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.



AS you might expect the Whinge has been inundated with contributions relating to the ban on greyhound racing announced by the NSW Government. What most might not expect is how this decision has divided the racing public and stakeholders from the three codes.

We apologize to the many whose individual comments did not get a run today – that would have been far too repetitive and some were a ‘shade too hot to handle’ legally. Nevertheless, we have chosen a handful to publish which hopefully gets the general message – both sides of the argument – across.

Whilst we are LETSGOHORSERACING, like the majority of animal lovers, were appalled by the footage shown in the 4 Corners live baiting expose, we strongly oppose any ban on the sport. The Government ban has to survive legal challenges and the support of the Upper House. That aside we are far from convinced on two things (1) that the legislation will proceed and (2) that ‘live baiting’ has been totally eradicated in any state despite the assurances given by the industry. 

Long jail terms and life time bans from participating must apply nationally to anyone caught and let’s get some high quality integrity officials appointed to ensure this is properly policed replacing those who have simply failed to do their jobs or turned a blind eye to this abhorrent practice in the past.



TONY WONKA, a prominent greyhound and gallops identity in south-east Queensland, has his say on the NSW Government greyhound ban:

‘THE precarious state the greyhound racing industry in Australia now sees itself is partly due to racing authorities and participants themselves. And don’t think for one moment it is not an industry. It employs thousands of people throughout the country and is the only racing code which shows improving turnover despite what has happened in the past months.

The 4 Corners expose was hailed by many greyhound participants as the best thing that could happen for the industry. It exposed the cheats and finally bought an even playing field for all with the eradication of live baiting. The latter having been common practice by a small minority virtually untouched not only by racing stewards but also the auspicious RSPCA.

While stewards were required to make inspections of each licensees kennels on an annual basis it has been suggested that in the 12 months prior to 4 Corners there were less than 30 inspections of the 700-odd licensed kennels. Since then apparently all 700-odd kennels have been inspected, some multiple times. There was even a suggestion that on one of the rare visits a steward bought back a possum trap which it seems was dispatched promptly to the rubbish dump at Deagon.

The actions of the RSPCA were no better, in fact a lot worse. It would appear that in the 10 years prior to 4 Corners there was only one prosecution involving two licensed greyhound trainers and that was despite the fact that a spokesman for the RSPCA was quoted as saying that live baiting was rife in the industry. If it was, how come they could only find and make one conviction in the previous 10 years?

Apart from the live baiting 4 Corners also exposed the ‘wastage’ in the industry. Sadly, however, the figures the animal libbers quoted were impossible, given that they claimed that there were more dogs put down than that were actually bred. But as the saying goes don’t let the real facts get in the way of a fanciful story.

This was exemplified last Thursday night on Channel 9’s lead news bulletin when the reporter loudly exclaimed that 69,000 greyhounds were put down in NSW in the last 12 MONTHS. Of course this figure was the extreme of what the NSW Commission of Inquiry claimed was that BETWEEN 48,000 and 69,000 greyhounds were ‘wasted’ in the past 12 YEARS NOT 12 MONTHS. The Channel Nine news reporter failed to add that 12,500 dogs and cats were ‘wasted’ last year by NSW RSPCA, but I guess that’s not newsworthy!

In a nutshell the 4 Corners report identified two main issues with greyhound racing, an industry that puts millions of dollars into the revenues of all State Governments. They were the live baiting issues and wastage of slow dogs.

To its credit Racing Queensland has belatedly grasped the animal cruelty issue and live baiting is now a thing of the past, no licensee in his/her right mind would bother given the ramifications and resultant jail terms. Races are still being run, records are still being broken and betting turnover continues to increase without live baiting.

Given what (NSW Premier) Mike Baird said in his speech one would think live baiting continues. That’s a fallacy – it’s over – people have moved on. Sure it was part of a minority now it’s no longer. Pity someone didn’t tell him a line was drawn in the sand in February 2014.

The problem with wastage has been addressed somewhat by restricting the breeding of greyhounds and this has been long overdue. While it still has problems the end result will be that fewer dogs will be bred. In fact some suggest that breeding numbers have dropped 40% in the past 18 months. This certainly has reduced the number of pups born but with it a problem in that long time industry participants rightly claim that there will be insufficient dogs to fill the required fields in the next six to 12 months. That’s a fact.

But in this aspect greyhound administrators have sat back and done nothing to resolve the wastage. I noted that Mike Baird said that 180 dogs were fatally injured in races in the past 12 months in NSW. When you consider that throughout NSW in the past 12 months there were about 6,500 races run comprising eight dogs each, that’s a total of 52,000 competitors – and 180 were fatally injured. That is 0.34% of dogs. And Baird thinks that’s worth mentioning. It’s a lot worse for the thoroughbreds, but that didn’t rate a mention.

The problem with wastage is that currently because of the antiquated way dog races are drawn there is no room for slower dogs. The old grading system has been in operation since greyhound racing began in 1876 when dogs actually chased live hares. It’s old, it’s unworkable and it does lead to wastage. But sadly greyhound authorities have done nothing to address this vital issue.

Instead of taking a look at how the gallops and harness racing handicap their horses on a like against like basis greyhound authorities have sat back twiddled their thumbs, looked up at the ceiling and done nothing.

In horse racing, each horse is given a rating which mirrors its ability. Once the horse’s rating is set then it participates in races set down for horses rated within that figure. If a horse has rated say 65 it races in a race for which horses rated 65 and lower compete. The higher rated the horse obviously the better rated event it contests. The lower rated races are usually in the country and the higher rated races held in the city. There is no logical reason why this same system can’t be implemented in the greyhound industry. Until it is, there is always going to be wastage and that’s what gives the animal libbers ammunition to cause further grief to an industry where the participants take better care of their animals than themselves.

That probably applies less to thoroughbreds and pacers where close contact by owners and trainers is a lot less involved. You can hardly sit down and watch TV with a thoroughbred sitting on your lap. But by the same token there is absolute wastage in these industries as well and you can bet London to a brick on that the animal libbers will be after these as well. If they bothered to take a look at how many foals are born each year compared to how many horses are registered two years later when it’s time to race they might be shocked. I guess the only difference here is that greyhound participants are easy ‘kills’ pardon the pun, than the more gracious and well-heeled and well connected thoroughbred folk. But I think their time will certainly come, and they won’t have long to wait.’




‘RATHER than trying to use ‘scare tactics’ that the ‘gallops will be next’, the greyhound industry should focus on having the NSW ban lifted by cleaning up its own backyard.

Critics of the Baird Government decision to close greyhound racing should read the damning report of former High Court Judge Michael McHugh after the Commission of Inquiry where he proposed two alternatives – ban the sport altogether or eliminate live baiting and reduce ‘wastage’ to an acceptable level.

Perhaps the argument is valid that greyhound racing is a sport of a bygone era. Society has changed and no longer turns a blind eye to unacceptable practices, especially in this era of animal liberationists and greens.

The philosophy that the minority has brought the majority down was obviously debatable in the eyes of the NSW Government who decided a ban was the only solution. Sadly, the entire industry must now pay the price for a lack of policing for so long by those appointed to ensure these disgraceful practices were not occurring behind the scenes.

Forget about whether Peter V’Landys, the CEO of Racing NSW, privately predicted the demise of greyhound racing months before it happened or whether the Government wants to sell off racing facilities, like Wentworth Park, reportedly worth hundreds of millions of real estate dollars. At the end of the day compensation will have to be paid to those whose livelihoods have been removed. That alone is a minefield.

The suggestion is that Queensland and Victoria will be the big winners of the NSW ban. Yet those states had similar live baiting problems but are confident measures have been taken to combat the problem. The cynics are yet to be convinced. Proof of the pudding rests with tougher integrity measures and better staffing of those units to ensure it doesn’t happen again.’



AS I have been involved in GREYHOUND RACING in QUEENSLAND for a lifetime, please understand why I don’t want to reveal my identity:

‘QUEENSLAND could hardly follow the lead of NSW and ban greyhound racing when – in the eyes of many – their solution to the problem here is little more than a band-aid cure.

I am not an animal liberationist but even Blind Freddy was aware of what had been happening for years in the greyhound industry – not only here but in other States. And what did the authorities or stewards do about it – next to nothing?

The gallops are too powerful to be wiped out anywhere – they have too much political pull regardless of controversies involving use of the whip or cobalt or prohibited drugs or jumps racing. I won't even go down the track of some reports of what happens in harness racing which seems to have been forgotten in all this drama surrounding the dogs.

Let’s accept for starters that it would be financially foolhardy for any Government to close a sport like greyhound racing that provides such a popular past-time, employs so many and contributes so much to the economy.

For live baiting and other abhorrent behavior which has dogged the sport to change there needs to be more than lip service and stern warnings from people like Racing Minister Grace Grace who, with all due respects, in the eyes of most wouldn’t know a greyhound from a guinea pig.

We keep hearing that animal welfare is at the forefront of the racing industry, how major steps have already been taken in the reform process with the establishment of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission and a number of individuals have been dealt with and disqualified for animal welfare breaches.

One gets the impression that the animal liberations won’t be happy until all greyhound and horse racing is gone – and that is never going to happen. But what those of us who follow closely the three codes of racing and like having a flutter want to see happen is a level playing field and a lack of cruelty to the horses and dogs competing.

This comes back to a lack of proper policing in the past and someone should have taken responsibility for that. The Labor Government will say it sacked the three Boards and a couple of other high profile administrators were thrown under the bus.

But what about the Chief Steward who was responsible for Greyhounds in Queensland at the time of the live baiting expose – what happened to him? Well he was promoted to Head of Integrity of Racing Queensland and is now one of the front-runners for that job which was re-advertised as part of the new Integrity Commission. With all due respects if that  individual gets the job then that will make a laughing stock of the selection process in the eyes of many followers of the sport.

Then we had the high profile greyhound identity – involved in racing, breeding and an official capacity – who allegedly admitted to other officials that he knew of live baiting. What happened to him – well he is no longer an official – but continues to be heavily involved with the sport and there were no recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry that action should taken against him. In fact, was he even required to appear and give evidence? It would be interesting to know why.

One would hope that the new Integrity Commissioner of Racing in Queensland – a former high profile policeman – is well aware of the mistakes of the past, who made them and those who are still playing a role in the industry. The minute another controversy erupts on the local scene. a bucket of you-know-what will be deservedly dumped on his head.




IF the appointment of former Victorian steward Kane Ashby is any indication of the quality being sought then the new Queensland Racing Integrity Commission is on the right track.

Ashby will take on the new role of Internal Reviewer, which is a position independent of stewards and other officials. A former jockey, trainer, steward and manager of Racing Victoria’s Compliance Assurance Team, he has the right credentials for the job.

For some strange reason the former RQ stewarding hierarchy were reportedly not interested in Ashby joining their panel when it was made known to them that he had moved to the Sunshine Coast and was looking for a racing job over a year ago.

The regret for the industry is that Ashby will be restricted to a role like 'Internal Reviewer' when he would make a first class Head of Integrity or Chairman of Stewards which is long overdue for Racing Queensland. The way the QRIC handles those appointments will be watched with interest by the industry and the racing public.




A BRITISH punter is exploring legal action in an attempt to get global betting giant Bet365 to release almost $100,000 from her account.

UK publication The Guardian reported the punter – whose identity has not been made public – felt legal methods were required to get her hands on the money after a lengthy series of emails and phone calls had proved futile.

The customer opened and deposited £30,000 ($54,000) into an account in April this year and quickly lost £23,000 ($41,400) on the races.

After being contacted by Bet365 to inform her that her maximum bet size had increased, she continued to punt on horse racing and turned the remaining £7,000 into £54,000 ($97,200).

At this point the punter’s account was restricted to a maximum stake of £1 ($1.80) bets on horseracing due to a “trading decision.”

Frustrated that she was unable to place bets of any meaningful size, she requested a withdrawal of the £54,000 ($97,200) balance. Two months down the track the transaction still hasn’t been processed.

Her account has reportedly been verified and she has also provided bank statements to Bet365 – at the bookmaker’s request – confirming the source of her funds. There is supposedly no question about the validity of the winning bets.

Bet365, which has held a Northern Territory licence to operate in Australia since February 2011, has not surprisingly so far declined to comment on the case.

Interestingly, Bet365 was recently found guilty by the Federal Court of luring new punters with a false ‘free bets’ offer. The online gambling giant has been hit with a $2.8 million penalty for failing to prominently display the conditions, which included that, in order to receive the $200 free bet, new customers had to first deposit and gamble $200 of their own money. The ‘free bets’ offer also contained conditions where consumers had to first gamble three times the value of their deposit and bonus within 90 days before withdrawing any winnings and had to bet on higher risk transactions.

Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the offer was aimed at enticing new customers through what the judge called a ‘web of deception’. Bet365 amazingly blamed a ‘software error’.




IF the Government of NSW is going to close greyhound racing then they have to put a blanket ban on any bookmaker or TAB operating in that state on the interstate dogs.

Failure to adopt that procedure would smack of pure hypocrisy. If the industry is too on the nose to operate in NSW then it must be considered similarly in other states and therefore unpalatable for any sort of betting operative.

Ironically, since the 4 Corners exposure caused havoc for the greyhound industry on the east coast the turnover on dog racing over the past 12 months has increased to such a degree that harness racing is now running last in the popularity stakes with punters, not that this is any surprise to punters, especially in Queensland.  



THE new Racing Queensland Integrity Commissioner is being urged to instruct stewards to revisit an aborted inquiry as part of a current case involving a successful trainer.

Letsghorseracing has received several emails from stakeholders in country Queensland interested in the case who say a previous inquiry was halted controversially for legal reasons which were never made public.

The trainer, said to have links to high profile Government officials, comes from a region where calls for more vigilant attention from RQ Integrity allegedly have fallen on deaf ears.

LGHR is not prepared to publish anything further on this except to say that every stakeholder is entitled to the presumption of innocence but, like others, we will be watching proceedings with interest.



BRAD DAVIDSON, considered by many the most objective racing writer in Queensland, is another great talent soon to be lost to the State.

It’s rather ironic that as soon as one of the sport’s best scribes rocks the boat he seems to be ostracized by some industry leaders and treated by a leper by some of his far less talented 'spin doctoring' racing media colleagues.

Davidson, who is off to join the Daily Telegraph turf team in Sydney, follows Daniel Mears, who also worked for the Gold Coast Bulletin and was treated just as badly, at times, during his turf writing stint in Queensland.

Wouldn't it be nice to eventually see a change of heirarchy at Queensland Newspapers and the return of both to key roles where they can keep a more vigilant eye on how racing is covered in this state?



THE recent Mackay Cup Day was not without drama. Connections of Court Clown, which was placed fourth by the judge in the rough house running of the Newmarket, thought their horse might have finished third or at least dead-heated for the minor prize. They asked for the photo finish print – but there wasn‘t one.

TERRY BUTTS reports in his SILKS & SADDLES column for the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER that stewards then viewed the SKY Channel vision and were confident the judge had got it right.

Butts reports that the judge was flown from Brisbane to officiate and describes it as ‘yet another cost-cutting exercise by RQ – which won’t offer rebates for horses, but is happy to fly officials to attend race meetings to perform duties that for a 100 years have been performed by club committee members, mostly in an honorary capacity."

Butts declares: 'A Time in Motion study is overdue at HQ. It could result in a few empty desks.'




OUTSTANDING sport underpinned Hong Kong’s 2015/16 season, which closed out at Sha Tin last Sunday, with a stronger than anticipated financial performance across its 83 race meetings.

Champions were crowned before an enthusiastic crowd of 45,783, and, with the season’s HK$106.14 billion total turnover the second-highest ever recorded –only marginally down on last year’s all-time peak figure –the season finale offered measured optimism for next season when the Hong Kong racing calendar will extend to 88 fixtures.

Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the HKJC’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “A year ago, despite having just secured record turnover figures, we talked about the season ahead being one of resilience due to the slowing down of the Hong Kong economy, that this naturally would have an impact on our financials. But Hong Kong racing has shown tremendous resilience. The total gross margin, which is what we have as a Club to run our operation, was HK$4.458 billion, which is only down by 1% so in the overall context this is an extremely good result and from April onwards we had a very positive trend, so this leaves us cautiously optimistic for next season.

The record turnover for a single season of HK$107.92 billion posted one year ago was the summit of what Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges termed ‘a remarkable decade of growth’, the total for season 2005/06 having been only HK$60 billion.

“Here we are, one decade on, and although we forecast a dip of about three percent from last years high, we have finished this season with a total turnover down by just 1.7% percent on one year ago,” he said.

“If you look at today (Sunday) it was the highest turnover ever for an 11-race card, with record turnover of HK$1.83 billion, which is an amazing figure. Also, our betting duty contribution for this year was HK$12.1 billion, whereas if you go back 10 years that figure was HK$8 billion, so this contribution to the Hong Kong community is certainly something that we are very proud of.

Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges talked of  ‘one astonishing figure’ related to commingling, a key component of the Club’s long-term business strategy.

“The commingling figure today is a record HK$74 million, which is HK$11 million up on the previous record,he said, further noting thatHong Kong racing as a global product is extremely attractive and this shows that it definitely has further growth potential. This season the commingling turnover was up by 31%, which is amazing. We are already looking forward to another good season ahead, the first in Hong Kong’s history to offer 88 domestic race meetings, and with an increase in our overseas simulcast occasions to 23, up from 15.

Sunday’s attendance was a four-year high for the season finale, which pushed the season’s overall attendance to 2.042 million, and Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges praised racing fans for their role in Hong Kong’s success and applauded them for creating a unique atmosphere at Sha Tin’s major occasions.

“The atmosphere today was outstanding, as it has been so many times this season,” he said. “You just had to hear the cheers from the public at the start of the last race; it shows the tremendous enjoyment people get from being here and participating in this wonderful sport.

Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges emphasized the world class sport that Hong Kong racing’s fans were privileged to witness throughout 2015/16, highlighting Hong Kong’s latest star, Werther, as a standout and noting the very high quality of the overseas raiders that were attracted to Sha Tin’s showcase Group 1 occasions.

“Werther was ranked joint-third in the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings after his AP QEII Cup win,” he said.That was perhaps the best ever edition of the QEII, with world class runners from Japan, Ireland and Australia, and so it was satisfying to see Hong Kong secure a 1-2-3 with Military Attack and Blazing Speed filling the places. That reflects the depth of horses we have ranked in the international classifications.

“In terms of attracting quality horses from overseas, we had the strongest overseas runners for a long time, probably the strongest ever. That, in combination with the strength of our own horses will see a further international growth in the standing of our now open Group races,” continued Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges.

“For a Yasuda Kinen and Mile Championship winner like Maurice, Japan’s Horse of the Year, no less, to come to Hong Kong and win both the Hong Kong Mile and Champions Mile it was a remarkable feat,he noted.

“We also had the first Hong Kong success for global powerhouse Coolmore when Highland Reel won the Hong Kong Vase at our International Races in December. The Australian champion, Chautauqua, is the world’s top sprinter now and his heart-pounding last-to-first score in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize will be a lasting memory; and A Shin Hikari, voted our Most Admired Overseas Horse, followed his Hong Kong Cup win with a dominant performance in France and currently leads the world standings for the top-rated performance in 2016 so far.

Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges also lauded Hong Kong’s world class trainers and jockeys, notably John Size, who claimed an eighth Hong Kong champion trainer title and Joao Moreira, whose record-breaking feats claimed a second jockeyschampionship.

“It has been a tremendous year with much success and many congratulations are in order,” he said.My sincere thanks to our team at the Jockey Club, to the Owners, trainers and jockeys, and to our loyal race fans who all combine to make our successes possible.


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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