Jenny - Clean

THE ART OF SPIN – HOW TO TURN A SILK PURSE INTO A SOW’S EAR

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY and plenty of others who keep a close eye on country racing in Queensland have been quick to pounce after Racing Minister Grace Grace and her loyal RQ side-kicks Steve Wilson and Brendan Parnell produced the ‘good news’ about that prizemoney windfall.

Four million dollars in increased prizemoney for grass roots racing the headline boomed. This will include ‘Every Maiden race at TAB meetings increasing by an additional $2,000 (metropolitan, provincial and regional) and all NON-TAB races to carry a minimum of $8,500 prizemoney (currently $7,450).

THE BUTTERFLY writes (on his subscriber-only website, peterprofit.com, that the REAL FACTS ARE:

THIS time last year NON-TAB races at Mt Isa carried prizemoney purses of 10 grand each.

Then something happened on the way to the circus, and suddenly one morning trainers and jockeys woke up and found the stake money had been cut to $7,450.

Never fear, Gee Gee, the Whirlwind and Pins are here.

Racing Queensland and the Racing Minister are pleased to announce that every race in the Isa will now be worth a minimum of eight and a half grand.

A $1500 cut in prizemoney is being sold as ‘A BIG BOOST AND HUGE WIN’.

Gotta dollar Pins can borrow?

He promises to pay you back 85 cents.

 

PINOCCHIO TOOK CENTRE STAGE DURING RACING ESTIMATES DEBATE AT LAST SOME QUESTIONS THAT NEED ANSWERING FROM LNP WHISTLE-BLOWER

IT comes as no surprise to many that the half million dollar man of Racing Queensland, CEO Brendan Parnell would tell a Parliamentary Estimates Hearing that the Eagle Farm track is ‘safe’ and hand-pass its problems to a ‘firmness’ issue which he failed to say is breaking horses down.

Meanwhile, stakeholders are questioning what rock Racing Minister Grace Grace has been living under when she claims to have received ‘nothing but positive feedback’ from trainers, jockeys and owners during the Winter Carnival.

One of those owners sent an email to LGHR overnight which read: ‘Grace said she walked the track before the Winter Carnival. Thank God that was before she got her nose in the trough in the committee room on Stradbroke day.

‘I don’t know of anyone that she spoke to about the state of the Eagle Farm track during or after the Carnival who told her it was improving and didn’t need replacing yet again at a cost of millions to the industry.

‘My friends and I had a little chuckle when she was asked in the Estimates Hearing about reports Stirling Hinchliffe wants his old job back to make Racing part of an Olympics portfolio. Her response: ‘Don’t believe everything you read in The Courier-Mail!’ With respect that was the only time during the hearings that her nose stopped growing like Pinocchio’s’.

HERE is the lengthy discussion that took place involving racing during the Estimates Hearing with Tim Mander, the Shadow Minister for Racing and former NRL referee, blowing the whistle on quite a few issues that didn’t quite get the answers they deserved.

Mr MANDER: Minister, in the past seven years Queensland taxpayers have paid around $13.7 million for the upgrade of the track at Eagle Farm. Despite this massive investment, recent media reports suggest that Queensland trainers are reluctant to have their horses race on the track for fear of injury. How much more money needs to be spent to make the track safe?

 
Ms GRACE: The member is right: the Queensland government has provided two funding grants to RQ, under the previous government and our government, of about $13.7 million. Since January 2021, RQ has held regular meetings with stakeholders, including trainers and jockeys, to discuss concerns about the track. Recently the Brisbane Racing Club hosted a very successful Stradbroke season, six weeks of world-class racing for the winter carnival. My understanding is that the track during most of that time—and I have the CEO of Racing Queensland here, as well as the acting commissioner of QRIC—was graded as a good 4 for most of the races at Eagle Farm. I receive nothing but positive feedback in relation to that from trainers and I spoke directly to some jockeys and owners on conditions of the track over that period. However, I am aware of recent discussions regarding the track surface and the management of the track moving forward. Trust me, member, and I know you will join me in saying, that no-one wants to see anything but the best facilities at Eagle Farm and certainly we have not held back, as you quoted, with $13.7 million to ensure we have a world-class track. I have met with other club members. I know that Townsville went through a similar situation as this and after three years their track is now very good. I have met with the chair of the Townsville track. Eagle Farm has a very similar track to the Townsville track. The Monteith report did say that it required about a three-year period in relation to that. The RQ Board—and I am happy to go to Brendan Parnell, the CEO of RQ—met yesterday and
this is a No. 1 priority for not only myself but also the RQ Board. I know they received a good response about the track from the thoroughbred representative, Mr Graham Quirk, who is doing an excellent job on that committee. We will continue our stakeholder engagement. I want to be updated very regularly on where we are heading with Eagle Farm and we want to ensure that we will work with trainers and jockeys to ensure that the track is fit for purpose. We have not held back in providing whatever is necessary with some of the best minds in the country in relation to Eagle Farm. The board determined—and I do not want to put words in the mouth of the CEO because I was not there yesterday—that it will be a while before we really know the true benefits of the track. I am happy, if the member is happy, to allow the
CEO, Brendan Parnell, to expand on that, particularly in relation to the meeting yesterday. I know there is a meeting with stakeholders happening next week.

 
Mr MANDER: I will ask a question directly of the Chief Executive Officer of Racing Queensland. Mr Parnell, have you met with trainers recently to talk about their concerns about track safety?

 
Ms GRACE: I would add very quickly, I did visit Eagle Farm before the Stradbroke carnival and walked over the track. That is just to let you know that I have taken a very keen interest.

Mr MANDER: How did you find the track? I am joking!

Ms GRACE: It is a good question. The thing about it is that it looked fine to me and I think it did very well, but we want to make it world class.


Mr MANDER: Thank you, Minister.

Ms GRACE: If you ask a question you will get an answer.

Mr MANDER: Yes, I know. That was a silly mistake.

Mr Parnell: I speak to participants, including trainers, almost every day in this job. I travel the state quite regularly, as the member for Rockhampton and several other regional members know. Amongst that are discussions with owners, trainers and jockeys around the track. The minister referred to the Townsville racetrack, which is a very similar construction: a sand profile with the same couch grass. It took five years until that fully matured. We are into the third year of the Monteith report recommended staged return to racing. We meet as a maintenance control group with Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club each fortnight. To every alternate meeting we invite trainers and jockeys to listen to the progress. The next meeting is due next week to discuss the performance. I will extend on the minister’s comments. Eagle Farm delivered record wagering outcomes during winter. The strongest ever winter days were Derby Day and Stradbroke Day. One must remember that it is a seven-hectare organism that is still quite young and we are only halfway through the third year of
its return to racing. The track is safe. The root system is the healthiest it has been and we continue to work on improving the cushion in that surface.

Mr MANDER: Mr Parnell, are the concerns that were reported in the media inaccurate with regards to trainers being concerned about the safety of the track and the safety for their horses?

Mr Parnell: The concerns were around the firmness of the track, not the safety of the track. The track is safe. The best horses won, the best jockeys won and the best trainers during the carnival. The focus with young turf root strength or maturity has been getting more maturity into it so that it softens the surface, but it is certainly not an unsafe track.

Mr MANDER: Minister, I refer to page 9 of the SDS, where service standards are listed for racing. There is only one effectiveness measure listed. It is the percentage of country race meetings in the approved schedule that are conducted. Minister, is this the lamest effectiveness measure in the state government’s budget papers?

 
CHAIR: Member for Everton, could you recast that question? There is an imputation within it.

 

Mr MANDER: Minister, is this the weakest effectiveness measure in the state government’s
budget papers?

Ms GRACE: No. I think it is actually adequate. These are the service standards that we have. They are listed here in relation to country racing, which is a very important part of racing. This government has invested significantly in country racing. We understand its significance in the racing calendar year. We continue to invest heavily in country racing. We have been the best supporters of country racing by a country mile when it comes to our investment in and support of country racing. Country racing people—God bless them all—are excellent dedicated workers who work in the country racing area and they have never been so happy, particularly following some of the confirmation of prize money that they will be getting under this budget that I will be doing very soon.


Mr MANDER: Minister, the Queensland government invests hundreds of millions of dollars into the racing industry. Don’t Queenslanders deserve more effectiveness measures so that they can have comfort that their taxes are being well spent?

Ms GRACE: I think Queenslanders want a high-integrity, well-run, growing racing industry that prevents integrity measures not being there. As we have done with QRIC, they want to see that our investment produces a very fine product. Queensland has gone from strength to strength when it comes to racing in the state. We have had one of the most successful periods. I want to congratulate RQ, QRIC and the clubs. It was an incredible feat that racing continued and grew during COVID. We want to make sure that we have high integrity and make all of that available to the racing community. I do not think there are too many people who would say that we are not transparent. Annual reports show that the performance of the racing industry is advancing. There are many ways that the racing community and the broader community can get information on racing. We are very proud of what we have done and very proud of racing in this state. I will continue to work with the industry to go from strength to strength, right around the country. The member for Rockhampton is here, and I know that
he is very close to the Rockhampton club.


Mr MANDER: Following on from your comment about Queenslanders being very concerned
about the integrity of the racing system, I refer to the QRIC performance statements. One of their effectiveness measures is the percentage of community members surveyed who are confident in the integrity of the Queensland racing industry. For 2021 that was 59 per cent. Does that meet your standard of people being confident in the integrity of the racing industry, only 59 per cent of people surveyed?

Ms GRACE: That has improved since we took over racing following the MacSporran report. We always aim to make sure integrity is of high standard in this state. I know that QRIC has done an excellent job in the harness, greyhound and thoroughbred industry when it comes to maintaining integrity. Greyhound racing is going from strength to strength. We have maintained integrity in that area. We want to increase that. We make no apologies for those people who are caught out. When it comes to the integrity part that QRIC undertakes, we test 100 per cent of race winners. We have a wonderful science centre that we are investing in to make sure we have up-to-date technology in relation to that. We always want to see better results. Integrity is something that we hold very dear. We have an act in relation to that. We always want to make sure that act works very well. Member, thank you for the question. It is a very important part that we work very hard to maintain. I congratulate QRIC on the work
they do. It is all in one place and it is presenting and doing a very good job in the area of integrity. We will always strive to do better.

Mr DAMETTO: Welcome to everybody here. It is great to have everyone from Racing Queensland and the Department of Agriculture here today to help out the minister. Minister, referring to the revenue expected to be drawn from the state’s point-of-consumption tax in the 2021-22 financial year, can you tell us the amount of income that is expected to be raised and where that money will be spent across Queensland?


Ms GRACE: This is really good news for the racing industry. I fought very hard for this through the CBRC. I thank Treasury, the Treasurer, the Premier, the Deputy Premier and my CBRC colleagues. They will now be getting 35 per cent of the point-of-consumption tax. It means that if you place a bet in Queensland then part of that money will be going to maintaining racing in this state. We are anticipating that that 35 per cent will bring in an extra $41.3 million. This additional money will be going back into the industry for areas like improving racetracks—I can get more information later on—upgrading facilities for racegoers, boosting prize money—there was an article in the paper today; I can go into more detail in relation to that as well—supporting animal care, a very important part of integrity in the racing industry, and creating more jobs in and around racing. As the CEO of Racing Queensland said, the three codes benefit almost 40,000 Queensland participants. We also announced the renewal of the Country Racing Program, which will be maintained for a further two years; they will receive an additional $35.2 million. That is of great benefit to country racing. I know it is dear to your heart and dear to some of our regional members. We will continue to support them because we know that is the biggest event in a lot of those regional and remote country areas. We are investing in their infrastructure, in their facilities and in the training of their jockeys. It was great to see the races out at Longreach recently. I think every jockey who won was a female jockey, which was very good to see. Thank you for the question. We hope to raise additional funds for racing in this state so we can promote and expand. We had the most successful Winter Racing Carnival on record and we have gone from strength to strength in this state with racing.


Mr MANDER: Minister, it has been reported that Minister Hinchliffe wants to get back into the racing ministry saddle. Does that mean that you are about to be put out to pasture?

CHAIR: Member for Everton—

Ms GRACE: Don’t believe everything you read in the Courier-Mail, member for Everton. I am sure that is a question probably better asked of Minister Hinchliffe than me. I am very happy in the portfolio and I am pretty sure he is happy with sport.


Mr O’ROURKE: Minister, in relation to page 9 of the SDS, can you advise how the 35 per cent of revenue from the state’s point-of-consumption tax on wagering will be spent?

Ms GRACE: I gave a broad outline of where the additional funds will go to. I know that the industry is very happy in relation to the certainty and security this now brings to the industry. As they grow, that money will grow. It is a great incentive for the industry, for Racing Queensland, for QRIC and for all of the clubs to ensure we make racing a great part of the racing calendar here in Queensland. In addition, we will distribute around $29 million over the next two years. The investment is made possible by this 35 per cent. I am very happy to confirm that, from 1 September, along with infrastructure grants and improved club funding, the increase in prize money is across all three racing codes—$4 million. Grassroots thoroughbred racing will see a rise of $2,000 for every maiden race at TAB meetings and a rise in minimum prize money to $8,500 for all non-TAB thoroughbred racing, an increase from the current $7,400. I know that the country racing representatives, Graham and his team, will be very happy with that announcement. It is a very good increase for country racing and a very big support for that industry. There will be $1.7 million in grassroots greyhound prize money and nearly a million dollars for harness racing. The investment plan also supports the infrastructure requirements for the industry, with $5 million across the next two years going towards replacing critical racing assets and a more than $3 million per annum increase in club operation, so everyone will benefit from this substantial increase. I am proud that every time someone places a bet in Queensland a guaranteed portion now—35 per cent of the point-of-consumption tax money—will go back into improving tracks, upgrading facilities for racegoers, boosting prize money, supporting animal care and creating more jobs in and around racing. From 1 September, almost 40,000 Queensland participants will start to see the benefits from the increased prize money. The additional funding will support new and improved infrastructure grants and improved club funding. This is fantastic news for the racing industry. It is an investment in a growth plan. It can be found on our website. I know that Racing Queensland already is working towards rolling this out. I look forward to welcoming it on 1 September and am very happy to confirm the reports about these increases.

 
Mr SULLIVAN: Minister, I refer to page 9 of the department’s SDS. I know you touched on this in questioning from opposition members, but as an interested northsider I ask about Eagle Farm. Do you have a further update about the track following the winter carnival?

Mr MANDER: Point of order, Madam Chair: that is exactly the same question that has already been responded to. The member needs to be more nimble and not just follow the script but ask different questions. We do not need to go through the same five-minute response again.


Mr SULLIVAN: Chair, I specifically asked for an update post the winter carnival.

CHAIR: There is no point of order, member for Everton. He is asking for an update.

Ms GRACE: I am sure the member for Everton will be happy to hear this response as well. It is the No. 1 priority. We want to make sure that Eagle Farm gets back to its glory days. As the CEO and I have said previously, the winter carnival was very successful. Post that, we want to make sure we get that track to exactly where it needs to be. We are working with trainers, jockeys and stakeholders and we meet regularly. I know RQ had this on the agenda. I understand that the performance of the track continues to be the subject of discussions within the industry. My understanding is that base for improvement is very good. The root structure is not like it was when it was done prior to us coming to government and which we had to rip up. There is not the thatching that was there before and which required a complete upheaval. We understand that it is similar to Townsville. I have met with the Townsville people who said, ‘Minister, it does take a while longer.’ We are nearly to the point post the Stradbroke season where we are looking to see this grass firm up. I know everyone is looking at it. We have some of the best experts from around Australia looking at this track. Since 2015 we have supported RQ. This is not a matter of money. This is about making sure we get this right. As the CEO said, it is about the firmness of the grass not so much the grass that is there. We will work with everyone on this. We want to make this a premier spot. It is the No. 1 priority not only for me but also for Racing Queensland. They are well aware of the government’s views. I am pleased that RQ and the BRC—I have met with Nev Bell—are on board. I have been out and seen the track. I was there during the Stradbroke season. We continue to engage with trainers and jockeys who are part of the broader group of representatives on the Eagle Farm maintenance control group. We have experts from everywhere looking at the performance of the track. I, and I am sure the member for Everton and you as a local member who is very close to that racetrack, want to see this as the premier racetrack in Australia. Hopefully we can get there.


Mr O’ROURKE: Minister, in relation to page 9 of the SDS can you outline how the country racing program importantly supports the social fabric of rural and regional Queensland?

Ms GRACE: As a very proud Rockhampton member and supporter of the regional track in Rockhampton, you know that the government backs the bush. Country racing is a central part of social and economic life in regional Queensland. There is nothing better than being in the outback and enjoying a day at the races with the locals. Their legendary country hospitality cannot be beaten. I experienced this firsthand in May at the Barcaldine Racing Club’s Tree of Knowledge race day. The atmosphere was fantastic. It was a great race day. Once again, a female jockey took out the No. 1 race in Barcaldine. It is great to see our female jockeys doing so well. The racing contribution to the Queensland economy is more than $1.6 billion a year, with an incredible 46 per cent of that contribution occurring in regional communities. That is a big regional impact. That is why we have backed country racing for a further two years with additional funding of $35.2 million. This is on top of the original commitment of $70.4 million over four years, providing a total of $106 million to country racing and the people of regional Queensland. The CRP, the Country Racing Program, provides $50 million a year to support prize money and bonuses. Now that we have additional money coming through the point of consumption tax we can increase prize money and make sure that we support country racing even more. Our commitment is also to provide a further $2.6 million a year for infrastructure. It is wonderful to see the improvement and maintenance of race facilities that is occurring. The last time I was at Barcaldine it was a dirt track so it was great to see a grass track this time. That came out of the infrastructure fund. Since the program
began more than 220 infrastructure projects have been awarded to 85 of our smallest clubs. That is an injection of not only local jobs but also infrastructure into those areas. From Longreach in the west to Cooktown in the north, investment continues. I thank all the volunteers and people who work in these clubs. They keep country racing alive. We would be lost without them. They do a wonderful job. They are very happy with our Country Racing
Support Package. It is making sure that country racing goes from strength to strength. After two years and all this money being injected into the industry they are far better off. They certainly have benefited from the investment that we have made. As racing minister, I am more than convinced that country racing needs to be supported. I am very proud that the government has provided that support.
Mr O’ROURKE: I know that the Rockhampton Jockey Club benefited from that funding in terms of getting new stables. Could you provide an update on the Queensland Off-the-Track Program?

Ms GRACE: That is a good question. We take animal welfare very seriously. Part of this is to ensure that we have safe facilities for thoroughbreds and all codes racing around Queensland. Our government is committed to ensuring that an appropriate system is established in Queensland to support the transition of thoroughbreds and standardbreds from the racing industry to retirement. In response to the Martin inquiry recommendation, Racing Queensland and the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission have been working together to establish the Queensland Off-the-Track Program to support the transition of horses after racing. Since 1 January, the one per cent prize money levy of Racing Queensland on thoroughbred and harness racing, raising close to $2 million over 18 months, has been used for animal care initiatives, including the Off-the-Track Program. The Queensland government appointed Ms Sharon Cowden as the inaugural chair, with industry stakeholders and animal welfare representatives on the board. It has had meetings. They are currently looking at a number of programs, including an off-the-track grants program which will assist existing rehomers within the community to support retired racehorses that come into their care. There is an acknowledged retrainers program for the retraining and rehoming of thoroughbreds and standard horses. There is also a subsidised lessons program to support retired racehorses as they transition from the racing industry into the community. I am pleased to advise that enrolments for this incredible initiative opened this week. We have taken a stand. We have this money now. We are putting the grants program together. There will be expressions of interest. We will be spending the money in those three priority areas. I am not sure if the Racing Queensland CEO would like to add anything in terms of where we are at in terms
of the spending of the money that has been provided so far.

Mr Parnell: As we have eluded to, the subsidised lessons program was opened this week. We have also entered partnerships with Riding for the Disabled. That is already underway, including in regional Queensland at Emerald. In addition to that, the Queensland Off-the-Track board has now met six times and has a budget approved by the Racing Queensland board to expend on those activities, which also includes some wonderful existing programs. There are some existing retainers such as Save a Horse Australia down at Beaudesert. Toowoomba and Darling Downs trainer Michael Nolan is the president of the Glennie Equestrian Club. It is also a wonderful rehoming exercise as is Jane Gollan’s in Brisbane—the director of Triequithon. A lot of these rehomers are already in place. This funding will
help them speed up and deliver better outcomes for our horses after their careers.


CHAIR: I call to the table the member for South Brisbane for the final question of this session.


Dr MacMAHON: Director-General, the 2021-22 budget gives $41.3 million to the racing industry for new infrastructure as well as supporting animal care. How will the government ensure the industry supports animal care in the expending of these funds?

Mr Cook: We actually did respond to that part of the component a little earlier. I might ask Mr Parnell particularly to talk about some of the issues around animal care.


Mr Parnell: As we discussed earlier, the minister discussed the one per cent prize money levy which has been implemented by Racing Queensland. The entirety of that levy is being returned to after-care activities which we have just extended—subsidised lessons, grants programs, as well as partnerships with the likes of Riding for the Disabled Association and funding for existing rehoming programs. One per cent of all prize money for equine racing will be delivered back to animal care initiatives. In addition to that, Racing Queensland has a number of other activities in the animal care space. In greyhound racing, last year we introduced a greyhound racing injury management scheme to significantly reduce the serious injuries that happen at race meetings. That has been a very effective program which has lowered euthanasia rates by 60 per cent since it was introduced.


CHAIR: That concludes the committee’s examination of estimates for the racing industry.

 

 

RACING MINISTERIAL MEDIA RELEASE ON PRIZEMONEY INCREASE MAKES NO MENTION OF CORRECTING EAGLE FARM TRACK FIASCO

JOBS in Queensland racing are set to receive more support with Racing Queensland set to raise prizemoney across Thoroughbred, Greyhound, and Harness racing and increase funding for critical assets.

Racing Minister Grace Grace today released Racing Queensland’s Investment Growth Plan, which outlines the investment of $28.9 million in funding over the next two years, made possible through the Palaszczuk Government’s Budget commitment of an anticipated $41.3 million to Queensland racing through the Point of Consumption Tax (POCT).

“The Investment Plan will benefit almost 40,000 Queensland participants,” the Minister said.                                                                                               

“It will be delivered through increased prizemoney from 1 September 2021, along with infrastructure grants and improved club funding and allow us to support more jobs as part of Queensland’s plan for economic recovery from COVID-19.

An increase of $4 million in grassroots thoroughbred racing will see a rise of $2,000 for every maiden race at TAB meetings and a rise in minimum prize money to $8,500 for all non-TAB races.  There is also an increase of $1.7 million in grassroots Greyhound prize money and nearly $1 million for Harness racing.

The Plan also supports the infrastructure requirements of the industry, with $5 million across the next two years going towards replacing critical racing assets and a more than $3 million per annum increase for club operations.

Racing Queensland Chairman Steve Wilson AM said the multi-million dollar investment supported the organisation’s strategic objective to ensure a more sustainable future for the industry.

“It is important that we provide all participants with the confidence to continue to work and invest within the Queensland racing industry,” he said.

“As a result, we are providing strategic funding for our three codes, with a strong emphasis on commercial competitiveness at the grass roots and making Queensland attractive for all participants.

“We continue to drive our substantial industry to grow across the whole state to our goal of connecting Queenslanders through great racing and events. Prior to COVID, racing was the number one community event in 62 towns and cities across the Sunshine State.”

Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said the investments were being staged across two financial years, having experienced revenue pressures due to the conclusion of the Queensland TAB minimum payment guarantee last December.

“We want to give Queensland participants the confidence to invest longer term in our racing and breeding industries as we strive to be more competitive with other jurisdictions,” he said.

 

DUST UP & ACCUSATION OF TEAM DRIVING AFTER CREEK FEATURE

THOSE wondering why punters have no confidence in harness racing at Albion Park need only consider reports emanating from what happened after one of Queensland’s major races last Saturday night.

Story (it’s more than that) goes that two top reinsmen had a noisy  altercation in the stabling area (which went close to becoming more than verbal) when one accused the other of ‘team driving’.

Witnesses have told LGHR that had a long-time, prominent Queensland trainer-driver not intervened blood would have been spilled. They say one driver was verbaling the other and had his whip pressed against that bloke’s neck.

The matter was reported to stewards and stakeholders awaited their report which close observers of racing at Albion Park say was not released until Tuesday morning which is highly unusual.

When it did come out the matter was virtually swept under the carpet with no real action apparently taken other than a warning.

That has left the questions that need to be answered: Were claims of team driving properly investigated? Did they call witnesses to what was said if the two reinsmen decided not to be forthcoming? Who know, nothing from the stewards or in the mainstream media.

Like the gallops, under the chairmanship of Peter ‘the plodder’ Chadwick, there is even less confidence at the ‘red hots’ where calls have fallen on deaf ears for the replacement of the current Chairman of Stewards and some of his panel.

Harness racing will never regain public confidence while what many are calling another ‘cover-up’ is allowed to continue. One wonders where QRIC stands on this. We would be more than pleased to publish a response.

 

RSN AT CROSSROADS AS SEN MAKES WHITE KNIGHT OFFER

CRAIG Hutchison’s Sports Entertainment Network (SEN) has launched another bid to take over battling radio station RSN, with the horse racing station’s Board weighing up multiple options for the future of the station.

DAMIEN RACTLIFFE reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that shareholders of the Melbourne-dedicated RSN, which include the three metropolitan racing clubs, Harness Racing Victoria, Greyhound Racing Victoria, and Country Racing Victoria, have met with the Board and have tasked it with investigating opportunities to sell or overhaul the station, which has been the subject of countless reviews and rejuvenations over the past decade.

The Melbourne Racing Club, which owns 20.73 per cent of the station, and the Victoria Racing Club (14.23 per cent) both valued RSN at about $7.55 million in their most recent annual reports.

Network Ten’s former head of sport Dave Barham spent three months from March to June as the station’s interim chief executive, commissioned to review the station’s performance and make recommendations on how the station can improve.

Sources familiar with the review, who were unauthorised to speak on the record, said Barham recommended that shareholders invest more into marketing and promoting the station to increase the customer base. He found the all-sports breakfast show, hosted by Daniel Harford, played an important role in attracting an audience outside of racing and would be more appealing to advertisers than a dedicated racing show.

But some shareholders are reluctant to continue to tip money into the loss-making business when its primary role is to drive wagering revenue via its wall-to-wall race calls and increase engagement in the three codes, and not all shareholders agree an all-sports show is in the best interests of the racing industry. Racing Victoria, in 2019-20, injected $1.136 million into RSN and received just $3000 back according to its most recent financial report.

RSN rejoined the GfK Radio Survey Ratings this year, and in the most recent ratings released on July 6, the breakfast show had a 0.2% share of the market compared to SEN’s Garry & Tim at 3.0%. RSN has not yet been rated during racing’s peak spring carnival.

A white knight offer by SEN - formerly Crocmedia - is perceived as a way for shareholders to sell off their interest and therefore reduce their expenditure, while allowing the station to continue its primary function in broadcasting the races.

Hutchison has been scaling up his SEN business at a rapid rate, most recently launching SENZ in New Zealand in a deal with TAB New Zealand, and is already running his own racing station in Australia - SEN Track - alongside main station SEN. Gerard Whateley and Andrew Bensley are among the media talents under the SEN umbrella.

However, Racing Victoria is also in the process of launching its own integrated media business (IMB) - which emcompasses free-to-air television station and digital platform Racing.com - which offers the chance for RSN to align with the IMB.

RV this month announced that former head of Fox Sports Australia, Peter Campbell, had been appointed inaugural chief executive of the IMB. While RSN does not sit under the IMB as it is co-owned by the harness and greyhound codes, there is a perceived opportunity for the businesses to improve efficiencies by sharing media talent, cross-promote each other, and ultimately share costs.

For example, Michael Felgate, who hosts RSN’s 8.30am racing affairs show, could also work on Racing.com’s coverage, while RSN could tap into Racing.com’s form analysts. Racing.com is also operating at a net loss, but it too is seen as a driver of wagering.

The RSN Board has not been given a timeline on when it must present shareholders with its options for the future of the station, but the station is likely to look a lot different in 2022.

Barham also found a deal tying RSN to Tabcorp under the racing industry’s joint venture until 2024 was preventing the station from accessing advertising dollars from the corporate bookmakers. That deal could potentially be renegotiated under new ownership.

RSN is still without a general manager, while the chairman of the RSN Board Daryl Henry resigned last month, leaving John Stewart to take over the chairmanship. Racing Victoria’s chief financial officer Aaron Morrison, VRC chairman Neil Wilson and MRC’s executive director of racing and operations Jake Norton are also on the RSN Board.

Hutchison was contacted for comment by The Age, but he did not respond.

 

 

OUR old mate GODFREY SMITH is back after free-loading across the Ditch where his beautiful daughter lives with her beef cake boyfriend who looks after the fairy penguins at the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch. Godfrey ducked out before the latest Trans-Tasman bubble burst and rather than fall back on a hand-out from Scomo, he has asked to write some columns for LGHR to keep the wolf from the door, so here’s the first of them.

‘BAD WEEK STARTED WITH DUST-UP WITH DWARF COVID POLICEMAN’

IT’S good to be home in OZ, even if nothing has changed with racing in Queensland where the Eagle Farm track is still a major embarrassment and the sport a disaster waiting to happen.

I knew it wasn’t going to be a good week when I headed out for Steak Night at my local club only to wind up in a dust-up with the dwarf COVID policeman for removing my mask to speak to him.

“How was your steak,” he asked as we left?

“Tasted like the carcass of a kangaroo that had been lying beside the road for a week,” I replied, gently moving my mask below my mouth so that the little fella I was staring down out could hear me.

“Don’t you know you can’t take your mask off,” he shouted indignantly?

“PITY I DIDN’T BEFORE TRYING TO EAT THE STEAK,” I snapped back.

“I don’t have to cop this,” shouted the dwarf, scampering off as fast as his little legs would travel, seeking the support of security to haul me out the door.

Things have changed at the club. It seems social correctness has gone overboard but full marks to the club bosses (most of them women, Anastasia would be proud) for employing these ‘little people’ to bark orders at the members.

Better not mention ‘short man syndrome’ or ask what night is the ‘dwarf throwing contest’ so that I could toss this little ‘turd’ out onto the middle of the main road.

And on the subject of political correctness the club now has designated areas for ‘smokers’, ‘gays’ and ‘indigenous groups’. What’s next, one for the ‘goat rooters’ now that the Prodigal Son is back to lead that tribe out of the political wilderness with that tattered photo of Sir Joh still in his trusty wallet or sitting beside his bed?

Preferring to dodge a bullet rather than upset the dwarf pandemic policeman I decided to flee the scene but not before reminding him that my relatives were actually among the first settlers in the area and that he was probably standing smack in the middle of a Bora ring belonging to the Turrbal clan and should thank them daily for allowing him to enter the land that still belongs to them.

In hindsight I should have headed over to my old mate Jeffrey’s place for dinner rather than go to the club. But I only found out late in the day it was his birthday which went through to the keeper when he took the long-suffering missus to Bundaberg for a dirty weekend.

Jeff, a one-time high profile Bobby, still hasn’t recovered from the fateful decision (pre pandemic) to celebrate his 60th in Bali which he describes as the lowest place on earth. “I could just as easily have travelled to a local resort to get robbed when I had a drink and I would have saved plenty,” he continues to tell us.

Can’t really imagine Jeffrey on the back of a Kuta scooter but then again he rides his push bike to the club at Rainbow Beach in his lycra gear. His mates still haven’t stopped rolling on the ground after seeing photos of another birthday bash when Jeffrey and the little lovely went horse riding which earnt him the moniker: ‘That other Man from Snowy River’.

At least even full of drink and bad manners after he backs a loser (which is often) or watches his beloved Broncos get beaten (which is more often), Jeff is an absolute  gentleman compared to the dwarf.

But back to my original concerns that the disastrous Steak Night at the Club was a sign it wasn’t going to be a good week. Rather than watch wankers falling off skate boards at the Olympics, I decided to see what was happening on the racing scene and visited the trusty Courier-Mail site which I see these days has enlisted the support of Racenet since their main men moved on to more cushy jobs with SKY and the Brisbane Racing Club. Just imagine Nathan trying to promote Brisbane racing without mentioning how bad the Eagle Farm track is.  

My day got worse when I read a story suggesting that racing in Queensland will be burdened with the troubled Eagle Farm track for at least another year, even if the sport’s power-brokers bow to calls for the much-maligned surface to be replaced for a third time.

They have to be kidding no-one could procrastinate for this long. If you were running a business the decision-makers would have been sacked long ago.

Sadly that includes a one-time mate, Brendan Parnell, who has come a long way since the days of his television career on the Sunny Coast, to SKY, the TAB and now Racing Queensland where they tell me he gets paid more than $500,000 a year.

Wow, and to think he didn’t even want to pay a small fine for failing to wear a seat-belt that fateful day when he, Christian Letford and I drove from our hotel on the Gold Coast to the Magic Millions Sales only to be pulled over by an over-conscientious motor bike cop doing a bit of revenue raising.

The CM reports that leading trainer Robert Heathcote maintained his rage at the Eagle Farm surface in a Melbourne radio interview on Monday morning shortly after RQ CEO Parnell refused to rule out ripping up the track to start again.

Parnell told Radio 4TAB (the home of his good mate Davey Fowler) that racing in Queensland ‘had issues that needed to be resolved’ adding that ‘key meetings next week would provide clarity regarding what was next for Eagle Farm’.

I’ve only just caught up the rumours suggesting some sweetheart deal that ‘Feathers’ and ‘Pins’ allegedly did (when the former was Chairman of Albion Park) which apparently would have seen one of the best callers in the business, Josh Fleming, rissoled by SKY in Brisbane to make way for Fowler as part of some back-room deal over the future of the Creek. That was until Ray Hadley got involved on The Morning Show on 4BC – story goes he doesn’t like Parnell or the job that Brendan does. Sadly, he’s not Robinson Crusoe.

Heathcote told News Corp: “They did a remarkable job to get through the Winter Carnival. But it’s like Kevin Costner said (in the film Field Of Dreams), if you build it they will come. If you put the prizemoney on they will come and that’s what the winter carnival did.”

MATT STEWART (Racing Editor RSN) is one of my favorite turf scribes in this country, not afraid to offend with constructive criticism. Here’s what he wrote this week:

FOR many in racing, wagering is God. Little else matters.

Those who worry about racing’s shrinking public profile and lack of community engagement – even the rocky status of that iconic Melbourne Cup – are told they are wrong because wagering has never been stronger.

But look at Brisbane.

The recent winter racing carnival, with Eagle Farm as the centrepiece, was a wagering bonanza. The green track was paved with gold.

Turnover exceeded $375 million. Stradbroke day at “the Farm” was up 25 per cent and Doomben and Eagle Farm performed almost identically, with turnover increases of over 25 per cent.

Yet Eagle Farm has been described as a ploughed paddock that should be ripped up. Early in the season according to top trainer Robert Heathcote, the track was so firm as to be a horse welfare risk.

The track that generated so much winter turnover has been a calamity for seven years according to Heathcote and others.

He said that while the wagering through COVID “may stack up,” Eagle Farm had an inappropriate turf profile that he would not plant in his back yard and should be ripped up, for the second time in seven years.

He said many participants in Queensland were reluctant to publicly express their concerns with the Eagle Farm track.

“But the facts are the facts and we have to solve this problem. This track has been the bane of our existence for seven years,” he said.

Heathcote said Eagle Farm cost $1 million a year in upkeep, three times more than Doomben. He estimated up to $20 million may have been spent in failed efforts to improve Eagle Farm.

“We have to make the decision. It’s not an overnight fix,” Heathcote said, saying “merry men” of previous administrations and track crews had mismanaged the track.

He said none of those staffers were still employed “and we’re left with this mess.”

Well LGHR, like many others, would like to know: Where does the blame lie? It did nothing for industry confidence hearing from Parnell not to expect any replacement of the Eagle Farm track for another year.

There are all sorts of stories about what’s to blame with the grass being used one of the main issues; or where the sand that seems to be unsuitable is coming from; and who is going to pay the millions to correct a problem that has already had tens of millions spent on it; or more importantly whether Eagle Farm should be declared unsafe to race on from a horse welfare perspective, or whether stakeholders should simply refuse to start their horses there.

It all seems to be beyond the BRC who have refused to take responsibility for the track back from Racing Queensland and that body has had sufficient time to correct the problems even with the help of outside consultants.

That leaves us with the Government and we have Grace Grace who is back as Racing Minister diverting pressure on the track problem by making a ‘good news’ statement this week which will no doubt focus on more prizemoney.

And then to confuse the issue, the story is doing the rounds that Stirling Hinchliff, who Grace replaced in the portfolio, wants the Labor Government to appoint him special Minister for the Olympics and include Racing in his brief.

What a nightmare!      

 

 

HALF MILLION DOLLAR MAN ON JUNKET TO BUNDY SPIN-DOCTORING  ‘GOOD NEWS’ ANNOUNCEMENT FOR RACING FROM GRACE GRACE

WHILE Rome burned and controversy raged in Brisbane at the prospect of having to dig up the Eagle Farm ‘goat track’ yet again, Racing Queensland’s half million dollar man was enjoying a junket in Bundaberg.

Brendan Parnell, some might say hoping the drama unfolding over the Farm might suddenly disappear during his absence, was busy pressing the flesh at the Cup meeting in Bundy and enjoying a guest speaking role the previous day at a Sportsmen’s Luncheon.

Seemingly oblivious to how many more millions might be wasted on the Eagle Farm fisco; just who might do the job and get it right fourth time around; or whether the industry and taxpayers would have to foot the bill, Parnell was painting a bright future for racing in Queensland.

Piictured above by the LGHR Paparazzi, he told luncheon guests, most of them there for the Cup Calcutta, that Racing Minister Grace Grace had a ‘good news’ announcement to make this week.

Parnell said he didn’t want to steal the thunder of Grace describing her as a ‘breath of fresh air’ back in the portfolio, which some saw as a nice backhander for her predecessor Stirling Hinchliffe.

LGHR assumes about the only thing that Ms Grace could announce that would boost the stocks of she and the Labor Government with stakeholders would be a prizemoney increase but therein lies some problems as well.

If the increase includes more for harness racing in Queensland at the continued expense of greyhounds then there is entitled to be one hell of a crap fight. The dogs are far more popular with punters who have lost confidence in the ‘red hots’ not to mention the way that code is being policed. And the gallops are sick of harness magoting off its back financially.

Parnell did issue some words of wisdom to the Queensland industry, or so we are reliably informed, telling them that it could never expect to compete with the cash-strapped southern states of NSW and Victoria.

And he blamed that on the TAB deal that was done for Queensland which is spot-on.

Now that’s another story and who should we blame for that fiasco – the Beattie Government for the original rushed privatization arrangement or in more recent times the ‘two Dickos’ – Steve (the Racing Minister who told us the Sunshine State would wind up a furlong in front of the southern states within 12 months under the LNP Government before fleeing to join Pauline’s team) or little Kevvie (the then Chairman of RQ who saw two key Board members, Barry Taylor and Brad Steele, resign over lack of consultation on an updated TAB deal).

 

HADLEY BLAMES ‘TEFLON’ PARNELL FOR EAGLE FARM DEBACLE – SUGGESTS THE RQ CEO ‘GETS AROUND WITH HIS HEAD UP HIS BEHIND LIKE A CUP HANDLE’ 

RAY HADLEY on his much-listened to MORNING SHOW on 4BC again paid out on Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell in the wake of the latest Eagle Farm track catastrophe.

Speaking with bookmaker MICHAEL SULLIVAN who runs BLUEBET, Hadley said:

“They want to rip up Eagle Farm for the third time.

“Trainers are saying they wouldn’t have got through the carnival without Doomben. Eagle Farm only just scraped through.

“Gees, they have spent some money on Eagle Farm and all for nothing.”

Sullivan replied: “I’ve got a few horses up there with Rob Heathcote and we won’t take them back to Eagle Farm until they get it fixed. It’s a better surface at Cunnamulla at present. Could they muck it up three times?”

Hadley: “If you get the same people doing the same thing you are going to get the same result.

“Queensland racing tried to give it (the track redevelopment) back to the Brisbane Racing Club and they said ‘no thanks, it’s your problem.’

“They must call the boss of Racing Queensland Brendan Parnell ‘Teflon’ because nothing sticks. He just seems to escape any censure because the Racing Minister (Grace Grace) thinks that racing is something to do with motor cars.

“Peter V’landys is running rings around everyone in Sydney while his equal in Brisbane, Brendan Parnell, gets around with his head up his behind like a cup handle.”

Hadley told O’Sullivan if bookies were framing a market it would be long odds RQ sorting it out while the current CEO was running the show.

   

 

MAINSTREAM MEDIA FINALLY SEES THE FARM AS A COW PADDOCK

FOR so long now that we have lost count of the days peterprofit.com & letsgohorseracing have been lonE voices in the dark screaming for action to address the appalling state of the once great Eagle Farm racecourse, which as a result of corruption, incompetence, cost cuts and on-going trackside construction has been transformed into some abomination akin to a cow paddock.

LGHR echoes those words written today by ARCHIE BUTTERFLY and congratulates BEN DORRIES of RACENET oN having the balls to expose the situation that has again made racing in Queensland the embarrassment of the nation. (Watch your back mate)!

As ‘the Butterfly’ wrote today: Racing Queensland has publicly ignored the problem as if it is not there staring us all in the face.

What gets up the nose of LGHR and our legion of followers is the ‘spin doctoring’ job that the half million dollar man of Racing Queensland, CEO Brendan Parnell, has done with help from his mates in the media (especially SKY, QLD NEWSPAPERS & 4TAB).

On the eve of the Winter Carnival (late May) this was what Parnell had to say and the story it provoked from TRENTON AKERS in The Courier-Mail:

THE Eagle Farm track is the 'healthiest it has ever been' since its controversial renovation with Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell adamant the surface will hold up to four Group 1 meetings in five weeks.

The firm surface has been one of the major talking points in the industry for more than six years but Parnell believes recent work to improve the cushion in the track has had the desired effect.

“The turf is the healthiest it has ever been, it is much longer than last winter and there has been some cushioning done between the Victory Stakes meeting and this meeting so we are expecting improved cushion,” Parnell said. “The rye grass which you sew through winter has come through strongly.”

'With severe kickback one of the main concerns over the surface in the past, Parnell said significant work had gone into eradicating disease out of the roots in order to improve its strength.

“In March last year disease got into the roots,” he said. “Normally you wouldn’t do a big renovation before the carnival but we had to get the disease out. That set us back a period of time and we got through with a shorter grass length with the focus on getting the disease out.

“The disease is all out and the root health is the best it has ever been as a result. A year ago it was a bit frail and the grass was shorter, this year it is not frail and the grass is longer and the rye grass is stronger.”

What a load of garbage that turned out to be. The Carnival is over and the whispered words of many trainers have now returned to crescendo scale with their protests at the state of the Farm evidenced by the ordinary fields on Wednesday.

One day after peterprofit & letsgohorseracing websites fired a shot over the bows asking why the mainstream racing media seemed to be ignoring the problem that refuses to go away, we awoke to these headlines in the CM: CRISIS STRIKES TROUBLED EAGLE FARM TRACK – YET AGAIN & STIFE-TORN EAGLE FARM TRACK BECOMING AN EMBARRASSMENT.

Full marks to Ben Dorries for the story he wrote (even though it seems the maestro of the media at the Farm may have endorsed it with the BRC placing the need to correct the problem squarely at the feet of RQ). It reads:

A growing number of trainers believe the troubled Eagle Farm track must be ripped up again, as it emerged the Brisbane Racing Club will refuse to take back the management of the track from Racing Queensland next month.

The flint-hard Eagle Farm surface has again flared into a major drama and it was an embarrassment to the Queensland racing industry when horse numbers were so limited at Wednesday’s meeting that there were only 47 starters in total across six races.

By contrast, the bush meeting on the sand track at Gympie last Saturday attracted 56 starters across its six-race card.

Late in the day on Wednesday, a posse of trainers met behind closed doors at Eagle Farm and there was almost unanimous agreement that the track must be ripped up for the third time.

The trainers are also armed with support from several big-name Sydney trainers who privately say the Queensland winter carnival was a success only because of the reputable Doomben track.

While Eagle Farm managed to get through the winter carnival despite its issues, increasing amounts of trainers are now limiting the horses they race at Eagle Farm and some are contemplating whether to race horses there at all.

There will be a crisis meeting between trainers and other industry participants, potentially as soon as next week, which will involve both Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club and possible solutions will be thrashed out.

It is understood participants have been told, that if the track is to be ripped up, it cannot happen until after next year’s winter carnival as the huge expanse of kikuyu grass needed for the project would need significant time to grow.

ANOTHER crisis meeting (remember that one way back when the trainers threatened to strike), more bullshit answers from ‘Pins’ to quell the latest drama and a less than confident message from the Queensland branch of the Australian Trainers’ Association who have long been perceived to be in bed with RQ.

The ATA’S local rep, Cameron Partington, told DORRIES: “We are having on-going discussions with our members about the recent and current performance of the Eagle Farm track.

“At this stage we are not in a position to comment, as we don’t wish to unduly influence the further discussions and negotiations over the coming weeks with RQ and the BRC regarding the future plans for Eagle Farm.”

For f..s sake, grow a set mate and stand up for the rights of your members instead of pussy-footing around dancing the two-step with your mate ‘Pins’.

But back to Archie, who like LGHR, has no time for the weak-kneed attitude of many in the mainstream racing media. As he wrote today:

THE old-fashioned and antiquated print, radio and television media have lied to us all, painting pretty pictures of a scene akin to the apocalypse, and extolling Eagle Farm as an elite standard track, when in fact it is worse than those you find in remote bush, two-horse towns. The so-called racing journalists and turf commentators (especially at SKY) have disgraced themselves and their professions by misleading the public in the most unethical of ways.

Jockeys and trainers daring to contemplate dissent have been silenced by threats of excommunication, and their concerns have been shouted down by a small group of heavily promoted trainers with deep, vested personal interests and with no appetite for upsetting their rich apple cart.

One has to ask where Racing Minister Grace Grace and the Labor Government stand on this issue not to mention the deadly silence coming from the new breed at the LNP.

We feel sorry for RQ Thoroughbred Board representative, Graham Quirk, the only one worth feeding at the control body. He was the one responsible for bringing the Olympics to Brisbane. It must be tough for him having to work alongside a bunch of non-achievers with his hands tied.  

At LGHR we will continue to expose the truth about controversial issues like the Eagle Farm track despite being abused, threatened and slagged off all over town by those on the gravy train who place their own cruisy gigs above the jobs they are entrusted by racegoers and industry stakeholders to do.

       

 

ARCHIE CONTINUES TO DO THE JOB OF WEAK-KNEED RACING MEDIA

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY continues to do the job that the mainstream racing media in Queensland turns a blind eye to and today you can read one of his ‘exclusives’ without paying the subscription.

Just log onto www.peterprofit.com and be gob-smacked, like we at LGHR were, when ‘the Butterfly’ poses the questions:

WHY did the Gold Coast Turf Club spend $1.3 million to buy private stables for LEE FREEDMAN to train his horses? Will they be asking for a refund now that he has bailed out?

Archie has invited GCTC Chairman Brett Cook to explain and considering the amount of racing and taxpayer money (tens of millions) that is being injected into the complex to make it a stand-alone Saturday venue with lights to accommodate night racing, the industry and stakeholders deserve some answers.

 

NOT A WHIMPER ABOUT DETERIORIATING STATE OF EAGLE FARM

ANOTHER topic which the mainstream racing media in Queensland don’t seem interested in pursuing is the continued criticism of the Eagle Farm track with horses reportedly pulling up lame after virtually every meeting.

Archie did his own tongue-in-cheek ‘Port Douglas Racing Integrity Commission’ Stewards’ Report on the ‘Brisbane Goat Racing Club’ meeting at ‘Beagle Farm’ on Wednesday.

He listed the following: TRACK rating: Rooted. RAIL: As far out as we could push it. PENETROMETER: Who knows? The ground was too hard to push the pen in. We didn’t bother walking the track because it’s a long way around, and we were afraid of getting shin splints or breaking our ankles.

OFFICIALS: CHAIRMAN of STEWARDS – not PETER CHADWICK – he only goes to the races on Saturdays (LGHR hopes he is attending to that two-year inquiry he has been told to deal with but hasn’t got off his fat behind just yet. It ain’t going away ‘Plodder’ and we can’t wait to see the excuses you make to the lovely lady who owns the horse involved and has been treated like crap).

GENERAL: We offered $35,000 prizemoney a race and could only attract enough entries to program a six race card. Two of them were six-horse races. None of them had more starters than 10. What’s wrong with these bloody trainers? They would rather go to a meeting about how crap the course proper is than race their horses on the goat track and risk breaking them down.

SUMMARY: It was a long three-hour day so we all packed up and went home early, except the trainers. They went to some meeting to listen to Rob Heathcote extol the virtues of the Eagle Farm track. He’s a good bloke that Rob. Everyone in the BRC committee room says so. Enough said!

 

WHY DOES MAINSTREAM RACING MEDIA DODGE CONTENTIOUS ISSUES?

BUT back to the question of why the mainstream racing media turns a blind eye to anything contentious that occurs in Queensland racing – like the state of the Eagle Farm track, whether the RQ CEO is worthy of the $500,000-plus he gets paid and whether punters have any confidence in gallops Chief Stipe Peter Chadwick.

And we haven’t even mentioned the ‘red hots’ where everyone knows there is no confidence in the stewards supposedly policing Albion Park not to mention what is going on (and has for too long been going on) off-the-track at present. WAKEY, WAKEY, GRACEY, GRACEY!

We’ve had a couple of interesting emails about that and why the LNP is not prepared to ask some delicate questions in Parliament. It didn’t bother them why back when the left-overs from the JOH era were calling the shots but now we have new blood the story goes that old friendships in the north die hard and the ‘goat riders’ aren’t prepared to ask the questions that the entire industry wants answered.

As for the mainstream racing media, if you want to survive nothing has changed. The majority are still receiving their marching orders from the same bloke who told them what to do when he was working as a turf scribe from decades ago. The fact he has now been rewarded with another job working for a major club he was basically the ‘spin doctor’ for over all those years in the newspaper industry means nothing has changed.

Those that have toed the line are rewarded and now have plum positions supposedly promoting racing in Brisbane (they are about as effective at that as they were when working in the print media). Others have escaped interrogation in the media after holding down administrative positions that sent minor code clubs to the wall. We won’t even bother talking about SKY.

Up on the Downs ‘Pete’ continues to struggle to keep his head above water but when he isn’t selling horses for ‘Nifty Nev’ he will always find an hour or two to tell you how bad the media man he labelled the ‘Maggot’ continues to be. Pity no-one listens.

In Queensland racing the more things change, the more they stay the same.              

 

 

WEDNESDAY WHINGE – HAVE YOUR SAY on ISSUES associated with the RACING INDUSTRY:

WAS IT A KNEE-JERK REACTION IN SA OR DOES RACING HAVE START IN NSW?

SAM J of SYDNEY writes:

‘LET me preface my following comments with an assurance that I follow horse racing, love a punt and don’t want to see industry personnel out of work.

But can someone explain to me how officials in South Australia can bring racing to a halt after three new cases of COVID were recorded while hundreds are occurring every day in New South Wales – more particularly Greater Sydney – but there is no sign of a shutdown?

In some areas in Greater Sydney residents are being told to remain in their homes and businesses are being closed at risk of bankruptcy, yet the three codes of racing continue on the assumption that it is COVID safe for these to do so.

My brother-in-law has had to temporarily shut his small business, like a lot of others. How is it a level playing field when the footballers continue to play (albeit interstate) and racing rolls on unchallenged?

Either it’s a knee-jerk reaction in South Australia or some high profile identities in the racing and rugby league world (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) in Sydney have plenty of start with the politicians calling the tune.’   

EDITOR'S NOTE: In a gigantic back-flip the SA Government has rescinded its early ban and will allow racing to continue during the lock down.

 

WILL GRACE GRACE TAKE SOME ACTION OVER WHAT IS HAPPENING AT CREEK?

JEREMY K of BRISBANE writes:

‘IS there the slightest prospect that Racing Minister Grace Grace will get off her behind and take some action over the disgraceful state of affairs – on and off the track at Albion Park harness racing?

Just when you thought punter confidence could not dip any lower, it has. When stewards can’t see what it seems everyone else can, including controversial drives in major races of the carnival, then it’s time QRIC appointed a new panel.

As for what is happening off the track, why isn’t Racing Queensland taking an interest? It’s the talk of the town in all codes of racing and has degenerated to a farcical stage.

Will someone please brief Grace on what is happening?

To think of the millions being wasted in distribution to a sport that is a laughing stock when the greyhounds have done so well but get treated like dogs, it could only happen in Queensland.

 

WHO’S DRIVING THE TRUCK WHEN IT COMES TO SYDNEY RACING MEDIA?

NEIL K of MELBOURNE writes:

‘WHAT is it about the mainstream racing media in Sydney that seems to prevent many scribes and commentators from providing constructive coverage of horse racing?

Surely the acceptance of secondary jobs on SKY Channel isn’t conditional of them marching to the beat of ‘Peter Perfect’?

As sad as that sounds, it’s certainly what many stakeholders are asking when they read the continued support for everything Sydney does to destroy the Melbourne Spring Carnival.

Competition is great but not at the expense of the overall product. Come on guys and girls, we thought cash for comment was a thing of the past. How about being a bit objective in your coverage?’

 

GREG CONTINUES TO FIGHT LOSING BATTLE OVER JOCKEYS IN BUSH

GREG BLANCHARD of NUDGEE writes:

ABOUT seven years ago a Korean Horseman High group came to Brisbane.

One of these students was Yunseob Shin, known as Alex. He stayed on and became a trackwork rider for the Rob Heathcote stable before RQ Training asked him to go to Julia Creek and join trainer Grant Wiles, which he did (paid his own airfare and enrolled in RQ Training to become a jockey).

Following Julia Creek he went to Tony Sears in Toowoomba and after completing his allocated jump-outs was given the green light to ride in barrier trials. He was then told he didn’t have the Visa.

Alex was shattered and out of pocket. He moved on to the Liam Birchley stable, still with the dream of being a jockey despite the obstacles being placed in his path.

Because of the Visa problems in Australia he decided New Zealand might be an option. I contacted the authorities there and off he went, where he became an apprentice jockey after a period of time.

Alex then went back to Korea, did his compulsory military service and only this past week became an apprentice in Korea.

Last week I met another Korean lad, who is with Godolphin and visiting Queensland. He has ridden track (even in Melbourne) well enough to be a jockey but can't because of this crazy Visa situation.

How ridiculous is that when Queensland has suffered close to 400 scratchings since August 1 2020 in the bush.

When is someone in authority going to correct this situation?

 

DEALING WITH SECOND-STRING WALLER WINNERS ON A WEEKLY BASIS

KELLY J of SYDNEY

‘MY mates and I (we’re not being half smart – we agree with you most of the time) were disappointed LGHR didn’t raise its weekly rant over second-string winners from the Chris Waller stable at Randwick last Saturday.

‘First we saw Criminal Code beat home the more fancied Papal Warrior then Blondeau was extremely well backed to win while stablemate Oscar Zulu, a favorite that was hard to lay, beat only one home in the same race.

‘The Stewards Report read: Oscar Zulu: Jumped awkwardly, shifted in and made contact with Surf Dancer. Rider K. McEvoy reported that in his opinion the gelding was not suited by the moderately run early and middle stages of the event and after shifting out to improve on the home turn disappointed in its failure to finish off the race as expected. A post-race veterinary examination did not reveal any abnormalities. Trainer Mr C. Waller concurred with the views of K. McEvoy and advised that the gelding also may be feeling the effects of recent runs on heavy tracks. He stated that he would now give the gelding a freshen-up before its next race start and undertook to report back to the Stewards if there was anything amiss with Oscar Zulu subsequent to the race.

‘That Waller excuse book seems endless as does the stewards’ acceptance of ‘reporting back if anything is amiss’ which seems to be par for the course for the beaten Waller favorites these days’.

EDITOR’S NOTE: WE’VE all but given up where multiple runners from the WALLER STABLE is concerned. Our advice, take a BUNDLE BET when you see one backed to beat your fancy being saddled up in the same race by the champion trainer.

 

VICTORIA LEADING THE WAY ON SECTIONAL TIMING TECHNOLOGY

GOOD NEWS STORY OF THE WEEK comes out of MELBOURNE:

AN outdated tracking system which clocked a horse running faster than Black Caviar has been replaced, with the new system - involving Champion Data - to be launched across metro Melbourne this week.

DAMIEN RACTLIFFE reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that renowned for its role with generating AFL statistics, Champion Data has partnered with tripleSdata to deliver Victorian racing with a new timing solution, replacing Trakus which was outdated and provided punters with unreliable sectionals.

As part of the new system’s live testing, in-play sectionals will be displayed on the industry-owned Racing.com during today’s (Wednesday) race meeting at Sandown, with the system to go live at Flemington, Caulfield and Moonee Valley by the end of August.

A full broadcast and digital suite, which will provide punters with sectional data within 15 minutes of a race being run, is expected to be available before the launch of the spring carnival, and the system should also provide broadcasters - including free-to-air partners Seven and Ten - with the scope to graphically display where horses are positioned in running.

Racing Victoria chairman Brian Kruger announced at its most recent annual general meeting in November that the industry was “very close to implementing an agreement with a new service provider, a group called tripleS, who we believe will provide a much-improved service” to the outdated Trakus system.

The flaws of Trakus were highlighted in April, when the John Sadler-trained sprinter Sartorial Splendor was clocked running a 9.52 sectional split over 200 metres, reported as running quicker than the fastest 200-metre section champion Black Caviar ever ran at 9.96.

Respected sectional data provider Daily Sectionals, who provides the industry with sectional data within 48 hours of all country TAB race meetings, later recorded the Sartorial Splendor section at 10.70, highlighting the unreliability of Trakus’ data.

Trakus was described by Racing Victoria in 2014 as world-leading technology, with the industry and state government each contributing $918,310 as part of the initial investment to roll out the GPS system at its three leading tracks.

“If we want to grow the Victorian racing industry and the economic benefits and jobs arising from it, then it is critical to invest in new technology and infrastructure for racing,” then Victorian Premier and Racing Minister Denis Napthine said at the time.

 

NOT EVEN A DRONE WILL BOOST PUNTER CONFIDENCE AT ‘RED HOTS’

SAD as it sounds in the eyes of most punters all the technology in the world won’t help the stewards at the ‘red hots’ in Queensland.

THE COURIER-MAIL reports that such is the effectiveness of the overhead footage from revolutionary drone coverage, that harness racing stewards have requested it to be used in inquiries.

Former Queensland Sheffield Shield batsman Lee Carseldine is founder of the DroneIt Group which has been providing live state-of-the-art footage for SKY Racing broadcasts during the Winter Harness Racing Carnival and reportedly have their eyes on thoroughbred racing after rave reviews from stakeholders. No doubt ‘Pete the Plodder’ will endorse anything that reduces his work-load.

The news that Racing Queensland is set to go to great lengths to try and innovate the drone usage further surprises some who question the cost viability considering the poor turnover on the ‘red hots’ – the worst of the three codes in the Sunshine State. The half-million dollar man, RQ CEO Brendan Parnell, might like to enlighten the industry what the cost of drone coverage are.

Carseldine told the CM: “There is a particular height the stewards (at Albion Park) want. We would love it above the light poles but they want it a bit lower and back from an angle point of view so we have got a good drone which allows us to zoom.”

Punters say the harness stewards need all the help they can get but doubt even the use of drone footage at inquiries will make any difference considering their perceived reluctance to charge drivers for failing to position horses to give them every chance or worse still, team driving, which is allegedly at an all-time high at Albion Park.

 

SHOULD THOSE CHARGED WITH RAPE BE STOOD DOWN FROM JOBS?

PRESUMPTION of innocence is a fundamental principle of today’s law and regardless of the charge there is a legal burden of proof on the prosecution.

There can be no exceptions to that rule but the question is being raised whether a person charged with rape should be allowed to continue working or stood down on full pay until the matter is resolved.

As ARCHIE BUTTERFLY wrote today on his subscriber-only website, www.peterprofit.com:

RAPE is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable.

It is a violation of human rights and personal liberty in the most vile of ways, and victims of the crime suffer life-long damage.

That’s why rape is punishable by imprisonment for life.

So what do you do if one of your employees is charged with this terrible violent crime?

The right thing – that’s what you do.

What sort of message does it send to your employees if you allow an accused rapist to remain in your work place?

How do you imagine the women in your work place feel if you force them to work alongside, or even under, a man who the police have arrested and charged with this evil crime?

A lot of people are asking the same questions.

  

 

‘IF PETER V’LANDYS CAN’T DESTROY THE MELBOURNE SPRING CARNIVAL THEN HE SEEMS HELLBENT ON SYDNEY HIJACKING IT'

FORMER Melbourne Racing Club chairman Mike Symons hit the nail on the head when he declared: ‘THERE is nothing Peter V’Landys won’t do to hijack the Melbourne Spring Carnival’.

MATT STEWART, Racing Editor of RSN, the only leading turf scribe in the land who seems prepared to criticize the Racing NSW supremo, responded: “Maybe Victorian racing administrators are afraid of V’landys, afraid of what he will do next, because with V’landys there are no boundaries, no respect for the greater good, no rules of engagement.

‘V’landys is energised because no-one is game enough to stop him or challenge him. He has the NSW media at heel. His myths, such as claiming funding for races such as the $7 million Golden Eagle would come via an Odds and Evens bet type, are never called out.

‘His supporters relish in his aggression. He prides himself on being “disruptive”, claiming it is his charter, along with a sole responsibility for what’s best for NSW.’

Stewart reminded us that John Messara returned to the Racing Australia chair supposedly in a bid to curtail the monumentally harmful “war” between NSW and Victoria, knowing damn well that that war is being waged almost exclusively by one man.

‘Messara should have quickly expressed his astonishment at V’landys’ latest assault but has said nothing. He may say something after he chairs his first RA board meeting this week. We will wait and see.’

We, at LGHR, watching from afar in no-man’s land – Racing Queensland – won’t be holding our breath. One thing’s for sure though, this has highlighted the gutlessness of the powerbrokers of Racing Victoria to take Vlandys on – not their ‘politeness’ as Stewart suggests.

The success of The Everest has made V’landys even more ‘power-drunk’ and given him carte blanche to do what he damn well pleases in the eyes of the easy-convinced constituents of NSW, regardless of the effect it has on racing nationally.

As Stewart wrote: ‘Emboldened, he kept plundering the back end of spring with Gongs, Hunters and Golden Eagles, arguing that the sunny skies and rugby-free space of late spring was up for grabs and that someone had to take it.

‘Maybe the polite powerbrokers of Victoria fear that by responding with vitriol and condemnation, the Racing NSW marauder will press his foot harder on Victoria’s throat and whack on a $5 million, $10 million, whatever million two-mile race in late October.

‘Maybe he would be devilish enough to take advantage of the vulnerability we created out of necessity and invite Europe’s best two-mile handicappers without burdening them with difficult “nuclear medicine” and scans, and cripple the Melbourne Cup.

‘Maybe the hoax story that appeared on April Fools’ Day, of the $5 million Harbour Cup at Randwick on our Derby Day, will in fact be dropped from the skies.’

IN the absence of any real retaliation from officialdom in Victoria, Stewart is spot-on with his suggestion that: ‘The correct response would be for every PRA in Australia, plus every major stakeholder – owners, trainers, jockey associations – to agree that V’landys’ reckless self-interest is causing great damage to pillars that are crucial to the overall success and attraction of horse racing in this country. Collectively these groups must send V’landys a thundering message of condemnation. Apply pressure.

‘The success of the Melbourne spring racing carnival benefits the sport of horse racing, not just Melbourne horse racing, just as Royal Ascot is a celebration of English racing and Wimbledon is a celebration of tennis.

‘Likewise, the Sydney autumn carnival is a shared showpiece, not just a Sydney hit. There is a very important thing called “the greater good.

‘Carving up jockey ranks, dividing the already-thin ranks of our good horses between states at prime carnival time trashes the most basic attraction of any sport; best against best. Imagine Roland Garros whacking on a $10 million tennis invitation during Wimbledon just because it could and the weather was good. Imagine Newmarket doing something similar during Royal Ascot. Imagine a breakaway soccer league in Europe.

Racing, not only in NSW but nationally – regards top Murdoch turf scribe, Ray Thomas, as a ‘spin doctor’ and ‘public relations merchant’ for everything Peter V’landys does.

Sadly, his Fairfax colleague Chris Roots is starting to follow suit. Do you need that second job at SKY that badly Rottsy?

An old mate of LGHR, Chris wrote a column this week in which he declared:

RACING NSW has become so blase about announcing new multimillion-dollar races that it’s now done by press release, rather than screaming it from the rooftops, with Druitt St happy to leave that to the response of rivals from down south.

Friday was the final insult, no carefully marketed announcement, just take that Victoria. There is no need for Racing NSW to search for publicity because that was taken care of by the critics, particularly in Melbourne.

The unveiling of The Invitation, a $2 million 1400m race for fillies and mares, on Cox Plate day proved just that for critics of Sydney’s incursion into the spring: a focal point of attack.

Throw in a $1 million Group 2 over 2000m on the same day as the Turnbull Stakes, albeit under different conditions to the 2000m test at Flemington, and the now-$1 million George Main Stakes, and there was uproar.

There is a place for innovation in any sport or business. The Everest was the perfect example of taking horse racing forward. It’s an unprecedented success for a sport that had lost its way. It has opened racing back up to the general public, whose interest was waning.

But it has promoted the bitter divide across the Murray which means NSW and Victoria now only co-exist in racing rather than co-operate.

Does The Invitation add to the spring? Certainly! Does it mean races in Melbourne are weaker? Probably! Some would say “tick, tick” for Racing NSW.

Victoria continues to hang its hat on tradition as it attempts to hold on to the most profitable months of the year in terms of revenue. With financial models state-based on racefields fees it means they have the market cornered and it is this part of the pie that Racing NSW has, unashamedly, targeted.

Before The Everest sparked the war, Victoria refused to boost stakes on its carnival races, content in the knowledge that there was nowhere else to race in October and November.

There is competition now, but has it gone too far?

The Sydney spring has lifted betting returns to the NSW industry. It has also increased the return for those who compete at the top end of racing in Sydney and Melbourne, which had been long overdue.

But it has split the best product the sport has, crucially, when it can be shown in its best light and gain maximum exposure.

Days like the Cox Plate, Derby day, and the Melbourne Cup are the showcase of the sport to everyone in the country and around the world, not just punters. As are the Golden Slipper and The Championships, an innovative twist on a traditional date, which has made April racing a focus for the sporting public once again.

The Caulfield Cup and The Everest have shown the benefit of being run on the same day, but this should be the exception rather than the rule.

These big days are where Jamie Kah and James McDonald should pit their skills against each other. Where Chris Waller, Godolphin and the Freedmans aspire to make their names with best bloodstock in the land. They shouldn’t have to make a decision on which side of the border they should compete.

Racing is not doing a good job of wrestling with this dilemma. The infighting is tearing the sport apart and weakening it in an increasingly competitive entertainment landscape.

The one thing you forgot to mention Rootsy – is that it is being caused by the ‘reckless self-interest and my way or the highway’ attitude of one man – who seems hell-bent on destroying the Spring Carnival in Victoria. He’s the one that has muddied the waters.

Ironically, while they want to talk up turnover and prizemoney, an important aspect that is continually overlooked by the V’landys’ cheer squad is CROWDS. And as long as little Peter’s bum points to the ground (and he continues to destroy the great game of ‘rugba’ league as well – Sydney will never attract the massive crowds that turn out in Melbourne for the major race days.

  

 

 

KINANE IS NOT SAME STAR HORSE SINCE HE RACED AT EAGLE FARM

ARCHIE BUTTERFLY saved us the time at LGHR when he wrote this item which we reproduce with his permission from the subscriber-only site, www.peterprofit.com

FIFTEEN months ago, after he had won the Frank Packer Plate at just his third start, the connections of the then boom three-year-old stayer Kinane rejected a $2.8 million offer from Hong Kong to sell him.

It was a staggering amount of money to offer for a gelding, and given that the syndicate of owners has paid just $165 000 for Kinane as a yearling, common business sense would been to sell, sell sell, but racehorse ownership has never been a game of pure ration and reason, it's an exercise in chance, hope and dreams of Cox Plate and Cup Day joy.

So driven by these emotions rather than acumen, the syndicate of owners knocked the $2.8 million bid back and, on the advice of their trainer Chris Waller, they took their star north to the reborn Eagle Farm for the 2020 Brisbane Winter Carnival.

It was the worst move they'd ever made in their lives, one that in the space of just two minute would turn their Cinderella Man into a pumpkin.

The Group 3 Gunsynd Stakes, 23rd of May 2020.

It is a race and date that the poor buggers who own Kinane and refused to sell him will remember for the rest of their lives.

Eagle Farm was rock hard that day, like flint overlaid on a base of steel, despite the official Good 4 rating.

Ratings don't mean much at the historical HQ of Brisbane racing anymore. The course proper there is ALWAYS rate a Good 4, even after six days of torrential rain in a tropical monsoohn, but the connections of Kinane didn't know that then, nor did Winxy Waller. If only they'd listened to us it could all have been different, for we tried to tell them, but our warnings fell on deaf ears.

So off to the Farm they went, and for about 180 seconds it looked like a brilliant call, for their star 3YO had put in amazing performance that day, coming from last to run third, giving away a conservative ten lengths to the leaders in the straight and powering home like a rocket. It was an enormous run that had Derby written all over it.

Then the $2.8 million gelding returned to the mounting yard, and joy in an instant turned to despair.

Kinane had pulled up sore.

Chris Waller immediately pulled the pin on the Brisbane campaign, announcing that he was redirecting his star stayer in the making to the Spring in Sydney, and then Melbourne after that.

It was just a slight setback they all thought.

How wrong even the nation's greatest trainer could be.

No-one knew it at the time, but on that day Kinane's career as a racehorse was dead.

Eagle Farm had killed it.

Kinane came back as promised in the Spring, and a promising first-up run over 1400 metres on a soft track at Randwick had everyone excited again, but the older, wiser heads were quietly questioning why Waller had raced a horse of his calibre in a restricted class BM88 instead of starting his Group 1 campaign in the black type Winx Stakes or the Show County run on the same day.

Their questions became louder when Waller put Kinane in another restricted second-up a fortnight later instead of running him in the Chelmsford or the Tramway. It was just the great trainer's genius many retorted when the issue of the unorthodox campaign was raised, but as we were all soon to learn it wasn't, and they were wrong. Winxy was just praying and hoping for a miracle.

The Caulfield Cup favourite put in a shocker that day, finishing well down the track in tenth place and being beaten home by ability limited gallopers like Sir Plush and Matowi. This time the excuse was second-up syndrome. He'd be better in Melbourne they said.

So down south Kinane sailed to line up at Caulfield fortnight later in the Catanach Stakes, so desperately chasing prizemoney to get him qualified for the Cups that Waller scratched two of his stablemates to get him into the field.

He should have left them in.

Kinane went worse not better, finishing 13th of 16 runners, beaten a country mile without giving a yelp.

Two weeks later he broke down at trackwork at Flemington.

The Cups dream was over.

It was all over.

The Stewards put a bar on him, and off to the paddock Kinane went.

While he was out spelling Waller quietly told the connections that it might be best to move him on, so they sent him back to Melbourne and Mick Kent, who had trained him for one start as a juvenile. Maybe a return to familiar surrounds might get him back to where he was before he went to Eagle Farm they figured.

But dreams are dime a dozen in racing, and theirs was dead.

At the end of last month Kinane appeared for the first time in nine months in a mid-winter benchmark 88 at Caulfield.

He went like a busted banana, but it was only to get worse, for yesterday the horse that only a year and a quarter ago they'd knocked $2.8 million for turned up in a Welter over 1600m at Flemington and ran last, beaten 9 lengths by a bunch of nobodies. The next time we see him will be in an online horse sale with a price tag of 20 grand, or running around jumping over fences at Casterton in a steeple.

Eagle Farm's a great track they say.

Try telling that to the owners of Kinane.

I don't think they will believe you.

Moral of the story?

Never race your good young horses at the Farm.

Always sell when you are offered a seven figure sum.

There is always a new day and another horse.

But there's never another three million.

 

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