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.



IT’S been declared a scandal that has become the talking point of the Deagon Bunker about a Black Friday that one of the highest profile stewarding and integrity identities must be hoping and praying new Racing Queensland Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett never gets to hear about.

But the new ‘top cop’ responsible for policing industry affairs would need to be living under a rock to escape the stories doing the rounds and if these are only half right he must investigate immediately or his new multi-million dollar Integrity Unit risks losing instant credibility.

Rumors can lose nothing in the telling and letsgohorseracing has been inundated over the past few days. We have made our own inquiries and would be only too delighted to inform Commissioner Barnett in more detail of what we have been told. But there is little chance we will have to with some prominent industry personnel key to talk to the Commissioner about it, not to mention a couple of high profile and respected stewards.

According to what we have been able to learn it all started when stewards and integrity staff went to inspect their new ‘digs’ at Hamilton near the Brisbane River last Friday. When it came time to return to work at their current headquarters at Deagon one high profile member of the team and a personal assistant allegedly went missing in action.

This is where the ‘rumors’ get a shade clouded. But we can confirm that they were seen enjoying themselves at a well known Breakfast Creek watering hotel for quite some time. There is also a report that the duo returned for another look at their new office space.

If the Integrity Commissioner wishes to check out what subsequently happened perhaps he should talk to a couple of well respected and high profile stewards – one of whom was instructed to drive in to Hamilton and convey the couple back to Deagon. He has told colleagues of his disgust at what occurred.

Back at the Bunker and the PA was allegedly unable to do her job properly and was told by fellow staffers to go home. She had to call in her boyfriend who arrived on his push bike to drive her car. Her ‘friend for the day’ circled the office asking if anyone had breath mints to mask the alcohol he told them he had consumed. Lucky they don’t breath-test stewards doing their jobs like happens with jockeys before they ride.

It seems the Integrity Department is in meltdown and has been for some time. Complainants have told us a host of stories, one of some interesting footage from the cameras in the Fitness Centre at Deagon racecourse that would apparently make interesting viewing for the new Integrity Commissioner if he can locate same.

Details of many claims being made cannot be published by LGHR for legal reasons, including one of a high profile steward allegedly being sacked and reinstated over a family sponsorship deal with a prominent racing group.

With some key positions for big salaries up for grabs in the coming weeks the importance of Integrity Commissioner Barnett launching an immediate internal investigation into Black Friday at the Creek cannot be understated. He needs to have the right people in key positions or risk the new Integrity Unit becoming a laughing stock.

Some of those close to the action are however appealing to the Commissioner to conduct any inquiry himself and not to involve one of his high profile QPS colleagues seconded to the Integrity Unit in this investigation as they claim he is too close to the identity at the centre of the Black Friday allegations.

For the sake of all those involved – and we are the first to admit that some racing stories can lose nothing in the telling – the industry and its stakeholders need to be made aware that this serious situation has been addressed by the Integrity Commissioner. If he wants witnesses he needs go no further than his own backyard.



ALBERT WILLIAMS, of REDCLIFFE, a regular critic of all things racing in Queensland makes some good points about the SKY Channel carnival coverage:

‘ONE could argue that where the Racing NSW-controlled broadcast coverage of thoroughbred racing by SKY Channel is concerned, you can never teach an ‘old dog new tricks’.

Now if my mates and I – who are Queensland-based and have a growing dislike for SKY – were suspicious blokes then we would suggest that the Sydney-based broadcaster is out to sabotage Brisbane racing.

It is a well known fact that officials of the Brisbane Racing Club have been far from impressed by the coverage – or lack of it – that Doomben has received on a Saturday from SKY in recent months.

There have been almost embarrassing attempts to appease these concerns with the dispatch of hosts from interstate to front the coverage and suggestions that it will definitely be ramped up during the Winter Carnival.

It doesn’t matter how many ‘talking heads’ you put on the ground in Queensland for a race meeting if the post-race coverage can’t be seen because of a clash of times it is all to no avail.

Saturday was another example of the contempt that SKY has for racing in Brisbane. It was the first big carnival meeting in the northern capital and SKY had a ‘cast of thousands’ on deck.

Might we suggest that the expert commentary of Michael Maxworthy and Caroline Searcy would have been sufficient? From a punters’ perspective the best thing SKY could do with Bernadette Cooper is either apply a gag when she gets in front of the camera or stick her on one of those old grey Clerk of the Course horses in some back paddock at Hendra for the duration of the meeting. She’s a waste of space.

But back to the real reason for this Whinge. Every time a big race reached a crescendo in Brisbane, live coverage on this poor excuse for a broadcaster was transferred to a second string meeting at Kembla Grange. This is simply not good enough.

It comes down to timing. There was no more than five minutes between events at the two venues. By the time the Brisbane race was run – providing there was not the smallest of delays – Kembla Grange was ready to jump.

Whoever is responsible for this when the timing of races is done for the SKY schedule is either an absolute goose or has arguably created this clash to sabotage the carnival coverage in Queensland? It couldn’t possibly be done by anyone who understands the politics of the current situation. And one wonders if Racing Queensland has a say in all of this what those morons are doing to overcome the problem – if they even know that one exists.

Now I read some time ago where (CEO) Peter V’landys gave an assurance that Racing NSW only wanted to help promote racing in Queensland. If no deals have been done to ensure prime coverage for the second string NSW meeting of a Saturday why then is the primary meeting in Queensland suffering on a regular basis?

It’s time Racing Queensland – if anyone is awake among the dills running the show at Deagon – stepped forward and gave SKY an ultimatum. If they don’t then the BRC should use their legal powers to have the new Victorian racing broadcaster given rights to show their meetings as well on the basis that SKY is in breach of contract by not providing what was originally promised.

There can be no regular repeat of what happened on Saturday during the rest of the carnival. There was a fall at the finish of the Group 1 feature. Not only did viewers not get to see the aftermath of a G1 win but nor did they learn the fate of that fall until later.

Since Racing NSW started to call the shots SKY has gone from the penthouse to the shithouse. It’s a poor excuse for a race broadcaster and is dragging some very good presenters like Greg Radley, Richard Freedman, Michael Maxworthy, Carolyn Searcy and Ron Dufficy down to a level they don’t deserve. Here’s hoping behind the scenes Radley and co. are having their say about this farcical situation.’



IT’S been a while since OUR SPY IN THE DEAGON BUNKER made a contribution but he’s come out punching this week with some interesting observations:

‘WE don't need to tell you about the main topic of discussion doing the rounds since last Friday about the meltdown in the Integrity Department. If the new top cop doesn't move quickly on this one he's credibility will be a dead duck. The eyes of the industry are watching.

Aside from that there has been plenty of commentary in the Bunker about the behind-the-scenes jockeying for the role of Chief Thoroughbred Steward when Allan Reardon finally makes his long overdue ride off into the sunset.

New favorite is Martin Knibbs and he shortened even further on Saturday following unconfirmed rumors that ‘Al’ enjoyed the social side of the carnival opener at Doomben to allow his preferred successor to chair the meeting.

Feelings are certainly running high in the stewarding ranks with reliable mail from the south that Reid Sanders, a former RQ Chief Stipe who has created quite a reputation since joining Harness Racing NSW, is being seriously considered for the job.

Then there are those – especially industry personnel – who insist that Ian Brown is foreman material and a little wasted in his permanent role as Chief Steward at the Gold Coast.

Whatever you think it hasn't been a good week for the stewards. They lost the Skye Bogenhuber appeal against that farcical two month ban and then quite unbelievably closed the 'barking dog inquiry' involving top trainers Heathcote and Gollan. Why do they deserve special behind closed door treatment? 

It seems about the only thing that rank and file stewards have common agreement on at present is that the sooner the matter is determined and ‘Al’ departs the scene the better for all concerned.

‘They’ say Reardon is already in retirement mode and rarely answers his phone these days. Then again he is going to need a break after this week’s enduring task of chairing an inquiry into a barking dog that has two of Brisbane’s top trainers at each other’s throats. Who knows he might even call in the RSPCA to ensure there’s no animal cruelty like there was when the killing fields were open slather at the greyhounds.     

After the detailed interview that the Courier-Mail conducted with the new Racing Integrity Commissioner an interesting talking point in the Bunker has been his quote: “We are not here to damage the reputation of the industry.” It has reached Joke of the Week status and is up there with that ‘furlong in front’ claim by one of our past Racing Ministers.

And while all this goes on the new Commissioner and one of his top guns from the QPS, who many claim know next to nothing about racing, are being shown the ropes by the likes of Reardon and the Invisible Man, the RQ Head of Integrity Jamie Dart – the two most senior stewards running the show when the greyhound live baiting scandal was occurring in Queensland.

And to think Wade Birch and Darren Condon lost their jobs in the wake of this. Who said things couldn’t get any worse at Racing Queensland? And they haven’t even employed a CEO, with Brendan Parnell tipped to bring his skills from SKY to RQ – now there’s a double iceberg waiting to happen regardless of who skippers the administrative or integrity helm of the good ship RQ Titanic.’



‘ANOTHER topic of much mirth within the Bunker this week has been the latest master-stroke to save the industry from the brains-trust at Deagon, the magic man Declan Martschinke.

It seems that during one of his many spare moments – sitting in the Bunker outhouse searching for that elusive feature on himself in the monthly Racing Magazine, the Magnificent One has come up with the idea of RQ’s own Frequent Flyers’ Club.

The busy little beaver was seen burning the midnight oil preparing his address to the masses and associated questionnaire which reads:

Racing Queensland is currently exploring some opportunities to assist the Queensland Racing Community to receive some discounts based on a collective purchasing position.

Given the size of our state and thenature of our industry we understand that one of the area that you incur some costs is travel.

We are working hard to assist all industry participants in reducing costs in as many areas as we can.

The first area of trael we would like to explore is Airline travel.

If you could spare a few moments to fill out the survey below the information gathered will assist us in approaching airlines to see if they are interested in partnering with the Queensland racing community.

Showing he is worth every cent of the hefty Head of Operations salary that he receives (where would RQ be without administrators with his foresight?), the Magic Man then seeks answers to the following riveting questions:

(1)  About how many times each year do you fly within Queensland?

(2)  About how much do you spend on flights within Queensland each year?

(3)  About how many times each year do you fly interstate?

(4)  About how much do you spend on interstate travel each year?

(5)  About how many times each year do you fly overseas?

(6)  About how much do you spend on overseas travel each year?

As one wag in the Bunker suggested, while Declan is at it he should pose the same questions, on behalf of industry stakeholders, to those running the show at RQ, like himself. But don’t count on getting the answers on how much their travel junkets (and there are plenty) are costing. That’s probably commercial-in-confidence, like the new TAB deal.

One prominent race club official best summed up industry feeling to Declan’s latest debacle in an email to colleagues relating to masturbation at RQ. In hindsight, I felt it was best not to detail what he had to say.'



‘WHILE there was as much back-slapping going on in the Bunker as down the road at the BRC, some were questioning just who did the crowd figures for the opening day of the carnival at Doomben.

Objective statisticians who were in attendance maintain the crowd was no more than half the 6,000-odd being claimed. Then again, who’s fooling who if you start doctoring the figures?

Rather than play ‘Spin Doctor’ like Queensland Newspapers is with the Brisbane carnival, Phil Purser took an objective view – as he traditionally does – on his website when he wrote:

“How utterly pathetic is it that we, on a Group 1 day of thoroughbred racing, can only attract 6,200 on course, when you consider the population of Brisbane alone is about 2.46 million”. And that’s just Brisbane. Nearby the Gold Coast is home to another 560,000, the Sunshine Coast population is 300,000 and Ipswich has 190,000 and all those areas are within a short and easy drive to Doomben, late on Saturday morning, to get there for Race 1. So add them all up and we have a population base of about 3,510,000 to draw on and we get “6,200” to a Group 1 race day, on an absolutely gorgeous 28-degree sunny day and then tell the world how excited we are about that number turning up.”

That same night at Suncorp Stadium, a double-header featuring the Broncos, attracted over 52,000. Imagine the hue and cry if only 6,200 turned out for that. And before the traditionalists start talking about live TV coverage keeping racegoers away these days, fans could watch the rugby league from the comfort of their homes as well.

Every carnival needs a drawcard and we in the Bunker are in agreement that the only ‘drawcard’ that will save Brisbane this year will be the reopening of Eagle Farm. If it doesn’t attract 20,000 or more then the place is in trouble. But just how long that momentum lasts remains to be seen.’     



STEFAN MEIER, of PASCOE VALUE SOUTH, VICTORIA, a valued contributor to the WEDNESDAY WHINGE, returns after a brief absence:

‘VICTORIAN and NSW TAB account holders that use a PC will be well and truly acquainted by now with the websites new pop up media player for live racing.

They must have put plenty of time, money and effort into it, because for those that may not be familiar with it, well, I think it has been one of their best ever innovations, the features, speed and vision quality are simply light years ahead of the previous system which opened up a new window to the SKY Racing website. Now it just pops up and you can keep using the TAB site without swapping windows all the time, just brilliant.

Another innovation that has come out of it is that when you use their drop down form guide, lo and behold we can now get available replays of the horses past performances, wait for it, not by trawling through a calendar, or a protracted horse name or track search and waiting for pages of results to appear, no, with one, repeat one click of your mouse a replay appears. Now how good is that for the punter, I ask you?

Well, now we get to Whinge time. Take one guess at who's not involved in this brilliant concept – a new innovative punting tool to help increase turnover and for once make a punter’s life a little less stressful?

I know, I hear you, your obviously going to say, UK racing, Flamingo Park in South Africa, Deuville in France, Singapore maybe? Well you'd be wrong because they're all there! What's missing? Surprise, surprise, Victorian Racing.

That's right, despite being a  "premier wagering partner" obviously a deal could not be struck with or RVL to include Victorian racing vision, just an audio replay.

I wonder if anyone from Racing Victoria would care to respond and explain to us, the punters, the reasoning behind not being involved in this fabulous innovation. I guess the likelihood of that happening is about as much chance as getting the vision.



DANNY PORTER of GOLD COAST writes:       

‘ISN’T it refreshing to read a turf scribe in Queensland who isn’t a ‘spin doctor’ for the buffoons at Racing Queensland?

Brad Davidson of the Gold Coast Bulletin writes with objectivity – a word, might I suggest, that doesn’t exist when Nathan Exelby sits down to pen his politically slanted pieces for The Courier-Mail.

Davidson wrote what most racing followers and punters are saying when he suggested the jury is out on this farcical UBET Super Six Trainer Series being staged during the Brisbane carnival.

Obviously aware that any form of criticism of racing in Queensland will come back to haunt him – not only from within the industry but believe it or not from some of his own weak-kneed colleagues – Davidson tempered his criticism.

He suggested the series, which began at Doomben last Saturday, ‘just didn’t seem to hit the mark as well as officials would have liked.’ That, might I suggest, is an understatement. Interest in it was virtually non-existent.

Davidson went on to say that in its defense, this was only week 1 of the Series and UBET actually recorded more interest from a wagering perspective than from Week 1 of the Origin Jockey Series last summer. Wow – what was second prize – and would UBET be kind enough to release some of the massive turnover figures that were recorded on either of these special events that are laying the punters in the aisles in Queensland.

Tongue-in-cheek I would like to finish by making two points on this:

(1)  How long did it take for one of the head honchos at RQ to dream up this awesome idea?

(2)  When Chris Waller says he hopes he doesn’t win the competition, is that because he doesn’t have a stable second string capable of upsetting the favorite?’



GLEN PRIDE of MELBOURNE sent this email:

‘I was reading somewhere that a Melbourne media identity suggested the Brisbane winter carnival was nothing more than a ‘dumping ground for second-tier, non-competitive Sydney carnival horses.’

With all due respects might I suggest that Victoria is becoming the ‘dumping ground’ for second rate, credibility riddled racing media rejectsfrom New South Wales?

Brent Zerafa, dumped by SKY Channel in Sydney after thatembarrassing ‘tipping gaffe’ last year, has found his way into a new media role with in Melbourne. From a punters’ viewpoint we would hope it was a condition of his employment that he doesn’t get around to presenting his ‘selections’ on air.

Now we have another ‘disgraced’ racing media man from Sydney in big mouthed ‘Richie’ Callander planning to resurrect his career in Melbourne.

The Sydney Telegraph reported last week that Callander has had a ‘spectacular fall from grace since he decided to take a cut of a horse he sold to a syndicate in Hong Hong, in breach of the Australian Racing Rules’.

Disqualified from racetracks for six months and fined $10,000 for dishonest and/or fraudulent conduct relating to the sale of Lil Caesar to buyers in Hong Kong, Callander turned up in the strangest place on Wednesday (of last week).

The Telegraphreported that sporting a big red beard, Callander was laying turf at Allianz Stadium. The man who used to boast that he had media contacts above and beyond anyone else in Sydney is now working for a turf farm contracted to do the job at Moore Park.

He reportedly told a ‘Telegraph operative’ that he was moving to Melbourne to kick-start his media career again. “From high roller to heavy roller, Callander’s confidence apparently hasn’t deserted him, outlining in no uncertain terms to our contact which of Sydney’s racing and media bosses he had in his sights for the damage he claimed they caused him.”

At least Zerafa seems to have learnt his lesson but big mouth Richie can’t help himself. Both could learn a lot from former Queenslander Bruce Clark who resurrected his career in Melbourne during an association with Damien Oliver and then Sport 927 and TVN in the aftermath of the Go Racing syndication group collapse and controversy.’  




‘IF the powers-that-be at Racing NSW want to run the industry in Australia they should work harder at getting their own house in order first.

What a shemozzle The Championships has been from the outset.

It just goes to show you can throw a truckload of money at the big races in NSW, spend a poultice on promoting and marketing it, but at the end of the day it doesn’t come within cooee of the event they are trying to upstage – the Melbourne Cup carnival.

Messrs Messara and V’landys should accept the fact that as long as their backsides point to the ground NSW will never overtake Victoria in any form of racing – they will always run second some those blokes have become experts at.

Now we have the ATC resisting a campaign to boost The Championships by including the Golden Slipper in its program by moving the world’s richest two-year-old race back a week.  

Some might argue that the NSW Opposition Leader and Shadow Racing Minister Luke Foley has a better take on what will appeal to the racing public than those calling the shots. He has proposed that the $3.5 million Slipper be delayed seven days and the last Saturday of the three-week Rosehill carnival be included as part of an expanded The Championships. 

But that would mean some of the credit for turning The Championships from just another carnival into a success story might rest with someone other than the ATC – and we can’t have that.

What’s the point of conducting a wide-ranging review of why The Championships failed to attract the crowds it should have if you aren’t prepared to listen to or even consider means of improving it?

Messara and V’landys’ mates in the racing media can prattle on about how successful The Championships were from a betting turnover viewpoint but at the end of the day the racing public stayed at home. The crowds were pathetic. The numbers that attended the big days would turn up for the opening of a sporting envelope in Victoria.

As the little, big man of NSW racing Peter V’landy told the media: ‘Any speculation about changes is presumptious.’

So there you have it – end of story – the master has spoken!’

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.