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..

IT was a mixed bag in the e-mail box during the past week with comments on the Dan Nikolic sentencing not very complimentary to the top jockey; questions about a grass or synthetic track planned to replace the cushion at Toowoomba and how the Government can justify meeting the cost; comments on Robbie Waterhouse’s quick-fix for the Melbourne Cup; the usual political garbage involving the Queensland racing on and off the track and a back-hander for our good mate Terry Butts following his Silks & Saddles column this week. There continues to be a pleasing reader response to our new feature – The Gossip, the Threats and the Wankers.





IMAGINE the situation if North Queensland wins the right to become its own state. With all the wealth from the mineral boom in that region one of the big benefactors of the financial gold-mine would have to be racing.

It's fairytale stuff but some industry locals are talking about a situation where there would be a separate Racing North Queensland entity with prizemoney on offer to rival that of Sydney and Melbourne.

Unfortunately the new state for North Queensland push has been around for half a century and isn't likely to happen in the current era. Can Do and his team can ill-afford to lose the returns from mineral wealth or the rest of the joint will be fly-blown.


THERE was an interesting rendezvous at a secluded Brisbane hotel one evening late last week witnessed by some keen racing men that could be of great interest to the Task Force investigating race rigging allegations in Victoria.

One of those involved in the very discreet meeting was a high profile racing official who we dare not name for fear of legal action because he most certainly would not want his bosses to know of his fraternization with the other party.

There are racing identities in the north trying to have the Perna Inquiry look into certain happenings in Queensland that are allegedly linked to jockeys in Victoria through a prominent Sydney bookmaker.

Those making the complaints are not doing so anonymously but are considering taking their story to Four Corners after Melbourne investigators wanted to relay confidential information on to the authorities further north.


IF Nathan Tinkler goes to the wall - as is being forecast in today's financial media - what will become of the Patinack operation?

Some testing times lie ahead for the big fellow and his passion for horse racing. One would hope he survives for the sake of racing.

His thoroughbred empire is huge and employs a lot of staff who must be feeling decidedly on edge at the moment.


THE mail is strong that legislation is being presented for the next sitting of the Queensland Parliament which will permit bookmakers to accept telephone bets when they are not at the course.

The initiative is long overdue and will help level the playing field for bookies who claim they are struggling to compete with the corporate agencies under the current rules.

There are many who believe that when this legislation is introduced RQ should put a time limit on the ‘slush fund’ that was set up to assist on-course bookmakers. There are also calls to allow corporate bookmakers to stand at the track.


PLENTY of questions being raised about why Paul Dolan called the gallops at Port Macquarie last Sunday and David Fowler filled in for ‘Dogs’ at his regular haunt, the Sunshine Coast.

Apparently it has something to do with the standing down or quick exit of a popular provincial-based New South Wales race-caller.

What has happened to this guy and why has SKY Channel gone silent on the issue, especially their newshound Andrew Bensley?


WE have received several e-mails suggesting that yet another committeeman – Alan Gee – has resigned from the Toowoomba Turf Club.

The scuttlebutt claims that he had a disagreement with Chairman Bob Frappell but we are not prepared to accept this without confirmation, given the politics of Toowoomba racing.

There has been a revolving door of committeemen in the past 12 months with Anthony Burke the first to go, then Allen Volz (despite the denials), Greg Wagner and now Alan Gee.


NO, this wasn’t a practical joke, just another blunder in South Australian racing.

When it came to presentation time for the Gawler Cup last Sunday someone either forget to put a microphone on the dais or the one that was there didn’t work.

Would it have taken that long to find a replacement or is that like backing a favorite that wins in South Australia – mission impossible?

The words of race-caller Hilton Donaldson probably best sums up the situation: “I’ve never seen anything like it before. They went ahead with the presentation for the Gawler Cup without a microphone. It was incredible. They were just all standing there talking to themselves.”

The situation prompted a regular Brisbane racegoer to e-mail us and ask if there was any chance that Eagle Farm and Doomben could adopt the same approach and remove the microphone from Wayne Wilson when he does his trackside program of a Saturday.


WE received a couple of e-mails concerning Shane Scriven and whilst the authors accepted that he was a great horseman and top jockey they questioned whether he is the right choice for the role that Racing Queensland seems to have created for him.

Once again we have a situation at RQ where a position – this time Jockeys’ Advocate – is not advertised before an appointment is made. Just like the Integrity job that went to Allan Reardon we will have to wait for an insider to leak details. Worst still a friend of Scriven says that even he doesn’t know what the job entails.


HOW much financial help will, or has the Townsville Turf Club received from Racing Queensland in its legal action over an in-field lake problem?

It depends on who you talk to. Some say it has already helped the balance sheet. Others say, who cares if it helps expedite plans for on-course stabling at Cluden.

Some of the stories doing the rounds about race club bank accounts being topped up just in time show a profit for the financial year just ended are losing nothing in the telling.


THERE is plenty of scuttlebutt doing the rounds about the number of favorites being beaten from one of the most powerful stables in the country in recent weeks.

It could be just the usual racing rumor mill garbage but has not escaped the attention of stewards and the spotlight could be firmly fixed on a couple of key runners during the up-coming meetings of the spring carnival.

Key veterinarians are insisting that the sure-fire way of overcoming some of the problems said to be confronting officialdom is to ensure starters are stabled at the track three hours before their races and not a minute later.


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



‘COULD the new LNP Government please explain how they can justify pouring millions of dollars on public money into a new turf track in Toowoomba when the state is in such a parlous financial position?

Only a few years after drought forced the Labor Government and Racing Queensland to install a cushion track – at a cost of $11-$12 million I believe – they are talking about replacing it with a turf surface that will cost $4-$6 million.

There are very few in the industry who would not welcome a grass (or synthetic) track at Clifford Park but it will require water and forecasters are already predicting another major drought by the end of next year.

I understand the cost of replacing the cushion with synthetic grass would be up to $6 million which would have to be financed by the Government. I am sure that will go over well with public servants being put out of work and costs to the general public increasing by the day.

The money couldn’t come from Racing Queensland as stake-holders are being told there’s nothing in the bin – denied by the Bentley Board who claim there was $13 million in cash reserves when they left.

Surely there are more pressing issues confronting the industry – like prizemoney increases – than converting Toowoomba from cushion to grass and then having to find water to maintain it.

The story goes the head honcho of the TTC has some lame brain scheme being mooted with Council to water the new track with treated sewage. Wouldn’t that be well accepted by nearby residents of Clifford Park?

Toowoomba racing is on a downward spiral under the current Board, despite what they may blame on the Bentley era. The club cannot attract good fields and turnover is diving.

The only reason they returned a profit for the last financial year was as a result of a handout from Racing Queensland. Clubs faring much better than Toowoomba are being treated a lot worse under the new administration because they were considered Bentley-friendly.  

If Kevin Dixon is so determined to please those who support him, like his good mate Bob Frappell at the TTC, then the wisdom of his judgment and that of his Board has to come into question.

And that’s not to mention the misuse of desperately needed millions from the Government purse on a pie in the sky project. That’s what this mob used to criticize Bob Bentley about – but at least his vision had some merit.’ –  Warwick Barr, Ipswich.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I think you are putting the cart before the horse here Warwick. My understanding is that there is no chance of a grass or synthetic track being installed at Toowoomba before early 2114. The club would need both approval and financing from the State Government and that is not likely before then. One would have thought politically the Carnival of Flowers, which desperately relies on water in times of drought, would be a better case because of the economic return it provides to the local economy.



WE received many e-mails concerning the Dan Nikolic case and not one was in support of him. Because his penalty is yet to be handed down (Tuesday of next week) we have elected only to run three which hopefully gets the general message across:

‘THE Racing and Disciplinary Board has to set an example for all licensees when they sentence Dan Nikolic that threats to officials (stewards) and their families will not be tolerated.

Nikolic should get life for what the Board has decided he said (they accepted the word of Chief Steward Terry Bailey that Nikolic threatened he and his family). If they don’t impose a life sentence they should give him a term on the sideline that will virtually end his riding career.

There is no place for leniency in a situation this serious. Nikolic has the right to take his claims that it is his word against that of Bailey to another appeal level. But he will be pushing the proverbial up-hill even with the use of a team of highly paid lawyers.

There is no place in the racing industry, on the sporting fields, or in life in general, for the sort of threatening behavior that Nikolic has displayed. He has continually thumbed his nose at officialdom believing he can say what he likes and behave how he likes and that any penalty the stewards impose will be overturned on appeal.

Nikolic is a great talent but wasn’t prepared to let his riding do the talking. The industry will be better off without him. By all accounts this incident is just beginning of a bad year confronting him and as the Victorians would say: ‘Dan the Man is in more shit than a Werribee duck.’ – Greg Geitz, Melbourne.

EDITOR’S NOTE: IF the disciplinary body imposes a lenient penalty on Nikolic they are sending the wrong message. Nothing short of five years disqualification will be acceptable to most in the industry and there are many who feel he should get life.



‘I find the attitude and lack of quality in some of the present day senior racing scribes as a major reason for the demise of our daily newspapers.

I am sure the Editors of the individual ‘papers’ are restricted to the amount of space any sport receives. However, it is amazing  that when some third rate journo wants to do a mate a good turn the story can amazingly make the front page – regardless of content and quality of work.

Thank goodness for the likes of John Silvester in Melbourne, Ken Callander in Sydney and sorry Brisbane I am unable to put my finger on a journalist in your city that would have the skill or quality of work good enough for it to be rolled up for use in any far western showgrounds  outhouse.

Poor old Max (Presnell) and Bart (Sinclair) must have an ulterior motive for their stance on the Nikolic issue. Is it income driven, a concern for a relative, or perhaps they are worried about a fellow human being?

A character on one of the web sites suggested that Danny Nikolic should be given two life terms come Tuesday week when a penalty is handed down. His reasoning being the second life term could be used if Danny was lucky enough to be reincarnated.

On the other hand Max suggests that a more loving and considerate steward should take Danny into his room and have a chat to him. Crap!

Queensland Bart has completely lost me – the garbage he wrote on Nikolic last Saturday could

only leave a fair and reasonable person to believe that the opinion of a Darling Downs

racing personality has of Sinclair is 100 per cent correct.’ - Brian Caswell, Gold Coast.


And this one on pretty much the same theme:


‘I don’t know Bart Sinclair but I have been a great fan of his race coverage in The Courier-Mail over the years – we are of the same political ilk when it comes to racing in Queensland – but his comment on the Danny Nikolic case has absolutely floored me.

In one breath Bart writes that Nikolic obviously has a problem with authority – that’s an understatement. But in the next he suggests: He has been through some troubled waters in his life and in racing. So we should cut him some slack.

Bart did go on to say that on balance Nikolic had used up a lot of his sympathy points a while back. In hindsight perhaps he should have thought more carefully about what he wrote and worded it: Should we cut him some slack? That would have been much more acceptable to most of us in racing.

Bart says it is difficult for him to be dispassionate as he regards both Bailey and Nikolic as tops in their fields and friends of his. I am just wondering how he would have felt in the same situation as Bailey had Nikolic threatened him and his family and if he would still feel as dispassionate.

Fair go Bart! There are times when you can’t sit on the fence. This is not one of them. You should have come out fully in support of Terry Bailey. You are in the unusual situation for probably the first time in your career of being about the only respected racing journalist in the country who is prepared to support Dan Nikolic in his current dilemma.’ – Glen Walsh, Rockhampton.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I didn’t like the ‘cut him some slack’ suggestion either but it should be pointed out that Bart did write: ‘Don’t misinterpret this as a suggestion Nikolic is the victim of persecution by stewards. They simply have to assert a position of control to ensure respect is given and returned.’ He was right to suggest there had to be an end to this long-running feud. The spring carnival deserves to take centre stage now but the race fixing allegations and a couple of matters before the court threaten to again catapult Nikolic into the spotlight and attract headlines that racing in Victoria would prefer to avoid.



‘YOU have to love the confidence and outspokenness of big Richie Callander when it comes to voicing an opinion on everything racing.

He might not be everybody’s cup of tea but it doesn’t seem to bother him that he cops a bagging from his critics.

The big fellow’s latest gem involves the Cox Plate. He reckons Gai Waterhouse could train the trifecta with Pierro, More Joyous and Proisir.

Perhaps he should not have drawn such a long bow and stuck to the quinella. There seems to be some doubt whether the promising Proisir will venture to the Valley for the weight-for-age championship.’ – Charlie Caruzo, Sydney.

EDITOR’S NOTE: IN the latest Cox Plate markets with they have Pierro favorite at $4.8, ahead of More Joyous at $7 with Proisir on the sixth line at $15 so one could argue that Richie’s trifecta prediction is not totally from left field. What I like about the big fella is that he puts his money where his mouth is and doesn’t mind talking through his pocket on occasions – like the rest of us who have a punt.  



‘RATHER than bleat about the need for changes to the handicapping conditions of the Melbourne Cup, if Robbie Waterhouse wants his wife Gai to win the big race perhaps the stable should get in step.

Rather than source their big Cups hopes solely out of New Zealand – which has been a successful formula until the internationals started arriving – perhaps Robbie and Gai should start looking to Europe where they undoubtedly have sufficient contacts  and funds to find a stayer with the right credentials.

Waterhouse gave the Cup due recognition as the best staying race in the world. He is quite happy for the best of the best to contest it but he wants to change the handicaps to suit the locals.

Whether Australian punters know the invaders or not, the last thing the Melbourne Cup needs is a field made up of slow coach locals whacking away over the two miles. The presence of world class trainers and jockeys competing on internationally performed stayers has lifted our big race to a new level.

Come on Robbie get in step with the likes of Chris Waller, Lloyd Williams, the Freedmans and Peter Moody. That has already started with Gai being asked to train the emerging import Glencadem Gold which has to be considered a Cups hope.’ – Alby Williams, Bendigo.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I think Alby that you may have misinterpreted the message that Robbie Waterhouse was trying get across in that thought-provoking piece in the Sydney Morning Herald. The point he was trying to make was that the Northern Hemisphere domination does not help when local punters don’t know these horses or their form which reduces turnover on the big race. Robbie doesn’t want the balloting conditions altered to favor the Australian stayers or a limit placed on the international starters. What he wants is a spread of handicap weights in the Cup which would arguably make the task of the European invaders that much more difficult. I also like his idea of reintroducing Group One 3200m races (with G1 prizemoney) in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.        



‘NOT surprisingly I am prepared to bet – not that I would get very good odds – you didn’t get a response from RQ or the Bookmakers’ Association on requests for more details on how this initiative to assist on-course fielders will work.

Industry groups are being told by the hierarchy not to get involved with the Wednesday Whinge and to ignore your website. Their propaganda isn’t working as contentious issues like this are the talk of the track.

Many other stake-holders want to know why the bookmakers have apparently been granted a special ‘slush fund’ when they are struggling to survive. Prizemoney in this state continues to stagnate and many owners are looking to cash-in on the greater incentives being offered to race across the border in NSW.’ – As I am a bookmaker who was forced out of south-east Queensland racing by colleagues betting with me I would prefer my identity be with-held.

EDITOR’S NOTE: WE don’t care whether Racing Queensland rates us or not but they certainly seem intent on making things difficult for this web site. It is having no affect whatsoever on the hits we are receiving, especially on the Wednesday Whinge. It all comes down to a lack of transparency, favoritism for sections of the racing media that support them and failure to advise the racing industry in a public statement just what they have achieved in recent months and why certain things have not occurred. It is not good enough to just hide behind the ‘waiting for legislation to be passed’ message. The next sittings of Parliament isn’t until the end of October – hopefully we will then see some action at the station.       



‘HAVE you noticed how many well fancied runners are starting to miss the start and lose all chance of winning in races at TAB tracks in south-east Queensland?

‘The favorite has missed it’ has become almost a common expression from Alan Thomas on SKY Channel at a Saturday meeting in Brisbane.

You can’t help bad luck I guess. Then again the punters are used to that in Brisbane where they get second rate treatment while the bookmakers are paid by Racing Queensland to survive.

Perhaps if things get any rougher for the poor old bookies the new RQ Board might even look at picking up the tab for their losses.

But back to the point I was making about horses missing the start. There was one of the hottest cases I have seen at a TAB meeting outside Brisbane over the weekend.

Not only did this solidly backed favorite miss the start, but the little bandit on its back then rode the ears off it early until it all but cannoned into the rear end of one in front.

What’s the story? Are the majority of our stewards just going to the races for an afternoon out or for the tea and scones?’ – Merv the Mad Punter, Brisbane.   

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s the reincarnation of Merv. I thought you must have died mate. Sad to hear you’re still wasting your hard-earned betting in Queensland as difficult as it is to get a favorite home in Melbourne at present. With the best racing in the country being run in the south I can’t be bothered watching what is happening outside of Brisbane on a Saturday. I did tune in to the first two-year-old of the season at Clifford Park and the winner was certainly most impressive. But I gave up on the Sunshine Coast a long time ago and the least said about the Gold Coast the better. Scanning through the results of the Sunny Coast from a Sunday and I’m surprised there’s any punters left up there. On the subject of Doomben though, I hope the stewards checked to make sure that Kiwi visitor Say No More didn’t lose a leg on the flight over. On that effort it would be pointless taking her to Melbourne but I’m tipping she’ll still head there and improve a furlong.



‘IN racing circles they are being comically referred to as the ‘Dogs of War’ – two club bosses who many claim didn’t have the courage to criticize Bob Bentley when he was RQ Chairman but are kicking the crap out of him now that he has gone.

Bob Frappell, now Toowoomba chairman, who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Bentley in many of his fights, has now found a new friend and ally in Bentley’s replacement, Kevin Dixon. The industry regards them as bosom buddies.

And then we have Alan Parry, the retiring Townsville chairman, who hid behind a rock for most of the Bentley era seemingly not prepared to express an opinion but now braver than brave and blasting the former RQ boss.

Frappell and Parry both fit the perfect mould for what Dixon wants from club bosses – the never disagree ‘yes men’ types who would never dare to question or criticize him.

The industry in general hasn’t been informed but yet another committeeman who couldn’t agree with Frappell has resigned from the Toowoomba Turf Club while in Townsville nothing really has changed with Kevin O’Keefe officially taking over the job from Parry that he has been doing unofficially for some time.’ – As I am an official of a TAB club I would not dare reveal my identity, at least not for the sake of the survival of my club. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: I would prefer not to comment on the above e-mail except to say: The more things change in racing in Queensland the more they stay the same. 



‘I note from this week’s Silks and Saddles column that Terry Butts contributes each week to your web site, letsgohorseracing, the appointment of Mr Kevin O’Keefe as the newChairman for the Townsville Turf Club.

It is difficult to express one’s lack of indifference to this appointment without appearing to be somewhat biased on the subject. 

 First of all, if you were not aware of the fact, Butts and O’Keefe are what is commonly referred to as being joined at the hip. Butts does not publish anything political without consulting O’Keefe.

 The first signs of Butts doing his job were evident in his column (Silks and Saddles) this week that carved up Bob Bentley. The story about ASIC investigation was hardly new and had appeared in The Courier Mail a week earlier but why let an old story get in the path of an opportunity to earn a few points with the new RQ hierarchy?

 Whatever did happen to that action taken against Butts by the R.Q. Stewards when Bentley was the Board Chairman? From memory it had something to do with a Breach of his Responsibilities as a Licensee I believe. Don’t expect to hear any more about it now that he is giving Bentley and Orchard (former Integrity Boss at R.Q.) a tune up.

Your website refers to Butts as “Respected Racing Journalist.” All he does is pump out propaganda on behalf of the Townsville Turf Club and criticize Cairns and Mackay at every opportunity. He pushes his own barrow for a better deal for Trainers at the expense of the rest of the industry.

He hasn’t stopped kicking up for Patrick Cooper as the Chief Steward when you would struggle to find another Trainer in Townsville who wants him back apart from Butts (must be a reason for that).

As a close friend of many involved in the industry in Townsville and Cairns I have a message for your website.

You claim you aim is supposedly to fight for the rights of the PUNTERS and the STAKE-HOLDERS regardless of what officials you might offend. Don’t count on your mate Terry Butts practicing what you preach – especially if the man who pulls the strings – Kevin O’Keefe – tells him not to.

I DO NOT expect you to upset your mate by publishing this email but at least I have had my say. I just feel sorry for what is coming.’ - Mal Donnelly, NQ.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I had considered not running this e-mail but that would have tested my objectivity in permitting people to ‘have their say.’ Terry Butts and Kevin O’Keefe are both long time friends of mine. No-one tells Butts what to write. He has been around too long for that. The decision on his appeal – against a grubby attempt by RQ stewards on behalf of an Integrity Department that basically no longer exists – to gag him as a journalist because he is a licensee – has not been handed down yet because the lady who heard it has been sidelined for personal reasons. I agree with his stance on Patrick Cooper returning as Chief Steward in the north and many other issues, including discriminatory licensing laws that prevent young people from attending race meetings. Terry has every right to blast the Bentley regime over the disgraceful payouts to four loyal servants. It may have been reported before in The Courier-Mail but he writes for a country audience in the North Queensland Register, many of whom would not read the Brisbane daily. If Terry wants to support the new hierarchy at RQ I have no problem running these even if I don’t agree with them. That’s what makes us different to some of the mainstream racing publications. We have no problems providing an objective coverage of racing, asking the tough questions and providing both sides of the story.



A reader last week posed the questioned whether the Bob Bentley Board was still entitled to indemnification in the event that the decision to pay four loyal executives a ‘golden handshake’ was investigated by ASIC or challenged in court by the new control body.

Jim Munro was kind enough to e-mail the following RQ Media Release which was posted in early August. It states:

On July 10, 2012, the Auditor-General tabled in Parliament his audit report into aspects of Racing Queensland’s operations.

The Auditor-General’s report identified concerns about the governance and decision making processes that were undertaken by the then Board of Racing Queensland in relation to a decision in August 2011, to vary the terms of the employment contracts of four Racing Queensland executives.

Under the variations to the employment contracts, the four Racing Queensland executives were entitled to receive substantial separation payments, if the executives resigned due to a change of State Government.

The resignation of the four former executives on March 26, 2012 cost Racing Queensland $1.858 million in separation payments.

In response to concerns identified in the report, Racing Queensland has provided copies of the Auditor-General’s report to both ASIC and the CMC as the appropriate regulatory oversight agencies.

In addition, as part of its overall approach to improving governance standards within Racing Queensland, the current board has reviewed and where appropriate, revised the indemnity arrangements that were put in place by the previous Board.

Racing Queensland will continue to investigate whether there is any action that it should take itself as a result of the findings of the Auditor-General’s report, including action to recover the substantial separation payments made to the executives following their resignations on March 26, 2012.

Jim suggested, and we could not agree more, that the Kevin Dixon Board should be providing further details to the industry in relation to the paragraph which states:

In addition, as part of its overall approach to improving governance standards within Racing Queensland, the current board has reviewed and where appropriate, revised the indemnity arrangements that were put in place by the previous Board.

Jim doubts if the previous Board’s exit strategy to rely on legal indemnity would be binding on their successors but suggests we get clarification from Kevin Dixon on what the position is if legal proceedings are issued.

EDITOR’S NOTE: WE would welcome the opportunity to do that by the new RQ Chairman does not comment on issues to this website and prefers to deal exclusively with The Courier-Mail. Perhaps the local daily could do their job for a change and ask him for some clarification.


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.