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..

IT was a mixed bag in the e-mail box this week ranging from praise for Racing Queensland on its change of heart concerning the Sunday TAB dates for the Sunshine Coast, the decision to rein in on-course bookies with a change to SP transmissions and support for two Sunday TAB meetings in Queensland. There is an interesting twist to the decision by Racing NSW Chief Steward Ray Murrihy to fine Nash Rawiller for being in the jockeys’ room while working for the media and not riding. More concerns have been expressed over the make-up of the new control boards for racing in Queensland. And just for a change there are a couple of harness racing-related e-mails.

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

STARTING WITH THE GOOD

RQ APPLAUDED FOR RACE DATES DECISION

TO start this week’s column let’s look at the ‘good’ side of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ week for racing in Australia and it involves some encouraging positives to emerge from the Kevin Dixon Board of Racing Queensland.

Rather than prolong the argument over whether the Draft TAB Dates lacked consultation with the industry and stake-holders, full marks to RQ for reversing the original suggestion and instead continuing to reward the Sunshine Coast Turf Club for pioneering Sunday racing.

The decision to return to the SCTC no less than 17 Sundays that they were set to lose should be applauded. It still left a window of opportunity for rival clubs who would like to host a Sunday TAB meeting on a select date.

Some in the racing media have questioned why the SCTC should have a monopoly on Sunday racing. One would have thought the answer was simple. They took the gamble when no other club was prepared to and now that they have made a success of it others want to jump aboard.

Rather than rob the SCTC of the opportunity to maintain that success story – with some valuable sponsorships in place for the next year – why not compromise and on selected dates let some of the other major TAB clubs outside of Brisbane enjoy a Sunday TAB meeting as well.

 

PUNTERS AREN’T READY FOR A TAB MEETING AT BOWEN 

THE RQ decision not to proceed with a Bowen TAB meeting on Easter Sunday in 2014 was a ‘no-brainer,’ especially at the expense of the Sunshine Coast during the school holidays when there are plenty of tourists in the area.

That’s not to say that Bowen or other smaller venues in the country aren’t entitled to a Sunday, perhaps starting as a non-TAB to gauge how successful the progression to TAB status (even secondary to the SCTC) would be.

The female racing identity who gave our Silks & Saddles columnist, Terry Butts, a blast for failing to support North Queensland racing on the issue must have been living under a rock. There is no more passionate advocate of country racing than Butts.

He never suggested Bowen didn’t deserve a Sunday meeting. All Butts wrote was that the Sunshine Coast should retain Easter Sunday. He also highlighted the short-comings of Bowen as a TAB venue (or racing for that matter) which have been well documented.

 

RQ WINS SUPPORT FOR STAND ON STARTING PRICES

THE other big positive for RQ to emerge from the past week was their stand on bookmaker starting prices and despite the bleating from some on-course fielders it was overwhelmingly welcomed by most punters.

In what has been described as an Australian first, RQ launched a new method of assessing price fluctuations drawing information not only from the on-course bookies but also from selected TABs and corporate betting agencies.

This followed widespread condemnation of the percentages being bet by the on-course bookmakers, especially in Brisbane and at the Gold Coast, over a long period of time. Queensland was becoming the laughing stock of the nation because of the prices that were being transmitted via the Australian Prices Network to tracks throughout the country.

With only a handful of bookmakers in the Brisbane ring, the Kevin Dixon Board took the overdue steps, albeit unpopular with some leading local fielders, of assessing prices by using a more diverse set of outlets – the local ring, TattsBet, Sportsbet, Sportingbet and LuxBet.

In his Betting Ring Report for the popular justracing website, leading bookmaker Lindsay Gallagher was far from impressed by the way the price fluctuations were arrived at on Saturday at Eagle Farm.

He gave justracing readers an insight into quite a few ‘discrepancies that appeared in the new system in the hope that next Saturday everyone will be better educated after the run on the track and a system can be arrived at that is agreeable to all parties in the debate.’

RQ will meet with on-course bookmakers this week in the hope that the situation can be resolved although Chairman Dixon has publicly expressed the opinion that he does not agree with some of their concerns.

The downside for the bookies was that the percentages being bet at Eagle Farm and Gold Coast after the changes were introduced last Saturday were much fairer for punters and far less embarrassing for racing in Queensland.

 

MERIT IN DUAL SUNDAY TAB MEETINGS IN QLD

EARLY reports indicate that the decision last Sunday to run two Queensland TAB meetings – one at the Sunshine Coast and the other at Beaudesert – proved successful enough to venture down that track again.

Considering the amount of racing leading into Sunday and the fact that Beaudesert was shown on lowly SKY 2, TattsBet was happy enough with the turnover at both venues and would not rule out dual Sunday coverage on selected days with a couple of provisos.

“We are always keen to build turnover no matter what the code,” said Brad Tamer of TattsBet, who is recovering from a nasty smash in a cycle race at the weekend. And there is no truth to the rumor that he was riding tandem with heavyweight Racing Radio host Steve Hewlett when he came down.

The main drawback to the Beaudesert coverage was that the meeting was only shown on SKY2 which only homes that have the full SKY Racing Package can access and not every pub or club TAB outlet provides.

Tamer says that for a dual Sunday TAB coverage to be successful there is a need for the two to be shown on SKY1 but emphasizes that is up to Racing Queensland to negotiate this with SKY Channel.

One would have thought that considering the loyalty that RQ showed SKY when TVN was reportedly offering a much more attractive contractual deal that SKY would be moving heaven and earth to appease those who have stood by them – a number that is rapidly diminishing, especially in NSW, these days where TVN is now flavor of the month.

 

STATE OF ORIGIN JOCKEYS’ CHALLENGE PROPOSAL

THERE is plenty of merit in the suggestion, published in a column written by Wayne Wilson in the Bayside Star in Brisbane, concerning a State of Origin jockeys’ challenge.

The race would be run to coincide with the State of Origin Rugby League clash between NSW and Queensland in Brisbane.

Believe it or not, the idea is the brainchild of a former Kiwi, Grant Peters, who operates Trackside Photography which produces those magnificent finishing images that owners can buy at the big tracks.

The proposal is for teams of five jockeys each from Queensland and NSW to contest one or more races – the eligibility similar to State of Origin (they would have to be born in the State they represent).

The Queenslanders could include: Glen Boss, Luke Nolen, Christian Reith, Jim Byrne and to add a lady to the equation, Tegan Harrison.

And the New South Welshman: Hugh Bowman, Chris Munce, Michael Rodd, Corey Brown and Kathy O’Hara.

It would offer an attractive option for the thousands of visitors in town for the big footy match to attend and there wouldn’t be too many problems organizing buses from Eagle Farm to Lang Park or whatever they call it these days.

Add to that the prospect of Malcolm Johnston and Tommy Raudonikis selecting the NSW team and Mick Dittman and Alfie Langer the Queenslanders and the scene would be set for a block-busting promotion.

As has been suggested the same could occur when the Origin is being played in New South Wales.

Now it’s just up to the head honchos at the BRC and ATC to earn their fat salaries and organize something that should attract plenty of publicity and interest for a change for an ordinary midweek meeting in Brisbane or Sydney.

 

CHRIS MUNCE ON ROAD TO RECOVERY

GARY LEGG, manager for Chris Munce, who is undergoing treatment for throat cancer, reports that the champion jockey is making terrific progress and already looking forward to a return to the saddle.

“Everything is positive and Chris will have his last radiation in 10 days time. It will then be up to the doctors when he is right to resume riding,” Legg told colleague Mark Oberhardt at the Eagle Farm races on Saturday.

At this stage Munce hopes to be able to ride at the Winter Carnival but will be guided by what the doctors say. Fortunately his weight since he stopped riding in January has remained static at 53kg.

“He has lost his taste but has been eating well,” Legg said, adding Munce had even been mucking out some stables to stay fit.

MOVING TO THE ‘BAD’

DOES THIS KIWI THINK OZ PUNTERS ARE ‘MUGS’?

KIWI trainer Bjorn Baker must think the Australian punters are a bunch of ‘mugs’ judging by his half smart response to the major former reversal by Havanna Rey at Warwick Farm last Saturday.

Regardless of the excuses paraded out by Baker about the gear changes which were accepted by the stewards, Havanna Rey made a mockery of the form guides when he improved a furlong and if his inconsistency continues the horse should be barred.

Here’s what respected racing columnist KEN CALLANDER had to say on the subject in the SYDNEY TELEGRAPH this week:     

BJORN Baker, in his interview on the 20 lengths improvement of Saturday's Warwick Farm winner Havana Rey, used in part the phrase ‘racing is a funny game.’

I can assure the young trainer it is not a funny game to punters, the people who finance the industry. To them it can make the difference whether they can pay the week’s rent.

On Saturday stewards were proactive informing punters they put the blame on Havana Rey's disgraceful January 26 run down to his reaction to blinkers and they were satisfied following a subsequent trial and the removal of blinkers that he would race well on Saturday.

However, if he performs with such inconsistency again, Baker will indeed find out it is not a funny game.

All we need now is for the Chris Waller-trained Disciple, who was beaten 15 lengths when an easing favorite on February 2, to come out and win next week. Then racing might as well shut down.

 

LADY JOCKEYS DESERVE BETTER FACILITIES

THE fur has been flying between a couple of highly strung lady jockeys in Queensland in recent times and perhaps some of the blame can be attributed to the inadequate facilities provided for them at some tracks.

It’s time for racing to accept that lady jockeys are here to stay and provide them with equality when it comes to jockeys’ rooms on race days. They are entitled to enjoy the same comforts as their male rivals.

To be fair that is the case at Eagle Farm and Doomben where new facilities were installed to accommodate the female riders. But the same cannot be said elsewhere. In some places the lady jockeys’ rooms resemble big closets and at others they use caravans on race days.

It has been brought to our attention that there were 11 men and 11 women riding at Ipswich last Friday but the facilities were by no means equal. Perhaps before that gallops club goes to the dogs they should do something about accommodation for the female jockeys.

Little wonder there are dust-ups occurring between those of the fairer sex when they have to spend an afternoon almost sitting on each others’ shoulders. The same would obviously occur if the males were asked to use cramped facilities. The difference being they wouldn’t cop it.

 

WAS THIS HOT FAVORITE SORE?

THERE are plenty of stories doing the rounds about a hot favorite that performed below expectations in south-east Queensland on Saturday.

The story goes that plenty of those ‘in the know’ were aware that the horse had been sore during the week – obviously that did not include the stewards.

The late mail obviously didn’t get through to the corporate betting agencies who took no risks with the horse but the on-course fielders were all too aware and blew the horse’s price out the gate.

Punters should standby for a major form reversal when this fellow steps out at his next start probably with a couple of major gear changes.

 

TRUE STORY ON HORSE NUMBERS AT GOLD COAST

WE weren’t sure whether to include this in the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’ section of this week’s column.

The ‘good’ side is that the e-mailers who have been claiming that the number of horses in training at the Gold Coast and Toowoomba have dropped substantially are, as far as we can ascertain, only half right.

The suggestion that Gold Coast numbers are down from 800 to 200 are way off beam. GCTC CEO Grant Sheather has confirmed that whilst the number of horses in training there are nowhere near the heady days when 800 were in work they have averaged between 400 and 455 over recent months.

The official number of horses that worked on selected days during the past three months at the Gold Coast was: December 443, January 403 and February 455.

No word was received from Toowoomba which comes as no surprise. But Phil Purser reported exclusive on justracing this week that another leading stable is departing the Clifford Park scene with trainer Tracey Wolfgram issued a license to train at the Gold Coast.

   

AND ENDING WITH THE ‘UGLY’

 

WEBSITE CLOSED DOWN OVER OUTRAGEOUS CLAIMS

FOR those who have e-mailed complaining about controversial claims that a top trainer had dozens of positive swabs and a champion jockey had been tipping to a leading official of racing in Australia, we can report that the website airing these views has been closed down.

Our mail is that the website was linked to the close relation of a prominent Victorian licensee and that legal proceedings were threatened before it was shut down.

To suggest that the trainer concerned had 40 unpublicized positive swabs was both absurd and a reflection on the credibility of one of the most popular figures in racing in Australia not to mention the suggestion that the best integrity unit in the country was not doing their job.

As for the claims about the top jockey, an icon of Australian racing who has encountered his share of setbacks in recent years, we understand that is still the subject of an on-going investigation but at this stage the stories linking him with a key official are nothing more than rumors.

 

FLIES IN THE PIES IN THE EAGLE FARM PRESS ROOM?

ONE racing media man became so incensed by the conditions he was being asked to work under at Eagle Farm last Saturday that he expressed his anger on Twitter.

An invasion of flies in the press room at Eagle Farm was the topic of discussion that got quite an airing and attracted some interesting ‘Tweets.’

‘Are there flies in the party pies,’ one wag questioned?

‘If you think they’re bad at Eagle Farm, try a day at the races at Esk or Kilcoy,’ reported another.

Jokes aside – in the days when the racing media pulled some clout (that was before the Racing Editor of a major paper became the communications manager for the QTC and BRC) – this situation would never have been tolerated.

We are reliably informed that Course Ranger Bill Shuck (they call him ‘the Oyster’ on Melbourne radio) kindly answered an SOS from the press and provided a much-needed can of fly spray.

The problem it seems is caused by the new configuration of the media room being so close to the parade ring where the flies are attracted to the horse droppings. Although these are cleaned up very quickly, it is not quick enough to keep the flies away.

 

SUNRISE PROGRAM ON MAN DROUGHT INCENSES DOUGO

ONE of our favorite men in the north, the punters’ pal Anthony Douglas, was devastated when the national Sunrise program on the Seven Network ran a story this week – and it wasn’t racing related.

‘Dougo’ the Lawyer, better known as the North’s most eligible bachelor, reckons his best kept secret is now out following a story on Sunrise about ‘The Man Drought in Townsville.’

He even joked that every ‘man and his dog’ – possibly even retiring Pope Benedict XVI – will hear the story and head to Townsville.

 

Now here is the e-mail contributions that we have elected to publish this week with apologies to those who missed out:

 

CRITIC QUESTIONS WHETHER RAY MURRIHY IS SUFFERING MEMORY LOSS

‘I almost choked on my toast on reading the story that Chief Steward Ray Murrihy had created history at Warwick Farm last Saturday when a ‘member of the press’ was fined by stewards.

Top jockey Nash Rawiller, working for TVN as a form expert while he is sidelined with an injury, was slugged $100 for being caught smoking in the jockeys’ room.

Murrihy said Rawiller was not allowed in the room while working for the media.

“He was in there with his mate Peter Robl. We fined him $100 also,” Murrihy said. “They know they aren’t allowed to smoke it there.”

If I recall his stance nowadays is a bit different to back when he was the Chief Stipe in Queensland when a prominent racing writer had the run of the jockeys’ room despite complaints from rival members of the racing media who did not enjoy the same privileges.

Maybe if someone from the Murrihy panel had taken the time to investigate they might have stamped out a practice that is a controversial and talked about topic in racing in Queensland to this day.

Might I suggest that the new glasses have improved ‘Razor’s’ eye sight? Then again he needs them when you watch what is happening on the track in Sydney!’ - Col Moore, Bankstown.

EDITOR’S NOTE: MEDIA access to the jockeys’ room in Brisbane when both Ray Murrihy and his colleague Steve Railton were chairman of stewards has long been a contentious issue. In fact questions relating to what access a former Racing Editor of The Courier-Mail received when Steve Railton (now in Hong Kong) was chairman of stewards, was the topic of questions asked at the Daubney-Rafter Inquiry but the momentary controversy turned into a fizzer.    

 

COUPLE OF ‘INSIDERS’ TIPPING WHO THEY BEILEVE WILL BE ON THE NEW BOARDS

‘WITH all the conspiracy theories and predictions of who will be on the new Boards to run the three codes of racing in Queensland, I thought I might put a few people out of their misery by offering the thoughts of industry insiders who shall remain anonymous.

A couple of things are a given. Kevin Dixon will be on both the Racing Queensland and the Industry All Codes Boards. Whether he is chairman of both is argumentative. We don’t believe he will be.

Highly respected Brisbane barrister Michael Byrne and one of Queensland’s best known sporting commentators John McCoy are said to be in the running for the chairmanships of the Greyhound and Harness bodies respectively.

Another lawyer, Peter Boyce, who is Deputy Chairman of the Sunshine Coast Turf Club, is being tipped for a position on RQ or QACRIB. A regular at recent race meetings in Brisbane, Boyce is reportedly a close friend of Racing Minister Stephen Dickson.

Greg Hallum, the CEO of the Local Government Association and a passionate racing man, has the support of Kevin Dixon and is a seen as a shoe-in for the All Codes Board.

The problem is that with only two independent identities to be appointed to QACRIB those being highly mentioned in dispatches are all from the south-east and country racing will be up in arms if they don’t have a representative as the Government previously promised.

Many from the bush want to see high profile lawyer Barry Taylor from Townsville win a berth. His background is impeccable in business and racing and he would certainly bring to the All Codes table a perception of independence which many in the industry want.

There is a need for an independent chairman of QACRIB away from the chairmen of the three codes but it is imperative that the country has representation.

Industry concerns continue to grow about Government interference and we can only hope that the recommendations made by the respected Independent Selection Panel are not tampered with to suit someone’s political wishes.’ – As officials of two major TAB race clubs we cannot afford to have our identities revealed but are happy for you to call us.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Trying to tip this sort of thing can be fraught with danger gents. I took up the offer and confirmed the legitimacy of this e-mail. I just wish officials like these were not afraid of what might happen to their clubs if they make a suggestion that doesn’t sit well with certain people. But the two who forwarded this e-mail, the views of which they claim are supported by many industry stakeholders, are highly respected. The one thing that the LNP Government, the Racing Minister and the Treasurer need to be aware of is that interference in this selection process will be made public if it occurs and won’t sit too well with many in the industry.

 

SUNSHINE COAST SUPPORTER TAKES DAVID FOWLER TO TASK OVER SUNDAY COMMENTS

‘AS an unashamed supporter of Sunday racing on the Sunshine Coast I was appalled by the report written by race-caller David Fowler on another website which declared: “NO CLUB HAS ANY DIVINE RIGHT TO RACE ON SPECIFIC DAYS.”

Might I suggest that Mr Fowler stick to race-calling and promoting his bookmaker mates rather than comment on affairs of which he obviously knows nothing or perhaps he just wants to back decisions made by certain people on a higher platform.

I don’t usually read this other website. In fact I only went there because someone told me Mark Oberhardt was writing for it which I discovered he was but wish he was with letsgohorseracing instead. I really miss his column in The Courier-Mail.

If you are unaware Mr Fowler continually takes pot-shots at your website. Obviously he believes it is fashionable because you are off-side with RQ and its new chairman.

In the words of a respected media identity who traded on objectivity - Shame, Shame, Shame David!

I noticed you started off by bagging the letsgohorseracing piece when you referred to a headline ‘QUEENSLAND RACING INDUSTRY DEGENERTES INTO TURMOIL’  basically declaring it a ‘beat-up.’

Then you went on to write what couldn’t have been done any better had it been produced by gone but not forgotten Bart Sinclair of The Courier-Mail or a spin doctor for RQ that:

‘My Call’ has analyzed the draft copy (of the TAB dates) and went through it line by line to establish if there is turmoil as a result of these proposed dates.

For those conspiracy theorists the answer is sadly no.

Sunshine Coast has to take the Toowoomba Saturday twilight/night spot while that track reverts to turf. This goes from July to January then they revert to their normal Sundays in general, but not all.

At this point I pose a question. “Why does the Sunshine Coast assume it must race every Sunday?”

Their Saturday positioning is because they are the only alternative track to Toowoomba that has lights.

Well Mr Fowler the answers to your questions above are:

There were political plays going on behind the scenes to ‘kill off’ the Sunshine Coast as the Sunday venue and only the protests by the SCTC with support from their local daily and letsgohorseracing saw that reversed to a degree.

As to why the Sunshine Coast can assume it must race every Sunday. Well if you had followed racing in Queensland closely – and I believe you have but suddenly there has been a case of sudden memory loss – you would know that the SCTC took on Sunday racing when no other club wanted it, so why shouldn’t they be entitled to keep it.

And one thing that didn’t go unnoticed in your verbal diarrhea attack on the Sunshine Coast was the fact that you conveniently overlooked any criticism of what was said on the issue by one of your bosses, Barry Fletton the CEO of TattsBet.

Just in case you missed it, here’s what he had to say about the ‘DRAFT’ TAB dates as you call them:

Fletton told the SUNSHINE COAST DAILY that he believes proposed changes that have stripped the Sunshine Coast of its best race days and pushed prime TAB meetings on to bush tracks will lead to A BETTING DOWNTURN OF $20 MILLION, COST THE INDUSTRY $1 MILLION IN PRIZEMONEY AND REDUCE REVENUES TO THE STATE GOVERNMENT BY $500,000.

Mr Fletton said the lack of certainty about track conditions, horse form and jockey quality risked punters deserting many Queensland race days in favor of NSW and Victorian venues.

While you are in such an outspoken mood on this topic Mr Fowler, why don’t you knock on the boss’s door and tell him ‘what a goose’ you believe he is for suggesting the Sunshine Coast should have a monopoly on Sundays.

Having read your tripe on that nondescript website I then tuned in on Monday to hear you on TAB Radio this time going into bat for your mates in the bookmaking fraternity but there were no tough questions of the RQ Chairman from any of the panel.’ – Shane Clarke, Sunshine Coast.

EDITOR’S NOTE: David is entitled to his opinion and if he believes what we are writing at letsgohorseracing is a beat up, so be it. The more criticism we get the more popular our website becomes. It’s a crying shame that a mentality has developed in the racing media in Brisbane that you need to be ‘on side’ with officialdom. The reason why websites like justracing and letsgohorseracing are continually bagged by the powers that be is that we continue to be objective and are prepared to ask the tough questions that many other media outlets won’t. I think TattsBet CEO Barry Fletton’s comments about the Draft TAB dates made a major difference in the eventual outcome. As for the suggestion that Sunshine Coast has to take the meetings of Toowoomba during the construction of a new track because they have the lights, that is acceptable, but those meetings should be run under the banner of the Toowoomba Turf Club and the Sunshine Coast should be left with its Sundays as occurred when the cushion track was being built.

 

‘SUCK UP MONDAY’ WITH THE PANEL ON TAB RACING RADIO IN BRISBANE

‘I don’t normally tune into TAB Racing Radio in Brisbane on ‘suck up’ Monday as my mates and I call it because the best racing host in the business Steve Hewlett doesn’t seem to work that day.

Hewlett provides an objective and entertaining approach not a program full of interviews with industry figures which are full of politics, propaganda and what we call ‘suck ups’ to the ‘in’ people.

On Monday I was driving on an errand and the radio was tuned into 4TAB as usual and I was subjected to this panel which included David Fowler, Wayne Wilson and Steve Hawkins interviewing RQ chairman Kevin Dixon.

I use the word ‘interviewing’ very loosely as there were so few tough questions that I wondered if he was given a list of what was to be asked before he hit the air waves. After seeing his dislike for any form of criticism from a couple of websites, including yours, it seemed to me to be a staged format.

At the end Dixon was so delighted with how the ‘interview’ had progressed that he even thanked the panel and agreed to return for another bout. If they are going to be at all objective in the eyes of the racing and punting public at least put someone on the panel who will ask a few tough questions.’ – Max MacCallum, Brisbane (I am a relative of the gate-keeper that Mr Fowler spoke to rather rudely when he tried to secure access to the Gold Coast track on Magic Millions Day through the wrong gate. Yes there is another side to every story and there was one entrance that all media were told to go through but this bloke decided that he was high and mighty enough to use whatever gate he pleased.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s good to see that Kevin Dixon is providing the industry with some answers to major issues, regardless of whether he is being asked ‘all the right questions’ or not. If he becomes the chairman of RQ, or chairman of the All Codes Board as well, he better get used to handling criticism because that is historically how the industry works and the man at the top is consistently under the microscope. If there isn’t some independence added to the RQ Board and QACRIB, then it is going to be up to the websites to protect the interests of stake-holders and the racing public, including the punters, because it is obvious most of the mainstream racing media won’t be prepared to do their job properly. Regardless of which Board he is Chairman of, Mr Dixon needs to be answerable to legitimate media questions regardless of whether they come from anonymous sources too afraid to put their name to questions who e-mail websites for help.        

 

SURELY THIS CAN’T BE RIGHT – NOT ANTHER MILLION OR SO HEADING TO TOOWOOMBA?

THERE is a growing belief and resentment within the industry that Toowoomba is getting too much start with the RQ Chairman and his Board and that leads us into the next e-mails received which addresses that topic.   

‘THERE are reliable reports in Toowoomba that Chairman Bob Frappell has asked his new best friend at Racing Queensland, interim chairman Kevin Dixon, to find a seven figure sum to upgrade infrastructure at Clifford Park.

After millions were spent on a cushion track that is now to be replaced with a turf one at a cost of more millions, how does he think the other clubs in Queensland will feel when they learn of this?

The members of the club have not been informed but I can assure you that directors are confidentially saying that the TTC Chairman is confident he will get the money for an improvement to the grandstand, which is overdue, but so is work at a lot of other clubs, including some who return much more in turnover than Toowoomba.

The next part of the story suggests that someone close to the committee will get the job to upgrade the grandstand. That’s fine except that most believe his forte is building awnings and extensions.

One other thing you might like to check is a report that a popular, long standing TTC employee has had a wrongful dismissal claim settled after RQ was asked to intervene. The figure he received that is being suggested is $40,000 but again after much was spoken over problems involving the Clifford Park bar in newsletters from the chairman, now we are hearing nothing.’ – Stu Peters, Toowoomba.

EDITOR’S NOTE: WE again repeat our offer to TTC Chairman Bob Frappell to respond to this e-mail but we know he has to get the permission first, so the industry on the Downs and elsewhere can expect to continue to be treated like mushrooms. Perhaps this is just a ‘wish list’ application. Certainly there is work that needs doing on infrastructure at Clifford Park but the budget being allocated to the TTC by RQ has already gone well over what is fair and reasonable in the eyes of other clubs who legitimately need important work done as well and are struggling for funds. If the above e-mail is correct the level playing field argument is going to rear its ugly head yet again.

 

MONEY BEING SPENT ON TOOWOOMBA ‘SHOULD BE USED TO ESTABLISH AN INTERGRITY UNIT’:        

‘IF the new Board of Racing Queensland reversed its decision to spend so much wasted money on a ‘dead in the water’ product in Toowoomba they could use those funds to establish a respected Integrity Department.

First we had the millions wasted on a cushion track that will soon be dug up. Now more millions of taxpayers’ funds and industry money will be spent on a turf track. Unbelievably there are now reports from within the TTC committee that RQ has been asked for a $1 million grant to improve the grandstand.

Whilst this blatant waste of industry money is washed down the drain at Toowoomba, where many question the future of racing under the current directorship, we read where racing in Victoria is planning to spend an additional $15 million annually on integrity and drug testing.

Surely RQ doesn’t believe money can be better spent looking after racing on the Downs than protecting the integrity of the overall product in Queensland.

The new-look Racing Queensland Board seems to have a rather unusual and lack-lustre approach to integrity and drug testing, especially with reports emanating from one region that stewards have been told to scale down pre-testing.

We still don’t have an Integrity Department unless you call the Chief Steward and his ‘minder’ doubling up as a reasonable replacement to all of those who were shown the door after the new Board took over.’ – Paul English, Toowoomba.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In some ways I feel sorry for Bob Frappell who is copping a merciless flogging from the critics because of his friendship with Kevin Dixon. It wasn’t that long ago when he was under fire for being too close to the previous RQ Chairman Bob Bentley. Granted they parted ways when it was obvious that Bentley was on the way out but nevertheless Frappell has always adopted the approach that as boss of the Breeders or the TTC, it is important that the lines of communication and co-operation are open between whoever he represents and the control body. I won’t rave on about the need for an Integrity Department except to say that the Racing Minister continues to insist that changes are in the pipeline and we can only take him at his word – but the sooner the better.

 

‘HOT TO TROT’ NEW HARNESS MARKETING TOOL AS CODE TURNS BACK THE CLOCK

DENIS SMITH writes a wonderfully informative and passionate column each week about the world of harness racing. We are sure he won’t mind us reproducing this item which should be of interest to those who follow all three codes:

‘ON rare occasions someone in a position of power in our sport gets it right.

As was reported in this column on January 26 the South Australian Harness Racing Club bit the bullet and used the dreadful ‘T’ word when advertising the South Australian Cup.

‘Come Back To the Trots’ was the invitation and it worked with a crowd of 6,500 turning up, the largest since the last Interdominion Grand Final at Globe Derby Park.

It gets better.

Harness Racing Victoria this week announced that the words ‘trots’ and ‘trotting’ are no longer considered obscene and are once more, after at least 20 years, fit for human consumption.

HRV marketing manager, Tony Ising, explains it all in the following extract from a press release:

“This process came out of the HRV Board’s Strategic Plan, which identifies the need for us to become a sport of the future. We engaged a specialist marketing agency to conduct market research for us which revealed that the term ‘The Trots’ had phenomenal brand recall.  Research also indicated that The Trots evokes a fondness of a sentimental era of success. Everyone speaks about The Trots with a smile on their face.

“We wanted to capitalize on a common term that is already part of the everyday vernacular to help us launch The Trots back to market. The move to branding our sport as The Trots begins with a campaign to be known as Hot To Trot, designed to appeal to a younger audience.

“Hot To Trot defines the brand personality of The Trots. It provides a rallying call for our industry to unite behind one message. It helps set a standard – an expectation – of service delivery.

“The Hot To Trot campaign is designed to inject a renewed sense of pride into our industry. We believe our most powerful ambassadors are those within the sport, and Hot To Trot provides a vehicle for our people to represent the sport with pride and positivity.

“A flow on effect of this will be attracting new people to the sport. If we present a fresh new image of the sport which is embraced and supported by our industry, the consequences could be immensely powerful.”

Ising explains that everyone has a role in helping implement the new brand.

“The first thing we can start doing is referring to our sport as The Trots whenever we speak or write about it. The fact is – and our research confirms this – the term harness racing has done little to lift the profile of our sport. By bringing back The Trots we also bring back some of that missing familiarity that has seen us lose visibility in the marketplace and the media."

We can only applaud this return to commonsense and hope that the rest of Australian trotting administrations follow suit, and quickly. Maybe Victoria will return to to the Trotting Control Board. They could do worse!’

EDITOR’S NOTE: MARKETTING works in weird and wonderful ways at times and this is certainly a new approach from the more recent era when it was considered offensive to the sport of harness racing to describe it as the ‘red hots.’ It probably still is but to adopt the ‘Hot To Trot’ approach is a step in the right direction for the standardbred sport which like all the codes needs as much help as it can get with the in-roads that sports betting in general is having on all forms of racing – horses and greyhounds. I was just wondering what marketing ploy they could steal from the phrase ‘dish- lickers’ – perhaps ‘Dish Lickers Go Quicker.’ Okay, I’m no marketing guru.  

 

LICENSEES SEEKING INFORMATION ON GRANT DIXON SWAB APPEAL TO QCAT   

‘I wonder if you have any information on the subject of the appeal by RQ against QCAT’s unbelievable and unprecedented  decision to uphold Grant Dixon’s appeal  against the Harness Racing stewards to disqualify him for six months on a prohibited substance charge.

The original charge would have been eight to 10 months ago.

I don’t remember the date but Wade Birch (the RQ Chief Steward) trumpeted on the RQ website that he would vigorously pursue the appeal.

It would have to be three to four months ago but no-one can find out what became of the appeal.

Surely, it wasn’t quietly dropped after the new control body came to power. There has been speculation because there has been nothing said on either the RQ or Harness Racing websites since Mr Birch’s announcement.

You no doubt have better sources to tap into and I would appreciate your help in finding out what happened with this appeal.’ - I know it is a common theme but unfortunately I request not publishing my name if you decide to put my letter on your site as I am related to a harness racing licensee.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: We will attempt to get an answer from Wade Birch on this issue. If RQ had a Director of Integrity, or an Integrity Commissioner, or for that matter a proper Integrity Department, you could safely go to that person or body with your query. But as there is none, as was promised, and we continue to hear nothing about when it will be put in place, the only choice is to seek a response from the Chief Steward. His normal attitude is to require the identity of a person wanting this sort of information and I, like you, would be reluctant to provide this in the current political climate. Perhaps RQ or the Chief Steward might do the right thing and provide an update on the Dixon appeal on their website but I wouldn’t be holding my breath, especially if it hasn’t been proceeded with for one reason or another.  

    

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

 

Join Us on Facebook

Racing News

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

 

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

Login Form