Jenny - Clean


THE national racing spotlight was on Eagle Farm for Stradbroke day where trainers have been critical of the rock hard surface and there were more casualties.

The track played to the on-pacers early then the backmarkers late, which just added to the challenge for punters. Despite the lack of criticism in the mainstream racing media, the Farm was again simply not up to required Carnival standard this Winter and we still have one big meeting to go.

While some of the interstate winners were glowing in their praise of the much-maligned circuit others are shutting up shop and heading home fearing their horses will breakdown on the surface.

Perhaps it’s drawing a long bow to blame the rock hard surface but Lord Belvedere, one of the fancies, was eased right down in the Brisbane Cup; Toffee Tongue was eased out of the race passing the 800m in the Q22 with a hoof injury that may have ended the career of the top mare and Port Louis, one of the fancies in the T J Smith, was lame in the near foreleg (and coughing).

The general opinion is that the Eagle Farm track is nowhere near what it should be for carnival racing – far too hard, too unpredictable, rated by many a ‘horses for course’ venue now.

With Racing Queensland claiming an industry windfall from the new Point of Consumption Tax deal with the Government, there are many stakeholders not as convinced.

They want RQ to outline just how these profits will be distributed – how much individual clubs will receive in extra prizemoney; what will be allocated to infrastructure spending; and a close eye is being kept on what the windfall will mean for the breeding industry.

One critic commented: “With the state of Eagle Farm to be reassessed at the end of the Winter Carnival here’s hoping more millions aren’t poured into that white elephant.”



SURELY a high profile racing administrator in Queensland isn’t about to ‘pull the pin’ and take over as CEO of in Victoria.

That’s the mail emanating from the southern state where it will be hard to fill the shoes of out-going boss Andrew Catterall.

After a sustained period of record growth, the business will transition into the Victorian Thoroughbred Racing Integrated Media Business [VTRIMB] on June 30.

As part of that process, the VTRIMB announced it would hire a CEO for the new business. Catterall decided not to apply.

The Queenslander being touted for the job has the right credentials and many in the industry in the north will throw a big party if he leaves his current overpaid role.



IT’S extremely rare to find an identity in sport, horse or greyhound racing who was universally popular with the rank and file.

But that genuinely applies to Darryl ‘Albert’ Gleeson who will be sadly missed by a legion of friends and fans after losing his battle with cancer.

Darryl, the brother of prominent media man, Peter Gleeson, lived a life loving his mum, Maxine, his brother Peter, his long list of mates and had a passion for greyhound racing and rugby league.

Words cannot describe how much he will be missed by so many.


‘TRACK WAS CRAP TB & YOU KNOW IT’ – QUIT THE SPIN DOCTORING broadcaster Terry Bailey shoots from the hip but didn’t win too many friends in the punting fraternity with his praise for the Sandown Hillside track on Saturday.

Bailey poured bouquets on the work done by Course Curator Tim Bailey and his crew in preparing Sandown for a rare Saturday meeting.

Sadly the Heavy 9 then 8 surface didn’t live up to expectations with the bias especially evident as the day wore on with the last five winners all leading.

Sandown isn’t up to the job if that’s the sort of track that is going to be delivered to punters. It was far from a level playing field. On Saturday’s effort the punters’ post mortem was unanimous: ‘Sell the joint’!



NEW mum Linda Meech admits she's enjoying being back in the saddle, but don't expect her to be riding as often or as many as she used to.

The Group One-winning hoop rode her first winner back at Edenhope on Sunday, almost five months after giving birth to son Anthony.

It didn't take Meech long to score a winner, saluting at just her fifth race ride since returning. Her first ride was for her partner, Anthony's dad Mark Pegus.

The 40-year-old, who is enjoying motherhood, told RSN927: “He's a good little baby, so we are a bit lucky. He's pretty good, most of the time he sleeps well, he might wake up once or twice during the night but that's it. Sometimes he will sleep right through, which is pretty good.”

Meech confessed she won't be hunting for a full book of rides any time soon. “I won't be getting anywhere near as busy as I was before I had the baby,” she said. “I will just see how it works.”



RETIRED Queensland race-caller, Alan Thomas, has been recognised with the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday honours list.

‘AT’, who spent close to half a century behind the microphone, was awarded an OAM for his services to horse racing.

During a broadcasting career, which commenced on the Gold Coast in 1971, Thomas called 34 Stradbroke Handicaps, 22 Magic Millions and countless other feature races. He was also a popular broadcaster of many other sports from rugby league to boxing.

“Alan Thomas is one of the nation’s great broadcasters and is truly deserving of his OAM,” RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said. “Over five decades, he set an incredible standard behind the microphone, and was equally adept whether he was calling a Maiden, a Stradbroke Handicap or a State of Origin decider. When people think of Queensland racing, they often think of AT and he is an incredible ambassador for our industry.”

Thomas, who retired in 2015, told News Ltd: “The honour is a representation of what the Thomas family has been for a long time. My mother and father taught me to have values and work hard and be thoughtful of your fellow man. I've mentored and spent time with young callers to make them as good as they can be.”



AND we finish our BITS & PIECES column this week with an unconfirmed report that the popular Deagon Picnic Meeting set down for the first Sunday in July will not be run this year.

Reports suggest when for some reason sponsors were not permitted to have marquees, even though there are no longer any COVID hot-spots in Queensland, the decision was made to can the event.

More the pity as the non-TAB fixture has proved extremely popular with not only the locals supporting the annual event but also visitors travelling from all parts of Brisbane to attend.

In case we missed some official announcement, it would be nice to hear from RQ what is happening and whether it is an abandonment or postponement.



NEWS of quirky perks being introduced to get GenYs back to the work-place prompted this tongue-in-cheek email from one of our mischievous contributors who wrote:

“Did you hear the one about the major racing organisation that allowed pets to be brought to work?

“Well it seems a Girl Friday of the GenY workforce returned to her desk post COVID with her pet parrot called Bernie.

“Problem is they live in a racing precinct and the parrot, which talks, repeats all the industry gossip.

“There were plenty of red faces when her boss walked through the door and the parrot pinned the tail on the donkey.”




HOW much of the annual $20 million windfall racing in Queensland will supposedly receive under the new Point of Consumption Tax formula will be allocated to prizemoney?

That’s the question the industry and stakeholders are asking after it was suggested the bonanza would be spread across extra prizemoney, infrastructure, breeding schemes and club funding.

RQ CEO Brendan Parnell stood on his ‘spin doctor’ box boasting how this new ‘performance-based’ formula would prove a massive winner for racing in Queensland but forgot to mention how it would be distributed.

This is what some of our contributors, including owners and trainers, want to know ASAP:

How much of this money will be spent on infrastructure – and does that include more work on the Eagle Farm track and a major contribution to facilitate night racing on the Gold Coast?

Does it mean the breeding industry will get yet another pot of gold scheme when many feel that section already receives far more than it deserves from funds that should go to prizemoney?

Could more information be provided on what will be allocated to club funding and which particular clubs will benefit the most?

Importantly, what will this mean for the minor codes and will the greyhounds once again be back-seated by the under-performing harness racing sector, not to mention the ‘elephant in the room’ – Albion Park?

This POC announcement is too light on detail and too heavy on promises. More information is desperately needed before racing in Queensland cracks out the champagne.

Most clubs and stakeholders – barring the Brisbane Racing Club – would agree that the Gold Coast has earned an upgrade and more stand-alone Saturday meetings.

Part of this has to facilitate night racing. What better venue could you ask for with the backdrop of the Surfers skyline, a readymade tourist audience and so close to the CBD?

No-one wanted to listen when ahead-of-his-time Chairman Andrew Eggleston pushed to have lights installed but was howled down not only by the RQ bosses of the day who had it in for him politically but also some of his Turf Club colleagues who were in bed with them.

Well the time has arrived and the Point of Consumption Tax windfall coincides with a $38 million commitment to the redevelopment of the Gold Coast Turf Club with lights set to be installed to facilitate night racing on the glitter strip.

Lights will appease the wishes of Magic Millions maestro Gerry Harvey who wants to hold a race meeting during the Winter Carnival to coincide with one of his major sales on the Gold Coast.

If that was granted in the current climate it would mean the Brisbane Racing Club having to forfeit a major Saturday when they currently run the Oaks meeting. A means of dodging that crap fight for RQ would be the installation of lights allowing a Friday night Oaks-eve meeting on the Coast.

But sadly – for an industry full of doubters – therein lies another controversy. Many are asking if one of the major reasons for the introduction of night racing is to satisfy the wishes of Gerry Harvey then should he not contribute something toward the cost. After all – with the help of RQ and the Government – plenty is being ploughed into his private enterprise Magic Millions Company in the name of tourism dollars during the busiest season on the Gold Coast when visitors arrive in droves – only a percentage of them for the races and sales.        

To make matters worse billionaire Harvey, the Chairman of Harvey Norman, has defied political pressure to pay back an estimated $22mn in job-keeper after the retailer’s profits more than doubled during the pandemic. (And that's in Australia without mentioning what happened across the Ditch).

The furniture, electrical and white goods retailer reported that first-half sales climbed 25% and contributed to a net profit after tax of more than $462mn for the last six months of 2020 – up 116% on the same time period in the previous year.

Harvey Norman said it would pay dividends totaling $249mn, of which Harvey is set to receive $78mn due to his 31.4% shareholding in the company.

“Australian taxpayers gave Harvey Norman and franchisees $22mn in job-keeper,” Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh said. “They don’t need a cent of it. Firms with far smaller profits have already paid back their job-keeper funds. At a time in which one million Aussies are out of work, taxpayers shouldn’t be supporting a billionaire – time to pay it back, Gerry.”

Companies that have paid back job-keeper payments after recovering from the coronavirus crisis include Nine Entertainment, Domino’s, Super Retail Group and Toyota.

When queried by 3AW’s Tom Elliott on whether businesses had a moral obligation to return Job-keeper payments in light of increased profits, Harvey said “it all depends on the business and where the Job-keeper money went”.

“[It] went to areas of our business that was suffering at the time. It’s not as if it went to Harvey Norman regular shops, that didn’t happen. We took a view that the businesses that got the Job-keeper money desperately needed it and the ones that didn’t need it, didn’t get it.”

Questions remain how did Harvey Norman quality for Job-keeper and why does Magic Millions receive so much industry and Government support in Queensland each January when the profits go into the pockets of one of the country's richest men?

Perhaps, in the interests of an industry that returns so much to him, ‘Genial’ Gerry might like to pay to ‘light up his world’ on the Gold Coast and save the industry that burden at least. Racing certainly doesn’t need to be subsidizing Mr Harvey.



WIND back the clock a little over a year and Linda Meech was the most high profile female jockey in the land.

Her decision to take a year off and have a child saw the emergence of Jamie Kah who continues to break all records and has become a pin-up girl for the industry in this country.

Meech has made a quiet comeback but capped that on Sunday winning the Aspley Cup at Edenhope on the Maher-Eustace trained Last Week which she rode perfectly to upstage the favorite Tan Check.

It was the Linda’s first win since April last year, after which she took an extended period of time out of the saddle in the lead up to the birth of her first child, Anthony Wilbur Pegus, in January.

The dual Group 1 winner returned to race riding only last month, with Sunday’s win coming at only her sixth ride back.

The Apsley Cup was marred by a horror fall involving apprentice Carlee Hefel, who has endured the extreme highs and lows of her profession in the space of 24 hours.

Hefel, who rode a double at Sandown on Saturday, was taken to hospital complaining of jaw pain where she underwent scans and further observation.

The Meech comeback win was overshadowed by the Swan Hill riding performance of Dean Yendall who partnered five of the nine winners including the Cup on Adelaide Ace.



INDUSTRY sources have welcomed the news that the Labor Government has finally conceded the merger of the Queensland TAB in 2018 has been a rank failure.

This follows the announcement of a new funding formula designed to diversify revenue streams to Racing Queensland with a catch – it will be performance based on turnover.

The Courier-Mail has confirmed that RQ’s return from the State Government will be tied to performance after brokering a deal which will see 35 per cent of revenue from the Point of Consumption Tax returned to the industry.

TRENTON AKERS reports that the agreement, which rolls together two current expiring deals is expected to return around $20mn extra a year which will be spread across extra prize money, infrastructure, breeding schemes and club funding.

Previously, RQ was simply allocated Government money out of general revenue as opposed to performance-based returns from the POC Tax which has been more fruitful than first expected.

Figures show Queensland’s POC Tax returned $118mn to State coffers last year while it is projected to reach $150mn by 2023-24.

But the catch is the new model means the amount of money redirected back to the industry is dependent on turnover. Those critical of the policing of racing in Queensland say punters have walked away in droves which will hardly boost betting pools. 



LIKE beer off the wood at the Breakfast Creek pub, Eagle Farm’s Stradbroke Handicap has always been quaintly Queensland and an acquired taste.

MAX PRESNELL from FAIRFAX MEDIA, the veteran SYDNEY racing scribe & regular visitor to the BRISBANE CARNIVAL writes that a battle ground for greats with big fields and navigational skills at a premium, the Stradbroke requires bold tactics. The touch of Rachel King handling local sprinter Vega One, who ticks all the credential boxes, will be on show on Saturday.

Going back to 1890 the sprint, now 1400 metres, is champion shy. The last great horse (a cog below the elite category) to score was Rough Habit in 1992. Rough Habit carried the equal metric weight record of 58.5kg and came from gate 20 under Jim Cassidy for whom, unlike modern-day counterparts, a wide barrier held no fears.

Rough Habit won the 1995 O’Shea Stakes, which is now the group two The Q22 (2200m), but hardly with the fanfare of Zaaki, who produced a contender for best performance of the season in demolishing the Doomben Cup last start.

However, the key factor could be the Eagle Farm surface, which was rated by Brisbane wise guys as being harder on the hoof and possible tender joints than the more forgiving Doomben.

Already Zaaki’s trainer, Annabel Neasham, who has had success in the saddle in the Mongol Derby over steppes and distance that would test a trail bike, hopes that water falls on Eagle Farm, either from clouds or irrigation.

Certainly Friday’s Good 4 was made to order for Vega One, which was triumphant last start over the Eagle Farm 1300m on May 29 under Jamie Kah, for which she received the “ride of the year” accolade from Best Bets.

Mind you, had she been beaten it would have been one of the “no luck” bleats as she was in all sorts of trouble before getting out.

Kah, the Melbourne-based South Australian, is an immense talent gifted with the knack that horses respond magnificently for her. Due to Covid, she is stranded down south thus King – developed in Sydney by Gai Waterhouse after struggling in the UK – is in the Vega One hot seat to become the first of her gender to take the Stradbroke.

To my eye, the King poise fits the saddle better but nothing beats winning and that’s where Kah, perhaps not as refined, shines. Kah jumped Vega One from 13; King has four. The five-year-old drops from 59kg last start to 54kg today and has two successes from four attempts over the Eagle Farm 1400m. One of the defeats was fourth in the Stradbroke last year, downed under a length after launching from barrier 15.

It’s a star-studded program, although the 3200m Brisbane Cup must have a slippery grip on group 2 status considering there were only seven acceptors including Knights Order, a promising Irish-bred from the Waterhouse-Adrian Bott stable who could hit a new high after winning at Rosehill last Saturday.

The hard surface could be a query for Knights Order, but not so for stablemate Converge in the group 1 J.J. Atkins considering his strong second in the Sires Produce (1400m) on a good four ground at Eagle Farm last start when beaten 0.2 of a length by Tiger Of Malay, which is a major rival again today over the metric mile.

Converge should have won. Expected to be on the pace, the gelding came from the rear and stewards reported he was “momentarily held up for clear running passing the 300 metres”; more chopped out and jagged around heels, the difference between “ride of the day” and dismal defeat.

And what’s beer off the wood at the Breakfast Creek? Timber kegs are placed on the bar counter and poured to perfection, prompting the question of wouldn’t the brew get hot in the Brisbane heat.

“You don’t think it would last that long,” was the answer.



THERE are plenty of people who whinge and whine about what is happening in the three codes of racing in Queensland but do nothing about it.

JIM MUNRO, who has been following the industry for longer than most care to remember, is the exception. When he perceives something to be wrong Jim seeks out answers.

Munro, a former harness administrator now well and truly into retirement but as alert as ever, recently asked the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission to provide reasons for a decision made on an Internal Review.

He wrote: “I make this request based on the QRIC policy which states inter alia:-

“In line with the Queensland Government’s principles of transparency and accountability, the Commission provides access to information wherever it is in the public interest to do so.”

As a result of what many would consider was an unacceptable response from QRIC – in keeping with the ‘secrecy that surrounds’ some inquiries conducted by Chief Steward Peter Chadwick, here is what JIM MUNRO had to say on the popular Racehorse Talk Forum which he has allowed us to republish as follows:

‘WE all know that stewards’ reports into breaches of the Rules of Racing are published in all jurisdictions and that Queensland is the only State which has an Internal Review process available to licensees who feel aggrieved.
Initially all Internal review decisions including reasons were published on the QRIC website.....but this was dispensed with a couple of years ago.....presumably on legal now only the applicant is advised of the reasons for decision.... the rest of us, the stakeholders who fund both the industry and the QRIC, receive the abbreviated result minus the reasons for the decision.

Attempts to convince the QRIC that this is not in accordance with acceptable standards of public policy has fallen on deaf ears.

In attempting to justify this secrecy they maintain that they provide transparency and accountability by only publishing the outcome of the decision on the Commission’s website for a period of six months.

Not providing  reasons is their distorted version of transparency and accountability which they attempt to justify by referring to the Information Privacy Act 2009, which Queensland public sector agencies, with the exception of Queensland Health, are required to comply with.
Under these Principles, QRIC considers it would not be appropriate for the Commission to disclose information about other individuals.

Note to the QRIC head honcho: They already do make information public on persons dealt with in the published Stewards’ reports.

While on the one hand stewards’ findings are public knowledge but Internal Review reasons are not for public consumption... this is a massive contradiction depriving the public of a right to know.

It's a fundamental principle that administrative decision-makers are required to act according to natural justice... Law Courts all provide reasons for decisions although I believe judges do have the discretion not to publish their judgments.... mostly though all decisions are publicly available.

What the QRIC  appear to have done is they have made an
administrative decision not to publish the reasons on Internal Review outcomes...this is not a right based on my understanding of the legislation that QRIC operates under....which opens their decision up to be challenged.

The reasons which motivate me to challenge this failure to disclose reasons is that a few months ago a licensee was charged with a breach of AR 232(I) which states:

A person must not give any evidence at an interview, investigation, inquiry, hearing and/or appeal which is false or misleading
In that case the stewards report stated “
When considering an appropriate penalty, Stewards also considered previous penalties for breaches of this rule.”   

An application for an Internal Review confirmed the stewards’ decision – a four months’ disqualification.

There was another case of a breach of the same rule which resulted in the licensee being penalized with a fine which is a much lesser penalty than the disqualification imposed on the person first mentioned.

An application was made to the QRIC for details of all penalties imposed under AR232(i) for the past 12 months....based on the following statement of principle which is trumpeted by the QRIC:

“In line with the Queensland Government’s principles of transparency and accountability, the Commission provides access to information wherever it is in the public interest to do so.”

This request was the option is to apply under Right to Information for this to be provided......a whole lot of unnecessary effort and time wasting for all concerned ...which the QRIC would have avoided by responding positively in the first instance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: WHILST they are under fire for what QRIC costs to operate not to mention a CHIEF STEWARD who lacks the confidence needed from the punting public, one could argue that this organisation (which LGHR has supported since its creation) needs to remember who pays the bills. It is time that they stopped operating in secrecy ‘under the dome’ when it suits and started providing and meeting their required principles of transparency and accountability.  



POPULAR and respected radio host RAY HADLEY shares the opinion of many critical of Racing Queensland on so many issues and highlights why there is a target pinned to the back of the ‘half million dollar man’, CEO Brendan Parnell.

This harks back to the sweetheart deal that was allegedly done with David Fowler when he was Chairman of the Albion Park Harness Racing Club involving the sale of that complex and a contract with SKY which would have seen Josh Fleming removed as Queensland race-caller had it not been for the intervention of Hadley.

Few would argue that Hadley has joined the legion of racing followers who want Parnell removed as RQ CEO but their calls are falling on deaf ears with ‘Pins’ – as he has been labelled by Archie Butterfly on – not only retaining his absurdly-paid $500,000-a-year job but also recently securing an unbelievable pay rise and an extension of his contract for another 12 months.

As most would be aware when Hadley goes into bat on an issue in Queensland racing – or elsewhere for that matter – the right people seem to listen. Here’s hoping they do after he joined what has proved an unwinnable fight to overcome a lack of jockeys at bush meetings.

Greg Blanchard has championed this battle for years – to the extent when officialdom now see him coming they run for the hills. He is one of many who have sent an SOS to Hadley hoping he can help.

The popular radio identity, who doesn’t adopt the ‘suck up and survive’ mentality of many in the mainstream media and refuse to constructively criticize people in high places in racing, questioned why nothing is being done about the lack of bush jockeys on his 4BC Morning Show today.

He raised the statistics LGHR published from Greg Blanchard this week about the unacceptable number of horses (nine, including emergencies) that had to be scratched from the Bowen meeting on Saturday because no riders were available and also where Stewards had to bend the Rules to allow one runner to be ridden 1.5kg overweight.

“I keep getting emails from people in country racing in Queensland where there is a dramatic shortage of riders,” Hadley told his legion of listeners.

“Why is that so?”

Hadley explained that Racing Queensland had imposed some Rule for quite some time that prevented riders from other parts of the world, including Japan, coming to Queensland while they could go to other parts of the country.

“Since August 1 2020 there have been 330 horses scratched from country racetracks because no rider was available,” he said, citing the Bowen meeting last Saturday as the latest casualty.”

Hadley said: “I’ve had this complaint lodged with me before. RQ and their erstwhile boss seem incapable of solving the problem. They should go to the Federal Government and say we need some help on this issue but they haven’t dealt with it.

“Compare the RQ CEO to people who are running racing in NSW and Victoria and you have Brendan Parnell and Peter V’landys. They are miles apart. One is a very capable top flight administrator and the other is Brendan Parnell.”





WE hear on the grapevine that Rion Hitchiner is moving on from his thankless job as Chairman of Stewards in Toowoomba.

But those punters who have been calling for fresh blood to police the basket case of TAB racing in south-east Queensland had no influence on the decision.

Hitchiner has been promoted and we understand will take over as Chief Steward at the Gold Coast where Paul Gillard, the ‘I’ve been everywhere Man’ of QRIC, has ended a short-lived stint and moved to the newly-created role of Chief Stipe in Cairns (they don’t have racing on Thursday Island).

The $64,000 question is who will get the gig on the Downs where few would disagree a no-nonsense, kick a few heads, experienced steward is desperately needed to clean the joint up. (No chance of ‘Pete the Plodder’ moving to colder climes). Most would agree that punters lost confidence betting there long ago.

There is only one place rated lower than the Toowoomba gallops when it comes to integrity in the eyes of the long-suffering Queensland punters and that is the ‘red hots’ at Albion Park where most punters insist a new panel is overdue.

Interestingly, a prominent form student and harness punter who’d had a gutful of what he claims is happening at the Creek, recently took his gripes to QRIC and was given a good hearing. He outlined what he and many others perceive to be the ‘rorts’ that are going on there and was given an assurance that these concerns would be investigated.

The results were almost instantaneous with this supplementary Stewards’ Report from the Albion Park meeting on Saturday night addressing one of the major issues he raised about handicapping. It reads:

STEWARDS conducted an inquiry into the second placing of Claudys Prince in race 10 the SKY Racing Discretionary Handicap at Albion Park on 22 May when starting from a front line handicap. Investigations revealed Claudys Prince won a metropolitan grade race in Victoria in 2019 and therefore should have been handicapped off 10 metres. Acting under AHR 64, Claudys Prince was disqualified from its second placing on May 22 and Stewards directed the placings be amended accordingly. Stewards did not take any action against trainer Jack Butler in this matter and Racing Queensland handicappers advised of revised protocols to ensure against a reoccurrence of this type of error.



MUCH has been written by our colleague ARCHIE BUTTERFLY on his subscriber only website about the treatment of promising apprentice Cody Collis who was reportedly fined $500 for taking the wrong claim.

Plenty believe he has been a scapegoat for mismanagement by higher bodies and here’s what one lady had to say about the issue in an email to LGHR:

“STORY goes it was (Chief Steward) Peter Chadwick who gave the direction to stewards state-wide not to utilize the Apprentices’ Winning Rides Books anymore and simply rely solely on the data provided by Racing Australia. Well at Bundaberg they did that and Racing Australia was incorrect, hence the kid was allowed to claim 3kg instead of 2kg – then he gets fined for making a mistake that was someone else’s.”



GREG BLANCHARD is back onthe warpath about the inaction of Racing Queensland in the lack of riders in the bush. He wrote:

“I really wanted to give this away but here I am still fighting.

Bowen had a TAB meeting at the weekend where five starters had to be scratched because there were no available riders.

At the same meeting in Race 1 Milky Rocket was ridden 1.5kg over and in Race 5 Mishani Fortune .05 over (both by Carl Spry).

I notice that the Stewards’ Report read that Milky Rocket being ridden 1.5kg over was due to a critical jockey shortage. That says it all.

Now all we need to know is why heads have not rolled at Racing Queensland over this on-going problem – and please don’t blame COBID – it has been happening for years.”



LGHR keeps getting contributors telling us that something is wrong behind-the-scenes at the Rockhampton Jockey Club and we would inquire about this from Racing Queensland but they don’t respond to websites like ours because we criticize too often and too constructively.

Well here’s a letter that has been distributed to stakeholders by Tony Fenlon, CEO of the Rockhampton Jockey Club, who we are told has done a fantastic job since taking over that role.

It reads:

“I would just like to inform you personally that I have resigned from my position as CEO of the Rockhampton Jockey Club.

My resignation letter was delivered to my Executive Committee on Tuesday 4th May with a finishing date of Friday 16th July.

The Club is in a very sound position on many fronts and I see no reason why racing here in Rockhampton won’t continue to prosper.

I would like to thank you good folk for all your support and guidance over the past five years, it has been an absolute pleasure to work with each of you over this time. As I informed my full Committee last night I will continue to deliver what’s best for our Club until the day I finish and that includes making the 2021 Winter Racing Carnival a memorable one for all who attend.

Hope to see some of you in Rocky over our Carnival, and I wish you Folk all the best with your own Carnivals this year 2021.”

THE only thing missing from the Fenton letter is why he has decided to move on.



THE battleground that is Eagle Farm continues to claim more victims because of the hardness of the track and it’s simply not good enough for officialdom to hide behind the coat-tails of top trainer Tony Gollan basically telling visitors to like it or lump it.

Gollan, who has enjoyed Group and Listed success on Derby and Oaks days, has emerged as a surprise ‘spin doctor’ for the beleaguered track warning interstate trainers they are going to have to come to grips with constant firm decks at the Farm.

Sadly he has proven a bit of a voice crying in the wilderness upsetting not only his visiting colleagues but also some of the locals rather than joining the call for something to be done to stop horses that race there from pulling up lame or even suffering injuries.

On both Derby Day and Oaks Day the Stewards have reported runners pulling up lame. Rather than face the embarrassment of the first major Saturday at the Farm when RQ vets cleared three topliners to run only to see them pull up lame, the Australasian Oaks winner Media Award was ruled out of the Queensland classic on Saturday morning.

That prompted the course proper and grass training track to come under fire from a part-owner of the filly, Andrew Vinecombe, who told that Media Award had been injured while working at Eagle Farm during the week.

“We went up there without a race so we can only put it down to the surface,” Vinecombe said. “It was way too hard for that track gallop on Tuesday and it’s a bit disappointing that we’ve got Group 1 racing but they haven’t produced a Group 1 track for trackwork.

“I am just lining up with some other people this week that have probably had a bit to say about the track. It’s not ideal they are not producing Group 1 tracks for Group 1 racing and trackwork.”

It had been planned for Media Award to go straight into the race without a gallop on the Eagle Farm track, but the COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne meant the filly had to leave for Brisbane a week early.

“We spent $30,000 on getting her up there but we’ll just head out to the paddock now,” said Vinecombe, who manages the Harry Mac syndicate.

The firmness of the Eagle Farm track cannot simply be ignored when there has been a volley of complaints. When a number of horses pulled up sore after Derby day, trainer Wayne Hawkes was critical of the surface during “Wayne’s World” on RSN Central.

Desleigh Forster told Racing Pulse the track had been “very firm” when her three-year-old Apache Chase upset hotpot Ayrton in the Fred Best Classic and Mike Moroney, who is headed to Saturday’s Stradbroke with top mare Tofane, confirmed he had received mixed reports about the track.

LGHR received this email after Saturday’s racing from the owner of a horse that started, jarred up and has been sent for a spell. For obvious reasons this person did not want to be identified but we know who it is, the horse in question and the top jockey who rode it.

“ON Saturday I had the pleasure of having a runner at Eagle Farm on the rated Good 4 track.

To my surprise while speaking to the rider of my horse pre-race (who is a Multiple Group One winning jockey) he informed me that the track was extremely firm and that he would have to ride the horse forward as in his opinion not too many horses would be able to make ground on the hard surface.

I was not surprised when he returned to the enclosure and stated that the horse raced extremely well and was happy with the way he performed but he said the horse did not want to fully extend on the racing surface.

On return to the stables the horse was extremely sore and had to be treated by the vet and now will have to be turned out for a spell. The vet’s diagnosis was that the horse had jarred up badly.

Considering the whole of the Brisbane racing fraternity is aware of the condition of Eagle Farm, my question is this: When will it stop?

They say it’s a level playing field. That’s bullshit.”

While the mainstream racing media in Queensland seems content to dodge this contentious issue heading into Saturday’s major Stradbroke meeting, that wasn’t the case on Melbourne radio on Saturday morning.

RSN Racing Editor Matt Stewart calls a spade a spade and had former Courier-Mail Racing Editor Nathan Exelby, who now works jointly for SKY Channel and the Brisbane Racing Club promoting Queensland racing, doing a far bit of squirming.

Stewart reminded Exelby that trainers were far from happy with the Eagle Farm track and questioned whether it would need to be dug up and replaced yet again. Of course, he didn’t get a straight answer with Exelby suggesting that the top jockeys from Sydney had all felt it played well the week before. Let’s not delve any further into his Pinocchio performance and propaganda pitch.

Here’s hoping the track isn’t a disaster for the third week in a row – Stradbroke day deserves better. So do the stay-at-home punters – and reports suggest there were plenty missing from the Farm on Oaks day – when SKY provided second rate coverage of the meeting.

Here’s what one of our contributors had to say about that situation:

“WHEN SKY Central was launched we were promised that it would showcase the major meetings from Australia and overseas. We can’t even get them to showcase the big carnival days in Queensland. The only thing SKY Central is interested in showcasing is Sydney racing and the secondary TAB meeting in NSW which few people outside of NSW care about. The SKY coverage of Oaks day when we should have been focussed on the winners and the post-race action was a disgrace or more appropriately a non-event. What’s the point of having such a big team in the north covering the major meeting if it plays a backseat role to Newcastle or some other non-event secondary meeting outside Sydney? It’s almost as silly has flying a bloke from Townsville to host the Sunday coverage at Toowoomba, Ipswich and Gatton when locals like Bernadette Cooper and Michael Maxworthy are sitting around doing nothing. Whatever did happen to the RQ-SKY deal with Sam Hyland?”



ENOUGH is enough!

HOW much longer will racing in Queensland tolerate this second rate treatment from SKY Channel?

The punters had a gutful long ago. It’s time for the weak-kneed officials to stand up for their rights.

On one of the biggest days of the racing calendar in Queensland, the Oaks meeting played second fiddle to a second rate, TAB support meeting in NSW – this time at Newcastle.

The Oaks field had hardly passed the winning post adding another chapter to the Cummings family success story with Bart’s grandson, Edward, winning his first Group 1 with Duais, when SKY switched its coverage straight to Newcastle.

No, it wasn’t to watch a race that was about to be run – it was to hear ‘Dad & Dave (sorry Dora) do the mounting yard preview of a Benchmark 68 race.

The aftermath of the Oaks – an interview with trainer Edward Cummings – was put on hold. “We’ll be back after Newcastle,” host Greg Radley told SKY viewers, many of whom kicked their TV sets across the room - yet again.

Adding insult to injury those who thought quickly enough to switch across to the Network Seven coverage would have seen Radley do the interview with Cummings that was repeated later on SKY – after the mounting yard preview, the late mail, the race at Newcastle and a post-race interview had been conducted.

It was tantamount to SKY saying next week if the Stradbroke was held up while a horse is re-shod: “The Eagle Farm race will be seen on SKY 2 while we give priority to the near-Sydney secondary TAB meeting in NSW.”

If SKY just wants to provide wall-to-wall coverage of racing in NSW – what many believe was promised to them by CEO Peter V’landys – then don’t crap in the face of racing in Queensland, its punters, followers and administrators who have been so loyal over the years. Let share the coverage. You don’t see the Victorian broadcaster treating its coverage partner – South Australian racing – in the same disgraceful way to accommodate the secondary Victorian TAB meeting on the day.


Program the secondary NSW race meeting each Saturday on SKY 2. But that’s not going to happen.

Otherwise provide enough space after each Queensland carnival race is run to cover the aftermath even if it means showing a replay of the provincial meeting in NSW. But certainly don’t insult Group 1 races by snubbing post-race coverage while a mounting yard preview of some non-event race takes preference.

We understand that SKY determines the race timetable. Well, it’s time that was taken away from the dills who are obviously under instruction to ensure it doesn’t in any way effect wall-to-wall coverage of Sydney and NSW provincial meetings.

There were times today (Saturday) when races at Rosehill clashed with Morphettville Parks. So much for ensuring the best coverage or more importantly premium turnover. Punters prefer to watch races they bet on live and not to have them clash you morons.

Here’s an issue that John Messara might take up immediately he steps behind the desk as Chairman of Racing Australia – it will show that he is prepared to ensure from the start that racing in this country is a level playing field – and not run by NSW and SKY Channel.

As for the Stradbroke meeting next weekend, the BRC needs to have a quiet chat behind the scenes with SKY and fire a few shots across their bow about what might happen to that newly-acquired contract if their biggest meeting of the year doesn’t attract the coverage it deserves.




ZAAKI is the most exciting horse in the land and – heaven forbid – if he breaks down on the controversial Eagle Farm track some say connections should seek damages from Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club.

Were the prayers of officialdom answered with the drenching that occurred during the day and overnight or will the ‘Farm’ once again be in the ‘too hard’ basket for the Queensland Oaks meeting.

It could be argued that Group 1 winners Gytrash, Savatiano and Savatoxl, all of which pulled up to some degree lame after last weekend’s Kingsford Smith Cup, should not have been vet cleared to run.

Victorian filly Media Award, winner of the Australasian Oaks at Morphettville, faces a similar vet test before contesting the Queensland classic. Here’s hoping history doesn’t repeat.

It’s fine for top Queensland trainer Tony Gollan to declare that visiting trainers have to come to terms with Eagle Farm’s new, firm profile and that it is a “horses for courses track.” But would he share the same views had stablemates Vega One and Jonker not quinellaed the Kingsford Smith but pulled up lame instead.

As MATT STEWART reported for RSN Racing & Sport in Melbourne:

A welcome drenching in Brisbane cannot shroud mounting grumblings over the state of the Eagle Farm track.

A number of horses jarred up badly on the beleaguered track last Saturday and Victorian filly Media Award must pass a vet test (at 10am Friday) to be cleared to contest Saturday’s Queensland Oaks, in which she is an $8.50 chance.

Media Award galloped on the inside grass at Eagle Farm on Tuesday – also reported by many to be too firm – and she concerned stewards when they inspected her today (Thursday).

Media Award’s trainer Chris Calthorpe said he did not want to buy into the “politics” of the condition and watering program of the track but confirmed that stewards became concerned about Media Award’s soundness after her gallop on Tuesday.

“She’s always been a bit scratchy, like a lot of horses, but that’s just been her. But the stewards think she’s lame and that’s where we’re at,” Calthorpe said.

Zaaki’s trainer Annabel Neasham has joined a growing chorus of condemnation of Eagle Farm, which has been beset by problems for years.

But Neasham said she was concerned by the firmness of the track and questioned whether it received enough irrigation. She said it appeared some horses did not let down on the track.

“Zaaki is heading there but I would certainly like them to put a lot more water on it than they did the other day,” she told Racenet. “They put 6mm on it last Friday? Come on … it needs more than that – that is not enough, is it?

“The feedback I have had from the jockeys who have ridden my horses there is they have certainly said it is very, very firm.

“Zaaki likes firm tracks but Eagle Farm now seems to be very much a horses for courses track, some horses simply don’t like the firmness there and they don’t let down.”

Others have been more scathing and it remains to be seen if the new track, which was first laid back in 2014, will survive this wave of criticism and remain or be ripped up and replaced.

One Brisbane trainer said: “It doesn’t matter how much water you put on it or how much rain falls on it, it still comes up way too hard.”




GIRL POWER rules in Queensland these days where the Premier, Police Commissioner and Racing Minister are all high profile and well respected women.

The mail is strong that the Labor Government is head-hunting a leading lady lawyer to take over as Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner.

Jen O’Farrell, the Chief Executive Officer of the Crime and Corruption Commission, created a big impression in the important role she played alongside CCC Chairman Alan MacSporran during the Queensland Greyhound Industry Commission of Inquiry.

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission was created out of the recommendations of the MacSporran Report and whispers from within the Government suggest Ms O’Farrell would have his strong backing should she accept an offer to take the job.

Racing Minister Grace Grace is under pressure to fast-track the appointment of a new Commissioner following the decision of Mark Ainsworth to retire. He has been in an Acting role since Ross Barnett quit late last year to head up the team investigating allegations of misconduct by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

Ainsworth was seen as the right fit for the Commissioner’s job and many in racing were disappointed to hear that he had decided to ‘retired for family reasons’. But the job has proved a poison chalice for the two ‘top cops’ who have battled all sorts of problems from the time QRIC came into existence.

To many it seems unfair that the QRIC Commissioner receives an annual salary of only $350,000 when the Racing Queensland CEO is on more than $500,000 and reportedly has just had his contract renewed for another year when many in the industry are far from happy with his performance.

Ms O’Farrell certainly has the right credentials to be QRIC Commissioner. Prior to commencing at the CCC in July 2015, she assisted the Commission of Inquiry into the regulation of the Queensland Greyhound Racing Industry as the Commission’s Executive Director.

This role allowed her to combine her experience in law, risk management, corporate governance, workforce management and organisational strategy.

She gained this experience through more than 15 years in both the public and private sectors, including as the General Manager, Strategy and Renewal and Director Legal Services at the Depatment of Transport and Main Roads, and as a solicitor with Corrs Chambers Westgarth lawyers.

Ms O’Farrell’s professional achievements include the success of the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ Innovation Strategy; Putting ideas into action. This strategy was developed and led by Ms O’Farrell in 2014 and won that year’s Australian Human Resources Institute Fons Trompenaars Award for Innovation and Creativity.

She has a Bachelor of Laws, a Beacher of Commerce and a Bachelor Business and was admitted as a solicitor in the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2008.

Her skills are certainly needed at QRIC and the racing industry should be thankful for having a lady with her background and experience should the mail be right that Ms O’Farrell is being head-hunted for the job.    




THE mail is strong that MARK AINSWORTH has resigned as Acting Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner before his almost certain permanent appointment to the role.

LGHR understands that Mr Ainsworth has told colleagues he has decided to retire from July for ‘health and family reasons’.

Mr Ainsworth (pictured above) has been a popular replacement since taking over as Acting Commissioner late last year when Ross Barnett moved on to head a Government-appointed team investigating serious allegations of gross misconduct by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

A former Detective Superintendent in the Queensland Police Service, with more than 38 years’ service, Mr Ainsworth was a Detective for 33 years. He has worked on three Royal Commissions including the Fitzgerald Commission of Inquiry into Police Corruption where he investigated matters of corruption and misconduct in public office, the Queensland Flood Commission of Inquiry where he led the investigation of the 2011 flood event, and The Trade Union Royal Commission leading the joint Queensland Police Service/Australian Federal Police Task Force investigating corruption in trade unions. 

Mr Ainsworth ran the Queensland Office of the Australian Crime Commission where he headed the   High-Risk Crime Groups Determination, overviewing the State and Territories operational task forces. 

He led the police investigation into the greyhound live baiting scandal in 2015 and in the aftermath was seconded to Racing Queensland to assist in the establishment of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission.

Mr Ainsworth was appointed as the inaugural Deputy Racing Integrity Commissioner in April 2018 overseeing the Commission’s operational activities.  

He was a founding member of the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation Board. He is a volunteer member of the University of Queensland School of Business Trust Ethics and Governance Alliance Advisory Board.  He is also a volunteer, independent member of the Brisbane Lions AFL Integrity Committee. 

Mr Ainsworth was awarded the Australian Police Medal (APM) in the 2013 Australia Day Honours for his leadership and excellence in the investigative field and policing.

His position – rated the poisoned chalice of QRIC since that body was formed and turned into a political football – will be hard to fill with a person capable of doing the job properly.      




CHAMPION trainer Chris Waller will have close to half the field for the G1 Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm on Saturday which in the eyes of many in racing is an absolute farce.

Rather than watch one of his second string runners salute like happened when he saddled up the quinella in last weekend’s Queensland Derby, punters are entitled to be offered a price to back any of Waller’s to win in a bundle bet.

Let’s face it the corporate bookies can offer odds on two flies climbing up a wall, so why not offer a combined price for stables with three or more runners in any race.

It would overcome the on-going whinge associated, especially with Waller, when a second stringer beats home the more fancied stable runner, after being backed at good odds.

Surprisingly, Waller doesn’t have the favorite for the Oaks. Highest in the order of betting for his ‘team’ is Grace and Harmony which is third elect behind the Mark Newham-trained Bargain and Duais from the Edward Cummings stable.

James Macdonald has to win a careless riding suspension appeal before he can take the mount on Grace and Harmony but the cynics are betting red odds he will, citing the way racing in Sydney works.



WE read and hear a lot about success stories for champion trainer Chris Waller and these are endless but here’s one that certainly wasn’t.

Kinane, whose connections rejected an offer of close to $3 million from Hong Kong interests, is back with his original trainer and part-owner Mick Kent in Victoria.

Kent gave Kinane one start before transferring the gelding to the Waller stable as he planned to head overseas for an extended holiday. Covid-19 and the associated travel turmoil put an end to Kent’s plans.

Kinane won the G3 Packer Plate at Randwick last April but the spring brought a change in fortune after he flopped badly in the G3 Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield.

“He ran at Caulfield and jarred up so Chris suggested we get him bone-scanned,” Kent told NEWS CORP. “We did that and he had some bone bruising so he had four months off.”

Kinane has been back in work with Kent long enough to have two jump-outs at Cranbourne but the trainer hasn’t decided on a return start for the four-year-old. He will have one or two winter starts before hopefully preparing for the spring.


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