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.




IF several Queensland trainers were last year using the vitamin mix at the heart of the cobalt positives of Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh, does that suggest the testing procedures of RQ are not up to scratch?

Banned NSW trainer Sam Kavanagh told the VCAT cobalt hearing in Melbourne yesterday that he had ‘anecdotal evidence’ that several Queensland stables had been using the same drip regime that had been sourced from disgraced veterinarian Dr Adam Matthews.

Under cross examination from Racing Victoria’s counsel Jeff Gleeson SC, Kavanagh said he did not want to name the trainers in front of the media. Why not? It might just confirm rumours that have been circulating in the Sunshine State for some time.

But more alarming was the statement by Kavanagh that: “They (these Queensland trainers) didn’t have positive swabs but they were going exceptionally well.”

That allegation casts aspersions on some of the leading stables that did well in Queensland last season. It’s more ammunition for the finger-pointing to begin again that did the rounds before the new integrity hierarchy was appointed.   

There were some positives which were overturned on legal technicalities involving testing procedures but these hardly involved trainers that were ‘doing exceptionally well’ as Kavanagh alleged.

For the sake of all trainers it is imperative that Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett moves on this immediately. He was today quoted by BEN DORRIES in THE COURIER-MAIL as ‘urging’ Kavanagh to contact the Commission about his allegations of cobalt use in Queensland.

That’s not good enough and probably isn’t going to happen. QRIC has the power to subpoena Kavanagh and if they really want answers that has to happen now. The Government and the new Commissioner promised no stone would be left unturned in cleaning up the industry when QRIC was established. This is the first real opportunity to strike pay dirt. Here’s hoping the industry and its followers in Queensland aren’t disappointed – yet again.

A legion of punters who have lost confidence in the local product and have been openly claiming behind the scenes for some time that racing in the Sunshine State is not a level playing field are demanding answers to the questions:

Who are the trainers that Kavanagh was referring to?

If they were using the same ‘vitamin additives’ as those charged in Victoria, were their winners sent to be swabbed and, if not, why?

If they were swabbed why then did these not return positive swabs in Queensland as occurred interstate?

The entire integrity of the Queensland operation is at stake here. They can call Kavanagh a ‘disgraced’ trainer but why would he want to single out Queensland trainers.  There is no way that Kavanagh is just going to voluntarily answer the call from Barnett to come forward. He must be forced to.

It’s time Mr Commissioner for you and your highly paid staff to get off your backsides and get some answers or those critics who claim QRIC is nothing more than a bureaucratic waste of money will have more ammunition to question your worth and credibility.



MARY TURNER of MELBOURNE goes into bat for MICHELLE PAYNE to retain the Melbourne cup ride on PRINCE OF PENZANCE:

‘SO the knives are already out from the ‘old boys’ club’ to dump Michelle Payne as the rider of Melbourne Cup winner, Prince of Penzance.

Even before Michelle’s history-making ride in the big race last year there were reports of discontent among the owners and a behind-the-scenes push to replace her with a male jockey.

Despite her 10 out of 10 ride on Prince of Penzance – not to mention the dedication she showed beyond the call of duty to partner the Cup winner in his lead-up races and trackwork, it seems those same doubters are determined to return to haunt her.

With all due respects to any owner having the right to declare his jockey preference, it’s a low blow to use the misfortune of a career-threatening fall and injuries to dampen Michelle’s plans for a comeback.

Are some of these owners in this male dominated sport still smarting at the comments made by Michelle and the publicity that continues to engulf her off the cuff ‘they can all get stuffed’ comment?

I have never met Michelle but I am a huge fan – have been since before she rode the Cup winner – but from a female perspective I would be surprised if she would not have chosen her words more carefully given the time over.

Not that I disagree with what she had to say but many believe that some groups – outside of racing – have used her to promote their anti-male philosophies. All Michelle intended to do was promote the cause of woman jockeys and inform the world just how much more difficult it is for them moulding a successful career.

One of the major owners of Prince of Penzance (John Richards) has told the media that Payne faces a ‘near impossible’ task getting herself fit to ride Prince of Penzance in his bid to win back-to-back Cups. She is determined to beat the odds but these doubts must be hurting her.

Being the determined lady and competitive character she is this will only make her more determined but recovery from serious surgery to injuries that she suffered in that fall at Mildura cannot be rushed too much at the risk of a relapse.

It would be interesting to know how the other owners of Prince of Penzance feel or for that matter one of Michelle’s biggest supporters in trainer Darren Weir. What they should never forget is that no jockey – even the best male in the country – could have ridden the horse any better in the Cup.

Michelle knows Prince of Penzance better than any rider. One wonders if he would perform as well for a male rival. Here’s hoping we never find out. Payne and the Prince are part of horse racing folklore in this country. It would be a brave owner who would deprive the sport of a repeat performance by these cult figures in November.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: HERE’S a story by PATRICK BARLTEY for FAIRFAX MEDIAthat no doubt prompted the above response: 

ONE of the leading owners of last year's $6 million Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance maintains that jockey Michelle Payne faces a "near impossible" task of being fit to ride the stayer in his bid to win back-to-back Cups.

Wealthy Ballarat businessman John Richards told Fairfax Media that while Payne was back riding at Ballarat, her quest to return in time for this year's Cup would be "most difficult". 

"She is back riding work but she hasn't got her jockey's licence and while physically she's building up, she's yet to have any race day fitness. That is so important," Richards said.

"To be honest, I fear she faces a near impossible task. I think she feels she will be back in time but we are not optimistic.

"His [Prince of Penzance] first start is coming up and if she can't ride him, we've then got to look around and have someone ready to replace her."

Prince of Penzance is due to return to racing at Flemington in the Makybe Diva Stakes on September 10, leaving the 31-year-old a little over a month for her return.

Payne, who did not return calls to Fairfax Media, told the Australia Woman's Weekly: "I have never hopped on a horse thinking 'what if?' I couldn't wait to get back on [her horse] Woody. As soon as I was on him, I knew everything would be OK." 

She told the magazine that she'd had "the fire back in the belly". 

Payne's family and her medical advisers were deeply concerned that she ran the risk of death if she suffered another serious racetrack fall following the tear to her pancreas in a tumble at Mildura in May.

After being in observation in the Mildura Hospital, she was flown to The Alfred hospital where she underwent a three-hour surgery to her liver and pancreas.

"It's a Melbourne Cup and plans have got to be made," Richards said.

Just three weeks ago, Payne returned to riding trackwork at her home town of Ballarat and was working with trainer Darren Weir and her younger brother Andrew in the past few weeks.

Many in the Payne family believe that the medical reports of Payne's injuries will be the key to any return for the female jockey who became an overnight world celebrity with her win on Prince of Penzance.



ALBERT WILLIAMS, of REDCLIFFE, a regular contributor to the WHINGE, has his say on another controversial topic:

‘WHAT disgusting depths are some unethical individuals in the racing industry prepared to reach when it comes to destroying the credibility of those officials they cannot control or have a vendetta against?

In the wake of the Cobalt crisis and the Dan Nikolic saga in Victoria, some of us have watched in disbelief and anger at the character assassination job being done oN Racing Victoria Chief Steward Terry Bailey and key members of his integrity team.

Now some of the stories and rumours doing the rounds in racing concerning Kane Ashby when he was Head of the Racing Compliance Team in Victoria have been revived because there are those opposed to his appointment as Internal Appeals Reviewer for the new Queensland Racing Integrity Commission.

The lies being pedalled about Bailey and Ashby would earn them big money in defamation actions were there to be repeated publicly. Of course the gutless wonders circulating malicious stories do them anonymously but such is the nature of the racing industry grapevine that these soon spread like a plague.

As the old saying goes when enough crap hits the fan some has to stick. At least some fair thinking individuals in key positions in racing are starting to question the motives for this character assassination and who would benefit most from the discrediting or demise of high profile integrity individuals like Bailey and Ashby.

Sadly sections of the media are helping to pedal this mischief by giving it an airing. Perhaps if they devoted more time to looking at why it is happening or who is behind it they would be doing their jobs much more effectively. But in today’s industry coverage in the mainstream media there are arguably those with the remote control button who don’t have racing’s best interests at heart but more so their own or those who can help them boost their profile more.

Bailey has even been accused on social media of organizing the shooting of his own front door. It must have been the final straw for him and his family after some of the garbage that he has been subjected to during his battle with Dan Nikolic and supporters of that jockey in his bid to be relicensed.

It was sad that Bailey was forced to go into bat for a former colleague in Kane Ashy because it became convenient to use an incorrect report from the O’Brien-Kavanagh cobalt hearing in Melbourne to try and cost him his new job in Queensland.

Some of the allegations concerning Ashby’s departure from Victoria are nothing short of unbelievable. They are claiming he quit amid controversy over his work as a ‘fence jumper’ leading the RVL Compliance Team when in fact he was on long service leave accompanying his wife to Queensland where she had accepted a Government job. Ashby has been working as a landscaper on the Sunshine Coast because for some strange reason the previous RQ hierarchy did not want a steward of his high standing and availability to join their integrity ranks which were in dire need of a credibility boost or some could say were an absolute shambles.

Since he got the job as Independent Appeals Reviewer with the QRIC the knives have been out for Ashby and therein may lie another story. Perhaps an investigative racing journalist might like to question who he fell out with in Victoria and whether that person might have an axe to grind with him. Legalities prevent me from saying anything further but my mail from the right people is that it is far more creditable the garbage the racing media is currently listening to in a determined effort to have Ashby sacked.

Yes, as an objective critic wrote recently: ‘Australian racing is a dysfunctional and a conflicted mess dominated by polarizing individuals, motivated by self-interest and greed. If it had been around in ancient times, it would have shared billing with some of the barbaric games at the Colosseum in ancient Rome.’





‘AFTER watching early days of the Olympics coverage from Rio my mates and I are convinced that only one broadcaster could have provided a worse coverage – and that was SKY CHANNEL.

What a woeful effort!’




‘HOW could anyone back Anton En Avant in the fourth at Eagle Farm last Saturday – yet it firmed from $26 to $17?

I thought the horse had a chance at its previous start but in a similar race it was last throughout.

Talk about a form reversal – and the trainer claims it was the engagement of a senior rider that made all the difference.

The apprentice who rode the horse at its previous start had won on it three times, the latest last year at Doomben.

That important fact seemed to escape the stewards in their deliberations.’




WASN’T it wonderful to hear ‘champion’ trainer Chris Waller pumping up the wet track capabilities of Sydney racing after another stable second string (Dubaiinstyle) saluted at Randwick on Saturday.

There was no mention, of course, of his poor tipping form. Waller’s ‘bet of the day’ was Harlem Lady which ran fourth in the small field as a heavily backed favourite in the first. At least the race wasn’t won by a second string stablemate – it ran second.




‘A gold medal winning swimmer calls his arch international rival a ‘drug cheat’. There are skeletons in the closet but he cops a merciless hammering from the Chinese. Those on the anti-drugs in sport bandwagon have applauded him, including some newspaper editorials.

A leading steward calls a former top trainer a ‘drug cheat’. There are skeletons in the closet. Supporters of the trainer call for the head of the steward arguing if the same had been said by a licensee he would have been dealt with. Those on the anti-drugs in racing bandwagon are conspicuous by their silence, including the mainstream racing media (some of who have been less than fair).

Makes you wonder what would happen if a high profile trainer called one of his former colleagues a ‘drug cheat’. The way things are heading in racing he probably would have got more time than the guy who posted the positive.

THESE are interesting times in sport and racing.



AS a FORMER RACING OFFICIAL who is close to the CURRENT RQ STEWARDS’ PANEL, I would ask that you withhold my identity in running this:

‘THOSE close to the Racing Queensland stewards’ panel insist that morale is at rock bottom since the new Integrity Commission started running the show.

Perhaps the reasons we aren’t seeing more action at the station is because some stewards are so disillusioned that they are simply going through the motions.

Story goes the departure of Sam Woolaston, the Chief Stipe for North Queensland, who is joining the Racing Victoria panel, will be the first of many.

Whilst the racing and punting public await with interest some action at the station from the new Integrity Commissioner and those close to him, there a problems with the old guard as well.

In the opinion of many it is time for RQ Chief Steward Allan Reardon to be put out to pasture; for a new Head of Integrity to be appointed with some saying the best place for ‘acting’ Jamie Dart to go would be back to the vacancy now existing in Townsville; and for the hatchet campaign on former Victorian steward Kane Ashby to cease and everyone in the industry to accept his appointment as Independent Appeals Reviewer as a step in the right direction.

Terry Butts, a trainer, racing columnist and veteran industry figure in the north, summed up the disappointing loss of a competent and popular steward in Sam Woolaston when he wrote:

‘HIS departure is no surprise. With the continuing turmoil of Racing Queensland – at almost every level – coupled with what can only be described as a bleak outlook with too much political  intervention, and the lack of respect generally for the people making the decisions – decisions that have adversely affected the once vibrant industry.

Few could blame Mr Woolaston for his decision to migrate interstate. On Melbourne Cup day this year he won’t be chairing the panel at Cluden, Mackay or Cairns. He will be part of the officiating panel at Flemington. And good on him!



ALAN DUNLEVY of ROCKHAMPTON sent this email:

‘I wanted to commend Terry Butts on what he wrote in his ‘Silks & Saddles’ column this week concerning the treatment by Racing Queensland of the industry outside the metropolitan area.

As Butts wrote:

THE bombshell resignation of Sam Woolaston comes in the same week the Queensland Trainers’ Association Chairman Ross Shannon fired off an exceptional letter to Racing Queensland  condemning the apparent apathy displayed by the governing body towards clubs outside Doomben and Eagle Farm.

This widespread indifference by RQ towards to some country and provincial clubs has been evident for a long time.

They (successive and current RQ board members) don’t know what happens north of Caloundra and seemingly don’t care.

For their information the game is in a parlous state brought about by poor decisions by people in high places, most notably the UNiTAB deal brokered by the former RQ Chairman Kevin Dixon. It was a total disaster – and worse – the details of the deal have never been revealed and still remain clouded in secrecy.

Yes, why?

Confidence in the North is at an all-time low and there are very grave fears for the future. Not just for the battling country clubs either – but some of the bigger race clubs as well.




IT would be remiss of us at LETSGOHORSERACING not to pay tribute to a colleague in PHIL PURSER who pioneered horse racing websites in this country.

In what came as a shock to most Phil announced last week that after more than 20 years he had written the last story for his popular website JUSTRACING.

His decision was prompted by a health scare and a promise he made to his family to devote more time to them when he turned 60.

Like most of us Phil is disillusioned with the future confronting the racing industry in Australia and especially in Queensland. No-one can deny the fact he tried to help improve it.

But rather than remember the thousands of good things he did (many of them behind the scenes for those in need) or the wonderful stories and opinions that he expressed, there are those who prefer to focus on that one story that upset them. They include officials who, dare we say, Phil knew more about racing than they could ever hope to learn.




WHAT is wrong with some of these morons involved in the racing industry in North Queensland?

The hatchet job being done by some stakeholders on Kevin O’Keefe, chairman of the Townsville Turf Club, is almost unbelievable.

It has even degenerated to the stage where they have attempted to bring down his hard working and popular CEO Michael Charge.

A complaint, reportedly made by a licensee to the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, has seen stewards investigate the links Charge has to a horse owned by O’Keefe that was leased to staff at the TTC.

It followed an off-the-cuff comment by Charge on SKY Channel about a horse he had an interest in racing at Cluden. He was referring – not to his own personal ownership – but to the syndicate that he had organized from Turf Club staff to lease the horse, Hotel Paradiso.

Story goes a high profile industry identity has made no secret of his determination to see O’Keefe quit as TTC Chairman. The only thing that will make the decision for KOK is ill-health and unfortunately that looks certain to happen at the next AGM of the Club.

The loser will be racing in Townsville and the north in general – no-one has fought harder or contributed as much. In fact there are those who say the TTC, without O’Keefe at the helm, will go downhill faster than an out-of-control roller-coaster.

A message for his critics: Be careful what you wish for!




EMPLOYEES at TAB gaming outlets are breaching anti-money laundering controls by allowing controversial punters to place bets, collect winnings or shift funds through middlemen and third-party betting accounts.

NICK McKENZIE & KATE McCLYMONT report for FAIRFAX MEDIAthat betting records linked to controversial Sydney gambler Eddie Hayson - who bets alongside Victorian jockey Danny Nikolic, National Rugby League identities and figures with organised crime links - suggest a small number of TAB outlet staff are willfully ignoring prohibited betting practices.

The practices include the use of TAB phone accounts belonging to third parties, and a network of middlemen, known as "bowlers", to bet and collect winnings. They bet multiple times in amounts less than $10,000, because any transaction over $10,000 is automatically reported to anti-money laundering authorities.

The failure by a small number of TAB outlet staff to prevent or report these suspicious betting practices makes it harder for authorities to uncover or retrospectively investigate suspect financial or betting transactions.

Fairfax Media revealed on Friday that betting linked to Hayson on an NRL match in April and a horse race in May involved money passing through a number of middlemen and TAB outlets and accounts.

The NSW Police organised crime squad is evaluating betting data linked to the Parramatta versus Manly match in April, in addition to two NRL matches last year, to determine if there is any evidence to sustain allegations - vehemently denied by Hayson - of match fixing or the leaking of inside information.

SW and Victoria are also examining Hayson's use of a TAB account belonging to the girlfriend of jockey Danny Nikolic to shift funds and bet last year.

Police and racing authorities in Victoria continue to battle Nikolic in court as the Caulfield Cup winner seeks to regain his jockey licence and block police efforts to ban him from racetracks. 

The Supreme Court recently overturned Nikolic's racetrack ban, ruling that the jockey had been denied procedural fairness when police did not disclose to him the criminal intelligence they relied on to issue the ban and which is understood to contain damning phone tap material suggesting Nikolic's historical involvement in race fixing.

Supporters of Hayson, who declined to comment, say that he uses third-party accounts and middlemen to avoid his TAB ban and to place large bets, rather than to engage in any suspect practices. 

Hayson is just one of dozens of punters with links to organised crime figures who use third-party TAB accounts to bet or shift funds, despite the practice being banned.

A group of notorious criminal figures in Victoria are previously suspected by police to have paid kickbacks to a suburban TAB operator to facilitate the group's betting operations.

A Tabcorp spokesman said the company is "continually investing in our systems to ensure the security of our customers' TAB account funds and compliance with our regulatory obligations".

"If our agents or staff don't comply, we take action including revoking their TAB accreditation, cancelling their TAB agency agreements or other disciplinary action, including terminating their employment."

TAB's owner, Tabcorp, has moved to reform its internal controls after Australia's anti-money laundering agency AUSTRAC began action to seek multimillion-dollar penalties against the firm in the Federal Court last year.

AUSTRAC recently said in a statement it is running an "ongoing investigation into Tabcorp's extensive, significant and systemic non-compliance with Australia's money laundering" laws.

To track suspicious betting, TAB relies on computer analysis and small teams of diligent internal investigators. But until recently, sources said these investigation teams lacked the resources to conduct in-depth monitoring into the huge number of bets flagged as potentially suspicious.

Law enforcement agencies across Australia have uncovered the use of third-party TAB accounts in multiple unrelated probes.

Other betting companies are also vulnerable to exploitation. For instance, state and federal authorities are continuing to probe how Betfair has been used by Victorian underworld figure and big punter Horty Mokbel​ as an online bank and suspected vehicle for laundering millions of dollars of drug money.


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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