THE WEDNESDAY WHINGE has a new look but won’t be dispensing with the theme and focus on the THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY side of what is happening in racing. The Whinge will continue to provide an opportunity for The Cynics to Have Their Say. Thanks again for your support for the most read column on this website and one of the most read on racing websites in the country. Our popularity continues to grow despite the bagging it cops from some high profile officials, especially in Queensland, who cannot cope with constructive criticism of any kind. We encourage supporters – and critics – to continue to contribute but plan to restrict the Whinge to less than 10 of the best items each week. Our message to those who continually bag us is simple: IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT YOU READ, THEN DON’T REVISIT THE WHINGE.



ALBY ROBERTSON of QUEENSLAND (prefers his actual hometown not to be named) sent this interesting email as sidelined jockey DAN NIKOLIC again hits the headlines:

‘SOMETIMES you just shake your head and wonder when it comes to how police go about their investigative business and implementing the letter of the law when it comes to Neville Nobody’s.

Drive your car a few kilometers over the limit and a ‘fat bobby’ at the bottom of a hill jumps out and does some revenue raising for the Government all in the guise of ‘speed kills’.

Raise your voice at the missus in a small verbal tiff in the privacy of your own home – some nosey neighbor calls the cops – and, within minutes, they converge on your front door like storm troopers. It’s called domestic violence.

But if you are a high profile and controversial jockey and you tell the Chief Steward: “We’ve all got families, cunt. We know where yours lives!’ – well, while that’s not acceptable to horse racing authorities, it seems the same cannot be said for the Victoria Police Purana Taskforce.

That hard-hitting and austere body told Dan Nikolic that there was insufficient evidence to take any action against him for the outrageous comments he allegedly made to Terry Bailey. But RAD Board chairman Brian Forrest, when banning the top hoop who is determined to make a riding comeback, said:

“The language directed at Mr Bailey was not only grossly offensive to him, but worse, contained a sinister threat to his family — so much so that in the immediate aftermath Mr Bailey arranged security at his home for a week.’’

My friends and I were gob-smacked to read, in an exclusive story in the Herald Sun, that Nikolic had admitted police had not questioned him concerning the shooting of the front door of the Bailey family home late last year.

Not for one moment are we suggesting he had anything to do with that but surely Nikolic would have been one of the first spoken to, even by a group of Keystone Cop interrogators.

In the Herald Sun interview even Nikolic conceded some surprise that police had not asked him about the Bailey home shooting, yet they had interviewed him about the execution-style murder of his ex-father-in-law Les Samba in Middle Park in 2011.

“I never got a visit from the police. And I’m sure if anyone wanted to put two and two together and came up with four, that I’d be a person that they would want to question.

“But I’ll get spoken to about something that happened at the racecourse three years ago, involving a disagreement with another fellow jockey — it was a disagreement between two mates, and it actually went to court.

“Trivial things like that I get spoken to about.

“But if there was a shooting, why wouldn’t the police speak to me when they have spoken to me about everything else?” Nikolic asked.

Whether his going public with a denial of any involvement was designed to boost his prospects of regaining a riding license in Victoria, to his credit Nikolic described the shooting of the front door of the Bailey family home – whilst the Chief Steward was at the forefront of controversial cobalt investigations involving some high profile trainers – as a low act.

I didn’t quite know what to think on reading the Herald Sun story on the determined bid by Nikolic to revive his controversial riding career – that’s a matter for him.

The bleeding hearts in the HS turf department have already turned into what many perceive as ‘cry babies’ over the career threatening inquiries involving their high profile training ‘mates’ involved in the cobalt scandal.

Surely we are now not going to have another campaign to save the career of ‘Dan the Man’ who feels his three-year ban has been turned into a life sentence by racing authorities. Sorry, mate, but that’s what many – including a lot of industry stakeholders – believe should have been the outcome of your latest battle with stewards.

Racing will survive without the likes of O’Brien, Kavanagh and Moody – if they exhaust every avenue of defense in their bid to beat the cobalt blues – just as it has survived recent years without Nikolic.

I’m sick of reading how Danny has been badly done by, how he is being deprived a career, how it’s always been someone else’s fault when he winds up in hot water. History shows that controversy has continued to ride shotgun with Nikolic wherever he plies his trade – on or off our shores.

Does he deserve another chance? That’s for wiser men than me to decide and perhaps some a little less biased when it comes to Danny. As far as I am concerned Racing Victoria should have marked his papers: ‘Never to be relicensed’ a long time ago.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: HERE’S one of the stories in the HERALD SUN (by DARYL TIMMS) this week that no doubt prompted the above email:

BARRED jockey Danny Nikolic says authorities are turning a three-year ban into a life sentence.

The 41-year-old former high-flyer has reignited his push to regain his jockey license — his appeal against Racing Victoria’s refusal to license him will be heard by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in April.

He is fighting a separate battle in the Supreme Court that he must win before he can ride again.

Nikolic won a Supreme Court bid last October for Victoria Police to lift an exclusion order which banned him from the state’s racetracks. He is fighting a new exclusion order slapped on him by police the following month.

Nikolic was disqualified for two years for threatening chief steward Terry Bailey at Seymour races in September 2012 and later suspended for one year for threatening steward Wade Hadley at a VCAT hearing.

A racing tribunal accepted Bailey’s evidence that Nikolic had told him: “We’ve all got families, c---, and we know where yours live.”

Although his bans expired in September last year, RV rejected his application to ride again, ruling he was not a fit and proper person to ride in races.

Nikolic said this week that attempts to regain his license had been stonewalled by RV and requests to speak with its integrity department had been denied.

“I don’t know of any other jockey who has had to deal this way through lawyers,” he told the Herald Sun.

A winner of more than 1000 races, including 41 Group 1 victories, Nikolic said he had served his time and deserved another chance.

“I have never felt better — mind and body,” Nikolic said.

“And I have a really good break and I’m concentrating on really having a good crack at it when I get my license back again.

“I am really surprised that this has gone on for so long because I really thought I would be relicensed but I have just been continually frustrated with the red tape that has been put in front of me and the best way I can cut through these roadblocks is through lawyers.”

Nikolic, who estimates he has spent about $200,000 in legal fees, said he was required to present submissions to show why he should be allowed to ride again and then fronted a three person panel at Racing Victoria.

He said while jockeys had been disqualified for actions that affected the outcome of races and then been relicensed, his offence related to a “one-on-one” with the head steward.

“I was found guilty of (breaching) a Rule of Racing and I spoke very poorly to the head steward but now I’ve done the time and I’m still sitting on the sidelines,” Nikolic said

“If you’d asked me before I got rubbed out, I would have said I’ll probably be retired at 40, but now having a decent break away from the game with my mind and body, I’d say I’ve definitely got a good five years left.

“I have the support of a lot of people in the industry — trainers and jockeys.”

Nikolic said he could ride under Bailey’s authority but he would avoid one-on-one conversations with him.

Nikolic said his eight year-old daughter Hilary, who lives with his former wife, is starting to ask questions about his disqualification.

“And it’s something I want to rectify and I want to go out on my own terms and do something for me,” he said.

“Every time I pick up a paper or a magazine and there is a story about me, it’s always disgraced or controversial jockey, where five or 10 years ago, it was champion jockey and I find it very frustrating.

“I have things away in my personal life ... and have been convicted of assault, but they have been minor incidents in the scheme of things and it’s been blown right out of proportion.”

In response to questions from the Herald Sun, Racing Victoria last night released a statement: “Last year, the Racing Victoria board denied Mr Nikolic a jockey license on the basis that it considered he was not a fit and proper person to ride in races.

“Mr Nikolic has applied to VCAT for review of that decision and a hearing date has been set for April. We will not provide commentary on Mr Nikolic’s license application prior to that hearing.”




‘THE disgusting personal attacks on Chief Steward Terry Bailey – that have done the rounds in the form of rumors and innuendo – should be investigated by Racing Victoria.

And if they get to the source of the scuttlebutt then action should be taken – either under the Rules of Racing if the perpertrators are licensees or civilly by lawyers of RVL if they are not – on the basis of defamation.

All Bailey is guilty of is doing his job – and doing it arguably better than any other Chief Steward in the country. For that he has paid the price with the front door of his family home being riddled with bullets, suggestions he has been in hiding to avoid cross-examination in the cobalt hearings, reports he is ready to accept job offers in Dubai and Japan (not that those two jurisdictions would not love to have a steward of his ability) and worse of all, malicious rumors involving his personal and professional life which are straight out of the racing gutter.

My mates and I were talking about the situation over a drink the other day and were unanimous that those high profile stewards who are popular with licensees have one thing in common – they are all big shots who fire blanks and as far as the punters are concerned do little to protect their interests.

It was refreshing to read how Bailey has returned to his job this week determined to continue his crusade for clean racing. “The alternative is to put on a set of blinkers and look the other way,” he told the Herald Sun.

“There are 900 trainers in Victoria and we are responsible for a level playing field and at the end of the day there is only one rule book and it doesn’t differentiate between stature.”

That just about says it all. Keep up the good work Mr Bailey. Australian racing desperately needs more Chief Stewards like you.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: HERE’S an interesting story on the Terry Bailey situation by one of Victoria’s leading racing writers, MATT STEWART in the HERALD SUN:

FOR most, the Christmas holidays signify the end of one year, the beginning of another; a clean desk, a clean slate.

Terry Bailey packed his bags for an extended holiday about seven weeks ago. He deserved it.

It had been a tumultuous year for Racing Victoria’s chief steward.

Someone shot at his front door. The important cobalt cases presented by him and his team of stewards were finally being tested by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board.

Accusations were made against Racing Victoria’s integrity team, headed by Bailey and Dayle Brown, through the star-studded, sometimes sensational cases that ran right up until Christmas — Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh, then Peter Moody.

The Moody case is not yet reached penalty stage — although it is close — and Kavanagh, O’Brien and their accusations against the chief steward are off to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal some time soon.

So Bailey has returned from holidays still lumping last year’s baggage.

O’Brien and Kavanagh, who were dealt four and three-year disqualifications by the RADB, are pulling out all stops to convince VCAT to see their world differently than the RADB.

They are picking away at the edges of their convictions. It would seem improbable that VCAT would see the fundamentals any differently than the board that wiped them out.

The evidence was the evidence. The trainers embarked on a regimen of a drug they either knew contained concentrated cobalt or should have known if they didn’t. Bound by their training licences, they do not seemingly have naivety as a defence on appeal.

But they do have an allegation that stewards failed in their duty of care and a hope it muddies the waters enough to have their disqualifications overturned.

In a nutshell, the trainers say Bailey and Co knew their horses were returning elevated and illegal levels of cobalt long before Bailey told them. O’Brien says he’d have stopped using “vitamin complex’’ drips, and would never have had even one positive, had stewards alerted trainers to cobalt spikes many months earlier, to protect the integrity of the next race, not necessarily the trainers.

There are no guarantees, of course, that the VCAT judge will accept the logic of O’Brien’s submission.

Bailey and one or two other stewards will be called for cross examination, something that did not occur during the Kavanagh and O’Brien RADB hearings, or Moody’s.

Bailey may well have been champing at the bit to clarify, counting down the days during his summer break. He may have a reasonable clarification. Racing Victoria’s silence, when pressed about the stewards and the rules regarding notification of drug irregularities, may in fact reveal confidence.

At VCAT, Bailey will at least be able to unmuzzle himself, a chance he will have again when Moody eventually finds himself at VCAT (that’s if he challenges an inevitable disqualification) and Bailey is called to explain another procedural query regarding the splitting of Lidari’s B sample.

The trainers hope desperately to prove the stewards interfered or withheld enough information to have career-crushing penalties quashed. They might be dreaming. The notification time of positive tests and the splitting of Lidari’s sample might be explainable or irrelevant.

Time will tell.



DOUG ALEXANDER of ADELAIDE poses some interesting questions about top jockey BEN MELHAM:

‘IT was declared by most ‘experts’ the ride of the day at Flemington but still did not stop Ben Melham from copping yet another suspension.

Is it my imagination or do stewards seem to have Melham firmly in their sights from the time he jumps into the saddle in every race?

Perhaps too much aggression is why Melham is one of the best in the business but continually in the stewards' room. There is no argument that he is in the top handful of jockeys in the country.

Imagine how successful he would be if he didn’t spend half his time on the sideline serving suspensions for careless riding.

Melham hardly seems to return to the saddle when he is back before the stewards. He only seems to have to sneeze and is staring down the barrel of more time.

Some statistics should be taken out comparing the amount of suspensions Melham suffers compared to some of the other top jockeys who ride just as tight but don’t seem to attract as much attention.

Melham’s win on All Cerise was described as the ‘ride of the day’ at Flemington. He dictated the pace but made the mistake of scouting wide and forcing Darcy’s Law off its course for some distance looking for the better going in the straight. Stewards deemed it ‘low range’ interference but he still copped an eight meeting suspension.’



STAN MITCHELL of SUNSHINE COAST sent this email on the latest debacle involving SKY CHANNEL treatment of racing in Queensland:

‘HOW much longer is racing in Queensland going to tolerate this second rate treatment from these ‘grubs’ at SKY Channel who seem to be hellbent on promoting only one state, NSW?

Not only is the now NSW-dominated race vision provider only treating the clubs in Queensland with contempt but they obviously don’t care about UBET or the punters.

One could say UBET is getting what it deserves for being almost as second rate a service as SKY when it comes to comparison with that provided by the new (which was set up by Racing Victoria) and the NSW and Victorian TABs (which dwarf the Queensland operator when it comes to turnover, service and punter respectability).

SKY hides behind contractual agreements to treat RQ and the industry in general in the north almost as though they don’t exist. It’s time to remind those calling the shots at SKY that contracts work two ways.

Then again when it comes to contracts involving Queensland racing that were done by the previous powers-that-be, one often wonders what in the hell went on there.

The instant answer to the current problem for RQ, the clubs in Queensland and UBET is to go with the best service in the country,, and leave SKY to become what it basically is now SKY NSW with racing in that state calling the shots.

EDITOR’S NOTE: HERE’S a story by BEN DORRIES from THE COURIER-MAIL on the latest dispute between racing in Queensland and SKY.

QUEENSLAND punters are about to face a blackout of live Sky Racing vision on UBET’s website and mobile app.

A breakdown in negotiations over the fee charged by Sky Racing for the vision service has led to punters being left in the dark from midnight on Wednesday.

Sky Racing, which broadcasts to millions of homes and thousands of retail outlets, is owned by Tabcorp, which is a competitor of UBET.

It is understood Sky Racing’s proposed fee to UBET for broadcasting the race ­vision skyrocketed after the last contract deal expired.

The stalemate in negotiations is another sign of the growing chasm between Tabcorp and Tatts Group (operators of UBET).

UBET spokesman Brad Tamer said he hoped the situation could be resolved.

There is even the possibility that UBET could look to secure vision of Victorian races from However, that would ­exclude vision from other states and greyhound and harness racing vision, which is now available on UBET’s website and mobile app.

“Obtaining digital vision of all racing including Victorian thoroughbreds is of interest to us, provided we can strike the right commercial deal,’’ Tamer said.

“But we are certainly keeping the dialogue open with Sky Racing.

“Neither party had been able to land on the place they wanted when it came to re­negotiations. So the service will be switched off. Unfortunately sometimes these things happen in business.’’

In a statement to customers, UBET advised: “As a valued customer, we wanted to advise you that due to contractual rights expiring, unfortunately, live Sky Racing Vision will no longer be available through the UBET website or the UBET App, from midnight of Wednesday 3 February.

“We understand this is disappointing and apologise sincerely for any inconvenience this may cause.”



DON POWER of BRISBANE is obviously not a fan of the MAGIC MILLIONS:

‘TALK about smokes and mirrors, the so-called Racing Queensland media release pumping up the recent Magic Millions carnival had it all and was, in the opinion of many, nothing short of blatant political propaganda.

To suggest there was a crowd of 24,000 there on the big day is farcical. I was there and I can tell you the only way they would have got that figure is by counting two heads for each individual through the gate.

Crowds aside – they have to justify the massive multi-million dollar handout to Gerry and the Pacemakers – the even bigger joke was the way the media release played with the betting turnover figures.

It would have been interesting to see a breakdown rather than just overall increases in percentage terms. And as for UBET trumpeting how well it did on Magic Millions day, the least that mob says about their performance the better. Punters don’t want a bar of them and regard the Queensland based tote company as the biggest joke in the country.

It doesn’t matter what political persuasion the Government is that we have in Queensland, Magic Millions will always have too much start in the eyes of the industry, the racing public and most of all, the punters.’



ALBERT WILLIAMS of REDCLIFFE, a regular contributor on all things racing in Queensland, weighs into the debate on the protest in the SUNSHINE COAST CUP:

‘MUCH is being made of the stewards’ protest that was upheld in the Sunshine Coast Cup on Sunday and I would like to have my two bob’s worth.

I did not have a bet in the race because I rarely have the confidence to outlay my hard-earned on Queensland racing. But this was one occasion where – after viewing the replay several times – I believe the stewards got it 100 per cent right.

Regardless of whether Paul Hammersley, rider of the runner-up Timeless Prince, elected not to lodge a protest after viewing the stewards’ patrol film, a strong argument can be made that had interference not occurred in the straight Timeless Prince would have won the race.

Full marks to the stewards’ panel at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday for daring to be different and not erring on the side of caution, worried that an upheld protest might create the controversy that it has.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: HERE is the official RQ STEWARDS’ REPORT on the SUNSHINE COAST CUP protest. I just hope the brave steward who threw in the protest doesn't have any dreams of working south of the border at some time in the future:

On return to scale, jockey P. Hammersley, rider of the 2nd placegetter TIMELESS PRINCE, viewed the stewards’ patrol video of the concluding stage to ascertain if he would lodge a protest against PILLAR OF CREATION being declared the winner. Jockey Hamersley declined to lodge a protest. Subsequently, stipendiary steward Mr K. Daly lodged an objection. Stewards gave consideration to this objection and found that after passing the 200m PILLAR OF CREATION shifted out making contact with SAMBUCA SHOT, which was forced out on to the rightful running of TIMELESS PRINCE, causing that horse to be hampered and shifted off its racing line and causing its rider to stop riding for a short distance. Stewards were satisfied that the interference suffered was in excess of the short half head margin and therefore the protest was upheld and correct weight was semaphored on the placings - No. 5. Timeless Prince No. 7. Pillar Of Creation No. 16 Mischievous – No. 9. Honey Toast.




ONE of Asia's biggest unregulated bookmakers — an alleged organized crime figure with links to Australia — has been identified by state and federal law enforcement as a potential threat to the integrity of sport across the country.

LINTON BESSER, JUSTIN STEVENS and JOEL TOZER reported on the ABC FOUR CORNERS program that Wei Seng "Paul" Phua, a Malaysian high-roller behind one of the world's largest unregulated sports betting websites, has also surfaced as a highly valued client of Crown Casino in Melbourne.

A Four Corners investigation has confirmed that despite his well known criminal associations, Crown Casino even flew Mr Phua into Melbourne three weeks ago on board one of its corporate jets.

These bookmakers — whose companies are registered in jurisdictions like Manila, Curacao and the Isle of Man — have found large black markets across Asia where sports betting is wildly popular but often illegal.

It is estimated more than two-thirds of all money bet on sport worldwide is bet with these unregulated operators.

"We know that they're accepting bets roughly of about $2 billion every week," Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Paterson said.

"It's estimated globally that the unregulated betting markets that operate across all sports are worth between $1 [trillion] and $3 trillion annually."

The Four Corners investigation into these bookmakers has shed new light on their connections with organized crime and match-fixing syndicates.

The revelations come in the midst of a global match-fixing crisis in tennis, raising new questions about the ability of sport's governing bodies and police around the world to root out corruption and deter criminal infiltration.

The program has confirmed, for example, that the match-fixing syndicate that in 2013 targeted some members of the Southern Stars Victoria Premier League soccer team — to date the biggest match-fixing scandal to hit Australia — was using opaque Asian bookmakers to place its bets.


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the above e-mails should not be interpreted as those of JOHN LINGARD, the owner-editor 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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