THE turmoil rampant at the Mackay Turf Club continues with trainers declaring they will desert the track and the acting CEO claiming he is in limbo.

Ryan Van de Velde, who has been in control since the last of several CEOs departed the once prosperous club, said the rumour is rife that he has been sacked, but he hasn’t been officially informed.

It is known that an SOS to the recently-retired Townsville Turf Club CEO Michael Charge to officiate at the next Ooralea meeting was met with a rebuff.

“Not interested,” was the comment from Charge who finishes after 11 years at the TTC next week. His resignation was not unexpected.

Oddly, he has already been replaced – by recently-appointed committee member Cassandra Cazzulino, who has to date refused a media interview and wishes to keep her mobile phone number private.

Good luck with that.

Perhaps the new Chairman or someone who is prepared to answer their phone might like to explain to the industry why such an important position as CEO was not advertised – or if they needed someone in a hurry why Ms Cazzulino was appointed as Acting CEO.

According to a TTC media release she has a background in marketing and events but no experience whatsoever in racing or its administration.

Mackay trainers have been hit with a raft of extra charges as the club tries to claw back a $500,000 debt.

But trainers have reacted angrily to the proposal that includes the unprecedented rental of tie-up stalls at $10 a day.

Leading local trainer Olivia Cairns last week forwarded a letter to the MTC committee stating she will be out of pocket by more than $7,000 a year if the charges are introduced.

These were to be ratified at a meeting on Monday night but it was postponed for a week.

Cairns stated: “It is clearly wrong to expect owners and trainers to pay for the mistakes of current and previous Turf Club committee.

“It is the easy way out.

“Without owners and trainers there wouldn’t be a club and besides 75 per cent of horses in work at Ooralea are owned or financed by the trainers.

“I have been in racing all my life – these fees are unheard of. They are ridiculous.”

She went on to say there were several issues of health and safety that need urgent attention before hitting trainers with the extra fees.

“There is no warning siren, furlong markers, lights and the toilets are a disgrace,” Cairns said.

One other trainer declared she would train her horses on the beach. Others are making moves to relocate.

Van de Velde said: “The committee is simply dysfunctional.

“They don’t know nor care.

“At the last Awards Night not a single committee member turned up.

“That gives you an idea.”

And he is also highly critical of Racing Queensland – and a particular auditor.

“You know all the time RQ was in administration from 2014 to 2016 not a single stocktake or audit was undertaken.

“Howzat for control?

“I think they (RQ) want to close the joint down and take the asset. It would make the bottom line look better than the current $12 million in arrears.

“RQ is not interested in maintaining a racing or training venue.

“There is a lot to come yet, believe me,” Van de Velde said.   



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