramble up the bank for a punt.

It hardly bears mention that getting the fractions went out the window about the same year that Saintly won the Cup and the world went digital, but I will give the young-un’s a quick history lesson. Back in the days when the world was wide, and Gary was putting up 125% markets at bush meetings the bookies – who couldn’t be bothered buggerising around paying out with coins or small notes – used to bet you the rounded up whole number above a fraction. So, for example if you had 60 bucks on a horse at 16-1, instead of the bet being $960 to $60, the satchel swinger would bet you $1000 to $60, or if had thirty on at thirty-threes you’d get $1000 to $30 not $990. It was a good system I agree, but as the song goes “those were the days my friend…” They have ended Gary, just like in the tune.

The thing I agree with Gary Gorrie about is the same thing that Peter V’Landys’ whipping girl Amanda Elliott agrees with the 125 percent market man about. Racing is not about money, it’s about tradition. Never a truer word was said, even if the good minded people who say it don’t really understand the history and tradition of racing at all.

Until at least 1962s when the TAB was formed, and I believe beyond, country race clubs funded their own stakes. There was no Racing Queensland or State Government around then feeding the clubs truckloads of prize money on a silver spoon. No infrastructure fund existed to sub the upgrades of their tracks. No-one paid the wages of the stewards and the scale clerks and the girls in the race day office for country clubs. They paid them their bloody selves, usually with the assistance of local business sponsors.

That’s tradition Gary, tradition that’s more than a hundred years old.

Just like you, I’m a traditionalist too.

It’s time we stopped spitting in the face of our self-reliant ancestors, the men and women who made this great country great. Handing out money like dole cheques to clubs in proud towns like Twin Hills even if doesn’t exist is demeaning to the people who don’t live in the non-town, and a heinous insult to their children, who don’t live in the lifted spirit town either. It has to stop, and it has to stop now.

Make Australia great again sports fans.

Go and live in Thailand like Gary.

And make these modern-day bludgers in race clubs like Ewan pay their own way.

It’s the Aussie tradition.

 

Another Tornado Blows Through Toowoomba

I like Ben Currie. I really do, about as much as any bloke brought up in Geebung can like a bloke who hollers copper on him (loose lips sink ships) and, to be perfectly Shirley, at the end of the day I think Ben really likes me too, as much as his somewhat paranoid and quite peculiar uncle Paul Junior does at least, and I reckon a whole lot more. At least the Tornado let me borrow his phone to call Maggie when mine went flat? I wonder what Junior had to hide?

Young Ben has been in a bit of bother in recent times as we all know, and I suspect that his troubles may have just got a whole lot worse, for right when the lad is keeping his head down and searching for a citadel surrounded by big barbed wire fences and ringed by a crocodile-filled moat to keep the marauders away, the drought’s hit, the crocs have moved back up to the seasonal creek at the bottom boundary of Maggie’s farm (Or is it my daughters? Which farm was that?), and the walls seem to be collapsing right around him.

It’s been a while since I’ve spoken to the Tornado, or listened to him anyway - Ben tends to hold court in conversations, which is fine because it was usually me chasing him for rambling chats about all manner or things other than matters punting; like most sharp men who grow up on race tracks BMC doesn’t like people knocking off his people’s price, so I didn’t bother asking, not after he gave the me the duds on the one occasion that I did  – but I hope he’s well.

Yesterday’s arrest of a 25-year-old man by the Racing Crime Squad for the alleged offence of scoring Big Benny’s unregulated gear makes me suspect that things may not be well in Currie wonderland though, for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the raised eyebrows in certain circles about this particular young chap’s pinch, and the questions that some people said to know more than the price of eggs are asking about it.

The whole thing’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma ensconced in a mystery for sure, but it must be a bit of a worry for the worriers given that now there are four defendants facing charges over the unproven affair. Old Billy ‘Mothballs’ Durston who ran the Geebung TAB back in the days when the Bung still had one, and hated paying out winners even though he earned his living from commissions win, lose or draw always used to say that the further you stretch the net, the more likely it was that a piranha would jump out, and while he was talking about some bloke that he let bet on the Murray Cod not paying, what he really meant was that the more people that become involved in something, the greater the chance is of your tinny leaking.

I know nothing about such things and am just throwing up random memories and contemporary thoughts, but some people know a little bit of that and a little bit of the other, don’t you worry about that.

 

Knock, Knock – Who’s There?

THE rumor doing the rounds at Albion Park like a bushfire last night is that the post-Pelling led QRIC Integrity Investigation Team have had a very busy week scouring the Brisbane Valley like terriers, and that we may well soon hear a lot more about what the IIT were barking at.

I personally hope that the jungle beats are miles off beam, but when the mail is this strong it usually lands, so I guess we’ll all just have to watch this space, and keep our fingers firmly crossed while we do.

 

Popular Alm – He was Once I Guess, But Poppy’s Not any Longer

POPULAR Alm was one of the most loved pacers ever to run around in Melbourne, and rightly so for Poppy was a champion from head to toe. He won everything bar the kitchen sink and the Inter Dominion, and ran times faster anyone of the time imagined could ever be run, and if injury hadn’t stopped him in his tracks so many times he may well have ended up the greatest pacer in history.

So why is this great horse being insulted so badly by the same Melbourne folk who once feted and adored him? It’s an absolute disgrace that the Group 3 race that carries Poppy’s great name has overall prize money of just a paltry $30 000, five thousand dollars less than the Class 1 at Newcastle in which Maggie’s horse got stuck three wide in a seven horse field last Saturday thanks to an Andrew Gibbons shocker. What on earth are the HRV heads thinking?

At least it will pay Kevin Seymour’s driver’s airfare to Auckland for the Inter Dominion series. Colt Thirty-One is certainty if he doesn’t gallop again, or at least as much of a certainty that a horse driven by Grant ‘Bull at a Gate’ Dixon can be in any event. Somewhat of a discount on the probability of success always applies when Moses is in the cart out of town.

The Colt is a great horse, but Popular Alm was better, and he deserves a whole lot better too.

Shame HRV, shame!

 

WHERE is the Love? – More Importantly Where Is The Duty of Care?

FOLLOWING straight on top of the young Mick Murphy’s slow motion car-crash we get the unfortunate news that fellow apprentice from the bush, Sheriden Tomlinson, has tested positive for ketamine, and will be spending three months playing Call of Duty at a critical juncture in his career when his full city claim could well have kicked him on and put him right in the big smoke game.

Why anyone would waste money on Special K when they could buy eccies or coke is a complete mystery to me because the one-time horse tranquilizer is a dolt of a drug, but each to their own and that’s not the issue here. The issue is that a mini-tidal wave of poorly guided, laxly-supervised young kids keep flocking into Vegas from dusty track in fly blown towns and blowing up their careers, and no adult in racing anywhere seems to be taking any responsibility for the young men and women’s substance use later addictions, and the travails that inevitably follow.

Now I’m not saying that those sprung with powders in their systems or who plough their cars into sleeping citizen’s walls bear no blame for their shame, but these kids are hitting the groove city with wide eyes and empty pockets, and before they’ve been here five minutes they are cashed up because every trainer wants three kilos off in slow season so they’re getting plenty of rides, they’ve been introduced to the local dealer, sometimes in the jockeys’ room, sometimes at the pub, depending on who is suspended at the time,  and the hot bad girl from around the tracks that they’re tugging off on six nights a week tells them the gear the dealer sells is shit hot, and snorting or smoking it with a four-foot midget who has been staring at her tits all night turns her on, big time.

What’s the little virgin bloke from out beyond the black stump supposed to do, say “thanks very much Miss Looks Like Ariana Grande Only Ten Times Hotter, but I’m a professional sportsman focused on my craft, so despite the temptation of an opportunity to touch your tits I will have one last half glass of filtered water and then be on my way, for I have to be up at sparrow’s for track work in the morning”.

The answer of course is yes, but how many of us at the same age would really have said no? The only ones I can think of are among the Albion Park trio of Kevin Seymour, Damian Courtney and David Fowler: Kevin because he loves Kay; Reverend Courtney because he’d be afraid of God striking him down with lightning; and Feathers because the hot coke fiend was a girl, and even if she had a brother just as hot, his mum might find out.

And so the kids say yes, and the terrible spiral into misuse or addiction begins, and before they know they can’t even remember that shag on the Special K or the pipe that night, and there’s no use trying to remember because they can’t quite recall yesterday, and after so many daze on the gear they couldn’t get it up if they tried. Next thing you know we are reading about them in the news, and their parents are too, and so are all the owners and trainers who only the week before were going to give them the pick of the stable, but now cross Racecourse Road to avoid the kid when they spot him coming out the front door of Coles. As Jay-Z has often told us, it’s a hard knock life.

But where are people in racing authority who are supposed to be helping them? Where is the mandatory regular drug testing regime for the apprentice jockeys that supposedly detects problems before they grow arms and legs and turn into career killers? Where are the industry appointed mentors who are assigned to help these kids make the transition from sub-dole drudgery earned mainly by sweeping shit to the high-life of the Hammo living it up large on six-figure earnings? Where are the regular fortnightly meetings between the apprentice, his mentor and his master? Where is the love? Where is the care? Where is the Racing Integrity Commission caring for these kids’ welfare, and taking responsibility for it? Where is the treat of the cause not the symptom approach? Where are the drug and alcohol counsellors? Where are the rehabilitation programs? Where is the non-publication of information about apprentices’ problems policy?

Where, where, where, where, where?

Nowhere, that’s where.

And that’s just a crying shame.

 

When Bazza Gets Done for Doping His Horse You Know That the World’s Gone Mad

WHEN Gympie trainer Barry Phillips is getting done for doping horses you sure start to suspect that something very odd is going on in the racing world.

Now I’m not knocking Hannah’s dad, but without being disrespectful I think it’s fair to say that if Bazza really was using the blood stimulating agent Heptaminol as a performance enhancing agent for his horses, then the gun Gympie gallops man might have trained just a few more than the handful of winners that his record shows Mr Phillips has landed over the past decade and a half. Either that or Heptaminol is just a slick snake oil salesman’s sell, and the stuff doesn’t really work at all; but if that were the case why would it be banned?

I don’t know what was going on there with Barry’s positive swab and subsequent nod, but I suspect that the former was something caused innocently, probably by human contact or contaminated feed, and the latter was a simple man’s expression of faith in the fairness of an unjust system where Caesar judges Caesar and the only gladiators that escape the circus are the filthy rich ones who can afford great lawyers.

What I am sure of is that Barry Phillips is no horse hitter. He’s is just – like many of us in the racing game – a bloke that does the best he can and does it clean. We’re sad this happened to him and wish the old battler well.

 

Sandown Smackdown

HILLSIDE, Lakeside, Dark Side – you can take every bit of Sandown and stick it up your clacker as far as I’m concerned. It’s the most terrible track in the world, or one of them anyway. Dingo and Augathella are probably worse, but there’s only a short half-head and a nose in it.

The Melbourne Racing Club wants to sell Sandown off to property developers, which is no surprise. The Club that used to be run by top end of town Aquanita rogues tied up with Robert Smerdon wants to sell everything off to property developers, or most of it anyway. Asset sales seem to be the fashion in racing everywhere these days, despite the bad wrap that it gets. The next thing you know Anna Bligh will be shoehorned in as CEO of Racing Australia.

Usually I rail against selling off race courses, especially when the seller doesn’t hold the deed, and only gets to exercise their extraordinary power to make decisions on behalf of the lumpen masses by  virtue of apathy and keeping the real owners out of the know and in the dark. (That and of course the occasional splash of membership stacking and cynically slippery constitution changes). This time however I’m making an exception, because I HATE SANDOWN – with a passion. It’s a cold, dreary, soul-less joint where you can never find a winner and it gets beaten in a protest if you do. The type of track where you can back nine horses in a 10-horse field and miss the winner 9/10th’s of the time. The sort of place you’d take your wife for your anniversary dinner if you were rooting the secretary in the Water and Sewerage Department and were angling for a no-fault divorce.

Build a bloody highway across the thing I say. Build two if you like, and a tunnel and an overpass and a big block retail center and an Edward Scissorhands style affordable housing development where for the poor souls stuck there their nightmare is the best part of their day. Who needs another shit track in Victoria anyway? They’ve already got Pakenham, Mornington and Ballarat. Tell the buggers not to be so greedy.

I’ll give you a tip for free and thanks for listening to me rant. The Sandown Cup winner usually comes out of the Melbourne Cup last start, and almost always carries 55kg or more. That only leaves you two, Neufbosc and Sound. I reckon Neufbosc is a legless walker, and it earning a start in the big one on the first Tuesday in November was a joke, so that leaves you only with Sound, and by that simple process of deduction by historical reference and stats, therein lies your winner.

Don’t say Archie didn’t tell you so.

Oh, and Paddy Payne’s horse Widgee Turf is a certainty in the Ladbrokes Sandown Stakes too. Pair them up in the multi and you’ll snare a price of near $9. It’s an early Xmas gift from the Gods. Just get on.

 

RACING NSW CHAIRMAN DESCRIBES ABC 7.30 REPORT AS ‘UNFAIR’

RACING NSW chairman Russell Balding has written a 21-page letter of complaint to ABC managing director David Anderson about the 7.30 program on horse welfare, alleging numerous breaches of the national broadcaster's statutory duties, editorial policies and code of practice.

CHRIS ROOTS reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that Balding, a former managing director of the ABC, made 15 separate points in his letter – which has been published on the Racing NSW website – about the program which aired on October 17 and sent the racing industry into crisis.

"There is an unfairness at the core of the program's approach and coverage of the issue," Balding said. "There was no proper or serious attempt to present the perspective of the racing industry, which should have included the actions and work of Racing NSW (and other racing organisations) to address the welfare of thoroughbred racehorses, both during and after their racing careers.

"To the extent that they are referenced, they are done so in a manner to be contextualised and critiqued by the industry opponents featured in the program."

The Racing NSW complaints include claims of factual inaccuracies, misrepresentations and a lack of independent verification of data and vision.

"It is disappointing that neither the ABC nor other parties involved in the two-year period of putting the program together apparently saw fit to report to authorities, when they became aware of the cruelty," Balding said.

"While not within the ambit of this complaint – it is a matter for the ABC, as a public agency with integrity responsibilities, to consider. If the ABC has any evidence of abuse of thoroughbreds within the jurisdiction of Racing NSW, we would expect that such evidence be brought to Racing NSW's attention as soon as possible."

 

ARCHIE’S SOLUTION TO JOCKEY SHORTAGE GETS UP EX-BOOKIE’S NOSE

GARY GORRIE, a one-time top bookmaker in Queensland who continues to follow racing closely in Australia from his new base in Phuket, Thailand, responds to ARCHIE BUTTERFLY’S solution to solving the problem of shortage of jockeys. 

Dear Letsgohorseracing  

 I enjoy Archie Butterfly’s take on racing but his solution to solving problems of shortage of jockeys has got up my nose like one of his cousin’s, the common fly, on a hot race afternoon in Birdsville.

How is it that whatever the problem – funding, jockeys, spending fortunes on Toowoomba and Brisbane (soon Gold Coast) tracks or prizemoney woes, the answer is to reduce funding and meetings to country racing. It’s the one place where voluntary labour of committees keeps racing viable.

I thought Archie had more brains then this. What happens when you close down all Country racing? What will be your solution then – one track with 24 hour racing and no patrons so everyone can stay home and bet on the net? You will have no gossip, no stories then.

Arch when you were just a twinkle in your father’s eye and racing was great in this State, we had racing in just about every Country town on every Saturday. Each town had apprentice jockeys. There was no need to have "fly ins" as we bred and trained our own apprentices. The good apprentices found their way to the cities and the older jockeys dropped down to the country tracks. The country tracks also took the horses that were not up to City standard and the good young horses developed in the country went to the city. Maybe that is why we did not need the glue factory that now Archie can blow on or up about.

I remember the bean counters coming through Mackay to sell midweek racing and I was asked to go to the meeting as a stakeholder. I asked about Mingella and Bowen Rivers and what would happen to those tracks? I also asked how would the clubs pay for maintenance on tracks, salaries, rates etc without the funding from gate receipts, bar takings, Bookies’ fees (26 in Mackay the day I started 1972 and I was holding about $30,000 per day when a Falcon cost about $4,500 etc)? His model for country tracks was to increase prizemoney but the tracks had to forgo Saturday racing to provide revenue for the TAB. I questioned him about the loss of bar jobs, gatekeepers, food operators, apprentice and local jockeys and was fobbed off. When he came through next time the club was asked not to invite me because the questions I asked were too hard for him to sell the new product.

Now Arch maybe the solution might be the reverse races on Saturdays for the Glue horses ridden by country apprentices! Close? The other close relations of yours, the Corporate bookies who only bet the losing clients and ban anyone who wins. They are all amalgamating so soon we will have three or four Corporates who will bet to lose less than the 26 bookies that I fielded with in Mackay [1972]. In those days plunges were nationwide, a commission agent placed in every ring in Australia by the Mark Read’s (Getting Closer), Jim Houlahan (Tipping Time and many great stories, some successful and others not). But the atmosphere of getting the fraction [noticed at the Call of the Card that Steve Bradley was denied ‘fractions’), betting in ponies, monkeys and baby grands had something special.

Well done bean counter you single-handedly stuffed racing in Queensland and have poor Archie bedazzled with your successful plan so well implemented in Queensland.

Hey Arch what about seeing if you can ‘blow’ ‘Big Russ’ back up. There was a legend, someone you could learn a lot from. You have your fly on all the gossip. Maybe he could help you with some constructive ideas for solutions.

Sorry Arch I love reading your column but mate rethink country racing go to a few of these meeting (Twin Hills, Ewan) and see what it does for the spirit of the town, many in drought conditions, a chance for the ladies to dress up, hats etc. It gives the towns a lift. Racing is not just about money. It’s about tradition.

Sorry Arch not on this bandwagon this time.

Gary Gorrie

 

‘FIRING UP’ OVER CONTINUING PROBLEMS WITH QLD RACING

ONE of our other regular contributors, JOHN THE FIREMAN, who isn’t afraid to take his concerns about racing in Queensland to the Minister or the Control Body had this to say about the current state of affairs:  

Hi,

I thought it worth writing again trying to get some clarity.

Nothing has changed regards getting answers from Racing Queensland, and there management style still remains reactive mostly.

The glossy brochures and continuing one-off announcements are still not addressing things correctly for the industry model as a whole.

My take on things:

  • National TAB pool a must for racing industry.
  • RQ needs to come clean on the state of affairs of viability and how these announcements are being paid for or “funded”.
  • New Greyhound facilities finally being built- so the product has a chance to grow after the loss of Gold Coast track.
  • Harness still going nowhere and until the product changes and punter confidence is reinstalled as a priority it will die of a slow death. A new facility that allows the product to change and create punter confidence plus secondary income has to happen for the sport to have a last chance. Albion Park (Metropolitan Facility) has had its day and has been an embarrassment for far too long.

 

Gallops

  • Recent announcements are more smokes and mirrors again.
  • Example QTIS X, what does it really offer as an improvement? The only horses that I can think that would meet the criteria for this recently would be River Lad, Buffering (breed back/by Mossman) , Spirit of Boom & there may be some Rothesay stock.
  • A funded 4YO+ scheme for provincial/country would help keep people breeding. The longer horses can race and potentially earn the better for animal welfare.
  • RQ involvement with MI Runner $15,000/month to train a horse. The horses aren’t Queensland bred. Not a true race day experience with a ballot system for to be in the winners’ area (when people who aren’t entitled to be there are every week). Good luck to the trainers that received them – not a bad earn!  
  • A recent announcement again confusing like the country series. These were races that already existed. These are not a new product. Dalby Newmarket/ Sires etc have been part of Queensland race program for years.
  • In my opinion feature prizemoney increases through RQ funding is wrong. The Brisbane Winter Carnival needs to stay within its traditional roots with an updated modern review that helps the product be at its best and attract all it can during that period on and off course.
  • Grassroots locals should remain the focus of a viable prizemoney model for RQ.
  • Feature race fields during the Winter Carnival will not be affected by not increasing prizemoney surely, as those that come will still come as they have always from NZ and the southern States.
  • Future prizemoney from the current levels needs to be sustained and I believe increased at the same percentage increase going forward. Hopefully RQ have budgeted correctly against income and have a plan on future increases which doesn’t involve future handouts from the Government.
  • Country racing still has its place and programing and more TAB coverage still needs further reform. Part of this reform may still be amalgamating clubs, which will require making hard decisions. Sorry but I still enjoy having a cold beer off the ice and steak burger, plus watching my horse having a competitive chance in lesser company. Relying on volunteers makes it hard to run meetings outside of weekends & public holidays! Does country racing go forward with TAB meetings in Queensland by creating a TV free-to-air channel deal outside of Sky Channel?
  • The shortage of jockey issue needs to addressed. RQ again are failing the industry by doing very little. Most industries have a workforce plan – which identifies issues through staff profiles. Any HR person shouldn’t need this spelled out any further. What’s going on at RQ – ‘northing’?
  • Why do jockeys who travel to make up numbers at meetings in the north not get travel support from RQ? Most Government organizations have flight arrangements with an airline on a changing contract that allows staff to just book and quote a number. HR function. Instead jockeys have to organise themselves and beg or borrow and car pool to save a buck.
  • Currently if you check I think you have some injured jockeys who would normally be at these northern country meetings.
  • Animal Welfare is an issue that should be “Best Practice”. The RQ levy is just catching up with other States and another cost to owners. Part of the solution needs to be finding a way to keep them racing longer and getting an early return through what Michael Hawkes has said that Maiden/Class 1 prizemoney needs to increase. Better race programing at provincial/country meetings would help. A positive has been the extra programming of Class3/Benchmark races and addition of a better prizemoney race at provincial meetings.
  • Maybe the closure of tracks would create an opportunity to use the land for other racing/income purposes.
  • Re-homing a horse is not going to be easy with the current drought conditions.
  • Feeding any horse fast/slow costs the same. Hence why prizemoney at current levels needs to be the base level to grow from and increase at same proportion as funding through turnover hopefully grows.
  • Infrastructure program still needs a further review and fine tuning. The RQ CEO doesn’t help by stating unrealistic vision, particularly when reports state the facts. 74% of punting income comes from Pub TABs.
  • Our infrastructure current or what I can see of future plans doesn’t create a reason for people to come to the racetrack. The vision needs to provide an experience that you can’t get at a Pub TAB or at home. Better wagering deals at a race track may entice people there outside carnival day racing.
  • We need to continue to increase wagering for the industry to grow. So why aren’t we using the Data and supporting further the areas where our income is coming from? Racetracks really now have become a facility that should provide the best surfaces for the product/racing to be showcased.
  • Black Caviar brought a crowd of 25,000, that’s your benchmark. Harness had Blacks a Fake and The Might Quinn to benchmark say 2000 and a white tent for special guests.
  • Apparently an advisory committee is where the Board gets information from regards change. How stakeholders communicate to this forum is a problem. Can’t find meeting agenda items or previous minutes. Who is involved and how they are isn’t clear to me either.
  • QRIC is needed but has to able to function better for Queensland industry. If the terms of reference or the Act aren’t achieving industry desire then both sides of Government need to fix it! This shouldn’t require a change of Government. Bipartisan should be achieved. QRIC shouldn’t be a political football.

 

That’s enough said but my concern remains the creation of a Queensland racing model that serves the Queensland industry to grow and prosper!

John.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks for writing to us looking for some clarity John but sadly where RQ is concerned we can't help except to make the racing public and stakeholders aware of the inadequacies and needs to replace some of those in the front office. It seems we have paid the penalty for being too critical and have been removed from the list of Media Release distribution but that's typical of some at RQ who just want to deal with 'spin doctor's' like Racin' Nathan at The Courier-Snail where protecting the rights of the punter seems to run a long last to getting the view across of those who have a higher profile politicially. 'Suck Up & Survive' - that's the profile of our hard-hitting racing media men in Queensland these days.    

 

 

GREENS ATTEMPT TO DUMP CUP EVE PARADE THROWN IN THE BIN

GOOD to see a motion for the City of Melbourne to stop supporting events which celebrate horse racing – like the traditional Cup eve Parade – despatched to the trash heap. 

Surprise, surprise – the motion was put forward by Greens Councillor Rohan Leppert, but only had the support of two other councillors at a meeting on Tuesday evening. 

Cr Leppert said cruelty was intrinsic to horse racing. “The cruelty witnessed on the racetrack, including the whipping of exhausted horses, the use of painful tongue ties, bleeding on the lungs and the high risk of injury that frequently results in horses being euthanized, pales in comparison to that much larger problem of the ruthless over-breeding of horses,. 

“This cruelty is intrinsic to horse racing. The demand for racehorses is so extreme - driven every day, every hour, every race, by the gambling industry - it is so extreme that I cannot see the industry self-regulating their way to improvement.”

“We have to acknowledge that cruelty and horse racing go hand in hand and cruelty is intrinsically linked and cannot be separated from that industry.”

Cr Leppert said public money should not be spent on horse racing. “My plea is, let's not spend our ratepayers’ funds celebrating events like that.” 

A foreshadowed motion put forward by Lord Mayor Sally Capp, which included encouraging Racing Victoria and Racing Australia to consider banning the use of whips, did have the majority of support from councillors. 

Cr Capp said the banning of whips had been the centrepiece of the majority of the 170 submissions received by the council. 

Those who voted for the cessation of support of the industry were not supportive of the motion. 

Whilst we at LGHR don’t support most of the outlandish views of the animal liberation movement on one point we agree – the larger problem is ‘over-breeding’. But who is going to call to heel an industry run by rich and powerful men who see the annual crop of yearlings each year more as a money-making machine and an assembly line.

The problem lies with the breeders so don’t give them any say in finding a resolution that will only be designed to suit themselves.

 

WATERHOUSE: CHANGE TO TAX SYSTEM BETTER DEAL FOR PUNTERS

FORMER bookmaker turned tipster Tom Waterhouse and self-anointed expert on everything racing has declared the industry’s taxation system must change to arrest the decline in betting turnover levels.

Waterhouse issued a Twitter post on Tuesday declaring he fears “racing is facing a looming crisis!”

Waterhouse, who was also a former chief executive of betting giant William Hill Australia, called for three major changes to racing to reverse the downward trends, including a gross profits tax on bookmakers rather than a turnover tax.

Waterhouse claims a $100 bet on racing costs a punter $17 in taxes and other charges while a $100 basketball bet costs $4.

“It’s over four times as expensive to bet on racing because of the way racing is taxed – with a turnover tax. No wonder turnover is collapsing and will continue to fall.”

Waterhouse said switching to a gross profit taxation system would give the average punter “more bang for their buck as takeouts can be lower”.

“Turnover tax makes the low margin punters not viable to the bookmaker because they are simply paying more tax than their profit from the punters. This means the only player that can play freely without restrictions with the bookies are the ones that lose at a high margin.”

Waterhouse said the betting tax environment needed to permit punters to win betting on racing or the sport risked becoming a simple “tax collection machine”.

Waterhouse also called for a national body to run racing to arrest the sport’s decline in market share, which has gone from 90 percent of bookies’ turnover to 50 percent.

And this is where we at LGHR liked what Tom had to say: “We really need someone to run racing as a national body and this person needs to have the necessary passion, vision and teeth,” he wrote. “Who should that person be?”

Racing Australia is on the search for a new chief executive officer following the resignation of Barry O'Farrell, who many in the industry regarded as a rank failure during his time in the job.

RA chairman Greg Nichols has confirmed O'Farrell will step down from the role he has held for nearly three years for undisclosed reasons.

O'Farrell, who was the 43rd Premier of NSW before he resigned from politics, has been the CEO of Racing Australia since January 2017.

 

SUNNY COAST RACES OK – SADLY BUSHFIRES MISSED SLAUGHTER-HOUSE

THE good news is the terrible bushfires which have threatened homes on the Sunshine Coast are not expected to disrupt the primary metropolitan meeting there on Saturday.

The bad news is the bushfires didn’t get close enough to the abattoir slaughtering thousands of beautiful thoroughbreds and Standardbreds.

If fire had gutted those premises and burnt the joint to the ground – never to be rebuilt – then the industry as a whole would have applauded.

And to this RQ has endorsed the mob that runs this embarrassment as a sponsor at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club – who is going to answer for that?   

 

THE MIDWEEK MAIL from ARCHIE BUTTERFLY

THE RQ Fight Against Calling Horses C**ts, Kicking Them in the Head, and Turning Them Into Equine Glue

THE Queensland Racing Minister came out all guns blazing in his condemnation of horses being transformed into Clag this week, declaring that his Government (which is really the left-wing unions) was introducing an initiative that would see $1.5 million injected into equine welfare, because horses matter.

RQ CEO Brendan Parnell was right behind him, or should have been anyway. Truth is that ‘Pins’ was nowhere to be seen. There is a reason for that. I'll tell you what it is in a minute.

RQ Chairman (Retired in Waiting for GQ) Steve 'Whirlwind' Wilson was quick to jump into the ring, declaring the bold 1.5 million dollar move as the first step in providing additional equine welfare support.

“As an industry, we have a collective responsibility for the safety and well-being of our horses and are committed to working collaboratively alongside QRIC in the coming months,” Wilson declared. 

“We will also continue to work closely with Racing Australia and other principal racing authorities to seek Federal Government support for a National Traceability Register for all horses, which is pivotal to the industry moving forward.”

Bloody oath it is. In fact it's so pivotal that owners and or trainers have been required to contribute data about their horse's post-track life for donkey's years, but few have ever bothered and no-one in authority has ever chased up those who had forgotten.

A collaboration with QRIC provides all the answers of course. That's why the Premier has announced that the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will be investigating the operation of the glue factories and probing deeply into the question of how so many retired racehorses seem to find themselves there. Because QRIC has been so effective in stopping horses getting called c**ts, kicked in the head, and then killed.

Gimme a break!

Ross Barnett got it right, telling us that

“Both the Government and the Commission take animal welfare matters very seriously and are committed to ensuring that all racing animals are afforded the appropriate standards of animal welfare.”  

You bloody beauty Roscoe.

But what exactly are those appropriate standards of animal welfare?

And why haven't you taken them seriously enough to stop horses getting called c**ts, kicked in the head and killed before?

But back to ‘Pins’ – why is the bloke who runs the show at RQ playing the role of Silent Bob in the RQ Media Release?

Racing Queensland own 85% of the Sunshine Coast Turf Club.

RQ NEEDS TO TELL THE INDUSTRY WHERE THIS SPONSORSHIP STANDS

The SCTC runs a thing called The Hundred Club. It's a corporate sponsorship and membership program that reaps in big dough from businesses in return for providing the companies with the rolled out red carpet treatment at the races and the chance to be naming rights sponsor for the Cup.

Until the ABC ‘call a horse a c**t, kick it in the head and kill it scandal’ erupted, the Caboolture glue factory owners and operators were big sponsors of races at the Sunshine Coast, and their company Multi Meats was a member of the 100 Club. These Belgian businessmen who paid their sponsorship money in horses’ blood and ground up hooves were sucking down oysters and squaffing champagne at soirees in the RQ-owned committee rooms, and being slapped on the back and called good blokes and everyone was smiling.

They're not anymore!

Darren Condon got sacked as the CEO of RQ because it was left to his secretary to deal with the pain in the arse animal activists who were banging on about a couple of possums being tied to lures and then savaged by dogs. Fair enough too I reckon, although I know that Condon and many others disagree. I don't even like animals other than to punt on, and wouldn't pat a doe-eyed puppy if you paid me, but even I get that killing the pissing, shitting, flea-ridden things is an abomination. So anyone who fails to prevent it has no place in racing.

That's a problem for Pins isn't it? 

What do you reckon the pub test results about Brendan Parnell's leadership are going to be when the ABC reports that RQ was in bed with the ‘call them a c**t, kick them in the head horse killers’? Oh yeah, that whizz kid is doing a great job isn't he the average Joe is going to say? He's the prophet to lead us out of the glue factory wilderness and into the let's not hurt horses light.

Not.

Say what you like about Racing Minister Pounds Stirling Hinchliffe - I often do - but you can't say that he's not a savvy politician. How else could a mug student from Craigslea High who believes in fathers, sons, holy ghosts, virgin births and bearded hippies who raise folk from the dead advance so far in the politics game if he didn't? (And no, having the 100 percent support of Bill Ludwig and the property development lobby is not an alternative answer, even if it is).

Pounds didn't leave Pins out of his own media release because he's about to promote him to the position of Director General of the Department of Abolishing Glue Factories. He's left him out because Brendan Parnell is about to be turned into politically expedient ‘It Was All His Fault’ ex-leader glue.

Poor Pins – all he ever did was nothing. How could he possibly deserve such a cruel fate?

Good on Pounds and his Government though. They really care about equines, and are determined at all costs to stop them from being called ‘c**ts, kicked in the head and killed’. 

That's why they are giving zero extra to the cause, because they care.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m going to buy you a puppy for Christmas Archie. But on a more serious note a one per cent levy on existing prize money is not an injection of $1.5 million into initiatives to end the killing of horses. It's simply a tax on the owners of horses that run fast, and perform well in races. Can someone tell the Minister that it's not the fast horses that get sent to the glue factory? It's the slow ones who don't earn any prize money. Duh!

And on another issue that has been raised more consistently with LGHR, the time has come for some of the Head Honchos administering the Deagon Office of RQ to show more respect for the Racing Minister who has done a lot more than his predecessors in recent times.

It’s not a good look to the rest of the industry heavyweights at functions when the Racing Minister and his crew are consigned to a table with a team including QRIC boss Ross Barnett while the heavies from the RQ HQ are ‘sucking up’ to the Shadow Minister JPL at the top table. You should never forget how Shorten lost the unlosable election boys and girls. It can come back to haunt you – and might even do so before the election is held. Look over your shoulder Pins. You could easily end up rowing the same boat up Shit Creek as your fair weather friend from Albion Park!

 

The Quiet Achiever

GEE Hughie Bowman's been quiet over the past couple of months, hasn't he? 

At least that's what I was thinking to myself 20 minutes ago when I was trying to dream up mid-week story ideas, and the above statement came into my head.

I mulled it over for a bit (about 20 seconds), then decided to check.

Ouch!

During the past three months J.H. Bowman has ridden the winners of the Golden Rose, the Thousand Guineas, four Group 3 races and a bunch of others, including a double on Oaks day, and earned about 200 grand exclusive of slings, which is about sixty thousand more than ScoMo pulled in during the same period. 

He's been quiet though, hasn't he?

 

How to Do Exactly What They Did in Adelaide and Totally Stuff Things Up

RACING Queenland's announcement of the injection of an additional $1 million in prize money for the Sires Produce and J.J. Atkins Stakes has been greeted with rapturous applause from the racing industry. 

Interstate. 

The wise word is that Chris Waller's over the moon, and why wouldn't he be? After all, he's been winning these races when they were worth half the money for years, so surely a windfall awaits. They say that the Sheik's grinning like the cat that got the custard too. He's been spending so much on paying for expensive slickly produced SKY Channel ads as a forward defence to forthcoming questions about the Godolphin operation’s links to rehoming his horses in Clag bottles that he's got a touch of a shortage of readies right now, and the extra mil or two will come in very handy to help fund his ongoing campaign against women's rights and for the reincarnation of dead horses whose riders once wore blue.

‘Pins’ Parnell tells us that the purpose of the extra million is to attract late season two-year-olds to come and race in Queensland, presumably because his knowledge of ancient and modern racing history is so poor that ‘Pins’ doesn't realise that they already do. 

Allow me to roll out the cast of crackerjack juvenile gallopers that have raced and won in Queensland in the Winter over the years, that ‘Pins’ has neglected to mention (someone might need to school the CEO up on their places in racing history):

Red Anchor, Luskin Star, Romantic Lad, Karaman, Maybe Lad, Slight Chance, Al Mansour, Shoot Out, Fine and Dandy, Tulloch (fair horse that), Lough Neagh, Spear Chief, Freemason, Zedative, Scomeld, Dalrello, Staging, Daybreak Lover, Chief De Beers and Breakfast Creek.

Not a bad line-up is it, and there are a whole lot more if you'd like to hear them, but why waste your time for I suspect that the point's proven? Even ‘Pins’ would have to grudgingly agree with me.

“The TAB Queensland Carnival has long been a springboard to stardom for two-year-olds,” he says.

All power to that brother Brendan. So why throw an extra million bucks at a pair of races that already attract the best, when you could increase the prize money of a thousand local races by a thousand dollars each using the exact same pool of money? Haven't you ever seen what happened in South Australia when your equivalent down there Frances Nelson pulled the same stunt by splashing millions at the Goodwood and the Sangster? How good is racing in that State going now? Or are you too blind to see?

People who know him say ‘Pins’ is a nice bloke, and I'm not qualified to disagree with them. I can see without qualification however that he's not much chop as a CEO. 

Not much chop indeed.

 

Speaking of Chops (Part 1)

The Harness Racing Victoria stewards aren't much chop either, as this media release comprehensively proves.

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards advise that effective from 1 November 2019 head numbers must be worn by all horses presented to start in a race in Victoria.

This requirement has been reintroduced with the approval of the HRV Board acting on a recommendation from the HRV Integrity Department following a review into the incorrect placings being declared for Race 2 at Hamilton on 2 August 2019. 

The review identified that the wearing of head numbers is an important tool for judging staff in determining the placings in a close finish and assists in reducing the potential for error.

The error that the stipes are talking about is one in which the judges at Hamilton stuffed the results of a photo up, despite having the benefit of digital finish links style modern technology.

Most punters would have thought it was self-apparent that this one-off debacle was human error, but not the Vic stewards. They decree that the garden variety balls up has the potential to become an epidemic, and so introduce a policy that has the effect of taking us back to the days of Paleface and Koala King frolicking around the Harold Park saucer as kids. 

There is nothing like progress is there?

 

Speaking of Chops (Part 2)

COLT Thirty One began badly and trailed the field thereafter. Colt Thirty One will now be placed outside the draw in future mobile start events. 

That's what the HRV Stewards reported about the Colt's crazily out of character gallop at the start of the 4 &5YO Championship at Melton last Saturday night.

It's a shocker of a decision, and hugely disadvantageous to the Colt's Inter Dominion chances if King Kev and Moses (owner Kevin Seymour A.M. and his trainer/driver Grant Dixon) can't squeeze in two sweet barrier trials before ID 19 kicks off in a couple of weeks. 

The Colt didn't gallop because he didn't want to pace. He galloped because Moses drove him too hard too early with the idea of charging out of the mobile and going to the lead, but got his timing wrong and ran the Queensland home-bred hero's head smack bang into the barrier arm instead. It wasn't the Colt that stuffed up – it was Dixon. Put him on the back row in the heats of the big one, but leave our Colt alone. 

 

We've got bigger fish to fry

BELLE of Montana – the Girl of My Dreams

The greatest pacer in Australia bar none is back on the track in race 7 at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

Belle is stepping up to Open company and taking on the big boys for the first time, and as usual she's drawn a shocker in position 7 off the gate over the mile, so in normal circumstances our girl would almost certainly be the universally agreed lay of the day.

But this is Belle, and she ain't normal, she's a superstar. Forget the draw, don't worry about the quantum leap in class, what you are looking at here is a mare that the greatest trainer in harness racing history Barry Purdon rates as the best he's ever had; and to add cream to an already scrumptious cake she has the best driver in the world Zac Butcher on board.

I have but two words for you sports fans.

Load up.

 

Alas Poor Sandown, We You Knew You So Well

THE Spring Carnival says sayonara by moving to Sandown this weekend.

It's a bastard of a track, and a turd of a venue – cold, barren, windy, lonely, and as deceptive as a Murali dooser.

The plans are to sell it. 

Coming from a man who froze his arse off and did it too at the track a couple of months ago, I say hip hip hooray.

Perhaps Peter V'Landys can match the Victorians by getting rid of the Kenso course at Randwick too. We'd all be richer for both wretched tracks’ passing.

 

Oaks Day at Royal Gatton

VAN Gogh never sold a single painting in his lifetime.

They all thought Galileo was a crackpot when he pronounced that the world was flat.

It's the same with Racing Queensland's on-going determination to run a Gatton card as the State's only meeting on Victorian Oaks Day.

One day punters will bow down and pay homage to their genius.

Unless you have an oxygen tank with a real long supply of air, don't hold your breath.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The near universal condemnation of RQ's scheduling disaster is totally unwarranted. The main race of the day held almost $10,000. So did the Maiden at Gawler.

 

You Always Hear It First Here

THOSE readers with long memories will remember that I outed the self-nominated (under a bowler's name) former Australian of the Year contender and claimed cancer survivor Amanda Power as a fraud on my itsnotnormalisit.com website back in year of the Queen 2017.

A couple of years later the mainstream media has finally caught up, as anyone who has bothered to read the shock jock fish and chips wrapper The Courier-Mail this morning will know.

They are a bit slow on the uptake these gun reporters, aren't they – and it’s not only the racing scribes (oops that should be singular – there is only one survivor)?

 

 

NATIONAL TOTE KEY TO TROTS SURVIVAL – BUT WHAT ABOUT QLD?

IF harness racing in Victoria cannot survive without a national tote what hope has the code got in Queensland?

We’re still waiting for the annual report of the Albion Park Harness Racing Club to be released but chances are it will be the opposite end of the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club which was spectacular.

When you have to throw the gates open and offer free admission even for Carnival meetings; when the punters no longer have confidence to bet on the product and when it seems those policing the sport don’t seem to be able to see what is wrong with the sport in south-east Queensland, then it probably doesn’t have a future anyway.

Harness Racing Victoria Chairman Dale Monteith admitted this week that without a national tote, the code’s existence would be in jeopardy.

With the forecast that a national tote will be in operation by 2020, Monteith predicted a simple, dramatic scenario for the trots. “We need it for our future. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

The former VRC CEO said that signature small betting pools in harness races had become a significant deterrent for punters who had begun to migrate to other sports and thoroughbred racing, where betting pools were more robust.

“Have a look at the average win and place pool at Melton last Saturday night. You’re looking at pools of $20-25,000. You’re looking at even less in country harness racing. We need pools of $100,000 to encourage people.”

Monteith said that in harness racing “a punter can’t have a decent bet on the tote without affecting the price. It stands to reason that harness racing needs a national tote for our very future.”

The response from Monteith came in the wake of tweets from leading bookmaker Rob Waterhouse, who said a national tote was “bad news for everybody.”

“The TAB and its shareholders will turn over less, its punters will lose the advantage of choosing the best odds and will lose most carry-overs; corporate punters will lose the “best tote” product. Racing will receive less because of less turnover.”

Punter advocate Richard Irvine tweeted back: “Then what’s the answer because the tote set up is going nowhere right now?”

Speaking on Victoria’s Racing Pulse, Irvine said a national tote would be “the shot in the arm that the TAB needed. It’s sort of withering on the vine. Something had to be done.”

In Queensland there will be a mutiny among the minor codes if harness racing – for political reasons – is again propped up by the Government or the rest of the industry after posting a another multi-million dollar loss.

 

THE JOCKEY SHORTAGE Might Be a Growing Problem - And the Slow on the Uptake Mainstream Media are one Too - But as Usual Archie Has the Answers

By ARCHIE BUTTERFLY 

IN the space of two days we've had those scions of the Rupert Murdoch racing press – Nathan Exelby and Peter 'Scooter' Gleeson – express outrage at the fast-growing number of horses being scratched from Queensland races because no jockeys could be found to ride them.

Five stars for the latecomers we say – the message has finally got through to them.

Along with LGHR, I have been banging on for months about the fast-looming problems about to result from the virtual collapse of Queensland's apprentice jockey education system.

For all his supposed faults at least Maurice Logue cared about bringing young kids through and into the industry. Who knows what the hell is going on now? Certainly not the people who are supposed to at Racing Queensland, that's for sure, for apprentice recruitment, development and education in this State is a farce, and if your head is stuck so far in the sand that you don't understand then all I can say is that it seems that you are not alone.

Avid race fan and LGHR reader Greg Blanchard from Deagon has been throwing everything bar the kitchen sink at RQ in an attempt to open their eyes to what has been a fast looming train wreck for at least the past year, but no-one would bloody listen, and now we find ourselves in this incredible position where it is all but too late to do anything immediate about it.

Two years ago we had almost 60 apprentice jockeys on the books; today that number has plummeted to just 41, and of this paltry number only 17 hold an unrestricted license to ride in town.

Of this 17, one hasn't ridden for months (Taylor Williams), two ride pretty much exclusively in NSW (Clayton Gallagher and Wendy Peel), one is suspended for a month (Michael Murphy), eight haven't ridden in town more than a handful of times over the past six months (Miki Nakao, Carly Frater-Hill, Hannah Phillips, Noriyuki Masuda, Elyce Smith, Zoe White, Minehiko Shimodaira, Adam Spinks), and another seems for some inexplicable reason to have badly lost his way (former champion apprentice Jag Guthmann-Chester, whose strike rate this season has plummeted from good double figures down to an alarming 4.4 per cent).

That leaves only Jackson Murphy, Nick Keal, Baylee Nothdurft and Corey Bayliss as claiming apprentices who are getting regular rides in town, even in the off season, and that's a huge concern - or should be anyway - because we have a bunch of ageing jockeys in BrisVegas who have been, or will be in the not too distant future, be retiring in droves.

Jeff Lloyd has left the building. Damien Browne has too. Michael Cahill, Jim Byrne, Robbie Fradd and Larry Cassidy are all pushing 50 or beyond and their days in the saddle are surely numbered. Forget the freaks like Lloyd, Greg Ryan or Robert Thompson; the truth is that very few jockeys can ride at their peak beyond 50, very few indeed, and if you don't believe me then just ask yourself what the hell happened to Glen Colless's once burgeoning metro career.

If no well-educated and developed apprentices are coming through the ranks to replace these departing folk, and all the fringe players drop off or disappear along the way, then who is going to be left to fulfil the engagements in capacity 14 and 16 horse fields at Eagle Farm in a few years’ time? 

I guess that's a problem that we may just still have time to forestall, as long as those holding the reins of power and currently looking the other way focus their attention on the problem, and move quick to solve it. 

Our immediate problem is now, just as Greg Blanchard warned us from way back through websites like mine and Lingard’s that it would be. We have too many starters and not enough jocks to steer them, and as a direct result the number of ridiculous no-rider scratchings has risen to red alert levels. When even Racin' Nathan and ‘Scooter’ Gleeson start catching on to a problem, you know it’s only a short-half head shy of becoming a catastrophe, and desperate measures need to be rapidly employed to stop it.

The consequence of the short-sighted see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, do nothing at all dictum that's been at the core of RQ's survive the cold war against QRIC strategy since 2016 is that we have but one viable option.

SLASHING COUNTRY RACE DATES IS THE ONLY ANSWER

Country racing dates have to be cut – slashed to ribbons. You can't fit square pegs into round holes, and you can't keep running race meetings at Caloundra, Bundall, the Garden City, Roma, Emerald, Julia Creek, Townsville and Mt Perry on the same day when there aren't enough jockeys to be legged up into their saddles. It's simple common sense really, and NSW and Victoria cottoned onto it years ago.

Those smart states run only three race meetings on a Saturday while we run eight (and sometimes more). Most of the Victorian and NSW meetings are TAB cards, while less than half of ours are. That's the primary reason that prize money down south puts ours in the shade, and the shortage of stakes on offer is in turn the reason that ownership dollars are flooding out of Queensland faster than a sly Maggie left hook, and even mugs like me drunkenly spending the shopping money on five per cent shares in cart horses only sell if they're trained interstate (unless of course I am buying them from Sheila Laxon, but there's a very good reason for that, which I can't share with you because gentlemen, Welsh sheilas, and blokes from Geebung never kiss and tell, particularly not after they've just gurgled from a Moet filled 2001 Melbourne Cup. I wonder how much grog next year's Golden Slipper will hold)?

As I said, slashing the number of meetings held across Queensland on a Saturday is the panacea to all our ills, and I'd recommend the number cut be about 5/8th's. We'd be sweet then, with everyone running around for spondoolies of a hundred grand a race rather than just the QTIS eligible and Open company few.

It could happen in a heartbeat, as long as the owner of the organ had a little bit of ticker, and therein lies the problem. The Labor Party still bears the scars of the slaying they encountered in the regions over Anna Bligh's unbridled asset sales agenda, and due to the fact that most of the ALP caucus are either Johnny's come lately or idiots they conflate that with the Beattie-era kicking the party copped when it moronically tried to close a couple of hundred country train stations, and stupidly believe that the political sky will fall on their heads if they stop funding the squatter's picnics at potted cattle tracks like Aramac, in seats held by the Tories since the beginning of time.

I can't explain the inexplicable to you, and I'm sure the so-called Labor 'heavyweights' that I used to drop eccies and smoke dope with on the roof of the TLC building can't either, so in the absence of answers or a clue we sail on like Gatsby's boats, beating our heads against a wall and spending a half million a week on race meetings without riders, just to keep two dozen cow cockies entertained on their day off.

Is your head spinning too? It's no wonder Peter V'Landys scrubs up like Superman against our head-scratching Queensland racing honchos. Even Monkey Kerr would look pretty good if you lined him up against an inert brick wall. (Monkey who you hear them whispering in the hallowed Deagon halls? Some of them even thought that Whopper was a hamburger too).

Houston we have a real problem here. 

In a land full of political cowardice and a Parliament filled with pretenders, God only knows how we are going to solve it.

Strange as it may sound the answer could rest with ‘Scooter’ – for the uninitiated that’s Peter Gleeson (SKY identity and hot-shot newspaper columnist) who is being strongly tipped to gain a gig on the new-look Racing Board under the chairmanship of Graham Quirk if the ‘goat riders’ return to power. Story goes ‘Scooter’ has changed his political shirt (let’s face it he had to with Rupert set to bash the crap out of everything Labor in the lead-up to the election next year).  Colleagues say he’s long forgotten the day that Labor Premier Anastasia offered him the CEO’s job left vacant at RQ by Darren Condon who was thrown under a bus in the wake of the greyhound live-baiting fiasco. ‘Scooter’ was offered a truck-load more than Condon got to take on the poisoned chalice of racing in Queensland but he wisely walked away and after missing the job he was supposedly promised as Editor of The Courier-Snail moved on to greener pastures and a new career in television land with SKY News but retaining a print interest with his weekly newspaper columns. Now his close mate John Paul Langbroek, the Racing Minister in Waiting if Labor bites the dust, sees merit in appointing ‘Scooter’ to the RQ Board – one would assume for his greyhound skills but he has knowledge of racing and harness racing as well. He certainly would run rings around some of those currently doing the job. Time will tell.      

 

LGHR GIVES ARCHIE BUTTERFLY SOMEWHAT CENSORED PLATFORM

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY is too good a writer with too big a following to deprive him an outlet for his thoughts on all things racing, sport and politics. We at LGHR have decided to provide him with that outlet conditional on him adopting a different style that still gets his message across so long as he accepts our editing of his copy to ensure that we don’t get tarred with the same censorship brush. The last thing we need is to share the same jail cell as Archie – remember what happened to Lester Piggot – lol? Let’s face it, there needs to be an independent outlet with some ethics prepared to provide a coverage that protects the punters and doesn’t rely on the ‘suck up and survive mentality’ of not only some of our racing scribes and commentators.      

 

SPARE US THE CRAP ABOUT QUEENSLAND PROVIDING THE SPRINGBOARD FOR ALL THESE MELBOURNE CUP WINNERS

ONCE upon a time horses used to graduate from sales, just like kids graduate from school – but not anymore. These days they graduate from the Queensland Winter Carnival, and leave with their senior certificates and an OP score and head off down to Melbourne. 

“Rubbish Archie! You're full of Edgar Britt!” Mum yells from the grave, which in her case is a hole in a wall with the rest of the ancestors in the columbarium at St Augustine's on Racecourse Road, about half a furlong from the front gate at Eagle Farm

“No, it’s true mum,” I retort. “It has to be, because Nathan Exelby says so in The Courier-Snail this morning, heaps of times!”

Mum just looks at me while rolling her eyes, then shakes her head and walks away. Or I imagine her doing it anyway, and of course as usual the old duck's right.

None of the horses that Racin' Nathan raves on about really graduated from Queensland – they all come from southern stables. All they did was use our races as a stepping stone and an easy opportunity to pluck the eyes out of the few riches we still have left up here, and then piss off back down south. 

Chris Waller pulled a hit-and-run mission on the Queensland Guineas with Kolding, just as he had in the J.J. Atkins with Press Statement a few years before, and while that's a great demonstration of Winxy's unparalleled genius, it's difficult to highlight it as prime evidence of the inherent worth of the Queensland Winter Carnival. Not unless you are a shiny nosed spruiker in a pink shirt who believes in back scratching as the key to a well-paid, easy life at the track.

Fiery Impact is a fairly performed Japanese-bred English stayer that boom trainer Matthew Smith has turned into a dual Group 1 winning miler during the Spring Carnival. (Here's a tip - I reckon Smith is only one big owner away from becoming the next Brian Mayfield-Smith; remember that when my prediction proves true). This one had just a single run in Brisbane over the carnival, finishing down the track when he ran 11th of 16 in the Doomben Cup. Some graduate hey?

I will give Nathan the Cup winner Vow and Declare. Well sort of anyway (even if Lloyd Williams told 4TAB the race he won in Brisbane was a nothing and that he beat walkers), because the real credit for the four-year-old's rapid rise to fame and fortune via BrisVegas really belongs to the gelding's trainer Danny O'Brien, who mapped out an ambitious long-term plan to bring the slow-developing stayer though the classics and into the weakest Group 3 race run anywhere in the world (aka the Tatts Cup run over 3000m at Eagle Farm) to see if he could stay, and then when the answer was ‘yes’ launched him into the Caulfield Cup second run back from a 15-week break, and then onto the big one third-up. So much for Bart's 10,000km theory hey?

The sublime turns to the ridiculous when Exelby quotes Danny O'Brien telling him on radio on Sunday that you didn't need to look far over the last 50 years to find horses that had raced well in the Queensland Winter Carnival, which was one of the most astute observations ever made about racing. You don't need to look back far at all, you just need to look at the winners, for they had to perform well to finish first didn't they? 

What I think Exelby really means by reproducing O'Brien's quote is that history shows that Queensland is the bomb when it comes to Cup winners racing here during our carnival. If my interpretation is correct then it only goes to show how little the so-said racing expert from Joh country really knows, for by my count only four of the past 50 Melbourne Cup winners ever raced in Queensland during their Cup year, they being Vow and Declare, Shocking, Viewed and Ethereal. 

I'm happy to be corrected if I'm wrong, but it’s not a really great statistic, and certainly not one that will see interstate trainers queued up with their horses in droves at the Mascot and Tullamarine airports waiting for a spare seat and a stall to Vegas is it? In fact if Racin’ Nathan could get over his seeming delusion that his job is to act as Racing Queensland's PR man and spelt out the real facts, then the numbers would cause any aspiring Cup winning trainer who knew even vaguely how to frame odds to avoid the Winter Carnival like the bubonic plague. 

I know, I know, Archie's back and he's being a knocker again already – and my reply?

That's true only if the truth isn't.

Whatever happened to journalism?

What's that Mum? The real journalists aren't on the payroll of Rupert anymore? They ply their craft by self-publishing online, and in the process keep the gatekeepers a quarter straight?

Do you know what?

I think the old girl's Racecourse Road ghost has got it exactly right.

 

KING KEV Gives the Unwashed Crowd a Tip on How to Get Rich, Get Richer, and Save the Planet Too - Just Move Up the Road From the Creek So You Can Nip Down and Watch the Colt Win, Cut a Few Holes in the Wall, and Save a Fortune on Costly Air-Conditioning

Did anyone read the interview most generously granted by the rather coltish King Kev of harness racing to The Sunday Snail yesterday?

No? 

It was a bit hard to find down the bottom of page 67 I admit, but it's well worth reading because the Colt's human dad does something very rare, and gives punters a free tip on how to get rich, and if you have even a vague idea about how many condos it takes to store Kev's loose change you'd be a right proper mug not to listen.

Mr Seymour is telling the wise folk prepared to listen why he loves living in steamy, sub-tropical BrisVegas, and more specifically about why his penthouse at Newstead is so extraordinarily crackerjack. 

Now we all know that the real answer is that it's within easy walking distance to the trots, which means that he can tell his lovely wife Kay that he's ducking out to get some milk and sneak down and back to the Creek to watch the Colt win on a Tuesday afternoon without getting sprung. Or so he thinks. Kay just pretends she doesn't twig to the milk trick so that she can watch the Colt win at $1.04 on Sky Channel and enjoy Chris Barsby's histrionic call without Old Faithful chiming in like Big Ben at midday every three seconds with his running commentary of the race.

Harness racing tragics like the King and I (makes you want to burst into song) don't usually read page 67 unless we're featured on it though, and the folk that do tend to be that strange sort of type who watch The Block and pretend they're interested in home reno tips rather that sheila's bits or Jamie Durie's árse. So when they put him on the spot about what he likes most about his house Mr Seymour A.M. finds himself somewhat stuck between a rock and hard place. 

He's quick on his feet however - you have to be to have so many goldies in the jar - so he did what the Indians have been doing since the days when the Buddha was still a prince named Siddartha.

Kev gave them the second best story.

“Our home ... has fantastic cross-flow ventilation minimizing the need for costly air-conditioning,” he pronounces with a grin, looking out over his panoramic views to the CBD skyline toward the Energex building a couple of blocks away.

No right-minded billionaire needs costly air conditioning. If Kay gets hot and sweaty she can just jump in the lift and go and sit out on the boat. It has superb cross-flow ventilation too. So does a tee pee, or a half-decent annex on a tent.

Only a fool pays for costly air-con when they can cut a few handy holes in the wall to create a breezeway. If everyone just got out the circular saw and bit of sandpaper the whole city would be better off financially, and no bugger would have to worry about global warming at all. Extinction Rebellion would be extinct before Racin' Nathan got out of bed in the morning if only all Brisvegan's followed Mr Seymour's lead, and no-one would need to glue themselves to Queens Street so they could get an extension on their dissertation about the dichotomy between being a rich private school kid driving daddy's Land Rover filled with petrol on the platinum Amex, and publicly painting yourself as the 21st Century Che Guevara ever again.

Sadly not many folk are as clever as Seymour, and so the mercury continues to rise. Not at King Kev’s joint though. Over there in the penthouse soaring above the dredged up, brown-stained Brisbane River, where a man can gaze lovingly at the Albion Park lights from the breezy balcony by night, everything's cooler than Arthur Fonzarelli.

And with the Inter Dominion heats only weeks away, and the Colt running faster than a leopard, and twice as fast again, Happy Days free of costly air-conditioning lay glimmering in the Auckland smog-filled haze ahead.

Go the Colt! Queenslander! Queenslander!

PS: Mr Seymour also enjoys the convenience of all the shops, restaurants, parks, cinemas, river walk, etc that abound in Newstead. I like the etcetara the best myself, but wonder what Kevin thinks about the price of eggs, or whether he's seen The Joker yet? I will have to ask him when I pop over to have a Captain Cook at the Inter Dominion trophy on Xmas Eve.

 

Isn't it obvious? It must be, even David Fifita understands it – or  does now at least

HAVEN’T the Broncos got a world class moral engine going on in the pack? All we need now is for Fifita to get the nod as Matthew Lodge's vice-captain, and everything in the world will be right.

Rumours suggest they slung the Indonesian security guard. Same rumour mongers are betting it wasn't as much as the US victims of Lodge's violent rampage copped. But we, at LGHR, would be the last to believe or suggest that.

Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if next week the seemingly hapless clowns running the Broncs will announce the signing of  Ben Barba and Russell Packer, and then our collective BrisVegas embrace of brutality will be complete, as long as the puncher can pass a good short pill.

 

Baffling 'em with Bulldust - But Only Kidding Yourself

HAS anyone noticed the rolling reel of chest-beating clips decrying animal cruelty that has been running non-stop on every TV screen across the country during Cup Week?

It's clever stuff in a number of ways, or would be anyway if you weren't in the know about what's coming.

Does anyone really believe that Racing Australia chief until yesterday Barry 'Bottle of Grange' O'Farrell really woke up, looked out the window and said to himself ‘bugger this, I've got better things on the go’, and quit his job as the El Supremo of Aussie racing on the spot?

I don't think so, just as I don't think Godolphin are running all these 'We are retired racehorse rehoming superstars' infomercials featuring Reg Fleming and Hartnell either. This outfit is run by a Sheik who (like his fellow camel drivers) supports the mistreatment of daughters as chattels and sits idly by while some just disappear off the face of the earth don't forget. Why would he care a jot about knackering slow horses? 

Ask yourself this question as you're watching Godolphin's slickly produced spiel: What happens to all the other hundreds of horses who pass through the blue barns every year that aren't named Hartnell?

What happens to them indeed. It's a very sticky question sports fans.

Watch this space.

 

She's a Barbie Girl, Living in an Outback Barbie World

OUTBACK BARBIE was devastating first-up in the Keith Noud Handicap at Eagle Farm. She always is great fresh, but to date Barbies never won a race going any further into her prep. 

To be fair to the doll, horses of the ilk of Sunlight, Zoustyle and The Bostonian have beaten her second-up, so it might just be a false statistic. Still, I don't like three-prep confirmed form that starts out somewhere near the clouds and then turns into a car rolling down a hill, so my tip is to think long and hard before you bounce into her at the undoubted very short shorts next start.

 

 

'ROOTSY' THE MOST OBJECTIVE RACING SCRIBE IN SYDNEY - HERE'S HOPING IT DOESN'T COST HIM HIS GIG ON SKY

CHRIS ROOTS has come a long way since the days when the all-but-extinct Townsville Bulletin decided he was too controversial to manage their horse racing coverage.

Roots (pictured), who took over from the ‘masters’ Max Presnall and Craig Young as Turf Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, is one of the few turf scribes in Sydney that punters regard as objective.

We fear ‘Rootsy’, who has just finished another stint in Melbourne covering the Spring Carnival, won’t be allowed back across the border after his column piece for Fairfax Media entitled: ‘One industry, one race: Melbourne Cup should be Spring focus.’

Your odds of becoming teacher’s pet ahead of Peter V’landys media spin doctor, ‘Razor’ Thomas, are 100 to one and drifting mate after this wonderfully objective article which gives both sides the serve they deserve and we felt the need to reproduce:  

RACING is one industry. It has one race that captures the nation and that should be the focus of the spring.

Cricket has the Boxing Day Test, rugby league has State Of Origin, the AFL has the grand final. None of those sports would attempt to take the focus from their big day. Those sporting events don't get the exposure of the Melbourne Cup.

To most Australians, the Melbourne Cup is the only race they are interested in throughout the year. It is the ultimate showcase.

The idea of splitting public attention with the $7.5 million Golden Eagle in Sydney four days out from the Cup is hurting racing. Rather than competing with the Cup, the days leading into racing’s biggest day should have clear air.

It’s a good thing for racing that for one day a year, everyone wants to back the winner of one race. It is a tradition that easily could be lost. Once it is gone it will never return.

The Cup has been losing its lustre with the way the Victoria Racing Club has marketed it as an elite event. It is the people’s race and that should not be forgotten. In the past couple of years it has moved away from what made it great.

The Cup is losing its connection with the Australian public. The raiders were a novelty when, 26 years ago, they first took our greatest prize. But the trickle of overseas horses has become a flood, making it hard for punters to identify with the runners.

The internationals should be welcomed but a ballot condition needs to be added that requires them to have a start in Australia in the preceding 12 months.

The feel around Melbourne this year was different; the excitement of Cup week was missing.

The Melbourne Cup was at the crossroads this year and Vow And Declare’s victory was the best result for the future. It took the Cup back to the 20th century when a stayer would show promise and then deliver it on the first Tuesday of November.

An Australian race needs Australian success stories.

The Melbourne Cup has been called the people’s race, the race that stops the nation, but this year it faced a storm of negative media around the sport, an ongoing international drag on the field and an attack from within the industry.

The welfare scandal had a negative impact on the crowd that went to Flemington on Tuesday and is a focus for the general public. The fact that just 81,408 turned out on a perfect day should be a wake-up call and show just how marginalised racing is becoming.

The Sydney-Melbourne battle is like racing’s Super League war, it gives people a reason to switch off at a time when they should be embraced.

It should not continue for another spring. There is room for all the events; they just need to be programmed to show racing at its best.

The Golden Eagle, which was a success given its field, could be run on the Saturday following the Melbourne Cup. It would be a way for racing to flourish with a nation's celebration of the sport followed by an innovation which is destined to succeed.

 

HERE’S the weekly column from UNZER FRITZ which has quickly become one of the most read feature on the LGHR site:

INCONSISTENCY IS TURNING WHIP RULES INTO AN ABSOLUTE FARCE

Mandela Effect: Rider James McDonald pleaded guilty to a breach of AR132(7)(a)(ii) in that he used the whip eight times prior to the 100‑metre mark which is three times more than permitted. James McDonald was fined $1500. In assessing penalty Stewards took into account his guilty plea, record, totality of whip use and the fact he won the race. 

THAT’S the Stewards’ Report from race 1 at Flemington on the last day of the carnival, and as you can see J-Mac - who is quite possibly the most hard done by jockey in the world (how did he get 18 months for having a grand on a winner he rode, when Ollie was only given eight for having ten thousand on a rival in a race he lost?) - has been handed a $1,500 fine for striking Mandela Effect with the whip on eight occasions prior to the 100m mark in a nothing race run before most people started betting on the day.

Has anyone watched the Melbourne Cup replay closely and counted how many times Craig Williams applied the persuader to Vow and Declare prior to the hundred? 

I have. The answer is seven.

That's right sports fans, the Melbourne Cup winning jockey flayed his horse with a hard piece of leather seven times before the point where bashing your horse became a free for all, and that's two times as many acts of gross animal cruelty than the rules allow, and only one less whip strike than J-Mac has just been fined a grand and a half large for belting his winner in a nondescript race for.

And racing's head honchos talk about integrity?

They would have to be bloody kidding wouldn't they?

What a farce. What a joke. What an absolute abrogation by the Stewards of their duty to apply the rules fairly and squarely.

I tell you what, the next thing you know the Melbourne Stewards will be deliberately breaking the rules in a doomed attempt to prove that some other supposed bad guy is breaking the rules.

This is insane. Is 21st century horse racing a billion dollar business or is it still just a sport run by toffs who apply rules at their absolute discretion just like they did at the turn of the 19th century?

Sadly the answer appears to be the latter, and its wrong, just plain wrong. Unless the administrators wake up and smell the roses real soon the whole thing is going to collapse in a properly managed and run lawsuit heap, and the officials in charge of the game will have brought it all on themselves. Only the code of silence is currently saving them, but racing is a selfish, individual game, and when it comes to a matter of my bacon being cooked or yours, ninety-nine times out of a hundred you're going to very quickly discover that your arse is on fire.

James McDonald will, but blokes like Craig Williams won't, because the local squattocracy is going to arguably protect him and his ilk, just like it always has. 

Rules, just like laws, aren't worth the paper they are written on if the people who hold the power to enforce them don't apply them the same to way to all. And racing isn't worth two pinches of Edgar Britt when one bloke gets hit with a stick for hitting a horse eight times, and another just cops a sly wink and a nod for smashing them seven.

What a sad state of affairs it is. 

 

CLOSING THE GAP – EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AMONG GENUIS’S

IF you want to watch a classic example of super competitive riding then look at the replay of the second race at Ascot on Saturday afternoon. Willie Pike is on one of the pink and white silked Bob Peters runners, Jade Mcnaught is riding the other.

Pike has been the premier jockey in Perth for the better part of a decade, and last year rode 234 metropolitan winners, 135 more than his nearest rival.

Until May last year McNaught was just a show jump sheila who wanted nothing more than to stop, swivel, and complete a round in which she cleared every bar. But one morning not long before she was about to turn 30 the super hoop who would become the Juggernaut woke up and thought to herself bugger this jodhpur, suit coat and black skullcap palaver, I want to ride six winners on a Saturday card in Perth, and inside of 18 months the now mature aged apprentice had done it too.

In an instant the Perth racing scene turned on its axis, and in the blink of an eye McNaught swept to the top of the premiership ladder and Willie Pike was no longer the hunted, but the hunter.

Willie Pike had long been the champion in Perth, and champions don’t like losing. They hate it and will rise like a phoenix from a flame when challenged, just like Pike did in that race on Saturday.

McNaught is on his inside coming to the turn and traveling better. She subtly eases her horse Midnight Sky out off the fence as the spin, with the intention of using her momentum to shift Pike wide and slip through his inside, but the Maestro atop Forceful sees her coming, and he isn’t having a bar of it.

Willie waits, and holds, and waits, and holds, and this unfolds over seconds that seem like hours, and then he goes BANG and whacks her straight back in. The Juggernaut is momentarily stunned, and in the tenth of a second that it takes her to clear her head enough to check back and hook around her rival Willie Pike puts the pedal to metal and is off and gone, and from that moment on its game, set and match.

It was simply wonderful to watch, and for me it brought back memories of the great clashes between Dittman and Quinton in Sydney in the eighties, and head to head battles between brilliant riders don’t get any better than that.

I’ll tell you what. Willie Pike won this battle, but the juggernaut is so damn good that only a fool would imagine that she won’t learn from this loss, and I for one will be backing Jade McNaught to win the Premiership title war.

 

IT WASN’T ALL BOUQUETS FOR BASTER ON RETIREMENT DAY

WHAT’S the story behind prominent Victorian racing identity Glenn Thornton becoming involved in an alleged incident with retiring jockey Steve Baster at Flemington racecourse on the weekend?

You’ll read about it elsewhere soon we’re sure but insiders insist Thornton isn’t in the wrong here. In fact, if what we hear is even half correct, jockey Baster is very fortunate indeed to be walking away from what happened on two good legs.

It will be interesting to see where stewards go with an inquiry theyhave opened and show some transparency by opening it to the media. Don't hold your breath!

 

RYAN MOORE

FRANKIE Dettori is a world class jockey, but he can’t ride for nuts in Melbourne.

Ryan Moore can.

His ride on True Self in the Queen Elizabeth was simply superb, but his ride on Magic Wand in the MacKinnon was even better.

What a genius.

 

RYAN MALONEY

IT must be something about the name Ryan, because this bloke is a genius too.

I’m not sure how long Maloney will remain in the Brisbane riders’ ranks, because he’s far too good to be wasting his time as the big fish in the small pond up here. Sure, the post-Jeff Lloyd retirement money is great, but this young man has mountains to climb in racing, and you don’t find them at Doomben in front a few hundred diehards on a Saturday afternoon.

If you want to see a top class jockey in action just look at this lad’s rides on Alward and Maslow in 7th and 9th races in town on the weekend. Sheer poetry in motion they were. Maloney would hold his own on any racetrack in the world against all comers, if he decided to expand his newly sober horizons and take them on. He’s a credit to himself and a shining inspiration to struggling jockeys Australia wide.

 

THE GREATEST STEWARDS ANYWHERE - EVER

YOU have to admire the former Singapore Slinger turned Sunshine State Chief Steward Peter Chadwick, for this man can read a thoroughbred race like no steward ever has before, and he can translate his super astute observations into a cutting-edge steward’s report too.

If you need any proof have a sly gander at the sage’s sage observation of the way Race 5 unfolded at Doomben on Saturday.

GUNTANTES – Inclined to lay in over the concluding stages.

The bloody thing was too.

The Heathcote-trained horse was travelling so fast over the final furlong that he couldn’t help but lay in when jockey Smith slammed the brakes on hard to stop him from running straight through the brick wall at the mile chute, out across Nudgee Road and down the cereal aisle at Woollies.

Only a Steward with Chadwick’s eye right on the ball could have spotted it.

The Chief’s summation of Race 6 was even better.

DAPPER ONE – After beginning from a wide barrier the rider elected to restrain to settle in a rearward position.

A horse that always goes back early draws the extreme outside barrier from the trickiest start in Brisbane racing, and its rider takes it back.  

A car drove down the Bruce Highway today too.

A girl skipped rope, and a boy kicked a footy.

A bloke at the Breakfast Creek Hotel even drank a beer, or at least that’s what I’m told.

This one in the same race is even better.

LIMERICK MOON – Raced three-wide throughout with cover. Inconvenienced by POWER RUSH approaching the 100m. J. Byrne, the rider of POWER RUSH, was shown the film and reminded of his obligations when shifting ground.

Jim Byrne is a very inexperienced jockey who as part of his development in racing requires education about the rules on a regular basis.

How was young Jim to know that you couldn’t deliberately hook your horse out off heels, turn it to the left and then straighten it for the run home, and knock a horse and rider almost arse over tit in the process? I’ve never heard of such a law, and neither has Frankie. So how could anyone expect a boy like jockey Byrne to be aware of such things?

All credit to Chief Steward Chadwick for his commitment to the continuous career improvement of jockeys who will knock any bastard over to cop a check.

This one is even better again.

RABBIT HUNTER – Raced three wide without cover.

Take a look at Limerick Moon a couple of paragraphs back. It raced three wide without cover for the trip too.

How do two horses in the same race end up three-wide without cover, unless the field was running in two divisions, which it wasn’t?

Obvious answer? They can’t.

So then, what do you say when there’s three?

PAPER TRADE – Slow to begin. Raced three wide throughout with cover.

I think what you say is that the Queensland stewards can’t read the basics of a race.

Don’t worry though, unless Chadwick and his cheery band are consistent.

Two different horses raced three-wide without cover in the 2nd race too.

Sadly, Catmosphere was obliged to. It was his civic duty to the city of Brisbane. We don’t know why jockey Nothdurft aboard Lips ‘n Hips decided to race solo three-wide as well, or how he did it, but it was probably just so that Jimmy Orman on the Cat didn’t feel that he was all alone. Or that Lips ‘n Hips had cover behind him and lost his back because he’s so slow.

Something like that anyway.

CATMOSPHERE – After jumping from a wide barrier was obliged to race three wide without cover. Laid inwards in the straight.

LIPS ‘N HIPS – Raced three wide with cover. Laid out from the 500m and made the home turn awkwardly. A post-race veterinary examination revealed no significant findings.

 

JUST WHEN YOU THINK THINGS ARE BAD IN BRISBANE – YOU LOSE A LEG & GO BLIND

HOW about this one?

An old seven-year-old plodder gets beaten out of a place at Taroom and Cunnamulla in two of its past five starts, and because it’s run so well in such august company trainer Ducky Baker decides to bring it to town to give it a decent test.

It runs second last, six lengths behind the third last horse, and a very tiny nose in front of some crab of Stuart Kendrick’s whose next run is likely to be in the Peter V’Landys inspired mega-rich three-dollar and fifty cents Mt Tibrogargan for draught horses at Royal Gympie.

Just out of curiosity about how a legless $151 shot manages to finish less than 10 lengths from the winner in a sprint, the vets examine Zooming, who hasn’t been doing so for a long, long time, and certainly didn’t on Saturday.

They find that the horse has only three legs that work, and that he’s near totally blind in one eye.

Zooming and his trainer Ducky should be elevated straight into the Queensland Racing Hall of Fame for their efforts in even finishing the race without running through the outside rail, hurdling the train line and ending up in the pokie lounge at the Gallopers Club, but the Hall has disappeared and no-one at Racing Queensland knows where it’s gone. So, the Stewards whack an embargo on the Jake the Peg/Stevie Wonder cross bush galloper instead.

The integrity officials up here have no sense of humour, do they?

 

LIAM BIRCHLEY

WHAT a tragedy it is that this bloke has become so disenchanted with racing after being screwed over as a scapegoat in the Aquanita affair that he’s decided to walk away from the training game.

Our sport is much poorer for his departure.

 

SOMETIMES TRAINERS JUST HAVE TO MAKE DIFFICULT DECISIONS

YOU had to admire the stoic, heroic decision made by Robbie Heathcote on Saturday at Doomben, and no it wasn’t walking over broken glass to shake his formerly beloved training partner Chris ‘Ángry’ Anderson’s hand.

Ando didn’t have a runner in town, so he wasn’t there with a hand to shake. In fact, Angry only had one runner anywhere on Saturday, but fortunately Hallowed Girl provided him with a perfect strike rate by winning the Maiden at the Gold Coast.

Hot Hand Heathcote wasn’t so lucky when he got called into the Stewards’ room after the last to provide a please explain about the former Taswegian Live on the Wire’s extraordinarily bad performance in running last beaten almost the length of the straight, but Hot Hand is a man who is prepared to call a goat a camel when it runs like a toad, particularly when on the walk to Chief Steward Chadwick’s chambers he remembers Humphrey the Bullfrog Billy Goat’s totally uncompetitive effort when it got beaten nearly 20 lengths over a thousand meters at Eagle Farm a fortnight ago.

Live on the Wire is off to stud.

Thank God for that says every punter in Queensland.

Cometh the sour hour, cometh the wise Hot Hand. Well done Robbie.

Now that you’re on a roll Mr Heathcote - do you reckon that you might fill us all in on the real story about the bust up between you and Angry?

 

WOW! HOW GOOD IS WINXY WALLER?

I know that Lingard and a whole lot of other people put the knock on young Christopher (because of the inconsistency of his multiple runners), but I regard him as the second greatest trainer I’ve ever seen behind T.J. Smith, and the teary Kiwi doesn’t even have super vet Percy Sykes to give him a bit of a boost.

He’s a freak Chris Waller.

Set aside your prejudices and be real. When the world-beating volt jolter Darren Weir had him, who thought the young colt Yes Yes Yes would ever be good enough to win an Everest? Be honest. No-one. He won it though, thanks to the genius of Winxy, and now the colt’s worth about seventeen gazillion.

One of those that Yes Yes Yes beat in the Everest was his stablemate Nature Strip, the lightning fast sprinter that top class mentors of the ilk of Robert Smerdon, Robert Hickmott, John Sadler and Darren Weir had employed the full gamut of  their wildly unusual but incredibly successful training methods to get to settle in races, but failed.

Does anyone remember the disaster in last year’s Euclase Stakes? Or the shocker that the odds-on favorite ran in last year’s Moir? If you backed Nature Strip, I bet next week’s pay that you do. They were runs that even the most forgiving of punters could never forget.

When Darren Weir got consigned to the dustbin of racing history the flying machines connections sent him up to Sydney so that Winxy could have a crack at setting him straight, and it was the best decision that they ever made in their lives. Just look at how Nature Strip destroyed them in the VRC Classic, and you tell me that there is a better trainer anywhere in the world than Chris Waller.

If you do you will be lying.

 

OPIE DOPIE

OH, my goodness. What on earth was Opie Bosson thinking to ride Melody Belle like he did on Saturday at Flemington? Does Opie really think at all? It doesn’t seem so.

Anyone who thought that the young Childs kid’s ride on Surprise Baby in the Cup was the greatest slaughter job of the carnival needs to take a look at the replay of the Kennedy Mile, and keep their eyes on the runner back third last on the fence in the orange with a bit of mid-blue colors. What an absolute tragedy beaten Melody Belle was. The 11-time Group 1 winning mare should have won her twelfth by a country mile.

As for Opie, he should just be sent straight to the paddock, never to return.

Sometimes racing is just not fair.

Saturday was one of them.

PS: I backed the winner.

 

KEVIN’S ‘COLT’ & THE NEED TO REPLACE HIS DRIVER

I have long said that the only thing that stands between Colt Thirty One and the Harness Racing Hall of Fame (the trot folk know where theirs is, and who's in it) is his driver Grant Dixon, and I'm still convinced that I'm right.

Grant Dixon is an amazing trainer, one of the best outside the Purdon's that you could ever hope to see, but as a driver Dixon leaves a whole lot to be desired.

I know his record strongly suggests otherwise, but even I could steer half of his high class cattle home against the trundlers he usually takes on at Albion Park, and it’s not the bread and butter winners that are the mark of a reinsman, it’s their record in Group races that defines them, and away from his home ground at the Creek the Kevin Seymour stable driver ain't that flash at all.

Take one look at his short-lived effort in Colt Thirty One's gig in the Four & Five-Year-Old Championship at Melton on Saturday night and you will see exactly what I mean. 

Can any objective observer tell me exactly what Dixon was thinking when he tried to fire the Colt out so fast from the far west perimeter of the mobile that he banged the poor horse's head into the arm, and sent him into a wild, race-ending gallop before the starter had even clicked go on the stopwatch?

It was awful to watch, and totally unnecessary. A driver of Grant Dixon's experience should have known so much better than to try pulling that type of nonsense, especially when he had four Stewart/Tonkin stable runners drawn inside him. He was never going to be able to begin so fast that he could spear out and cross them, with the best he could ever have hoped for being stuck out three wide and bleeding, so why the hell did he even try?

Because he's neither Barry Purdon nor Zac Butcher, that's why. Barry is the greatest trainer in harness racing history, bar none, and everybody knows it. Purdon doesn't drive his own pacers in races, because he knows that it’s a game of horses for courses, and while Barry may well be able to train a harness racer as good if not better than Trent Robinson can train a footy team, he knows that he can't steer them around the park like Super Cooper Cronk can too. That's why he employs the most brilliant driver Zac Butcher to do it for him.

I've told Kevin Seymour on numerous occasions that if he wants the Colt to become an immortal he needs there to be a separation of powers between trainer and driver, but if there is one thing I will say about Mr Seymour A.M. it is that he values loyalty higher than almost anything in the world except money and Kay. He's been married to the latter for more than half a century, and he earns so much of the former building city skyscapers that he doesn't need to win it at the races, so Kevin picks and sticks, and G. Dixon has got the great man's ticks.

Will blind loyalty win him his first home-bred Inter Dominion? I damn well hope so, because I've taken plenty of the 20-1 on offer about the Colt in the pre-post markets. 

I'd feel a whole lot more confident if Zac was driving him though, especially around the quirky right-handed Alexandra Park circuit with all its flicks and tricks, don't you worry about that.

I guess we will find out how good Grant Dixon really is in the cart as he takes on the giants over the next six weeks, and good luck to he and Mr Seymour too. I hope they do it, but every time I imagine the Colt steaming down the outside charging to victory in the final my vision becomes blurred and I can think of only one thing – Surprise Baby in the Melbourne Cup.

Let's hope my nightmare stays just that, and Kevin Seymour's dreams stay forever sweet. 

 

QUADDIES

THESE are like that bad girl in your dreams that you love to hate. They touch and they tempt and they tease, and for three long legs they whisper such soft sweet nothings in your ear that you start to believe that you’re the male version of Paris Hilton, and then leg four comes along and you’re back in the drought stricken gutter where you started.

Did I tell you I had the first three legs of the Melbourne Quaddie going into eight of them in the last? Or that I dropped off the winner on impulse and replaced it with Pat Carey’s 150-1 shot at the bottom of the field? Or that I went looking for a rope but couldn’t find one because we only own one and I’d forgotten that I’d loaned it to the son-in-law.

I hate racing sometimes.

Gotta go, they’re about to jump at Menangle.

 

ARCHIE’S BEEN IN COURT BUT FOUND SOME SPARE TIME TO GIVE US HIS TAKE ON CUP WEEK

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY here John, just writing to LGHR this time to say hello.

I was in court this week – CUP week – how serendipitous.

I can’t say much, other than did you see how good Soothing was traveling at the 200m in the sprint race on Thursday? Thanks for the tip mate. I’ll repay you when I get costs. $84 000 is a lot to spend to prove a prosecution is a sham, but I’d spend more if that’s what was needed to get me the result. It’s only money, and to punters it’s just cabbage or confetti, the pieces of paper you need to whack on with the bookies to walk away a winner.

I didn’t have any when the traps whipped my Parker pen out of my hands and strung the handcuffs over my wrists. Back then I was scraping up coins from down the back of the car seat and down the side of the couch, just so I could have a 2 x 2 daily double, or a 3 x 2 if I found a two-buck piece.

That’s the beauty of the punt mate. You wake up every day with a chance to kick. I did, and it was fantastic for the six weeks that it lasted. Andrew Boe is the best criminal barrister in the world, and Chris Nyst’s the best lawyer. If you ever get into trouble with the law, rightly or wrongly, beg, borrow or steal every cent you can so that you can engage them to represent you. They’re worth every cent.

Anyway, we will find out at 2.15pm on the 29th of November where I stand.

Wish me luck.

Archie

PS – Oh, and by the way Lucky, do you mind if I tell your readers a few stories?

Yes? No?

Well stuff it.

I’m going to anyway.

Hot Old Currie

BEN may have vanished into the Gold Coast haze, but his old man Mark’s picked up the baton and run like Usain Bolt with it, and isn’t he going good? He’s prepared 13 winners from his last 39 starters, and five from his past 10. The old Currie’s on fire – and there’s more to come today – like Soxagon at Doomben.

Who needs a Benjamin when you’re slaying ém hey?

 

Mad Frankie

A lot’s been said about Mad Frankie Dettori’s ride on Master of Reality in the Melbourne Cup, but most of it has been said by folk who don’t watch a lot of international racing, and therefore don’t have a clue.

Frankie’s mount didn’t suddenly veer left all on its own. Dettori drove it sideways. He spotted Il Paradisio coming through and came across to cut it off, just like he does all the time in Group races in the UK and France, where the rules and the stewards allow riders to cut off other jockey’s lines. The lonesome Flemington loser simply failed to spot Vow and Declare coming just as strong, that’s all. Williams outwitted him. That’s why when there is no Winx in the equation Craig’s the greatest rider in Australia, bar none, and probably one of the best in the world.

Go to racing.com and watch the steward’s footage of the last 400m. You will see Frankie change hands with the reins, change hands with the whip, and shift his body where he wanted and he wanted to go all over the place. Master of Reality didn’t shift in on a 45-degree angle because it wanted to see the Flemington running rail. It took a hard left because Frankie told it too.

The mad little half-Pom wog is the best jockey in the world I reckon; but he just can’t ride in Melbourne. We all have our flaws. The trick is acknowledging them. Frankie can’t, because he’s too bloody arrogant, which is both his blessing and his curse.

Ray Cochrane copped a month and 20 grand for almost putting Muncie over the fence on Jezabeel when he steered Taufan’s Melody in the 2005 Caulfield Cup. Frankie should have been binned for three months for costing Godolphin a win in the Cup.

Instead he copped a slap over the wrist with a wet bus ticket.

Isn’t it good to be the golden boy of Lloyd?

 

Amanda Elliott

ISN’T it sad to see youthful beauty queens failing to see the days when they strode the catwalks fade?

Someone please sling Amanda a mirror, and tip her into Francesca’s fashion designer fast.

You’d be doing her an enormous favor.

 

Francesca

YUM!

How can the Network 10 ratings on the Cup possibly be down?

Don’t punters have time to have a perve these days?

Surely they’re not watching that unbearable Richo in his pork-pie hat on racing.com?

 

Anthony Mundine

MAN, oh man, is the man’s fight against this bum John Wayne Parr at the end of the month the saddest thing that any boxing fan has ever seen?

John Wayne hasn’t fought in a boxing ring for 16 years, and Mundine is a former world champion who fought the very best. The man should be a lay down misère to knock JW down in the early seconds of the first round.

He won’t though, cos the man is shot.

I can’t understand how the Australian boxing authorities are letting this bout go ahead. Anthony Mundine is showing every sign of arguably punch-drunk brain damage that any man can show. His speech is slurred, his responses are slow, and he couldn’t even put his hands up to properly defend himself against the Hornet, who we all know now is not really that good.

Mundine is going to die in a dementia ward in his early to mid 60’s, and it will be all of us in the boxing world’s fault, just like it always is.

This is wrong, so wrong that it makes me sick.

I love boxing, but boxing doesn’t love its boxers, and if people really care about Anthony Mundine it’s time to pull down the shutters on his career, right now before it’s all too late.

 

Australia’s Loss to Tonga in the Footy

WHEN Daly Cherry-Evans plays halfback in a rep game, how could anyone ever expect anything else?

 

Danny O’Brien and the Mark of Kane

HOW good must Danny O’Brien be feeling right now?

The Victorian Stewards played games with the rules to nail him on a Cobalt rap, and because no-one would at first believe that the integrity officials charged with keep racing straight would smash the rules into a thousand pieces he lost years of his life and millions of dollars to prove it.  What a disgrace. But now Danny’s back, and he’s in top of the world.’

Kane Ashby meanwhile is sitting somewhere at a desk in Brisbane, probably at his home, wearing the hat of the big swami of racing integrity reviews, which would be the funniest thing in the world, if only it wasn’t so normal up here in Queensland. North of the Tweed is last refuge of the damned.

Our trainers don’t win many Melbourne Cups though. Danny O’Brien’s young enough to win half a dozen more, and he probably will too.

Good on you mate.

You showed ‘em.

 

Haley’s Comet

I saw the most impressive win since the days of I’m The Mighty Quinn at Gloucester Park, Perth on Friday night. The winner’s name was Bill Haley, and he blazed across the sky and the stage like a comet.

Bill was just an average Kiwi pacer until his owners sent him over to Darrel Graham at Fernvale to see if the Dazzler could unlock his huge untapped potential. The Dazzler did. He’s a great horseman Darrel Graham, an absolute genius. Before Brittany’s dad took over the reins rock around the clock Mr. Haley was running thirds and fourths on the grass surfaces of converted race tracks up the Ditch nowhere north-west coast of New Zealand, and finishing down the track in dud races at Manawatu, which for the ignorant is about the equivalent of Tamworth or Mildura.

The owners sent Bill over the Dazzler, and within the space of five runs the unsung hero of Queensland harness racing had taken the once walker from an ordinary Class 2 affair at Albion Park on a Tuesday to beating Derby and Inter-Dominion placegetters in premiere Group and Listed races in the Winter Carnival.

The Dazzler should have been given a gong, but he copped a brick bat instead. For reasons inexplicable to anyone but those who outed him, the bloke who hadn’t copped a positive swab in his 35 year harness racing life suddenly morphed into Danny O’Brien, and got turfed out of the sport he loved for a year, which might not seem that much in the general scheme of things, but is about 10 per cent of the time that a man who loves it and serves it faithfully has left in the game.

To make it worse, after he’d spent half anyone’s fortune fighting his charges, and due to flawed law failed, they even refused him a stablehand’s license. They being QRIC, he being Darrel Graham, the honest man with a beautiful wife and two even more beautiful girls who turned Bill Haley around.

Just look at Race 3 around the Swan River spoon last night. This horse should be racing in the Inter Dominion over in Auckland next month, not running around in the land where Bondy used to paint signs. Danny O’Brien should have been training winners in Group races while they forced him to spell too.

The Dazzler will when he returns.

Time and better technology will prove him innocent too.

Don’t you worry about that!

 

Little Mickey Murphy

DON’T give up on this kid.

A lot of people and institutions have failed him, and he’s stuffed up real, bad. But he’s not the first, and he won’t be the last, and Michael Murphy is alright.

This boy was besting bulls before he grew hair on his legs, and while he’s as young as yesterday’s sunset according to his birth certificate, on the track and off he’s as tough as old boots. Michael’s a fantastic young man too, and a wonderful jockey in the making. He just needs to stop hating himself and learn to know it. Once he does the world will be his.

I’m backing the kid to get back, and to make it to top.

Adversity breeds success, and failure’s just a trip down a path.

Only a fool would write this young jockey off.

I hope he’s not one of them.

 

The King Stuffs Up

CRAIN Williams has been the king of the Flemington carnival. He’s a magical jockey. But even the greatest stuff up sometimes, and in the second last at headquarters on Cup Day the most seriously well-prepared man in racing did.

Willo went before the clock tower on Brisbane-based trainer Brian Dias’s charge Looks Like Elvis, and thanks to his fatal misjudgment my mate Mrs. Morrisey’s horse lived exactly up to his name.

I remember I was sitting in the wood chop arena at the Ekka with my Mum and Dad at the age of eight when the paperboy selling the early edition of the afternoon Brisbane Telegraph came around shouting that the King was dead. Back then I didn’t really know who the King was, but I saw all the ladies sitting in the bleachers crying, and their men doing their damnedest to keep a straight face.

Watching my friend’s horse Elvis get cut down in the last few strides made me feel the same way.

 

A Star for the Lucky Man

MY mate Lucky Lingard, the main writer for this site, has been on fire during the carnival, here there and everywhere.

On Thursday (in his LGHR LATE MAIL) he tipped half a dozen winners across the Oaks Day program, and because I was broke I didn’t bother working out what his well hot multi’s would have paid, but I’m sure if I did it would break my heart.

Lucky wouldn’t know European form from frog’s legs, as he proved through his ridiculous tips in the Cup, but when he’s playing on his favorite turf of Melbourne, he’s as good a judge as any man with a pair of binoculars going around.

He’s gunna hate this, but I have to let you in on a Lingard secret.

For 15 of the 16 days between the Caulfield Cup and the real one Lucky was tipping Vow and Declare an absolute certainty. He wouldn’t hear of it being beaten. And then on call of the card eve he flipped to some hopeless Pom who couldn’t have won with start.

Last reports are that Lingard was seen pacing up and down the Redcliffe boardwalk banging himself in the head with what looked like a lump of wood, but don’t worry LGHR fans, the police were called and came and found that the self-bashing blunt instrument was only a form guide tucked in the middle of a fish and chips wrapper.

Those in the know say it was called The Courier-Mail.

 

Little King David Goes to South Aussie to Kill Goliath

WHAT’S going on with our mate the Bantam, aka David Fowler – the  happy little chappy who we all thought held the job of principal race caller and chief photo fence sitter on Radio 4TAB?

A few days ago, he was calling the races at Port something or other in the boondocks of South Aussie, and on Thursday there the Bantam was calling them at Gawler.

Perhaps the little bloke has copped the mail that his gig kissing up to anyone who might give him a job when the Tabcorp rapiers shut down the local radio station is over and has bailed to a better place. Or maybe he’s just holidaying with his handsome bookie mate and is bored outside of the midnight hour and wants something else to do.

 

BATTLING PUNTER KENNY WENT FROM KNOCK BACK TO LIFE CHANGER

PUNTERS have reacted cynically to a report that a battling Queensland punter collected almost $800,000 from a $10 First-4 bet on the Melbourne Cup with a leading corporate bookmaker.

Here’s a report on what supposedly happened:

WHAT started as a failed date turned into a life-changing day for punter 'Kenny', who collected $793,000 from a $10 first-four wager on the Cup.

Speaking with Triple M's Hot Breakfast, successful punter Kenny said he had been unaware a protest had taken place on the Cup, won by Vow And Declare, as he was having lunch with his date at the time. 

“I was on a date with a girl I used to go to school with on the Gold Coast and we were at the Crown Casino and had a couple of drinks,” Kenny recalled. “We watched the race and went up to Southbank afterwards for lunch, I was still oblivious to my win, obviously.”

“We had lunch, had a couple of drinks. She pretty much said, 'Listen Kenny, I can't really see it happening'.” 

Unperturbed by the knock back, Kenny said he decided to turn his attention to the final races at Flemington, which was when he opened his Sportsbet account and saw his balance and started screaming. “She said 'what are you doing, you're embarrassing me?'"

"I said 'can you read this for me?' and she started screaming as well."

At this point, Kenny's date may have been regretting her earlier decision. 

"I couldn't shake her for the next two or three hours, she kept going to the bar and getting drinks."

Kenny said the result was life changing for him. “I'm going to buy a house outright on the Goldy. I've got to keep working, but it's life changing for me."

Kenny said he spent about $500 all-up on Melbourne Cup bets. “I put about $500 down on the Cup. I narrowed it down to about six of eight horses and from there I boxed the quinella, the trifecta and the first four. I spent about $200-$300 on that. Then the rest ... I did a $5 or $10 all-out trifectas and first fours.”

Cynical punters have been quick to fire back to websites like punters.com, who were the first to report the big win, with the following:

One said: ‘I bet Kenny works for Sportsbet and Kenny is not his real name. A case of a media outlet going along with the ride to promote themselves as being able to obtain exclusive reports above others.’

And another: ‘For $ 10, you will get 0.411% of a full Unit. The best Dividend by any TAB was $ 93,070.00. So for 0.41%, nowhere did he collect $ 793,000. What about the Payout Limits the Corporate Bookmakers have? A Beat up?

 

TRAINER OF SURPRISE BABY BAGS PACE SET IN MELBOURNE CUP

PUNTERS have had a gutful of the Melbourne Cup being converted into an International Handicap but here’s hoping the lack of pace will persuade some European trainers not to return.

There’s no chance stewards will allow pacemakers like happens in Europe where feature races are set up by stablemates of the big stables although some would say there is plenty going on in races in Sydney that the stewards prefer to ignore.

Craig Williams has been praised for taking the initiative and going forward on Vow and Declare which won him the Cup. But spare a thought for those on chances that didn’t have the pace and need to be ridden back.

Trainer Paul Preusker, who saddled up local hope Surprise Baby, has admitted he expected a brutal tempo in the Cup but was quoted as saying: ‘I’ve seen Warracknabeal Cups where they go quicker’.

Preusker hasn’t put himself through the ‘torture’ of watching the Cup replay. The first look was enough. Surprise Baby was beaten less than a length after standing the leaders up at least a dozen lengths on the home turn.

Surprise Baby will now solely target the 2000 Cup for which he has been installed a $26 equal second favorite along with seven others.

 

OAKS DAY TRIAL A DISASTER WITH WORST CROWD SINCE 1994

THE old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ has returned to haunt Victorian racing officials after their controversial trial to run Oaks day later in the afternoon attracted the lowest crowd since 1994.

The third day of the Cup carnival has kept steadily declining in attendances since 2004 when 110,677 crammed into Flemington to the crowd of 61,355 which attended in 2018. Thursday’s attendance of 57,296 suggests the experiment was a failure.

VRC officials don’t deserve criticism for trying to get more working people to the races with the first run at 1.50 and the last of the nine at 6.25. There were also shorter gaps between the nine races.

“I suppose with Oaks day, the first thing I would say is it’s not broken,” VRC executive general manager racing Leigh Jordon said. “When you get over 60,000 people to the day – most racing jurisdictions around the world would love to get 60,000 to the races on a working day. On that scale, it’s not broken.

“‘But what we thought we would try and do is push the start of the day to about the 2pm mark and that would enable people to say to the boss, ‘I’ll work through lunchtime and then hop on the train and go to the races. Also in reducing the gap between races, it condenses it so it is punchier.”

There has also been an alarming drop in TV ratings on the Melbourne Cup with new week broadcaster Channel 10 which comes as a surprise.

TV analyst Kevin Perry has published the Channel 10 viewership figures for the big day and they will be a disappointment to the network which shelled out $100 million over five years for the rights.

Mirroring a downturn in wagering figures and attendances over the spring carnival, the TV figures were well down. “In the five-city metro markets, 10 achieved a figure of 1.44 million viewers,” Perry reported. “The peak audience figures for the race were marginally higher at 1.975 million (1.483 million metro).

“By comparison, the 2018 Melbourne Cup achieved an average national audience of 2.5 million viewers (1.836 million metro). The 2018 figure peaked at 2.7 million during the final stages of the race on Seven."

 

CUP WEEK A DISAPPOINTMENT SO FAR FOR TWO BIG STABLES

FOR two of the country’s biggest stables Cup week could be described as a disappointment.

The giant Godolphin outfit and young gun trainer James Cummings broke their Cup week drought when Soothing one the Listed Century Stakes on Oaks day beating the favorite Ball of Muscle.

But the powerful Ciaron Maher-David Eustace combo will have to rely on Loving Gaby in the star-studded Group 1 Darley Sprint Classic on Saturday to end their big race drought.

Loving Gaby beat the older horses in the GI Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley in late October but the stable elected not to take her to Sydney for last Saturday’s $1 million Redzel Stakes at Rosehill.

Loving Gaby will carry only 51.5kg (with Craig Williams in the saddle) when she takes on Santa Ana Lane, Nature Strip and In Her Time in the Darley Sprint Classic. “She beat the older horses last time so that won’t be a worry for her and she gets the nice weight pull again,” Maher said. “If she gets it wet, that might be to her advantage.

Maher said an overseas trip to race in front of her owner could be a possibility for Loving Gaby. “The owner is quite keen to travel her so that’s a possibility. “He’s from Dubai so there might be a race there for her.”

The powerful stable has had a couple of good goes during Cup week without success. One of those was on a debutante two-year-old that raced on Tuesday but performed like a mule with Group 1 specialist Mark Zahra in the saddle.

 

FORM REVERSAL BY CELLARMAN DIDN’T EVEN RATE A MENTION

THE Chris Waller stable continues to prove difficult for punters to follow when it has multiple runners in a race.

That was proven yet again when veteran galloper Cellarman recorded his first win in close to two years in Thursday’s $150,000 Listed Ladies Day Cup at Hawkesbury.

Cellarman $31 was one of the stars of the autumn carnival last year, winning three in a row including the Group III Doncaster Prelude before suffering a tendon injury which sidelined him for 12 months.

But his form since a spell was hardly encouraging. The six-year-old had raced twice at Eagle Farm for a 10th and a 7th and at his latest start was near the tail of the field throughout and ran the risk of being run over by the Clerk of the Course.

Waller returns Cellarman to Sydney where he must have magical powers as the horse steps up to Listed grade and the horse finishes like a train to score a massive form reversal over the mile, a trip which he obviously favours. He was the outsider of the multiple runners that Waller had in the field.

Stewards never even managed to question the massive improvement which comes as no surprise to punters who have come to expect this lack of invasion on the champion trainer when one of his second string runners salutes in Sydney or the major provincial meetings in NSW. It’s simply not transparent enough on the part of the panel.

 

DEATH OF THE VOICE OF COUNTRY RACING IN QUEENSLAND

AAP reports that race caller Barry Jones, who for half a century was the voice of Queensland country racing, has died after a battle with cancer, aged 75.

Jones lived for much of his life at Dalby on the western Darling Downs.

He called race meetings at tracks such as Dalby, Jandowae, Bell, Warra, Wandoan, Taroom, Tara, Miles, Talwood, Flinton, Kumbia, Burrandowan and Warwick.

He called his last meeting at Kumbia on Melbourne Cup day 2015.

Close friend and fellow racecaller Paul Dolan said Jones was an example of what made racing a great sport. “Barry drove thousands of kilometres a year to call races but he loved every minute. He was a genuinely nice bloke who loved a chat and had friends throughout the state. Barry was able to watch his last Melbourne Cup on Tuesday and died shortly after.”

On another note those in Queensland who were celebrating when 4TAB race-caller David Fowler filled in at two South Australian venues during the week should not be cracking the champagne corks just yet. Story goes ‘The Bantam’ is enjoying some leisure time with a good mate in Adelaide and was just filling-in. No, at this stage, he isn’t moving interstate.

 

HERE’S HOPING THIS ISN’T ANOTHER WASTED $7 MILLION BY RQ

HERE’S hoping the $7 million spent on a new All-Weather track at the Sunshine Coast isn’t as big a disaster as the synthetic track that it will replace.

Queensland’s leading racing writer MARK OBERHARD (he doesn’t have much to compete with at The Courier-Mail) reports that the Caloundra complex now caters for 400 horses and two of the state's top five trainers are based there.

The current synthetic track is 12 years old and is in urgent need of an upgrade.

The new synthetic track will be able to stand up to a heavier workload than is possible on turf tracks, as it is can deal with too much water or not enough.

Racing Queensland hopes it will be able to reschedule more meetings when renovations are being undertaken at other tracks, or when meetings might otherwise be abandoned because of weather.

Sunshine Coast Turf Club chairman Peter Boyce said the new track would give the club a point of difference from other venues.

"We have 400 horses using the track every day, so this is funding for an essential upgrade and most appreciated," he said.

"The surface needs to be replaced urgently. It's a racing track as well as a training track so all participants will benefit from it.

"The important thing is that it's not just a track for us - it's a track for the industry."

 

GATTON WHAT AN OAKS DAY ADVERTISEMENT FOR QLD RACING

WHAT a great advertisement it was for Queensland racing with the Oaks day meeting being hosted at that low joint Gatton.

The track, like a couple of others being used as TAB venues, is simply not up to scratch – especially the wicked home turn which puts pay to the chances of many runners.

To showcase Gatton nationwide on the SKY screens on a big day coinciding with the Oaks at Flemington was simply bad management by Racing Queensland.

The only other meeting it fitted comfortably in with was Gawler but there’s nothing wrong with the track there simply the racing in South Australia which can’t go downhill much further.    

 

 

THE POSITIVES & NEGATIVES OF A MEMORABLE MELBOURNE CUP

IT was the fairytale finish that Australian punters and racing followers prayed for when Vow and Declare won the Melbourne Cup but the Danny O’Brien-trained stayer, owned by a group of battlers from Queensland was lucky to win the race that stops a nation.

A farcically slow paced aided by a brilliant Craig Williams ride destroyed the prospects of many and boosted the chances of Vow and Declare. Add to that interference near the finish cost the international Il Paradiso an almost certain victory.

The bravest of the beaten brigade was Surprise Baby who defied the farcical pace, a pretty ordinary ride from a bad barrier and a lack of cover from 800m out to come from last and finish the unluckiest of fifths.

THE POSITIVES of the 2019 MELBOURNE CUP:

  • A syndicate of everyday Queenslanders shared in the ownership of Vow & Declare the first Melbourne Cup win by an Australian-bred horse in a decade.
  • VOW & DECLARE struck an increasingly rare blow for the locals against a marauding band on international invaders.
  • CRAIG WILLIAMS shed his Melbourne Cup demons at his 15th ride in the big race – crossing from a wide alley and enjoying a gun run – predicting to his wife Larysa that he would win straight after the Caulfield Cup.
  • DANNY O’BRIEN added the Melbourne Cup to previous wins in the Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup but most of all completed the rebuilding of his training career after the infamous cobalt case that threatened to sink him.
  • STEWARDS added a theatrical touch to the finish upholding their own protest relegating MASTER OF REALITY to fourth and elevating PRINCE OF ARRAN & IL PARADISO to second and third respectively.
  • MATT HILL has again been praised for his superb call of the CUP which produced a very tricky finish. He is destined to be one of the great race broadcasters.
  • THE NETWORK 10 coverage, especially the commentary of FRANSECA CUMANI & form analyst DAVID GATELY was first class. Just when we thought we had got rid of that pesky JASON RICHARDSON with SEVEN losing telecast rights he just jumps back aboard the racing.com coverage in his ridiculous pork-pie hat with his giggly, annoying, ill-informed commentary that drives most punters to the mute button.
  • ONE punter has gone from winning zero as the horses crossed the line to a payout of almost $800,000 after stewards upheld the Cup protest. The punter placed a $10 straight first four with Sportsbet, requiring Vow And Declare to win, Prince Of Arran to run second, Il Paradiso to run third and Master Of Reality to run fourth. Guess he’s lucky the corporate didn’t find some tricky clause not to pay him.

THE NEGATIVES:

  • A FARCICALLY slow pace (adds some merit to the Poms putting pacemakers in these big races) that crushed the chances of several fancies & aided the on-pacers with even O’BRIEN & WILLIAMS admitting it helped VOW & DECLARE win.
  • THE CUP nightmare continued for international superstar jockey FRANKIE DETTORI who copped a nine-meeting suspension (should it have been much longer) for costing another visitor IL PARDISO an almost certain win in the big race. It was the second time in five years that Lloyd Williams’ love child has been suspended in the Cup. He couldn’t care less because he knows he will just get a tap on the wrist.
  • PRINCE OF ARRAN was a brave Cup placegetter for the second successive year and trainer Charlie Fellowes has declared he hopes to make it third time lucky in 2020. Jockey Michael Walker, fined $10,000 for excessive use of the whip, tossed his toys (saddle) out of the cot in a little tantrum in the jockeys’ room after the race.
  • THE theory that you need big race jockeys for big races (not necessarily to replace an accomplished woman rider) was proven yet again when Jordan Childs, with all due respects, was out of his class on SURPRISE BABY which arguably should have gone close to winning. Despite the slow speed which didn’t suit the local hope, Childs elected to drag her back to last from a horror draw rather than look for some cover midfield. He then took off from the 800m mark and blamed nothing to take him into the race for his defeat. SURPRISE BABY came from last on the turn to finish an eye-catching fifth. It was an enormous run.
  • FINCHE (7th) dashed the hopes of champion trainer CHRIS WALLER’S Maiden Cup win. He will live to fight another day and was humble in defeat but one could argue that FINCHE once again didn’t run out the 3200m. One cynic sent an email suggesting: ‘The best chance of Chris winning the Melbourne Cup is if they move it to Sydney’.
  • DAMIEN LANE described the run of Caulfield Cup winner MER DE GLACE, which finished sixth, as massive adding that the slow tempo had not helped.
  • LAST year’s winner CROSS COUNTER ran 8th after being slowly away.
  • JOAO MOREIRA, who flew in from Hong Kong to ride the highly fancied CONSTANTINOPLE said the horse was most disappointing.
  • JOCKEYS John Allen and Damien Oliver on DOWNDRAFT & MUSTAJEER which finished near the tail of the field blamed the farcically slow pace but neither had much to offer at the finish.
  • ROSTROPROVICH sadly broke a pelvis and was eased down in the straight but TEAM HAYES say the horse may race again after positive reports from the veterinary hospital.
  • RACING Victoria stewards adjourned an inquiry into alleged race day treatment on Cup day. They ordered the withdrawal of the Richard Laming-trained JAMAICAN RAIN after the mare was found to be sore in a knee during a race morning stable inspection. But it was not all the Compliance Assurance Team (CAT) allegedly found. An inquiry was also opened into a contravention of race day treatment of the mare.
  • THE crowd at FLEMINGTON – on a day when the weather gods were kind – was just above 81,400 – the lowest since 1993. Racegoers had to run the gauntlet with a cauldron of animal activist protesters and signage.
  • THERE were six arrests at Flemington (probably more at tracks outside Melbourne like Eagle Farm where they traditional carry on like morons on these big days) – four for drunkenness and one each for drug possession and an outstanding warrant.
  • VICTORIA and Australian Federal Police are also investigating a drone which was flown into unauthorized airspace and seized.
  • THE ride-sharing service Uber has crashed, causing more drama for racegoers trying to find their way home. Many had to do battle with the ferals on the trains.  

UNZER FRITZ DESERTS THE DOWN UNDER BRIGADE AND GENIUS CHRIS WALLER TIPPING AN ALL-INERNATIONAL FINISH TO THE CUP

I long ago locked in to Mer De Glace as the Melbourne Cup winner, despite the cries of doom from the knockers I'm very, very confident that it will win.

Counter Cross is the forgotten runner. Sure the 2018 winner is up six kilos from last year, but it's up nine ratings points and has won the Dubai Gold Cup over two miles since, and let's be honest trainer Charlie Appleby pulled a swiftie on handicapper Greg Carpenter last year and it should have been carrying about 54.

It's far from my place to say that Charlie the genius has pulled one over Carpenter again, but if you have a look at Cross Counter's past three runs you will find that it ran admirably in a race that was 800 metres too long, ran a brilliant third behind the UK's best two stayers in Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee in the two-mile Goodwood Cup, and then came down in distance and pulled its head off and then shunted four wide in a very strangely run Irish St Leger in which Cross Counter finished a gallant fourth after being used as a slipstream by Frankie Dettori to lift the champ Stradivarius to his third straight Irish St Leger victory, in one of the greatest rides that you could ever hope to see.

The top weight is in this Cup up to his eyeballs with a huge chance of going back to back, and the $14 presently on offer is by my reckoning at least six points over the odds.

Southern France ran a huge race to finish ahead of Cross Counter in third place in the St Leger, and is a real live chance too.

Lingard is tipping Raymond Tusk as the best international but he's a Hong Kong, Brisbane and Melbourne man so ignore him and his in-depth form study of the Irish and English gallops. The old bloke goes to bed at seven o'clock, and doesn't tape the UK races, so how would he know anything about the form? He tips a Group 3 class horse who couldn't beat the slow, old Red Galileo home in the Ebor last start, and the run before that couldn't keep up with a number of his Cup rivals in the Ascot Gold Cup. He's no chance.

Despite all the hype Constantinople isn't either, and an interrupted prep has ruined Steel Prince's chances. Surprise Baby is a huge hope, but Paul Preusker would really have to be brilliant to get her home first run in a month off a European prep. Those who know him say he's a wizard, so who knows?

One thing's for certain. The various Australian racing chiefs will be death-riding Surprise Baby, because a decade ago Preusker was outed for four years for cruelly using a jigger on a horse he trained. If he wins the Cup it will be a public relations disaster, and the animal activists will have a field day.

The O'Brien horses are the key to this whole race.

2017 winner Rekindling's trainer Joseph has four runners, in order: Master of Reality, Latrobe, Twilight Payment and Downdraft, with all bar the latter owned and in all likelihood trained by remote control by Lloyd Williams, perhaps the smartest Melbourne Cup man in history behind Bart Cummings. 

One of these four isn't here to win, he's here to act as pacemaker for his stablemates, and that stalking horse is Latrobe. Lloyd paid big money for this horse a while back, but he's wasted it because it's not much good. It did win a very weak edition of the Irish Derby, but it only beat Rostropovich and Saxon Warrior, and neither of them is much good, and Latrobe for all his early promise isn't much good either.  I've backed it a couple of times in UK races and all it has returned me is a firm conviction that the horse doesn't have any heart and has an undersized long-distance motor on top.

J-Mac knows what side his bread is buttered on, and like most Kiwis he's a company man rather than an entrepreneur, so he will forsake his chance at a maiden Cup victory by following instructions to go to the front or sit outside the leader and keep the pace on. Downdraft will sit a couple of lengths off him and try to go past and pinch it at about the 400 when Latrobe starts to hit the wall, and his stablemates Master of Reality and Twilight Payment will be coming from midfield and trying to latch onto his back then hook inside or around him at the clock tower and surge for home.

Good luck to all, and good luck to Lloyd. Despite the clear advantage young Joseph's four are going to gain from what are supposed to be illegal tactics I believe that they are all either too old, weighted too heavy, unable to run the distance, or just too slow to trouble the really good ones in this race.

The master Aiden O'Brien (Joseph's dad) has three in the race - Hunting Horn, Magic Wand and Il Paradiso - and all are owned by the racing behemoth Coolmore, but only one of them is really here to win. 

That horse is Il Paradiso. 

Magic Wand couldn't get two miles on a Malvern Star down Mt Cootha, and the five-year-old mare will try to push forward to the lead and set a cracking pace that the Coolmore camp hope will weaken the legs of the heavier weighted chasing brigade. Hunting Horn, like Downdraft, will try to sit a couple of lengths off the leaders and do one of those velodrome cycling moves and sweep past it off the spin of the home turn. That of course is far too early to go if you want to win a Cup, but winnings not the point here. Keeping the pace on until the 200m mark and burning everything else up front is.

There's a very good reason for these likely tactics too, and that reason's name is Il Paradiso. This young stallion doesn't quite have the form lines that Counter Cross had coming into the Cup last year, which if unlike me you didn't back, it must make you shake your head in retrospect and curse yourself as a fool, but it comes off a higher rating and a good win over two miles, and with 52.5kg is a massive chance of giving us a demonstration of an Irishman pulling handicapper Carpenter's pants down once more.

Whichever way it goes this one is going to be a race for the ages, and like you I just can't wait.

MY TIPS: MER DE GLACE, Il Paradiso, Cross Counter & Southern France.

 

OUR COLUMNIST UNZER FRITZ KEEPS TURNING JAPANESE & DECLARES MER DE GLACE A GOOD THING IN CUP

WELL, sometimes admitting that you are wrong and publicly acknowledging it is hard, and it hurts, but a wise man puts his pride aside and his hand in the air, and fesses up when he realizes his mistake, and does it well before the jump in the race that stops the nation.

So over the past fortnight I’ve tipped you into Mer De Glace at $8 to win the Caulfield Cup and Lys Gracieux when it was still $4.50 in the Cox Plate, and come Saturday afternoon your multi is worth $36 for your one, and then I give you South Africa 13 plus against the Poms in the World Cup at $8  and suddenly you’re sitting on a goldmine with a return of 288 times your original investment, and Nelson Rockefeller is suddenly looking like a featherweight, and a very light feather indeed.

You have a problem now. Your shares have grown faster than Jack’s beanstalk, but there was one more tip. Mer De Glace to win the Melbourne Cup at $7.00.

If it comes home first LGHR has turned your every betting dollar into 2016 of them. A ten- dollar leg multi would be returning you $20 grand plus. A hundred -dollar investment would reap a $200 000 reward. All for free, just for following Unser Fritz’s tips.

There’s just one wee problem.

Today I was talking to John Lingard who has something to do with this site (I don’t know what; he’s probably a volunteer or something), and Lingard was repeating the mantra he’s repeated about 227 times since the Caulfield Cup by telling me that Mer De Glace can’t get two miles, and wouldn’t if was racing on roller skates down a well.

I’ve deflected these attacks so far by sheer belligerence. Every time Lingard has raised the issue I’ve put him on mute and listened to a couple of songs on Youtube until he’s run out of breath, and then I say “you’re entitled to your opinion John, but I believe that you are wrong”, and then quickly change the subject.

It was working up until this afternoon too, but suddenly looked out the window and got clever. Or maybe he was just bored because it was raining in Melbourne, I don’t know. What I do know is that he upped the attack, and threw a spinner in.

“What if it’s a wet track” Lingard wanted to know. “(Some retired jockey) reckons that it adds a couple of hundred meters to the trip. The Japs don’t generally handle the wet, and it’s a huge leap from 2000 to 2400 up to 3400 isn’t it?”

I ducked and weaved and tried to swerve, but Lingard kept pulling me back. “I’ve spent hours doing the Melbourne Cup form” he says, trying to keep the mirth from his tone “and I just can’t see it Unser. Tell why you think it will”.

The answer of course was just because I do, and because I’m a genius who has tipped LGHR readers into a three leg multi at odds of 288-1, so what I say goes and the Japanese runner with a name like a nice cake is going to win, that’s all.

As the answer ran through my head and before it got to my tongue I realized that it perhaps wasn’t the greatest justification for a tip in a race that stops the nation, even if I had applied the exact same logic to the previous three and hit the bullseye. So, I did what any decent form analyst worth their salt would do. I pulled one out of my backside.

“You have to look at the parents John. Both this mum and dad could stay like your mother-in law on a so-said short vacation. They could run forever. Rain or shine the trip is simply a breeze”

I was making it up of course. I didn’t have a clue what the parents could do, or how far they could run. I was simply relying on the fact that he didn’t either, and I was right, and safe for another day, or for 14 hours at least.

I race for the computer and brought up Racenet. Their Melbourne Cup feature link is terrible, but by using the race fields one I quickly raced to the form for the Cup and clicked on the breeding.

Mer De Glace’s Dad is Rulership; it didn’t win past 2000m. Rulership’s father is King Kamehameha; he did, he won the 2400m Japanese Derby. But his father Kingmambo never got further than a mile, and his grandfather Mr Prospector was a sprinter who excelled at 1200 metres.

I am not feeling good about this.

The stamina is on the dam Glacier Blue’s side for sure I think, so to it I turn.

Oh no. She’s slow sprinter who only won 3 races from 36 starts, none of them past 1400m, and there’s no use looking back because all there is to see is her father Sunday Silence, who won the Kentucky Derby over 2000m but couldn’t get the 2400m of the Belmont.

Lingard is suddenly looking very right. He usually is; the bloke’s an expert form analyst. This time he had it dead wrong though, and so do all those breeding buffs and people who read form guides.

Why do they have it wrong?

Because Mer De Glace is going to win the Cup.

Why?

Just because. There are 2016 times $500 reasons that I want it to, and it will. It’s an absolute living certainty.

Pass me the calculator Lingard.

And that brochure for the off-the plan penthouse apartments in St Tropez.

 

 

CUP WILL ALWAYS BE NO 1 REGARDLESS OF SYDNEY SHENANIGANS

FORGET all the shenanigans from Sydney town and the ‘little master’ who wants to control all things racing – the Melbourne Cup will always be unique and no matter how hard they try something that those north of the border will never emulate in popularity.

It is arguably Australia’s only genuine, unaffected folk carnival. It’s a day when the richest and the poorest are drawn together by the flimsy excuse of a horse race.

It’s a day of extraordinary good humour, helped along by old-fashioned larrikinism and new-fashioned exhibitionism. It’s a day for toffs and show-offs, for winners and losers.

And one of the ironies of the Cup is that many of the 100,000 or more who converge on Flemington on Tuesday won’t see much of the big race at all.

For them, it will be little more than the roar that accompanies ‘they’re off,’ a flash of colours as the big field thunders by, the buzz that builds to a crescendo, and at the end, the million dollar question: ‘Who won?’

Even those in privileged places can but look and wonder. In the members’ enclosure they watch and hope but the finish is little more than a blur of horses’ hindquarters.

Except for that special area set aside for the owners and trainers in the grandstand. That’s where hundreds of hopes and dreams live and die on that first Tuesday in November. Then the cameras swing to the winning owners – many overcome by the occasion. The celebrations are about to begin again.

Most of those who make that ritual visit to Flemington and fail to see a thing will be back next year and the year after that. They wouldn’t swap the atmosphere of being there for the comfort of watching it on television in their homes or at their favourite pub or club.

Some even go through the crush of it all without having a bet, fighting to get to the bar to order endless rounds of drinks, but preferring the office sweep to the agony of making the painstaking push to the bookies or the tote.

Those who love to getaway and go racing will unanimously declare that Melbourne Cup week is an absolute must on the list of ‘things to do before you die’ – something The Everest will never be regardless of whether it becomes a racing bucket item for those promoting everything Sydney.

Many tell of planning this once-in-a-life time trip only to discover it was so addictive that they have returned every year since and never get tired of going.

Nothing quite compares with that wonderful week of racing, highlighted by the race that stops the nation. But these days you don’t have to be at Flemington to join in the celebrations with literally hundreds of Cup day race meetings throughout the country.

The founding fathers of the great race back in the 1860s would never have thought in their wildest dreams that the Melbourne Cup would grow into the event of today. Who would have thought it would internationalized as punters battle to do the form of well credentialed runners from Europe and Japan.  

The Cup has long been lauded as ‘the race that stops a nation’ and the race which has become ingrained in the Australian culture. It is a race built on dreams, on hard luck and triumph. It is a race which is also survived by tragedy.

But while the Cup continues to evolve it will remain the greatest 3200m horse race anywhere in the world and, by the nature of the conditions, arguably the most challenging to win.

The great American writer Mark Twain visited Australia in the late 1800s, while on a world-wide lecture tour. He was realistic and humorous in his appraisal, but also, on the whole, quite flattering.

Twain arrived in Victoria at the time of the Melbourne Cup, and here are his observations:

‘It is the Melbourne Cup that brings this multitude together. Their clothes have been ordered long ago, at unlimited cost, and without bounds as to beauty and magnificence, and have been kept in concealment until now, for unto this day are they consecrated.

And so the grandstands make a brilliant and wonderful spectacle, a delirium of color, a vision of beauty. The champagne flows, everybody is vivacious, excited and happy – everybody bets, and gloves and fortunes change hands right along, all the time.

Day after day the races go on, and the fun and the excitement are kept at white heat. And when each day is done, the people dance all night so as to be fresh for the races in the morning.

And at the end of the great week the swarms secure lodgings and transportation for next year, then flock away to their remote homes and count their gains and losses, and order next year’s Cup clothes, and then lie down and sleep for two weeks, and get up sorry to reflect that a whole year must be put in somehow or other before they can be wholly happy again.

The Melbourne Cup is the Australasian National Day. It would be difficult to overstate its importance. It overshadows all other holidays and specialized days of whatever sort in that congeries of colonies.

Overshadows them? I might almost say it blots them out. Each of them gets attention, but not everybody’s. Each of them evokes interest, but not everybody’s. Each of them rouses enthusiasm, but not everybody’s. In each case a part of the attention, interest, and enthusiasm is a matter of habit and custom, and another part of it is official and perfunctory.

Cup Day and Cup Day only, commands an attention, an interest, and an enthusiasm which are universal – and spontaneous, not perfunctory. Cup Day is supreme, it has no rival.

I can call to mind no specialized annual day, in any country, which can be named by that large name – supreme. I can call to mind no specialized annual day, in any country, whose approach fires the whole land with a conflagration of conversation and preparation and anticipation and jubilation. No day save this one; but this one does it.’

Who can argue that little has changed in more than a Century since Mark Twain penned those wonderful words?

As in Twain’s day, the crowds still throng. But TV cameras record for posterity all the action on and off the track, the fabulous clothes and ladies’ hats purchased for the event. Businesses in Victoria close for the day.

And throughout the land everything from work to traffic and even conversation seems to stop for those few minutes when the Cup is run (because while there are races for most of the day, nothing quite compares with the Melbourne Cup).

Rightly or wrongly the attitude of punters has changed over the years and they don’t seem to care whether Cup day races are won by a battler or the world’s richest – especially if they manage to back the winner.

Such was their good humour at the 1987 Cup meeting that they gave three rousing cheers to a bewildered Middle Eastern Sheikh when one of has huge stable won a support race.

Suspicion suggests that the crowd was letting the Sheikh know that he was one of the lads, even though he could pay out the mortgages of most of middle Melbourne.

The ultimate test of the punters’ goodwill was seen in the mounting yard the year that the late Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, turned up for the presentation drunk as a skunk.

Such has been the impact of this horse race that brings a nation to a standstill that one wonders why the rest of the country doesn’t have a day off as well.

Once again on Tuesday the Cup will continue to capture the imagination of an adoring public. It will continue to become the one race that every jockey, trainer and owner wants to win. And every punter – big and small – wants to back the winner of.

In conclusion, let’s reflect once more on those carefully chosen words of the great Mark Twain who was heard to say over a century ago: “Nowhere in my travels have I encountered a festival of the people that has such a magnetic appeal to a whole nation. The Cup astonishes me!”

One can reasonably argue – and who would dare to disagree – that is still the case today.

 

 

HOW DID ZAHRA MANAGE TO GET THREE WIDE FROM BARRIER ONE?

CONNECTIONS can blame the wet track all they like for the flop of Thought Of That in the Victoria Derby but the sacking of Linda Meech came back to haunt them big time at Flemington on Saturday.

As the TAB was tweeting: ‘Still waiting for Thought of That to finish’ critics of replacement jockey Mark Zahra were venting their anger.

Ed Healey tweeted: ‘Take Linda off Bons Away. Take Linda off Thought of That. Put Zahra on both and watch him butcher them’.

Jackson Smart chimed in with: ‘Not to stir the pot but surely Linda Meech and Michelle Payne were having a giggle as Mark Zahra somehow steered Thought of That to three wide without cover from barrier one.’

Which begs the question how did this better than Meech, 16 Group One winning jockey Zahra manage to slaughter the Maher-Eustace trained colt when the eyes of the racing world were watching?

Zahra is a great jockey but this was a ride he will want to forget and hopefully it is one that Brae Sokolski and his bunch of owners will remember for all the right reasons and quickly accept that they did the wrong thing by Meech.

While the Derby was run Meech stayed indoors, preferring to deflect any spotlight after understandably letting rip earlier in the week death-riding Thought of That’s inevitable defeat. But not even she would have expected the colt to run so badly.

Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne, who was fined $1,000 for calling Sokolski a “pig” on Twitter for axing Meech, stood silently in the mounting yard, alongside her partner, David Eustace, the co-trainer of Thought of That. One wonders what she was thinking about the way her former beau had handled the ride some say he ‘pinched’ from a lady jockey. Maher and Eustace made no secret that they wanted Meech on.

The most talked about Derby starter of the week was beaten on the turn and dropped out to finish a dismal 10th with the wet track, a slow start – and not the terrible ride – being blamed for his flop.

It was left to the Herald-Sun to run the riding statistics of the two combatants on Derby day:

MEECH v ZAHRA

Race 2

Meech — Palumbo, $26, 3rd

Zahra — Song Brocade, $41, 9th

Race 4

Meech — Haky, $8, 8th

Zahra — The Chosen One, $6 5th

Race 5

Meech — Miss Siska, $26, 8th

Zahra — Spanish Reef, $20, 3rd $5

Sokolski owns so many good horses that perhaps he should offer an olive branch to Meech and the ride on one of them. He will be back at Flemington on Tuesday as a part-owner of leading Melbourne Cup hope Finche hoping to be in the spotlight for all the right reasons.

Meech will be there too, reuniting with the Maher-Eustace stable on debutante Muntaseera for one of the world’s richest owners, Sheik Al Maktoum, in the Group 3 Ottawa Stakes and if trial form is any indication this filly should be hard to beat. Ironically the second favorite is the stablemate Marchena to be ridden by Zahra which is trialled very well too. 

Zahra has a few nice rides on Tuesday – Michelle Payne has only one - but the Cup winning lady jockey is bound to attract far more attention on the first Tuesday in November however can steal the spotlight if Southern France scores an upset win in the Cup for Maher & Eustace and the import has the form to do just that.

PS: OVERNIGHT we have SUNDAY MAIL columnist PETER GLEESON, a good mate of LGHR, going into bat for Sokolski (which is his right) but quoting an unnamed racing follower as saying 'Zahra is a 20 lengths better rider than Meech'. WHAT planet is that bloke living on Gleeso and more to the point how could he defend that slaughter job he did on one of the Derby favorites? Sounds like someone living under a rock in the bush.  

  

CONSTANTINOPLE RETAINS CUP FAVORITISM FROM GOOD DRAW

FAVORITE Constantinople has drawn favourably for Tuesday's $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m). 

The luckless fourth placegetter in last month's $5m Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) will exit barrier seven under Joao Moreira. 

Moreira is yet to win the Melbourne Cup from three rides in the race but was runner-up at his most recent attempt aboard Heartbreak City in 2016. 

Fellow leading Melbourne Cup contenders, Cross Counter and Mer De Glace, have drawn towards the inside rail. 

Defending Melbourne Cup champion Cross Counter will jump from barrier five while the last start Caulfield Cup winner Mer De Glace will start from barrier two. 

$8m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) -

Flemington, Tuesday

1 – CROSS COUNTER (Charlie Appleby) W.Buick (5) 57.5kg
2 – MER DE GLACE (Hishashi Shimizu) D.Lane (2) 56kg
3 – MASTER OF REALITY (Joseph O’BrienF.Dettori (1) 55.5kg 
4 – MIRAGE DANCER (Busuttin/Young) B.Melham (13) 55.5kg 
5 – SOUTHERN FRANCE (Maher/EustaceM.Zahra (14) 55.5kg 
6 – HUNTING HORN (Aidan O’BrienS.Heffernan (11) 55kg 
7 – LATROBE (Joseph O’BrienJ.McDonald (22) 55kg 
8 – MUSTAJEER (Kris LeesD.Oliver (6) 55kg 
9 – ROSTROPOVICH (Lindsay Park Racing) D.Dunn (12) 55kg
10 – TWILIGHT PAYMENT (Joseph O’Brien) P.Cosgrave (19) 55kg
11 – FINCHE (Chris WallerK.McEvoy (4) 54kg 
12 – PRINCE OF ARRAN (Charlie FellowesM.Walker (8) 54kg 
13 – RAYMOND TUSK (Richard Hannon) J.Spencer (3) 54kg
14 – DOWNDRAFT (Joseph O'BrienJ.Allen (15) 53.5kg  
15 – MAGIC WAND (Aidan O’BrienR.Moore (24) 53.5kg 
16 – NEUFBOSC (Lindsay Park RacingL.Nolen (23) 53.5kg 
17 – SOUND (Michael MoroneyJ.Winks (10) 53.5kg
18 – SURPRISE BABY (Paul PresukerJ.Childs (20) 53.5kg
19 – CONSTANTINOPLE (Lindsay Park RacingJ.Moreira (7) 52.5kg  
20 – IL PARADISO (Aidan O’BrienW.Lordan (17) 52.5kg
21 – STEEL PRINCE (Anthony FreedmanB.Prebble (16) 52.5kg
22 – THE CHOSEN ONE (Baker/ForsmanT.Clark (18) 52kg 
23 – VOW AND DECLARE (Danny O’BrienC.Williams (21) 52kg
24 – YOUNGSTAR (Chris Waller) T.Berry (9) 52kg 

 

STATEMENT FROM QRIC COMMISSIONER ROSS BARNETT

In response to public comments made about the Commission’s animal welfare responsibilities

THE responsibilities of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) are set out in the Racing Integrity Act and it is important for public confidence in the Commission to point out some relevant facts surrounding the 7.30 Report program aired on 17 October 2019. 

The Commission has legislative responsibility for the welfare of animals only while they are involved in the three codes of racing but not after they are retired.

The welfare of retired animals always remains the responsibility of the owner, not taxpayer-funded agencies. The Commission also has no authority, jurisdiction or responsibility for the operations of abattoirs.  The operations of these facilities are oversighted by both the Commonwealth Government and the State Department of Agriculture and Fisheries who manage animal welfare complaints and investigations.

Since commencement in July 2016 the Commission has never received a single complaint about the treatment of retired racehorses inside the Caboolture facility and if we had the Commission would have had no jurisdiction to investigate or intervene. 

We did receive several complaints about the conditions under which retired horses were transported from interstate and those were referred for investigation by the appropriate agencies including the RSPCA who concluded that no laws had been breached. We also received information that retired racehorses had been sent to the facility. 

Horse owners are entitled to sell their animals for slaughter and in the cases we investigated the owners had met all of their reporting obligations under the Australian Rules of Racing.   

The Commission does more than it is obliged to do, but not as much as we aspire to do, to promote rehoming and better the welfare generally for retired racing horses.  Our Animal Welfare Strategy sets outs our aspirational goals in this important area.

The Commission created the first Queensland Equine Welfare Program in 2017 and this year the inaugural Racing Animal Welfare grants program to support individuals and groups who deliver rehoming and retraining for retired racing horses.

A better future for these animals will be found by focussing on what we can all do better in this space rather than promoting and adopting completely false public assertions regarding complaints we did not receive,  involving an abattoir we have no jurisdiction over,  and concerning the treatment of animals who are beyond our authority.

Ross Barnett

Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner

 

LINDA MIGHT HAVE LOST THE RIDE BUT SHE WAS THE ONLY WINNER IN THE DERBY SOAP OPERA

THE soap opera that has engulfed the lead-up to Saturday’s G1 Victoria Derby at Flemington continued today with Linda Meech declaring she hopes Thought of That gets beaten and Michelle Payne fined for bagging Linda's sacking and labelling the managing owner ‘a pig’.

Just about everybody who’s anybody in racing has weighed into the debate after Meech (photograph courtesy of HERALD-SUN) was unceremoniously dumped from the Maher-Eustace trained colt that she helped qualify for the Derby.

The majority agree with Meech and want to see Mark Zahra beaten on Thought of That. Most agree that owners are entitled to choose a rider for their horse but have blasted the timing and what they describe as a lack of respect for the job that Meech has done on the colt.

Stewards wasted little time in hauling Melbourne Cup winning jockey before them after she called owner Brae Sokolski ‘a pig’ on Twitter before deleting the comment soon after. Critics of the action taken against Payne are questioning if stewards should have inquired whether Meech was entitled to a riding fee if Thought of That wins the Derby.

Meech, after riding a winner at Bendigo on Wednesday, told racing.com that it was ‘a little disappointing’ to find out she wouldn't be riding in the Group 1 after piloting Thought Of That to victory at his two most recent outings.

"Of course things like that bother you and I've had 20 years in this racing game – Brae probably hasn't been there quite as long but I won't let Brae get to me," Meech said.

“It's a little bit disappointing. I know he wanted a Group 1 jockey but Mark Zahra's had 262 rides in Group 1s and I've had 23 for one winner and he's had 15 [winners]."

"If you're any good at maths, you'll work out he's probably had a lot more opportunities but his strike rate is pretty bad, same as mine.

"Brae is a smart enough bloke to stick with the big guns but I hope it gets beat."

Earlier in the day, Michelle Payne was fined $1,000 for calling Sokoski ‘a pig’ on Twitter for replacing a woman jockey with a man. Sokolski said implications by Payne that he had dumped Meech because of her gender were off the mark.

"Not even a skerrick of the decision had anything to do with gender," he told RSN radio. "The decision was made purely on the merits of the race.

"You're entitled to an opinion on an owner's decision regarding a jockey engagement, I've got no issue with that. You are not entitled to challenge the right of an owner to make that decision.

"You're most certainly not entitled to accuse or even imply insidious motives for that decision, without any evidence whatsoever, and you're sure as hell not entitled to defame and personally abuse an owner for a decision."

Racing Victoria stewards revealed that they had fined Payne $1,000 after questioning her over Tuesday’s comments.

Payne pleaded guilty to Australian Rule of Rule Racing 228 (d) which states:

“A person must not engage in publishing or posting on any social media platform or channel any material, content or comment that is obscene, offensive, defamatory, racist, threatening, harassing, discriminatory or abusive to or about any other person involved in the racing industry.”

Earlier Sokolski issued a statement in which he said Payne “needs to be and will be held to account to ensure a lesson is learnt”. But he does not intend to pursue legal action over the comments.

Sadly he has copped a lot worse from anonymous critics on social media which he and his family certainly don't deserve.

Sokolski revealed Payne’s comments had deeply upset his family. “I’ve spent my life building a reputation in the business and racing communities for acting with integrity, decency, fairness and respect.”

“To have this reputation now sullied by an impetuous and reckless act is deeply upsetting, not just to myself but to those close to me.

“My family were understandably distraught to see media coverage of me that included a photo accompanied by headlines referencing “pig” ... I love this industry and invest heavily, not only in a financial sense but also of my time and energy in promoting it.”

Payne reacted savagely on Twitter, responding to Sokolski assertion that booking jockeys isn’t a “decision for the public”.

“Not for the public to decide but the public can recognise you as a pig,” Payne wrote on social media, before later deleting the tweet.

Payne, who in 2015 became the first female jockey in history to win the Melbourne Cup with $101 outsider Prince Of Penzance, doubled down with a flurry of additional posts.

“One of the most ruthless decisions made,” Payne continued.

Meech was cheered by spectators at Bendigo as she returned to scale while the filly’s co-trainer Simon Zahra described her ride on Oasis Girl as “perfect.”

Cries of “Go, Meechy”, “You beauty, Meechy” and “You’ve got our support, Meechy, and we’re men” rang out as Meech returned to scale.

“The average person at the supermarket is probably not interested in what Linda Meech is doing. But I would like to say thank you to all my close friends who have sent me messages.”

A few high profile media personalities who have weighed into the debate have attracted far differing responses. Jo McKinnon tweeted: Oh dear…but Linda has won two straight on the horse (most recent runs) and no male jockey has ever won on the horse. Thought of That?  

Jockey Kathy O’Hara chimed in with: But yeah let’s have Linda come in early trackwork to give him the final gallop for Saturday before we tell her....ordinary.

Race-caller Terry Bailey, in response to Michelle’s attack on Brae Sokolski: Not a fan of that Michelle to which Payne replied: Just an opinion Terry. That’s how he comes across. Linda has feelings too and has ridden that horse to perfection last 2 starts. Suits the horse. Yes they pay the bills and have the right to decisions but there’s also being a human. Loyalty in this game is very disappointing.

There were a host of critics quick to attack Bailey, one of whom suggested: ‘Good one Tez – suck up to the big name owner. What’s the story mate – he’s of more use to you in the long term than what Linda is? You should work on your calling and tipping more than your image in racing pal.’  

 

 

FANCY A BIT OF HORSE, ZEBRA, SPRINGBOK OR REINDEER FOR DINNER?

SO many racing fans keep telling us how much they miss the writings of our good mate ARCHIE BUTTERFLY which is why LGHR is happy to run his thoughts on racing matters. Here’s another contribution:

I'M sorry to keep writing in and annoying you, but I have a real weird kink about me that renders me rapt in racing and racehorses, and in trotters and dogs and ponies and a whole lot of animals other than sharks, stingrays and spiders too.

Are you hungry?

Fancy a bit of horse for dinner? Or a fillet of Springbok, or some kangaroo chops, or a zebra sirloin, or a serve of reindeer kidneys and liver?

Then Kezie Meats in the UK are your go.

You can pick up two horse burger patties for a pound seventy-one, or just $3.20 Australian. 500g of lean horse mince steak will set you back $8.13, which is a snip when compared to the price of diced, killed cows intestines and off-cuts at Woolies, but fillet steaks are a bit pricey at 32 bucks a shot, and the primo quality tenderloins will set you back $51 a kilo, although the wealthy barbarians from the Belgian version of Ascot swear that it’s well worth the price.

When averaged out over the tail to main spectrum of the crap cuts to the supreme, the retail price of horse works out at about 16 Aussie dineros per 1000 grams, or about 800 bucks per full 500kg former galloper.

It makes the prices you have to pay for a slow, stuffed pony on the weekly bloodstockauction.com.au online sales the best investment since some lucky buggers paid $85 a piece for Google shares (as of today they are worth $1,289 apiece, thank you very much).

Yep, a bloke who didn't give a crap about a horse being beaten with hard pieces of rubber pipe and kicked in the head could making a killing buying nags here and flogging them off to the knackers. Why, some folk even say that they do.

Archie Butterfly isn't saying that this bloodstock.com.au website is manna from heaven for online glue factory agents, because I don't know if what the knacker knockers are claiming is true. What I do say with confidence however is that although this online sell-a-crock service has a hundred policies about paying in-time, and declaring that the horse you are selling is a broken down, windsucking dud, and not stealing their intellectual property (Year 8 school leavers all over the world are after it), and not any having any cooling off periods, and a whole lot of other horseflesh for dollars contractual conditions, the company doesn't have an Animal Welfare policy advertised on its website, and there isn't a clause to be seen in the Terms and Conditions of the auctions that outlaws a bad bastard from selling a horse to be slaughtered.

In other words, you can buy any of the 12 horses sold for $550 or less in the online auction last night and flog them off to the giddy-up killers at Caboolture at a small but tidy profit, and little fish will be sweet and Bob's you bloody uncle, and don't you worry about that.

I'm not saying Stan Johnston sells any of his horses on the site, but by his own admission old Stan has an agent that he flicks his casts off to for $200 a go, which means that the agent's a fair shot at an out of auction pickup of any of the other dozen cripples that couldn't even attract a 400 dollar bid, so maybe either Stan or his man can tell the common horse loving racegoer and owner of 13 thoroughbreds like me why this sort of shit is acceptable, and how it is that the sellers have no culpability for the deaths of those neddies that are turned into glue.

Perhaps a whole lot of other questionable owners and breeders who it seems knowingly and willingly send their once-prized possessions to an early grave and a Belgian dinner plate after they've outlived their financial usefulness can too.

Once they explain it all to me and everyone else who loves horses in a language that we can all understand I will stop writing to LGHR and annoying you Lucky.

Until then though, for me the horse reigns supreme, and I will continue to stand up for equine rights.

If anyone has a problem with that I suggest that they proceed to the nearest bathroom, and take a real good hard look at themselves in the mirror.

Yours forever in racing

Archie Butterfly

PS: A kilo of lean reindeer mince will set you back $77, which might seem a lot but is really quite a bargain when you consider that a kilo roast of the much gamier and more antlered reindeer from the Serengeti will set you back 43 bucks.

https://www.keziefoods.co.uk/Catalogue/Lean-Meats/Exotic-Meats  

 

 

MICHELLE LABELS OWNER A ‘PIG’ FOR SACKING LINDA – PERHAPS HE SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT!

MELBOURNE Cup-winning Michelle Payne has lashed Brae Sokolski on Twitter, calling the prominent owner a “pig” over the decision to sack jockey Linda Meech from Thought of That in Saturday’s G1 Victoria Derby at Flemington.

The HERALD-SUN reports that responding to Sokolski’s defence of the “unpopular” decision, Payne tweeted: “Not for the public to decide but the public can recognise you as a pig”. The tweet was later deleted.

A noted campaigner for women’s rights, Payne famously scolded racing’s male-dominated establishment after winning the 2015 Melbourne Cup on $101 shot Prince Of Penzance.

“It’s such a chauvinistic sport, a lot of the owners wanted to kick me off. Everyone else can get stuffed (who) think women aren’t good enough,” she said in her post-race interview.

Meech, who has ridden Thought of That in each of its past two wins, was preparing to ride the $4 second favourite in Saturday’s Group 1 feature.

But after galloping the three-year-old on Tuesday morning trackwork she was later told by trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace that Mark Zahra would be riding Thought Of That at his next start.

News of Meech’s axing angered some punters, who questioned what the star jockey had done wrong to find herself off the potential star.

But Sokolski is adamant owners have made the right and “pragmatic” decision.

“I know it’s going to be unpopular and I know I’m probably getting lambasted on Twitter but so be it,” Sokolski said. “I make the decision, it’s the right decision for the horse and the owners, it’s not a decision for the public.”

PUNTERS have joined the chorus of criticism of owner BRAE SOKOLSKI and some of the comments on social media aren’t worthy of repeating but there are some questions that do need answering.

WHERE does Cairon Maher stand in all of this considering a few days ago he credited Linda Meech with the meteoric rise of his stable?

DID Mark Zahra or his manager stab Meech in the back for the ride as so often happens with top jockeys where women, apprentices or lesser high profile hoops are concerned?

SOKOSLKI says he has the utmost respect for Meech’s riding talents and that she has ridden many of his horses but felt from barrier one Zahra would be better suited on Thought of That – go figure?

THE sacking of Meech and the comments of Michelle Payne have again ignited the debate over women jockeys and whether they get a fair go in racing at a time when the last thing the industry needs is another splinter group bagging the sport – the animal liberations are bad enough now we have the women’s libbers?

LAST but not least what does LINDA MEECH think about this? She is such a humble and gracious person that there has been nothing but silence at this stage. She would prefer to let her riding do the talking but it’s a bit hard when you are deprived of opportunities.

 

‘IT’S NOT A DECISION FOR THE PUBLIC’ SAYS PROMINENT OWNER AFTER SACKING LINDA MEECH OFF VICTORIAN DERBY FANCY

SECOND favourite THOUGHT OF THAT arguably wouldn’t be in the $2 million Victoria Derby at Flemington on Saturday if it wasn’t for the country’s leading lady jockey LINDA MEECH.

So much for loyalty – after riding Thought of That in an impressive gallop on Tuesday Meech was told by trainers Cairon Maher and David Eustace that the connections had decided to replace her with Mark Zahra.

Brae Sokolski, managing owner of Thought of That, has won few friends in the racing public and among some stakenholders, with the way he has handled the unpopular decision to boot Meech off the Derby hope.

The sacking prompted a back-hander from former champion trainer and great fan of Meech in Peter Moody, who combined with Meech for 286 wins during his training career.

Moody was super critical of the timing of the decision. "Linda’s done a very good job on him the past two but I guess you have to respect the owners, they have to put their hand in the kick and pay the bills, but I really feel for Linda in that circumstance," Moody told RSN 927.

"I think the fact she found out on Tuesday morning is very disappointing for her. She's galloped the horse this morning and was cock-a-hoop and very pleased and then learned post galloping the horse that she wasn't there to ride the horse on Saturday."

Moody said Meech's lack of opportunity at the top level had counted against her in the end. "She's not going to win two if she doesn't get a ride in them.

"There is no better judge of pace in any race for that type of horse. It's disappointing for her, but I'm sure she'll make a fist of things going forward, she's champion jockey of Victoria last season and is well on her way to doing it again this season."

"She wanted to concentrate getting on the big stage after her ground-breaking title last year and it's a splinter in the backside as you go on the bannister of life as they say."

The connections of Thought of That are now playing games and insisting that there is no certainty their horse will take his place in the Derby field come the day of the race. Managing part-owner Brae Sokolski, conscious of the potential value of the three-year-old at stud, said he may still be reserved for $2 million Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday week.

“There is merit to both races. We‘re a leader and it is more how the track might play. We’re a leader and that is less in our favour,” Sokolski said. “We need to accept and then make the decision.”

Meech rode Thought Of That in his eight-length Maiden victory when wearing blinkers two starts back and stayed aboard when he romped away with the traditional Derby lead-up – the Norman Robinson Stakes at Caulfield earlier this month.

“Mark’s done as much work as Linda has at home,” Sokolski explained. “Linda is a very good rider in her own right but it is a major Group 1 race, high pressure, and we felt the best chance we had was with a senior jockey with more Group 1 experience.”

The connections have highlighted that Meech, who rode more than 100 winners when Victoria’s leading jockey last season, has one Group 1 win to her credit while Zahra has won 15 at the elite level. They forgot to mention he has had dozens more opportunities.

Meech has a legion of fans who have fired up over the sacking and many will be ‘death riding’ Thought of That in whatever he runs in over the Spring Carnival – and good on them!

Linda did nothing wrong and this is the reward she got. That’s racing!

“I made the decision, it’s the right decision for the horse and the owners, it’s not a decision for the public,” said Sokoslki who earned even less friends with his response which reminded a lot of the Melbourne Cup comment of Michelle Payne ‘they can all get stuffed’.

About 70 percent of Sokolski’s horses were with Darren Weir before the champion and now disgraced trainer was disqualified for four years over the jigger affair earlier this year, and plenty of his horses were then transferred to Chris Waller.

The 43-year-old Melbourne businessman, who is chief investment officer of a real estate finance business, owns or part-owns 70 horses and among them are Yes Yes Yes, Finche, Kings Will Dream, Verry Elleegant and Humidor.

.

FORMER TOP VICTORIAN COUNTRY TRAINER KILLED IN TRUCK SMASH

FORMER top Victorian country trainer Brian Cox has died after a concrete truck he was driving rolled in the north-east of the State.

Wodonga-based Cox was serving a disqualification from training and had turned to truck driving during his ban ahead of being eligible to reapply for his trainers’ licence in May next year.

Affectionately known as the King of Wodonga, Cox followed his father Ollie into training and won his local Cup 11 times, the latest in 2014 with Minnie Downs.

Cox was a regular visitor to Melbourne with one his biggest achievements sharing top honours with John Hawkes as the leading trainer during the 2002 Melbourne Cup carnival.

He was particularly strong in the north-east region of Victoria and the southern districts of NSW while also winning races in South Australia, Queensland and Darwin.

Australian Trainers’ Association chief executive Andrew Nicholl extended his sympathies to Cox’s family. “Ollie was one of the founding life members of the Australian Trainers’ Association and his son went into the racing game and he carried on the legacy in his own way. It’s a shocking loss.”

 

‘SOLUTION TO THE HORSE SLAUGHTER PROBLEM IS CUT BREEDING BY A THIRD - BUT WILL THE RICH & POWERFUL ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN?’

WE received this email from our good mate ARCHIE BUTTERFLY who has weighed into the debate on the urgent changes needed to overcome the disgusting slaughter of Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds so sadly depicted on the ABC 7.30 Report expose which reads: 

‘SADLY your article about Stan Johnston and his views on post-retirement racehorses highlights everything that is wrong with the current industry approach to racing, and the reason that if we are to survive needs to change urgently.

I'm not knocking Stan or his wife Marilyn. Everyone that I know who has met the Johnston's reckons that they are the salt of the earth and a bit of its spice too. The stories about the loved up pair carting bales of hay up to drought ravaged regions to feed the horses there are legendary, and a great credit to both of them, but Stan's views on what you do with horses when their turf burning days are over are old hat, and his failure to see the problem is a blind spot in the eye of a very good man.

Stan doesn't say it in so many words - or you don't anyway Lucky - but the gist I get is that if one of Stan's horses isn't suitable for rehoming, or if it's a no-good for stud stallion that he or someone else doesn't want to pay $500 to geld, then it’s off to the doggers for them.

Lovely, just lovely. Horses are only cattle in this world view, and if it’s cheaper to can them as chump for the Labradors than geld them or retrain them, then it’s a short journey with a quick end to the Caboolture knackery for Trigger and Black Beauty, and chump for the labs they  soon shall be.

Can't Stan see what's wrong with this argument?

I will point it out for him. He's viewing horses as a commodity rather than as living, breathing, feeling beings. I think the Buddhists call them sentient, which translates to if you stick a jigger up their clacker they'll scream, as opposed to a patch of dirt which wouldn't feel the 180 volt jolt.

I know Stan is speaking sense from an old country cockies point of view, and I'm sure he speaks for many about an economic practice that has been going on for a century; but once upon a time they sold black blokes like my kids great-great grandad as slaves on a block too, and the times have changed. 

They have in racing too.

The stories you hear about great horses like Ferdinand, the winner of the '86 Kentucky Derby and the Breeders Cup a year later, ending up at the knackers are nothing short of a disgrace, and the barbaric practices captured by the ABC cameras make every decent minded person sick. It can't go on, and it shouldn't either. It's just foul, there's no other word for it.

Stan claims that everyone wants to have a shot at blokes like him who turn Hi Ho Silver into cheap mince, but that no-one has the answers.

With all due respect to Mr Johnston, that's bullshit.

The first answer is that you make owners responsible for the birth to death welfare of their horses. Treat horses like you do kids; if you breed them, you feed them; from the day they are born until the day they die a natural or necessary due to injury or illness death. What you don't do is allow blokes like Stan to sell their retired racehorses for two hundred bucks and then wash their hands of them.

Stan wants to know how racing can control what happens to a thoroughbred once it leaves the industry and how racing people can be held responsible if it ends up at the glue factory. 

Well the answer is real simple. In some cases like that of poor Laura Cheshire you can't, because she was conned, but when a racing participant sells a horse to a known slaughter spotter like Stan does then it's very easy to hold them accountable when the gee-gee ends up in a can of pet food, because they sold it to the knacker's agent knowing that it would. How can anyone who's flogged a horse off to one of these equine flesh merchants simply look the other way and say it wasn't me? Like I said, it's bullshit.

Just like Stan's claim that racehorse owners could be accused of animal cruelty or threatening the safety of their future owner if they sold a horse that had suffered injuries during its racing career to a child. This is pure piffle. Why would anyone sell an injured horse to a child? It would be rank stupidity, but equally if a horse wasn't injured enough to be put down at the recommendation of a vet, how is it that badly hurt that it needs to be shoved through a mincer? It’s Joh Bjelke-Petersen logic at its very worst.

To get to the real answer you need to start by identifying the problem, and that's something that professional racehorse breeders like Stan Johnston simply don't want to do because they know the mirror will reflect straight back on them.

Why?

Because the problem is that we breed far too many horses, but because folk like Stan make their livings from it and, they like he, don't agree that there needs to be a limit on the number of horses bred.

There does.

The facts taken directly from the Australian Racing Book are these.

About 13,000 foals are bred each year.

Roughly 11,000 of these are ever registered to race.

We've lost 2,000 foals a year before we start.

Where do many of these go? 

Where do you reckon?

The g-g-g-g-g-glue factory.

Then we have the issue of only 35,000 odd horses being in training a year, when based on an average career span of four years there should in fact be 52,000. So where have many of the 17,000 missing horses gone? See above.

We haven't even got to the issue of what we actually do with old horses when they can't run as fast as they used to yet, and we're not going to for the point of this exercise because it's not the most pleasant of thoughts.

What is blindingly obvious though is that we are breeding too many horses, just like then Commissioner of Inquiry MacSporran found the greyhound industry was too, pre-live baiting reform. Cutting the numbers worked for animal welfare at the dogs, and it would work for the gallops too, but there's one big difference that creates a hell of a huge hurdle to getting to where we need to be, and that is that most greyhound breeders are hobbyists or small timers spinning out a couple or three litters, whereas thoroughbred breeders tend in the main to be professionals and often rich and powerful ones too.

It’s all about the spondoolies you see. No-one wants to lose a quid, so instead a host of horses that will never race end up losing their lives at places like the Meramist death house in Caboolture instead.

What's the answer to the problem?

Cut the breeding numbers by a third. It's simple Stan.

So will you be the first to volunteer to drop your services by 33 per cent sir?

I didn't think so.

And there you have it.

The dollar, the horse, or the can?

Giddy up.

Archie

 

PUNTERS ASK: IS WILLIAMS LUCKY HIS NAME ISN’T MELHAM?

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

PUNTERS who follow racing in Victoria closely reckon Craig Williams is lucky his name isn’t Ben Melham.

They are adamant if Melham deserved time on Broadwayandfourth, winner of a Listed Fillies race at the Valley on Saturday, then the same fate should have awaited Williams after his winning ride on Loving Gaby the night before in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes.

Both riders have a legion of fans but the majority of punters believe that when it comes to the benefit of the doubt in allotting careless riding suspensions Melham is more likely to cop a stretch than other top riders like Williams. Who knows why?

Melham pleaded guilty to a careless riding charge in that he permitted Broadwayandfourth to shift in when not clear of Donttelltheboss which resulted in that filly being tightened near the 200m mark.

It was a brilliant ride by Melham and had he not caused very minor interference he probably would not have won but it cost him an eight meeting suspension and a couple of important feature race rides on Derby Day.

Stewards, in assessing penalty, took into account that the incident was ‘in the low range category of carelessness’ along with his guilty plea and good record. Thank goodness it wasn’t regarded as serious which is the reason many believe he should have it reduced on appeal.

But back to our original reason for this criticism of the stipes and has anyone read the their report from the Manikato Stakes?

This is what Stewards said about Bivouac, the hot favorite and greatest certainty beaten since Goliath copped a rock in the head from David:

Bivouac: Held up for clear running from the 300 metres and approaching the 100 metres had to be checked when disappointed for running behind Anaheed and went to the line not fully tested. Rider Kerrin McEvoy reported his mount failed to muster early speed and as result settled further back. A post-race veterinary examination failed to reveal any obvious abnormality.

Were the Melbourne Stewards watching the same race as the rest of us?

In our opinion McEvoy didn’t check over Anaheed’s heels. He got smashed like an avocado by Craig Williams on Loving Gaby, who moved in at least two horse widths and took out Bivouac’s line. It was obvious to many of us – except the stipes it seems.

The punters who watch racing closely have two words to describe it: How ridiculous?

 

COX PLATE: LYS GRACIEUX

YOU’VE never seen a greater certainty in racing.

We tipped you the Japanese second-string superstar Lys Gracieux a week out when you could still get $3.80, and oh what a price it proved to be.

What would Almond Eye have done to them though?

You’d need a pair of binoculars to see.

It makes you wonder what the result would have been if Lys Gracieux or Almond Eye had been opposed to that second rate Cox Plate bunch that wonder mare Winx made look second rate last year. 

 

AUTUMN TENNO SHO: ALMOND EYE

YOU needed binoculars to see her gap them in possibly the best 2000m race in the world, the Group 1 Tenno Sho Autumn in Japan on Sunday.

This mare Almond Eye is as almost as good as Winx and Frankel, and that’s a mighty big wrap.

It’s true though.

What a horse!

 

THE BONDI – A MILLIONS DOLLAR FARCE?

HO HUM.

Even the anointed one Peter V’landys misses some time.

 

THE MELBOURNE CUP

IS it all over before it starts?

The Caulfield Cup winner lands the double, and Damien Lane does what we said he would last week and bags the clean sweep of the big three.

 

CONSTANTINOPLE

IF you fall for the hype on this Melbourne Cup fancy, in our opinion you’re a mug – and probably backed Mr Quickie to win the Moonee Valley Cup on the weekend too.

Lots of horses look unlucky in races, but winners find their own.

You can have this one – if you’re silly enough to listen to the so-called ‘experts’.

 

BRISBANE RACES

A rare city win for the genial young Japanese jockey Noriyuki Masada in the second aboard Partnership, and the first victory in town for up-and-coming trainer Ethan Ensby.

Congratulations to them both.

We also witnessed an absolutely brilliant display of hard riding by Brad Stewart on Bargannon in the seventh. The Van Dyke-trained gelding was never, ever going to get there until the last 10 metres, and it wouldn’t have without Stewart’s vim and vigour. He gets 10 out of 10 for that ride.

Ten out of ten to Baylee Nothdurft for his ride on Macewen in the last race as well. This kid is a great come from behind jockey who week after week judges the pace up front to perfection and pulls his mounts out at the exactly the right time to steam home over the top of them. This ride was an absolute pearler.

Tambo’s Mate and Soxagon were cracking wins, and both gallopers still have a heap of upside.

Sadly, the industry Tommy Drums are beating again after a controversial stable was back in business – not because it won but the easy way their winners bolted in.

 

ADELAIDE

DO they still race there?

 

4TAB – WISH ME LUCK AS YOU WAVE ME GOODBYE

IS LGHR the only media outlet hearing the whispers that the head honchos of Tabcorp down south have drawn the sword on our local Queensland racing radio broadcaster, and that the dream team in the Albion studios are on the way out, to be replaced by a national network?

The mail is that it’s all over by next Easter, and that’s stretching it a bit.

 

TATCEE & THE WALLER STABLE

THIS favourite blew like a gale in the third at Eagle Farm.

Connections advised that the horse would be ridden in a forward position if there was no pace in the race, but after being slow to begin Robbie Fradd settled the horse out the back and decided there was no point in pressing forward until the 500 metre mark. When he did Tactee was forced to go via the cape.

It should have won by panels, but got beaten by a narrow margin and no-one in the Stewards’ room thought to ask the rider why he didn’t scoot around to outside the leader per the notified tactics in a race run so slowly that the time was seven seconds outside the track record.

Unfortunately, the punters have become used to this in south-east Queensland racing.

It’s why nobody but the diehards and the compulsives bet on it anymore.

 

SHOUTING THE BAR AT THE TROTS

WE can’t let Colt Thirty One’s victory in the Swan Hill Cup on Saturday night pass without comment.

Grant Dixon wasn’t seen at his driving best on the Queensland star but got lucky after the leaders went like last week’s pay and ran out of gas in the last 50m. On-course patrons got even luckier because in what is believed to a world first Kevin Seymour shouted the bar for an hour afterwards. Not to worry he can afford it.

Rumour goes he  told the Swan Hill swillers to sip slowly.

 

TUGBY RUIN THEM

THOSE rugger buggers are quick to turn on their own, aren’t they?

Only two months ago the whole old school tie nation was lauding Chicka Cheika as a genius after the Wobblebies beat the All Slacks. Today every Angus and Austin is calling him the worst thing since the Betamax VCR.

He is too, but he’s not alone. The whole rugby world in Australia is rooted.

Raelene Castle’s a joke. She was a joke at the Bulldogs and suggestions she is a top-class sporting CEO have got funnier by the minute.

She has to go.

I don’t know who the selectors are or who is on the Board, but if it’s anyone but John Eales they must go too.

The new Wallabies leadership is a no brainer.

Nobody!

He’s perfect.

John Eales is the only answer. Throw him the reins, give him a nod and a wink and let him go and weave his magic in any way, shape or form he desires. Whatever he does will be good, it always is.

We believe South Africa can beat the Poms 13-plus in the World Cup final.

The $8 on offer is a snip.

 

ANIMAL CRUELTY

We at LGHR despise animal cruelty of any kind and we sympathize with poor Laura Cheshire.

There is not a jockey in the world who does more to rehome retired racehorses than the Northern Rivers rider, but through some cruel twist of fate one of her horses ends up in the mincer.

It’s just not fair.

I guess that’s what a few big-name trainers and breeders will be saying over the next seven days too as the ABC and Fairfax Media slow drip the sensations in the lead up to Cup day.

 

STEVE FLETCHER

The Great Houdini of Australian gambling performs another magical escape.

The court found that a fraud can’t be committed simply by betting through bowler accounts on a race. You must actually rig the race for it to be red hot and Fletcher – who is no George Freeman – didn’t.

Many are saying the laying of the wrong charges against Fletcher was red hot too, but we can’t possibly agree with them.

After all, why would the ever-upright NSW police lay the wrong charge in a case implicating a whole lot of upright NSW police who copped kickers for giving Fletcher their identities and accounts?

It just wouldn’t happen. Ask Roger Rogerson if you don’t believe us.

 

 

HISTORY SHOWS THAT BEING REJECTED AS CHIEF STEWARD AT RQ IS A BOOST FOR YOUR CAREER

IT seems the best thing that can happen to you as a steward is to be rejected by Racing Queensland.

That goes back to the days of Ray Murrihy, who wound up one of racing’s top cops with Racing NSW, only to be followed by Steve Railton (now in a top job in Hong Kong), Alan Reardon (before he went to Sydney and Melbourne before becoming one of the few to return to Queensland) and Terry Bailey (who is now Chief Steward in Singapore after showing an interest in returning to his home state only to be rejected by the powers that be of the time).

The latest to bounce back into a high profile job is Wade Birch, a casualty of the live baiting controversy when he was the Chief Steward for Queensland Racing.

ADAM PENGILLY reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that Racing NSW has moved quickly to appoint Birch as Marc Van Gestel's deputy before the end of Sydney's extended spring carnival.

Birch, who has been on the NSW stewards’ panel since June, will be the second-highest integrity official at Druitt Street having worked on his first The Everest carnival this year.

Van Gestel had been seeking to fill the void since his former deputy, Philip Dingwall, left Racing NSW in August on the eve of the $45 million carnival, which features the world's richest turf race.

Dingwall cited the chance to "pursue other interests" as his reason for leaving Racing NSW.

It came on the back of chief investigator Nathan Hayward leaving for a position outside the racing industry and top bush steward Danny Greer quitting his role.

Van Gestel has been rebuilding his integrity department, which has been complemented by the addition of a detective from NSW Police, who will be working alongside integrity officials at Racing NSW.

With all due respects to what Birch has achieved his quick re-emergence has raised a few eye brows within the racing industry in Queensland. They say Sydney racing needs a hard-hitting steward at the top and Birch certainly wasn't that when he operated in Queensland.

 

QUESTION NONE OF THE SYDNEY SCRIBES ARE ASKING IS WOULD WINX HAVE BEATEN LYS GRACIEUX?

THE doyen of Australian turf writers MAX PRESNELL put an interesting slant on the Cox Plate in his weekly column for FAIRFAX MEDIA but like most of his colleagues none have dared to question whether the Japanese star Lys Gracieux would have test the might Winx in the big race.

Here’s what Max wrote about some worrying signs for Australia’s greatest weight-for-age race:

DESPITE the overwhelming performance by Japan’s Lys Gracieux, more Samurai steel than feminine grace, the Cox Plate, billed as the weight-for-age championship of Australasia, and for mine our best race, is on the wane.

No doubt the inclement weather will be the excuse for a paltry 24,648 that attended on Saturday but Melbourne has never been regarded as a sunshine or balmy capital.

Perhaps the international involvement or the controversies that plague the industry at present are taking a toll compared to when more than 30,000 squeezed into the Valley, certainly bumpy but not a sporting event to be missed because the weird and wonderful circuit brought the best out in the exceptional in-the-round environment.

With few exceptions only champion mares take the Cox Plate: Winx, Sunline, Makybe Diva, Surround (a filly), Tranquil Star and Flight.

Others have been Pinker Pinker (2011) and Dane Ripper (1997), which scored before 35,658. Maybe Lys Gracieux doesn’t rate above the others but tops the lesser pair, particularly as Dane Ripper carried only 54.5kg, the mares’ weight, which has subsequently risen to 57kg.

Obviously Japan produces super-fit racehorses, seemingly more metal than flesh, which have had a better success rate than other races. Lys Gracieux on Saturday was a cog above awesome, emphasised by jockey Damian Lane describing Japanese horses as “beasts”.

Yes, the quality of our WFA types is questionable but there is no doubting the tenacity and potential of three-year-old Castelvecchio, possibly denied a Cox Plate due to the quarantine rules being relaxed so Lys Gracieux could start.

Anyway Richard Litt, the youthful trainer of Castelvecchio, is to be congratulated for having the colt so well tuned. Nothing beats winning but Castelvecchio was more than honourable in defeat in a chapter that lacked the pizzazz and atmosphere of the past. I’ve been to every Plate since Family Of Man (1977 – attendance 34,563) and there’s an intimacy at the Valley Of Champions you don’t get elsewhere.

Once the presentation, inspired by general managers, Ian McEwen and Ralph Brettell, going onto the track built up an atmosphere of expectation but is now lost in other ventures with less impact.

Lys Gracieux cantered down to the start on her own as did Verry Elleegant before the others hustled out of the enclosure.

And the undercard highlighted the Sydney v Melbourne rivalry beginning to bite with the standard of equine action being watered down. International also-rans captured the Moonee Valley Cup and Crystal Mile.

Locals reckon Friday night at the Valley wasn’t flash and the Geelong Cup meeting the previous Wednesday lacked the substance of previous years.

Betting figures, too, have been on the decline but the Moonee Valley Racing Club will get a sizeable kickback from the Japan tote due to them betting on Lys Gracieux.

Another plus was getting to and from the racecourse with the smaller numbers, a breeze compared to previously and the clientele generally more involved with the horses and punt than boozing.

Traditionally, Melbourne has more turf enthusiasts than Sydney, and nowadays they are more mature than the 25-35 demographic cultivated by Racing NSW boss Peter V’Landys.

Of course the Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington, starting on Saturday, is a different scene where the party plays to a different tempo but will indicate how good or bad the turf and battle of the states is going.

 

 

STAN JOHNSTON RECOGNIZES THE PROBLEM BUT ASKS: 'WHAT’S THE ANSWER?'

WHEN popular owner-breeder Stan Johnston speaks the majority of those involved in the Queensland racing industry are happy to listen.

Unlike many other high profile figures Stan isn’t interested in playing politics. His sole mission is the betterment of the industry.

Johnston, who operates Craiglea Stud, is the biggest supporter of bush racing in Queensland and his daughter, Krystle, trains their team of horses. Rarely does a week pass when one bearing the ‘Craiglea’ name doesn’t race in the country or the city.

Stan normally has a solution to racing woes but the 7.30 Report on the slaughter of thousands of thoroughbred rejects has him stumped.

“You tell me the answer,” Johnston said in a phone call to letsgohorseracing. “How do we overcome this problem that needs to be resolved?”

Like many others in racing Stan Johnston has highlighted the fact that those blaming racing as a whole, from the animal liberationists to the media, are happy to criticise but don’t have the answers either.

Stan is happy to disclose what happens with racehorses he breeds or owns that are not suitable for racing or have been retired. He has a buyer who pays $200 for each with the purpose of finding a future life in pony clubs or as an equestrian horse.

“The sad aspect is that not all of these horses are suitable for re-homing. Some have suffered injuries during their racing career and if we sold them on to a child we could be accused of animal cruelty or threatening the safety of their future owner.

“Then you have the colts that have not been gelded. Many of these are not suitable for pony club or equestrian careers either. Castration of horses can cost $500 or more so from a financial aspect that isn’t feasible unless the racing authorities or Government have a fund to pay for it.”

Johnston has witnessed what can happen under the strict animal cruelty laws that now exist in this State. Late last year his involvement with racing went perilously close to ending when he was charged by the Queensland Racing Crime Squad under the Animal Care and Protection Act.

Among the charges were allegations that Johnston was involved in the gelding of two colts ‘without preparatory pain relief’. Stan was stunned and devastated by the charges and insisted he took ‘pain killing measures’. It was greeted with disbelief by those who know him well in the industry as an owner and breeder who ensures his animals are fully and properly cared for.

Johnston fought the charges and subsequently had these dropped. But he is all too aware of the effect the Animal Liberation Movement has had on horse racing.

Like a lot of others involved in the industry he believes it is fine to say fix the problem but what’s the answer? One thing Johnston doesn’t agree with is that there needs to be a limit on the number of horses bred. He also wants to know how racing can control what happens to a thoroughbred once it leaves or how stakeholders can be held responsible if it ends up at the 'doggers'.

Racing is losing a lot of support as a result of the bad publicity it is receiving and there is no doubt the 7.30 Report was timed to coincide with the rich Spring Carnival. The story goes that the ABC has even further revelations to be broadcast on the issue.

High profile personalities are refusing to be associated with horse racing – the most notable Taylor Swift cancelling her appearance on Cup day. Sponsors are walking away – the jockeys no longer have one on their riding pants.

Surf Life Saving NSW turned down the chance for a fundraiser at Randwick's $1 million Bondi Stakes meeting on Saturday after some of its members expressed dismay at horse racing's animal welfare crisis.

The organization was considered a perfect partner to help Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club promote the inaugural race, which has been added to the Sydney spring carnival.

FAIRFAX MEDIA reports there were advanced plans for the race day to be trumpeted in a media call on Bondi Beach, but they were abandoned at the 11th hour. No official agreement had been signed.

It is the latest blow for thoroughbred racing officials, who have been grappling with the fallout from the ABC 7:30 expose about former racehorses being inhumanely slaughtered at a Queensland abattoir.

Surf Life Saving NSW stressed it still wanted to have an association with the racing industry and its decision was only partly made due to animal welfare concerns, but the development is another example of the fight the code faces to placate partner organisations and corporates.

The call is starting to become loud and clear that Government’s need to find a way of funding the re-homing of racehorses but is this project a mission impossible. If Racing NSW can afford to run $14 million races then they should lead the way. The yearling sales, especially those like Magic Millions, need to pay a price as well regardless of the political pull of one of Australia’s richest man, Gerry Harvey, who stands to lose the most. Slaughter houses like the one at Caboolture need to be closed down and those filmed in the 'cruelty' footage need to be dealt with.

The warning bells are already ringing – wait until the once a year punter who only has a bet on Melbourne Cup day gets to express his or her anger and the effects on turnover could be devastating.

     

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