Jenny - Clean

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.

 

PUNTERS CONVINCED WALLER ‘DOES AS HE LIKES’ IN RACING IN NSW 

BILLY COX of MELBOURNE writes:

‘AFTER watching the last race on Hawkesbury Cup Day I am firmly convinced that top trainer Chris Waller arguably does as he likes in racing in NSW.

Once again he crapped in the face of the punting public around the country and stewards did next to be able to do much about it.

The difference this time was that it provided ammunition to those critics of Ray Murrihy and his panel who insist racing in the Sydney area is far from a level playing field.

Some of the form reversals from the big stables have been monumental and little is done about them. Questions are asked but these are usually put down to some lame excuse from the trainer concerned which seems to satisfy the stewards but leaves the majority of punters – big and small – completely dumbfounded.

The situation on Saturday involving a plunge win by a second string runner from the Chris Waller stable was – as one of the Sky Channel ‘experts’ explained – ‘far from a good look for racing’.

Only the day before Waller had been telling anyone who cared to ask or listen that his best for the day at Hawkesbury was Trafalgar – the favorite for the last – which he nominated as the stable’s top Queensland Derby hope.

Yes, out of all the runners he had on the day throughout the country, this was his best.

A day later and the stablemate – former Kiwi Mackintosh now owned by long-time friends and clients of Waller – lands a plunge and leads throughout to win the race after the stable had advised stewards it would be ridden quietly.

Mackintosh, which opened at double figure odds with some Fixed Odds operators, firmed late when the big money arrived to run $4.40 and even deposed stablemate Trafalgar from favoritism. That horse, after drifting from $3 to $5.5, never looked a winning chance and dropped out to finish 9th, far from boosting its Queensland Derby prospects. Then again never under-estimate the ability of Waller to improve them 100 yards in the space of a couple of weeks. And don't expect any retrospective activity from the stewards in Queensland if it does.

Now it takes a bit for SKY ‘hosts’ to criticize – in fact they rarely say anything bad about what happens on the track. But Ron Dufficy and Greg Radley could not contain themselves after Mackintosh showed a ton of fight to hold off all challenges.

‘Were we not told that horse would be ridden quietly,” Radley asked? “Yes that was the Twitter that went out. It’s not a good look for racing when that happens,” Dufficy replied.

Waller was immediately challenged about the change of tactics in the post-race interview and was quickly on the defensive foot. Sometimes things change, he explained. It was obvious they had to go to Plan B. You can’t lock things in stone. Pity it involved a plunge horse though.

Jockey Avdulla only wanted to praise the great Waller training effort – knowing he had a horse under him that could outstay them. Asked about why he didn’t ride the horse quietly, well, rather than be caught out on a limb he had no alternative but to press forward. What a genius he was unlike Hugh Bowman on another Waller favorite to flop recently when he decided just to sit deep because going forward might have expended too much energy. There’s an excuse for every occasion from this mob.

And usually these are accepted by the stewards. Such was the case on Saturday when the reversal of tactics saw the plunge on Mackintosh succeed. The official Stewards’ Report read:

Mackintosh – to be ridden quieter; led. When questioned regarding the gelding leading, when trainer, Mr C Waller, had notified Stewards that the intention was to ride Mackintosh in a mid-field position, rider B Avdulla confirmed that he had been asked to ride the horse in a mid-field position, but from his wide draw, after initially attempting to take a position behind Dream Lane, when that runner did not continue forward, he was then caught wide and with no opportunity to obtain cover, he allowed Mackintosh to stride forward and lead where it travelled comfortably.  

That was it apparently – sum total of the inquiry. Might I suggest if that’s the best the stewards can do it’s time that Racing NSW looked for a new panel. What a disgrace.

Perhaps other questions were asked but from the limited information I have to go on this is not a good enough explanation from a punters point of view. Many of us took the advice of the ‘champion trainer’ and had our hard earned on the stablemate Trafalgar only to watch it blow like a gale in the betting.

I thought we might have read something more about this in the newspapers but no, the turf scribes don’t seem to want to offend Waller. They need to deal with him on a daily basis and it wouldn’t be wise to have his stable off-side.

QUESTIONS THAT THE PUNTERS WANTED ANSWERS TO

WHAT the punters want to know is this:

Did Chris Waller even appear at the inquiry and if so was he asked any questions about the change of tactics or the plunge of Mackintosh despite the fact that his jockey was questioned?

Did stewards ask any questions about the apparently disappointing performance of Trafalgar? No doubt Waller would have said the horse was looking for further and the race wasn’t run to suit (courtesy of the pace set by his stablemate, of course)?

Did the panel consider asking anything about why the favorite drifted alarmingly and ran accordingly or seek proof of betting to support Waller’s belief that Trafalgar was his best bet of the day. Did they look at Betfair to see if Trafalgar was laid while Mackintosh was obviously backed for a bundle?

It is little wonder that punters no longer have any confidence to bet in racing in Sydney or wherever the meeting is (heaven forbid we don’t have too many more like this debacle at Hawkesbury). It’s the same every week with the horses from the major stables – who have driven the smaller ones out of Sydney racing – form reversals and in the Waller case with multiple runners the percentage of favorites that get beaten must be extremely high.

Perhaps Racing NSW should offer the job to Terry Bailey from Victoria when Mr Murrihy eventually retires – a decision that is long overdue. If he is reluctant to go, perhaps it is time that he was pushed.’   

 

‘SATURDAY ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF HOW BAD PUNTING IS ON NSW RACING’

JASON CAIRNS of MELBOURNE sent this email:

‘CAN things get much worse for punters betting on the major meetings in New South Wales of a Saturday?

My mates and I can speak from experience and we doubt it.

Saturday was just another example of how bad things have got.

Another plunge landed by another second string runner from the Chris Waller stable.

And what did the stewards do about it – once again, next to nothing?

I read recently where one of your contributors suggested it was time for Ray Murrihy to hang up his binoculars and retire as Chief Steward of Racing NSW. I couldn’t agree more.

Might I suggest that now his son-in-law is leaving the stewarding ranks to take over as CEO of the Hawkesbury club that he might second ‘the Sheriff’ to run the motel they operate? With all due respects he couldn’t make any worse job of that than he is at present trying to police racing in Sydney.’

 

HAWKESBURY TRACK NOT UP TO STANDARD FOR A MAJOR MEETING 

ANDY ROBERTSON of SYDNEY writes:

‘I am not against these major provincial clubs having their day in the sun with stand-alone Saturday meetings.

But they need to lift their game on what was served up at Hawkesbury last Saturday. It was not up to the standard required for a national spotlight meeting.

The track was an absolute disgrace. They were allegedly running fast times yet the jockeys refused to go anywhere near the inside. It got to the farcical stage where there was insufficient room for all runners to come wide on the track.

One could argue that this was not a level playing field and that all runners were denied an equal chance of winning because of the state of the track. This is not good enough for a major meeting on a Saturday in NSW.

You can bet it won’t be the case when racing goes to the stand alone at Scone.

To add insult to injury for the poor old punter we then had form reversal wins from Spill the Beans in the Guineas and Nancy in the Crown not to mention the last where the plunge runner from the Waller stable saluted while the one he told punters was his best for the day finished down the track. The least said about that the better.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: RAY THOMAS of the SYDNEY TELEGRAPHrarely criticizes but here’s what he had to say about Hawkesbury on Saturday:

THE Hawkesbury track surface was a paradox at the stand-alone meeting last Saturday.

In virtually every race, jockeys steered their mounts at least six horses wide in the home straight while Hawkesbury Gold Cup winner Amovatio scraped the paint on the outside fence.

The inside section of the straight was a no-go zone except in the Godolphin Crown where Two Blue hugged the rail and bravely tried to lead throughout only for the stalking Nancy to sprint past her late in the race.

Both mares raced through the so-called inferior going and defeated the remainder of the Crown field comfortably.

Despite the extra ground covered in most races as jockeys looked to get wide, the overall times were very fast including Furnace’s effort in the Hawkesbury Rush where he smashed the 1100m course record by more than half a second.

 

‘OLLIE NOT THE PUNTERS’ PAL AFTER DIVINE MR ARTIE BOUNCES BACK’ 

MILES McLEAN of MELBOURNE sent this email:

‘ANYONE who watched TV coverage of the meeting from Caulfield on Saturday couldn’t help but see someone connected with Divine Mr Artie having plenty to say after his win.

I would assume it was one of the owners and my interpretation was this guy might have been not too kind in his appraisal of the ride a week earlier by Damien Oliver on the horse.

Oliver, of course, was a victim of circumstance when Divine Mr Artie was well fancied and ran 9th of 13 behind Nudierudie. He was wide early, got back to last and then never got clear at any stage in the straight. One could argue it wasn’t one of ‘Ollie’s’ better rides.

With Oliver under suspension Michael Dee took over on Saturday and, despite being held up at a vital stage, managed to get into the clear in time to score in a deceptive photo finish. What surprised most was the set taken against Divine Mr Artie by the bookies and the ‘expert’ tipsters.

After he drifted alarmingly from $4 to $8 and got the money one of the party celebrating his win – obviously an owner – gesticulated toward the cameras and was obviously referring to how the horse should have won the previous week.

It would be interesting to know whether Oliver would have been aboard had he not been serving a suspension. The rumor is currently suggesting that the champion jockey has fallen out with the Cairon Maher stable and that Nick Hall is now the No 1 hoop there.’

 

NOW QUEENSLAND RACING IS A FURLONG BEHIND NORTHERN TERRITORY

DON FRY of NORTH QUEENSLAND sent this email:

‘GOOD to see Terry Butts back on deck with his ‘Silks & Saddles’ column which we missed during his illness.

I was interested to read his item this week on how the Northern Territory is steaming ahead of racing in Queensland. It brought back memories of that fool who was Racing Minister when the LNP governed Queensland.

What was that famous line: ‘Racing in Queensland will be a furlong in front of the southern states in 12 months time.’ Someone should remind the goose that we are now a furlong behind one of the minnows of Australian racing in the Northern Territory.

Another point made in the Butts’ column that needs the support of the entire industry is the call for all senior administrators at Racing Queensland to re-apply for their positions. Most are likely to be safe because no-one with any ability in horse racing is interested in coming to work for the joint. But first cab off the rank should be Head of Operations, Declan Martschinke – few stakeholders would shed tears if he was shown the door.

I would also like to comment on this storm in a tea cup over stewards not wanting to move from the Deagon bunker and join forces with the new Integrity Unit in the CBD. This reminds me of the days when Steve ‘Railo’ Railton had his own little ‘stewards' feifdom’ near Perry Park. Most would agree we don’t think we need a repeat of that.

Let’s face it the RQ headquarters and the stewards should be at Eagle Farm or Doomben rather than out in the sticks or in the CBD. And as for the stewards, if they worried a bit more about doing their job and cleaning the joint up, rather than where they are going to park their fat lazy behinds of a day, the industry in Queensland – or the product in particular – might just be a shade more popular with those who count – the punters.’

 

PROMINENT ‘TROTS FIGURE’ PAINTS GRIM PICTURE OF THE CODE IN QLD

WE have had to edit certain parts out of this letter but wanted to ensure that this PROMINENT HARNESS RACING STAKEHOLDER had his say on how he sees the state of play in harness racing in QUEENSLAND. He asked not to be identified for obvious reasons:

‘WITH the passing of the new Bill through the Queensland Parliament I wonder how long until the new Integrity Department gets to work cleaning up and cleaning out the mess that’s been left festering in harness racing. It especially needs a total clean out of most of the stewards and many of those who sit above them.

One only has to sit at some local PubTAB with harness racing people to pick up on the amount of anger they have in regards to everything bad in harness racing. Watching live races with them is something that brings out perceptions of what’s going on.

May 30 will mark the first anniversary of a cobalt positive swab case in Queensland and close behind are several more cases. Nearly one year and nothing seems to have been done. What a joke and a disgrace that this can be dragged out for so long, a case that has sat idle for most of the 11 month period, throw in a few more cobalt positive swabs, a hormone positive and a few arsenic positives swabs and you have what’s best described as a disaster in regards to integrity. Just what has the Integrity Department been doing for close on 12 months?

RQ can parade around beating their chests and congratulating each other when they nail a small hobby trainer and quickly post the news on their website. But most believe that they sit there like a sack of crap and keep everything off the website when it comes to dealing with ‘certain’ big blokes. Why don’t they grow a set of balls and dish out the same to everyone and convince the industry that it is a level playing field? They need to shut down the growing belief that some are currently protected.

Licensees have had a gutful and are now asking questions and wanting answers from the harness racing Integrity Department and the stewards employed by RQ. They have had enough of the delays and enough of RQ’s perceived inconsistency on policing the rules where some identities are concerned. Why doesn't RQ publish swab irregularities like other States and racing authorities do?

I also question why this has gone on for the past 11 months now with no news or progress in regards to swabs or hearings. How long does it take once the test is completed until the hearing? In the case of a hobby trainer a few weeks from start to finish – he’s told – he’s case is heard – and he’s penalized. 

What happened to the Rule in the book where a horse that has a positive swab is stood down pending the completion of an inquiry? This seems to have disappeared. The Rule also applied to the trainer of a horse that had a positive swab. He was also stood down pending the outcome of the inquiry but seems to go on forever now under a stay of proceedings. When and why was this Rule removed? 

Harness racing stewards appear to be asleep at the wheel and seem to be too busy covering their backsides instead of being open and transparent with regards to their jobs. One would hope the rumors are incorrect of south side stables being too prepared for ‘snap’ inspections by stewards. There have long been suggestions of different rules for different stables.

There’s been no mention of the steward allegedly placed in a taxi mid-meeting who hasn’t worked at a race meeting since yet he’s still at HQ. No mention of the stuffed up start of a race where the starter and steward let the field go with half the runners wiped out 200 meters prior to the start.

‘Boat’ races don’t exist, according to the stewards and officials, but ask those who watch the sport closely – or the punters for that matter. And by the way how many meetings does the Chairman of Stewards work each week? 

All codes need a strong backbone in regards to integrity, and let’s hope this new mob have what it takes. The current harness racing integrity in the opinion of many, including many stakeholders, is spineless. They need to bring in people with a strong harness racing background who know the Rules, who can read races and ask the hard questions, ones who are not afraid to back their knowledge of the Rules and harness racing and ask questions of trainers and drivers, ones who can rock up unannounced at stables, a new crop of stewards.

If they leave it unchanged for much longer there will be no harness racing left in Queensland.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: IF anyone from RQ iNTEGRITY wishes to respond to these allegations we would be delighted to provide them with unedited right of reply. That offer also applies to the Head of Integrity or Harness Racing's Chief Steward. We at LGHR believe that all the key personnel in administration and integrity at RQ should be required to reapply for their positions. A massive clean out is the only way the Government or the new RQ Board will rebuild confidence in an industry or a product that continues to sink into the quicksand.

 

INDUSTRY DESERVES SOME ACTION AND ANSWERS ON NEW INTEGRITY UNIT

AS I am WELL-KNOWN IN THE RACING INDUSTRY I don’t plan to get the new Integrity bosses offside and consequently would ask that my identity be withheld but these are comments that need to be made and questions that need to be answered:  

‘AFTER reading the seemingly endless list advertisements for positions associated with the new Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, my friends and I – who have been involved with the industry for longer than we care to remember – are somewhat confused.

Now the advertisements tells us that: QRIC will provide an intelligence, investigation, educative, scientific and technical investigations and regulatory compliance framework aimed at ensuring the integrity of all persons involved with the Queensland racing industry; safeguarding the welfare of all animals involved in racing; and maintaining public confidence in the racing of animals in Queensland. Its purpose extends to assessing and issuing of licensees related to animals and participants that are suitable to be licensed for a code of racing.

We also know that Police Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett has been appointed as the new Racing Integrity Commissioner on a hefty pay packet. We have also been assured by Racing Minister Grace Grace that QRIC will not cost the industry one more cent that it currently pays for stewarding and integrity.

One would hope so when you look at just some of the positions advertised and the annual pay packets they will receive. These include: a Deputy Commissioner, Integrity Services and Operations on a salary $226-$256,000; a Director of Stewarding, Licensing and Registration $123-$135,000; a Director, Office of Commissioner $123-$135,000; a Principal Legal Office $108-$115,000; HR Manager $108-$115,000; Finance Manager $108-$115,000; and a Principal Media and Communications Officer $98-$105,000.

What the industry – my friends and I being representative of same – would like to know is will the current Acting Head of Integrity become full time on his salary which is said to be far more than any of those advertised and will the current Chairman of Thoroughbred Stewards (not to mention the entire stewarding panels of the three codes) just retain their positions without these being advertised? Considering the current problems occurred under their watch isn’t that shutting the gate after the horse or dog has bolted if they are not forced to reapply for these positions?

All I can say is that racing had better see some action at the station – integrity wise – for the three codes on and off the track if these individuals are to earn their keep. No-one is holding their breath in anticipation!’  

EDITOR’S NOTE: WITH a team like that they shouldn’t have to rely on help from the acting Head of Integrity or Chief of Thoroughbred stewards. One could almost assume that those roles would become virtually redundant. Some would say the lack of action at the station would suggest they are now but they would be joking of course. With the appointment of a Media and Communications Officer on a full-time basis one can only assume they are going to have plenty to report on a regular basis of how they are cleaning up the industry which is long overdue. We will be watching with interest but we won't be holding our breath in anticipation.    

 

‘HARD TRACKS CAUSING MORE INJURIES THAN JUMPS RAING OR WHIP USE’

SIMON LANE of MELBOURNE writes:

‘THERE have been times when what trainer John Sadler had to say got him into a bit of strife but on this occasion I would like to commend his comments concerning those ‘fruit loops’ who oppose jumps racing, whip usage etc.

Salder believes the animal lobbyists and organizations such as the RSPCA are ‘barking up the wrong tree’ when they oppose jumps racing. He says they should agitate for racing bosses to ensure tracks are presented with some give in the ground.

I could not agree more. Hard tracks are doing more damage to horses (one could even say it is bordering on a form a unintended cruelty) than jumps racing or whip use ever will.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: HERE’S the story by MICHAEL LYNCH in the MELBOURNE AGE that the above email refers to:

THE Warrnambool racing carnival attracts fans from all over Australia, but with a number of high profile jumping events on the program it also concentrates the minds of animal activists and those opposed to racing.

But leading trainer John Sadler believes the animal lobbyists and organizations such as the RSPCA are barking up the wrong tree with their focus on opposing jumps racing.

If they want to lobby for anything in racing, Sadler suggests, they should agitate for racing rulers to ensure all tracks are presented with some give in the ground to spare horses racing on a hard or fast surface.

"I've got a thing about [tracks]," the well respected handler said after his quality galloper Charmed Harmony, a horse who definitely likes the sting out of the ground, won at Caulfield on Saturday.

"We ran him at Flemington one day in the middle of winter and the track was very very firm, he didn't perform well at all and he pulled up very sore all over.

"So I have been very pedantic with him [about the surface he races on].

"I am all about the longevity of the horse, hence I sometimes don't run them for that reason.

"I probably shouldn't say this, but the RSPCA worry about horses jumping. But they love jumping.

"I would be more inclined for them to have a look at when they have to gallop on hard tracks rather than tracks which just have that little bit of give.

"If it’s really hard it can do them some damage. Maybe you don't notice it straight after a race, it’s long-term. Owners make a big investment into a horse, and I would just like to see that investment go as long as it possibly can," Sadler said.

Charmed Harmony has benefited from Sadler's patient approach. 

His win over 1400 metres carrying 59 kilos on Saturday (reduced from 61 because of apprentice Dylan Dunn's claim) was his 13th in 32 starts, taking his prizemoney close to $600,000. 

He will now be aimed at the Brisbane winter carnival, where there is inevitably give in the ground.

"We are going to have a shot at the Stradbroke with him," Sadler said.

"It's probably a shot at the stumps from a fair way out. If it happened to rain and the track was soft, he's as honest as the day is long and he could acquit himself very well."  

 

STORIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED IN RACING OVER THE PAST WEEK

FORMER PREMIER CALLS FOR RACING PROBE INTO MRC SPECIAL MEETING

FORMER Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has demanded Racing Victoria launch an immediate investigation into the special meeting that has allowed Melbourne Racing Club office bearers to add six years to their terms.

PATRICK BARTLEY reports for FAIRFAX MEDIA that Kennett said Racing Victoria chief executive Bernard Saundry should have a complete report by the end of the week and if it is found that MRC board members engineered the result or the process, they must "be disqualified" from holding those positions.

"It sounds and smells very peculiar. And I would think if you were going for extra terms it must be after an election or a referendum," Kennett said.

Club members have reacted angrily since Thursday night when a successful vote was carried to allow chairman Mike Symons, vice-chairman Peter Le Grand and treasurer Domenic Romanelli to extend their terms following the meeting.

Some members claimed the meeting should have been declared "null and void" after Le Grand admitted he had sent the information regarding the meeting out only to friends who were members.

"I have had a lot of emails and twitter traffic asking me to look at the situation and I have found it extremely concerning," Kennett said.

"I know Bernard Saundry, he is a decent, soft man and he should now be gathering information for an investigation that can be released at the end of the week.

"What's been said here is extremely worrying. If it's found that the meeting was not advertised to all members it should be declared null and void.

"Surely the racing industry knows that you ask trainers, owners and jockeys to stand up and be accountable so surely these individuals come under that same category.

"I know that the racing minister, Martin Pakula, will act quickly and strongly once he receives Saundry's report hopefully as soon as Friday," he added.

Other members have said on such a contentious issue the vote should have required a two-thirds majority to be successful, instead of the first past the post system adopted on Thursday night.

Jake Norton, a spokesman for MRC, said the club had received correspondence from Racing Victoria on Friday and the club would address that correspondence this week.

Saundry confirmed he had asked for a full explanation of what happened at the club's special meeting on Thursday night.   

Fairfax Media has been told rank and file members were only notified via a web page relating to promotions.

They say a formal notice should have been sent to all members.

Incensed members are now calling on RVL – the regulator for racing in Victoria – to act quickly as they are prepared to discard their memberships at the MRC.
  
 "At the meeting I repeatedly questioned the committee about the missing information from the original email in relation to postal voting," club member Pat O'Kane said.

"No answer was given and despite repeated attempts to have the question answered [acting club chairman Rod Fenwick] declined to respond."

He added that another member tried to move twice that all postal votes be disregarded given that all members had not been adequately informed and some votes had been solicited through the sending of postal ballots to select "friends".

The postal votes were then announced, a total of 139, of which 110 were in favour. A vote was then taken of those attending. The majority voted against. The motion was eventually carried directly as a result of the postal votes.

 

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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