THIS web-site continues to listen to what our readers have to say and has introduced a ‘Wednesday Whinge’ where you can express your feelings on racing industry issues of the past week. Try to keep them objective. Just e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

THIS week the e-mail box covered a variety of topics from dissent among country trainers over a deal between Racing Queensland and the northern branch of the ATA. The chairman of stewards in Queensland, Wade Birch, is under fire over his attack on Betfair. The Victorian racing expose continues to attract comment, as does racing in Sydney, lack of support for corporate bookmakers and a host of other topics. Our new Wednesday Whinge feature – ‘The Gossip, the Threats and the Wankers’ – continued to prove an instant hit.

Here’s this week’s selection with apologies to those who missed out for legal or other reasons:



  • WE are assured there is no truth whatsoever to the story doing the rounds that the Toowoomba Turf Club rejected a multi-million dollar offer from one of Queensland’s richest men to build a new racing complex to replace Clifford Park. According to the rumor mill the proposal was rejected by committee by a two-vote majority which is simply not true.
  • THE rumor mill is in over-drive about a high profile interstate steward offering his services to clean up racing in Victoria in the wake of the inquiry announced by Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna. Even some stipes from south of the border are secretly suggesting he should get his own house in order first. Victorian officials have been reminded of the disaster that occurred when he gave evidence to a major overseas racing inquiry and suggest they read how the Judge described his contribution.
  • SURELY the stories doing the rounds about the going-away present that a popular racing official received recently are incorrect or the quid pro quo thank you that was duly provided for the gesture.
  • PROMINENT lawyer and keen punter currently holiday in China sent an e-mail to a tipster mate that read: ‘Going for a visit to the Great Wall. What’s your tip for the day?’ The reply came back: ‘Don’t jump.’ A couple of six packs of Gang Xhoa must have kicked in by the stage the lawyer responded with: ‘I’ve been through the fields and I can’t find Don’t Jump anywhere.’ The story had a happy ending when he finally got a winning tip for the day before going to the Wall.
  • THE newly-appointed Director of Steward Development in Queensland (now that sounds like an episode of Mission Impossible) has been copping quite a behind-the-scenes bashing over revelations of what he has been paid to return north. But it hasn’t stopped there. Now everybody’s favorite steward is being criticized for giving the green light to the relicensing of one-time bad boy John Nikolic as a trainer to be based on the Gold Coast.    
  • LATEST addition to the Racing Joke of the Year File is the attack by Racing Queensland Chief Steward Wade Birch on Betfair. Those who have watched what has happened with on-course bookmakers at TAB meetings in the Sunshine State over the years have a message for the Integrity greenhorn who has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent times: ‘You say it better mate when you say nothing at all.’
  • OH to have been a fly on the wall when Mr Cranky Pants – a high profile official of the Cairns Jockey Club – was instructed to smoke the peace pipe with a prominent owner in the north who he had reportedly not be very nice to in the debacle over the rights of visiting owners and trainers to the Cairns Cup meeting a week earlier. What the owner said to him at the start of the conversation might best be left ‘un-said.’  
  • WE chose not to run e-mails received concerning the Toowoomba Racing Awards because the sources could not be contacted and some of the contents were defamatory toward some key racing industry figures on the Downs and a family that has had its share of tragedy in recent times. 

HERE is this week’s e-mail selection with apologies to those who missed out:



‘RACING Queensland has ‘plumbed’ new lows with its sweetheart deal brokered with the ATA Queensland branch re a proposed compulsory activity fee to be charged to all race starters.

It appears to be in reality an attempt to set up and administer an unregistered charity scheme for larger South East Queensland metropolitan trainers.

Based on RQL statistics for the 2011-2012 racing season their current plan would generate a "slush" fund as follows:

Metropolitan starters: 8,224  @ $15  = $123,360.
Provincial starters:     23371 @ $15  = $350,565.
Country starters:        10,515 @ $15 = $157,725.
Total starters:             42,110 @ $15 = $631.650.

ATA Queensland might just rake up 250 financial members, almost all in the south-east corner.

The vast majority of the other 700+ trainers in Queensland are unlikely to see any real benefit.

Sure RQL has dangled a carrot to reimburse 60% of their already compulsory workers’ comp insurance policy which costs approx $300. However, this so called benefit of say (60% x $300 = $180) will soon be eaten up by the compulsory $15 per starter fee.

You don't need to be Einstein to work out the maths: 700 trainers x (60% x $300) = $126,000 in total to be rebated to the vast majority of trainers across Queensland.

That's $30,000 less than country starters alone will contribute to the scheme.

That leaves a staggering $505,650 to be divided up amongst the ATA membership - that's certainly one good charitable act for those "poor battling" big boys.

Kevin Dixon gets the award for the best plan to rob the country trainers to advantage his city mates. Even Bob the Builder might have baulked at that one.’ – Please with-hold my name as RQ loves to shaft dissenters.

EDITOR’S NOTE: IT comes as no surprise that the Queensland branch of the Australian Trainers’ Association has done a deal with RQL that only really advantages its members. Over the years they have managed to juggle their politics to run with whatever Board has control of racing in Queensland. You can’t blame them for looking after their membership but surely the industry as a whole needs to question RQ on the merits of the scheme if it disadvantages trainers outside the south-east corner.  



 ‘I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry when I read the attack on Betfair by Queensland Chief Steward Wade Birch.

I know he’s still wet behind the ears but has this bloke been living under a rock for the last 10 years. Perhaps he needs a refresher course on what happened for too long with on-course bookmakers in Queensland.

If Birch isn’t aware of what was going on back then – and still occurs but not as frequently these days – in his own backyard then he should ask his new sidekick Allan Reardon for a first hand report.

Before he starts bagging Betfair, Birch should have a chat to a couple of betting supervisors from the past (Ian Black and Luke Bailey) who were shown the door by their then bosses because they were too tough on a couple of top bookmakers.

These blokes were ‘real’ betting supervisors, who knew what was happening in the ring, not these ‘pretend’ ones that just make up the numbers these days and certainly don’t stir the pot where certain big bookies are concerned.

Remember the times when the betting supervisors were making complaints about the rorts that were happening with the prices being transmitted interstate on Queensland races? How bookmakers in the interstate ring in Sydney refused to bet on certain meetings in Queensland. How the complaints fell on deaf ears on home soil.

Birch brags about Racing Queensland having a better relationship with police than other states. What about the former policemen that have been shown the door in droves by RQ as its Integrity Department has become virtually non-existent since the new Board took control?

And by the way who is running the Integrity show in Queensland – Birch or Reardon? It won’t make one iota of difference. The only advantage they have at present is that the spotlight of controversy is firmly focused on racing in Victoria.

Until the powers that be employ a Chief Steward or an Integrity boss who has the courage to take a much tougher stance than this dynamic duo, the punters will always be on the losing end and the professionals will steer well clear of racing in Queensland.’ – Wally Golschewski, Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: THERE’S plenty I would like to say about the above e-mail but I am keeping my power dry until I see what steps are taken to improve Integrity when legislation being prepared for Parliament is eventually introduced.

Here is the report by NATHAN EXELBY in THE COURIER-MAIL that obviously prompted the above e-mail:

QUEENSLAND chief steward Wade Birch believes the integrity of the sport is being hindered by a lack of information being provided to regulators by both police and wagering operators.

Birch was particularly savage in his assessment of betting exchange Betfair.

Information sharing has become a hot topic, with integrity chiefs in Victoria and NSW lamenting a lack of co-operation from police after details of a Victorian Police investigation into race fixing came to light.

Birch said Queensland had a better relationship with police than other states but he still highlighted shortcomings.

 "We have a memorandum of understanding with the Queensland Police Service but it would be naive to think that information flow couldn't be improved," he said. 

The stipe was scathing when questioning how genuine Betfair was about helping officialdom.

"Do we have the full co-operation of organisations like Betfair? I'm not convinced we do," he said. 

"We have the power to request information but it's very rarely provided to us proactively."

Birch cited the long-running Baby Boom inquiry, where the betting trends on the race were highly unusual, but Betfair did not provide any information until approached by stewards.

"If you are genuinely concerned about the integrity of racing with something like that and you're not looking to provide it to the regulator, then there's something wrong in my opinion," he said. 

"They say they have live monitoring. If they do, I've never seen the benefit of its existence."

Betfair's director of legal and corporate affairs Josh Blanksby said Betfair was the only wagering operator that actively shared information. 

Under its agreement with Racing Queensland there is a requirement to notify stewards of suspicious behaviour. 

"The concern that Wade has is that he believes any time there's anything we should just hand it over, but we have to balance our customers' privacy with integrity issues with racing," Blanksby said.

"A lot of times the betting behaviour may be well within the customer's usual parameters and therefore won't appear in our exception reporting.

"We provide live access to stewards, which allows them to look at things live and if they want further information they can put in a request through the portal. Other operators don't provide that.

"It's a requirement for us to proactively (notify stewards) if there is suspicious behaviour. 

"We never hide anything."

Betfair has similar arrangements with control bodies in all states. 



WE continually receive complaints from professional punters concerning their treatment by corporate bookmakers. Most involve bets being cut and accounts being closed if they are too successful.

Here is an interesting message that was sent to the Betting Manager of LUXBET by a professional Gold Coast punter last week whose name we have with-held for privacy reasons.

‘I have a 10K credit with your organization and have been betting with you since your inception.

I continually have the bets that I request reduced, wither it be racing or sport.

Today was the final insult when I tried to have $6,000 on the All Blacks in next Saturday’s Test match at $1.46 and you be me $500. That is to win $230.

This just reiterates my thoughts that all corporate bookmakers are a cancer on society, and provide jobs for people that in the main have been miserable failures at all else in life.

Please close my account immediate.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: We continue to hear about these mammoth bets that some betting agencies supposedly accept yet reports like this are becoming all too familiar. Makes you wonder whether the ‘big bet’ stories are fabricated and promoted by mates of the betting agencies in the racing media.



‘FANTASY Island Deagon Thunderbox HQ...look boss de plane de plane...where are we off to today? Who can we bring? All our buddies of course!

I enjoyed the article re the Victorian Racing Commissioner Mr Perna and his comments “as an independent authority with the mandate to oversee the integrity of racing, across the three codes in Victoria, I have a duty to address these allegations comprehensively.”

His comments “I hold the racing industry in high regard and questions over the integrity of racing must not be left unanswered.” And “information can be provided anonymously.”

"My inquiry will be conducted across the three racing codes, thoroughbred, harness and greyhounds, and I invite both the general public and racing industry participants to come forward from next Monday.”

Wow! It brought a smile to my face when I compared it to what we have now in the ‘New’ whatever the f... you can call Queensland's equivalent running the three codes here.

Not only do we not have an independent head of RQL, but jobs for mates are being trucked in.

This industry will never become an unbiased well run multi-million dollar corporation until a Government appoints an independent board of business people with proven board success from other companies.

Imagine that fantasy...of actually being invited to come forward and supply information to protect the integrity of Racing in Queensland, to the joke of the lack of an Integrity Department that we have now.

No one is interested in transparency and that's why it is all silent in the Thunderbox of the Double D's at Deagon.

It is easier to hide under a rock and have members of clubs not have any idea if their committee members are following the Rules of Racing or the Associations’ Incorporations Act that govern the actions and responsibilities of committee members.

Look at some FANTASY ideas below:

Would members know if anyone had taken a slasher belonging to a club without a judgment being made on the financial benefits and options to the members’ bank balance?  Members cannot even look at asset registers that clubs have to see if a committee or a chairman is being transparent. Oh no, we cannot show you that.....WHY? You got something to hide?

Or what if a club spent members’ money in the area of $100,000 to act in a way that is proven by a investigation to be not in line with RQL policies 81 (t)?

  1. 1.     Section 112 of the Act states that approval for expenditure for special purposes other than the encouragement of the code of racing is to be with written approval of the Control Body.
  2. 2.      Any undertaking of expenditure on activities not directly related to the conduct or encouragement of racing must be approved in writing by the CEO of RQL.

“Encouragement of racing” refers to the application of monies by a race club to the core business and business objectives of the race club – the conduct of thoroughbred, harness or greyhound racing.

Club committees must ensure club expenditure is for legitimate purposes, represents value for money, and is supported by appropriate documentation. Yet as a member you cannot look at this and you have to rely on a Control Body that does not care.

Where would $50,000 or $100,000 go at a club to improve facilities for members or trainers?

What if a club committee person was ordered to repay money from the control body and you as a member wanted to see if this was done? Buckley's and none is the answer. The club will not show you. So you ring the control body.....the same answer. Well where to now? The Office of the Racing Minister?  Wrong again.

AGAIN no, we will not show you that...WHY NOT? What’s to hide ?

No wonder clubs are failing financially to upgrade and improve members’ conditions. Where is your club’s money being spent? Do you trust your committee that they are being diligent and transparent in the spending guidelines as per the RQL 81 (t) policy?

If clubs you are in are going backwards from where they were 10 or 15 years ago in money in the bank maybe a control body in Queensland could give us as stakeholders a ‘fantasy come true’ and look into why clubs like Toowoomba, who in 2009 had in excess of $1 million in the bank, now has $100,000 + working capital.

ELECTION TIME at clubs are now on and if you are concerned you need to approach your relevant club secretaries to see if they are doing the right thing by you as a member.

Hopefully they are. Fantasy can come true sometimes.

Maybe a Four Corners story on Queensland Racing would make interesting viewing for all of us who do care about the future of clubs and the members and the future generations. - Anthony Burke (no hidden name), I am real and (please do not come into my store again ‘local radio personality’ and upset my staff with your phone recorder turned on, in protest to my views. And also do not phone me at my store or on my mobile harassing me on more than 10 occasions in a short period of time). I am a member who was denied information and it was proven in a barrister’s report that I was denied information.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I offered right of reply to this to Toowoomba Turf Club Chairman Bob Frappell but he plans to address the concerns raised by Mr Burke, along with various other issues, at the AGM. Mr Frappell said he will be extremely disappointed if Mr Burke fails to attend the AGM considering how vocal and critical he has been of the committee during the year.  



‘I am in two minds when assessing just how serious our Racing Minister Dr Denis Napthine is about addressing the importance of integrity in racing in Victoria.

For instance, the article in the Herald Sun dealing with the so-called Nikolic affair quotes the Minister on a couple of integrity issues as they affect our industry in Victoria.

First of all he refers to the RVL taking their eye off the ball so to speak when they did not go to the Supreme Court to challenge the stewards’ powers in dealing with certain non licensed persons.

In my layman’s opinion I believe that the good Doctor is 110 per cent correct on this issue.

I am not certain what the cost of such a court case would have been to the industry but with legal fees being what they are it would be well over a six figure amount. I can only assume that if they had lost their challenge RVL and the Victorian racing industry would have been around $500,000 out of pocket.

What would be the alternative? Well I guess the Government of the day could photocopy legislation that appears to be in force in Queensland that covers this problem. 

If this task is not acceptable well one has to ponder if there are any reasons or ulterior motives behind the political thinking in Victoria?

Questions could be raised why Dr Napthine, a veterinary surgeon, has convinced the Government to spend a huge amount of money re-opening clapped out trotting tracks to be serviced by the local veterinarian. I am sure Judge Lewis (head of the RAD Board) would dismiss these suggestions without a second thought.

Perhaps the ultimate target of the Racing Minister - when the time is right - at a guess after the Spring Carnival has settled down, the RVL Board will no longer exist in its present structure. The tip is strong behind the scenes that most of the current members will get the boot.’ - Morris Neal, Melbourne.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Being based in Queensland I am not in a position to comment on the political scene in Victoria. My friends in racing there tell me that Denis Napthine is a no-nonsense Minister who has proved extremely popular with most sections of the industry since his appointment. 



‘I was sitting at home watching the TVN coverage last Saturday and trying to ‘marry up’ a jockey with an honest face with that of a proven wet track performer in Melbourne.

I found the perfect system was to wait until the race was over. It had only one downfall and that was it was a bit hard to get ‘set.’

However, the highlight of the afternoon was the statement of TVN front-man Bruce Clark. For him to call for the license of Danny Nickolic to be withdrawn took my breath away resulting in me missing the running of the next two races.

I seem to recall when the stewards were trying to get the message across that all was not well in the racing world in Victoria and they had Mr Nikolic up on 12 or 14 charges some two years ago, Brucey Boy went to the trouble of doing a special documentary on Dan the Man and the rough deal he was getting.

To top it off to read in the ‘swamp journal’ a story by Matt Stewart this week that RVL lost their greatest integrity assets when the three ex-coppers where given their marching orders a couple of years back just shows another side to uninformed, lack of research journalism.

What has been going on in Victoria goes on at bush race meetings let alone at the major centres around the country and it has been doing so for as long as I can recall - which is quite a long time I can assure you. I don’t recall those characters doing anything.

My guess is that the loss of a good ‘drinking partner’ is hard to stomach.

It’s a pity that there isn’t an integrity crew that could make the likes of Clark and Stewart accountable when it comes to what they comment on or write about racing in Victoria.’ - Peter Bell, Melbourne.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bruce Clark isn’t the only one in the racing media suggesting the license of Danny Nikolic should be withdrawn pending the finalization of current investigations. This matter has been raised on three successive weeks now and this is the last e-mail we will be running on this particular subject. RVL have the powers to put a ‘show cause’ on licensees if they see fit and at this stage that hasn’t happened. 



‘IT is indeed a shame that the return to the stewarding fold in Queensland of Allan Reardon has not been greeted as warmly by some in the industry as one would have expected.

Most agree that Reardon was badly treated by the Bentley Board after he fell out with the then Integrity boss, the forgettable Bob Mason. It was my way or the highway with the good Doctor and that’s the way that Allan headed.

He soon fell on his feet with a high profile job on the Murrihy panel in Sydney alongside of his old boss Steve Railton, another shown the door by Bentley. Sometime later he joined another former Queensland colleague Terry Bailey in Victoria.

Wherever he has worked Reardon has proved an instant hit with the licensees and that was the case in Melbourne.

It came as no surprise that the new RQ Board would set out to have him return home where he has worked with many of the younger panel members before, including the new Chief Wade Birch.

If ever there was a need for an experienced head to guide the ship this was it and Reardon provided the goods. Perhaps his reported contract is a bit over the top and more like a retirement plan but that’s racing.

The one problem I have – and so do many others in the industry – is with the suggestion that one of the first things Reardon did in his new job back on home turf was relicense trainer John Nikolic.

Should there not have been a show cause on this guy first considering what has happened since he spent 12 months on the sideline over the Baby Boom controversy?

More to point, in view of what has happened with John’s brother, Danny, in Victoria in recent times and alleged close ties between the duo in racing, how must Reardon’s good mate Terry Bailey feel about the situation. I guess we will never know.’ – Glen Abrahams, Gold Coast.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Allan Reardon is widely regarded as the best reader of a race among the stewarding fraternity in the country. The criticism of him is that he tends to be a shade too soft when it comes to dishing out penalties. I am glad that the new RQ Board has righted the wrong that was done to Allan during the Bob Bentley era. How effective his new role will be, only time will tell. Confidence in betting on racing in Queensland rests with the promised restructure of Integrity and the need to appoint the right person for the job as Integrity Commissioner. 



‘AS a trainer from a centre near to Cairns who has copped more than his share of ill-treatment from the officials of the CJC I want to thank Terry Butts and your website for going into bat for us on this issue.

It seems your protests on behalf of visiting owners and trainers to the Cairns Cup meeting must have struck a chord with Racing Queensland or the powers-that-be as the CJC is now adopting a totally different attitude to the situation.

They have decided, or have been told, to have a meeting with owners and trainers and have the situation resolved with a suggestion that a special area in the members be set aside for our use which will be greatly welcomed on big days.

This matter should never have reached the stage it did and had it not been for the intervention of Terry, who is a trainer in the north, it would unfortunately have continued. The major media was not interested in rocking the boat.

Thanks again for providing a service to those of us who haven’t got the voice to get our message across in the racing industry. Keep up the good work and ignore the critics who have major conflicts of interest on this and other issues.’ – As I am a trainer in Far North Queensland I would ask that my identity not be revealed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Full marks to the Cairns Jockey Club committee for seeing the error of their ways and moving quickly to correct the situation even if they did need a little prompting. It is my understanding that the Board of Racing Queensland does not wish to interfere in domestic issues but in this case offered a bit of friendly advice which was accepted by the CJC.



‘WITH all due respects to Streama, the smart mare from the Guy Walter stable, how could she possibly beat Pierro and More Joyous, for the NSW Racehorse Owners’ Association’s Horse of the Year Award?

It’s akin to Danny Nikolic being voted Jockey of the Year by the stewards in Victoria or Bob Bentley being inducted into the Queensland Racing Hall of Fame.

Forget about the criteria the NSWROA should consider the contentiousness of their selection in allowing Streama to take the award from triple Group One winners Pierro and More Joyous from the Waterhouse stable.

No doubt Gai would have been gracious in defeat but one wonders what she thought about the situation privately – probably the same as every other sane thinking individual in the NSW racing industry. It was a massive joke and did nothing for the credibility of the NSWROA regardless of how they explained the decision.’ – Charlie Young, Sydney.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It came down to criteria and rather than me try and explain why not leave it to the story on the Horse of the Year Awards written by RAY THOMAS of the SYDNEY TELEGRAPH which reads:     

GUY Walter's outstanding Streama cleaned up the major gongs including a controversial Horse of the Year honour at the NSW Racehorse Owners Association's annual awards last night.

Streama won five stakes races in the 2011/12 season, including Group 1 triumphs in the ATC Australian Oaks and Flight Stakes, and was rewarded with the Champion 3YO and Queen of the Autumn titles.

The NSWROA awards criteria is determined on a points basis earned from stakes race wins and placings, which enabled Streama to collect 113 points to earn the NSW Horse of the Year crown.

Streama's Horse of the Year award was contentious as it came at the expense of the two hot favourites, Gai Waterhouse's triple Group 1 winners Pierro and More Joyous.

Pierro had an unbeaten juvenile campaign, winning all six races including the coveted triple crown, and earned 110 points, while More Joyous won five races including her Group 1 treble of the Queen of the Turf Stakes, Doncaster Mile and Queen Elizabeth Stakes for 90 points.

The annual NSW awards are one of the racing industry's most prestigious and popular events, raising significant funds for the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation.

Perhaps it is time for the NSWROA committee to change the awards criteria and have a select panel vote on the Horse of the Year award, while a special category be introduced to honour the galloper that earns the most points from stakes race performances during the season.

The other awards were more clear cut including international star Ortensia's Country Champion award, Hay List's deserved Provincial title, while the Stayers category went to Sydney Cup winner Niwot.

The Peter Moody-trained Manighar, winner of the Ranvet Stakes and The BMW in the autumn, took out the Middle Distance award.


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the above e-mails should not be interpreted as those of JOHN LINGARD, the owner of the letsgohorseracing web-site. That is why he has added an ‘EDITOR’S NOTE’. Every endeavor is made to verify the authenticity of contributors. We welcome any reasonable and constructive responses from parties or individuals.