IN his widely-read column, ‘SILKS & SADDLES,’ published by the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER, respected racing writer TERRY BUTTS reports on speculation that there could be a wildcard inclusion on the all powerful Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board in Kevin Seymour.

An influential businessman with strong ties to harness racing, Mr Seymour would present somewhat of a predicament for the independent panel, especially former Judge Bill Carter, as he is the major shareholder in Tattsbet.

Butts also reports on a promising apprentice who has relocated from the north to Brisbane and in-fighting over TAB race dates in the north creating a backlash for Racing Queensland.

Here is the Butts column:


IF the racing grapevine proves accurate – which it so often does – the chances of a country voice on the new Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board is becoming more remote by the day but our troubles may not end there.

Nominations have now closed and the process has begun for the recruitment company to select a short list for the independent panel to make recommendations to Racing Minister Stephen Dickson by March.

Speculation is strong that one of Queensland’s most powerful and influential businessman, Kevin Seymour, who has a strong involvement in the harness industry, could be among the applicants for QACRIB.

If the mail is correct then Mr Seymour will almost certainly join Greg Hallam as the two Government appointees alongside Kevin Dixon, who will be an automatic QACRIB member as Chairman of the Racing Queensland Board and the country will miss out on that ‘voice’ that was promised by the LNP Government.

The rumors about Mr Seymour have sent shock waves through the gallops industry where he also races horses. Most thought if he was interested in a position it would be Chairman of Queensland Harness Racing which would give him an automatic seat on QACRIB.

It is all very much speculation at this stage but if Mr Seymour does emerge on the short list for the all-powerful umbrella Board then it will certainly provide somewhat of a headache for independent panelist Bill Carter.

The former judge was very outspoken about the conflict of interest that he felt existed when Bob Bentley was RQL Chairman because of the position he also held on the Tattersall’s Board. Well Mr Seymour is not only a member of the Tattersall’s Board as well but the major share-holder of that group.

Then again, it might also be declared that if it was good enough for Bob Bentley then it is good enough for Kevin Seymour to serve two masters. My understanding is whenever a matter involving Tattersall’s was raised at RQL Board level that Mr Bentley disqualified himself from the discussion.

That could well be the case with Mr Seymour but wouldn’t it be better to have a full Board there when the important negotiations begin for a new TAB Privatization Agreement. The more experienced hands on deck the better and Mr Seymour certainly couldn’t be part of that process which holds the key to the future of the racing industry in Queensland.

They certainly need a legal brain with knowledge of racing involved in the negotiations if that side isn’t to be out-sourced at yet another waste of good money for the industry.



THE problem for the thoroughbred industry – not just country racing which will be lacking a voice on this important board – lies in harness racing having too much influence.

If the mail is correct about Kevin Seymour being an applicant for the QACRIB then harness racing will have a second representative on the Board when the minor code chairman takes up automatic representation as well.

It could then become a numbers’ game and if may mail is right the greyhound industry will need all the help it can get from the other minor code. In fact three people with minor code interests could out-vote the two from the gallops.

To take that situation a step further I would like to reproduce an e-mail that I received a few days ago from My Spy in the Deagon Bunker, who over the past six months has proven spot-on with the news that he has leaked to us.

Hi Terry,

Thought you would like to let your readers know that the bunker is coming to life again.

All the talk is the appointment of the three wise men to oversee the selection of the various new Boards.

As most people already seem to know the composition of these Boards it beggars belief why these three have been appointed. Most guess it’s easy money if you can get it.

So we have an old cop, a stalwart of the Old Guard of the QTC and a retired Imperialist to apparently decide who runs our multi-million dollar industry.

At least they have something in common. They have all spent the latter part of their working lives being handsomely provided for by the public purse. It would seem it is a habit that is hard to break.

The other looming news is the big comeback by the harness industry people with their little representative in here now jumping from the back of the Bentley horse to that of Dixon.

It is no secret they were on the nose under the previous regime. Now their main backer not surprisingly seems to have the ear and captivation of the powers that be so much so that we can look forward to the announcement of their new complex in the Jacobs Well/Pimpama area.

That is probably no great shock except that the greyhound mob are going to be filthy (not that that is going to be a big concern to the revamped QTC Control Body).

The greyhound industry has been promised their own stand-alone complex by various Governments over the last few years to replace the Parklands facility. They were pinning their hopes on the construction of their own complex at Logan.

Alas that will not happen. They will be joining their natural enemies further south at Pimpama/ Jacobs Well. Looks like the fun times are here again.

Regards from Your Man in the Deagon bunker



THE release of TAB draft dates for the 2013-14 racing season has caused ill-feeling between Mackay and Townsville with allegations of favoritism and a looming backlash for Racing Queensland.

Mackay Turf Club, which currently races 32 times, claims the future of racing in that region has been threatened with the proposal to cut four Tuesday TAB meetings whilst Townsville gets an increase.

An angry Mackay Turf Club president Ian Joblin claims the decision to reduce racing at Ooralea does not make sense when the complex recently underwent a $7.4 million upgrade.

The draft plan, which was released recently by RQL for discussion with clubs throughout the state, has seen Mackay lose meetings while Townsville will enjoy more (and some Sunday racing), has been branded by Mr Joblin as ‘illogical.’

“We had hoped that this review of race dates would have in fact gone some of the way to reducing the disparity that exists between the number of race meetings held in Mackay in comparison to Rockhampton and Townsville” he told the Daily Mercury.

“Instead the draft dates only further exacerbates a problem that has existed for some time, further punishing any trainers that chose to locate themselves in Mackay."

Mr Joblin said Mackay trainers already were forced to travel a huge amount as part of their contribution to the North Queensland racing circuit.

“Given that Mackay has one of the best racetracks in Queensland, funded by taxpayers in the last 12 months, it seems unusual to reduce the use of this public asset.

“We would have expected that such a wonderful asset to the community and in particular the racing industry would have been better utilized.

“Rockhampton and Townsville racetracks are susceptible to flooding, whereas the Mackay track is built to withstand substantial volumes of rain. For this asset not to be used to the advantage of the North Queensland racing industry again seems illogical.



DESPITE the protestations of a parochial Ian Joblin he cannot argue that the quality of Mackay racing has been under the spotlight despite the magnificent new facilities and it is generally accepted that meetings there often rely on the support of the John Manzelmann stable for survival.

Mackay-based Manzelmann, arguably one of the biggest owner-trainers in the State, has publicly admitted that he receives constant requests to nominate more horses at country venues so meetings will stand up. “A lot of clubs wouldn't be there if it wasn't for me and it's not just the bush clubs that are in strife.

"Half of the meetings at Mackay wouldn't stand up if it wasn't for me. And then at certain times of the year if it wasn't for myself and a couple of other guys from Mackay, there's meetings at Rocky and Townsville that would fall over.''

Mr Joblin claims: “The fact that trainers will now be forced to travel even more is of grave concern to Mackay Turf Club as it raises concerns that these trainers will chose to relocate to centres where travel is far less necessary.

“If this does occur then our ability to maintain our horse population will be affected dramatically which will further reduce our ability to hold satisfactory field size race meetings which may in fact lead to lost races or meetings.”



IAN Joblin argues that the fact the majority of country TAB meetings to be lost next season would come from Rockhampton and Mackay only punishes the two centres that contribute most to the travelling horse population.

In contrast he points out that data from RQL showed that horses from Townsville did not support meetings in Mackay and Rockhampton but for some reason there was no planned reduction in meetings in Townsville.  

“This does nothing to encourage support for our race meetings into the future, thereby further placing Mackay meetings in jeopardy and therefore the future of thoroughbred racing in this region.

“Mackay Turf Club will be writing to RQL to express these concerns in a logical and factual manner, and hope that they will respond accordingly, so that a decision can be made that will benefit all stakeholders in North Queensland, rather than what appears to be at the moment a further escalation of disparity.

“It is hoped that RQL will reconsider the draft dates as currently presented,” Mr Joblin said.

The MTC had expressed concerns before Christmas after hearing speculation that meetings would be lost. This prompted a questionnaire to RQL Chairman Kevin Dixon, in which he was asked:

Mackay recently underwent a $7 million redevelopment, including a state-of-the-art StrathAyr track. There is a feeling Mackay may not be supported because this was a project of the former Bob Bentley-led regime. What is your reaction to these concerns?

To which Mr Dixon replied:

‘The racing industry is by its very nature prone to colourful and emotional rationalisation. The concern you raise has no basis and is not something we would ever consider as appropriate. Speaking for myself, only in the last few weeks I sent a filly to be trained in Mackay by one of your Mackay-based trainers. Unfortunately he has since come back to me this week with a less-than-glowing assessment of ability, so she has had to be moved on.



NORTH Queensland apprentice Braydn Swaffer has come a long way in a short time and I understand that he has now joined the Pat Duff stable in Brisbane.

This is a wonderful career move for a young jockey with such a terrific future as the Duff stable has proved a great nursery over many years for some of the best riders to emerge in this state, including Mick Dittman, Michael Pelling and Jim Byrne.

Swaffer, 17, who enjoyed the best weekend of his brief career with a treble for his former boss Trevor Rowe at the two-day Cairns Cup meeting, won’t take long to be sought after by the stables in south-east Queensland. 

Rowe is a great fan of the teenager who he believes deserves every success that comes his way in the tough world of race riding. “I've never seen a person work as hard as he does for a 17-year-old,” Rowe said recently.

Swaffer, who has been riding in races for a little over 12 months, competed extensively in horse sports and rodeos before beginning his apprenticeship with Rowe two years ago.

“Mum and dad have got horses and our farrier put us on to Trevor,” said Swaffer, who was born and bred in Gordonvale and now looks forward to taking the next step with his promising riding career in the ‘big smoke.’



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