Jenny - Clean

IN his widely-read column, ‘SILKS & SADDLES,’ published by the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER, respected racing writer TERRY BUTTS reports that the extraordinary step taken by Racing Minister Stephen Dickson to engage a high profile panel to oversee Racing Board appointments threatens to backfire.

Butts says that many in the industry view the inclusion of former Judge Bill Carter on the panel as ‘politically provocative’ because of his history of run-ins with the previous Bentley Board and a close association with the former QTC and the interim RQL Chairman Kevin Dixon.

Butts also reports on the meteoric rise of North Queensland apprentice Aidan Holt who rode a winner at Eagle Farm last Saturday.

Here is the Butts column:

EXTRAORDINARY STEP BY MINISTER PROVES ‘POLITICALLY PROVOCATIVE’

THE extraordinary step taken by Racing Minister Stephen Dickson to engage a high profile independent panel to oversee Racing Board appointments suggests that he was aware of industry concerns about the process.

Unfortunately the inclusion of former Judge Bill Carter, alongside that of former Governor Major General Peter Arnison and former Queensland Police Commissioner Jim O’Sullivan, has proved politically provocative and again divided the industry.

The many run-ins that Mr Carter had with the Bentley administration and his close association with the Queensland Turf Club is well documented. But from an industry perspective the concern is whether the reports are true that he and Racing Queensland interim chairman Kevin Dixon worked closely in the consultation process with the Newman Government when new racing legislation was formulated.

With all due respects to the integrity of the three gentlemen chosen to fulfill the important task of overseeing the selection process for the Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board and the three all code boards, many in racing in Queensland believe some appointments are a foregone conclusion.

There is strong feeling that the race for positions was run and won long before the final field was assembled. If the Sports Betting agencies were framing a price on the outcome they would have Kevin Dixon long odds-on to be Chairman of Racing Queensland and Chairman of the Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board with his chosen first lieutenant Greg Hallam a certainty to secure one of the Government appointments on QACRIB.

 

TRIPLE BACK SOMERSAULT BY MINISTER WHEN IT COMES TO COUNTRY REPRESENTATION

THEREIN lies the problem for the country which is crying out for a voice on the new all-powerful Board and was promised the same before the LNP won Government.

But now the Racing Minister has done a triple back somersault on that issue and says the nominees with the best credentials will be selected regardless of where they are from – which means the country promise could be broken.

There are several good candidates with the right credentials from the country, a couple of whom are now questioning whether their chances will be enhanced or diminished with the appointment of an independent panel.

They can only hope that the promise of Racing Minister Dickson comes to fruition when he says: “These three men of impeccable standing (Arnison, Carter and O’Sullivan) will take on the vitally important role of selecting those who will lead the Queensland racing into a bright new future.

“Their recommendations will give Queensland’s 30,000 strong racing industry a leadership team with the experience to take the racing industry forward after years of mis-management and under-performance.”

The new Boards are expected to be announced in March. It is vitally important that the right people are appointed as they will face crucial issues like dealing with corporate bookies, the emergence of the phenomenon of sports betting, the amalgamation  of TV and media, TAB distribution, dwindling crowds and the perennial  subject of prizemoney.

 

CONCERNING ASPECT HAS BEEN TIMING OF SELECTION PROCESS OVER HOLIDAYS

RACING Minister Dickson told a gathering of racing stakeholders in Townsville and Cairns last November that it was up to licensees to put forward their best candidates. No doubt they have, including some respected and highly qualified identities from the country.

Now it’s up to a relatively unknown recruitment agency, who will vet the applicants and create a ‘short list’ before the ‘big three panel’ makes final recommendations to the Minister that will decide the fate and destiny of Queensland Racing.

The other concerning aspect of this affair is the timing. Applicants had until January 4 to submit their nominations that were first called in December.

You might agree, it is hardly the most convenient time of year to gather testimonials, prepare a CV and canvass support.

And the question remains…why the unusual timing?

* I had hoped to bring you the news first that an independent panel of three high profile identities would be appointed to oversee the selection process but when I did the right thing and tried to confirm this with the Racing Department they spoilt the ‘exclusive’ by issuing a Media Release one day later.

What also concerns me is that a private conversation that I had concerning issues in racing with a senior officer in the Minister’s Department was repeated to RQL chairman Kevin Dixon within minutes. If that is keeping arm’s length between the Government and the nominees for key positions on the racing control boards, then heaven help the industry, especially as Racing Minister Dickson has said that appointments of directors to the previous RQL bord was ‘shrouded in mystery and open to claims of cronyism and jobs for the boys.’

The recruitment agency reports that there are 60 applicants for the 11 positions (on the three all code Boards and the Umbrella Body) - and says it won’t have time to interview all of them.

Some will be interviewed – some won’t because of time restrictions. The question has to be posed: Is that good enough?

 

QUEENSLAND DIDN’T RATE A SINGLE MENTION IN SKY – TVN MERGER ANNOUNCEMENT

QUEENSLAND, due to poor decision making in the past, has been left well behind and unfortunately lost its standing and reputation as a leading national player.

We didn’t rate a single mention when the momentous news broke recently of the Sky and TVN merger. The only talk was how it will benefit the racing industry in Melbourne and Sydney.

It is no secret that Queensland, under Bob Bentley, was on the nose with TVN which seems to have emerged as the dominant media player. It is equally well know that not everyone on the BRC Board was totally in favor of going with Sky.  

TVN, as you are no doubt aware, seldom covers Queensland racing. And, of course, it’s history how Queensland decided not to go with NSW in their successful action against the corporate bookies for a turnover tax – a lamentable and short-sighted decision that, in the opinion of many in the industry, has cost this State dearly.

 

METEORIC RISE TO CITY WIN FOR APPRENTICE WHO HADN’T RIDDEN A YEAR AGO

AT this time last year young Aidan Holt still hadn’t ridden in a race.

Last week he had ridden 38 winners and an impressive 12 from his last 50 mounts.

Not a bad record for a boy from the Burdekin who from the time he could walk was destined to be a jockey – and is making every post a winner in spite of the very real spectre of increasing weight.

On Saturday it was young Aiden’s first race ride at Eagle Farm where he is now apprenticed to ex Townsville trainer Steven O’Dea. And he came up trumps saluting on Little Brown Horse.

He rides 10 horses a day work at headquarters and has obviously impressed other trainers with his ability, his improvement and his work ethic.

 

AIDAN IS NOT ONLY A PROMISING RIDER BUT A GOOD JUDGE AS WELL

AIDAN rode a young two year old for Liam Birchley one morning and was pretty impressed.

“I rode her in a short jump out, and Liam asked me to ride her again later in a long jump out- months ago.

Aidan had no idea of its name but came back that morning said to the master trainer: “Take this anywhere and it will win.”  

It was a big statement for a teenager just taking off in his chosen career.

Birchley took the filly to Toowoomba where Aidan, being licensed only for provincial meetings, was able to ride her.

Missy Longstockings was the horse. And of course she bolted in. That’s the same filly than ran third in the Magic Millions Classic on Saturday behind Real Surreal.

So obviously the kid had not only learned to ride under O’Dea and his stable jockey Ryan Wiggins and others, who have freely offered advice, but he is also a pretty good judge.

Some jockeys are and some aren’t.

 

FAVORITE UNCLE CREDITED WITH THE SUCCESS STORY OF AIDAN HOLT

AIDAN reckons it goes back to his early childhood when he used to follow his favourite uncle Alby Molino all over the place.

“He used to follow me around from the age of four” recalls Alby

“He never thought or talked about anything else but being a jockey.

“He used to come to all the race meetings around the Burdekin with me and dress up as a jockey at the school fancy dress evenings,” said Alby, now training at Cluden after a very successful 1018 winners as a jockey.

Alby was really king of the mountain around the northern country circuit and always in great demand at his home tracks Ayr and Home Hill.

Aidan left school “as soon as I could” to realize his dream to ride. He moved in with Alby and his family and was soon a regular site around the Cluden riding tracks aboard a horse and uncle Alby by his side.

He graduated to Cluden racecourse and went ahead in leaps and bounds, in demand by all trainers. The kid’s thirst for riding was  insatiable.

And when the track session was over he would ride others around “pig hill,” a famous half mile track around the scrub near the Cluden residential area.

It was used by trainers for generations before being closed by the Government and fenced off just a few months ago. No announcement - just rudely closed to all and sundry.

 

COUPLE OF TOP TRAINERS DIDN’T WANT HIM BUT AIDEN MADE THE GRADE 

ALBY saw the potential in his nephew and decided he should send him south for more experience.

There is more scope down there. He could always come back but Brisbane is the place to make your mark,” opined the old jockey cum trainer.

So at first he tried Bryan Guy at the Gold Coast because Albury himself had spent time with Guy’s father, the highly respected Ray Guy in Sydney in the 70s.

“They didn’t want him, nor did Kelly Schweida, so we asked Steven O’Dea and the rest is history. Aiden is probably the best horse in his stable.”

Aidan has been restricted by design to country and provincial track where he now claims 2kg.

He says he will concentrate on the Gold Coast apprentice premiership this season, and when he out-rides his country claim (2kg) he can go  to the city tracks and still claim 3kg.

At the rate he is going- 38 winners in 11 months and still improving- A.Holt will be on the city tracks before the end of the season.

And no doubt his 3kg claim will be in great demand for the kid simply living his dream.

 

COLUMN COURTESY OF TERRY BUTTS AND THE NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER, one of Australia's leading rural newspapers.

TERRY BUTTS can be contacted by e-mailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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