THE late mail was strong and Bob the Builder was more than a shade concerned about the consequences of failing to reach a compromise with angry jockeys over the whip issue.

If things turned nasty for the ‘little lads’ big Richie Callander had threatened to throw his size sixteen shoes at the podium during the media conference.

“Should we wear crash helmets?” asked Bob’s trusty sidekick, Andy, still suffering nightmares from the time he fell off his rocking horse as a kid.

Forget about the threat to the Spring Carnival and trying to explain to ‘Tricky Dicky’ how he had cost the TAB millions of dollars in turnover, this was a more serious threat for Builder Bob.

Big Richie had told his legion of fans on TVN that he would give up betting if jockeys were refused permission to use the whip. “Think about what that will do to the turnover,” Bob reminded fellow Board members.

To make matters worse Bob’s better half had lunched with a couple of the ‘girls’ back home at the Coast and they had relayed a tip that the jockeys were planning a ‘get square’ as well.

It was something hatched after watching that Serena ‘Junk In the Trunk’ lass threaten to shove a tennis ball down the throat of a lineswoman after a couple of questionable calls at the US Open.

Some nasty little hobbit had suggested they should shove one of their padded whips where the Sun never shines for Bob. “Perhaps we should fit you out with one of those protectors the cricketers wear,” suggested Andy.

It wasn’t worth the risk. There was no choice but to compromise. But what about the animal welfare lobby? Let them stand up on the podium and dodge Big Richie’s size sixteen’s.

If only the jockeys had appointed ‘Bossy’ as their mediator, thought Bob. He was a ‘pushover’ in that interview on Melbourne Racing Radio. “I almost felt like he was on our side,” the Builder confided in his trusty sidekick. “Perhaps he was still suffering from the after-effects of the shellacking he copped from that double-barreled named trainer bloke.”

But this problem wouldn’t exist if only he had remembered to lock Big Razor in his kennel back at stewards’ headquarters in Sydney. After all they had the dispensation of the animal welfare mob to use these padded whips until some smarty pants started grandstanding.

There was no need for any changing of the rules. The vets had come to the party and convinced the protestors that the padded whips caused no harm to the horse – and they didn’t.

Bob had living proof of that after giving Sammy the Shetland pony fifty blood-curdling lashes for roaming in the back door of the farm house and munching on that autographed portrait of ‘Tony the Tosser’ – Queensland racing’s answer to Arfa Dunger.

What we have to do is produce a compromise that is so confusing that no-one – especially the jockeys – will understand it, thought Bob. A master-stroke, said Andy, almost sounding like Sherlock’s Dr Watson.

And that’s what they did – but as Andy was quick to point out they had, in the process, created yet another nightmare for racing officialdom.

“We’ll almost need a bean counter to determine the number of times each jockey has hit his horse in the run to the line and if they have breached the rules,” Andy said. “Think of the extra cost of employing these people at every venue across the land. Who’s going to pay for that?”

Bob went for the blood pressure pills washing them down with a dash of sparkling mineral water from the Crown Towers mini-bar, rather than risk that muddy stuff that comes out of the taps in Melbourne.

He thought back to the team of stewards he had assembled in more recent times at home in Queensland. “They don’t teach these young fellows to spell or count these days. Where am I going to get a stipe who can count to seven without taking his shoes and socks off?” he asked out loud.

“What about that bloke you had trouble finding a job for up there? You know the one that they had doing the speed maps that had all the horses that normally settle back in the field up the front,” Andy asked.

Couldn’t use him, Bob thought to himself. He has to get his missus to help him take his shoes off. Maybe if we just pretend that someone is counting the number of hits, no-one will know the difference.

Let’s face it there wasn’t a murmur from the media when that top jockey belted the crap out of one at Eagle Farm last Saturday and the stewards didn’t notice it either. But that comes as no surprise – there was that winner that had beaten only a couple home at its previous run and they didn’t seem to see anything wrong with that either.

But that’s the way things are in Queensland racing. This whole whip issue would never have got off the ground up there. Every Saturday seems to be siesta time in the stewards’ room. Who cares if the poor old punter keeps doing his backside on form reversals at the Brisbane gallops?

Let’s face it at spring-time all they care about is racing in Sydney and Melbourne and smelling the Flemington roses. Before we know it the Cup will be here and this whole whip thingy will be nothing more than a forgettable ‘storm in a tea-cup.’

It will be just like the situation where they reckoned there was a communal electric saddle being used at one of the major training tracks in Queensland. The story goes that a trainer’s wife, who found him having an affair with his strapper, marched the saddle into the stewards and was just as quickly shown the door. Whatever happened to that saddle?

Then there were those stories about the steward said to have a nice little sideline with an interest in a lap-dancing club. Now who would have believed that? Everyone knew he organized those great ‘boys only’ sportsmen’s lunches with entertainment to die for.

Why one big media man was told he could even have one of the ‘performers’ visit his home that evening if he parted with some hard-earned. No real problem. It probably looked good on his resume when he went for that job with integrity services.

So why worry about the use of something as simple as a padded whip when in some places far more serious issues have been overlooked for so long. And overseas they even haul a jockey in at some centres if he doesn’t flog his horse to the line.

Now we haven’t mentioned the ‘red hots’ or the ‘leg lifters’ where for many years it was ‘anything goes’ without as much as a whimper from the animal lobbyists.

That reminds us of the story of our good mate, Yogi, who had a greyhound they were setting up for a ‘big kill’ – we didn’t mean the kind you might be thinking of.

This was of the betting plunge variety – not the possum or pussycat sort. Yogi had a mate who claimed he could get this great ‘hit’ for the dog that wouldn’t swab, so the trainer agreed to give it a go. The ‘go fast’ pills arrived and Yogi placed them on the kitchen table about the same time as his missus left Yogi junior’s vitamin tables there while the young fella dressed for the Little Athletics carnival.

You don’t need to be told the two got mixed up. The plunge went astray and the greyhound ran last. But Yogi junior lapped the field in the Little Athletics, went straight past the winning post, out the gate and down the road. He was jogging on the highway outside town when they located him a half hour later.

But back to the gallops and who will ever forget the racing ‘walloper’ they called ‘Peggy the Pig Dog’ warning her cousin not to smoke any more of that good grass because stable raids and testing were about to begin? Problem was the cousin told her fellow workers about the warning and where it came from.

Then there was the steward in the outback who conducted a raid on track-work riders and every-one of them tested positive. It left him with no jockeys to ride at his race meeting so they swept the whole thing under the carpet because the show must go on.

This is so much fun we could go on forever but let’s not make our racing policemen the ‘whipping boys’ for the real issue and save some of the ‘goodies’ for a later column.

We are pleased to report that Big Richie has his shoes planted firmly on the ground, the little ‘guys’ are keeping their whips to themselves and like Denny Crane and Alan Shore from Boston Legal, Builder Bob and his trusty sidekick, Andy, are sitting back, enjoying a drink and celebrating another tough and successful day at the office.