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.,

OUR decision to introduce the Wednesday Whinge with snippets of gossip from around the country has been welcomed, especially since something similar was dispensed with when Mark Oberhardt left The Courier-Mail and his Ear column was discontinued. Your response to our new feature ‘The Gossip, The Threats and The Wankers’ has been overwhelming. It also gives us a chance to run some of your e-mails too hot to handle in the mail box in a toned down version that still gets the message across. Spearheading the e-mails that we are running this week is an interesting stance by trainers in Mackay attempting to have the liquor licensing ban on under 18-year-olds overturned so that families can again attend major race days in the country; there comments on how well the new Minister and Board are travelling in Queensland racing; criticism of Gai Waterhouse after her Caulfield disaster last Saturday and a warning that should concern the industry in Queensland about the closure of a bio-security laboratory in Toowoomba.



THOSE close to Damien Oliver are confident that the champion jockey has an ace up his sleeve that could result in a stunning change of events in the betting allegations that have rocked his spring carnival.

If what we are hearing is right – and it is only rumor at this stage – there could be a major turnaround and some good news for Oliver in the days ahead.

The investigation has already seen two big owners remove Oliver from prime mounts for the big Cups.

Oliver has made a statement about how damaging the allegations have been to his credibility but surprisingly did not distance himself from the bet.


THE story goes that there were red faces aplenty at the Office of the Racing Minister and Crown Law when a recent decision to charge a prominent bookmaker blew up in their faces.

Racing Queensland referred to the Office of Racing an allegation that Gold Coast fielder Bob McHaag was not at the track when he accepted bets to consider whether to pursue this as a criminal breach of the Racing Act.

State Crown Law, instructed by the Office of Racing, subsequently determined to charge McHaag, who engaged the services of ‘gun’ racing lawyer, Barry Taylor of Emanate Legal.

When it went to court the McHaag case was withdrawn because of the failure by Crown Law to investigate the facts which subsequently revealed that McHaag was on course at the time of the bets being taken on his telephone.


IN a shock revelation a prominent Queensland trainer believes that there was what he calls a ‘boat race’ on a recent Saturday in Brisbane and despite the seriousness of his allegations has asked that we make his thoughts public.

The trainer, who had a well fancied starter in the race, was astounded when the top jockey on his horse rode it exactly the opposite to instructions which he said gave the horse no chance of winning.

He is not prepared to go to RQ or its stewards about the situation because he does not trust the system and more importantly isn’t prepared to deal with the consequences of being labeled a ‘dobber’ in an industry that prefers to sweep this sort of accusation under the carpet.

What did concern him were reports that a racing identity, well known to officials and stewards, allegedly organized a betting sting on behalf of some jockeys involved in the race.

Of course some will accuse our website of perpetuating rumors of skullduggery and bringing the industry into disrepute but on this one they had better be a little careful.

Like the trainer we don’t trust the system either, so we will be protecting his anonymity. Rest assured he is no small fry in the racing game in Queensland.

This is just another reason that there needs to be an independent Integrity Department, as promised, where licensees and others feel confident they can raise issues like this.  


IT’S just another reason why betting in the run on horse racing should be outlawed.

Spare a thought for the poor punters who laid a horse in the run on Betfair, only to see it get beaten, but still wound up losing their money.

The hard luck stories emerged from Cluden Park in Townsville yesterday when the horse they laid was elevated from second after the jockey on the original winner weighed in light.

Disaster struck at the turn into the straight when the lead bag separated from the saddle of apprentice Braydn Swaffer on the winner Mazuka, the $2.8 second favorite, which held on to beat the closing Budabar.

When the runners were in the straight a Betfair punters offered hundreds of dollars to be against favorite Budabar winning. But they failed to see the lead bag fly lose (probably too busy placing their bets via the computer). Stewards had no option under the rules but to disqualify Mazuka which weighed in light.


WE are reliably informed that a prominent south-east Queensland greyhound club has passed a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the new Racing Queensland Board.

The minutes of the Ipswich Greyhound Club, of which Liberal stalwart Sir Llew Edwards is the patron, reportedly recorded two abstainers when the vote was taken.

It would be interesting to see the result of a similar vote if it was taken at the Ipswich Turf Club where we understand there are some officials far from happy at their treatment by RQ after allegedly being perceived as ‘old mates of Bob Bentley.’


WE continue to receive e-mails from the Darling Downs telling us that our insistence a new multi-million dollar turf track for Toowoomba has been put on the back-burner until early 2013 is way off the mark.

The story goes an official who should know told a group at the Warwick Cup meeting that the State Government will soon fund the new turf track for Toowoomba and that the Regional Council had guaranteed water for it even in times of drought.

We find this extremely hard to believe but it is causing some concerns at nearby Ipswich where suggestions are flying around the Racing Queensland will divert funds allocated for a major Bundamba upgrade to the Toowoomba project.


We have had several e-mails asking why it takes so long after the end of the financial year for Racing Queensland to publish its annual report.

Now this is nothing new to the Kevin Dixon Board. It occurred when Bob Bentley was chairman. In fact, back then, there were industry reports that the AGM was by invitation only.

When Kevin Dixon was chairman of the Brisbane Racing Club he questioned the lack of openness that the Bentley Board displayed at the AGM. Now that the shoe is on the other foot it will be interesting see how open he is when questions are fired at the AGM and whether it will be invitation only as well.

Just because the previous RQ Board waited until late October – early November to release the annual report and conduct an AGM doesn’t mean the new one has to follow suit. Come on guys it’s now over 100 days and counting since the end of the financial year and most state bodies have already released details of how they fared.

ON the subject of swabbing – and the reports that have been circulating in south-east Queensland – we are told that Tony Gollan is by no means the only trainer that stewards have fired a shot over the bows of in recent times.

There could be more than you can count on both hands that have been warned the levels in swabs taken from their horses are dangerously close to them facing charges. Several have been from a TAB venue just outside Brisbane we are told.

Reports are also circulating that veterinarians are now telling trainers to use less of the treatment that is causing the irregularities in the week leading up to the horse racing than they were in the past.

Perhaps RQ’s gun chief steward would like to distribute a Media Release detailing exactly how many trainers have been spoken to about irregularities and if these readings are so close to the limit what affect they are having on the performances of horses.


WE recently received an e-mail which read in part:

‘I generally like your views on everything. However, the other day you called Brad Stewart one of the most under-rated jockeys in the land.

Give me a break, this guy is hopeless, I wouldn’t let him ride in trackwork let alone a race. One of you must be dating him or his brother because fair dinkum, anyone who has any clue about racing knows this guy is an absolute shocker.’

We are pleased to report that we aren’t dating him – he’s not our type. Secondly, did you notice that he rode a double at Doomben on Saturday?

You are welcome to your opinion but we stand-by our belief that Brad is one of the best – he just needs to stay focused.


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



‘BECAUSE your website and columnist Terry Butts have been fighting hard to overturn this discriminatory licensing rule that prevents families from attending some feature race meetings in the country I wanted you to know there could be some light at the end of the tunnel.

It seems the ban could face a stern test with trainers in Mackay – of all places – considering a boycott of meetings unless the rules are changed. They want to see feature meetings at that venue made more family friendly.

As you know there have been calls for the LNP Government to change the licensing requirements and before the election Ray Stevens, who was expected to be Racing Minister, had promised to act on the proposal.

Whether Stephen Dickson, who was surprisingly named Racing Minister instead of Stevens, is aware of the problem or not there has been no action at the station with the embarrassing situation where families with young children are being turned away from race days.

Mackay racing enthusiasts are so fed up with not being able to take their kids to the biggest days of the year at Ooralea (which they claim are just turning into drunk-fests) that trainers are considering taking the matter into their own hands and refusing to nominate horses. It is a situation that the club, which is already struggling for horse numbers, can ill-afford to be confronted with.

This is another embarrassment that RQ can ill-afford to see get off the ground. Here’s hoping the law is changed and trainers don’t have to put themselves in the position of it costing owners much needed prizemoney.’ – The wife of a trainer from Mackay who wishes to remain anonymous.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our feelings on this issue have been well documented but here is a story by Melissa Chircop from the Mackay Daily Mercury which backs what has been mentioned in the above e-mail:

MACKAY racing enthusiasts are fed up with not being able to take their children to Ooralea Racecourse's biggest race days.

There are concerns Mackay Turf Club (MTC) is staging too many 18-plus events and is not family-friendly.

Owner/breeder Norma Dale said Mackay race days had turned into a "booze up".

"By 3pm everyone is drunk - it's a disgrace," Mrs Dale said. She said the over-18 days were not advertised properly by the club and recalls owners driving up from Longreach being denied entry because they had kids with them.

"She told me 'our horses won't race back here'. They've (MTC) forgotten about the racing side and are more worried about the money they can make," Mrs Dale said.

MTC currently hold four over-18 race days per year - The Mackay Cup, Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Guineas, held at the weekend, and Mackay Amateurs.

Leading Mackay horse trainer Stuart Kendrick would like to see the Mackay Turf Club (MTC) allow children to attend all race days.

He said the issue had become a real problem for owners, trainers and jockeys with children.

"Rockhampton has no over-18 days with 40-odd race meetings, and the Townsville Cup is the only 18-plus event the Townsville Turf Club organise."

Mr Kendrick said the Mackay race days were losing their family atmosphere at a time when the racing industry was trying to encourage younger people to get involved.

A MTC spokesperson said the decision to hold four race days per year as 18-plus events was a risk management decision carried out in accordance with liquor licensing conditions placed on the club.

"All ages events significantly impact MTC's resources in order to minimise the risk involved with alcohol being supplied to minors. The high risk and heavy fines associated with having under-18s at a fully licensed venue poses a constant challenge not only to Mackay Turf Club, but to the racing industry as a whole.

"The MTC is aware of only one instance on Saturday whereby a Bowen jockey had arrived at the race day with a young child. Out of courtesy for their situation and the distance travelled, the MTC opened the committee room for the jockey's partner and child and welcomed their friends in for the afternoon."

This is just another controversy that RQ Chairman Kevin Dixon needs to confront before it develops into an embarrassment for Queensland to match the joke that racing in Brisbane has turned into in the eyes of the



THE Courier-Mail is obviously privy to information that the rest of the racing industry has been kept in the dark on.

Through an editorial in the newspaper RQL made another back-door announcement that it plans to reveal full results of all drug tests on horses.

In return for granting the Courier another racing exclusive the new Board was giving a rousing endorsement for ‘another promising step’ from a body that has made significant improvement following the election of the LNP Government.

The editorial went on to declare: ‘It should make every effort to be seen as transparent.’

I couldn’t agree more, except that the Courier conveniently forgot to mention that integrity transparency is at the heart of the biggest problem confronting the racing industry in Queensland.

Punters are walking away from betting on the Brisbane and south-east Queensland product in droves because of massive form reversals and an endless string of beaten odds-on and heavily-backed favorites.

You won’t read too much about this in the Courier-Mail, certainly not while the Racing Editor is considered by many to be RQ chairman Kevin Dixon’s de facto media manager and if you do it will only be that the favorites shouldn’t have been that short to start with.

But let’s take a closer look at the decision to reveal full results of all drug tests on horses in Queensland. What’s the point if your testing facility doesn’t have the ability to detect the drugs that are being used to enhance the performance of some of the winners?

It’s like telling everyone who the bank robbers are but not having the ability to arrest them because you can’t catch them in the act. All the drug tests will reveal is that the horses have nothing in their systems.

The same old story from RQL – our system is squeaky clean – all these rumors about things happening on and off the track are nothing more than that – just trouble-makers from the websites out to destroy our wonderful industry in Queensland.

It would also have been nice for the Courier in their Editorial to have provided some of the details of these ‘promising steps forward’ that the new RQL has taken.

Prizemoney is still stagnating at metropolitan and provincial level, they claim there is no money in the bin (don’t mention the $13 million Bentley and his boys claimed they were left with) and the Integrity Department has been virtually closed down.

The only major beneficiaries since the new (interim or that’s what they told us it would be) Board took control have been clubs like the BRC and those seen as ‘family friendly’ not to mention the strong supporters of the National Party who were given their old Friday circuit back under a new name.’ – As I am a former director of a major club I would ask that my identity not be revealed. I still want to race horses and attend meetings without being harassed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I would have thought an editorial praising the achievements of Brisbane’s leading trainer Robbie Heathcote at Caulfield on Saturday might have been more appropriate. He’s doing a fantastic job for Queensland at the spring carnival while the flags in Brisbane racing continue to fly at half mast for the long suffering punters. In any case here’s The Courier-Mail editorial that prompted the above e-mail for the legion of readers who no longer buy newspapers but rely on the internet for their news:

THE timing isn’t great for the many Australians who love horse racing.

At the time when the sport becomes a central focus for many sports fans, serious stories are emerging of alleged dodgy practices aimed at manipulating the outcome of races.

While events in Melbourne surrounding some of the nation’s best known jockeys dominate the coverage, there have been whispers in Brisbane for several months of the use of illegal performance enhancing substances in horses.

In response, Racing Queensland Limited is proposing to reveal full results of all drug tests on horses. It’s a brave trainer who protests such transparency in testing. There is no argument that can outweigh the need for openness.

RQL is to be commended. It is another promising step from a body that has made significant improvement following the election of the LNP Government. Thousands of Queenslanders work in the racing industry and depend on it for their livelihoods. It should make every effort to be seen as transparent.



‘I would like to commend Racing Queensland on their plans to publicize the full details of swab tests on starters but what’s the point if they are unable to detect the heavy drugs being used to enhance performance.

It is being suggested that the testing procedures throughout Australia are finding it difficult to nail the heavy hitters. There have been some vicious rumors doing the rounds about a couple of stables in Queensland in recent months.

Rather than tell us what we already know – that they can’t overcome the problem – why try and hide it behind a cloak of transparency by publicizing swab testing details that tell us next to nothing.

And as for the new Board of RQ being ultra progressive could someone tell us what they have done since getting their feet under the table – that is apart from helping out the chairman’s old club the BRC, his good mate Bob Frappell at the Toowoomba Turf Club, the poor struggling bookmakers and failing to elect a country representative to the RQ Board?

I have to also mention integrity or the number of beaten odds-on favorites because it is just becoming a major embarrassment for racing in Brisbane. We have all these high profile stewards and they are conducting plenty of inquiries but nothing is changing. The massive form reversals continue and the favorites just get bowled over by the week.

Integrity was supposed to be separated from RQ but we’re still waiting for that legislation to be passed. And all the while the RQ Chairman comes out in defense of a major stable that had a drug problem but escaped by the skin of its teeth blaming it all on malicious rumors circulated through web sites when he should remain divorced from these sort of matters.

No doubt when the annual report is released everything bad will be blamed on the Bentley Board or that’s what you will read in The Courier-Mail which appears to now be joined at the hip with Dixon and his crew.

It’s about time the local daily did its job and started questioning what is happening on the track instead of providing a continuous series of alibis. It might also question when those who keep the industry afloat – the owners – will be treated to some across the board prizemoney increases.

Instead of sucking up to those in control how about doing your job as the major newspaper in the state and asking some tough questions of the new Chairman? We won’t be holding our breath waiting for that to happen,’ - Brian Smith (no relation to the trainer), Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are still anxiously waiting for the de facto Racing Minister to get the green light from those really calling the shots to make some sort of announcement in Parliament. If the promised legislation, especially that affecting integrity, takes much longer to go through it will be time for the Christmas break. You make some good points Brian. But whether there are things being achieved behind the scenes it is impossible to tell because the new RQ Chairman prefers to operate amid a cloak of secrecy. That way you are at least assured that no-one will question what you are doing and we all know how much he likes criticism. I am still waiting for the annual report of RQL to be released – hopefully it will be made public to the industry – to see how they explain this alleged $13 million in cash assets that the Bentley Board claims Kevin Dixon and the new boys inherited. As for the changes to integrity the racing situation at the south-east Queensland TAB tracks (the Sunshine Coast is the latest) has just about reached the stage where I fear it’s a lost cause.  



THERE was a mixed reaction to the questions raised by Terry Butts in his Silks & Saddles column this week concerning what has been achieved by the new Racing Minister and the new RQ Racing Board in the six months since the LNP won Government.

Here are two conflicting views which hopefully will convey both sides of the argument:


‘ANYONE who cannot see what has been achieved by Kevin Dixon since he took over from Bob Bentley has to be living under a rock.

From a race club official’s perspective Kevin is far easier to deal with than Bob. He listens, he consults and he does his best to help in trying financial circumstances. Bentley and his boys left them with no money to work with.

All clubs get a fairer go. There is no longer this dictatorial attitude of it’s my way or the highway. The future has never looked brighter for the industry in Queensland.

Much has been made of the allocation of funding to the BRC. That was purely and simply funding that they should have received that the Bentley Board refused to allocate. It had nothing to do with the fact that Kevin was the former Chairman of the BRC.

The on-course bookmakers were on their knees. He has helped them to survive. The TAB country circuit was non-existent. His Board has breathed new life into that and what a popular innovation the Country Racing Series has been.

He is trying to resolve this awkward situation that Bentley and his Board left the industry with when he barnstormed financially troubled clubs into equity arrangements. It is not easy trying to reverse those.

Just because he doesn’t make a big song and dance about what is being done and prefers his Board to be the silent achievers doesn’t mean that they are sitting on their hands.

Just because he sees fit to provide ‘exclusives’ to Bart Sinclair when he trusts the guy, welcomes his friendship and regards him as the most respected racing journalist in the country seems to get up the noses of some of the websites.

As I am privy to much of what is happening behind the scenes as legislation is being prepared that will change the face of racing in Queensland – and that includes the Integrity section – I can assure you that his hands are tied when it comes to providing too much information at this stage.

Those who claim nothing is being done are going to look very silly after the next sittings of Parliament when all will be revealed. The ‘positive steps’ that The Courier-Mail spoke of in their editorial will be justified and the critics will be silenced.’ – As I am a senior official of a major club I cannot reveal my identity even to your website which I do not trust.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Well Mr Anonymous if you were so confident in the future and so convinced that so much is happening behind the scenes, why aren’t you prepared to identify yourself as a great supporter of Kevin Dixon and his Board. This cloak of secrecy that continues to hang over racing in Queensland continues to amaze me. I have kept my powder dry waiting for this legislation to go through Parliament. Like the rest of the industry I have waited, waited and waited. Now I am being told it will be passed by Christmas – they just aren’t saying which Christmas. As for the ‘exclusives’ and the ‘most respect racing journalist line’ it almost seems that you might hold a high profile role at Hendra where most decisions relating to Deagon seem to be made these days. As for your assertion that all clubs are being treated equally under the new Board might I suggest you pull your head out of your backside and ask a few officials from clubs like Ipswich and Beaudesert, just to start with, how they feel about the new administration.



‘I would like to congratulate Terry Butts and your website (combined with Phil Purser at for having the courage to keep the new Racing Minister and the new RQL Board on their toes by asking the questions that the industry wants answered which the major racing media prefers to overlook for some strange reason.

The problem the industry has is that when The Courier-Mail endorses anything in racing most believe it has to get the ‘nod of approval’ for the God of racing scribes first.

But even if he didn’t write that suck-up editorial promoting the new RQ control body, perhaps it was written by one of the high profile editors who reportedly runs a website for a prominent trainer (sounds like a conflict of interest and they got rid of Garry Legg, who once described Eagle Farm, in a terrific report he did for the Sunday Mail as a goat track, because he was also working as a jockey manager).

Those close to the industry aren’t idiots and they can see right through this ‘supposed’ transparency that the editorial suggests is a hallmark of the new-look RQ.

What about the state of racing in Brisbane, the number of form reversals, the beaten heavily backed favorites, questions over integrity, the dismantling of the Integrity Department, the number of  high profile appointments without positions being advertised which smacks of ‘jobs for the boys’, the failure to increase the numbers on the Board to what was promised, the absence of a Director to represent the views of country racing; the failure to increase across-the-board prizemoney; the belief that the Racing Minister is just a de facto and that the major decisions are being made at the BRC and passed on to him by the RQ Chairman through the State Treasurer, whose electorate covers the major clubs. I could go on forever about the questions that should be asked but rest assured we won’t get any answers to in The Courier-Mail.

Of course there is the question of that $13 million cash that the Bentley Board claims Dixon and his Board inherited. They don’t seem to want to talk about that. They won’t even confirm if it was there to start with? Was it spent? We all know where several million has been directed but that’s another story.

And what about this ridiculous plan to dump the cushion track and replace it with a grass track in Toowoomba where we have a Dixon-friendly Board running the show? Can the Government afford to spend millions in a drought-stricken area when there is no certainty of a water supply to ensure the survival of a grass track? How farcical and short-sighted is that plan?

Will we wind up with a CEO running Racing Queensland that in the eyes of the industry has an even worse profile than Malcolm Tuttle – the soccer player, turned steward, who became a CEO for Bentley and now is running a bakery. That’s the tip unless they call applications and have an independent group select the best candidate.

There seems to be plenty of talent that was looking to come to Queensland – both from an administrative and integrity perspective. Many are now thinking twice – mainly because they don’t like what they are hearing about the direction the industry is heading in the north and others because they think politics not performance determines who gets key jobs.

The LNP Government needs to have a hard look at whether the new Racing Minister and the new RQ Chairman has been successful as some are suggesting (most of those of course have major conflicts of interest).

I believe there’s a sure fire solution. Give the Racing Minister’s role to the man who knows what he’s doing and should have got it to start with in Ray Stevens. Come on ‘Can Do’ listen to what the industry really wants not what the coat-tuggers are telling you!’ – Peter Heinemann, Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: My thoughts on the lack of objectiveness from the Turf Department at the Courier-Mail are well documented. I witnessed it first hand – and suffered as a result – when I was Racing Editor of the Brisbane Sun. Here’s hoping when Nathan Exelby takes over shortly following the Bart Sinclair retirement that he will be given a free hand to write objectively. Nathan is a good young journalist, who has a passion for racing and breeding. He knows his stuff when it comes to race form, the industry and the politics associated with it. The first thing he should do is dump that sideline job he has on a Saturday at the races in Brisbane, focus on doing an objective job and hopefully not be influenced by his old boss who no doubt will still be writing columns on a regular basis to ensure the message gets across for those who count (in his eyes) in racing. As for the LNP and the Board, the sooner ‘Can Do’ accepts that Stephen Dickson has been a ‘non event’ as Racing Minister and appoints Ray Stevens to the job the better it will be for all concerned in the industry.   



‘SO Gai Waterhouse reckoned she had a ‘really nice day at the races’ at Caulfield on Saturday. It makes you wonder just how much you can believe of what she says on a good day for the stable.

I reckon she would have gone home and ‘kicked the cat’ or thrown darts at the photo on the wall of star stable jockey Nash Rawiller.

Then again Robbie and young Tom would have been able to afford a big night out for the family after the bonanza that bookies enjoyed with the defeats of Pierro and More Joyous. It must be nice to be a family that can enjoy the best of both worlds in racing.

Much has been made of the Rawiller rides. It obviously came as no surprise to the bookies that More Joyous got beaten. Young Tom was declaring 48 hours out that the mare could not win.

As for Pierro I am not sure that Nash wasn’t a victim of circumstances. Could he have gone back – as Dwayne Dunn did on All Too Hard – and still won. We’ll never know.

But what we do know is that Pierro did a power of work, probably covered the Cox Plate distance in his travels and still only got run down on the line. He was entitled to get tired.

All this sectional times stuff suggesting Pierro can’t win is rubbish. I don’t believe All Too Hard can give him a start – if Pierro happened to draw well and lead easily in the Cox Plate. In fact I doubt there are too many in the Cox Plate that can.

So if Gai enjoyed a ‘really nice day at the races’ last Saturday she may well be doing cart wheels across the enclosure at the Valley come Cox Plate day.’ – Glen Koch, Sydney.      

EDITOR’S NOTE: I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the sectionals Glen. That’s probably why his price may have drifted but he is still outright favorite for the Cox Plate. My one concern is the tough run that he endured in the Guineas. He has a fortnight to the big race but it was still a gut-buster. As for Gai, what you see is what you get. She likes to put a positive slant on everything and was a real good sport congratulating Team Hawkes straight after the race when deep down she must have been devastated by the ride and the result. I think she’s one of the greatest assets that racing has in Australia. It’s a pity there aren’t more like her.    



‘WHEN an official of Basil Nolan’s standing has to warn the Government that the closure of a laboratory poses a real risk to bio-security, one has to question what Racing Queensland Chairman Kevin Dixon and his Board are doing.

Basil is a great supporter of the LNP Government and the new Board of RQL and assumedly would only have gone public on this matter if he felt his concerns were falling on deaf ears with the powers-that-be.

They shouldn’t be. There is a major concern if this Animal Disease Surveillance Laboratory in Toowoomba is closed. The Dixon Board shouldn’t need a reminder of what happened to racing in Queensland during the EI crisis.

Come on guys, get off your backsides, do your job and get into the ear of those who count like the Racing Minister and your good mate the Treasurer on this issue which is vital to racing in Queensland.’ – Sam Logan, Darling Downs.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I would imagine the message has got across by now and that the Dixon Board has warned their mates in Government of the risks involved. As usual we just haven’t received any official notification of what they are doing behind the scenes. Below is the Media Release distributed by Basil Nolan (with an ‘a’, in case you missed it):        

QUEENSLAND Thoroughbred Breeders' Association President, Basil Nolan has warned that lives will be put at risk if the State Government proceeds with its plans to close the Animal Disease Surveillance Laboratory in Toowoomba.

“I believe that the closure of this regional laboratory poses a real risk to biosecurity in Queensland and to the equine industry in this state,” said Mr Nolan.

While the TBQA understands that it is the government position to outsource routine diagnostics procedures to the private sector, it is of utmost importance that Government funded surveillance work for exotic and emerging equine disease continues.

Surveillance testing for potentially zoonotic diseases such as Leptospirosis, Salmonellosis, Henipaviruses, Japanese Encephalitis, Ross River Fever as well as West Nile Virus and Kunjin Virus are vital to protect the equine industry in Queensland as well as the health of the general public.  ADSL also plays a vital role in detecting and diagnosing Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) through foal necropsies.

“Abortion storms caused by EHV can lead to a significant economic loss to individual studs and to our industry as a whole and it is important to note that these diseases are readily transferred from horses to humans,” said Mr Nolan.

“It is easy to say that samples and autopsies can be performed at the Brisbane centre; however I can confidently say this will not occur because farmers and stud managers from our region will not incur the costs, or hassle with the logistics of transporting deceased animals to Brisbane.”

There is also the problem of the animal further deteriorating during the extended travel time, especially in the warmer months.

Mr Nolan said that without such autopsies and samples it will be difficult to adequately diagnose any new or emerging diseases and ensure that any potential outbreaks are controlled immediately.

“Such delayed analysis could have a disastrous effect on not just the equine industry, but on human lives if it is a transferable disease such as Hendra Virus,” he said.

Victoria provides the perfect example of the failed bureaucratic system when the Benalla pathology lab was closed and testing was moved to Attwood in Melbourne. There is now fewer tests being conducted and delays in samples being returned.

No courier company would transport aborted foetuses and it was extremely difficult logistically to get samples from North East Victoria down to the Attwood Laboratory. Mr Nolan believes the same will apply here in south west Queensland.

“The ADSL has a close working relationship with veterinarians in the field and this ‘local surveillance knowledge’ is likely to be lost by any centralisation of service to the capital city,” he said.

Mr Nolan is concerned that the LNP has tried to cover up this immanent closure and proceed without any consultation with the livestock industry or veterinarians, both of whom will be greatly impacted.

“It is obvious this is yet another LNP cost-cutting measure, but I urge them to consider this:

The relative small operational costs that a functional laboratory such as the ADSL needs is far cheaper than the millions of dollars that would be required to manage exotic disease outbreaks; not to mention the potentially crippling effects on the State’s economy as was the case with Equine Influenza. The possible loss of human life goes well beyond any monetary value,” he stated.

The TBQA had thought that the LNP would be more sympathetic to the agricultural industry and would be understanding of the high importance this Laboratory provides to not only South West Queensland, but the entire State. Unfortunately that does not appear to be the case.

The Association has urged the Agriculture Minister, John McVeigh, to reconsider this decision in the best interests of the safety of all Queenslanders.



WE had a follow-up to the interesting e-mail published last week from a passionate follower of racing in Queensland making suggestions for the betterment on the industry in that state.

Here’s what he had to say:

‘Thanks for publishing my email.

It will be interesting to see if the Deagon training tracks (sand and grass) have long overdue maintenance completed to bring these up to an improved standard with a budget provided to allow good up-keep from the staff.

What happens with Deagon regards an income stream from course and land will be an interesting, as will how that flows on to other race tracks.

Clubs have a lot to compete against these days (for the entertainment dollar) and what the new generation expect is a lot different. To them I don’t think it is all about the horses or the punt. It’s more a social event!

Firstly race day entrance should be FREE. The club that is racing is going to get a return in other ways throughout the day.

I have a concept thought for mainly metropolitan tracks and maybe the Gold Coast Club of an area on-course built like the Suncorp Piazza  where the young can gather. It could have screens, betting, food etc all in one area.

It makes it easy to watch or control. The facility could also be useful for other ventures for the club, such as concerts, boxing or corporate events.

I’m no music guru but I would think new bands would play at a venue like this at times just for the chance to play to a crowd and get the experience.

We need to survey the next generation to see what they think and accommodate their ideas where possible. If we can get them to the course more maybe a few will see racing differently.

How the Queensland industry develops for the future for ALL remains interesting indeed.’ – John, a passionate racing supporter from Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The ‘free admission’ is being tested at selected meetings in Victoria at present John. The problem of course is why would members want to pay an annual fee if the public was gaining free entry unless something special was provided for them? It is indeed difficult for racing to attract patrons when clubs, pubs and casinos don’t charge you for the right to lose your money. One could argue the atmosphere at the races is worth the price of admission, certainly on big days. I doubt the atmosphere is doing much for the punters in Brisbane who are doing their backsides on a weekly basis. The Deagon situation should certainly work now that the BRC has control of that venue. As for entertainment for young people at the track, I do think that most clubs are aware of the need and that is being provided, especially on selected feature days. 


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.