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.



CHARLIE CARSON of MELBOURNE sent this interesting email on another SKY Channel debacle:

‘HOW dare Racing Victoria run Saturday racing at 30-minute intervals without first asking the permission of SKY Channel!

Don’t they know who runs racing in Australia – with a little help from their buddies at Racing NSW?

Racing Victoria have their own TV channel – in association with the Seven Network – so the decision by SKY to throw their toys out of the cot and relegate the Caulfield races to their secondary channel hurt nobody. Most stay at home punters can’t be bothered subscribing to that ‘joke’.

It was more the arrogance of SKY that has got up the nose of not only the racing public and the punters but has also once again alienated Racing Victoria. The fact that John Messara, the boss of Racing NSW, has got on his high horse and written to his Victorian counterpart David Moodie about the debacle is an even bigger farce. Why doesn’t he go to the root of the problem, his love child SKY Channel?

Like UBET in Queensland, SKY will always be a second rate service in the eyes of those who matter – the punting public – as long as they have competition and, like Racing NSW, try as they might the only place for them in racing is a poor second – or perhaps in the case of UBET we should say a long last.

When you start punishing Racing Victoria for daring to be different or innovative by timing races to clash then relegating high profile Caulfield events to a second rate channel to make way for Gold Coast and Sapphire, all SKY achieved was to make a giant fool of themselves.

The poor dills running SKY have handled so many situations so badly since Racing Victoria set up their own broadcast channel and they reacted by going wall to wall racing in NSW that it has backfired badly.

Queensland has been caught in the crossfire with coverage of their Saturday racing so bad on occasions that the major club in the north has reportedly examined the legalities of having their racing action shown on the new Victorian channel.

SKY'S short-term solution to the problem is to raft up coverage of racing in Queensland but it never seems to last. They handle it so badly that last Friday night one of their best hosts and form commentators was sent north to anchor the Sunshine Coast coverage.

Unfortunately that meeting – because of the wet – was transferred to the despised synthetic surface at Corbould Park resulting in a huge volume of scratchings (the same thing happened on Sunday) with punters not interested in betting there and turnover down half on normal despite the ramped up coverage.

The time has come for rival states to take a stance against Racing NSW – which seems to control the national body – and reduce the powers of SKY, demanding a more level playing field and removing their right to race timing which should be done independently to ensure every venue gets a fair deal and coverage.’   




‘IT came as no surprise that some of the top turf scribes in the country are hot under the collar following far from flattering comments about the way they do their jobs by Victorian racing administrator, Greg Nichols, at the recent Asian Racing Conference.

On behalf of the many racing folk who are sick of the regular ‘finger down the throat’ comment pieces, arse-licking to those who supposedly count in racing and spin doctoring on behalf of officialdom and companies who pour millions into media coffers, might I say: Take a bow, Mr Nicholls – at long last someone prepared to call a spade a spade.

In case you missed it, Nicholls, now the national director of the new Victorian media enterprise,, told the Conference in India that the quality of Australia’s racing journalism was ‘abysmal’. He labeled them as ‘writers’ and ‘tipsters and pundits’.

It seems that the tough, hardened racing writer of the past is dead and buried. The new wave of racing journalists seems to have forgotten the need to have the interests of the punters and the racing public foremost in their minds.

Some are more interested in looking after the interests of those who can make their jobs easier – like high profile officials, licensees, owners, not to mention, those who help pay their salaries – like the TABs who finance Form Guides every day of the week or those that own and operate the radio and TV stations that they work for.

Nicholls is right – in some cases the standard of Australian racing journalism is abysmal – but do we blame it on the individual or look to those who employ them – like the Murdoch’s and Packer’s of this world? Should I mention the level playing field that Rugby League got when the ARL was under siege from Super League? No conflict of interest back then, was there? It’s the same with racing – the attitude seems to be – don’t bite the hand that feeds you!’

EDITOR’S NOTE: MICHAEL COX made some interesting observations in a story in the Hong Kong-based SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST when reporting on the South East Asian Racing Conference. Here are excerpts from that report:       

MOST Australian racing journalists are subject to commercial pressures. It was these pressures in the last year that saw one of its most long-serving and respected columnists, Ken Callander, quit his role at Sydney's Daily Telegraph, citing censorship from governing body Racing NSW.

“I resigned on a matter of principle. I didn't believe that I had editorial freedom in items regarding Racing NSW, hence it was totally against my ethics to criticize others in the industry but not criticize the head body,” he told the rival Sydney Morning Herald after his shock resignation.

The year also saw stewards haul television presenter Brent Zerafa into an inquiry, being able to charge him with bringing racing into disrepute on the basis that he also part-owned a horse, and taking evidence from his phone. It was a charge that eventually cost him his job with SKY Racing.

We can't help but wonder whether Australian racing's disparate governing bodies want the best of both worlds – glowing coverage without any of the pesky questions and critical comment that can come with actual journalism.

If the ‘writers’ and ‘pundits’, as they were labeled by Nichols, were allowed to be ‘journalists’, how would the stakeholders stand up to the scrutiny?

Debacles like the Australian Turf Club's redevelopment of Randwick and the battle over broadcast rights in Victoria are just two topics into which any young journalist worth his notepad would love to dig. It is an industry in desperate need of a mirror that objective, independent comment can provide.

AND this was another view on the subject by ADAM PENGILLY in the FAIRFAX MEDIA:

I was loath to give any space to another racing talkfest, where ideas are always plentiful and action plans few and far between. But a shot across the bows from the Asian Racing Conference in India last week needs to be addressed.

In case you missed it, Racing Victoria board member Greg Nichols used the conference to decry the standard of racing media in Australia as ‘abysmal’, while claiming there were no ‘journalists", just ‘tipsters and pundits’. He's entitled to his own opinion, but excuse me?

For those wondering, Nichols has previously held positions as chief executive officer of the British Horseracing Board and director of Betfair Australasia. Like my journalistic skills there, Greg?

But what is most staggering about Nichols' absurd claims is that in his current suite of God-knows-what roles he now has is a directorship of, Racing Victoria's highly controversial media arm.

Despite the credible efforts of its television platform, its online product just cannot shake accusations its journalists – or should that be pundits? – are having stories and comment pieces watered down, even after initially being published, to better reflect a positive message for the governing body. You wouldn't have meddled in any of that, would you Greg?

Yes, mainstream independent media is shrinking at a rate of knots and as a marginalized sport racing is perhaps bearing the biggest brunt of those changes. The days of a racing desk at a metropolitan newspaper being lined with great writers of the turf are long gone as in-house media teams and freckly-faced bloggers, sadly, hold sway in many quarters.

But to hold a directorship of an organization which, to a cynical observer, is trying to turn journalists into pundits and tipsters via censored material and then savagely attack the profession is laughable.




‘DESPITE all the huffing and puffing from those with horses seriously affected, the Racing Victoria Board needs to think long and hard before treading very warily on the Ibuprofen issue.

In a level playing field, to simply allow those horses that are testing negative in non-race day tests to be overlooked if a positive is returned when they run and win – no matter who owns them or how good they might be – is certainly not the answer.

Whilst any owner commiserates with those caught in the crossfire of this frustrating issue, as one official said last week: “How would you feel if you ran second in a big race to a horse you know was testing positive to Ibuprofen?’’

On the other side of the coin you can understand the anger of an owner like Sandy MacGregor, watching the stalled career of his smart galloper Sign Off, when he poses the question: “Are they saying we should retire these horses?”

Decisions certainly need to be made but those testing positive to Ibuprofen – whether it has been over a 12 months period or not – cannot just be given the all clear because negative results are being returned before they go to the races.

That would send the wrong message – not only to the industry but the racing public and the punters – that some starters were being given an advantage. It could also open the floodgates and set a precedent.

What’s next? The green light to those found to have Cobalt in their system if the trainer can find a laboratory that says they had none there before they went to the races.

The Rules of Racing are not all that complicated when it comes to prohibited substances – it’s the lawyers and those who want to question these Rlules that are looking for change. The fact remains if a trainer takes a horse to the races with an illegal drug in its system then he must face the music.

As frustrating as the Ibuprofen situation is – it’s as simple as that!’

EDITOR’S NOTE: As MATT STEWART so correctly wrote in the HERALD SUN this week: The Racing Victoria Board must also grapple with the definition of performance enhancing. Are these horses gaining an unfair feel-good benefit from these treatments, even if they stopped months ago? Thursday would be a bad day for members of the Racing Victoria Board to enter the room feeling meek and indecisive.



GAVIN YOUNG of BENDIGO poses this question:

‘WHY is it that every time Victorian racing comes up with an initiative that might improve the lot of the industry and the racing public, especially the punters, Racing NSW finds something wrong with it?

Is it because they are sick of running second and despite all their efforts – including an absurd amount of money spent on The Championships to unsuccessfully attempt to rival the Spring Carnival in Victoria – they just aren't in the same ball park.

The latest ‘knickers in a knot’ situation for Racing NSW has occurred because Racing Victoria dared to experiment with ‘rapid fire racing’ last weekend – only half hour breaks between each race.

It proved an enormous success with almost every section of the industry from the owners to the licensees and the punting public unanimous in their support. That’s except for interstate rivals, and, of course, the Racing NSW lap-dog SKY Channel.

I read a report where Racing NSW Chairman John Messara has written to his Victorian counterpart, David Moodie, imploring both states to take a more nationalistic approach after what he described as a ‘ludicrous’ day of race scheduling last Saturday.

Messara was at Royal Randwick and saw first-hand the frustration and angst of punters upset that some Caulfield races could not be televised live due to the clash of race times.

Well perhaps he should pose the question: Whose fault is that? The answer is those responsible for the race timing and that is SKY Channel. They knew that Victoria wanted to run races at a 30-minute interval to test the appeal of the initiative. Why couldn’t races have been timed interstate to avoid the clashes that occur?

One wonders if SKY was interested or whether they just wanted to see the punter frustration that resulted. At the end of the day should SKY be the ones responsible for timing of races or should it be done by an independent racing body with the national interests at heart, not those only of Racing NSW?

Echoing the sentiments of his Boy Friday, Peter V’landys, a furious Messara described Saturday’s race time clashes as very unsatisfactory and ludicrous. “We don’t want to see another day like it,’’ Messara told The Daily Telegraph. “These race times clashes have to stop.’’

It came as no surprise that the Sydney racing media backed up the Racing NSW argument: Ray Thomas wrote in The Telegraph: Victoria’s racing administrators have every right to try new innovations but it was a very insular move changing race times on a Saturday, the sport’s showcase race day, as it was simply not fair on other jurisdictions and most importantly, punters.

Racing is a marginalized sport these days and with so much competition for the gambling and leisure dollar, it needs to adopt a broader, national view on issues such as race times rather than be divided by state boundaries.

Thomas is right when he says racing has to fight for its share of the gambling and leisure dollars these days but surely that does not mean you bag the crap out of an innovative idea which is, after all, attempting to address the problem.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: HERE’S an interesting take on this from one of the most controversial and widely read websites focusing on international horse racing, the Hong Kong-based RACING BITCH, which reads:

RACING administrators, unlike their counterparts in many other sports, have a habit of making proper ‘dicks’ of themselves. It’s one of the most compelling reasons why they need professional ‘spin doctors’ and five star trouble shooters when they want to have a real crack at stirring the pot and getting under the skin of rivals.

The blindingly absurd and plainly comical statements attributed to Racing NSW Chief Executive Peter ‘Vlundies’ in the Fairfax dailies on Thursday on the 30 minute gap between races trial being undertaken by NSW racing’s despised competitor across the border in Victoria once again should be a reminder of Mark Twain’s famous quote: “It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”.

To Racing Victoria’s credit, they have again demonstrated that they are not averse to change – that they are prepared to roll the dice and proactively trial initiatives for the betterment of racing and its ‘50,000’ participants. Recently, and with a mountain of opposition, they went out on a limb to take control of their IP and media rights and established their stand-alone broadcast channel to showcase and promote Victorian racing. They put their balls on the line underpinning their expensive ‘experiment’ with their own hard earned cash, and, innovatively for racing, they joint-ventured with Australia’s premier free-to-air television network – Seven. From all reports it is working on all fronts.

In NSW, and in Australia’s most vibrant city, Sydney, it’s a different ball game. Save for The Championships – and that was the brainchild of the ‘Messiah’ – change appears to be at best a last resort when all other options are exhausted and has to be brought in like a protesting juvenile, dragging and screaming and against their will to the table.

‘Vlundies’ comments were a mix of contradiction, agitation and a very dubious attempt at political one-upmanship that has turned embarrassingly pear shaped. It revived the worst aspects of the often bitter, damaging, wasteful and pointless rivalry between the two biggest States with little more than bragging rights as to which State can legitimately lay claim to being the premier racing state. In this undignified feud, the interests of the ‘50,000’ participants are the ‘sacrificial lambs’.

According to Adam Pengilly’s report (in the Fairfax Media), ‘Vlundies’ claimed that Racing Victoria’s week-long test of the 30-minute gaps between races policy will compromise rider safety and shrink wagering when it comes into play (last) Saturday.

Compromise rider safety? “The advice I’ve got from stewards is you are compromising safety. When a jockey rides in a race you have to remember the exertion it takes – especially in a staying race – and they’ve got to back up 20 minutes later. It’s giving them no time to recuperate”, ‘Vlundies’ is quoted as saying.

Embarrassing, isn’t it, possums? Wonder how Ray Murrihy and his panel are coping with the flak? Just for the record, we ask aloud, how in heaven’s name have the jockeys riding in Hong Kong, at Royal Ascot and a host of other places on this planet, coped with the ‘inhumane’ demands of their racing authorities to put themselves through such torture? Perhaps Sydney and NSW jockeys should build a shrine to ‘Vlundies’, preferably away from a racetrack, in honor of his noble efforts to place their welfare above all else. Sorry to disappoint you, Pete, but even your mates in the corporate bookie sector aren’t interested in giving away any of their surging revenues by offering a market about such an illusion ever happening.

Media reports and social media suggest ‘Vlundies’ is marooned – the only man on a deserted island on this one. The Victorian jockeys have come out in full support of the shortened race days as have the Queensland jockeys, and in what will not please Vlundies, the natives in his own backyard are starting to get very, very restless about much of what is happening or not happening in NSW. Chris Waller has spoken publicly in support of shortening the race day.

‘Vlundies’ also has a very short memory, or maybe he is ageing rapidly when he accuses the Victorians of going in unilaterally and making these changes: “We’re not the only ones being affected – it’s every other state in Australia. It’s not in the spirit of co-operation and it’s very disappointing”.

Spirit of co-operation – a tad rich perhaps coming from someone who broke ranks with the rest of the racing world, co-signatories to the International Horse Racing Federation rules and protocols and re-licensed poor old Chris Munce when he was serving a Hong Kong racing ban? Perhaps some of the ‘other states’ may wish to pass judgment on the spirit of co-operation they have had from Racing NSW over the years. But don’t bother asking the Victorians. We know what their response will be.

And on the question of wagering, again there is absolutely no evidence that a shortened race day will permanently affect wagering revenue. Sports fans are voting with their feet in favor of shorter and more compressed sporting events and sports formats.

Wonder how the ‘Messiah’ is feeling about his management genius these days? Let’s just hope the NRL this time makes him an offer he just cannot refuse.



GLEN DICK of MELBOURNE has a message for officialdom of RACING NSW:

‘MEMO: Messrs Messara and V’landys of Racing NSW

FROM: The passionate racing supporters of racing in Victoria.

SUBJECT: Your ‘Mission Impossible’ in trying to emulate the Melbourne Spring Carnival with The Championships in Sydney.

Rather than me rant and rave, I have just added the following RV Media Release in case you missed it:

THE Melbourne Cup Carnival was declared the winner of the Major Festivals and Events category at the Australian Tourism Awards for the second time in three years.

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) was recognized for the 2014 event’s remarkable economic impacts and promotion of Victoria and Australia to audiences around the globe.

Accepting the award on Friday (5 February), VRC Chief Executive Simon Love said the Melbourne Cup Carnival is the jewel in Australia’s major event crown.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is Australia’s original major event, and what is remarkable is that more than a century and a half on it remains peerless in its benefits to Australia,” Mr Love said.

“It is home grown and a true celebration of all that we do best: sport, food and wine, entertainment and commerce. It transcends sport and is the most vibrant racing event in the world.

“Despite the event’s maturity, it continues to generate record visitation with more than a third of attendees from outside of Victoria. This is not an accident and requires a comprehensive strategy and significant investment.

“The VRC invests $50 million each year to stage the Melbourne Cup Carnival, which in turn benefits the Victorian economy to the tune of more than $370 million and the Australian economy $700 million. No other self-funded event in Australia can claim to have such a positive effect on the economy.”

More than 325,000 racegoers attended the four-day 2014 Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington, including visitors from 43 countries, generating $28.38 million in accommodation spending over 186,221 bed-nights.

Late last year, the event won the Victorian Tourism Awards for the third consecutive year, earning the Melbourne Cup Carnival a place in the Hall of Fame.

“I would like to thank the VRC team for its commitment to ensuring the Melbourne Cup Carnival remains a tourism success. And we couldn’t provide these benefits to the state without our sponsors, none more than our principal partner, Emirates,” Mr Love said.

Eat your heart out fellas – the best you can do is dream – and, of course, bag every idea that Racing Victoria suggests!’



JOAN RILEY, an angry Queensland punter, gives UBET a serve:

‘LAST Saturday I decided that I might have a bet in Sydney and clicked on the form for the Tattsbet’ website.

Up came the message that I could not look at the form because I had not logged onto my account for over a month. The stupidity of this beggar’s belief.

Over the summer holidays I don't usually bet because of the quality of the fields. I don't even bet on line.

Whatever bright sparks came up with this need a course in customer service.’



ALBERT WILLIAMS, of REDCLIFFE, a regular contributor on all things racing in Queensland, weighs into the RQ financial debate:

‘SO much for the transparent accountability of those appointed by the Labor Government to run the show at Racing Queensland!

Much was made of the staggering losses confronting RQ when the Boards were sacked and as justification for the big prizemoney cuts to be implemented from April.

Now we are told that the finances have improved – at least for the first six months of the current financial year.

Problem is RQ has decided not to release specific details of its first half result which is quite staggering. Not only is the industry entitled to know the financial picture but one would expect those in charge at RQ to be shouting this good news from the rafters. Here's your chance to ask a meaninful question when Pariament sits next Opposition Racing spokesperson Jan Stuckey.

The figure is supposedly in the $5 million mark. I always get suspicious when officialdom is reluctant to release positive news about finances and question: Why the cover-up?

There is also a story doing the rounds that the Brisbane Racing Club have been loaned a multi-million dollar figure by one of the major banks to proceed with a high rise residential development at Eagle Farm. One would have thought this might have been publicized as well.’




HORSE racing, some call it the sport of kings, has been earmarked for a re-launch in Sri Lanka in all probability with Government backing following the formation of the Royal Turf Club (RTC).

SIR LANKA’S English newspaper, the SUNDAY OBSERVOR, reports that the RTC has already secured the services of foreign experts in Wayne Wood (pictured right) as its inaugural Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman of Stipendiary Stewards and Sinclair Marshall as Thoroughbred Riding Instructor and Stipendiary Steward.

"Under the guidance of these two renowned names in the global world of horse racing and the experienced Royal Turf Club committee, it is the aim of the club to elevate and uplift the standard of horse racing in Sri Lanka to new heights to bring back the traditions of this gentlemanly sport", the RTC said in a statement.

Sri Lanka is said to be one of the first or the first nation in Asia to indulge in horse racing and the new lease or identity for the sport comes at a time when the country attempts to promote so-called sports tourism.

In the 1840s British national John Baker introduced horse racing and the inaugural race was worked off at the Nuwara Eliya Race Course in 1875 conducted by the Nuwara Eliya Gymkhana Club.

The Royal Turf Club (RTC) is being headed by Suranjith Premadasa with Lucille Dahanayake as secretary and Nishitha Rupasinghe as treasurer while the Committee comprises Ranjith Dahanayake, Nihara Jayatilleke and Sudharshana Deshapriya.

The RTC said it had set aside a huge investment to develop the infrastructure which includes renovating the track and replacing its railings besides refurbishing the Grand Stand, the Steward room, jockeys' rooms as well as all other race course buildings in Nuwera Eliya.


Foreign investors are to be invited to be part of the revamping process which will be phased out over the ensuing two years where both Nuwera Eliya and Colombo will have horse racing centres fit to attract overseas competitors.

The RTC said that Wood is a highly acclaimed racing promoter on the international scene who teams up with them "with a wealth of thoroughbred racing experience, both in practical terms and as a senior administrator".

Wood as a schoolboy rode in horse shows in Australia before commencing the racing office at the Sydney Turf Club and the Australian Jockey Club. At the age of 22 he became the youngest Starter of a Metropolitan Race Club and continued his quest in the racing industry before becoming the youngest Chairman of Stewards for a major club in Australia.

He was awarded the WA Racing Achiever of the Year recognizing his contribution to the advancement of racing.

According to the RTC, Wood with his experience in identifying the drawbacks faced by horse owners and trainers was the perfect catch to resurrect the dormant racing passion in the country.

He also held high profile posts in the Royal Western India Turf Club in Mumbai and the Bangalore Turf Club.

"He (Wood) is noted for his integrity and for being a fair and fearless adjudicator with a no-nonsense attitude towards those who breach the rules of racing", the RTC said in a statement.

Sinclair Marshall the Thoroughbred Riding Instructor and Stipendiary Steward is said to be a "dedicated, energetic professional specializing in the thoroughbred racing industry" and worked as a riding instructor and track-work jockey at the Bangalore Turf Club.

"Leadership, breaking of young horses, preparing juveniles for racing, stable management and mentoring young jockeys are just some of Marshall's skills", the RTC said. He was the president of the Jockeys Association of India for more than 26 years as well as the international representative for the Jockeys Association of India at the 2000 International Jockeys Association conference in the UK and South Africa.

Marshall, according to the RTC, rode 983 winners from some 4000 races including winning eight Derbies and 38 Indian Classics.


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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