Jenny - Clean

THIS website 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. Your response to our new (re-named) feature ‘The Good, the Bad & the Ugly’ continues to grow in popularity. 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. This week’s contributions include the Damien Oliver saga and Racing Victoria’s handling of it; bouquets for RVL Chief Steward Terry Bailey and brick-bats for his NSW colleague Ray Murrihy; questions about increased track fees in Brisbane compared to major tracks in Sydney and Melbourne and a host of other interesting topics.

 

 

OUR NEW WEDNESDAY WHINGE FEATURE – THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY!

 

FEARS THAT INCREASING TRACK CHARGES WILL SEE MASS EXODUS OF  BRISBANE OWNERS

WE have been contacted by several trainers who are angry at increases in track fees to work horses at Eagle Farm and Deagon.

The trainers say the cost of taking a horse to Eagle Farm to work has increased to $205 a month and since the Brisbane Racing Club took over the running of Deagon the cost has risen from $40 to $90 per horse per month.

They have compared this to monthly charges of $100 at Flemington, $97 at Randwick and $64 at Caloundra and want to know why it is so much dearer in Brisbane.

“Our costs keep increasing and we have no choice but to pass this on to the owners but there have been no significant rises in prize-money to compensate for this,” one leading Brisbane trainer said.

“It’s a lot of money if you are taking eight or 10 horses to Eagle Farm to work and face a bill of around $2,000 every month. Those stabled on course are also feeling the pinch with one big trainer facing a bill of $20,000 every month.”

Trainers want to know how the BRC can justify the cost increases at Eagle Farm and Deagon but claim to have learnt next to nothing from supposed explanatory meetings with club officials.

“Training bills have risen to around $4,000 a month because of extra costs. We don’t believe this action by the BRC is doing anything to help keep owners in the game. All they are doing is protecting their own balance sheet without any regard for owners.

“We are already seeing 60 per cent of the starters at northern NSW meetings coming from southern Queensland. The TAB clubs in the south-east corner can no longer compete with the prizemoney on offer just south of the border,” one trainer said.

“Unless Racing Queensland does something to overcome these cost problems we are going to see an exodus of owners. Unfortunately the ties between the boss of RQ and the BRC run too deep.”

If the BRC or RQ wish to respond to these concerns they are welcome to an unedited right of reply.

 

ANNUAL REPORT OF RACING QUEENSLAND LIMITED POSTED ON RQ WEBSITE

THE annual report of Racing Queensland Limited for the financial year 2011-12 has been posted on the RQ web site leading up to Friday’s annual general meeting.

Rather than comment at this stage or accept e-mails pertaining to the annual report we have decided to leave this until after the AGM.

That will give us a week to digest the report and have an expert in the accounting and financial field provide us with his opinion on the state of play when the Bentley Board departed.

Those wishing to have their say in the Wednesday Whinge forum should forward their e-mails for consideration in next week’s column.

 

RUMOR MILL CLAIMS ANGRY WOMAN BEHIND WOES FACING BRISBANE TRAINER

AUTHORITIES in Victoria are confidentially denying reports that Brisbane trainer Nathan Schofield’s drug disqualification emanated from a ‘tip off.’

If you believe the racing rumor mill (here we go again, us terrible website reporting unsubstantiated gossip), Schofield was ‘done over’ by an angry woman.

The story goes that he had a heated argument with a trainer the day before stewards made a supposedly coincidental but timely raid on his Victorian stabling base.

But that has been strongly denied by sources close to the Melbourne stewards.

Surely they wouldn’t just have us believe that they were ‘Johnny on the Spot.’ If so we would like their crystal ball on race days to help us pick a few winners.      

 

UGLY UNDERBELLY OF RACING IN QUEENSLAND IS EXPOSED YET AGAIN

IT’S not often that a trainer wins a race but walks away feeling he was the victim of a rort.

But that happened in Rockhampton last week where there are strong stories doing the rounds that a prominent racing identity organized a race and enjoyed the spoils.

Trainer Jared Wehlow told Silks & Saddles columnist Terry Butts, who had a runner at the TAB meeting at Callaghan Park, he could not believe the price posted early of $2.80 about Cyclone Billy.

But before he knew it there was a mammoth plunge on Cyclone Billy and the horse firmed at one stage to $1.60 before starting at $1.80. Wehlow said not one cent of stable money was invested in the plunge.

The rumor mill was in over-drive nominating who was responsible with claims that the win of Cyclone Billy had a little help. Unfortunately the racing identity allegedly behind the plunge is one of the first to whinge when a result goes against him.

Before RQ integrity (what little there is of it) starts taking action after the horse has bolted and dragging Jared Wehlow into an inquiry, the serious allegations about the race did not originate from him.

Industry sources in Central Queensland don’t even expect stewards to question the identity who is alleged to be behind the plunge as he is too well connected.

 

NIKOLIC INQUIRY FROM SEYMOUR ATTRACTING PLENTY OF HITS ON YOU TUBE

ANYONE in racing who believes that Dan the Man Nikolic is being hard done by at the hands of RVL stewards should tune into a You Tube coverage of a recent inquiry.

You can listen to Terry Bailey, the RVL Chairman of Stewards, attempting to question Nikolic about alleged threats to he and his family at a recent race meeting at Seymour.

Nikolic answers just about every question with a question, asks the Chief Steward if he felt threatened by him, continues to make back-handed remarks after the inquiry is adjourned, has to be told to take his feet off the stewards’ table and even goes as far as asking one member of the panel to identify himself because he hadn’t seen him before (he was the Chief Stipe from Tasmania).

It was arrogant, disrespectful and unacceptable behaviour from a senior jockey that would not be tolerated in any racing jurisdiction in the world.

Nikolic seems to believe that he is a law unto himself in Victoria and the sooner he is punted out of the industry the better for all concerned.

If you want to listen to the You Tube coverage here is the link: http://media.smh.com.au/sport/horse-racing/keep-your-eyes-on-the-road-terry-3779980.html

 

MYSTERY SURROUNDS DECISON NOT TO PROCEED WITH NIKOLIC ASSAULT MATTER

WE understand that a prominent jockey being flown from interstate to give evidence against Dan Nikolic in an assault matter was told not to come.

Police apparently advised the jockey that they did not expect the matter to proceed at this stage, if at all.

Perhaps they are waiting until his appeal against disqualification over the threat to Chief Steward Terry Bailey and his family has been finalized.

Or maybe the rumor mill is correct in suggesting it has something to do with the yet to be reported suicide of a member of the Nikolic family last weekend which could have a bearing on another major police investigation.

 

WHY ARE MELBOURNE STEWARDS MORE SUCCESSFUL THAN THEIR INTERSTATE COUNTERPARTS?

WE received several e-mails questioning why stewards in Melbourne seem to be having more success in the pursuit of trainers ‘tubing horses’ than their counterparts in Sydney or Brisbane.

Ray Murrihy has highlighted the extra staff that Terry Bailey and his team have in this field but that excuse will no longer be valid with the beefing up of integrity announced this week by Racing NSW.

Queensland stake-holders aren’t sure what’s going on with integrity. But a reliable source – a former top steward – has assured us that pre-race testing is happening big time on a rotational basis around the tracks and has already reaped dividends.

People are pointing to the form in Brisbane of the horse trained by Nathan Schofield that was the subject of a ‘tubing’ disqualification in Melbourne and highlighting the fact that it was stabled right under the noses of the northern stewards. We are not suggesting there was any impropriety occurring in Brisbane but the scuttlebutt is to be expected.

We can tell you that two trainers have been cited to appear at inquiries today (at which Allan Reardon will make a return to Rockhampton) over drug related matters involving horses there.

 

EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE TO LAST RACE ON OAKS DAY ON SEVEN TWO IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH

ONE of our regular contributors, Stefan Meier of Melbourne, e-mailed that he tried to watch the last race at Flemington on Oaks day but the Channel Seven coverage had finished and it was still blacked out on SKY and TVN.

Stefan was unaware – like many other at-home followers of the Cup carnival on TV – that Seven had covered their back-sides and moved the last race to Seven Two, which really was not good enough.

You either have the rights to coverage on your major network or you don’t. Overall the Seven coverage of the Cup was accepted by most with the exception of the diehard race fans who want more horse exposure and less of the fashion and social side of the four big days at Flemington.

Stefan did point out to us that after controversy raged when Seven failed to telecast the last race on Oaks day a year ago that RVL CEO Dale Monteith had apologized and promised: “The mistake has been made and it won’t happen again. It should not have transpired that way. All I can do is apologize to all the people out there who missed seeing it live.”

The decision that needs to be made by RVL is whether switching the last race to Seven Two is acceptable under the terms of their exclusivity deal or whether this race should be shown live on TVN and SKY.

What we find hard to understand is how the two regular racing providers TVN and SKY are shut out on these four big days when they provide a wonderful coverage of the sport for the rest of the year. They can’t even show the horses returning to the enclosure.

Seven enjoys the best of both worlds. Not only do they get exclusive coverage rights but they get the return from advertising, which considering the amount that is run, must be massive.

 

Now here is the e-mail selection that we have run in full this week with apologies again to those who missed out:

 

MURRIHY ‘DETERMINED TO PINCH A HEADLINE’ DURING VICTORIA’S SPRING WOES

‘FOR those of us who have followed the career of Ray Murrihy over the years it came as no surprise that the Racing NSW chief steward would be determined to try and ‘pinch’ a major headline during the Victorian spring carnival.

Low and behold there it was with the announcement of a new Investigations and Surveillance Unit for Racing NSW which in a back-handed way has been headlined as more effective than the measures being undertaken in controversy and integrity ravaged Victoria.

No doubt there will be accusations that I am a one-eyed Victorian but at least something is being done to address the serious problems confronting the industry in this state.

Officialdom in NSW cannot bear the thought that the Melbourne Spring Carnival leaves for dead anything they have to offer.

If you can’t beat it then belt it and attack below the belt an integrity team that is at least addressing the problems confronting racing in Victoria.

At least Terry Bailey does not preside over a state where stewards go through the motions but take little action to address an integrity problem that is regarded a joke by many punters – big and small.

Stablemates protecting starters from big stables in races run at snail’s pace; others where favored runners are attacked in front; and second string runners from the major stables winning at almost every major meeting.

Form reversals are common place, so are the inquiries but next to nothing eventuates. At least in Victoria action is being taken to address the problems confronting the industry. All Ray Murrihy is doing is grand-standing as usual as he falls further behind Terry Bailey when it comes to profile in the eyes of the Australian punting fraternity.           

Murrihy can endorse all the new Investigations and Surveillance Units he likes but until he takes some action to reel in the big stables and the lack of respect they have for the punters nothing will change.

He should stop worrying about his image in the eyes of the racing media in Sydney – some of whom have too many agendas and are too close to the top trainers. Sorry ‘Razor’ but your backyard is far from squeaky clean.

At least Bailey and his team are doing something to clean up the mess that some believe one of your relations arguably allowed the industry there to degenerate into. Perhaps he, like you, was too worried about his image.’ – Rory Underwood, Melbourne.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A retired and highly respected racing official who once worked with Ray Murrihy and some of his colleagues sent me a private e-mail after reading the Racing NSW integrity plans which I feel is worth reproducing.

It reads: ‘What are they saying to Victoria - OUR squad is better than YOURS? It’s all too silly for words. The last time I saw those (the Racing NSW) integrity unit credentials being set down as guidelines to employ stewards was in Queensland when the legendary Dr Bob Mason (it irks me to even mention his name) was in charge and wasn’t he able to establish a fine group of individuals that caused nothing but chaos and in my opinion embarrassment for the image of racing in the north?’


'AT LEAST THE INTEGRITY TEAM IN VICTORIA IS PRO-ACTIVE UNLIKE RACING NSW'

‘WHILE the Compliance Assurance Team from Racing Victoria was jumping padlocked gates and running down trainers illegally tubing horses during the spring carnival, the Ray Murrihy panel from Racing NSW was taking the conventional route and telegraphing their punches.

Sydney stewards were arriving ‘unannounced’ for stable raids but even the racing village idiot, aware that Murrihy would be desperate to steal some of the headlines from his Victorian counterparts, was aware that his panel could come knocking.

At least the Victorian integrity team was pro-active, arriving when least expected, catching trainers in the act ‘tubing horse’ or discovering ‘tubing equipment’ close to horses and their stables.

There was no element of surprise in the NSW visits to on-course stables at the Sydney tracks and I would be amazed if these raids netted anything bar a newspaper headline.

How things have changed in Victorian racing from the days when these sorts of raids were virtually unheard of during the spring carnival and when leading trainers appeared to have far too much influence with officialdom on what was happening on and off the track.

All of a sudden it is becoming patently obvious why there was so much behind the scenes political action and so many stories written early days in the mainstream racing media for mates of mates about how bad Terry Bailey and his new approach to racing in Victoria was.

Many now agree that if the rattling of the cages had occurred long ago the image of the sport in the pace-setting state would not be as bad as it is now.’ – Jim Manley, Melbourne.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The action taken by Racing NSW stewards that you are obviously referring to Jim is highlighted below in an excerpt from the Warwick Farm Stewards’ Report:

Stewards and the Racecourse Detective today conducted drug testing at Warwick Farm Racecourse whereby:

(i) 30 licensees provided samples of urine during trackwork hours.

(ii) 50 licensees were tested on the breath Alcolizer during trackwork hours .

(iii) All jockeys riding at the meeting were tested on the breath Alcolizer.

(iv) At random 30 stablehands that led horses into the mounting yard were tested on the breath Alcolizer.

(v) At today’s meeting, encompassing 68 runners, 48 swab samples were taken.

All breath tests proved negative and the sealed urine samples were sent to the ARFL for testing for banned substances.

Stewards examined riding vests and the following two track riders were each penalised $100 for not having approved vests: John Daley and Kumal Sudhir.

In addition, Stewards during Saturday morning visited on-course stables at Warwick Farm, Rosehill Gardens and Randwick, of trainers with horses engaged at today’s meetings. No offences were detected.

 

STEER CLEAR OF THE FAVORITES AT BIG MEETINGS – ESPECIALLY THE CUP CARNIVAL

‘AS a long-time punter, who has more than his share of winning days, I discovered a long time ago to steer clear of the big days in Sydney and Melbourne.

The four meetings of the Melbourne Cup carnival again proved my theory correct when only seven favorites were successful from the 37 races that were run.

Some of the results were well and truly from left field, the winners were spread around many stables and some of the bigger trainers did not enjoy the success that you would expect. Surprisingly, Peter Moody did not lead in a single winner over the four days.

I checked the results and discovered that Kerrin McEvoy rode eight beaten favorites and won on only two. Glen Boss was on five beaten favorites and Craig Williams on four.

There were some major form reversals during the carnival but none more so, for mine, than Green Moon in the Melbourne Cup. Even allowing for the Cox Plate flop, what hurt more from a punters’ perspective was owner Lloyd Williams later admitting that he didn’t think the horse could win that race.

In my opinion the two worst rides in big races over the carnival were Jim Cassidy on Dear Demi in the Wakeful stakes (albeit he atoned winning the Oaks on that filly) and Ryan Moore on Mount Athos in the Melbourne Cup (he went around three to five wide, the horse made ground against the pattern) which proved no matter how high profile these international riders are they still need to experience a race or two on Flemington before riding blind in the Cup.’ – David Drummond, Sydney.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I agree with most of you sentiments David. Here is a statistical story written by BRENT ZERAFA in the SYDNEY TELEGRAPH on the Cup carnival:

MELBOURNE Cup week is said to be heaven for punters but the results of the four-day Flemington carnival proved to be as close as many will get to hell.

It couldn't have been anything but a fill-up for the bookmakers after countless heavily backed runners bit the dust and double-figure upsets occurred time and again.

Of the 37 winners, only four firmed from their opening bookies price. Seven favorites saluted and the shortest of those was Puissance De Lune, who won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes by five lengths on Saturday as a $3 favorite.

Three horses shared the longest-priced winners tag when Fiveandahalfstar, Appearance and Flying Skipper all saluted at $41.

Both Fiveandahalfstar (Victoria Derby) and Appearance (Myer Classic) caused their boilovers in feature Group 1 races. They continued the trend of an entire Melbourne spring carnival in which only one favorite won a Group 1 - Ocean Park at $1.50 in the Caulfield Stakes.

The average winning price for the Flemington carnival was $12.79. It was $14.40 on Derby Day, $12.05 on Melbourne Cup Day, $13.72 for the Oaks meeting and $11.08 on Saturday.

Two of the biggest plunges were landed in the final four races. Happy Trails firmed from $15 to $13 in the Emirates Stakes and Launay finished the week on a bright note for many after being crunched from $12 to $7.50.

Some cash finally came out of the bookmakers' bags when Fontelina won the Salinger Stakes after firming from $17 to $13, and plenty of people were smiling when Unpretentious ($4 to $3.60) won the sprint on Cup Day.

Ocean Park was the only horse to start odds-on when he ran fourth as a $1.70 favorite in the Mackinnon Stakes.

Fellow Kiwi, Silent Achiever, drifted from $1.85 to start at $2 in her disappointing fourth in last Saturday's Matriarch Stakes.

Steve Fletcher, one of Australia's biggest professional punters, was one of few to have a profitable book and was surprisingly praising the bookmakers on the rails at Flemington for their efforts.

"I found the Derby winner early in the week, so that helped my bottom line," he said. "But I thought it was a great week of punting.

"It was super competitive and the bookies deserve a pat on the back because they bet decent prices.

"The markets were getting down to as low as 103 per cent, so punters could back a few runners in the one race and still get great value."

NSW-trained horses won 12 of the 37 races at Flemington, taking the total to 21 for the spring carnival, including seven Group 1s.

"Clearly NSW trainers have led the way this spring," NSW Trainers Association chief executive Steve McMahon said. "They work hard, have good staff, good tracks, dedicated owners and are on top of their game."

Heavyweight jockey Steven Arnold finished as the leading rider at Flemington despite not featuring in the money on the first two days. Arnold won four races, including the last on Saturday aboard Launay.

Peter Snowden and Darren Weir each trained three winners, while Chris Waller, Anthony Cummings, Robert Smerdon and Robert Hickmott were the only other trainers to record doubles.

 

EVEN SOME OF HIS EARLIER DETRACTORS ARE NOW FANS OF BAILEY AS CHIEF STEWARD

‘IT has taken him a few years but Terry Bailey is finally gaining the recognition that he deserves in the thankless job of Racing Victoria Chief Steward.

For some time the jury was out with a large contingent of influential identities in racing in Victoria and for that matter throughout the land.

Now Bailey is seen as a ‘mover and a shaker’ who refuses to be intimidated regardless of how powerful a protagonist he might encounter.

Even the amazing over-confidence of a controversial character like Dan Nikolic has been shaken despite the fact that he obviously believed he had the ears and support of the right people in racing to rattle the Bailey cage.

Comments made by Melbourne Cup-winning owner Lloyd Williams backed growing and popular opinion when he told the racing media that Bailey ‘was doing an outstanding job and displayed great integrity.’ – Mal Flynn, Melbourne.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Like a lot of others are starting to realize I think some of the high flying licensees of racing in Victoria enjoyed too much of a comfort zone in the past and the new approach and take-no-prisoners attitude of Bailey was too hard to handle early days. Rather than accept change – or more to the point a level playing field – they used political pressure to try and have him removed. It didn’t work – he stood his ground in the face of massive pressure from the likes of Dan Nikolic in more recent times, albeit at a cost to his family – but with much more help from police and racing authorities in future Bailey can be even better than the best steward in the land.

 

IS THIS A VALID REASON TO BAR PHOTOGRAPHERS FROM ENCLOSURES AT QUEENSLAND TRACKS?   

‘PLENTY of questions are being asked in media circles concerning a ban on photographers – several working for web sites – from the enclosures at TAB racetracks in south-east Queensland.

One photographer has refused to return to Toowoomba while another is angry at the treatment he has apparently received from the Sunshine Coast Turf Club.

We understand the problem has arisen after complaints from course photographers who pay fees to clubs for the exclusive rights to take and sell enclosure and finish photographs to owners, trainers etc.

Officialdom is walking a fine line on this issue. The ‘course photographers’ are entitled to protect what they are paying for. But other photographers doing a job in the media to promote racing and the industry are entitled to equal access.

It would appear that the problem could be easily overcome. The accusation, according to one major club, suggests that a photographer who runs a web site but does not pay for fees is still offering photographs for sale in opposition to the official course photographer.

Rather than face a mutiny from some racing media photographers, perhaps the way to protect the ‘official course’ photographer would be to refuse permission to any other to enter the enclosure if he offers his shots for sale to the public.

There is a suggestion of ‘restriction of trade’ but surely that can only apply if you are the business paying the fee to operate officially.’ – Shane Wilson, Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Racing needs all the publicity it can get in Queensland and to deny media photographers access to enclosures on race days is not on. Nevertheless, the official course photographer who pays individual clubs a fee is also entitled to have his business protected. Provided what other media photographers take is only used in publications or on web sites and not sold to private individuals there should be no ban if they meet the standards required to be accredited by Racing Queensland.     

 

SHOULD ‘FREDDIE THE BEAR’ AND OTHERS LIKE HIM BE BANNED FROM RACING

‘HAVING read an article in The Age concerning supposed undesirable characters, not only racing horses but also closely associating with trainers and jockeys, one has to question why some of these people have not been barred from the track or licensed training premises.

Lack of action seems to be a result of the ‘blame game’ with the buck being passed from one integrity body to another and hand-balled by the police to Racing Victoria. Perhaps the answer lies in tighter Government legislation.

If ‘undesirables’ can be banned from Crown Casino surely the same rules can apply to the racetracks. Apparently Racing Victoria has the power to ban ‘drug traffickers’ and the likes from owning horses but for some strange reason they don’t.

Police have the power to ban those considered a risk to the racing or gaming industry but it rarely happens. They insist steps are being put in place to bar undesirables from the track and attack corruption in sport and racing but the wheels are turning almost in reverse.

Racing Victoria – and for that matter other states – need to take a more pro-active stance on this and if they start hitting road-blocks then Governments and politicians need to be influenced to act swiftly before more of the wrong people are associated with the racing industry.’ – Terry McMahon, Melbourne.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You make some very valid points Terry. It is time to act – now – not tomorrow which could be too late. Here is an interesting story on this issue written by NICK McKENZIE and RICHARD BAKER (the two best investigative reporters on racing) in the MELBOURNE AGE:             

TANNED, handsome, and wearing a hounds-tooth jacket, the man known to his friends as ''Freddie the Bear'' has, throughout the spring carnival, embodied the glamour and swagger that many see as synonymous with Australia's biggest horse racing event.

Born Fedele D'Amico, the 45-year-old has a genuine passion for the sport. He once listed his profession on Facebook as ‘horse owner.’ He is close to several trainers and jockeys, and, during much of this year's carnival - including Oaks Day - he was mixing with the equally well-attired at Flemington's members-only Champagne Bar.

One of his horses, Chestnut Valley, came second at Ballarat 10 days ago. In 2009, he and his partners bought another horse, Dark Valley, for a reported $210,000.

But D'Amico is the embodiment of the darker side of racing - of the failure of authorities to ensure that those who may pose a serious risk to the integrity of the sport are not allowed near the track, let alone seen dealing with jockeys, trainers and other industry figures.

Two years ago, after a lengthy police probe, D'Amico was charged with drug trafficking - charges he rejects - by the Purana-organized crime taskforce. While D'Amico must be afforded the presumption of innocence, it is the nature of his defence that most concerns those involved with racing.

Police have alleged in previous court hearings that tapped phone conversations involving either D'Amico or his co-accused, greyhound trainer Vince Mileto, contain discussions about drug trafficking. D'Amico has strongly denied this and has told supporters the police have no case, pointing to the recent withdrawal of some of his drug trafficking charges.

But D'Amico's defence also involves a claim that what the police say are references to drug trafficking are, in fact, discussions about the doping of horses and greyhounds with performance-enhancing drugs. Doping is one of the sport's most serious challenges and racing watchdog Sal Perna has revealed to The Age that he is currently finishing an audit examining whether racing's anti-doping measures are adequate.

Last month, police told Racing Victoria, which has the power to ban owners from racing horses, of the doping claims linked to D'Amico.

Police have the power to ban those who may be a risk to gaming or racing from the track and casino. In light of his drug trafficking charges and close association with trainers, bookies and jockeys, D'Amico is a prime candidate for such a ban.

And racing and law enforcement insiders say the recent claims of animal doping should mean D'Amico is urgently barred from the track.

So why has there been no move to ban him? And why is he able to own horses licensed by Racing Victoria, and visit members-only areas of Flemington racecourse?

D'Amico's reach into the sport is impressive. He favored emerging trainer Luke Oliver to prepare his horses - Oliver trained D'Amico's thoroughbred Elmore (which has earned $310,000 in winnings) - although racing records show that his horses have also come under the care of more seasoned trainers. One of D'Amico's Facebook friends is jockey Jason Maskiell.

A self-styled entrepreneur of Calabrian descent, D'Amico has previously worked as a cigarette wholesaler and night club investor. Many of his relatives work in Victoria's fruit and vegetable industry and he maintains strong ties to certain Calabrian figures, including those who once controlled Footscray's wholesale markets. His brother-in-law and regular race day companion is Frank Furio, Mick Gatto's nephew.

Victoria Police declined to comment on the failure of authorities to bar D'Amico from the track. (Police rarely comment on individual cases.)

But senior law enforcement sources insist police are ramping up a campaign to bar undesirables from the track and to attack corruption in the sport.

Sources said evidence of this is last month's decision by Chief Commissioner Ken Lay to ban jockey Danny Nikolic and his brother, former trainer John Nikolic, from Crown Casino. The Nikolic brothers, along with jockey Mark Zahra, are under police investigation for alleged race fixing in 2011.

There are also growing calls for new laws to help police and stewards deal with corruption in sport.

''We do need legislative change to do things in a more timely manner to protect the integrity of racing,'' a source said, echoing calls made this week by Racing Victoria CEO, Rob Hines.

Among the changes sources say police are seeking is the ability to ban a person not only from the state's main racetracks, but all venues, including stables and training facilities. Laws still prevent police passing important information about racing corruption to stewards.

If they could, they would hand over files showing that jockey Jimmy Cassidy, who won Thursday's $1 million Crown Oaks on Dear Demi, was paid up to $100,000 in kickbacks by gangland boss Tony Mokbel between the late 1990s and mid-2000s in return for giving Mokbel inside information.

Cassidy should have received a hefty suspension for this misconduct, but he has never been punished.

The challenge for the state government is to introduce new and effective laws as soon as possible.

Racing officials have blamed its failure to do so as one of the reasons why this year's spring carnival has been tarnished by a raft of unresolved integrity concerns.

 

THREE STATES, THREE STORIES, NOT MUCH TO WRITE HOME ABOUT AT PRESENT

 ‘WHAT a great old sport our racing industry is proving to be these days.

 First of all there is the Clayton’s-like industry in Queensland where there is claim and counter claim on who spent what during the last financial year.

 Whatever Kevin Dixon can find out about the operations of the past chairman Bob Bentley, the sooner the wounds will commence to recover from a septic-like contamination.

 For Mr Dixon to have had any creditability surely any competent Chairman would have had an immediate independent audit of ‘the books’ as soon as he took over power.

 The industry in Queensland would have had a clearer understanding of who was telling ‘porkies’ come the end of this latest financial year, Mr Bentley or Mr Dixon?

 On the facts, as we understand them, it would appear Mr Bentley has a points-decision over Mr Dixon at this stage.

 As far as NSW is concerned Ray Murrihy had better get his propaganda director Max the Great Survivor from the Herald to start coming up with some good stories. Old Max’s tale, of what a genius Mr Murrihy is, caused major problems to my computer key board. I puked all over it – reflex reaction to one of the most nauseating newspaper articles I have ever read.

 One couldn’t help but ponder if Mr Murrihy is becoming very insecure. So he should be with what is just at the top of the home run.

 Down here in Victoria the start of a major tidal surge of change is upon us. It is truly amazing.

 I for one was less than impressed with the way Terry Bailey handled the Oliver situation. I could not understand why such an important investigation as that involving Damien Oliver was left to junior staff.

 It just didn’t make sense. I stumbled over a couple of characters at my favorite watering hole, the Emerald, last week and Bailey was coping one hell of a blast for not standing Oliver down.

 This is where the idle chatter became more than just talk. 

 According to the gossip leaking from the toilets at The Age it was Bailey’s initial investigation into the Nikolic affair some three years ago that has been the catalyst for this mess. 

 The evidence rejected by the Judge hearing the matter has become the icing on the cake for police. 

 As the VCAT hearing heard a few days ago the Purana task force officer rang Bailey (Bailey didn’t ring him) within minutes of his dust-up with Nikolic at Seymour races.

 Stop and think for one moment. If Purana were not concerned why would they ring Bailey in the saddling paddock within five or 10 minutes of the incident?

 I will defy anyone to get the local police station that quickly on 000 if your house was being robbed. 

 That then brings up the word ‘we’ in – a la ‘we know where you live etc.’

 It appears to me that Bailey knows who Nikolic was referring to when he said ‘WE’ and Nikolic knows ‘HE’ knows.

 Apparently the report that was published in 2008 into the Racing Industry in Victoria showed it was as smelly and corrupt as any industry could reach. 

 Shortly after the Chief Steward of the day in Victoria, Des Gleeson (a cousin of Mr Murrihy I believe), packed his bags and left his $400,000 per year job to retire.

 According to the the ‘leaked’ source  Bailey has been helping the police on any number of issues and as a result has come across a great deal of information which is racing related.

 I believe that RVL will need to purchase an old ‘night soil’ truck in the very near future.’ - Maurice Neal, Melbourne.

 EDITOR’S NOTE: An old night soil truck. That would look good running down the straight at Flemington. Maurice, your inside mail on racing affairs seems quite uncanny. Your contribution is always welcome. We wait with interest to see if what you are predicting does occur – and the ‘you know what’ hits the fan in New South Wales and Victoria.

 Although it is lengthy we have decided to reproduce the MAX PRESNELL article from the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD concerning Ray Murrihy that has made you almost puke.:

 'BECAUSE Damien Oliver is a 'good bloke' and popular, he's a protected species. A farce, Max.

 Where is due process? How must D Nikolic feel? The hypocrisy is galling. But as a punter, I am more concerned about the plague of horse drenching.

 How common is this? Does this go on every day on the provincial and bush tracks? But, after the Lance Armstrong episode, nothing surprises any more.

 It appears cheating in all walks of life has been normalized. All punters want is a level playing field and a fair go. Go hard on these bastards. You owe it to us punters who fund the industry,'' Jason Keegan e-mailed.

 Perhaps the good name of racing is being sullied in the south. Historically, Victoria has always been softer with racing justice than NSW.

 Under NSW turf law, Oliver would be charged if stewards were satisfied he had a bet. Should he have sought an adjournment, the champion jockey would be stood down until the case had been heard.

 Precedent?

 British jockey Andrew Heffernan, a more recent arrival to Newcastle, had been charged in Britain involving betting on Betfair and can't ride in NSW until the case is concluded. Source? Ray Murrihy, the Racing NSW chief steward.

 On Melbourne Cup day, fence jumping, once the resort of nobblers, took a new level. Under the label of the ''Compliance Assurance Team'', stipes had to go over a padlocked fence to find Queensland trainer Nathan Schofield with stomach-tubing equipment and warm water in the vicinity of Beseech, scheduled to start at Flemington later in the day. Beseech was scratched by order of the stewards and the inquiry adjourned until Friday.

 It followed an alarming spate of possible tubing breaches, apprehended by the special branch.

 ''In NSW we certainly don't have a staff of non-race-day stewards operating as they have had in Melbourne for a number of years,'' Murrihy said.

 Victoria at one count had 60 stewards but Murrihy has six in town and another 12 spread far and wide around the state.

 ''On Tuesday stewards went through all the race-day stables at Rosehill,'' he said. ''At carnival time they work on the stalls after doing the stables in the morning.

 ''Areas like Newcastle and Kembla are also under surveillance.''

Insiders maintain milkshaking and tubing is more prevalent in Melbourne than Sydney. While Murrihy doesn't have a special branch, his team start early in search of tubing.

 Milkshakes or TCO2, a tasty blend of glucose and bicarbonate, is the most popular blend for race morning. ''It reduces the onset of lactic acid, the hitting the wall [effect] with marathon runners,'' Murrihy said. ''Given in a stomach tube it is easy to administer and effective in distance races. Other types referred to as buffers are given, they rehydrate and make sure the horse is at its best.

 ''We keep the TCO2 levels and if one is elevated we visit the stables and get what we call rested samples, very effective in controlling it. Every stable is tested and we haven't caught a lot. It's viewed very seriously [as] being performance enhancing. Suspensions or disqualifications, not fines, are imposed.''

 Softer penalties are applied in Victoria where the stewards don't have the same clout as Murrihy because of ''too many layers'' in the system. Stewards charge and then a case proceeds to the a disciplinary board for a verdict.

 However, drenching equipment and needles can be used legitimately.

 Murrihy says the more recent outlawing of drenching treatment within 24 hours is a step in the drug-free direction and is enhanced further by making trainers keep treatment books. Out-of-competition testing is another progressive move, as well as the freezing of samples for later examination.

 Only last week, Coff's Harbour trainer Brett Bellamy was fined $2000 ''because stewards found a number of substances that just shouldn't have been in his stables,'' Murrihy said.

 ''Unregistered substances subscribed for human use,'' he added. Chemists are constantly dabbling in new go-fasts and Murrihy warns about the ''unswabables'', potions peddled on the presumption they can't be found by the analysts.

 ''People listen to racecourse chatter and try substances,'' the chief stipe said. ''We had a case of the green liquid for bleeders, four or five trainers were suspended for using the product. No sooner had we suspended trainers the company that produced it came out and said they had something different.''

 Jockeys, too, are under the microscope for punting on Murrihy's watch. Can you say the control of jockeys betting should go further?

 ''Peter Robl and Blake Shinn were in the top 10 and both got 12 months,'' Murrihy said.

 ''Those matters were discovered by being proactive: looking at computerised accounts, addresses, not someone knocking on the door and telling us. We constantly check tote, exchanges and corporates for anything that links riders to betting accounts.''

 Anyway, the wind of change has struck Melbourne. I recall the time an official vet there told me regarding new analytical technology: ''We can't ambush trainers.'' Now they are fence jumping to catch them.

 

IMAGES OF DRUNKEN REVELERS AT FLEMINGTON MAKE A MOKERY OF QLD LICENSING LAWS

‘IMAGES of drunken revelers at Flemington on Cup Day were beamed around the world. It’s nothing new but extremely distressing to families who are being banned from attending some major race meetings in country Queensland because of discriminatory licensing laws.

We can’t take our children to the track on big days because of the licensing laws that exist in Queensland, yet in Victoria families are encouraged by the authorities to attend Cup week (kids get in free) where there are arguably as many drunks as regular race-goers.

Having just returned from a week at Flemington it is hard to fathom how race going families are expected to tolerate the behavior of some of these young people – many women included – on trains from the track.

That is after you negotiate the rubbish – including drunken teenagers lying on the ground with dozens of champagne bottles etc – if you dare to try and take in the atmosphere on the lawn in front of the grandstands.

I am all for making racing an enjoyable experience for all age groups – especially families. We need to have young people at the track to ensure the next generation of race-goers is not lost. But I wonder if they are there simply to get drunk, get laid and get in the way of those wanting to watch the excitement on the track, the entertainment and heaven forbid, have a bet.

What was batted home to me was the sheer hypocrisy of the Queensland racing licensing laws which forbid me from taking my family to the races, where in the worse of circumstances, they would be far safer than any of the four big days at Flemington.

What we need in Queensland is someone like Clive Palmer running racing. He calls a spade a spade but seems to have upset a couple of heavies in the LNP.’ – Sally Anderson, Cairns.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks for the terrific contribution Sally and I think you might be right about Clive. He’s currently building a replica of the Titanic when there is one already standing at Deagon. It’s time for the two head honchos of racing in Queensland, Minister Stephen Dickson and RQL chairman Kevin Dixon, to stop shoving this licensing issue under the carpet. It is outright discriminatory when it does not apply in other states and certainly does not apply to other sports in Queensland. We’ve all heard the old chestnut about ramping up security on these big days but the clubs simply cannot afford that. They are already battling financially. Before Ray Stevens was denied the racing portfolio, which the industry was desperate to see him appointed to, he promised one of the first issues on his agenda would be to ensure that this discriminatory licensing law was dispensed with. There has been no action from the LNP on this since and it’s time someone stepped up to the plate and did the right thing to protect the interests of families who want to go to the races. Perhaps while sitting on the Parliamentary bench alongside the Premier, Ray might give ‘Can Do’ a gentle nudge on this issue.            

 

IT’S NO RUMOR THAT JOCKEYS WANT TO BE PAID SUPERANNUATION - RETROSPECTIVELY

‘AS a Queensland-based owner of many years standing, who is feeling the pressure financially, I was wondering if you could shed some light on rumors that jockeys want to be paid superannuation and are planning a massive retrospective claim.

If this is true at the end of the day it will be the industry that will suffer. The authorities will no doubt pass the costs to the owners, many of whom are already struggling to survive. Those, like me, who are based in Queensland are already feeling the pinch because our prize-money levels continue to stagnate.

Surely jockeys run a business and many receive sufficient remuneration to fund their own superannuation without the industry having to contribute. Granted they don’t have the same career span as many others in the work force but some get paid as much a week as many would earn in months, even more.

No matter how well the industry is travelling I don’t believe it can afford to pay millions in superannuation retrospectively to the jockeys, nor do I think the owners can afford to be funding a superannuation contribution to the jockeys.’ – Herb Mitchell, Gold Coast.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I am told that this move by the jockeys has been placed on the back-burner Herb but it is certainly more than a rumor. Here is a story by CHRIS ROOTS in the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD which might better explain your above query:

THE racing industry is set to be hit this week by a multimillion-dollar superannuation claim from jockeys that could stretch back as far as 20 years.

Fairfax Media understands the Australian Jockeys' Association wants the legislated nine per cent superannuation guarantee applied to race riding fees and barrier trial fees for jockeys.

The bill would come to more than $3 million per season and back-pay could be enforced for a number of years. If it was applied for 20 years, it could be in the tens of millions - enough to seriously hit the coffers of the racing industry.

The AJA will seek a meeting with the Australian Racing Board as a matter of urgency after receiving advice from the Australian Taxation Office.

The ARB, as the principal national body, would negotiate with the AJA as the representative of the racing organizations in each state, including Racing NSW and Racing Victoria.

ARB chief executive Peter McGauran would not comment on the news other than to say: “There has been no formal or informal approach by the Australian Jockeys' Association to Australian Racing Board.”

The Superannuation Guarantee Act 1992 requires employers to provide a minimum level of super for employees. The standard riding fee is an employment contract, so would fall under this law.

However, the five per cent of prizemoney paid to a jockey does not come under the guarantee.

The standard riding fee varies from state to state but is set at $175 in Victoria, which would make the compulsory contribution of $15.75 from racing bodies.

The bill would be more than $3 million around the country for season 2010-11, in which there were 190,258 starters, once barrier trial riding fees are included.

As the superannuation has not been paid, racing bodies would also be open to fines and penalties under the tax act.

The AJA has become a strong representative of its members in recent years, including when it orchestrated a snap strike over changes to the whip rules in September of 2009.

The payment of super would make little difference to jockeys riding at the top level, who are well paid, but would be a boon for the hundreds of riders who are not competing in the big time. However, it will deliver a safety net for all jockeys and give them enforced savings for later in life.

The central argument is that there are 44 race meetings on Melbourne Cup day across Australia and the men and women jockeys, who are central to the show, are not getting the same benefits as the punters on the other side of the fence receive in their jobs.

The claim would also apply to harness racing.

 

CONCERNS EXPRESSED ABOUT TWO ARTICLES WRITTEN DURING CUP CARNIVAL

‘IT would be appreciated if you would allow me space in your next edition of Wednesday Whinge to express my concerns about two newspaper articles written by journalists whom I have the highest regard for. Both articles related to the Spring Races in Victoria.

The first was a feature a couple of weeks ago written by Chris Roots of the Sydney Morning Herald who rightly or wrongly took the stewards to task for not ensuring transparencywhen conducting their inquiries.

Now I see one of my favorite writers, Patrick Smith from The Australian, having a go at the stewards because the stewards’ room was ‘packed out’ with reporters – (ensuring transparency)during the conduct of a drug enquiry. I can only assume there wasn’t room for Patrick.

Gee Mr Gleeson, the former Chairman of Stewards for Victoria, portrayal of The Three Wise Monkeysduring his term in office seems to have a lot going for it.

I guess that old saying you can satisfy SOME of the reporters some of the time but you cannot satisfy ALL reporters all of the timeis relevant in this case.

In conclusion I would like to register my absolute disgust over the handling of the Oliver issue by Racing Victoria. 

Poor Damien has been hung out to dry. A close friend of mine tells me that he is very worried about Damien and Daniel, two real good mates who mean a lot to him. He is confident both will have their names cleared and rightly so.

AD, as I affectionately call my good friend, is a lovely chap with a high profile. Just the type of person you need in your corner.’ – Max King, Melbourne.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unfortunately Max, most people tend to remember the one story that got up their nose rather than the dozens that pleased them. At least that was what I learnt during my race writing years. Chris Roots and Patrick Smith are poles apart when it comes to their writing styles. Chris is passionate about racing and I believe doing a terrific job in his new role as Turf Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. Patrick is a great writer but tends to focus too much, in my opinion, on some of his pet hates in the racing industry – especially use of the whip. But as I said before – like them or hate them – what they write is very well read and can be extremely influential.    

 

WILL MOVING THE WEETWOOD FROM SHOW DAY PROVE A DISASTER?

‘THE decision to move the Weetwood from the Show Holiday in Toowoomba could prove an absolute promotional disaster for racing on the Downs.

It’s just another decision by a committee under the control of a chairman who seems to want change for change’s sake without consultation with the racing public or industry stake-holders.

No doubt Bob Frappell and his merry men of the TTC believe by moving the Weetwood to a timeslot within the Brisbane carnival they could save the sprint from oblivion. It faces certain de-listing if that hasn’t happened already.

The Weetwood was always assured of a huge crowd on its traditional day. One wonders if the public or the sponsors will be as patronizing on the new date and the twilight timeslot.

Whether it attracts better horses remains to be seen. It sounds like another desperate measure to save face for a once proud club that continues to sink into the Clifford Park quick-sand – both financially and in popularity.

I was driving along listening to a Toowoomba radio station when I heard Bob Frappell interviewed about the Weetwood change. He spent more time sucking up to his great mate Kevin Dixon (the RQ chairman) than providing positives about the change.

And why wouldn’t he after the assistance the club has received that saved them from posting a financial loss compared to others with much higher needs and profile?

All we got was finger down the throat stuff about how great racing in Queensland is travelling under the new boss in an interview that was given far more time than it deserved.

And to think that an official with the experience and ability and foresight of Neville Stewart is sitting on the sidelines while his former CEO has quit the TTC committee and is now happily running a pub.

To play on words of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam when his Government was sacked by Governor-General Sir John Kerr during a constitutional crisis in the mid-70s: “Well may we say, God save the Toowoomba Turf Club, because nothing will save poor Chairman Bob.” – Brian Keane, Sunshine Coast.

 EDITOR’S NOTE: Moving from a public holiday is a gamble but something needed to be done to protect the black type status of a time-honored race on the Queensland calendar. I think it’s a progressive move for the Weetwood and Toowoomba Cup (now Sunday June 2 next year) but I would prefer to see both run as a double-header at a Sunday meeting. Here is the media release on the proposed change:

 RACING Queensland Limited (RQL) in conjunction with the Toowoomba Turf Club (TTC) has today announced the $150,000 Listed Mainz Developments Weetwood Handicap has been moved to Saturday night, April 13, 2012.

The Listed Mainz Developments Weetwood Handicap run over 1200m will now be positioned as part of the Queensland Winter Racing Carnival in April, providing progression for horses into races such  as the Listed Hinkler Handicap and Prime Minister’s Cup,  the Group 3 BRC Sprint and Group 2 QTC Cup.

Racing Queensland chairman Kevin Dixon believes the move has further strengthened the Winter Racing program in Queensland.

“Racing Queensland is working with all south east Queensland TAB Clubs to ensure they are all involved in the Winter Carnival,” he said.

“This is a first step in our plans to reintegrate Toowoomba into the Carnival, with further enhancements coming in future years to position Toowoomba as a key component of the carnival in its own right.

“Doomben will host the $100,000 Listed Queensland Day 3YO during the day on April 13, and then trainers and jockeys have the option of heading to Toowoomba for the Weetwood Handicap to be run that night.”

It is envisaged the new date and time of the Mainz Developments Weetwood Handicap, will help attract better quality horses to the home of twilight racing further justifying the Black Type status of this race.

The evening program will be further bolstered by the addition of QTIS two and three-year-old races to provide a starting point for these horses headed to the carnival, as well as a $50,000 race for maiden horses.

The repositioning of the Mainz Developments Weetwood Handicap is aimed at attracting better quality horses to the home of twilight racing, and further justifying the Black Type status of this race.

TTC Chairman Bob Frappell said “the Weetwood Handicap is an important race in the QLD Calendar and this move will only enhance its reputation and allow the TTC to be part of the QLD Winter Racing Carnival’’.

This change of date will also coincide with a new naming sponsor for the Weetwood Hcp in Mainz Developments.

The TTC has two other race program changes, with a special Sunday meeting on June 2nd for the running of the Toowoomba Cup and Saturday night 29th December moved to Monday night 31st December for a New Years Eve race meeting.

 

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.

   

Join Us on Facebook

Racing News

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

 

Getaway & Go Racing &
Day at the Races FREE Ratings
BN: 55127167

Login Form