IT was the news that the Queensland racing industry had been waiting for.

The merger of our poor performing UBET with national leader TABCORP is almost complete. A merger that will provide a virtual national tote that hopefully will reshape the gambling platform of Australia.

It will be the end of the corporate bookies gaining advantage by offering best tote dividends to the customers they weaned from the traditional totes of each State. Because there will be only one tote.

Seems the only hurdle in the way for ACCC to sign off on the $11 billion deal is for TABCORP to dispose of Odyssey – its gaming arm in Queensland and apparently the sale is imminent.

The merger certainly heads the wish-list of every stakeholder in the State.

We currently have a totally ineffectual Racing Minister (Grace Grace), who is seldom seen on raceways and an RQ Board that has gained neither traction nor respect apart from perhaps breeders and the Magic Millions during its term. Granted it succeeded a conservative Government and racing administration that also failed its constituents and racing stakeholders.

 Really what are (or were) the details of the top secret deal between the then RQ Chairman Kevin Dixon and UBET? A deal that was supposedly set to deliver multi million dollars to the racing game. Yes, where is it now?

We currently have a chairman of the RQ Board (Steve Wilson) who, like the Minister who appointed him, is seldom heard or seen outside the SE corner – and a CEO (Eliot Forbes), a Tasmanian recruit  who seems to have a somewhat mystery accord  with the corporate bookies, the arch enemy of the racing industry – as inconceivable as that might seem.



APART from the UBET-TAB merger that promises a huge injection of much-needed funds for racing to be competitive with other States, Queensland needs a new Government – and that, of course, means a new Board to distribute the newfound funds wisely.

Not to be used on bloated salaries for employees with fancy titles and not for the hiring of bean counters on six figure contracts to complete three months’ work as was the demand by RQ on the Townsville Turf Club late last year.

How ridiculous was that, people still ask?

Mind you, we are not over the line...just yet with the TAB merger.

We won’t actually know until the ACCC announces its decision in May.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims told the ABC that the issues are not to do with the broad wagering market, but with sub-markets.

“We're comfortable that the corporate bookmakers will provide enough competition to TAB and UBET in the broad wagering market.

“At the moment in NSW and Victoria, you have the TAB which owns SKY Racing and that gives them a lot of market power.”



NOT surprisingly, Australia’s largest online bookmaker, Sportsbet, has argued a TABCORP and Tatts “mega-merger” would substantially lessen competition in Australia.

Ben Sleep, Sportsbet’s Chief Financial Officer, said the new wagering giant would hold virtual monopoly retail rights across Australia and near exclusive broadcast rights to all Australian and international racing content, a contention that was rebuffed by Mr Sims.

Mr Sims said that although a combined TABCORP and Tatts Group would have more than 50 per cent of the market, the trend in online betting had to be considered.

“We judge that (TABCORP-Tatts) entity, albeit having a majority share, will be under sufficient threat through the five or so larger corporate bookmakers to provide enough competition for recreational wagerers,” he said.

So there it is – the winning trifecta. 1 Merger; 2 New Government, or at least a Racing Minister with some semblance of knowledge of the industry); and 3 An RQ Board interested in – and committed to – the future well-being of racing in the entire State.



LONG-TIME Central Queensland racing stalwart, Dave Bauer, has a bit to say about the current state of affairs of racing in the State – especially the country – and he is getting strong support.

He says that the CEO’S of the principal country clubs are due to stage a meeting of minds in Brisbane on April 8.

Nothing wrong with that but Bauer asks: “Why not include the secretaries of the smaller country race clubs as well?

“This meeting relates to Queensland Country Racing so why shouldn’t the smaller clubs be involved?

“Further, why is it that country clubs meet in Brisbane and not in one of the country centres?

“By the way,” adds Bauer, “how do you get details of salaries and costs incurred by RQ?

“Who are the highest paid staff members, what is their salary?

“Just what is the cost of racing in this State – it would be handy to know,” he said.



TOWNSVILLE has another Thurston.

Can you believe?

This new Thurston is likely to strip and strut his stuff in the coming weeks – but not under the lights at SMILES Stadium (aka Luna Park).

This four-legged Thurston will make his appearance at Cluden under new trainer Errol Sewell, who, true to form, is remaining very tight-lipped about his new acquisition with the famous name.

Thurston the horse, is of New Zealand origin, and has done all his racing in Sydney. He has won two from 23 for over $80,000 and excels over distances of round 2000m – yes, the Townsville Cup distance.

Funny that!

Remember Party King?

Well, we hear there is some association with that old champ who by the way turns 25 this year.

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