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 not exactly a WHINGE to start this week’s column but LETSGOHORSERACING is comfortable affording a ‘little spin doctoring’ of our own after reading the interview Racing Editor, Nathan Exelby, did in The Courier-Mail with new RQ chairman STEVE WILSON. Ironically, there was very little response to his interesting comments from the racing community – and that lack of criticism is an encouraging sign. The only downside has been a below the belt email doing the rounds that we were asked to run which bags a new member of the Board. Despite what our critics say about us, there is no way that we would have ever considered publishing this one – it has nothing to do with the talents of the individual, is far too personal and smells of a set-up, allegedly claiming the verbal attack is the work of a prominent identity. To whoever was responsible don’t waste your time sending this sort of garbage to us. We will always provide a platform for constructive criticism but save this horse manure for the out of control racing blog sites that get their jollies attacking everyone, including us. For the record LGHR thinks the Government has secured a good mix in the new RQ Board – time will tell – but the talent is there to start the thankless process of getting the three codes back on track in Queensland.


THUMBS UP to the new Racing Queensland Chairman STEVE WILSON

STEVE Wilson took on a ‘poisoned chalice’ in accepting the role of Racing Queensland Chairman while many businessmen in his league would never have risked the challenge to their reputations.

Rather than tread warily on shaky political ground that has over the years claimed high profile chairmen in Bob Bentley and Kevin Dickson, who arguably knew much more about the racing industry, Wilson has stepped up to the plate.

In an overwhelming vote of confidence in the Board selected to help him haul all three codes out the quicksand, Wilson answered the critics with this defiant response: “If Racing Queensland was a stock, I would be buying a lot of it.

He told Nathan Exelby of The Courier-Mail: “It’s not perfect and there’s a lot that can be improved, but our wagering numbers are modestly up and the degree of cutting that was predicted as necessary in Tracking to Sustainability is not as significant as was spelt out.”

These are the words from the ‘man at the top’ that not only stakeholders but also the racing public have waited a long time to hear. Whether many others would openly share his confidence in buying RQ stock (we certainly wouldn’t) is debatable, but at least the bloke has declared he will give it his best shot.

And the Board that has been appointed to support him on paper looks a terrific mix – especially the two ladies – deputy chair Sharon Dawson and independent Susannah George – not to mention the most popular of appointment of all, Max Walters.

Normally when any new Board has been appointed in racing there is a volley of discontent – hushed or otherwise – from within the ranks. There has been no such response on this occasion which speaks volumes for the quality of those lured onto the new Board. (The only emails we received referred to the stock buying suggestion of the Chairman and another which was an insulting personal attack on one of the new Board members).

Having said that each of the new Directors will soon learn that horse racing is a very unforgiving industry. Their report card after their first year in the job will need to see achieved what some regard as a ‘mission impossible’ to reverse the direction that racing has been heading in Queensland for too long now.         


THUMBS DOWN to the EAGLE FARM stewards on Tatts Tiara Day

WITHOUT even mentioning the way the track played, it was difficult enough for punters trying to find a winner at EAGLE FARM on Tatts Tiara day. Amazingly, not one favorite saluted on the 10-race card.

One would think it was the job of stewards to protect the interests of punters wherever possible but it could be argued that did not occur when top trainer John O’Shea asked to scratched the Sydney visitor Mogador from the Healy Stakes.

The Stewards' Report reads: Following the running of Race 5 a request was made by trainer J. O'Shea to withdraw MOGADOR in Race 9 on the grounds that he believed the colt would be disadvantaged from its inside barrier draw in that event when the racing pattern thus far appeared conducive to horses racing wider on the track. Stewards denied the request.

The reason for the denial of the request was not published in the report – whether they didn’t have the power under the rules, didn’t want to create a precedent, or felt that Mogador was confronted by the same obstacles as any other runner drawn nearer the rail on the swamp that has been presented for the two days since the new track was raced on.

Mogador still started favourite at $5 despite drifting from $4 to $5.5 at one stage and did well in the circumstances finishing a distant third to Into the Red and Saluter which fought out the finish after racing on the pace and enjoying the best ground.

If a trainer believes his horse cannot be guaranteed every possible chance to win a race then surely the onus lies with the stewards to support his request and scratch it for the protection of all concerned.

At the same time we understand the predicament that confronted stewards – Daniel Aurisch (chaired the panel) with head honcho Allan Reardon overseeing his work. Had they accepted the request of O’Shea and permitted the scratching of Mogador would this have opened the floodgates and see a line-up of trainers at the door wanting to do the same?  



HERE is a précis, compiled by LETSGOHORSERACING, from the various emails we received praising the new Point of Consumption tax on wagering to be introduced next year in South Australia. Rather than be repetitive we put together this compilation of the thoughts expressed which hopefully gets the general message across:

‘HOW pathetic is it when South Australia – one of the minnows of horse racing in this country – has to lead the way in the introduction of a gambling tax to protect the local industry?

Racing Australia and the Governments of the major East Coast States have dragged their feet on this issue for too long. Hopefully they will now be shamed into following the South Australian lead.

It should be music to the ears of tens of thousands of industry stakeholders and punters who have had a gutful of the corporate bookmaking raiders who have been permitted – in some cases one might argue encouraged – to plunder betting profits and send them offshore for far too long.

The nation’s first interstate gambling tax will be introduced by the South Australian Government from July next year to leverage some of these profits from flowing out of that State. It is imperative that other States legislate similarly to simultaneously have the same tax apply.

Of course the news from South Australia provoked the anticipated response from the corporate bookmakers who are crying foul. For too long they have been allowed to operate as they please, be a law unto themselves, close down the accounts of successful punters and thumb their noses at any form of authority (racing or Government) in this country.

The proposal is for a 15 per cent point of consumption tax which will especially hit those betting operators and companies that have conveniently based themselves in regions, like the Northern Territory, to benefit from lower tax rates. In South Australia alone the new tax is expected to reap $9.2 million annually.

Since the turn of the century sports betting has increased in popularity, to some degree representing a threat to the three codes of racing. The easy licensing of gambling providers in the Northern Territory and the absence of any Federal Government measures to control that has seen a surge in internet betting.

Unfortunately, an attempt by the West Australian Government to pass amendments to that State’s betting laws to prevent interstate wagering was defeated in the High Court by Betfair, who argued it contravened Section 92 of the Constitution.

But from next July – in South Australia at least – gambling agencies that allow betting on sports, horses, dog and elections etc will be hit by the new tax – with $500,000 of the $9.2 million received each year being allocated to gambling rehabilitation programs.

Whilst UBET – the major provider of prizemoney through the Government of SA  – will be caught in the net so will the corporate bookies, headed by the likes of Ladbrokes, Crownbet and Sportsbet.

Just imagine what this tax would be worth to Government and the racing industry if it were to be applied nationally. The ball is now in the court of the other states to follow South Australia’s lead. 



A Point of Consumption (POC) tax on wagering ‘will drive millions of dollars of revenue out of South Australia, decimate South Australian racing, and encourage corruption in sport’.’sCFO Ben Sleep said the South Australian Government’s decision to introduce a POC tax, without industry consultation, was a short-sighted money grab which demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the internet.

Mr Sleep said the suggestion that online wagering companies did not pay tax was ill-informed and that the addition of a POC tax meant companies such as Sportsbet would be paying three layers of tax in South Australia.

“Sportsbet already pays a point of consumption tax in the form of GST – $53.4m in the last year alone – and contributes over $75m annually to the racing and sporting industries through product fees,” Mr Sleep said.

“This short-sighted money grab makes South Australia the highest online wagering tax environment in the world with operators paying 50 cents in every dollar of revenue in taxes.

“The tax applies to every bet placed on every race around the country so not only will this decision decimate the SA racing industry - which stands to lose millions in product fees - it will hurt every racing code across the country as Sportsbet and other bookmakers are forced to decrease their investments in Australian sport and racing.”

Mr Sleep said a POC tax could force providers such as Sportsbet to mitigate the tax by charging South Australians higher prices, with dire consequences.

“Which side of the border a customer stands on will determine what odds they are offered, with South Australian punters to be the biggest losers,” Mr Sleep said.

“This will encourage South Australians to bet with unlicensed and unregulated offshore operators to get the best odds available.

“This will result in millions of dollars of tax leakage offshore and force South Australians into an environment without the responsible gambling safeguards of licensed domestic providers such as Sportsbet.

“It also creates significant sports integrity risks, as only Australian based licensed bookmakers work with sporting bodies and law enforcement to stamp out corruption in Australian sport.”

Mr Sleep said instead of slugging licensed operators more in taxes, the South Australian Government would be better served incentivising providers to invest into the local economy.

He said many Australian based licensed bookmakers would seriously consider withdrawing from South Australia altogether as a result of a POC tax.

“The South Australian Government has effectively made wagering in South Australia a losing proposition,” Mr Sleep said.

“Instead of raising millions in additional tax revenue, this decision will drive the industry and its tax dollars out of South Australia, creating a net economic loss instead of the sugar hit the State Government had hoped for.”




‘WHEN a champion jockey like Hugh Bowman describes the new Eagle Farm track as ‘sub-standard’, if those responsible for correcting this problem ignore him then there is little hope for racing in Queensland.

Not too many subscribe to the theory that the powers-that-be should persevere because the track needs to be raced on to consolidate. Even less agree with the theory of BRC Chairman Neville Bell that jockeys ‘failed to test’ the inside grass and prematurely plotted a course wide on the track last Saturday.

What’s the benefit of appointing Ambassadors for Racing (like Origin legend Billy Slater) if you don’t have a product worth promoting?

Punters big and small are walking away from betting on the new Eagle Farm track in droves. Don’t forget the reopening of this new circuit was seen as the savior of racing in Queensland that would boost turnover and bring back the crowds overnight.

Perhaps in six months time – when the track consolidates and the grass has time to grow properly – it will be one of the best racing and draining surfaces in the country. But right now it’s an almighty embarrassment.

There’s no point arguing over what should have happened and whether the reopening was rushed. What happens now is more important.

Should officialdom bite the bullet and temporarily close Eagle Farm for racing for a few more months? It will be a brave decision to press ahead considering the embarrassment of the past two weeks. There’s not much further out for winners to travel unless they knock down the fence and allow them to race along the front of the grandstand.

EDITOR’S NOTE: ONCE again it was left to BRAD DAVIDSON from the GOLD COAST BULLETINnot to spin doctor the situation with Eagle Farm in the mainstream racing media. Davidson got it right when he wrote: THERE’s no point sugar coating it – the way the Eagle Farm track played on Saturday was simply unacceptable. Yes, the track needs time to bed down and I’m still hopeful it will be a good track in the future. But there is no hiding the fact there are some serious concerns with the way the track is playing right now. Punters have no confidence in the new surface and some are even refusing to bet at Eagle Farm. Others simply can’t wait to get back to Saturday racing at Doomben.



AS I am a TRAINER in SOUTH-EAST QUEENSLAND, I would ask that my identity be withheld for obvious reasons:

‘THERE’S an easy solution to the problem confronting the Deagon community race day and all it requires is the backing of the Government or the local racing community.

A funding dispute between the Brisbane Racing Club and the Sandgate and District Chamber of Commerce means this popular meeting will not be held this year.

Before the horse bolts completely and a unique day that attracts thousands to historic Deagon is lost forever, Racing Queensland needs to take steps to resolve a few issues.

It seems obvious that the Brisbane Racing Club and Sandgate Chamber of Commerce are far from on good terms and far from happy with the financial returns they are receiving from the day. That being the case how can this be overcome?

One would have thought initially by approaching the Racing Minister and seeking her support for some funding from Queensland Events. In association with Tourism Queensland they manage to provide a healthy contribution to the running of the Beach Race Day at Mackay each year on which the TAB does not even bet.

Surely Events Queensland would have a lazy $10-$20,000 lying around that could save Deagon. If not, then perhaps RQ should kick in or ask the major Deagon trainers to contribute. After all several of them have made plenty out of real estate interests in the area and one could argue have enjoyed boutique training facilities at the expense of the rest of the industry for many, many years.

Whatever happens there are a heap of options to save Deagon even if it is too late to do anything about this year’s meeting in September. Let’s hope officialdom doesn’t sit on its backside for too long on this issue.’




‘I attended Sunday's meeting with my family and grand kids. As always Murwillumbah racetrack is a great place to enjoy the theatre of horse racing up close with plenty of room for the kids to run around, no queuing for drinks and good food at reasonable prices. That's my bouquet.

Now for the brickbats! From my vantage point just prior to the running of race 6, I noticed that barrier attendants had trouble loading the favourite Steve's Surprise into the outside gate. The back gates on barrier 10 were still open when the starter let them go and the favourite missed the start a good 1.5 lengths and was then hard ridden to be up sharing the lead outside Hydrazine. In the run to the line Steve's Surprise weakened to run 8th beaten just under 3 lengths. 

Immediately following the race an inquiry was held to ascertain as to whether the favourite was afforded a fair start. Correct weight was eventually declared twenty minutes later.

My bone of contention is that as the gates behind the favourite were not shut Steve's Surprise should have been declared a non-runner. Lesson number 162 on how to do your money on a racetrack!’




THE election campaign rolls into its last week and so far one of the biggest industries in the country has hardly rated a mention – racing.

CHRIS ROOTS reports for FAIRFAX MEDIAthat the topic of gambling is a no-go area for most politicians, unless they are speaking against it, but the fact that racing and the gaming industry continues to grow year on year should at least draw some attention.

The racing industry is controlled at state level and it is a significant contributor to most state budgets. The problem is that the source of the industry's revenue, gambling, is no longer state based. Gaming is an international industry, so surely it should come under federal government control in some way, but the issue remains a blindspot.

That Australia still doesn't have national TAB pools is one of the the most ridiculous things in 21st-century racing. 

The pools continue to lose ground in real terms every year because of the growth and promotion of fixed-price betting with TABs and corporate bookmakers. Tabcorp maintains two different TAB pools and UTAB another, which offers corporate bookies one of their biggest products – best tote.

A national pool would immediately put an end to that. It would also give the opportunity for bigger punters who have been disenfranchised by bookmakers' restricting the size of their bets to bet larger without significantly affecting the pool.

The stronger jurisdictions, Japan and Hong Kong, are tote based and even a percentage of the illegal betting money flows back into the big pools. 

A bigger pool means more confidence and more betting on the TAB. 

The TAB pool offers the best deal in terms of the return it gives to racing, yet it doesn't put pressure on its betting partners and government to make it as good as it could be. The larger the pool, the bigger the return to state government and racing. And a bigger pool would also mean the takeout could be cut, again to the benefit of punters.


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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