BREAKFAST With the Stars, the popular prelude to major racing carnivals in Australia, takes on a new dimension at the Cairns Amateurs in a fortnight.

While the immensely popular concept was designed to allow the rank and file to get up close and personal with the stars (horses included) on racecourses from Flemington to far-flung tracks around the country, the Cairns event this year will be devoid of horses.

That is no surprise really as horses and their handlers have always been backstage at the Cairns Amateurs, which in recent times is more about raving than racing. All fizz, fashion and frivolity – but a great social mardi gras nonetheless – if you are not so serious about the actual racing.

This year the barrier draw for the Cup will be staged on the Cairns Esplanade and has been described by the club as: “Our brand new exciting event – the Great Barrier Draw Breakfast!”

But also – in another break from the traditionally free Breakfast with the Stars - this one comes at a cost, $40 no less.

Forty bucks for a banquet breakfast while listening to ‘racing experts’ provide their tips.

Case of thanks...but no thanks, at least for this little bunny!



WHEN is a closed betting ring not closed?

That is the question that race clubs, Racing Queensland, QRIC and even the bookies still can’t fathom in spite of two clear rules that state that Closed Rings are not permissible in this State.

In fact these are outlawed.

Two RQ rulings, one penned by former Chief Stipe Wade Birch and another by former RQ Chairman, Kevin Dixon, clearly prohibit race clubs from refusing bookmakers to operate at their meetings.

But it seems that at least one senior racing official is not only refusing to enforce the law but is also giving advice to clubs on how to circumvent the rulings. So the story goes.

There is even dissension within the Queensland Bookmakers’ Association.

Meanwhile, only one Townsville bookie (who just happens to be a Cairns 100 Club member) worked at the recent Cairns Cup meeting and we wait with interest to see how many visitors might get the nod for the upcoming Amateurs.

At present every club must have its RQ approved policy but Townsville Turf Club’s document is considered at best ‘ambiguous’ and it would seem Cairns don’t have a policy at all, according to my source.

Same source (a bookie of long standing and not based in North Queensland) is highly critical of Racing Queensland which he says  is refusing to enforce local rule (BR9) which clearly states that clubs must not limit the number of bookmakers it will allow to field.

Let’s just see what unfolds next week in Cairns.



IT all happened at Innisfail on Saturday.

Starting stall malfunctions marred the first two races and then jockey Peter Cullen came off the in-aptly named Some Sunny Day at the barriers and spent the rest of the day in Innisfail hospital.

The horse jumped the running rail after it unceremoniously deposited Cullen and bolted off the track. The jockey groaned that he should have gone to Prairie where he could have ridden Cup winner Ultra Red for Ben Williams.

But the dramas at Innisfail didn’t end there.

Fred Weiland’s capable galloper, Element of Chance, suffered an apparent heart attack after the Banana Cup and veteran jockey Jamie Dickinson bit the dust in another race when the saddle slipped on Perfect Tycoon. He joined Cullen in hospital but both riders were later discharged.

The Cup won by local Gundalunga, a Class 1 galloper, which will no doubt be a contender for the Cairns Amateur Cup which this year appears likely to lack class and numbers because of a dearth of stayers currently in the region.


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