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 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. The e-mail box this week was dominated by the Damien Oliver betting saga; the answers to industry concerns in Queensland from Racing Minister Steve Dickson and a host of other contentious and interesting topics.




THERE is some interesting speculation doing the rounds in the wake of the Damien Oliver disqualification over his use of a mobile phone in the jockeys’ area at Moonee Valley.

Punters are asking how he retained his mobile if jockeys are required to hand in their phones to the stewards at the start of the day.

Rumor has it that a leading jockey has more than the one mobile and offered the use of his second phone to his good mate Damien in the jockeys’ room.

The story goes that this jockey’s phones were being taped by certain authorities over other matters at the time and they overheard the call being made by Oliver concerning the $10,000 bet and passed the information on to stewards.  



HERE’S hoping they video what outspoken racing media personality Dr Turf has to say when he speaks at the Australian Racing Conference in Melbourne in February.

Dr Turf has not been known to let officialdom concern him if they deserve a blast even though on occasions that has led to him being shown the door – TVN being the most recent example.

Valley Nights has never been the same since they sacked Dr Turf for suggesting the bosses were a mob of dills or something like that. You only have to listen to those who no longer watch the show because of his absence to prove that the bosses who were happy to see him walk away were exactly what he described them as.

Here’s hoping the racing contingent from Queensland – no doubt there will be plenty riding on the gravy plane to Melbourne – are awake long enough to hear what Dr Turf has to say – especially if it relates to the attitude of officialdom to criticism from the ‘real racing media’ and not ‘mates’ who haven’t got a clue what the word ‘objectiveness’ means.



THIS website – or more particularly the editor – copped a nice e-mail spray from an old stooge from a certain political party last week.

Here’s what he had to say:

How did the meeting go today?

(We assume he was referring to the RQ AGM).

Someone has told me there were no questions on notice. So what's this rubbish you're writing about trouble getting questions on the agenda?

(There were questions on notice which he would be aware of had he attended the AGM rather than circulate unsubstantiated rumor that he accuses us of doing).

You know, the real racing world is laughing at you with your continued bleating about not being treated as a racing media source.

Why not fess up?  You are no such thing and don't deserve to be treated as anything more than a blogger. No code of conduct, no peer review, and acting on ubstantantiated (a few too many, as usual – guess he means ‘unsubstantiated) rumors - mostly written by yourself I suspect.

(The ‘real’ racing folk that websites like letsghohorseracing and justracing aim to keep informed insist that we are the ‘only’ source that provides the information they are looking for. And it’s a bit rich to suggest that we have ‘no code of conduct’ when the industry has had to stomach for the past two decades the one-eyed, blatantly politicized writings of a now retired Racing Editor from The Courier-Mailr. Then again what he wrote suited the political climate in racing in Queensland that this guy prefers to live in. And for the record we get so many e-mails to the Wednesday Whinge that there is no need to write our own. Like us or not, websites are as much a part of the racing media these days as the newspapers).   

People are sick of you continuing bagging racing in Queensland. Best you take a hard look at yourself, mate. You're coming over as a very bitter person who has lost all sense of fairness and judgment. What was potentially a credible website is now a cesspit.

Best you sort it out before it's too late.

(Well mate, from the bowels of the cesspit let me tell you that the potentially credible website that we left behind – those feel-good nice stories that the mainstream media likes to write – attracted very little interest from our readers. Since we changed to the ‘bitter people’ who have ‘lost all sense of fairness and judgment’ as you put it our ‘hits’ have gone through the roof on a weekly basis and continue to rise. We have no problem with the ethics that we adopt. Next time tell whoever put you up to writing this e-mail to do so themselves. And to think that I regarded you as a good bloke all those years I was working for what you consider the ‘real’ racing media and even defended you every time one of these ‘faceless men’ in the racing industry brought up those skeletons in the closet from the days when you were sewing your wild oats up the Kakoda Trail).



IT was only out of the respect that we have for the terrific job that Victorian Jockeys’ Association executive officer Des O’Keeffe does most weeks of the year that we decided against running e-mails bagging him for his comments in the wake of the Damien Oliver disqualification.

O’Keefe fronted the media straight after the Oliver sentencing was concluded and urged Racing Victoria to educate jockeys on the perils of betting to counter a ‘lack of respect’ for the Rules of Racing.

“We say that the industry now needs to embark on an extensive education program to reinforce to jockeys why the rules are as they are and why they cannot bet under the Rules of Racing,” O’Keeffe said.

“The rules say don’t bet, that’s clear, but there’s clearly a level of lack of understanding or indeed, a lack of respect for those rules. If there are other jockeys betting, it needs to be addressed and it needs to be explained to them why integrity in this industry is everything.

“Without integrity, we don’t have an industry. We need punter confidence and punter confidence relies on that rule of jockeys not betting being clearly understood. They clearly understand the rule but the need to better understand why they’re not allowed to bet and that needs to be explained to them in depth by this industry and by the industry leaders.”

Critics of O’Keeffe believe his organization should not pass the buck and have not been pro-active enough in battling corruption in the industry through their support for jockeys like Dan Nikolic who has proved not only an embarrassment to the VJA but the industry as a whole.

If Des thinks the disqualification of Oliver ‘sends a message’ to other jockeys, we await with interest his comments in the event that race fixing allegations involving other members of his association are proven in the not too distant future.

Des does some terrific work, especially for those facing trying circumstances after tragedy or accident befalls a jockey. But he needs to stop being so loyal to some of those jockeys who are bringing the industry into disrepute by flaunting the Rules of Racing.



OUR spies tell us that there will be dual reason for celebration when Racing Victoria CEO Rod Hines and the Chief Steward Terry Bailey head out for a quiet drink on November 29.

Hines will end his four-year tenure with Racing Victoria and Bailey will be celebrating his 45th birthday (although some of his old mates in the north reckon he looks more like 55 after the turmoil he has endured in the job in recent times).

There are many in racing asking ‘why are we losing this bloke’ after listening to Hines speak so impressively on a number of key issues on Racing Review on TVN last weekend.

Such has been the exposure Bailey has received in the media during the Nikolic saga that even some of the young kids who compete for the swimming club of which he is president have started asking for his autograph.



OUR man in the north TERRY BUTTS was so worn out after his sojourn to the city with I GOT ONE that he hasn’t written a ‘SILKS & SADDLES’ column this week.

The popularity of his column, which we run courtesy of the North Queensland Register each week, can be gauged by the number of inquiries about its absence from the website yesterday.

Butts spent over a week on the Sunshine Coast preparing I Got One for a Brisbane campaign. He started the Cups winner from the north at Eagle Farm on Saturday where he was beaten but far from disgraced and has left him with a lady trainer on the Sunshine Coast to prepare for another Brisbane run next month.

The ‘big wet’ that accompanied Butts’ arrival in the south was too much and the boy from the bush immediately jumped in his car and headed home fearing he would become flood-bound. But it left him without time to chase up his usual column ‘exclusives.’

There is no truth to the rumor that Buttsy drank the Currumundi Pub dry before he left but he reportedly did boost their bar takings considerably by the end of last week.



WE keep getting alarming rumors that an integrity identity with the odd skeleton in the closet is a hot favorite to either become Integrity Commissioner or fill a key role on the new Racing Disciplinary Board.

The man in question has some interesting ties from the past – not only to officials but to an key figure who is said to be playing a major hand in some of the big results occurring on the track in Brisbane.

Industry figures are well aware of the situation and if this guy earns a spot on either of these bodies there are bound to be issues raised with the CMC – sooner rather than later – that could be rather embarrassing for the hierarchy.



ONE of those not so convinced by the success of the Kevin Dixon Board has been invited to join Queensland Premier Campbell Newman on a trip to India.

Whilst the reason for the visit involves mining – and the Indian interests making a big impact on the Queensland economy – it’s a safe bet that racing will be an issue of discussion at some social occasion.

The highly respected racing man has fans on both sides of politics and is being encouraged by many stake-holders and clubs to get involved or put his hand up for a position on one of the new Boards.

‘Can Do’ is known to highly respect his opinion and it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall (if they could find the space) during their Indian sojourn to hear what he has to say about the current state of play in Queensland racing.



INSIDERS are questioning the motives of Racing Minister Denis Napthine writing to Victorian Rcing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna requesting an investigation into the handling of the Damien Oliver case.

In an exclusive, The Age reports that Napthine has asked Perna to conduct an immediate investigation into all aspects surrounding the eventual disqualification of Oliver for eight months for wagering $10,000 on Miss Octopussy at Moonee Valley in 2010.

The Minister said that aspects such as "the timing of the inquiry" and issues surrounding that time will be examined. The terms of reference for Perna will be wide sweeping.

Critics are questioning the political motives of the Napthine move and asking: “Is this the opportunity the Racing Minister has been looking for to dispense with the RVL Board and appoint an administrator?”



THERE have been questions asked why only a select group seem to be involved in the establishment of an Industry Training Advisory Group by Racing Queensland.

Allegations of consultation with only politically friendly mates of the Kevin Dixon Board continue to emerge amid suggestions that the majority of trainers in Queensland (they’re the ones that aren’t members of the Dixon-friendly ATA) are not being afforded a voice.  

Members of the Australian Trainers Association received this briefing on the meeting:

THIS afternoon the ATA (represented by Pat Duff, Liam Birchley, Colin Williamson & Cameron Partington) and joined by Alan Russell, met with Peter Smith and his Training Team along with CEO Adam Carter and Chief Steward Wade Birch. Also attending the meeting was QJA President Glen Prentice and BRC’s Stephen Ferguson and Bill Shuck.

The meeting was to form the “Industry Training Advisory Group” in an effort to review the current process RQ undertakes in the administration of the Training of Apprentices and other Licence Holders.

The agenda put forward by RQ started by gaining input from the Industry – prior to discussion around reviewing the process.

It was very clear from the outset that from the Industry’s point of view it wasn’t a review that was required – but a serious and major overhaul.

The ATA presented a very clear voice of having “no confidence” in the current process, which is clearly evidenced by the disgruntled and dissatisfied feeling amongst trainers with apprentices, and the very obvious reluctance by trainers to want to take on apprentices.

RQ were able to clearly see that immediate change in much of the process is going to be required, to restore Industry confidence both in themselves and the Apprentice system. The CEO and Chief Steward were very positive and receptive to the information put forward by the Industry and some immediate actions will be seen shortly.

In summary RQ are now very aware that immediate change is required, and this concern is not of a minor nature just needing some updating. The meeting was extremely positive in the fact that honest and open feedback was sought and actively listened to. The group will meet again in December to continue the discussion etc, and I keep you updated as things develop.

SADLY, the new hierarchy of RQ continues to regard the ATA as the ‘only’ voice of the trainers in Queensland when they are far from representative of the majority view. It again smacks of ‘politics’ being played in an industry that is quickly becoming ‘far from a level playing field’ for all stakeholders.  


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



WE received several e-mails from key racing identities and stake-holders claiming that meetings that had planned with Racing Minister Steven Dickson to discuss legislative change had been called off and no date had been set to conduct these.

We conveyed concerns that were being expressed to this website to the Minister’s Office and asked a series of questions that those who spoke to or e-mailed us wanted answered.

These queries included:

  • Could the Minister please clarify why meetings with some groups were called off and if they will have a hearing before the legislation goes to Government?

 Claims that some stakeholder groups are being given preferential treatment – the one largely being targeted being the Queensland branch of the ATA. The suggestion is that this group does not in any represent the overall voice of trainers in this state only the south-east corner and critics are claiming the ATA has start with the Racing Department.

      * Are there plans by the Government to subsidize the removal of the cushion track from Toowoomba and replace it with grass?

  • What is happening with Albion Park? Will it be redeveloped and, if so, who will pay for it?

We thank the Racing Minister for his prompt response to the above as follows:

THE Minister has not cancelled any meeting he has scheduled to have with stakeholders. Since taking up the position the Minister has literally met and interacted with hundreds of industry stakeholders. Specifically, since the introduction of the amendment to the Racing Act the Minister has personally briefed with representatives from the following organizations on the amendments:

BOTRA (Harness),  GBOTA (Greyhound), QLD Racehorse Owners Association, Australian Trainers Association, Thoroughbred Breeders Queensland Association, QLD Jockey’s Association, Bookmakers Association, Thoroughbred Country Racing Committee, Thoroughbred TAB Club representatives (CEO and/or Chairs), Harness Racing Club representatives, Individual licensees and industry participants.

In addition to this on the day that the Minister introduced the amendments an electronic message from him was also distributed to the many thousands of licensees for who RQL holds email details, the electronic message was also posted on the RQL website, with a SMS sent to licensees alerting them to the message. Likewise, formal correspondence was send to a wide variety of stakeholder groups and all race clubs.

The Minister’s message and correspondence invited licensees and industry participants to contact his office directly, if they were seeking additional information about the changes or had any questions.

IN terms of consultation, the amendments to the Racing Act are reflective of the LNP’s election policy for racing. It is in that context that the LNP secured a mandate for these changes at the last election.

Both then and now licensees, club officials, and other industry participants have told the Minister how the LNP’s more inclusive approach to the racing industry is a breath of fresh air, compared to the restrictive and unilateral approach of those charged with running it in the immediate past.

THE Minister welcomes the opportunity to meet with any industry stakeholder and as previously indicated would urge them to contact his office directly.

In relation to questions concerning racetrack developments (specifically the Toowoomba track and Albion Park: THE Government is currently considering a revised infrastructure strategy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: WE have received complaints from two industry bodies and an individual that meetings with the Minister were cancelled, not postponed. Our advice to them is contact his Office ASAP. We aren’t much clearer on what is happening with infrastructure projects and there needs to be some clarity on that sooner rather than later especially with scuttlebutt doing the rounds about clubs favored by the Dixon Board getting start over those who were Bentley friendly. There are mounting concerns about the future of Ipswich as a gallops venue. Backing up industry feeling supporting Steve Dickson’s approach to planned changes is this story which emanated from a meeting he had with TAB clubs:

RACING Minister Steve Dickson today met with representatives of Queensland TAB clubs in Brisbane to discuss the suite of changes to Queensland’s racing laws as the Newman Government continues to deliver upon its election commitments to the racing industry.

Mr Dickson said he welcomed the opportunity to detail amendments to the Racing Act 2002, the Wagering Act 1998 and the Interactive Gambling (Player Protection) Act 1998 which would restore integrity and accountability in the industry.

“This afternoon’s meeting follows on from previous information sessions I’ve held with industry members across the three racing codes, and I’ll continue to ensure the 30,000 strong sector has a real voice,” Mr Dickson said.  

“Rather than the top down structure the previous Labor Government had in place, the Newman Government is ushering in a new era of inclusiveness for all industry members, which was sorely lacking under the previous administration.”

Mr Dickson said the changes under the Racing and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 would establish three separate code-specific control boards made up of three industry-backed members.

“The Bill will also remove Racing Queensland Limited as the control body for the thoroughbred, harness and greyhounds codes of racing and establish the Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board (QACRIB) in this role,” he said.

“This will address long-held industry concerns that the control body has no direct interaction with code participants, and licensees in the racing industry have no code-specific board with which to interact.

Cairns Jockey Club CEO Graham Thornton said it was great to have the opportunity to talk over the reforms.

“It’s important that the people who actually make up the racing industry are able to have a real say, and have our views heard,” Mr Thornton said.

“We’re looking forward to seeing these changes come through.”

Mr Dickson said since being appointed Racing Minister he had met with a wide range of industry participants and looked forward to continuing to do so as the Newman Government continues delivering on its commitment to rejuvenate racing in Queensland.



‘BEFORE all the do-gooders step out in defense of Damien Oliver and point out that jockeys have been betting since Adam chased Eve in the apple garden, perhaps they should consider what happened to Chris Munce.

Those with short memories might be reminded that although Munce was not found guilty of backing a rival horse he went to jail in Hong Kong for tipping the mounts he was riding.

Considering the penalties handed down to Peter Robl and Blake Shinn in NSW, I would have thought that Oliver was rather leniently treated by the stewards in Victoria for a jockey of his profile in this country.

It’s fine to say others have done the same and got away with it but at the end of the day he didn’t and the buck stops with him. He deserves what he got and more in my opinion. I have no sympathy for him.

For a top jockey who has earned so much to tarnish his reputation and image in the eyes of the racing public over a $10,000 bet is a disgrace. It will cost him much more – and so it should – in the long run.

Alongside his many fine achievements, the courage he showed in the face of amazing adversity to win the Melbourne Cup on Media Puzzle only days after his brother died in a tragic fall, Damien Oliver will unfortunately always be remembered as the top jockey who had a $10,000 bet on a rival runner.’ – Gary Morgan, Sydney.    

EDITOR’S NOTE: Regardless of whether he knew how severe the Hong Kong authorities could be to rule breakers in racing, the Chris Munce penalty was over the top. Personally I think the disqualification that Damien Oliver received was appropriate. You have to consider what that amount on the sidelines would cost a jockey who enjoys his success rate. It would be plenty and that’s without mentioning what this has done to his credibility in the eyes of the public – racing and outside racing.  



‘I have friends who work in the racing media in Victoria and they are claiming that the Fairfax attack on the industry in this state has more to do with the second rate treatment they receive compared to News Limited.

The Age has for so long played second fiddle to the Herald Sun. The big advertising dollars for form guides goes to the News Limited publication and consequently it is seen as the racing paper with Fairfax missing out on the majority of the scoops.

But things have changed since a couple of investigative reporters (Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie) joined forces with the ABC current affairs program Four Corners and did a right royal job on exposing the underbelly of racing in Victoria.

Allegations of race fixing involving controversial jockey Danny Nikolic led to stories of criminal links with key racing figures and rumors that a jockey had turned evidence on his colleagues to name quite a few top hoops involved in a massive scandal.

Things went from better to worse – The Age stories continued to embarrass racing in Victoria – and eventually the Sun Herald can no longer protect those seen to be paying a nice slug of their wages. It was time to try and claw-back some of the lost readership in racing that Fairfax had snared.

The damning headlines over the spring carnival, spearheaded by questions over whether Damien Oliver should be riding on Cup week, led to headlines in The Age that he was being protected by the authorities.

Many believed that this was Fairfax striking back at the second rate treatment it had received from Racing Victoria and sending a message to the authorities: “You want coverage, well we’ll give you racing coverage, but you might not like it.”

There were allegations in The Age that RVL CEO Rob Hines knew that Oliver had admitted having the $10,000 bet before Cup week. Hines strongly denies this and claimed he didn’t know until the Monday later.

The Fairfax attack didn’t let up. Even when Oliver was disqualified on Tuesday the old team of Baker and McKenzie were making headlines again and in a comment piece suggested that RVL had ‘made a big problem even worse with its inept handling of the Oliver betting affair’.

They pointed out that Fairfax Media published revelations about the bet on October 14 and that, in response, Oliver made no comment – but did not seek to deny the report.

Their report went on to say that on Melbourne Cup day, some three weeks later, Fairfax Media revealed that Oliver had admitted to the illegal bet on Miss Octopussy and that this admission was known to racing officials but amazingly Oliver was still allowed to ride Melbourne Cup favourite Americain.

They suggested that even more amazing was the fact that senior Victorian racing officials were furious the report of Oliver's admission was published on the industry's biggest day of the year.

Baker and McKenzie wrote: ‘It beggars belief that a professional organization such as Racing Victoria took almost a month to investigate Oliver's illegal bet and only laid charges on the Monday after the Spring Carnival ended.

‘To defend itself from criticism, Racing Victoria resorted to semantics, saying that Oliver's first ‘formal admissions’ were only made on Monday, November 12.

‘Racing Victoria's assertions make no sense because all it had to do is ask one question of Oliver on October 14, the day the illegal bet was revealed: ‘Did you place the bet on Miss Octopussy?’

‘That it apparently took a month to get an answer points to a big problem within Racing Victoria's integrity systems. If Oliver wouldn't answer the question immediately, then why was he allowed to continue riding and earn tens-of-thousands-of-dollars in prize money?’

The Age article claims the penalty (eight months disqualification and two months suspension) was on the light side and would allow Oliver a free run at next year's Spring Carnival.

They maintain it sends a message to others in the industry who might be tempted to break the rules. But they also point out that the negative publicity for Oliver is probably worse than the suspension.

I wonder what others think about this affair that has done nothing for the image of racing in Victoria or Australia for that matter.” – Max Macdonald, Melbourne.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Having worked for both News Limited and Fairfax as a racing writer I am only too aware of the jealousies that have existed for years. It is a sad fact of life that for too long Fairfax had played second fiddle. But with the financial woes that they are confronting things aren’t about to change. I believe the stories that Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie broke early days on the ‘underbelly’ of Victoria racing are worthy of a Walkley Award (it’s for the best of the best in all forms of news journalism). They certainly wouldn’t be winning any racing industry awards – they’re for the feel-good stories. What The Age does risk now is over-doing the situation. I believe the explanation from RVL chairman Michael Duffy on the way they handled the Oliver case is acceptable, no matter how long it took to complete the inquiry. Move on, there are plenty more stories and headlines of a controversial nature to be pursued. But as McKenzie and Baker conceded in their comment piece: ‘The end result could be the clean-out racing needs to ensure the Australian public has confidence that they are getting a fair go when they put their hands in the pockets to punt.’ The only thing I would be restricting that too, if I were those guys, is Victoria. It is far from squeaky clean in New South Wales and Victoria were one could suggest that the racing media and investigative reporters might take a closer look at what has been swept under the carpet.



‘I have read the statement handed down by the RVL Chairman in relation to the Damien Oliver matter and to me it asks more questions than it has answered.

In my humble opinion the CEO for RVL Mr Hines has put a question mark over his ability to handle the truth.

This is most unfortunate as I feel the man has done an excellent job since he has been in office.

Blind Freddie with a 4th grade education could see what was going on behind the scenes – in kind anyway.

For Mr Hines NOT TO KNOW what was happening, as he stated on more than one occasion, is just plain nonsense. He is too smart for something like this to be going on without his knowledge.

I see where the Racing Minister is going to ask Commissioner Perna to investigate the ‘delay’ in dealing with the Oliver matter. One wonders if this is the opportunity he has been looking for to threaten the Board of RVL with the appointment of an Administrator.

For a licensee to be summoned before a panel of stewards and decline to attend on LEGAL ADVICE would have to be the best excuse I know to ask him (Oliver) to show cause why his jockey’s license should not be withdrawn.

“Let us know when you are prepared to abide by the Rules of Racing and you can have your license back.”

The argument for agreeing to Oliver’s demands/conditions just doesn’t make sense. Fair enough it could be said that all the Stewards had to play with was hearsay evidence – useless in any hearing.

Having said that Oliver by doing what he has will have placed himself at risk of being implicated in possible criminal matters.

He wasn’t doing anyone but himself a favor by taking the course of action he has.

I feel clarification of the following would help to restore confidence -

Putting to one side why or where he was able to obtain a mobile phone in a jockeys’ room I am curious to know how Oliver came by this chap Hunter’s phone number?

Is this a normal practice for a ‘punter’ to be in the habit of paying profits to the various trainers?

Does either the ‘punter’ and or the Trainer get a cut from the winnings?

Being a one off punter he seemed to have his system well organized.

If he is such a reformed man, Oliver will not only try to clean up his family problems but also assist in putting Victoria back on a pedestal of Australian Racing it deserves to be on and one he has done great damage too. 

I would assume Mr. Perna’s office would be a great place to start.’ - Arthur Johnstone, Sydney (formerly a proud Victorian).

EDITOR’S NOTE: If Integrity is now as separated from Racing Victoria as Mr Hines suggests then perhaps he was unaware of the full facts in the Oliver case. Certainly the sequence of events as presented by the steward in charge of the investigation, Rob Montgomery, does back the stance that RVL was required to take legally in the Oliver case. As for the motives of the Racing Minister getting involved, I guess it’s a good chance to make some political mileage.  



FOR legal reasons we have decided not to run in full an e-mail that was received concerning a recent midweek race in Brisbane, the concerns of which we forwarded to RQL Chief Steward Wade Birch for a response.

Here is an edited version of the information contained in the e-mail:

‘WILL questions be asked (about a recent midweek race in Brisbane)?

One wonders why there is a bed smell about racing (in Queensland).

The favourite (named with-held) was trained by one of the state’s leading trainers (name with-held). He spoke in a radio interview of being very confident of the horse’s chances and the fluctuations were $3.5 to $4 and back to $3.3.

The horse missed the start and for several strides was restrained by (top jockey named but with-held). He then rode the horse with aggression from the 1300m to the 900m at which point when trying to squeeze along the fence got badly hampered.

In this incident the horse lost ground again went back to near last and (never looked a chance thereafter).

The winner firmed from $8, touching $4 at one stage of the betting, before running a shade better. Double figure odds were bet in morning Fixed Odds markets. It was a successful plonk in anyone’s language.

The winner sat deep from a bad draw then crosses with ease to lead, cruises in front and bolts in. (I am not suggesting) it was a great form reversal but there was little betting confidence at three previous runs.

What I want to raise is that the jockey in each of those previous runs jumped off and rode the favourite this time for a stable which rarely engages him.

(The e-mail also raised a close connection between the jockey and the winning stable which we have elected not to run).

So we have an interesting jockey change. The favourite misses the kick and has a terrible run. The plonk runner jumps from the widest gate, leads with ease and wins comfortably. It is backed like a put-in take-out chance.

So what questions will be asked? (Some were by stewards on the day but the explanation was accepted).

One wonders why racing, in particular Queensland racing, has a bad smell about it. In my opinion this race had a smell about it.

Maybe you could ask those in authority for their take on all of this?’ - I do not wish my name or details published.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We did as the e-mailer requested and took up the matter with RQ Chairman of Stewards, Wade Birch. Below is his response:

‘WHILST I am always more than happy to respond directly to the sports supporters and participants, it is not the current policy of Racing Queensland to provide information in circumstances of anonymous and/or unattributed queries.

As such, if you would be so kind as to seek the consent of your reader to provide me with their name and contact details, I will ensure that I respond to him or her directly. It is entirely at their discretion whether they subsequently choose to share the information with your website.’

Kind Regards, Wade Birch.

WE understand that stewards cannot simply act on anonymous complaints. THE ball is back in the court of the e-mailer. If he wishes to take it up privately with Mr Birch, that is up to him. We would hope that he at least contacts the Chief Steward, even anonymously, to air his concerns.     


AS an owner who has been involved in racing in Queensland for more years than I care to admit my main gripe has been the political in-fighting that has seen the local industry stagnate for the past decade.

My friends and I believe that racing in Queensland has been granted a new lease of life but the LNP Government and Kevin Dixon need to make the right choices in a lot of areas if the industry is to fight back financially and regain respect on the integrity front.

Having just watched an interview with Rob Hines, the out-going CEO of Racing Victoria, I realized how much we are dragging our feet in Queensland.

Just imagine if we had a CEO of his experience, ability and vision instead of some of the gentlemen who have tried to do the job at RQ, QR or whatever it has been called over the past decade.

Hines summed up racing perfectly – not only in Victoria – when he described it as the most dysfunctional industry he had ever been involved with.

He pointed out how it didn’t operate as a corporate business where a Board made a decision and it stood.

He was spot-on when he said that those elected or appointed to run racing had too much self interest and worked too much from their own perspective or that of select groups that they really represented.

Unfortunately that happens in Queensland as well and it seems that under the new legislation being prepared nothing will change.

Hines highlighted the appointment of a country racing member to the Board of Racing Victoria as one of the flaws in the system.

He questioned how the control body could be seen as an independent non-representative Board if that was allowed to happen. And he’s right.

Listening to Rob Hines it is obvious he knows what he’s talking about, will be a great loss to the industry in Victoria but has achieved plenty in four years in the job.

What a shame in its time of need that Racing Queensland could not secure – or afford – a man of his talents. Not failed stewards thrust into jobs they do not have the experience to handle and then given payouts that enable them to buy bakeries.’ – Charles Hobbs, North Queensland. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: I saw the same interview with Rob Hines and wasn’t he impressive? Those of us who have seen racing in Queensland wither on the vine with too many of the wrong people in keys jobs would kill for a CEO of his class to join RQ today. Perhaps the answer in Queensland is the rumor that is doing the rounds that Kevin Dixon could be convinced to quit as chairman and take on the role of CEO. Or maybe he could do what Bob Bentley tried to do – but it requires a change in legislation – and become Executive Chairman. It’s certainly food for thought.



‘THERE might be a perception that the image of racing in Victoria is on the nose but at least they are doing something for clean up their act. Can the same be said for the authorities in New South Wales and Queensland?

Sydney racing has been a joke for some time now and it continued last weekend with favorites drifting alarmingly in price and getting beaten. The least said about racing in Brisbane the better.

The positive aspect of racing in Victoria is that the Integrity Department is independent and run completely separate from the administrative arm of RVL.

That is what is supposed to happen in Queensland but the proof of the pudding in the north will rest with the appointments that are made. If there are political overtones to these then nothing will change and racing will remain a joke.

Neither industry personnel nor the punters had any confidence in the Integrity Department at Racing Queensland when it was run by Bob Mason and then Jamie Orchard.

When the new Board took over after the election they virtually dispensed with Integrity. The Government has announced changes and a separation of powers but some of the names being mentioned in dispatches as likely appointments to Integrity and Appeals positions have many on edge.

Terry Bailey and Dayle Brown have done a terrific job under trying circumstances in Victoria. They are terribly hamstrung when it comes to the sharing of information because RVL Integrity is not regarded as a law enforcement agency and is such does not receive the needed co-operation from the police and crime fighting authorities.

Ray Murrihy continues to bleat about that problem frustrating his efforts to clean up NSW racing. One gets the impression that in Queensland they just don’t care.

RVL Integrity remains on the front foot and leads the way as evidenced by their hard line on the tubing of horses and the activities of the newly-established Compliance Assurance Team during the spring carnival.

Can you imagine racing in Queensland have a similar team jumping fences of trainers or others with links to some powerful people in the racing and harness racing industries? In your dreams when might suggest!

RVL has also employed a barrister with not only the knowledge of the law but the rules of racing and how they now have to meet certain standards of proof when matters get to the RAD level.

Out of all the bad publicity surrounding the likes of Nikolic, Oliver and several trainers involved in ‘drug related’ inquiries and offences, only good can prevail.

There might be a perception that racing in Victoria is on the nose. But least they are doing something about it. There is a similar perception in New South Wales and Queensland (south east in particular) but the question remains are they doing enough to police it or do the authorities in those two jurisdictions want to.

As a trainer of many years standing in Queensland let me tell you that I have grave concerns about it being a level playing field unless the right people are found to fill the integrity jobs – and by that I mean independently appointed without any interference.’ – For obvious reasons I ask that my identity not be revealed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I just wish I could reveal your identity sir as it would shock the daylights out of the industry and some of the officials in Queensland. Let’s hope that the Government plans to separate Integrity from RQ ensures there is far greater independence in future that there has been. None of us have forgotten what happened during the Hinze days and I am sure that the LNP would not want to revisit those times. New Racing Minister Steven Dickson seems determined to get it right. Here’s hoping the process isn’t derailed by influential people with other agendas.



‘WE are hearing stories about the new Racing Queensland outfit buying back equity in race clubs that the Bob Bentley Board purchased to try and help the Labor Government win back its financial rating.

We have seen the Bentley plans for a harness and greyhound development at Deagon dashed and there seems to be a cloud over what had been approved for the Beaudesert gallops track.

We have heard this rot about Toowoomba being converted from cushion to grass when there is no water to keep the grass alive. And there are concerning rumors about the future of Ipswich.

But what is happening with the Albion Park development and the Gold Coast gallops. The trouble with this new Board is that everything seems to be happening behind the scenes and the racing public is kept in the dark.

Can you help throw any light on these situations?’ – Alex Gallagher, Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letsgohorseracing would be the last racing media organization that the new-look RQL would advise of their plans. We took the matter up with the Racing Minister and his response didn’t really clarify the situation either. But I can help you with the Gold Coast courtesy of a recent story in the GC BULLETIN by DANIEL MEERS, which was accompanied by an artists’ impression of the development plans and reads:    

THESE are the final artist impressions of the Gold Coast Turf Club's grandstand upgrade and development of a two-storey corporate box facility.

It will form stage one of the $35 million upgrade to the Bundall complex.

The Gold Coast Bulletin can reveal Racing Queensland has formed a short-list of eight companies which will place tenders for the construction of the top floor of the grandstand.

A decision on the successful company will be made by mid-December, with work to begin after the Magic Millions carnival in January.

The entire top floor will be gutted and redeveloped, while corporate boxes will be built at the 100m mark.

Bottom floor corporate boxes will open up on to the lawn.

The decision on the concepts and short list for the builder is the biggest step the club has made since funding was confirmed early last year.

Chairman Brett Cook last night said he was confident work would commence early next year.

"We want the builder announced before the Christmas break and then the plan will be to start work after the Magic Millions carnival," he said.

"Racing Queensland has cut the builders down to eight, now they'll look at pricing."

It is anticipated the first stage will take eight months to complete and will cost more than $10 million.

There will be different theming throughout the top floor to cater for the different demographics at the club.

The announcement is a major coup for the industry which was forced to wait for the funding to be released because of the state election and change of government.

"The revamp will put the club at the forefront of race clubs in Australia," Mr Cook said.

Racing Queensland chairman Kevin Dixon has been supportive in ensuring the upgrade proceeded as quickly as possible.

The club recently opened the CPR bar which remains open at the conclusion of race meetings and on Friday nights.

It comes as the club recorded a record $1.2 million profit.

Meanwhile the Turf Club has confirmed all optic fibre cabling throughout the venue will be relaid and upgraded as a precaution to safeguard the club from failure with the on-course Tote system.

The club lost a fortune last year when the system failed.

There will also be an additional Telstra mobile tower on MM day so as to ease issues with smart phones which are in use.



IN relation to the new section, the Good the Bad and the Ugly, now running as part of the Wednesday Whinge, when it comes to those who are left on the Toowoomba Turf Club Committee you will have a hard time finding too many ‘good’ things being said about them.

As for the bad and the ugly, well that is seen on a regular basis and even more so as the dream spinners try to deflect from the real reason that the Toowoomba Turf Club is struggling to attract corporate support from business and members with successful businesses in town.

Well why would they? 

We have seen what has happened to previous committee members who did support the club financially and with their business contacts. Chairman Bob Frappell and his new brand of merry men would have us believe that they are fantastic and only throw lavish functions to so-called dignitaries and splash out members’ money on them when they are not members and have never financially supported the club.

It looks like another local businessman in Alan Gee has mysteriously vanished from their website as a committee member straight after the AGM where he did not step down, even though it was common knowledge among the GROUP, that he was now working in Brisbane and not attending the club due to that. But to avoid an election, as only two nominated for the vacant positions, it appears a slip of the finger has released the name of Alan Gee from the committee list.

So we see people with contacts in Toowoomba such as Burke, Wagner, Volz and Gee all walk the plank on their own terms which to me shows how much the TTC means to their business associates, if they do not want to be connected with the club.

Now we see the $14 million dollar hole on Fantasy Island at the RQ flying outhouse, yet we are going to watch precious earned taxpayers’ money to grass a track in Toowoomba that has not lost a day of racing due to heat or torrential rain since the cushion was installed.

I prefer grass tracks visually but guaranteed racing is better than no meets and loss of revenue, and pissed off party-goers from local areas and visitors making a special trip to see their horse race in Toowoomba.

My water tanks are dry here as are all my neighbors in Toowoomba so would I use sewerage water? No, and I do not think my neighbors or the neighbors around Clifford Park would either.

The industry hated the cushion installation and the scare tactics given to it.

Imagine waking up to the westerly wind stench of treated water like the golf courses use. It wreaks and is a major health hazard.

On a golf course at least there is some distance to most houses and the risk of infection or sickness from licking your balls before putting, is quickly not repeated due to the acidic foul taste left on your tongue.

Plenty of roads in Toowoomba have death corners and poor intersections that need fixing yet the NEWMAN Government has spare $$$ to throw at grass that will not increase the bottom line financial position of the TTC or the Government coffers in increased betting revenue.

There is an X marks the Spot for dumb on this issue where the committee of the TTC and their good mate Kevin Dixon (he’s the one that helped pull them out of the hole before the end of the financial year), should work together in bringing the club into the 21st century.

They should start looking at what they can do to attract the 20-35 year old age bracket who it has been proven have more disposable income to spend out of their wages (60%) on entertainment.

Retailers and most clubs that are successful know this as they read financial reviews and watch the finance information shared on a daily budget rather than potter around in the dark ages blaming past decisions for their own failures.

It is like mum asking who did this and all the kids say ‘not me’.....well ‘not me’ is the issue at the TTC. 

Ask them what happened to the employee who was seconded to the club by a good committee mate. Rumor is he ‘secretly’ drank more free booze than Dudley Moore in ‘Arthur.’

And now there are reports that they have used a club stalwart as the scapegoat for this problem – and rather than blame themselves have dispensed with the services of a good man who has worked for the club for 23 years and the last 12 or so as the bar manager.

His contacts made the club the profits that past committees used to run it and build up the bank account so a car park and new gardens could be installed in 2009 under previous chairmen Stewart and Zeller.

The financial reports that I have read over the last 10 years show that the liquor area was the most profitable yet in the last two years the committees has stopped buying grog to save on cash to make the bottom line look better, and have patrons complaining that liquor supplies have run out.  I have been at functions in the tent where this has happened on many occasions. It is a joke.

So get real TTC and RQL!

Ask the public and local businesses what you can do for them to help them out in tough financial times.

Forget about your old fashioned ideas and agendas and deal with the cards you are dealt with and get on with it.’ – From a member who no longer attends racing at Clifford Park as the stench reminds him of an old urinal at school that they kept putting those smelling salts in hoping it would get better.No doubt Frappers and his mates will moan about my anonymity but they know what happens in the new-look Racing Queensland to those who openly criticize.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I haven’t bothered seeking a response from Bob Frappell as he has told me umpteen times that he will not respond to anonymous e-mails. Whilst I accept his stance I can also understand, in the current political climate in Queensland racing, why people are not prepared to openly criticize. The recent RQ AGM was a good example. To criticize the current hierarchy is the ‘kiss of death’ for any individual, stake-holder or racing media organization. Letsgohorseracing has witnessed that first hand as the ‘friends of friends’ continue to do their best quietly discrediting us in every way possible and while that is happening our popularity with readers continues to sky-rocket. Sorry guys, but it is back-firing. But back to the above e-mail, if Bob would care to respond the space is always available. While he and the TTC committee refuse to, there will be those in the industry who will question why they are not prepared to answer their critics. On the subject of Toowoomba I have been informed by David Silver that it was not the community radio station that conducted an interview with Bob Frappell when he heavily praised the job being done by Kevin Dixon (as complained about in an e-mail last week). We understand it was on the ABC.        

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





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