IN his popular column, ‘SILKS & SADDLES,’ published by the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER, respected racing writer TERRY BUTTS reports on the continuing sad saga of Steve Hogno and the injustice he continues to cop from the courts and the racing authorities in Queensland. He is now bound for a High Court challenge to his appeal decision.

Butts has an update on the closed ring saga in North Queensland that is causing much controversy, the story of a young bookmaker who wants to field but can’t get a fair go and has a nice piece on the new kid on the block in the north’s riding ranks.

Here is the Butts column:

 

STEVE HOGNO HOPING TO TAKE HIS ‘UNJUST’ CASE TO THE HIGH COURT

THE sad, sad saga of Steve Hogno, the former Toowoomba stud-master we wrote about last week who says he has lost his life savings fighting a traumatic legal battle with Racing Queensland, is now destined for the High Court of Australia.

That’s if the poor man can obtain leave to appeal to the highest court in the land the most recent Supreme Court appeal decision that has him on the brink of bankruptcy.

But it has been pointed out that bankruptcy – in this supposed great democratic country of ours – would probably work against his efforts to get the matter to the High Court – in spite of being told by an eminent silk that he has good grounds.

Hogno has done nothing wrong under today’s Rules of Racing yet he was rubbed out 15 years ago for attending and participating in a sports day at Kooralbyn.

This was an event no different in terms of licensing to the Mackay Beach Races which Corey Brown and other high profile licensees attended last year.

It is also an event to which the Queensland Government (you might say hypocritically) last week donated $37,000 through its Tourism budget.

 

MOST PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT STEVE HOGNO DESERVES AN APOLOGY

MOST people in the racing industry believe that Steve Hogno not only deserves an apology but also some assistance from the Government and the authorities.

He was part-owner of a registered racehorse when he took his quarter horse to the sports day 14 years ago. That’s the offence.

But instead of an apology, his plea to the Racing Minister Steve Dickson has been ignored  and worse, he says he  is being mercilessly hounded by RQ for half a million dollars in legal fees.

It is simply not good enough for Mr Dickson to say: “I can ‘t get involved”.

 Of course he can – and of course he should.

Then there is the many thousands Hogno has spent  fighting for his innocence.

This is yet another classic case of David and Goliath – all too prevalent in racing.

Those responsible for this man’s persecution quite frankly should hang their heads in shame.

The only fair dinkum outcome is for RQ to lift the life ban imposed on Steve Hogno – and tear up the legal costs.

 

NOTHING HAS CHANGED AT THIS STAGE WITH CLOSED BETTING RINGS

RACING Queensland’s new over-arching Board sat last week and among many subjects discussed was the issue of closed betting rings that has been a topic of interest in recent weeks.

And it seems nothing has changed – just yet.

Acting CEO Adam Carter reported that clubs will be notified and asked to choose their preference for open or closed rings.

And if they prefer a closed ring they must state reasons why and provide details how they intend to enforce it.

There is considerable debate between clubs and bookies on the issue and RQ is endeavoring to find the right solution.

It won’t be easy as clubs are keen to protect the bookies that provide them with loyal service all year – while some bookies claim it is a violation of lawful trading practice.

 

YOUNG BOOKIE HOPING FOR CHANGE IN CLOSED RING POLICY IN COUNTRY

ONE young bookie (the average age of bookies in Queensland is late 60s so I am told), who resides at Middlemount and travels all over the central west, is hoping for change.

Richard Turnbull has been a bookie for over a year but reckons he has been closed out of rings all over the place. His intention was to work every week but he has only fielded at 25 meetings so far.

“The bookies control the ring, the draw and give the newcomers and visitors little hope.

“If you do get in as a visitor you are out in the rain or the sun, except for places like Moranbah and Birdsville where club officials really go out of their way to help,” he said.

Richard (better known as Nugget) applied to 14 clubs in the Central West to work and didn’t get a single reply.

He phoned his nearest club at Clermont to work on Cup day (July 13) and was told the ring was closed – to two. Yet he believes that Mackay bookie Pear McGrohon has got a guernsey.

Three weeks ago Nugget went to Mackay for the centenary meeting. He had applied and said he drew a stand in the middle of the local ring. But when he went to start work ‘some grub had moved my stand to the middle of the southern ring.’

“It was just hopeless so I packed up and drove all the way home.”

As you would.

 

‘NUGGET’ TOLD TOOWOOMBA TURF CLUB TO ‘SHOVE IT’ AFTER SHABBY WEETWOOD DEAL

NUGGET Turnbull decided this year to work at Toowoomba on Weetwood night. He wrote and phoned and finally was given the OK. He arrived only to find that he had no stand and was told that ‘the paper work had been lost’.

“So they put me on the lawn a furlong from the finish.

“I said thanks but no thanks and went home.”

Nugget is adamant he wants nothing more than a fair go.

He believes bookies should nominate for a meeting by Thursday and the draw should be conducted by stewards or a RQ official.

“Clubs shouldn’t be leaving it to the bookies.

“I understand it’s all voluntary in the bush and the club secretaries have a lot to deal with.

“They probably welcome assistance from the bookies who also welcome the task of making decisions for the club…and for themselves,” said Nugget, who reckons he has had a gutful.

“I just want to swing a bag,” he says.

Meanwhile, the consensus is there should NOT be a closed ring for local bookies at non TAB meetings. The more the merrier – and we agree. It can only help local racing.

 

MIXED RECEPTION TO THE OPENING OF NEW RACETRACK IN CAIRNS

CAIRNS opened its new track last Saturday and though there was a mixed reception from some jockeys, the overall feeling was that it was ‘much better- and will get better.’

Shane Pawsey won the first two races and naturally he wasn’t going to ‘knock’ it while a few of his colleagues expressed concern about the ‘throw back’ of sand.

But the general consensus is that after a settling down period the new Cannon Park will reach the expectations of the club and licensees.

“The problems are certainly not insurmountable,” said Pawsey.

Trainer George Doolan, who also had a winner on opening day, said the track ‘played like a bowling green.’

Good one George!

 

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK IN THE NORTH QUEENSLAND RIDING RANKS

FORMER Victorian Kodie Grace is the new kid on the block in Northern Queensland riding ranks and a winning treble from just three rides at the Bowen meeting last Saturday was an ominous warning that he is here to make a presence.

In fact young Kodie, 20, on loan to Mackay trainer Darren Symons, has ridden six winners in only three weeks since arriving from Victoria.

He is a brother of the highly-rated Sydney apprentice, Lester Grace, who is indentured to Mareeba’s own John O’Shea.

Kodie was a late starter to racing because of a football injury but is deadly serious about making up for lost time.

He hails from Benalla (Peter Robl country – Ned Kelly’s too, for that matter) but reckons he has now found his place in the sun.

Another brother, Harry, just 14, is showing all signs of following in his siblings’ footsteps and is due to start ‘work experience’ with Peter Moody at Caulfield during the up-coming school holidays.

At Bowen on Saturday young Kodie won the first race on Ariston for Lyn and Laurie Manzelmann, who are relocating back to their scene of considerable fame after several years in the south.

Kodie also scored on his boss’s horse, Brochette, in one of Saturday’s features. The horse, normally a leader was left four lengths at the barrier and was last on the turn before unleashing a strong finish.

“I think he has taught us how to ride him,” said trainer Symons after the race.

 

OPPORTUNITY MISSED TO SHOWCASE A MILESTONE IN NQ RACING

IT was the 150th anniversary of racing in Bowen but sadly few knew. How many clubs have been racing for 150 years?

This was truly an opportunity missed to showcase a milestone. Racing, more particularly country racing, needs promotion. And there was a great opportunity for that last weekend.

To be fair the club was originally allocated a stand-alone Sunday meeting when race dates were first issued.

But after the huge outcry, particularly from the Sunshine Coast, all dates were revised and Bowen went back to an ordinary Saturday.

Lack of acceptable facilities was given as the reason for the downgrade.

And apparently that’s where the enthusiasm for planned festivities ended.

Shame really. Said one regular: “It was same all, same all – five races, fives bookies, same crowd – nothing spectacular at all.”

 

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.