Jenny - Clean

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 was a mixed bag ranging from a warning about a new betting agency that has opened in Australia; to complaints from country trainers in Queensland about the ATA calling the shots in a Workers’ Compensation Scheme. There were a host of other topics covered including more concerns about Sydney racing to questions over the future of the Labour Day racing meeting at Ipswich and an interesting e-mail about the beach race meeting run at Mackay. Our new Wednesday Whinge feature – ‘The Gossip, the Threats and the Wankers’ – continues to prove an instant hit.

 

OUR NEW WEDNESDAY WHINGE FEATURE – THE GOSSIP, THE THREATS and THE WANKERS!

EXPECT an announcement today that the Queen's grand-daughter Zara Phillips will be the Ambassador to the Magic Millions Carnival on the Gold Coast next January. Katie Page and her husband, Gerry Harvey, owners of the MM, will confirm the coup in attracting the Olympic silver medalist to be the special guest for the big race day and MM sales.  

 

HERE’S hoping the strong mail doing the rounds in the wake of The Age – Four Corners expose which prompted the inquiry into race fixing and other issues in Victoria is way off the mark. The story goes that a key witness to the inquiry has withdrawn his original statement which reportedly provided damning evidence against a number of key figures. Victorian Racing Commissioner Sal Perna, who ordered the inquiry, may apparently find the industry closing ranks before his hearing even gets off the ground. With the inquiry offering an ‘anonymous’ line for those wishing to provide information, Mr Perna and his team will have the unenviable task of sorting the wheat from the chaff. But being a former high profile policeman he should have that ‘gut’ feeling when deciding between fact and fiction 

ARE the stories doing the rounds true that an attempted ‘race rort’ in a major east coast venue back-fired last weekend? It has been suggested that those calling the shots had a different idea of where this heavily-backed runner would be in the race but the young jockey followed the trainer’s instructions and things didn’t work quite to plan. We won’t say where it occurred except that the professional punters reckon the circus has returned to town.

CLOSE ties between two female jockeys in a major racing state no longer exist, if you are to believe the industry rumor mill. At the centre of the dust-up is a prominent trainer. The story goes that the lady rider closest to that person found out about a dalliance involving the other and took her friend outside town, gave her a good hiding and left her there. Those close to the duo say one will be moving to new digs in the near future.

SURELY reports emanating from the far north are incorrect that some officials of the Cairns Jockey Club want Terry Butts charged with bringing the industry into disrepute because he dared to report the disgraceful treatment of visiting owners and trainers on Cairns Cup day. Butts is a racing journalist who also holds a trainer’s license. Considering the CJC was forced to adopt a different approach following complaints from the Owners’ Association and a rattle up from the RQ, it is hardly likely that any disgruntled official trying to square Butts up will get his complaint off the ground.

WITH the newspaper industry in disarray and the Fairfax Group on the canvas at present there are bound to be more redundancies and there is strong mail that this will include some high profile racing writers. There are three being mentioned in dispatches already along the east coast. We won’t mention any names but plenty are hoping the news is correct about one in particular. His departure is long overdue.

THE industry grapevine in Queensland suggests that Racing Queensland will soon finance the construction of plastic running rails for Eagle Farm. No-can argue that this is just another handout to the major club considering the safety implications involved for jockeys, whose association has been pushing for this.

ANTHONY Burke, the former committeeman who continues to raise issues concerning the Toowoomba Turf Club with Racing Queensland and the Racing Minister, says he was not surprised by the invitation from Chairman Bob Frappell for him to attend the AGM and air his grievances. “Bob works best when he is not dealing one on one with no back-up support.” Frappell says there are plenty of questions that members want asked of Burke at the AGM as well. It promises to be a very interesting debate with some members wanting Burke to ‘Show Cause’ why his membership privileges at the club should not be withdrawn.

WE continue to receive e-mails suggesting our speed map was way off beam for the recent San Domenico Stakes if we thought Driefontein would lead Snitzerland, the latest from Jason Lincoln (which we welcome) who pointed out that Snitzerland led the Golden Slipper field. We should point out that Driefontein was slowly away in the Slipper. We accept the argument that Snitzerland was the likely eventual leader in the San Domenico. The question we raised was why Driefontein allowed her to lead so easily then did not apply any pressure when she ran ‘hurdler’ sectionals early.  

 

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

BET365 AT YOUR PERIL – CALLS FOR OZ LICENSE OF BRITISH BETTING GIANT TO BE REVOKED 

‘THIS is a word of warning before you open an account with the British-based internet gambling business, bet365.com, now licensed in the Northern Territory to operate in Australia.

Anti gambling crusader, Senator Nick Xenaphon, has taken up the fight on behalf of a punter who bet365.com refused to pay and closed the account of. He has called for regulatory sanctions against the agency and believes their license should be revoked.

The Today Tonight program in Adelaide ran a report on a Darwin punter who won $73,000 for an investment of almost $5,000 after selecting the First Four on a greyhound race at Ipswich.

To his dismay bet365.com contacted him to say they wouldn’t be honoring the bet but would be refunding his money and closing his account with them because – believe it or not – it was ‘uneconomical.’

Now this is coming from a huge British-based internet gambling business that in major television advertising that can now be seen on Australian television is describing itself as ‘the biggest bookmaker on the planet.’

The enraged punter checked out the conditions of his bet with bet365.com and found that in their terms they paid up to a maximum of 100,000 pounds sterling on exotic bets. It was subsequently discovered by the punter and Senator Xenaphon that bet365.com had notified the Northern Territory Racing Commission that it wished to reduce the maximum payout to 20,000 pounds sterling and back date it, coincidentally to a month before the Darwin punter placed his winning bet.

With the intervention of Senator Xenaphon and a complaint to the NT Commission, who claim they will fully investigate the matter, Today Tonight reports that bet365.com tried to limit the damage by offering the punter a $25,000 settlement which he has refused.

Senator Xenaphon believes bet365 is flouting the rules and he is mounting a case against them to try and have their license revoked. His message to punters is: “This was a mongrel act by bet365. They need to be held accountable. The excuse they are using is beyond a joke. Their new slogan should be ‘bet365, you should avoid them 24/7.’

Bet365 has refused to return calls to defend this. Might I suggest punters listen to this report by logging into www.todaytonightadelaide.com.au and then inserting bet365 into the search panel? It’s a must listen to show.’ – Percy Smith, Adelaide.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a bizarre story and one that any punter considering opening an account with the betting giant from Britain should be aware of. There was some stiff opposition from sections of the racing and gambling industry when bet365.com applied for a license in this country. With some of these corporate agencies it’s fine as long as the punters lose but when they win too much, accounts are closed which isn’t a level playing field. The worry is just how strong the North Territory Racing Commission will be when it comes to revoking a license. Don’t hold your breath. Full marks to anti gambling crusader Nick Xenaphon for turning up the heat of bet365.com. There is one point that needs to be considered however. The $14,000+ dividend paid by Tattsbet on the dog race at Ipswich is misleading. I doubt the pool would even have held that much. In fact it is likely that the payout would represent only a small percentage of the total amount posted. Nevertheless, these agencies agree to pay on ‘best tote’ and that was the dividend declared.    

 

RQ CHAIRMAN COULD DO WITH A HISTORY LESSON ON QLD BRANCH OF ATA

‘PERHAPS someone should provide a history lesson on the Queensland branch of the Australian Trainers’ Association for the new Chairman of Racing Queensland.

Before he goes jumping into bed with this organization – it appears he already has – is he not aware of the closeness that the ATA and some of its key members once enjoyed with the Bob Bentley Board?

They had a major falling out when Bentley wanted to ship the trainers out of the boutique facility they have enjoyed for too long at Deagon. Of course there was also the looming prospect of a change in Government.

Trainers who have been around long enough will recall that the Queensland branch of the ATA only gained the recognition with the RQ Board when Bentley was keen to geld the Queensland Trainers’ Association.

Back then he believed the Des Mullins-led body was too close to the old Queensland Turf Club and when it came to stake-holder groups Bentley decided that there would really only be the one that his Board would recognize.

That was the ATA because of its closeness to then Racing Minister Bob Gibbs and the flow on affect through Dr Bob Mason who headed the Racing Department but was to join RQ with Bentley once the former Chairman dispatched some key people who might have provided obstacles to the take-over of RQ by the bureaucrats.

Because of its lack of recognition once the QTC was stripped of its powers by the Gibbs Government, the QTA became a lame duck but was more representative of the trainers throughout the state back then than the ATA could ever hope to be.

The ATA might be the most recognizable representative body of trainers in Queensland to the uneducated in racing – like the current Board and its chairman – but it does not provide a voice for the majority of more than 1,000 trainers in this state.

In fact it has very few members outside the south-east corner and should not be seen to represent the views of those in the country. As far as most of them are concerned the ATA is only interested in protecting the bigger trainers and ensuring they get the best deal.’ – Vince Murphy, Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If the ATA wish to respond to this – I’m told some of their officials refuse to read this website which is of no concern to us – they are welcome to unedited right of reply. Few would argue that the ATA in Queensland has played the political game very smartly ensuring it is on side with Boards from both sides of the political fence. The industry in Queensland needs a Trainers’ Association that is fully representative of members throughout the state not just those in the south-east corner. That is the only way it can be a level playing field when consultation is undertaken by the control body.  

 

IS THE NEW BOARD OF RACING QUEENSLAND FORCING BATTLING TRAINERS OUT OF BUSINESS?

‘IT would seem that the new Board of Racing Queensland is hell-bent on forcing the battling trainers and owner-trainers out of business.

The only ones who will benefit from this new Workers’ Compensation Scheme, which has been forced upon trainers outside of the south-east corner without any consultation, are the major players in the game, like the Heathcote’s and company.

This is not a level playing field and for the RQ Chairman Kevin Dixon and the puppet Racing Minister Steven Dickson to refuse to discuss this matter with anyone bar the ATA is not only a disgrace but discriminatory.

Mr Dixon showed his total ignorance of the training situation and representation in Queensland when he declared: “To date we have been dealing with their representative – the Australian Trainers’ Association.”

Wrong Mr Dixon! The ATA is not truly representative of the trainers in this state and does not speak for the majority. In fact it has very few members in the country and even less now. They do not speak for us and never will. Your Board has a responsibility to consult with all trainers not just a handful of political mates.

And to suggest the problem is between the ATA and the other trainers suggests total ignorance on the part of RQ. There has been a suggestion that the sweetheart deal the ATA reached with RQ has been accepted by the Rockhampton Trainers’ Association. Whoever said that has a nose longer than Pinnochio.

Rest assured there will be a revolt in the country on this issue and it could lead to industrial action. The trainers are angry enough and they could stop a TAB meeting at Townsville or Rockhampton. And there will be little your mates in the ATA can do about it.’ – As I am a country trainer of some years standing please with-hold my identity. I plan to be around for a while yet.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It is hard to understand how a Racing Queensland chairman could be so ignorant of the situation to suggest that the ATA is representative of the majority of trainers in Queensland. Here’s hoping he is not hearing that from Racing Minister’s Department where the leftovers of the previous Government seem to still be playing a role. The problem with some of these stake-holder groups in Queensland – like the Breeders – is the ‘dinosaurs’ calling the tune who are carrying too much political baggage. Perhaps it’s time for some young blood with fresh ideas to be elected.  

 

PARALLELS BETWEEN THE POPULARITY OF ‘CAN DO’ AND THE NEW RQ CHAIRMAN

‘THERE are some parallels between the popularity of new Premier Campbell Newman and that of his Racing Minister and the new Racing Queensland Board.

Both are heading down-hill faster than an avalanche. The difference being that the public has nothing to lose by expressing their displeasure at the performance of ‘Can Do’ Campbell but racing identities who dare to speak out against the RQ Board certainly do.

Be careful of what you wish for is the catch phrase coming back to haunt those in racing who couldn’t wait to see the back of Bob Bentley and his Board. Of course those close to the new Kevin Dixon control body, who are benefitting from his appointment, will insist that everything in the RQ garden is rosy.

It was never going to work with the Government appointing an RQ Board boss straight out of the Brisbane Racing Club chairmanship. Nor was it going to work having a prominent breeder or high profile owner in that position.

Too many conflicts of interest - like that resulting in the sweetheart deal with the Australian Trainers’ Association, the politically motivated group that is hardly representative of the 1,002 trainers in Queensland but more so the bigger names in the industry.

One would hope that some of those close to the ATA who worked for the Racing Department under the previous Government are not still calling the shots or influencing  recommendations on areas as important as Work Cover etc.

And by the way whatever happened to the country representative that the industry was promised on the new Board prior to the election. Surely the National Party would want someone there to protect the interests of stake-holders in the country in situations like this.

Was that just another false promise like a lot of others?’ – Fred Stevens, North Queensland.

EDITOR’S NOTE: WITH trainers heading across the border in droves chasing the better prizemoney the last thing the industry in Queensland needs is industrial action. Instead of pandering to the wishes of the ATA, which does not represent the views of the majority of trainers, the RQ Board should be focusing on lifting prizemoney as Queensland falls even further behind the southern states. Why there is no country representative on the Board remains a mystery. But so do a lot of other things – like the restructure of the Integrity Department etc. Let’s be patient for a month or two and see what the legislative change means for the industry when it is finally introduced through Parliament.

  

WILL IPSWICH LOSE THE LABOUR DAY RACE MEETING WHEN PUBLIC HOLIDAY CHANGES?

‘FIRST there was talk if the LNP won Government that Ipswich would be closed as a racing venue. That seems to have been placed on the back-burner but now the club could lose one of its biggest race days.

Reports suggest the Labour Day meeting could be lost when the public holiday is moved from May to October which would be a major setback as it attracts the next biggest crowd to Cup day.

As a Brisbane racegoer, who once was a regular at Ipswich, but now only attends on the bigger days, could you check out for me whether they will lose this meeting or not?’ – Sam McKenzie, Brisbane. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: HERE’S a story written recently on the IPSWICH TIMES that might shed some light on the situation Sam:

THERE are fears Ipswich could lose its second-biggest horse race meeting behind Cup Day when Labour Day moves to October.

State Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced this week Labour Day would be moved from May to the first Monday in October next year.

Labor Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller is worried about losing the Labour Day race meeting that has been held at Ipswich on the May public holiday for the past six years.

Mrs Miller, who was one of the people responsible for setting up the race meeting, is concerned about what impact that would have on the racing industry, local jobs and for the thousands of people who enjoyed the meeting's free family entertainment.

She is against moving Labour Day in the first place.

"It stands out like Tony Abbott's ears that this is just petty and vindictive response to unions and workers campaigning against frontline cuts to jobs and services for Queenslanders," Mrs Miller said.

"The Labour movement has a lot of history in Queensland, proudly so since the great strike of 1891.

"It's obviously a provocation to distract from massive job losses and cuts to frontline services but no one has taken the bait."

Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching said the club was up in the air over the date change but was still hopeful of a good outcome.

"Every year it's been run has been our second biggest race meeting of the year behind the Ipswich Cup," Mr Kitching said.

"The two issues from the turf club's point of view is if Racing Queensland will still program it to Ipswich and secondly if the supporters of the day will still support it on that day in October.

"I don't think there is any issue with either of those questions; I think both of those would be a yes but they are the things we will have to confirm over the next few months.

"It may also become attractive to other clubs because the weekend it will move to is in the middle of the Spring Racing Carnival in Sydney and it's also the NRL Grand Final the night before, on the Sunday night."

A Racing Queensland spokeswoman said it was too early to talk about the meeting because it had not started programming the 2013/14 season.

"As the decision to move the public holiday has not yet been passed by Parliament, Racing Queensland has not made a decision to move any public holiday meetings," the spokeswoman said.

 

ANOTHER SYDNEY PUNTER FED UP WITH THE POOR TREATMENT HE IS RECEIVING

‘AS a long time punter on Sydney racing I am sick of copping the rough end of the pineapple.

It is hard to cope with the form reversals, the big stables winning with their lesser fancied runners and the increasing number of inexplicable gear changes and different tactics being adopted.

I am a big fan of the promising Said Com but would never had taken the shorts a fortnight ago had I known that the Chris Waller stable had decided to race him closer to the lead.

Then on Saturday we had the situation where Gai Waterhouse elected not to race the well backed favorite Sumarand in blinkers and he got beaten.

The time has come for the stewards to adopt a tougher stance. I never thought I would be saying this about a panel headed by Ray Murrihy, who I have regarded as the best in the business, but he seems to have softened his approach in more recent times.

How about making some of these form reversal horses trial or send them to the provincials to race before they can start again in the city? And how about imposing hefty fines, not a slap on the wrist, on those trainers who fail to notify changes in tactics?’ – Bill Davis, Sydney.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rather than me give Sydney racing another bashing, here is what one of its biggest supporters, veteran SYDNEY MORNING HERALD columnist MAX PRESNELL, wrote this week:   

FOR the second Sydney Saturday at Warwick Farm, punters were badly treated by trainers experimenting with short-priced favourites. Sumarand ($2), prepared by Gai Waterhouse, finished a plodding fourth in the Up And Coming Stakes after a gear change.

Once upon a time, trainers had to have strong reasons for changing gear and riding tactics on last-start winners. Waterhouse took the blinkers off Sumarand after he had bolted in them at Hawkesbury.

The trainer maintained Sumarand is being set for staying races and would settle better without them.

Alas, Saturday's engagement was over the same distance, 1300m, as the Hawkesbury massacre.

Yes, the supposed rise in class at Warwick Farm has been put forward, but the Up And Coming this year was hardly vintage, and not up to the usual quality that gained it group 3 status.

A week earlier at Rosehill, Chris Waller switched hotpot Said Com, usually a backmarker, to chase the leader - a tactic that failed miserably.

The worth of blinkers on some horses was emphasised when Waterhouse successfully applied them to Strawberry Boy, her bright spark of the day, in the Market Place Handicap on Saturday but intimated when the gelding steps up in distance they could well come off.

 

WHY NOT BUY SOME OVERSEAS STAYERS INSTEAD OF BLEATING ABOUT CUP GAI?

‘INSTEAD of bleating about local stayers struggling to secure a start in the Melbourne Cup perhaps Gai Waterhouse should convince some of her owners to head overseas and buy competitive prospects.

That is what has been happening for the past few years with some of the better known Melbourne owners, including those who race Americain and the OTI syndicate involving Simon O’Donnell who will have even bigger representation this year.

Perhaps Gai did get it right when she suggested overseas stayers have an unfair advantage when it comes to qualification. This is an area that the VRC does needs to address.

But at the end of the day the Australians just aren’t competitive in the Cup any more. And until the lack of staying talent in this country is addressed that will continue to be the case.

But more to the point, don’t we want the Melbourne Cup to be an international event that we are proud of, contested by the best of the best stayers from all countries?

If not, then let’s just bury our heads in the sand and declare it a race simply for the locals, which will be just a boring two-miler on the biggest race day of the year.

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS is obviously the story in the SYDNEY TELEGRAPH by Racing Editor RAY THOMAS that prompted the above e-mail:  

GAI Waterhouse says overseas stayers have an unfair advantage when it comes to Melbourne Cup qualification and has urged the Victoria Racing Club to revise the handicapping of our most famous race.

"Unfortunately, the way the Melbourne Cup is these days, it is increasingly harder for the local horses to get in the race," Waterhouse said this week.

"It has almost become an overseas affair now and that is terribly unfair. The qualifying clauses are completely wrong. The VRC should really seriously look at it."

The issue has been a bugbear for 12-time Cup winner Bart Cummings for years and there are predictions this year that up to half the Cup field could be made up of overseas-trained stayers.

Waterhouse is one of a growing number of Australian trainers buying tried European stayers to race Down Under. 

She travelled to England in November and bought four stayers - Julienas, Glencadam Gold, Galiando and Monopolize - with the specific intent of trying to win her first Melbourne Cup this spring.


Only two have raced in Australia so far, with Julienas running an encouraging third on debut behind Al's Gold at Warwick Farm two weeks ago, while Glencadam Gold impressed with a first-up win at Canterbury last week.

Julienas continues his preparation towards a possible Melbourne Cup start when he contests the 2200m Australian Turf Club Handicap at Warwick Farm tomorrow.

"My husband Rob persuaded me to go and buy some English horses last November, so off we went and purchased four staying types," Waterhouse said.

After her best-ever season in terms of prizemoney where her horses won over $14 million from 160 wins including eight at Group 1 level, Waterhouse maintains the depth of quality in her stable is at least the equal of anything she has had in her 20-year career.

She has established champions like More Joyous and Pierro and a string of promising gallopers being set for spring.

 

‘YOU GET A BETTER DEAL STAYING AT HOME THAN GOING TO THE RACES THESE DAYS’

‘I strayed from my favorite lounge chair and made a rare visit to the races last Saturday for the Townsville Amateurs to support the local racing.

I was keen to watch the locals but had some investments in the south as well and wanted to watch them on SKY at the course. Unfortunately that was not possible when the last three races in Sydney clashed with the last three at Cluden.

One of those local races was the Townsville Amateurs Cup and friends of mine had a horse engaged so I was determined to see it. By the time I got to a TV the Sydney race was over. The same thing happened with the last race there.

Having looked since at the times there was a two minute window between the two races but that is hardly enough. Surely even on a big day the officials can do something to ensure there is no risk of a clash especially with some big races heading to the spring in Sydney.’ – Martin Timms, Townsville.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t blame the Amateur Turf Club for the programming times of these races. I understand that is still the province of SKY Channel where one could question whether they know the difference between a dromedary and a duck. There should be some consultation with officials of clubs to ensure that clashes don’t occur with the major meetings in the south. It’s another reason why a meeting like the Townsville Amateurs would prove hugely successful on a Sunday.

 

THE BEACH RACE MEETING IN MACKAY WAS UNIQUE AND SO WERE THE DRINK PRICES

‘AMID all the feel-good reports about the Australian first race meeting on the beach at Mackay last Sunday here are a few things that were overlooked.

They were charging $10 for a mid strength beer (this has to be some kind of Australian record) and $15 for a UDL.

Good luck to them if people pay that price!

Apparently a horse got spooked and went crazy. It took off from the beach and headed down Harbour Road. It almost made it to town before an exhausted Clerk of the Course caught it half an hour later!  

Someone could easily have been injured or worse not to mention the risk to motorists as a 500kg horse hurtled out of control down Harbour Road.

Needless to say this was not reported!’ – Sue Jamieson, a visitor to Mackay for the occasion.

EDITOR’S NOTE: IF the organizers of this event wish to reply to this complaint they have unedited rights in next week’s Wednesday Whinge.

HERE’S the feel-good story that the mainstream media ran on the event:

ABOUT 6,000 people were at Mackay Harbour beach in Queensland's north yesterday to watch the inaugural beach horse races, which organizers claim were an Australian first.

The winners of the five heats qualified for the final, over 600 metres on the hard sand exposed by the low tide.

The $20,000 prize money was won by Bully, an eight-year-old stallion from Toowoomba.

Steve Hogno, who helped with the horse on the day, says it all went very well.

"Tactics for the earlier race was for not to knock him around, try to win, get him into the final but not to knock him around too much for the final, it was just go for broke and see what happens. Everything went very well, yeah."

 

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.

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