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 Wednesday Whinge almost didn’t make it off the launch pad this week – but we finally beat the odds. Over the next two weeks of the Christmas-New Year Holiday period there will be no WW but keep your contributions coming and we will re-launch in early January with a bonanza edition.






THERE comes a time when the things you think are of great importance in your life pale into insignificance with what really matters.

The fickle hand of fate stepped in for me during the past week and a health scare saw me hospitalized and unable to go about my everyday life – a very big part of which is editing the letsgohorseracing website.

I wanted it kept low-key. But our readers are no dills – they noticed the difference – and hopefully they will understand the second rate service that has been provided in recent days.

I love racing and I enjoy editing letsgohorseracing – it is a not-for-profit operation that barely covers costs with a handful of advertisements. The critics would love to see it disappear but that won’t be happening. Even the e-mailer who warned I would wind up like Les Samba if I kept writing about spelling farms improving horses will feel let down badly.

Had it not been for the help of Jess, my trusty Girl Friday, there would have been no Wednesday Whinge this week. But we managed to get there – albeit with some difficulty.

It had already been planned that the WW would be rested for two weeks over Christmas and return in the New Year. This is a time of year to celebrate and think of other things far more important than racing and websites.

There is nothing more important than health, family and loyal friends. Enjoy the festive season and may even our greatest critics return to haunt us in the New Year. Have a Happy and Holy Christmas and here’s hoping Santa delivers a winner or two.



WE received several e-mails supporting the proposal by champion trainer Peter Moody for Australia to host its own international race day to attract the world’s best gallopers.

Most felt Moody had the right idea rotating the venue for the big day between Melbourne and Sydney but didn’t agree on Brisbane believing that would require the inclusion of Perth and Adelaide as well.

“Why can’t we have a day with $3 million sprint, 1600m, 2000m and 2400m races to put ourselves on the international map?” Moody asked.

“Every major centre has their big day – the Breeders’ Cup in America, Japan, Dubai, the UK and, right now, Hong Kong.

“They have a day but we settle for one race, the Melbourne Cup, a two-mile handicap which doesn’t attract the best horses in the world but has prizemoney of $6.2 million.

“It may be something for the Australian Racing Board to consider. The day probably would be best suited in the autumn, perhaps three weeks before the Dubai world championship meeting.

“There is no reason why it couldn’t be run in Melbourne one year, Sydney the next, and even Queensland.”



THE search is on to find mystery man Alex, the young Queensland journalist, who according to reports was besotted by European horse racing identity Francesca Cumani during International week in Hong Kong.

The Racing Bitch out of Honkers reported: “Though we tired of those who kept referring to her as ‘your typical English Rose’ and someone untouchable to bow and scrape in front of together with displaying huge dollops of gawking and fawning over, we found Franny very normal, extremely approachable and who has great taste in shoes - especially those flats in beige and with a small bow.

And while we give huge props to the young journo bloke named Alex from Queensland who followed Franny around at Adrenaline like a lost puppy, she kicked back - yes, she wore those excellent flats - had a beer and mentioned how much she enjoys whacking balls with her big polo stick and, we think, said, enjoying doing this while wearing a mask. It was an Eyes Wide Shut Moment and we got dizzy.

At least Alex wasn’t peeping around the corner at Francesca and pretending to want to interview her about her dad’s horses or why she’s interested in polo, like the majority of the spring racing journalistic team.  



AND on the subject of the outspoken Racing Bitch here’s their take on the job being done by racing officials in Australia in comparison to Hong Kong.

On a global basis they believe ‘the light at the end of the tunnel is the HKJC under the leadership of Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges and what the Club is doing for the future of racing and which no other head of a racing club is capable of even thinking about, let alone achieving.’

The Racing Bitch, never backward in coming forward, believes other officials are ‘simply stuck in a time warp’ and ‘perfect examples of the imperfect Peter Principle where incompetence has been rewarded and promoted.’

In Oz, they say, ‘those with all that power are, as always, only looking out for Number One and for more power and are far worse for the sport than a few Oompa Loompas with shit for brains who have or still are either hooking horses or betting on horses they are not riding. How and why do these stooges survive? A sycophantic racing media is just one reason.’

The Racing Bitch went on the attack: ‘Watching Racing Victoria and Racing NSW bumble along and with no control over their destiny and hoping it all lands without a nasty splat has us shaking our heads and grabbing our nuts in disgust. Leadership? What leadership? Crisis? What crisis?

‘Hong Kong racing is hardly perfect. Nothing is in this imperfect world. The key is that a very much hands-on CEO like EB recognizes this and, yes, he knows we are nearly at 2013, and he is constantly enhancing the racing product for different customer segmentations.

‘Speaking ONLY to the same and tired and very old captive audience is not the way forward. It’s a recipe for disaster. As for those who have asked why EB is so hands-on, well, think about it: Many times, if you don’t do it yourself, it never gets done or it comes out looking like some mutant form of the original idea.

‘Yes, there is still much to do, improvements need to be made to current products, gremlins need leadership etc but let’s never forget what has been achieved in a very short time and which we only seem to remember when overseas visitors help us see the forest for the trees and leave in shock, awe and respect at what Hong Kong already has in place while others, especially in Oz, plod along with tendon issues of their own and lameness in their minds.’

It’s what the Racing Bitch calls ‘the Duh Factor’ and we have to agree it certainly applies to some sections of officialdom in Australian racing.


Now here is this week’s selection of e-mails that we had the time to compile with apologies to those who missed out:



‘MY friends and I are confused by the warning from Chief Operating Officer Brendan Parnell that if Sky Racing broadcast rights fees increase there will be a decrease in wagering turnover and the subsequent prize-money that flows from the TAB to the industry.

What we think he is saying is that if Sky is forced to pay more to show certain races it will have to pass the costs on to outlets that might chose to reduce their service with a resultant downturn in betting.

With due respects to Mr Parnell that seems to be drawing a fairly long bow and suggesting that outlets and punters won’t have access to any service apart from Sky. Won’t it be made available by TVN.

Rather than bleat about what might happen why not look at contingencies for Sky like dropping that terrible SKY 2 which covers some remote areas of greyhound and harness racing.

That would reduce costs for them considerably. Let’s face it the majority of turnover is on the major gallops meetings, the rest is cream on the cake. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Mr Parnell should be looking at protecting the key products that provide the best earns for Sky.

There also appears to be a good deal of wastage across the three SKY outlets. Why not overcome a duplication of presenters etc and have one of two or even one for the three. Sky needs to cut its cloth to suit the measure.’ – Max Templeton, Melbourne.

LGHR RESPONSE: SKY Channel have had it too good for too long calling the tune when it comes to race broadcasting. In many areas they do a fine job but the SKY 2 has been a major disaster and they still haven’t got the programming format right with SKY WORLD. Rather than rave on about the benefits of having competition for TVN, which is our opinion is a superior service provider, here is the word of warning from SKY (as published in the Australian Financial Review) that largely fell on deaf ears in the racing fraternity, particularly the punters:

BRENDAN Parnell has a message for NSW and Victorian horse racing authorities: charging Sky Racing an exorbitant broadcast rights fee from next year could cut wagering turnover, and the sum of money that flows from the TAB to the racing industry as a result.

Parnell, the chief operating officer of Sky, which along with the TAB is owned by the listed company Tabcorp Holdings, has been waiting since June for the finalization of the deal five racing authorities struck to award the industry-owned ThoroughbredVision (TVN) network broadcast rights to racing in NSW and Victoria from January 1, 2013, until 2028.

Sky now holds rights to broadcast some races in NSW and other states, including Queensland, while TVN has total rights in Victoria, which it will also gain in NSW. The two channels share some broadcast and production facilities. Sky shows about 86,000 races annually, and controls the scheduling of about 60,000 events.

Parnell says Sky wants to keep showing Victoria and NSW races, which while accounting for about nine per cent of the races Sky shows, make up about a third of all wagering on races through the TAB.

But Sky will have to pay. TVN intends to charge Sky a significant increase, as with other sports. Sky now pays $42 million to racing authorities to show thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing, with at least a third of that estimated to be paid to Victoria and NSW. A new deal could add a further $10 million to $15 million to TVN’s annual pre-tax earnings.

TVN made an unsuccessful $420 million bid for Sky in 2011.

Given the racing authorities are yet to decide who will run TVN and who will be represented on its board – that may be decided this week – it is likely Sky will be granted a six-month extension to its current deal. In addition, Sky wants to gain some digital rights from TVN to broadcast races to mobile phones and tablets, and needs to negotiate whether it will continue to be the body that sets the schedules for all Australian races every day – a point of contention.

One olive branch Parnell could seek to extend to TVN is for racing authorities to gain a greater share of Sky’s international income.

Sky’s $53 million earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation represents about 15 per cent of Tabcorp’s total result. Racing receives between 5.5¢ and 8.5¢ of every dollar wagered with the TAB on tote betting.

Yet Parnell warns that Sky’s coverage broadcast to pubs, clubs and TABs could be cut if it has to pass on too much of its rise in fees and cut into profits, which could then harm betting turnover. This rises and falls in response to the number of races shown.

“There will obviously be a point that is too far for us,” he says. “The risk is if you increase the rights fees too much, we will have to pass that cost on to pubs and clubs. And if they choose to [show] Sky less, then wagering goes down.”

Parnell is open to Sky giving racing more of a return from its international business. It made $23million in revenue from overseas sources in the 2011-12 financial year and $105 million in revenue from Australian betting, after paying fees to host nation and Australian authorities.

“At the moment it’s a straight profit share, so the industry is exposed to whatever costs we incur. So we are looking at a different model going forward.”

New technology available through Sky’s global tote gateway, Premier Gateway International, which provides the link between TAB’s Australian betting pools and those of overseas wagering authorities, should allow Sky to quickly add to the 30 countries it already broadcasts racing to and from.

About 410,000 punters watch Sky’s subscription television channels every week, with Sky’s main channel often being the No. 1 channel for men aged 25 and over on Foxtel on Saturday afternoons. About 61,000 homes pay the extra $5 to get two additional Sky channels at home, up 21 per cent from 2011.

Parnell says many of those watching are betting on races using mobiles or tablets, making it important for Sky to also gain digital rights in its negotiations with TVN.

Then there is the issue of who controls racing schedules, which determines how much attention and prime-time coverage is given to a particular race code or meet. Racing authorities have indicated they want more control, but Parnell does not want the industry to be split – having races in different states run at the same time, if one state successfully pushes for more coverage over another. This would force punters to make a choice about which race to watch and bet on.



‘AS a former Victorian who moved to Queensland some years ago to spend my retirement I have followed racing for decades.

Regardless of the problems that have confronted racing in Melbourne in recent months I still feel far more confident betting there than Sydney and it didn’t take me long to realize that it is near on impossible to win in Brisbane.

The reason I feel confident about the Victoria situation is that since the ‘old boys club’ was pensioned off integrity seems to have stepped up many grades to the stage where now no-one is safe from its tentacles.

Sydney stewards, headed by a determined Ray Murrihy, who seems hell-bent on proving that he has no peer, will continue to play catch up while the big stables dominate.

Not a Saturday passes by in Sydney when a couple of fancied runners, alarming drifters from the time Fixed Odds betting opened, perform poorly and the explanations are accepted.

Most Saturdays the same can be said in Brisbane. There was one glaring example that comes to mind from last Saturday’s Eagle Farm meeting but I won’t name the horse.

Racing in Victoria leads the way with new surveillance techniques designed to catch the thiefs – not this situation where you make the expected stable or track raid as seems to happen with regularity and even fewer results in Sydney and Brisbane.

It came as no surprise to me that the turnover on the spring carnival continued to rise despite all the bad publicity – the reason being that punters have not lost confidence in the product in Victoria.’ – Denis Salisbury, Sunshine Coast.

LGHR RESPONSE: We totally agree with the points that you make Denis. Here’s an interesting story by MICHAEL LYNCH on this issue that was published in the MELBOURNE AGE:

RACING VICTORIA chiefs say trainers who try to cheat integrity investigators will be caught, and that no counter-surveillance measures will prevent it.

Fairfax Media's revelation of sophisticated techniques that cheats use to avoid detection has shone a light on a murky side of racing.

Racing's detectives disclosed that some trainers post lookouts with mobile phones at stable gates to warn of dawn raids before investigators can get inside. Other staff delay and stall investigators. Other trainers employed less visible but more sophisticated methods - such as falsifying medical and treatment records to hide their illicit actions.

Bernard Saundry, the chief executive of Racing Victoria, made it clear last week when he took the reins that his priority was cleaning up the sport - trainers who cheat and jockeys who bet, such as now-disgraced champion Damien Oliver, ousted for eight months following his admission of a gambling offence.

When questioned on Monday about the creativity of those trying to beat the system and the lengths they would go to, Saundry said such evidence only showed the scale of the challenge faced by the team from the Integrity Services Department.

''It's not rife, to our knowledge, but it does happen. I don't think it [such concerted efforts to fool the integrity services operation] is deeply embedded in our racing culture, but it does go on.

''People use all sorts of strategies to try to manipulate the system, and we are determined to stamp it out. The stewards and the integrity department will do whatever they need to do, but you have to remember we are also battling with human nature,'' Saundry said.

''Some people go to extraordinary lengths to achieve what they want.'' ''It's not just in racing. Look at other sports, look at the business world, where people break the law; look at how individuals operate at the margins with their tax or try to avoid it completely. Nothing is surprising in human nature, but we are determined to make sure those who break the rules get caught.''



‘WHAT’S going on with your man in the north, Terry Butts? In the space of a week he has done one of the biggest back-flips of all time.

If he is as ‘respected’ and ‘objective’ as you continue to tell us, how about an explanation of his change of attitude toward the Racing Minister.

Only a week after branding Stephen Dickson a ‘poli-speaker’ and ‘buck-passer’, low and behold he comes out and writes: THERE seems to be a genuine attempt by the Racing Minister to remove any suggestion of Government appointments or interference, a policy that scarred the previous racing control board RQL.

It is without doubt a refreshing change and everyone must support the Minister, who seems quite serious in his endeavor to improve the plight of those involved in racing, and the reputation the industry that has clearly suffered.

What a turnaround after suggestions the previous week that it was too early to call whether Campbell Newman got it right in appointing Dickson the Racing Minister.

Looking back to what letsgohorseracing had to say and you went into bat for Butts for being one of those ‘good old racing journalists’ who ‘called a spade and spade’ and ‘unlike the current breed’ was prepared to be objective even if it didn’t sit well with those in control.

You must be feeling a little let down by your mate, especially as it seems someone with more influence than you or your website has convinced Mr Butts to change his tune dramatically and jump into bed with the Racing Minister and the powers that be.’ - Graeme Donnelly, Gold Coast.

LGHR REPONSE: YOU can’t please all the people all the time or in the case of Buttsy most of the time. He was under fire last week for criticizing the Racing Minister. Now he gives the bloke a break and he’s under fire again. What can we say? It’s Christmas and Mr Cranky Pants was feeling a shade charitable so he decided to cut the Racing Minister a bit of slack.

Here’s what Steve Dickson had to say in a Ministerial Media Release on the subject:

RACING Minister Steve Dickson has called on Queensland’s racing industry to put forward their best and brightest to help lead the 30,000 strong sector into the future.

Mr Dickson said the Newman Government was continuing to deliver upon its election commitments to the racing industry, and a new governance structure was a vital part of that.

“Parliament has now passed amendments to remove Racing Queensland Limited as the control body for the three codes of racing, establishing the Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board (QACRIB) and three code-specific control boards,” Mr Dickson said.

“We now need the best members we can find to fill those Board positions, which will guide the future of the industry in Queensland.”

Mr Dickson said he was also calling for people outside of the south-east corner of Queensland to nominate for Board positions.

“There are a lot of passionate racing people throughout regional and country Queensland.

“Our main priority is to ensure we have people of the appropriate abilities to drive the industry forward, and that includes candidates from all areas of Queensland.”

Mr Dickson said the three code-specific Boards would comprise three persons, with their chairs to also sit on the Queensland Racing Industry All Codes Board alongside two independent members.

Applicants will be required to show they have skills and experience in the following criteria:

· business or financial management
· law
· leadership
· marketing
· thoroughbred, harness or greyhound racing industry (as relevant).

In addition to having to meet at least one of the above criteria for appointment, nominees must supply a supporting recommendation from a current industry licensee, race club, industry association or stakeholder group to be considered by the recruitment company for shortlisting.

A shortlist of candidates will then be provided to an independent selection panel.

The process for applying for the positions is available online at    



‘FEMALE jockeys continue to make their mark in racing but we don’t see too many businesswomen in high profile positions in racing in Queensland.

But after taking a closer look at Eden Ritchie Recruitment, the agency chosen to handle the applications for board positions in the three codes of racing in Queensland things might be about to change.

The impressive profiles of those running Eden Ritchie Recruitment suggests the agency has a ‘Charlie’s Angels’ look and feel about it which is encouraging from a female perspective.

Who knows we might see this male domination on Boards come to an end and some suitably credentialed women in racing fill the void and get a leg up onto something other than a horse in Queensland racing.’ – Alison Walmsley, Brisbane.

LGHR RESPONSE: It is hard not to be impressed by the profile of the two ladies at the top of the tree at Eden Ritchie Recruitment (Kim Ritchie and Justine Eden), along with their experienced team. The ‘wish list’ provided for the new boards is a ‘big ask’ and this will be a thankless job but here’s hoping they find the right people to run racing in Queensland free of political hang-ups or determined to square up for past industry issues. Fresh blood should be the first ingredient of any recommended appointment.



WE received a number of e-mails concerning the situation at Toowoomba when several horses had to be scratched, a jockey was taken to hospital and there was an hour delay in running the last race recently.

Most readers want to clarify the situation and were especially complimentary of experienced and popular Clerk of the Course, Robbie Hawkeswell.

We have combined the information received into one e-mail in the hope that the general message gets across.

Their version of events goes this way. Hawkeswell was leading another horse to the barrier when he was asked by the Chief Steward to return and help jockey Geoff Gould mount a starter that was proving flighty in the saddling enclosure.

It had dumped Gould and winded the strapper. As Hawkeswell proceeded to accompany the horse and jockey to the barrier it again ‘went off its brain’ and threatened to take the Clerk of the Course into a steel fence.

Goold managed to jump off the horse and it careered around the track past the barrier attendants and another clerk of the course, an ex jockey, working for the first time. The rogue horse was finally caught in the 1300m chute.

All the e-mail writers were keen to highlight the fact that Hawkeswell is a very experienced Clerk of the Course (has worked in Toowoomba for the past 12 years), has ridden trackwork for twice that time and has broken in a ridden better horses than some jockeys will ever ride on the Downs).

They say there has been some problems with one Clerk of the Course sacked for misconduct recently and with barrier staff. They also report that the Toowoomba turf Club starter in his job during the week is a ‘Stop ‘n’ Go’ man on roadwork. He is not a horseman, nor is his assistant, but in the eyes of Racing Queensland, they have been assessed as capable starters and meet the qualifications required.

The major problem, according to our e-mails, involves the barrier staff with claims there ‘aren’t many actual hosemen left on the ground to load the horses’ and that is the experience desperately needed that is lacking in Toowoomba at the moment.

Hawkeswell once used to get off his horse and help when there was a problem loading starters. But that was stopped after he got a horses into the barriers that the barrier staff wanted scratched. The horse actually came out and bolted in and the trainer (Norm Hilton) was very impressed by the job done by Hawkeswell and made it known.

We have been confidentially told that Hawkeswell went to the TTC Chairman Bob Frappell and offered to stand down as Clerk of the Course after the incidents of a few weeks ago.

We are also advised that Mr Frappell told Hawkeswell it was not his fault. In fact the starter that bolted around the track was apparently raced by Mr Frappell.

Hawkeswell has reportedly been on the verge of resigning but many jockeys feel safe with him working and have encouraged him to stay on.

Our e-mailers also inform us that the week of the incident at Clifford Park two barrier attendants had travelled from Ipswich to train the Toowoomba staff because Hakweswell had been barred by the Chief Steward from getting off his horse at the start.

The problem is you can’t train barrier attendants overnight to be barrier attendants. It is feared that some of these guys have been simply winging it on race night.

What concerned some of those involved in the incident in question was that on the morning a story went up on the letsgohorseracing website outlining what had happened all of those directly involved in the drama were sent an e-mail directing them not to talk to the media and only to deal directly with the club.

Those who have e-mailed at not looking to discredit racing in Toowoomba but simply to ensure that the best credentialed staff is employed to ensure the safety of all concerned.

LGHR RESPONSE: Once again we have situation where the slightest perceived form of objectiveness in a report is attempted to be silenced by some in authority. They should got and live in a Third World country where there is no freedom of the press. As for the responsibilities that rest with Racing Queensland regarding this matter well where do you start. First there were reports that a steward warned jockey Lacey Morrison not to ride the horse that reared over on her and one has to question how some of these ‘rodeo stars’ got cleared to race in the first place.    



JOHN the Fireman is a man who knows his racing in Queensland and has e-mailed us before with suggestions to improve the industry.

In the wake of the new legislation that was passed in Parliament to change the face of administrative control for Racing Queensland, John was quick to respond.

Here is a letter that he sent to the Government, the Racing Minister, the Treasurer and various media outlets:

To the racing management

I again ask for answers to pressing questions.

My main concerns for answers remain as follows (short list):

  • Safety audit of Eagle Farm (surely there has to be a limit to the number of horses being worked - What is it?). ALL trainers should get a fair go (not just the big ones or the ones paying the most rent to the club). Why not re-open Doomben?
  • The inner city development is going to happen (so what’s the plan?) - Agree/disagree? If agree & Doomben not an option (what are you going to do?)
  • Infrastructure plan? For each track/facility. People in the industry need to see this! So some confidence will be installed, particularly if it is seen as sound.
  • Our state industry is very much a silo set-up, which if you accept, needs to be managed by the powers-to-be accordingly.
  • Harness racing issues need to be answered! Particularly Albion Park & Gold Coast situations.
  • Country circuit series a start, but still feel the need for an amalgamated (clubs) South East Queensland Saturday circuit.
  • QTIS is now a good affordable base, but will require a couple of ‘post implementation reviews’ conducted to further improve the system, if you want to see it further supported and thus grow.
  • Prize-money: Lack of it in provincial/country (outside QTIS races) remains a serious issue which is evident with nominations in Queensland and you can see Country NSW getting more Queensland-trained horses racing there.  You will see during Gold Coast MM nominations increase due to the prize money, I would think. Could I suggest a phase-in approach to this issue until more money becomes available through changing Wagering/TAB etc model. 
  • A concerted think tank needs to take place to achieve most benefit looking at-
    • Race programming.
    • Increasing the prize-money on the right races - that creates better field sizes and turnover (make races part of quaddie etc). Then as turn-over increases add another race until we get to a full meeting containing better prize-money.
    • Communicate your plan to the Queensland industry and if you follow through you will get the support as people will see the benefit happening and thus stop most of the exit south.

Once again the views of a passionate racing supporter who wants to see things improve through sound structure, procedures, process and consultation. Quite frankly I’m over all the ‘he said, she said & so on’. Just come clean on the state of play and let’s get on with the hand dealt.

Look forward to some details in your response.

I am happy to expand or offer more detail.’ – John the Fireman (who does supply his identity and contact points if required).

LGHR RESPONSE: There is plenty of merit in what John has to say but we wouldn’t be holding our breath for answers in the current political climate especially when those running the show at RQL now prefer to dodge any form on criticism – constructive or otherwise.   


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.