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..

THE e-mail box this week was a mixed bag, ranging from comments on the new free-to-air TV deal for the major races in Sydney and Melbourne to moves to have a restriction on corporate bookmaker advertising lifted when the new TAB agreement is negotiated in Queensland. There are also comments on the ‘independent panel’ appointed to oversee racing change in the north along with criticism of the Magic Millions and a host of other topics. We are receiving an increasing number of e-mails from officials and former officials of race clubs and stake-holder groups in Queensland but most do not want their identities revealed because of fears of repercussions from the new powers-that-be who do not handle criticism well. For that reason we will continue to publish these e-mails.

 

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

 

BOOKMAKERS’ CRYSTAL BALLS WERE SPOT ON WITH MAGIC MILLIONS FAVORITES

THE big drifters in the Magic Millions market were the two favorites and once again the bookmakers’ crystal balls proved spot on.

Original favorite Clevadude drifted alarmingly even before drawing a suicidal alley and that was not missed by trainer Rick Hore-Lacy.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Hore-Lacy as telling a stewards’ inquisition into the disappointing performance of Clevadude: “Someone knew something because he was $3.60 to $6. I'm wishing I had never backed up before the race because he was sweating and he never does that. He missed the jump and that was that.''

Asked what he was implying, Hore-Lacy replied: “Somebody knew something!”

Perhaps if Racing Queensland had not dumped its Integrity Department what Hore-Lacy was saying could have been investigated further.

In the case of Assail, the filly from the Clarry Conners-stable that was heavily backed into favoritism after the barrier draw, it, too, got a case of the drifts after some big bets were laid.

Interestingly, stewards inquired into the circumstances surrounding the late scratching of Assail on race morning on veterinary advice due to lameness in the near fore foot.

The filly had been inspected on Friday afternoon by the RQL Chief Veterinary Surgeon Martin Lenz in the presence of Senior Steward John Hackett and trainer Conners and found to be suitable to race.

Conners informed stewards that when the filly was brought from her box on Saturday morning he noted that she was exhibiting soreness in the near fore foot and he sought veterinary advice from Dr Charlie McCormack who informed stewards that the horse was lame in the near fore foot which he attributed to the onset of an abscess.

 

TRAINER CLAIMS RQL VET WAS ‘GRANDSTANDING’ WHEN DECLARING FILLY SHORT IN ACTION

ONE of the least popular officials with trainers in Brisbane racing in more recent times has been RQL veterinary surgeon Martin Lenz, who it must be said has a thankless job.

Top trainer Liam Birchley expressed his anger on Radio Sports National in Melbourne when asked about an examination carried out on Missy Longstocking before the Magic Millions.

He claimed that Mr Lenz was ‘grand-standing’ when he declared the filly to be striding slightly short in front.

“There’s never been anything wrong with her. I was stunned when told of what he had said. But he came back a day later and changed his tune. I think he was just grand-standing,” Birchley told RSN.

Mr Lenz subsequently inspected Missy Longstocking in her trackwork and cleared her to start. She went on to run third to Real Surreal in the big race.

 

IS HORSE RACING IN QUEENSLAND HEADING DOWN THE SAME TRACK AS BASKETBALL?

WE have received several e-mails asking if it is true that a former basketball administrator in Brisbane is now involved in the consultation process for racing with the Department of Minister Stephen Dickson.

The reason for the e-mails is that the track record of basketball when this gentleman was involved doesn’t read too well on paper with Brisbane now having no team in the national competition and the sport at an all-time low.

From what we can gather the gentleman concerned is involved with racing. We are not sure in what role. But when you have the Minister declaring his goal to make Queensland racing the leader in Australia within a few years then anything is possible.

 

COUPLE OF PUNTERS DISGRUNTLED BY TRAINERS’ PRE-RACE COMMENTS ON DEBUTANTE

WE had a couple of e-mails from disgruntled punters after debutante Ms Funovits defied a betting drift to win at Flemington last Saturday.

They claimed that Racing Victoria stewards should have asked trainer John Sadler to explain comments he made on radio concerning the prospects of the filly leading into the race.

The reason we didn’t run the e-mails is that both gentlemen claimed Sadler said the first starter couldn’t win. That was not the case. What he said was that the early price posted in Fixed Odds markets had surprised him and that he thought it was way unders.

It’s history now that Ms Funovits drifted from $3.5 to $7 and duly saluted. What didn’t help the stable cause was jockey Glen Boss, when asked after winning on the filly, why he preferred to ride at Flemington instead of Magic Millions day on the Gold Coast, replied: ‘John told me he had a nice filly to ride.’ Boss did go on to ride half the card.

There are few trainers more open about the prospects of their horses than John Sadler and it would be disappointing if his enthusiasm for telling the punter what he thinks was dampened by a couple of disgruntled punters complaining.

     

BUTTS HAS BURR IN HIS SADDLE ABOUT LACK OF CONFIDENTIALITY IN MINISTER’S OFFICE 

A COUPLE of e-mails were receiving asking if Silks & Saddles columnist Terry Butts had become a shade naïve and all too trusting in his old age.

Butts wrote in his column this week of how his ‘exclusive’ on the independent panel to oversee racing appointments in Queensland was lost after he contacted the Minister’s Office and they made a Media Release.

One e-mailer wrote: “Surely Terry isn’t wet enough behind the ears to think that what he said in confidence to the Racing Department staffer wouldn’t have been relayed almost immediately to Kevin Dixon on the hot line.

“Doesn’t he know the chain of command in racing goes from Kevin Dixon to Treasurer Tim Nicholls and then by remote control to Racing Minister Stephen Dickson. The wags in racing reckon Tim should relocate his electorate office from Clayfield to the Eagle Farm track.”

In relation to his dealings with the Racing Department staffer, Butts wrote: “What also concerns me is that a private conversation that I had concerning issues in racing with a senior officer in the Minister’s Department was repeated to RQL chairman Kevin Dixon within minutes. If that is keeping arm’s length between the Government and the nominees for key positions on the racing control boards, then heaven help the industry, especially as Racing Minister Dickson has said that appointments of directors to the previous RQL Board was ‘shrouded in mystery and open to claims of cronyism and jobs for the boys.’

Point taken!

 

SEVERED HEAD WASHED UP IN WEST THOUGHT TO BE RACING IDENTITY

WEST Australian police are still refusing to officially confirm the identity of the severed head washed up on Western Australia's Rottnest Island as racing identity and convicted drug user Stephen Cookson.

Cookson, who has a long criminal history including drug convictions in Germany, has been widely identified as the man whose remains were found by holidaymakers last weekend.

On Tuesday morning, WA police were still struggling to contact Cookson's relatives in the eastern states, despite widespread reporting that it was his head inside a bag on the beach.

A long-time habitue of the seamier side of the racing industry in Victoria and WA, Cookson was convicted in WA in 2000 on one count of being in possession of a quantity of heroin with intent to sell or supply.

He unsuccessfully appealed that conviction all the way to the High Court, where the former law student chose to represent himself.

In 2005, Cookson was fined $5000 for improper conduct, after assaulting a former horse owner Peter Graham and breaking his nose. That fine was unsuccessfully appealed.

Mr Graham told Fairfax media he had an inkling the head in the bag was Cookson's, or "Cookie" as he was known in Victorian racing circles.

"The missing teeth and the beard were tell-tale details and I knew Cookson had not been seen for a while," Mr Graham said.

"I even contacted a former, prominent racing investigator to make sure the coppers got the message.

"He was capable of anything if he didn't get his own way," Mr Graham said.

"One time we argued over a horse yard in a stable we were sharing. I insisted the yard was mine. Cookson disagreed and did his block. Two days later I found my horse dead in the yard."

A self-appointed "equine consultant", Cookson had been due to appear in WA's District Court this Friday on a charge of possession of methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply.

Cookson's lawyer Linda Black told AAP that she could not divulge any details as she is also acting for one of Mr Cookson's fellow accused, Lejla Tresnjo.

The discovery of the head is being treated by WA police as a murder.

 

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

 

TAB PRIVATISATION EXCLUSIVITY DEAL WITH TATTSBET NEEDS TO BE REMOVED

‘THE biggest drawback to racing in Queensland has been the woeful TAB Privatization deal that has shackled the industry for so long and amazingly protected TattsBet with exclusivity which prevents race clubs from attracting rival sponsors from the gambling industry.

I understand that several major clubs, including the BRC, could attract valuable sponsorship money from corporate bookmaking agencies, including Betfair, but this is not allowed under the terms of a Privatization agreement that many clubs tried unsuccessfully to resist during the Peter Beattie – Bob Gibbs Labor Government era.

One of the legendary stories that did the rounds after clubs, like the QTC, were dragged kicking and screaming into this awful deal was that a high profile official from a major club was wined and dined, filled with drink and found a female for the night before his club signed and helped provide the numbers needed. Perhaps it’s just a myth but some reputable identities still tell the tale.

Queensland racing has been left behind as rival states have been quick to sign sponsorship deals with corporate bookmaking agencies that have millions to spend courtesy of their plundering of gambling profits in this country.

With a new TAB Privatisation Agreement due to be negotiated in the next 12 months, this time they need to get it right and one of the priorities should be an end to this exclusivity deal when it comes to sponsorship with rivals of TattsBet.

I read where the new Racing Minister (Stephen Dickson) says his aim is to make Queensland the leading racing state in three years. Someone who knows something about racing should tell him to stop making stupid and outrageous statements.

If he wants to take Queensland from the joke status it is regarded interstate the first thing would be to recommend that the new TAB agreement allows sponsorship from rival gambling entities. That at least would put the state on the start of the long road to racing recovery.’ – Stan Wylie, Brisbane.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Interestingly in a story in the MELBOURNE AGE this week, MICHAEL SHARKIE shed a ray of hope on the exclusivity deal changing when he wrote:         

QUEENSLAND Racing will give serious consideration to the merits of corporate bookmaker and betting exchange sponsorship when a 15-year exclusivity deal with TattsBet ends in June, with Queensland racing clubs already investigating potential sponsorship arrangements.

Queensland Racing has a 99-year wagering license with TattsBet to provide fixed odds and totalizator wagering in that state, but a shorter deal that determines exclusive rights to on-course signage and sponsorship is up for negotiation at the end of the financial year, with corporate bookmakers looking to enter the Queensland market after a long lock-out from that state.

 

WILL NEW FREE-TO-AIR DEAL MEAN BETTER TREATMENT OF PUNTERS AT CUP TIME?

‘WILL the long suffering stay-at-home punters, treated like second rate citizens during the Melbourne Cup carnival, be able to watch live coverage of the races as part of the new Channel 7 deal?

The first thing that the authorities need to do is ensure that this delay on TVN and Sky is dispensed with over the four days of the Cup carnival. There is also a need to tell the free-to-air contractor that a ban on the race broadcasters from the parade ring during the carnival is unacceptable.

Most punters accept that the network winning the contract for free-to-air coverage of major racing in Australia has to receive something in return. But to shackle the two broadcasters who provide the service on a weekly basis should not be part of that deal.

You wouldn’t mind if they provided the same wall-to-wall racing coverage with mounting yard footage before. Instead what we seem to get is more and more social images and less and less of the horses, the trainers and the jockeys.’ – Jack Saltau, Melbourne.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It seems things are about to change for the better Jack with a couple of main races the exceptions. The TV networks claim they are paying big money to race clubs for the coverage and as such are entitled to some exclusivity. But they forget to mention the millions they rake in from advertising during these major racing events, especially the Melbourne Cup. Here’s a story by BRENT ZERAFA in the SYDNEY TELEGRAPH that might clarify the situation:     

CHANNEL 7's free-to-air coverage of racing in Sydney and Melbourne starts in less than a month, taking over from Channel 9 as part of a new five-year deal to give the sport greater exposure.

A total of 27 meetings - 18 in Sydney - will be broadcast across the main channel and digital platform 7Two, with the Expressway Stakes meeting at Warwick Farm on February 9 the first to air.

Channel 7's commitment to racing comprises two seasons, with the first running every weekend until the end of the BMW Sydney Autumn Carnival on April 27.

The second season begins on August 31 and finishes with the Sandown Classic meeting on November 16.

Four meetings from the BMW Sydney Autumn Carnival, including the Golden Slipper, ATC Australian Derby, Doncaster Mile and Sydney Cup, will be stand-alone broadcasts on Channel 7 between 1pm and 5.30pm.

These meetings, along with the feature spring carnival dates, will be hosted by Channel 7 on-air talent, with Francesca Cumani believed to be in negotiations. The remaining meetings, aside from Epsom Super Saturday, will be shown on 7Two with vision and talent provided by TVN.

Coverage of the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate will be given the same treatment as the Melbourne Cup carnival and Australian Cup/Newmarket Handicap, which was signed over to Channel 7 yesterday in a deal until 2019.

Punters who haven't been impressed with Channel 7's block on TVN/Sky Racing showing live vision of races during Melbourne Cup week have had a slight win under the new arrangement.

Only four individual major races, including the Victoria Derby, Melbourne Cup, VRC Oaks and Emirates Stakes, not the entire meetings, will remain on a two-minute broadcast delay.

It is understood that the closer relationship will also allow TVN to be granted mounting yard access to the Melbourne Cup carnival from this year.

Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys applauded the deal, which was part of Racing NSW signing over broadcast rights to TVN on Christmas Eve last year.

"It is all part of the aggregation and it is fantastic that our sport will be broadcast

on a major free-to-air network on a consistent basis," V'landys said. "Our research indicates that digital stations are more popular than a lot of people are aware of, so it is certainly not a negative that the bulk of the coverage will be on 7Two."

Harold Mitchell's time as chairman of TVN is coming to a close but he was delighted the deal has been signed.

"It is very satisfying that the Seven Network has recognised the value of TVN's premium racing product," Mitchell said.

"Following on so quickly from the execution of the aggregation of the NSW and Victorian racing media rights prior to Christmas, this new free-to-air partnership is tangible recognition of the strength of TVN and an indication of just how important the establishment of TVN is for Australian racing.

"Regular live sport on free-to-air is what thoroughbred racing has needed for many years. Now all sports fans can enjoy the very best spring and autumn racing."

 

INSTEAD OF CRITICIZING WEBSITES RACING AUTHORITIES SHOULD ‘ADMIT THEIR FAILURES’

‘WHEN one thinks about writing to this website I consider whether my letter will benefit racing or will it just be read and forgotten.

But silence from the public is what allows poor management of an Industry or Government to flourish so if some of us who are interested have a say maybe some good will come of writing.

Authorities in Racing in Queensland, past and present, do not like criticism of their management of the Industry and in fact have taken steps to suppress criticism particularly by Licensees.

It has become obvious over the years that racing matters have not been reported in the press so as to give the racing public some facts about suspected race rigging, price manipulation and other breaches of integrity that the punting public would expect from competent journalists.

Instead of racing authorities ignoring websites like letsgohorseracing and justracing for telling the facts as they are or raising contentious issues, they would be doing themselves and the industry a service by responding openly, admitting failures where they exist and explaining the reasons for such failures and how they will address the issues and letting us know their achievements like the refurbishment of Beaudesert Racecourse.

In fact it is disappointing and hardly the attitude of what the public should expect from adult professionals handling so much of the State’s money. Some people may say that it borders on petulant childish behavior.

A similar situation exists where Phil Purser (owner of justracing) is banned from being interviewed on Radio TAB apparently because he points out the mismanagement of the betting agency, the renamed UNiTAB, with proof. These stances are tantamount to the stand in the corner punishment for children.

If anyone has any doubts about whether corruption has occurred in racing I suggest they read the book ‘FIXED’ by Matthew Benns for enlightenment.

I would have thought that it was a journalistic mandate by racing journalists, including those of the websites mentioned, to undertake critical investigations and objectively report findings to readers and not curry favor to suit their own personal comfort zones which I have no doubt has occurred.

With the monopolistic daily press, this has been allowed to happen for a great number of years in Queensland through lack of daily newspaper competition. Consistently, over the years, I have noted the run with the hare, hunt with the hounds attitude of the racing press in The Courier-Mail newspaper. Hopefully change will occur.

When Peter Beattie was coming up for his second term as Premier in Queensland after completely devastating the racing industry in Queensland in regard to the privatization of the TAB, I wrote a letter to The Courier-Mail reminding the racing public of Beattie’s actions, expecting the letter to be published so that racing people could decide their vote and whether it was a good idea to have that Labor Government returned to power.

Beattie had held a gun to the heads of the Queensland Principal Club with a take my offer or get nothing from the privatization of the TAB. This authority had no choice but to accept.

My letter was not published by The Courier-Mail so I asked WHY NOT by letter. NO reply was received.

However, I found it very ironic that in the very last article written by Mr Sinclair, retiring Racing Editor, in The Courier-Mail on the day of his departure he made reference to how Beattie had treated the racing industry during the privatization of the TAB in Queensland.

The timing of his article was not lost on me.

Beattie will be remembered as the Premier who relegated Queensland Racing to second place behind the southern states which was extraordinary as the Government would have derived additional revenue through taxes etc. So was the reason personal, pig-headed prejudice against racing? I hope not, but the sanity of the reasoning escapes me and many others of the time.

Like others, I await the details of the proposed Integrity Unit to be appointed by the LNP Government before making a judgment and after giving the Unit time to make a difference through successful prosecutions, lifetime disqualifications, barring persons from attending racecourses or betting on racing in any form and associated preventive and restrictive measure, such as the confiscation of suspected illegally obtained goods.

The task will not be easy and is a job for experienced court savvy Detectives armed with legislation enabling phone tapping, long distance eavesdropping and other covert undercover activities if it has any chance of being successful and not just a window dressing exercise.’ - Mick Gurn, Pittsworth.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again for your contribution Mick. It is always very thought-provoking and you obviously have the interests of the racing industry at heart. I have been surprised by the attitude of Kevin Dixon, who will be the new boss of racing in Queensland regardless of steps taken concerning the selection process. He cannot cope with criticism of any kind from the web sites. In my opinion that is because he has become too accustomed to ‘favorable’ treatment from The Courier-Mail which continues to suggest that in six months he has lifted racing in Queensland out of the doldrums. If that’s the case why are more and more locally-trained horses crossing the border chasing the much better prizemoney in northern NSW. As for integrity, good luck with your wish list Mick. In fact the odds of ‘court savvy detectives armed with legislation enabling phone tapping’ or ‘other covert undercover activities’ occurring under the new powers that be who will run racing in Queensland are in my opinion one million to one.        

 

CLOSE TO A DOZEN E-MAILS CRITICAL OF THE ‘INDEPENDENT REVIEW PANEL’ FOR RQ

WE received close to a dozen e-mails concerning the appointment of ‘an independent panel’ to oversee the selection process for the new racing boards in Queensland. Most were critical of the inclusion of former Judge Bill Carter on the panel.

Hopefully the e-mails below that we have chosen to run will get the general message across.

‘TERRY Butts got it right when he described the inclusion of Bill Carter in the supposedly independent selection review panel as ‘politically provocative.’

One could argue that any hope the new LNP Government had of galvanizing the racing industry in Queensland went straight out the door with their appointment of Mr Carter, whose controversial views on behalf of the QTC and the anti-Bob Bentley lobby are well known.

Even some of those who were bitterly opposed to the way Labor allowed Bentley to control the industry through what many believe bordered on a dictatorship view the inclusion of former Judge Carter on the panel as a political manoueuvre that will backfire.

It is totally unacceptable to a lot of industry folk for a person who has been so heavily opposed to the previous regime and spoken out so strongly against previous appointments to now be having an influence on the selection process for the new bodies.’ – Sam Clifford, Brisbane.

And this one:

‘THE politically motivated appointment of Bill Carter to a panel overseeing the selection of the new boards for the three codes of racing in Queensland is not only inflammatory but also unacceptable.

Apart from the old guard at the Queensland Turf Club and the new guard at Racing Queensland, who apparently have been seeking the advice of Mr Carter since they took control, the appointment will do nothing but create disharmony among the stakeholders.

A friend of mine has applied for a position on the new boards to run racing in Queensland but believes he has no chance following the involvement of Mr Carter in the appoint process.

The person concerned is Peter Bredhauer who was nominated by clubs from the central west where he has a strong following because they believe he would have provided a great voice for their needs.

But Mr Bredhauer has a history with the former Judge and to say they don’t like each other would be an understatement. We are wondering if Mr Carter will declare that when it comes times for the panel to determine whether Mr Bredhauer is a suitable candidate.

I believe that regardless of what happens Mr Bredhauer has no chance and several others who have nominated believe that politics will drive a stake through their hopes of an appointment as well. The Government should never have become involved in this selection process.

Many involved in the industry and others who are keen observers believe that this process of selection should have been done by an independent panel of people who have had no involvement with racing in Queensland in the past.

No-one is casting aspersions on the ability or honesty of those on the selection panel – being a former Governor, a former Police Commissioner and a former Judge – but two of the three have been involved with the Queensland Turf Club and therein lies the problem for many in the industry.

The last thing racing in Queensland needs is to get back to the days of the QTC and that is the fear with Kevin Dixon at the helm. Rest assured he will be chairman of the new Racing Queensland Board and in all likelihood Chairman of the new all-powerful three code body.

And it will come as a major surprise if he is not joined on the All Codes body by the one he wants at his side in Greg Hallam. That being the case, why go through this process and expense of selection to try and convince the industry that everything is transparent?’ – As I am an official of a major race I would prefer my identity be with-held. I don’t want to jeopardize our chances of survival.

And finally:               

‘THERE is something horribly wrong with the selection process involving this recruitment company – whoever appointed it – when the Racing Minister has to go to the extraordinary lengths of naming a former Governor, Police Commissioner and Judge – to oversee the process.

Once again the LNP Government got it wrong. Regardless of the background of the individuals named to oversee the selection of new Racing Boards, how can they possibly call this an independent panel?

Bill Carter’s background of controversial attacks on the former Bentley Board and his closeness to those involved in running racing under the Newman Government should have immediately disqualified him from the role.

Jim O’Sullivan is a very popular racing identity but the fact remains that he was a Director of the Queensland Turf Club and as such should not have been considered either.

The panel could only be considered truly ‘independent’ in the eyes of the industry if those on it were from outside the racing industry and with no ties past or present to it or any of its officials.

The way things are being done – from the appointment of the recruitment company, the way it has or has not vetted all applicants, right through to the appointment of this panel – opens the door for disgruntled nominees who feel they didn’t get a fair go to call for a CMC investigation into the handling of this whole process.’ – Wally Berriman, Gold Coast.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I have known Bill Carter since I was a teenager covering racing and courts in Townsville where he was a respected lawyer and a prominent horse owner. We have had our differences on racing matters as our career paths have crossed later in life in Brisbane. But my respect for Bill’s opinion has never wavered. At times I felt he could have been a little less out-spoken on some issues which saw many in the industry paint him as a ‘mouth-piece’ for the disgruntled Queensland Turf Club after losing their power-base during the Bob Gibbs era as Racing Minister. What critics need to realize is that Bill Carter has been a key appointment by both the LNP and Labor Governments. And something a lot of the critics would not realize is the work he has done (free of charge) behind the scenes for many unfortunate victims of racing politics under the previous regime. Being from the north, Bill hopefully will recognize the need for a country voice on the new All Codes Board. At least I have the confidence that he will - regardless of who tries to influence his decision.

 

SHOULD THE FIELD SIZE FOR THE MAGIC MILLIONS CLASSIC BE REDUCED BY TWO?

‘THE MAGIC Millions is a major turn-off for most punters throughout the country and even race-goers regard it as a manufactured event.

Most believe that a track like the Gold Coast does not afford every runner an equal chance especially when there are capacity fields racing for such rich stakes.

It seems that some of the jockeys agree and Michael Rodd even urged stewards this year to push for a reduction in the field size for the Magic Millions Two-Year-Old Classic in future. Of course his call will fall on deaf ears.

The problem is that the Magic Millions Company has far too much say in the racing side of the event. They might be the organizers of the carnival week but that should not give them the right to dictate racing policy.

There are so many people in the enclosure after these big races – especially the two-year-old classic – that sooner or later someone is going to get badly hurt when they are kicked or trampled by a horse being unsaddled.

Whoever is responsible for issuing mounting enclosure passes needs to put a restriction on numbers before it is too late. The situation again this year was total mayhem. There is a story that Magic Millions is involved in this process. If that is true then the stewards need to step in and put a halt to that practice.

We are told about all the magnificent new facilities that are to be built at the Gold Coast track and that the first stage of these will be completed in time for next year’s big day.

That’s just great – and those punters who have over the years braved the heat and discomfort of a sardine-like situation will be pleased – but at the end of the day it comes down to the quality of the racing. And that will never be acceptable until something is done to improve the track.’ – Glen Sanderson, Sydney.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s what champion jockey, the formerly Gold Coast-based Michael Rodd, had to say in a report by CHRIS ROOTS in the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD.

MELBOURNE Cup-winning jockey Michael Rodd asked Racing Queensland stewards if the Magic Millions Classic could be restricted to 14 runners on Saturday.

Rodd, who did his apprenticeship at the Gold Coast, spoke up after chief steward Wade Birch had asked for the riders' co-operation in the day's two major races, which carry total prizemoney of $3 million.

''Can they restrict it to 14 runners because there is a lot of pressure from owners and trainers going into a race for such big prizemoney?'' Rodd said.

'They are young horses and some are coming from Melbourne and going this way for the first time. It is a tough race to ride.''

Birch responded: ''It is hard for me to go to [ask] Racing Queensland when we run maidens with 16 runners every week without as much trouble.''

Birch spoke with all the jockeys from the Guineas and Classic and asked for their co-operation.

''I have asked for it before and been disappointed by some of the best riders in Australia, if not the world,'' he said. ''This is a very big day for Queensland and I don't want the papers to be full of stories on interference like they have been for the past couple of years.''

 

SPARE US THE CHUCKY BUCKETS – POOR GERRY AND KATIE DON’T NEED ANY MORE HANDOUTS

‘WE keep hearing how much the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast each January is worth to the state of Queensland in tourism revenue.

Well how about some of these media experts telling us just how much it is worth each year to one of Australia’s richest men, Gerry Harvey and his wife, Katie, owners of the event?

At the end of another supposedly hugely successful Magic Millions week and it’s the same old story. The event will only grow with continuing support of millions of dollars from the Queensland Government.

They’ve gone from the old catch-cry of: If we don’t get more Government funding we will take it away from Queensland, to: We need more taxpayer money pumped into the event to enable it to grow.

What a load of garbage and the media continues to swallow this ‘crying poor’ story from the Magic Millions Company.

Ask them how much they benefit already from Government funding? Ask them how much of the money they earn from the sales goes back into the local economy? Ask them how many of the horses that are sold at the sales are Queensland bred? Ask them who benefits from all the free publicity not only locally but also around the globe?

Sure the Gold Coast economy gets a boost but this time of year is the school holidays and tourist season so would it survive without the Harvey’s and their Magic Millions. Of course it would!

On a lighter note there is a story doing the rounds that the biggest earners during Magic Millions week are the working girls, particularly the high class ones, many of whom head across the border north for this big week as quick as the Queensland-trained horses head south chasing the bigger bucks.

Many tax-payers will be far from impressed if the Newman Government allows Events Queensland to provide more than the $3 million it currently presents to Magic Millions, which is already over the top.

Considering Racing Queensland contributes to this new bonus which allegedly attracts women owners to race starters in the Magic Millions Classic, it’s about time this drain of industry funds to a private company was halted.

And on the subject of the much-publicized ‘female bonus’ perhaps RQ would like to do a survey of how many husbands transfer the ownership of Magic Millions graduates into the names of their wives. The whole thing in the eyes of some of us is discriminatory against males.

More money to Magic Millions on top of a monstrous waste on a new turf track in Toowoomba and some of the racing folk in country Queensland crying out for help will be ready to mutiny.’ – Peter Hobson, formerly of the north, now living on the Gold Coast.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I assume Sam that the story by DANIEL MEERS pumping up the Magic Millions in the GOLD COAST BULLETIN got up your nose. One can’t blame the local media for being parochial about an event which they are proud of. I, too, don’t believe the Magic Millions Company deserves any more money. If the Harvey’s are concerned about the costs then they should bring a few less celebrities to the Coast for the event. Zara Phillips and Francesca Cumani were absolute winners without needing any support acts. It was an coup for Katie Page to attract Zara who proved a great hit while Francesca is popular wherever she goes, even in the eyes of ageing media personalities seeking to have their photograph taken with her. Here is the DANIEL MEERS story which is a good read (he deserves a bonus Gleeso):     

‘THERE is no greater event in Queensland than the Magic Millions. It should have a lifetime financial commitment from the State Government.

Over the past week, the city has shown hospitality to visitors from America, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa, Korea, the Philippines, New Zealand and the breadth of NSW and Victoria.

There are a few others but I got bored with that sentence and you were starting to run out of breath.

No other event brings such a depth of visitors to the city, with chequebooks most of us see only in the movies.

Studs book out entire floors of hotels for their staff while buyers, racehorse owners and trainers take hotel rooms by the dozen.

They've ensured the "full house" sign has gone up at restaurants throughout the city.

These people spend $67 million on horses in one week, so spending money on dinner, booze and hotels is nothing.

This year's figures were the most successful since 2008, yet Magic Millions co-owners Katie Page-Harvey and her husband Gerry aren't satisfied.

Together, they're the most powerful couple in Australia. They are promotions people, sales people. They are "doers".

Gerry and Katie won't be sitting back today saying "gee, we did good". They'll be saying: "How can we make it better next year?"

Ms Page-Harvey's genius idea to bring the Queen's granddaughter, Zara Phillips, Down Under as ambassador for the Racing Women concept gave the city international exposure we would otherwise only dream of.

Images of Phillips walking along stretches of our 42km coastline, and attending parties and our $5 million race day were beamed throughout Europe -- a market that normally takes little interest in the Gold Coast.

Yet, Ms Page-Harvey wasn't satisfied. Well, she was, but she wants to make it bigger next year.

She wants to outdo the royal coup. I'm excited about what she might have planned.

I'm excited for one week every year we can have a royal, racing superstars including Gai Waterhouse and her family, celebrities from throughout Australia and the business elite walking around our streets like they are locals.

That's why Magic Millions is so great. The power couple won't rest until their carnival is the best in the world.

Each year they will raise the bar.

That's an exciting prospect for the Gold Coast.

Magic Millions has given the city hope.

Restaurateurs, hotel operators, limousine companies and high-end retail outlets have begun the year working around the clock to keep up with demand. That is something the city needed. Only Magic Millions can do that.

This isn't just great news for the Gold Coast, it's great news for all of Queensland.

Yet there are concerning murmurs coming from my spies within the LNP suggesting they will look to cut the Events Queensland funding early despite it being contracted until 2017.

Events Queensland gives the Magic Millions about $3 million a year.

If the funding was pulled there is no doubt Katie and Gerry could continue.

There's also no doubt it would no longer be at the level it is now.

That funding ensures the Magic Millions is a carnival instead of a sale. It allows them to have events and attract big names they otherwise wouldn't.

These events are what bring the names and their families to the Gold Coast.

No events would mean no families or celebrities and cut room nights by at least a third.

Magic Millions deserves a life-time contract and suggestions it is under threat are ridiculous.

Let's hope they're just murmurs from the minority and if they're not, we need to hope our local MPs have the backbone to stand up to the decision-makers.

Magic Millions is our premier event; it stands ahead of the rest.

What's even more important, the event hasn't come close to reaching its potential.

That's something that should be exciting not only for the Gold Coast but also all of Queensland.

 

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO QUEENSLAND UNDER NEW NETWORK COVERAGE DEAL?

‘ONCE again we find ourselves in the caboose in Queensland racing as Victoria and New South Wales take up the lead with feature race coverage.

With a couple of exceptions the coverage of the Magic Millions on the Nine network last Saturday was pretty ordinary. One of the stand-outs who should not be included in this criticism is British racing favorite Francesca Cumani.

TVN is obviously going to call the shots in the new broadcast deal which against raises the question of why racing in Queensland aligned itself with Sky Channel.

As a club official who was involved in the decision making process I can assure you that there will be no answers forthcoming from a Kevin Dixon-led RQ Board.

Mr Dixon was at the helm of the Brisbane Racing Club when they elected to go with Sky despite a much better offer, in my opinion, from TVN. So were many of his club cronies.

Not everyone at the BRC was in agreement with the Sky decision. In fact it would be interesting to hear the thoughts now from one high profile official who strongly opposed the move at Board level.

There was not one mention of Channel 7 showing anything from Brisbane in their new free-to-air deal.

Perhaps Mr Dixon was able to convince Peter Moody to bring Black Caviar back north for the carnival when they wined and dined together at the Carbine Club luncheon during the Magic Millions carnival week.

That seems to be the only chance racing in Queensland has of opening the door to Channel 7 coverage of big racing in the north. And it still remains doubtful if Brisbane will be part of the major coverage of a Saturday alongside Sydney and Melbourne racing.’ – As I am still an official of a leading club in south-east Queensland, I want to have my say but cannot afford to have my identity revealed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s a pity that we have to keep identities like yours confidential as you are so well respected in racing but I can understand why you wouldn’t want to upset the new head honcho. I’ve always felt it was a dumb decision for RQ to go with Sky but I won’t bore you with my thoughts on that. Here’s a story by CHRIS ROOTS from the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD on the current financial standing of TVN:           

TVN will start with a clean financial sheet for the racing network's second coming after discharging more than $27 million in debt as part of the deal to become aggregated television rights owner for Victoria and NSW racing.

TVN made the first major announcement as the aggregator of racing, signing a partnership with Channel Seven for the free-to-air digital coverage of carnival meetings. The deal will have 27 meetings from Sydney and Melbourne shown on the Seven Network, either on its main channel or a secondary channel.

''We are starting from the beginning with clubs taking what was owed to them by TVN as a settlement when we signed the deal for the aggregation of the rights just before Christmas,'' Australian Turf Club chief executive Darren Pearce said.

He would not confirm the figure the ATC received but it is believed to be more than $10 million, while two Melbourne clubs were also given big payouts.

''It will allow new business plans and structures to be put in place,'' Pearce said. ''The business has achieved so much by getting the rights to Victoria and NSW.

''This is the first of many exciting announcements for TVN and racing. It will see all our carnival meetings on free-to-air television.''

It is believed the first two weekends of the Rosehill carnival will be shown on the secondary channel, with Golden Slipper day, ATC Australian Derby day and Doncaster day featuring on the main channel before the final day of the carnival will switch back to secondary channel.

''It is a great business outcome for Seven and a great breakthrough for viewers,'' Seven's chief executive Tim Worner said.

The first TVN board meeting will take place on January 25 but the fractured nature of the relationships between the stakeholders was on show with the Victoria Racing Club making a separate announcement of its deal with Seven, which extends until 2018.

The deal includes the nine of the biggest meetings at Flemington.

 

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.