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..

TODAY we welcome back the WEDNESDAY WHINGE after a Christmas break and look forward to another year of your constructive contributions. OUR decision to introduce the Wednesday Whinge with snippets from around the country proved popular and that will be continued with our lead-up items under the title of ‘The Good, the Bad & the Ugly.’ It 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 general message across. All the best to our readers for 2103 and thanks again for your continuing support.

 

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

 

MAIL IS STRONG THAT BLACK CAVIAR WILL BE HEADING TO THE BRISBANE CARNIVAL

RACING in Queensland could be in for a much needed boost come Winter Carnival time.

The mail is strong that trainer Peter Moody has penciled in a couple of Brisbane starts for his champion mare Black Caviar.

Her presence would ensure Brisbane of a block-buster carnival from a crowd perspective and again proves that despite his meteoric rise to the top of the training ranks in this country the boy from the Queensland bush has never forgotten his roots.

 

ONE IN A HUNDRED CADET STEWARD SAID TO HAVE ‘FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES’

OUR Spy in the Deagon Bunker insists that after lengthy deliberation Racing Queensland may be changing their guidelines for the appointment of Integrity staff.

The original Integrity Chief, Bob Mason, gave evidence at the Daubney-Rafter Racing Enquiry that future appointments to the Integrity Department would be required to have specific qualifications, including a degree in FORENSIC SCIENCE etc.

It appears that RQ maybe top heavy with staff with scientific skills. It would also appear a change in Policy was required.

As a result of a recent recruitment drive for a cadet steward it is believed that there was only one out of the 100 or so applicants that met the strict criteria set down.

It would appear that he is the nephew of a dominant partner of a person in a high profile position in the RQ Integrity Department.  

If rumors from ‘The Castle’ are correct the man with the final say on this appointment has been receiving psychological counseling on the benefits, which are similar to - “Do what you are told!”

We will follow with interest the career of this one in a hundred cadet steward. Here’s hoping different guidelines are adopted when it comes to the appointment of major positions in the new-look and supposedly independent Integrity Department that is long overdue. 

 

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR ‘BIG RICHIE’ IN THE BROADCAST SHAKE-UP?

WE have received several e-mails asking if there is a cloud over the future of the outspoken Richard Callander under the new editorial policies that will apply to a revamped TVN?

Some say this is an occasion when ‘daddy’ will struggle to save ‘sonny boy’ who has tread on a few too many toes with his at times over the top comments about all issues racing.

NSW racing boss John Messara pointed to change when he said: “The new structure will ensure that TVN showcases our racing product in an optimal fashion under new advertising and editorial policies.”

Read into that what you will but those who dislike ‘big Richie’s’ style are circling like vultures. We at letsgohorseracing don’t always agree with what he says but like it or not he has a very big following and does some tremendous work for charity through his racing role.

If they want to rein in costs at SKY and TVN then stop having supposed ‘experts’ travel the globe for ‘big race’ junkets and halt this incessant border hopping by presenters for Saturday race meetings in Sydney and Melbourne. There are plenty of locals (overseas and interstate) who are more than capable of doing the job.

 

E-MAIL OF THE YEAR – THERE’S ALWAYS SOMEONE LESS FORTUNATE THAN YOURSELF

THIS has to be one of the best e-mails of the year and it arrived this week from a punter who heads north each year for a holiday on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. It reads:

‘THERE’S one thing about racing – you can always find someone less fortunate than yourself.

Having brought the family north from Sydney for our annual Christmas holiday on the Sunshine Coast I got a leave pass from the wife to head to the races at Caloundra.

I went with a warning not to destroy the entire bank as the kids were looking forward to a visit to Australia Zoo and we didn’t want to disappoint them.

Off I went to the Sunny Coast on Sunday with a plan to have a few coldies with my mates and restrict my betting bank to the ‘one good thing’ of the afternoon even if it was a shade short.

The lot went on St Darci – an odds-on favorite but past the post on form and according to any of the experts you cared to listen to.

In stepped the fickle hand of fate and I think jockey Larry Cassidy was still looking for a way clear of that pocket as I walked out the gate, tail between my legs and a little the worse for wear financially.

I was tempted to back up on little Larry a few races later when he rode Jasminka. Someone told me it was part-owned by a great favorite of mine from is riding days in Mick Dittman and I reckoned if ‘The Enforcer’ was giving the instructions there was no chance Larry would get pocketed again.

Fortunately I decided to keep what was left of the ‘Willy’ to ensure the missus didn’t have to dig into hers and feed me to the crocs at Australia Zoo. You wouldn’t believe it but Larry found the same pocket for the second time in the space of three races. He did get clear this time – but all too late.

As I said to the missus – I was feeling sorry for myself and the mates who invested heavily and never got a run for our money on St Darci. But there’s always someone less fortunate than you are when it comes to the punt.

Spare a thought for poor little Larry. Who would believe that a jockey of his ability would run into such bad luck in the same place on the same day? It just goes to show that lightning can strike twice – especially in racing.’

 

HERE’S HOPING AUSTRALIA DOESN’T FOLLOW THE WHIP LEAD OF INDIAN RACING

AN interesting e-mail arrived from a blast from the past in Wayne Wood, who worked in Integrity at Racing Queensland and is now officiating in India.

Wayne advised that: “The jockeys will not be allowed to carry the whip in the second and tenth race of Mumbai races (a fortnight ago) as an experimental measure.

The race is the Vesuvius Plate which will be run in two divisions. One race each month will be no whips affair in the hope of eliminating the use of whip altogether as mandated by Animal Welfare Board of India.”

Here’s hoping the situation doesn’t reach the stage where the animal rights forces don’t enjoy the same influence in Australia.

 

RACING AND LIFE IN GENERAL IS FULL OF LOW LIFE'S BUT THE REAL PROFESSIONALS WOULD NEVER STOOP THIS LOW

TO those who sent e-mails and texts wishing the letsgohorseracing editor a speedy recovery during his recent health score thanks for your thoughts and best wishes. He's not out of the woods yet but is on the road to recovery.

But to those who delivered the opposite message in a very sick way under 'false' e-mails signed by a high profile identity of Racing Queensland, the chairman of  a near Brisbane club and a prominent race broadcaster, all we can say is 'Get a Life!'

We might have our differences professionally - and the illness issue was no doubt of no concern for the racing identities whose names were misused - but it back-fired as none of the three could be bothered e-mailing such garbage or contemplating such outrageous behavior.

To those who are using the names of others in false and mischievous e-mails doing the rounds on a number of topics in racing be aware that this is a criminal offense and your identity can be traced through the server you use. Charges could be laid and even civil action could be taken.

We have been warned by publicizing this we run the risk of encouraging these morons but don't think the source is not being traced. 

  

HERE are the the e-mail contributions we have elected to run with apologies to those who missed out this week:

 

RACING IN QUEENSLAND COULD DO WORSE THAN TAKE A LEAF OUT OF SAL PERNA’S BOOK

‘YOUR ‘tongue-in-cheek’ revised and reversed reasoning on the future of Racing Queensland in New Year’s Day edition of letsgohorseracing, caused some discussion at the track.

Could you please clarify whether or not the names were placed correctly under the two photos or were they meant to be the other way around?

Now down to a more important issue that racing is facing in general.

You made reference in you New Year’s address about the correct appointments being made to the various boards for the right reasons and not political payback.  (Wishful thinking).

I recall some two years ago you paid tribute to the appointment of Sal Perna as an independent Integrity Commissioner by the existing Victorian Government of the day.

Quite frankly, when I read the article I thought to myself what a load of garbage. 

Over the past six months or so I have completely changed my views. 

He is obviously a person of unquestionable character.  He has learnt to come to terms with a very complex situation. There is no doubt in my mind his ability to ‘balance’ difficult situations has been of great  benefit to Racing Victoria and the Victorian Police Force.

Bearing this in mind I sincerely hope the Queensland Racing Minister, Steven Dickson and the powerful Treasurer (Tim Nichols), will for the sake of Queensland Racing open dialogue with

Mr Perna, take his advice on the rights and wrongs of his role and most IMPORTANTLY piss off any of the incompetent coat-tuggers who see themselves in the role as payment for past loyalties and favors to those running the show in Queensland racing now.

My plea to those charged with change of racing in Queensland is: Please do not try and re-invent the wheel before you act.’ – Des Sullivan, Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I fear that there is already an agenda in place for the supposed change to integrity in racing in Queensland which does not involve listening to or seeking advice from interstate. Speaking with a person of Sal Perna’s background, knowledge and experience would be a step in the right direction. That is not to say there aren’t people with the credentials available to run racing integrity in Queensland – two that come to mind are Bob Pack, a former judge with a terrific knowledge and interest in racing, who is based in North Queensland and retired lawyer Bill Andrews, who has the background, experience and respect of most in the industry who felt he should never have lost his position on the Bentley Board. Whilst I know both of these gentlemen, I haven’t spoken to either in years. I just hope my endorsement is not the ‘kiss of death’ for either of them.       

 

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION NOT TO BET ON RACING IN QUEENSLAND PAID INSTANT DIVIDENDS

‘MY new year’s resolution never to bet again on racing in Queensland paid instant dividends when I watched the meeting at the Gold Coast today (Tuesday).

Greytfilly missed the start and got beaten at odds-on in the first. How will she win a Magic Millions on that effort? Adding insult to injury had I bet, I was on the winner (Global Dream) the other day when it only battled for fifth at Eagle Farm.

Then I watched the two feature races in virtual disbelief. All That led from a wide alley to beat a far better field in the Bat Out of Hell than what he has been getting beaten by – little wonder he started at long odds.

Then Biggles beat some far more fancied gallopers in the Goldmarket. Horses like Morning Captain, Startsmeup and Audacious Spirit looked for mine to have his measure but obviously I’m a bad judge.

Then to send the punters home broke a $40 chance won the last. I thanked my lucky stars I didn’t have a bet at the Coast and those punters who did their proverbial on the first day of the New Year should take a tip. It will only get worse when the big Magic Millions day program comes around.

My suggestion to overcome the prizemoney woes confronting south-east Queensland clubs is for the bookmakers to contribute back some of their winnings instead of bleating about how hard it is to survive and taking handouts at the expense of the rest of the industry.”  - Ben Mitchell, Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This web site has been one of the biggest critics of form reversals and well backed favorites getting beaten in Queensland Ben, but I do think you are being a bit harsh on Biggles and Global Dream. The track staff does a wonderful job at the Gold Coast but big fields chasing rich stakes on Magic Millions day always makes racing tough and winning difficult.          

   

JOURNALISTIC LICENCE USED IN STORIES ABOUT INTERNATIONAL VISITORS TO MM?

‘IT appears that plenty of journalistic licence was used in many of the stories written about the hordes of international visitors coming to the Gold Coast for the Magic Millions racing carnival.

The story got little coverage in the mainstream media but auditors for the new Government have criticized the former Events Queensland international marketing plan for the Gerry Harvey-owned Magic Millions.

And the reason is quite astonishing. Records made public have revealed that only 38 overseas residents made it to the race for Magic Millions day in 2012.

Now where does that leave all these economic impact studies that justified the huge Government contribution made by Labor to the Magic Millions when Harvey and his mate John Singleton were threatening to take the event interstate?

Even if you accept that the Millions does attract visitors from the southern states (over 2300 to the main race day according to the report), let’s face it, the majority of tourists on the Gold Coast at that time of the year are here for the school holidays not for the races.

When our health system was going down the gurgler and the state’s credit rating was being downgraded it is absolutely scandalous that the previous Labor Government (on the insistence of its Queensland Events Corporation) injected almost $16 million into the Magic Millions over a seven-year period (and that money didn’t go to the GCTC but to the MM, a private enterprise company).

Despite assurances that the MM was ‘self sufficient’ financially the funding windfall for Harvey, Singleton and the MM crew, was allegedly made to ensure the carnival remained on the tourist strip.’ – Bernie Murphy, Gold Coast.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Magic Millions is a unique event that could not be replicated anywhere but the Gold Coast and does contribute to the economy of the region. That is not denying that the biggest winners of the Labor Government contribution were the owners of the Magic Millions and not the racing industry in general. Too many officials from the old Queensland Events were wined and dined and had their noses in the trough during MM week with a perception – rightly or wrongly – that they were looking after powerful people rather than the racing stake-holders.

HERE’S a story that the above e-mail refers to taken from the Gold Coast Bulletin, one mainstream media outlet that didn’t dodge publicizing the criticism. 

THE state's auditors have criticized former entity Events Queensland's international marketing plan for the glamorous Magic Millions carnival after just 38 overseas residents made it to the main race day this year.

The Tourism, Industry, Growth and Development report, compiled by the Queensland Audit Office, says that part of a contract signed between EQ and Magic Millions was to ‘maximize interstate and international tourism.’

The Queensland Government recently merged Tourism Queensland and Events Queensland as part of the Newman Government's overhaul of its funded entities.

The report, tabled in Parliament earlier this year before the merge, shows on top of the 38 overseas visitors who attended the race day -- about 0.3 per cent -- there were 2344 interstate residents.

The sales, also held in January this year, saw 54 international and 1778 interstate residents attend.

More than half of those who visited the sales were Queenslanders as were 84 per cent of race-goers.

"International marketing in 2012 has not been effective in attracting international visitors to either the race day or sales,'' the report said. 

"The domestic marketing has been more effective in attracting interstate visitors to the race day than the sales.

"Events Queensland did not set any targets or benchmarks for international or interstate visitors...the lack of data and targets makes it difficult to determine whether these results could be considered successful."

The critical report said EQ provided "inadequate" outcomes and measures in assessing the carnival.

In response to the report, EQ said it was committed to resolving the issues.

Magic Millions CEO Vin Cox said Magic Millions had met all its contractual obligations and performance targets under the current agreement.

"To this end, Magic Millions has been in discussions with the new Events Queensland administration for some months now,'' she said.

"Magic Millions has made every effort, and will continue to work co-operatively and collaboratively to achieve the best possible outcomes for Queensland, the Gold Coast and Magic Millions.

"Since 2010, Magic Millions has invested in excess of $13.2 million in the marketing, promotion, growth of the event."

 

IT SEEMS THAT LETSGOHORSERACING AND JUSTRACING HAVE OUR SHARE OF SUPPORTERS

‘ON behalf of a legion of readers who religiously follow the letsgohorseracing and justracing web sites, we hope that you both keep up the good work in the new year and if nothing else ‘keep the bastards honest’ in Queensland.

My friends and I would have written to Phil Purser but we know he would not have run an e-mail praising the great story that he recently wrote so we have submitted this e-mail to the Wednesday Whinge hoping that you will publish our thoughts instead.

Phil last week penned a wonderful piece on justracing entitled: ‘Pillars of Hope. You’re Kidding! Queensland is doomed.’ It referred to a front page photo in The Courier-Mail and a story inside about the thoughts of several prominent Queenslanders heading into 2013.

Beaming out of the front page photograph and standing alongside Premier Campbell Newman was RQL new high priest, Kevin Dixon. Imagine the roars of protest that would have flowed from Dixon supporters had Bob Bentley been photographed on the CM front page alongside Anna Bligh. This was patronizing, political shenanigans of the highest order.

But rather than express our thoughts, please run a little of what Phil had to say, which follows:

I admit to waking up on Tuesday 18 December 2012, releasing The Courier Mail from its plastic state of bondage – and immediately going for the chucky bucket. As per the associated photo with this article, there are six smiling and hopeful faces all gleaming at me and three things jumped off the page and hit me in the head straight away and they were 1) Racing Queensland Chairman Kevin Dixon was one of the six people, 2) another recognizable face was that of Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and 3) someone was wearing a cross. In my 57 years on the planet I’ve learnt numerous life lessons and some would be to 1) the racing industry is about the most incestuous industry there is, so be very wary around it, 2) disregard what politicians say when their mouth opens as most tells lies and 3) the “cross” that some wear is a real worry - as historically so are many of those who wear it.

So that’s identified three of the six humanoids. Then by reading on I found out that the other three were named as “Police Commissioner Ian Stewart, Queensland Investment Corporation chief executive Damien Frawley and Opera Queensland artistic director Lindy Hume”.

Getting these particular six people together was the brainchild of sadly Queensland’s only daily newspaper Monday to Saturday inclusive - The Courier Mail - so they could have “a lively forum moderated by (The Courier Mail) editor Michael Crutcher”.

The what I’d call “vomitable tripe” then started on Page 31 with the Premier Campbell Newman telling Crutcher it was “a great idea” to have this forum and that he’d like to “really commend News Limited for choosing to do it”. Now that’s just more patronizing crap, so at this point I felt rumblings in my stomach again and even though I thought it was empty after the first chunder, I now realized that there was clearly more to give – but that’s surely the last of it now?

Phil wasn’t the only one who ‘threw up’ when he read this crap then saw moderator Crutcher sitting there in his riding boots – yet another concrete cowboy who will have a life-time pass to the directors’ room at the BRC – another Sinclair protégé we are told.

We are in absolute agreement with Purser when he went on to write:

Next to step up to the plate is Racing Queensland Chairman Kevin Dixon. He gives himself an immediate excuse if he hasn’t performed up to expectations since accepting the role by advising that his immediate predecessor Bob Bentley and his Board “largely wasn’t well regarded” which “creates a special set of pressures on you (that would be me – Kevin Dixon) because you (me - Kevin Dixon) hear the collective gasp of “this is great, there’s change”.

Kevin Dixon advises that “people who come to the races want colder beer, hotter pies, they want a better spectacle, they want to celebrate the champions”. Okay, so hold it right there Kevin if you would please. The facts and realities are that no one goes to the races at all mid-week and the run of the mill Saturday Brisbane meetings are about as popular as Chernobyl was with tourists about five minutes after the reactor blew that time, so until you get crowds back to racetracks, like used to happen in those alleged “good old days”, isn’t it irrelevant what temperature the beer and pies are as you won’t be selling much of either? As for the “champion” reference, my fading memory tells me that there hasn’t been one of those creations appear at a thoroughbred meeting in Brisbane since Black Caviar won the BTC Cup way back in May of 2011, which is 19 months ago, so with respect it would seem that those “champions” are obviously few and far between?

As Phil said:

Had the Editor of The Courier Mail shown a bit more what I'd call "testicular development" in his questions, he could have asked these few questions to give his alleged “lively forum” a bit more oomph. For instance he could have asked the Catholic Archbishop was he aware of anyone from within the high ranking officialdom in the catholic church who had rolled over and played dead on accusations of child molestation against priests of that church - in all the time he’s been involved with the church, such that many senior catholic figures are in reality little more than "pedophile protectors".

Then he could have asked Racing Queensland’s Kevin Dixon “what exactly have you achieved in real terms since taking office?

The Courier Mail Editor could have also asked Kevin Dixon and/or Campbell Newman why was the lousy one million dollar distribution to “country racing” not 10 or 15 million dollars, given the huge revenues that government collects from wagering turnover. The Courier Mail Editor could have asked for a comment from each of Dixon and Newman as to how pathetic that million bucks was in reality as Justracing advised in an article during 2012 that given there are 107 race clubs in Queensland, the one million dollars amounts to each club getting an extra $9,346 in the calendar year – and what the hell would $9,346 do for any race club?’

Sadly, all we read in The Courier-Mail these days is how Kevin Dixon has brought racing in Queensland back from the brink of collapse. What a load of garbage. Instead of praising the job that Dixon ‘hasn’t done’ the CM should be asking what ‘he has done’ and ‘what he plans to do’ rather than just blame it all on Bentley.

Little wonder the mainstream media attracts no respect when it comes to racing in Queensland. There are too many of them with their head firmly planted in the rear end of the likes of Dixon and co to ever pretend to provide an objective view of what those in charge are doing.

And when questions are asked or criticisms are raised by justracing and letsgohorseracing well all hell breaks loose and your two web sites are accused of bringing this great industry down. What a sad state of affairs we have in racing in Queensland.’ – Martin Tomlinson, on behalf of a group of long-time Queensland racing supporters who are fed up with all the politics and admire web sites that dare to be different.      

EDITOR’S NOTE: Let me go on record Martin as saying that instead of organizing testimonial farewell dinners for racing writers who doubled as promotions officers for major race clubs, the powers that be in Queensland should present an award to Phil Purser for the work he has done in pioneering racing web sites in this country. In my opinion justracing is easily the best racing website in the land. I don’t always agree with Phil but he shoots from the hip, writes from the heart, is open, honest and doesn’t care if he offends officialdom. He has done some wonderful charity work and provided sponsorship support for many sections of the industry. Unfortunately, as we have learnt at letsgohorseracing, there are those in racing – some in the media included – who believe it is fashionable to earn Brownie Points with those in authority by criticizing colleagues who are prepared to be objective. Racing is lucky to have the likes of Phil Purser and his wonderful website justracing and I hope it is around for a long time to come.          

     

SOME BELIEVE THERE COULD BE A BROADCASTING BOARD POSITION FOR OUR BART

‘IT is well documented that your web site and that of our mate at justracing have no time for Bart Sinclair and refused to recognize the great journalistic contribution that he made to the industry in Queensland.

Perhaps you were jealous of the profile and respect that Bart enjoyed. Whatever, he served racing above and beyond the call of duty in the north and will be sadly missed in his role as Racing Editor of The Courier-Mail.

But that is not the reason for my e-mail. I wouldn’t really waste my time contributing to your grubby website column, except that I think this news will really get up the nose of those like you who were pleased to see the back of Bart.

The tip is strong that when his old boss John Hartigan takes over as the independent chairman of the new race broadcasting body to run SKY and TVN that there will find a position on the Board for Bart Sinclair.

What better person for the job with his decades of experience in the racing media – newspapers, radio and television. The contribution that Bart still has to offer the industry could be put to good use.

What do you think?’ – Sam McLean, Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sam, if that really is your name, I don’t want to make myself any more ill than I’ve been in the past few weeks, so I’ll pass on making a comment on this one. I would add though that you are putting the cart before the horse. John Hartigan hasn’t even been appointed to any role at this stage. All I will say about Bart’s departure from the CM is that his replacement, Nathan Exelby, is a breath of fresh air. He even managed to provide some objective criticism (about the useless tote terminals) at the BRC recently, something that would not have been allowed under the old regime. The face of the racing media is changing. Few of the good writers are left (Exelby has the potential to be one of the best).

Here’s an interesting article on the subject written recently by MAX PRESNELL in the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD:     

WORLDWIDE, racing writers, epitomized by Bert Lillye, are withering on the vine of the media's changing face.

Even in the US most major publications had more than one scribe specialising in the horse sports but few are left.

In Australia, where the turf has been more of the national psyche than a sport, mammoth staffs were employed to keep punters informed.

Being a racing writer differs from being a journalist who can write racing. Most can and might even do it better than the "expert" who produces stories and comments, tips and other menial tasks.

"The Sydney Morning Herald staff of the 1950s and 1960s had many proficient writers with Lillye the star performer," Neville Prendergast wrote in From Press Box and Stable.

"George Miller, Roy Abbott and Bill Whittaker, bloodstock expert Charles McQuillan, Sam Finlayson and Ray Kelly were also employed.

"Whittaker was one of the more astute judges and could interpret intelligently. The Sydney Morning Herald ran a lot of statistical stories [sweet words for compiling the official starting price] and relied heavily on accurate details men like Reg Eades, Ted Wells and Cec Poachey."

With Craig Young taking redundancy this year, Fairfax Media in Sydney has one full-time racing writer, Chris Roots, and a geriatric contributor.

Before becoming a racehorse trainer Prendergast was a contender for one of the best racing writers. Who is on top of the list in my time?

Employing guide lines of being full-time and producing over a long period are major attributes. Of course, styles have changed with some great reporters and other fine writers. But Lillye gets my vote.

"As for wordsmiths the great Bert Lillye of the 50s and 60s would be just about cancelled out by Les Carlyon of the 90s," Prendergast opined. "Perhaps Carlyon was a shade cleverer with phraseology but Lillye might just about had an edge in passion."

Carlyon writes with excellence from subjects ranging from Bart Cummings to Gallipoli but Lillye for over a half century churned out hundreds of thousands of quality words on racing. Nobody wrote more because not only did he appear in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sun-Herald and Daily Mirror in Sydney but also Turf Monthly before he died on February 18, 1996.

On his demise, Arnold Rodgers eulogised: ''I followed Bert's advice and purchased the title Turf Monthly and restarted the magazine. From the day I took over 44 years ago Bert advised me. For many years he continued to put together each month's edition of Turf Monthly.

"Being a perfectionist he would not cut corners. Everything had to be spot on. It was for Turf Monthly that he began writing Backstage Of Racing, a feature he carried on for Fairfax."

Backstage Of Racing was also the title of a book of his columns published by John Fairfax Marketing. Lillye, too, was also the subject of a This Is Your Life on television which emphasised his passion for the punt and racing in general.

During World War II he went AWOL, travelling from Queensland to Sydney to see Modulation win the 1944 Epsom. Subsequent fines and confinement to barracks, he figured, were reasonable prices to pay to see a major race live. In pursuit of a good yarn Lillye was ever determined.

"How can I forget the disastrous floods of the 1960s that put most of the Richmond district under water?" he wrote in his final column.

"Dozens of valuable racehorses were lost. Boats were only available to civil rescue authorities. But Jim Walsh, publican and committeeman of the Hawkesbury Racing Club, came to the rescue. He rounded up a small boat for me and the photographer to search for horses.

We obtained scoop photographs when we found Martello Towers [an AJC Derby winner] covered in mud but alive …"

What Lillye didn't disclose is that he approached the SMH sports editor, Doug Gardiner, to ask for an office car - because he didn't drive - to pursue the story and was knocked back. Thus he called upon photographer Ron Bickley, who rode shotgun with him on most of his country ventures for Turf Monthly, and they came up with the goods.

"I genuinely believe Bernborough was the best racehorse I've seen," Lillye maintained. "What he did under enormous weights as a six-year-old stallion made him a freak …

''Bill Cook was my favourite jockey but Ron Quinton would be a champion an any era. As for trainers, how can anyone go past Thomas John Smith, MBE, who set a record that will never be equalled and one of greatest success stories of our time and that's not restricted to racing."

After leaving Fairfax, Lillye contributed even more to racing as a member of the Kembla Grange committee. "My greatest disappointment is that the wonderful characters are fast disappearing from the racecourse, the victims of progress," he said.

The characters have gone even faster than the racing writers.

No doubt latter generations are as good, and probably more versatile as those who look down from the walls of the old Randwick press box, which is going, too.

Young now drives a bus for school children on the central coast with aplomb and patience which none of us, Lillye in particular, could have done.

 

WHO WILL SUFFER IF THE NUMBER OF RACING BROADCAST CHANNELS IS REDUCED? 

‘IF the coverage of racing on television is to be changed and the number of channels now operating reduced from four to three the obvious question is: What is going to suffer?

Under the new broadcast deal it has been suggested that TVN is in for a major shake-up which is a worry considering the service they provide is second to none and better than anything that SKY has been capable of in all the years it has been operating.

Politics threaten to play a major role in this new broadcast deal. For the sake of the industry and the millions who have a punt here’s hoping they get it right.

In the opinion of most there needs to be a premium gallops channel, featuring Sydney and Melbourne racing, with only the best of the best from the other states.

Apart from carnival times racing coverage from Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth should be shown on the secondary channel along with the provincials (similar to the current SKY1 service).

The third channel should be devoted to international racing, along with harness and greyhounds. It’s a shame for those who follow the overseas gallops that they would have to wade through the trots and dogs but if there are only going to be three outlets such is life.

One thing that is a necessity is the separation of the minor codes from the major Australian gallops meetings. There is nothing more annoying than having the aftermath of a big race interrupted to cross to a dog or trot race at some nonentity venue.

It is obvious that I am not a supporter of the minor codes but I do accept that they are entitled to their share of the coverage not what they have received, especially when some of those involved in programming at SKY in the past seemed to favor harness racing more than the gallops.

This is a chance to get things right with broadcast coverage but the message for those involved is get it right with the gallops first, after all it does provide the returns that the minor codes ride on the back of throughout the year.’ – Carl Thompson, Sydney.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If the TABs are going to insist on covering out of the way places like Hatrick greyhounds in New Zealand for example and these are still to be shown live I can’t see how it is going to be possible with one less channel. I do agree with the suggestion of bundling all the harness and greyhound coverage into the one outlet. That would be the New Year wish of most traditional gallops followers. Here’s hoping in the wash-up that two things don’t happen: TVN has developed some very nice programs and one would hope they get dumped. So has SKYWORLD, especially with shows like Off the Rails. The other worry is that punters will be asked to pay for coverage into their homes. That might be seen as a great racing industry revenue raiser but will prove the ultimate turn-off for many punters who just love a bet of a weekend and enjoy the privilege of watching it go around in the comfort of their own homes.       

 

HAS QUEENSLAND RACING MISSED THE BOAT IN THE TV BROADCAST DEAL?

‘HAS Queensland racing missed the boat – yet again – in this latest broadcast deal?

The decision to go with SKY is one that the new powers that be at RQ cannot blame on the Bentley Board.

Having been closely involved as an official of a major club I can tell you that the BRC came out strongly in favor of Queensland going with Sky Channel although I understand that was not a unanimous decision.

Bentley and his Board left the decision entirely in the hands of the race clubs but made no secret behind the scenes that they wanted to go with Sky.

There were plenty of short-term incentives to clubs in Queensland to overlook a much more attractive offer from TVN. Here’s hoping that’s not short-term gain for long-term pain.

Unless Kevin Dixon and the new Board of RQ can present a convincing argument to those making the decisions when the new broadcast deal comes into place, Brisbane racing is going to be even further on the outer.

If there is to be a third venue to join Sydney and Melbourne racing every Saturday then it is entitled to be Brisbane. Let’s face it Adelaide has hit rock bottom. But if they are going to provide a boutique service then perhaps time restraints will allow only feature races to be shown outside the major two venues.

Time will tell whether this was another decision that will see racing in Queensland lag even further behind than it already is in the prizemoney race on the east coast.’ – As I am an official of a major race club in Queensland I ask that my identity be with-held.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Kevin Dixon can call on the ‘old mates act’ with breeding buddy John Messara. An arm twist will certainly be needed if Brisbane is to retain its place on the premier coverage channel of a Saturday. Just where the Gold Coast winds up in all of this could be interesting. I am told that one of the reasons Queensland went with SKY was that TVN wanted Gold Coast racing moved from Saturdays. It would be rather ironic if that were to still occur in the wash-up. One would hope not. The GCTC is already suffering enough losing horses across the border to the cash-strapped clubs of northern NSW that are offering far better prizemoney.           

 

WHAT EXACTLY HAS CHANGED IN QLD RACING APART FROM THE REMOVAL OF BENTLEY?

MORE than six months since the Government put a new broom through Racing Queensland and most of us are still wondering what in the hell is going on.

Many fear that regardless of who applies for positions on this all-powerful Board that will oversee the three codes, the man for all seasons – Kevin Dixon – will be in charge.

And the word is strong that he will have who he wants sitting alongside him at the Board table as the Government appointee regardless of credentials offered by those applying for the position.

There is also a strong rumor suggesting that Integrity will be ‘jobs for the boys’ when and if that supposedly independent body is ever established. Surely this can’t be right.

When it comes to everything from lack of prizemoney to the smell emanating from the ladies toilets at a major track, they blame it on Bob Bentley.

Don’t expect the Courier-Mail to ask any serious questions like: ‘What has Kevin Dixon actually done since he became interim RQ chairman?’

On and off the track racing, largely in Brisbane, but in many parts of Queensland, is sliding into oblivion. Queensland continues to fall further behind the southern states with local stables crossing the border in droves chasing the better prizemoney and depleting fields in the south-east corner.

Has Queensland been left out of the broadcast deal or will it find a place in Saturday coverage alongside Sydney and Melbourne racing on the premier channel? Depends on who you talk to, but it largely will hinge on how much say SKY has in the outcome.

And while Rome burns out at Toowoomba a new strathayr track will be installed to replace the cushion that cost the taxpayers of Queensland many millions. Now more will be wasted in the belief that there will be a revival of Downs racing.

This is the legacy that Bob Frappell will inherit from Kevin Dixon for his loyal service – and they reckon the likes of Tuttle, Brennan and Orchard were rewarded for what they did for Bentley.

In the opinion of many it wouldn’t matter if they offered every male through the gate a blonde date, every owner a Rolls Royce and every trainer a $10,000 bonus for starting, racing in Toowoomba is doomed while Frappell continues as chairman.

The only hope that racing on the Downs has of survival is the return of Neville Stewart.

In fact if the LNP had any brains they would make an old friend in Stewart an appointee to the new Board to run racing in Queensland alongside their new mate Dixon (he’s the one that was originally appointed to merge Eagle Farm and Doomben by Labor Racing Minister Robert Schwarten).’ – Paul French, Toowoomba.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I haven’t given up on Racing Queensland yet as I know some of the talented individuals who have applied for positions on the new all-powerful Board to oversee the three codes. If these people miss out the plan of this website is to run their CVs alongside those who are appointed which will make for interesting reading. If politics motivates appointments to not only Board roles but positions in Integrity then racing in Queensland will continue to be regarded interstate as a standing joke.

 

GETTING AN ANSWER FROM RQ INTEGRITY ON THIS ONE IS A MISSION IMPOSSI BLE

‘A few weeks ago skimming through the names on RQL’s Forfeit List, which was presented as  current as at 6 November 2012, I noticed some significant monies are outstanding which prompted me to enquire by email  what steps RQL have taken to recover same  from two Victorian based trainers in particular who train in partnership.

According to the Forfeits List they have owed RQL in excess of $5,000 since October 2011.

At the same time I emailed RVL as the trainers in question are currently active and have not been prevented from plying their trade despite the preamble to the Forfeits List declaring that anyone named therein is to be treated in the same manner as if they were disqualified citing rules 75, 76 AR76 and 182.of the rules of racing.

http://www.thoroughbredracingqueensland.com/industry/stewardsintegrity-services/forfeit-list.aspx

RVL responded  to the effect that :-  “The current position of Sheila Laxon being placed on Racing Queensland’s forfeit list is in dispute and subject to legal proceedings. As the proceedings have not been finalised, it would be unfair for Racing Victoria to refuse nominations submitted by the stable.”

Not having received any response from RQL I sent another email to RQL which reads in part ...  “ It seems to me that RVL has taken an incorrect view in Ms Laxon’s case as according to the preamble on the Forfeits List those named are treated in the same manner as if they were disqualified under the Rules.

I presume this is universal and not a Local rule applicable to Qld licensees only. Whilst Ms Laxon may be contesting the debt I assume if legal proceedings are in train that RQL is the plaintiff and your advice on this and Mr. Symons’ position would clarify the matter.”

In the current Forfeits List updated as at 3 December 2012 there has been no change ,Ms Laxon and Mr Symons names are still there owing the same amounts ......  $3740 & $1951 respectively .....and I haven’t received any reply to my legitimate enquiry.

RQL may be too embarrassed to admit that their Victorian counterparts consider their obligations to RQL are of a secondary consideration and the rules may be ignored if they consider legal proceedings are sufficient to waive their obligations.

Perhaps you might have better luck in seeking an explanation from RQL as they have my details, it’s not an anonymous complaint.

This being so they can’t rely on the excuse used previously of not responding to anonymous complainants when you recently raised a complaint from another party.

Or if that doesn’t work I could use the RQL complaint form to complain to RQL that my complaint is a complaint about not answering a complaint.’ - Jim Munro, Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I have noted that Chief Steward Wade Birch (who has also been doubling in running the Integrity Department I understand) is on holidays, so there was no point seeking answers on this one until he returns Jim. The work-load inherited by his under-lings must be a huge one considering the lack of staff they have since Integrity was virtually disbanded. But we will seek an answer from Wade when he returns about this issue that was raised months ago but obviously has been placed in the ‘too hard’ basket.

 

IS THE AUSTRALIAN TRAINERS ASSOCIATION OUT OF ORDER IN BACKING SMERDON?

‘NOT only was Damien Oliver not required to repay the ‘illegal’ bet he had successfully placed on a rival horse in a race in which he was riding now we have the Trainers’ Association bleating about the treatment of one of its members involved in the affair.

The ATA wants a charge against trainer Robert Smerdon dropped claiming the precedent set by stewards was dangerous for all licensed persons.

Smerdon was reportedly the ‘middle man’ who delivered the $11,000 in winnings to Oliver from commission agent Mark Hunter. In the minds of any punter, who puts his hard on every weekend, all involved in this affair made a mockery of the image and interests of racing.

The way the appeal system works in not only Victoria but all the eastern states I won’t be surprised if they throw the charge against Smerdon out because of some legal technicality. But it won’t alter the opinion of most that he should not have become involved in the Oliver scandal.

As for the Trainers’ Association, well they should be doing all in their power to support the stewards on integrity issues and start working toward the cleaning up of the industry in Victoria rather than place road-blocks in the path of those who are trying to do just that.’ – Bob Johnson, Melbourne.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It was rather remarkable that Damien wasn’t fined the amount he won on top of the penalty incurred. Here’s the story concerning the ATA stand on Robert Smerdon that the above e-mail refers to: 

THE Australian Trainers' Association has called for the immediate withdrawal of a serious charge against Robert Smerdon over the Damien Oliver scandal.

The ATA's Victorian committee has condemned the decision by stewards to lay a charge of actions prejudicial to racing's interests against the Caulfield trainer for being the middle man in handing over ill-gotten betting winnings to champion jockey Damien Oliver.

ATA chief executive John Alducci said the ATA was "seriously alarmed at the dangerous precedent that this charge sets for all licensed persons".

"This is a charge without foundation or precedent, based on assumption, inference and innuendo, with no real evidence to support or warrant the laying of the charge. That is not the way the system of natural justice operates," Alducci said.

Alducci pointed out that in the current climate, the charge against Smerdon unnecessarily created another unwanted integrity issue in racing, except that on this occasion it had been instigated by the governing body and regulator for Victorian racing.

Victorian trainers "strongly support Robert Smerdon's total rejection and defence of this charge laid against him".

"We call on Racing Victoria to immediately withdraw the charge."

Stewards charged the leading trainer for "conduct prejudicial to the image, or interests, or welfare of racing".

Smerdon's lawyer Tim McHenry this week said the charge was "preposterous".

Smerdon was handed $11,000 by commission agent Mark Hunter to give to Oliver after the jockey bet $10,000 on credit for rival galloper Miss Octopussy to win at Moonee Valley in October 2010 when he rode second favourite Europa Point.

Oliver pleaded guilty and was disqualified for eight months and suspended for a further two months.

He phoned Hunter from the jockeys' room and Hunter contacted Queensland-based punter Laurie Bricknell to facilitate the bet.

Smerdon told stewards he knew nothing of the bet and that he merely passed on the money to Oliver, as requested by his friend Hunter.

Reports that Smerdon delivered the money to Oliver's home are incorrect.

Smerdon put the money in a drawer at his Caulfield premises and Oliver collected it one morning after trackwork.

 

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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