Jenny - Clean

THE WEDNESDAY WHINGE has a new look but won’t be dispensing with the theme and focus on the THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY side of what is happening in racing. The Whinge will continue to provide an opportunity for The Cynics to Have Their Say. Thanks again for your support for the most read column on this website and one of the most read on racing websites in the country. Our popularity continues to grow despite the bagging it cops from some high profile officials, especially in Queensland, who cannot cope with constructive criticism of any kind. We encourage supporters – and critics – to continue to contribute but plan to restrict the Whinge to less than 10 of the best items each week. Our message to those who continually bag us is simple: IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT YOU READ, THEN DON’T REVISIT THE WHINGE.



THE bone chip surgery that champion mare Winx underwent and whether top trainer Chris Waller should have kept it secret for so long was the main discussion point for contributors to the Whinge during the past week.

Rather than run many repetitive emails that we received it was decided to chose just two that hopefully highlight the feelings of most and get the general message across.


‘IT was interesting to read the different approach to the storm in a teacup surrounding surgery to the peoples’ favorite Winx from different sections of the racing media.

Ray Thomas from News Limited not surprisingly went to great lengths to build Brownie Points with champion trainer Chris Waller playing down any seriousness to the situation.

In contrast Chris Roots from Fairfax Media declared the ‘secrecy’ surrounding the Winx surgery as ‘an awful look for racing’.

There was a time when these turf writers for the big newspapers were seen as the ‘voice of the punting public’. Sadly, some now seem more interested in scoring political points and ensuring they don’t get key identities offside in any way.

It has reached the stage in coverage of Sydney racing where Ray Thomas is regarded by punters as ‘Mr Goody Two Shoes’ who will always find a means of defending officials in the spotlight of controversy or licensees under fire from punters. Some even regard him as the mouthpiece for one of the most disliked administrators in Australian racing in Peter V’landys.

Expect Thomas to win all the media awards while Roots will battle while he continues to call a spade a spade or simply does his job. Fairfax, of course, is regarded by officialdom as the poor relation in the racing media – not getting any of the rich booty from the TAB for form guides which one might argue puts News Limited in a compromising situation when it comes to objective coverage of the industry.

Roots got it right when he wrote: “Racing has open inquiries, change of tactics announcements and injury reporting. It makes Winx's bone chip surgery, which took place on April 11, but was not reported until four months later, an awful look for racing. Given the fact betting had to be suspended on the Queen Elizabeth Stakes six days before the race because it had become obvious Winx was unlikely to run, makes the surgery a week later more than relevant.”

Thomas, on the other hand, was all but an apologist for what Waller did, whether he complied with the Rules of Racing, when he wrote: WINX’S floating bone chip in a fetlock was a longstanding issue that had not caused the mighty mare any problems on the racetrack. He quoted the champion trainer as saying: “On my son’s life, Winx has never had a day’s lameness. The normal procedure for us is to tell the stewards before we accept in a race. I fully understand that people have put money on in the Cox Plate but if I didn’t think she could win the Cox Plate we would not be nominating and going for it.’’

Media outlets, top broadcasters, race program hosts and leading turf writers rely heavily on key identities like trainers, jockeys and stables to do their jobs. One might assume the task with Waller in particular will be a good deal harder for Roots than it is for Thomas in future. But in the eyes of the punting public there was only one winner.

If Chris Roots is having second thoughts about what he wrote, my message to him is this: Keep up the good work mate. Waller went to great lengths to keep the surgery to Winx a secret. There was no exclusive in this, even for his media mates. And as for having a hot line to his race eve predictions – well, what’s second prize!’



AND there was this one from MARK SCANLAN of MELBOURNE, obviously not a fan of racing in Sydney or what he considers is almost a ‘protected species’ attitude to Chris Waller and some of the top stables.

‘THE more things change, the more they stay the same. We have a new Chairman of Stewards at Racing NSW and the end of an era. But the first opportunity the new top cop gets to show he won’t be walked over by one of the top stables with so much influence in Sydney racing he fails to step up to the plate.

Marc van Gestel had a great opportunity with this recent situation involving Winx and Chris Waller to show the racing and punting public that all stakeholders are treated equally and that there can be no perception of a ‘protected species’.

When I heard that Van Gestel was to be interviewed about the Winx surgery which stewards only learnt about four months after it occurred then I tuned into RSN with interest and anticipation. That soon turned to disappointment.

Van Gestel went to great lengths to declare that Waller did nothing wrong but was quick to add that the situation would lead to a request from NSW stewards for the Rules to be changed to ensure there was not repetition of what occurred with Winx.

“We were surprised. From what Chris Waller had told us the stable just felt the Doncaster run had taken a bit out of her when he wasn’t prepared to back Winx up in the Queen Elizabeth in seven days,” Van Gestel told RSN but limited his criticism to “it would have been better had stewards been told earlier about the surgery”.

Van Gestel pointed out that under the current Rules there was no obligation on Waller to inform the stewards that Winx had undergone surgery as long as he did so prior to her next start, the planned comeback in Saturday’s Warwick Stakes. But he failed to address the issue of pre-post betting on the Cox Plate for which the mare is an early favorite.

The other unacceptable part of this incident, not only from my perspective but many others in racing, was that stewards did not even require Waller to attend an inquiry in person. They did it by teleconference. Too often in Sydney racing, even on a Saturday when the major players are at the track, stewards are happy for a stable foreperson or representative to attend inquiries to answer their questions while the high profile trainer goes about his business without having to sit in the hot seat. It’s not good enough.

In the case of the Winx surgery saga, the questions asked of Waller by stewards will never be known as it was not an inquiry that was open to the media. For some strange reason there was also a request that the interview not be made public until the following day. What the stuff is going on with stewards in Sydney racing where Waller is concerned.

Punters are the lifeblood of the industry, without their contribution it would not survive and they cannot be treated like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed bullshit.

Waller will be desperate to silence any criticism by winning the Warwick Stakes with Winx when she returns to racing. He has already blamed and given social media a bagging for not publishing the facts about her problem. I am not sure what he means by that.

There was no transparency in the Winx situation until he was happy to tell the world what had happened to the peoples’ horse. He didn’t break the rules but there was, one could argue, an ethical requirement on him not to keep this surgery – minor or not – a secret. Stewards need to change the rules to ensure no such situation ever occurs again.

No doubt when Winx comes out and wins on Saturday – which we all hope she does – the controversial side of her much awaited return will be swept under the carpet while the tears roll and the back slapping of Waller will be finger down the throat stuff.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: THE rules need to be changed to ensure stewards and punters are kept informed about surgery when it occurs – not months later or before a horse returns to racing. Here are two stories from the major newspapers and top turf writers. You be the judge of who was interested in protecting the interests of the punting public.


CHRIS ROOTS wrote for FAIRFAX MEDIA:          

PUNTERS have never been better informed than they are today, but the more information people get the more they want.

The availability of information, especially race videos, has changed the way punters can find a winner. Racing has open inquiries, change of tactics announcements and injury reporting.  

It makes Winx's bone chip surgery, which took place on April 11, but was not reported until four months later, an awful look for racing. 

Given the fact betting had to be suspended on the Queen Elizabeth Stakes six days before the race because it had become obvious Winx was unlikely to run, makes the surgery a week later more than relevant.

Champion trainer Chris Waller controlled Winx's surgery situation outstandingly. He made sure it never got out, almost impossible in an industry where rumours run wild.

He did nothing wrong under the rules in reporting when he did, but given what had occurred in the week preceding to the surgery, the non-acceptance of her when an odds-on favourite from a $4 million race, the public had a right to know in April.

Trainers are control freaks – they don't let people know too much because they'll always want more.

The questions asked by stewards of Waller on Thursday when the injury was reported will never get a full airing as it was not an inquiry open to the media. There was also a request that the interview not be made public until Friday.

The last time something similar happened was when So You Think's tie-back surgery was revealed in the press the day before his spring campaign began, which ended with a second Cox Plate victory.

Many will be hoping for the same result with Winx.

Bart Cummings had done nothing wrong under the rules then, like Waller now, but it led to the reporting rule. That will be further tightened after the Winx's situation.



WINX’S floating bone chip in a fetlock was a longstanding issue that had not caused the mighty mare any problems on the racetrack.

But trainer Chris Waller conceded he agonised over whether to risk surgery for Winx before deciding to have the floating piece removed.

On the eve of Winx’s return to racing in the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday, Waller spoke to The Daily Telegraph about the champion mare’s fetlock issue and of criticism this information should have been made public sooner.

The controversy had its genesis in April after Winx won a famous Doncaster Mile on day one of The Championships. But the race was so demanding on the mare, Waller decided not to back her up in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes seven days later.

Instead, he ordered a veterinary examination before Winx was sent to the spelling paddock, without suspecting anything untoward would be found.

“On my son’s life, Winx has never had a day’s lameness,’’ Waller said.

“But we had a full ‘vet’ done on her, there were 42 X-rays taken and 41 were clear.

“They scanned all her tendons and everything was fine but they found this bone chip that was long-standing. It was very minor and there was no heat in the joint.

“I didn’t know whether to do it (surgery) or not as there is always a risk with horses. But in the end we decided it was better to have the bone chip removed.’’

Waller informed stewards of Winx’s surgery late last week, prompting criticism of the trainer because wagering operators have begun taking bets on the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October for which the mare is a dominant favourite to win again.

“The normal procedure for us is to tell the stewards before we accept in a race,’’ Waller said.

“I fully understand that people have put money on in the Cox Plate but if I didn’t think she could win the Cox Plate we would not be nominating and going for it.’’

Waller could have up to five runners in the Warwick Stakes. Winx’s stablemates Preferment, Vanbrugh, Grand Marshal and Who Shot Thebarman are ready to resume in the weight-for-age sprint.

Winx has had two soft barrier trials and Waller said the mighty mare is poised to extend her long winning streak.

“She is ready to explode,’’ he said.

Although Waller is very happy with Winx’s progress, he admitted the mare’s emergence as the nation’s best racehorse brings with it added pressures he has not experienced before in his career.

“There is good and bad pressures,’’ he said. “I don’t have to find a champion anymore; I’ve found one, so no pressure there. I’ve won a Cox Plate and I have a horse good enough to win it this year, so no pressure there.

“But the pressure now is not to disappoint the public. Winx is like Australia’s Olympic representative and I am the coach. I just want to get her back racing and then I will enjoy it.:”



IT seems that LETSGOHORSERACING struck a chord with our call last week for Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett to subpoena banned trainer Sam Kavanagh over his allegations that several successful Queensland trainers were using Cobalt to win races.

We have been inundated with emails and phone calls from not only industry stakeholders but followers of racing overwhelmingly supporting the need for Commissioner Barnett to act immediately on this serious issue.

Those who have contacted us are far from happy with the response from Commissioner Barnett calling on Kavanagh to come forward with the information he claims to have. They are adamant that won’t happen unless QRIC chases him.

Here is an example of the emails that we are receiving:


‘INTEGRITY Commissioner Barnett must be living under a rock if he thinks the mouth in the south Sam Kavanagh is going to voluntarily provide information on those trainers he says were using Cobalt in Queensland.

Until this matter is cleared up a cloud hangs over every Queensland trainer who enjoyed a deal of success last year. I understand Kavanagh made similar allegations concerning trainers in South Australia. If that was the case perhaps this is a matter that needs to be raised by that White Elephant, Racing Australia.

I read somewhere about all the staff that were being employed by the new Integrity Commission in Queensland and the salaries they were to be paid. Have these people been appointed and if so what are they doing? There was even a highly paid communications job. Why isn’t that person keeping us informed on what progress is being made by QRIC on issues like this Kavanagh allegation?

For that matter why doesn’t the racing media or a website like letsgohorseracing (now that Just Racing has sadly been put out to pasture) follow this up to find out just what is being done by Commissioner Barnett.

You could say it’s a matter for the stewards’ panel but they don’t seem interested in even opening inquiries into beaten favorites so what hope have we got of them investigating something like this. Many of us are still waiting to hear the outcome of a positive swab inquiry of great interest to many rival trainers. It seems to have disappeared off the radar. Here’s hoping there isn’t another loophole involved like apparently has occurred in the past.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: LETSGOHORSERACINGshouldn’t have to do the job of the mainstream racing media but we give an undertaking that each week we will continue to call for a report on this from QRIC until Commissioner Barnett provides some answers to what is actually being done to chase up Sam Kavanagh for the identity of those trainers he has made these serious allegations about.



GLEN SMITH of MELBOURNE sent this email:

‘I just wanted to raise the question of how differently the betting drift with Capitalist would have been handled by stewards in Melbourne compared to those in Sydney.

Had this been a horse in a major race in Victoria – or a support event for that matter – I am sure that the stewards under the chairmanship of Terry Bailey would have called the trainer in beforehand and raised the issue.

There is no such report of this happening in Sydney when Capitalist, after opening at $1.6 when early betting opened on the San Domenico drifted alarmingly in price and on the day of the race eased from $2 to $2.5.

As Matt Stewart wrote in the Herald-Sun: “No one knows who ‘they’ are, but ‘they’, and no one else, new about Capitalist on Saturday. The public needs all the help it can get. The ‘theys’ can’t be the only ones receiving racing’s late mail.

Of course there were all the excuses paraded out after Capitalist got beaten – from the curse on Golden Slipper winners failing to return successfully to racing – to the stable suggestion he failed to handle the track conditions on the day.

It was a Soft 7 – upgraded a race later – when Capitalist made his comeback on Saturday. He had not been exposed to a wet track in a race before but the stable, after dodging a heavy surface a week earlier, were talking his chances up prior to the race.

It was obvious from the time betting opened on the San Domenco that there was a ring of confidence that Star Turn could upstage Capitalist despite finishing sixth to him when they last clashed in the Slipper.

Plenty are already prepared to write the Slipper winner off. I, for one, won’t be doing that. I haven’t forgotten how he bounced back from his only previous defeat at $1.2 in the Todman (when he pulled up mildly lame) to beat a better field in the Slipper.’




‘THE mixed messages being delivered about the new Eagle Farm track aren’t doing the image of racing in Brisbane any favors.

Regardless of the betting figures soon to be released – or the suck up from some corporate entity that clients are keen to bet when they race at Eagle Farm – the reality is that the majority of punters are walking away from meetings on the new track.

The uncertainty on how it will play on a given day and whether horses will handle the surface – even if they have or haven’t before – makes it too hard for most players.

Now we have the CEO of the company that build the new Eagle Farm course proper conceding that the track is not performing to expectations. Worse still he admits it would have benefitted from more time before being raced on.

This flies in the face of comments from officials of Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club, which I am sure I read after the opening meeting, that the track just needed more racing on it to consolidate.

Can anyone change a light bulb in racing in Brisbane? They certainly don’t seem to know a thing about getting things right with this new track. We keep hearing that it will be right after Christmas. They just didn’t say which Christmas. Here’s hoping there are still some surviving punters who want to bet there when the time does arrive.’




‘NEWS that the cobalt saga will not drag on beyond the current VCAT hearings in Victoria was positive for the industry in Australia.

Trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh have confirmed to that they will accept the decision of VCAT president, Supreme Court Judge Greg Garde.

One can only imagine the financial and psychological toll this drawn out fight to save their careers has had on these two leading trainers and their families.

The duo are adamant they did not get a fair hearing from the RAD Board which saw them disqualified for three and four year periods. They are confident Justice Garde will overturn the guilty findings for deliberately administering a prohibited substance based on arguments surrounding RV rocesses and procedures and an insistence they never knew they were using cobalt.

RV stewards argue that O’Brien and Kavanagh knew exactly what they were doing and desperately tried to cover it up. Whether VCAT is prepared to overturn the disqualifications on a technicality is debatable. Much will depend on how successful Damian Sheales, legal counsel for O’Brien and Kavanagh, proves to be when he goes for the jugular of Chief Steward Terry Bailey and RV Chief Veterinarian Brian Stewart when the hearing reconvenes.

Time will tell – the appeals are due to resume on September 5. Fortunately when this is over there seems certainty that this will not drag on to a Supreme Court appeal.

Now all we need is Peter Moody to put an end to his tour of the country bagging everyone associated with his setback and making a return to training which is what his legion of fans want him to do.’




‘PUNTERS are starting to become very wary of some of the short priced favorites being served up on horses from the David Vandyke stable since he relocated to Queensland.

Whether they are being posted at ‘false’ prices because of the profile of this stable, several have not performed up to expectations.

Punters got their fingers burnt at the Sunshine Coast last Sunday when Invincible Express and Renesmee both bit the dust at the cramped odds of $1.6. Each was ridden by Michael Cahill who the statisticians say does not have a good record on favorites.

It wasn’t as though the smart punters were surprised by the defeat of either Vandyke odds-on favorite. There was educated money for Land Office and Monsieur Gustave, winners of the respective races in which the Vandyke duo were beaten.

The stable also saddled up Maurus which was expected to win the Caloundra Cup easily but finished a struggling fifth as a $1.5 favorite.

Stablemate Brazen was nominated by Vandyke as Derby material after it was heavily backed to win at the Sunshine Coast in May. Not that any connection with Vandyke or his stable has been suggested but punters linked to notorious Sydney punting identity Eddie Hayson are alleged to have won close to $100,000 on Brazen that day.’



THE Port Vila Kiwanis Cup Day, an annual charity raising meeting that attracts 10,000 spectators from all parts of the world, was run last weekend.

Stewards officiating included Racing Queensland’s Daniel Aurisch and Brett Wright from Victoria. They followed in the footsteps of John Shreck and Terry Bailey who pioneered stewarding of the big day from the late 80’s.

Among the Queensland visitors to Vanuatu for the meeting this year was a large tour group from the Darling Downs, led by Ken and Debbie Waller who did a terrific job raising money for charity.

Racing started in Vanuatu in the 80s when a group of expatriate Australians organized the construction of a track on what was cattle property. The annual meeting has grown into one of the biggest Charity Race Days on the planet.

The names of some of the horses that have contested the big meeting show that much thought goes into readying them from their routine plantation work to once-a-year racetrack gallopers. They include this year’s Cup winner Onyx, Boots, Buck, Donkey, Equus, Just A Gigolo, Lick Lick, Neddy and Roots.

·       OUR photo taken in Vanuatu on Saturday shows RQ Steward Daniel Aurisch during a break from official duties with one of the Downs touring party Jill Harvey, who lists her hobbies as travelling off the beaten track, caring for broken down cowboys and showing her pet dogs.  




STARTLING allegations (we stress that is what these are) made at the VCAT cobalt hearings involving top trainers DANNY O’BRIEN & MARK KAVANAGH have been revealed by KEYSER SOZE on the international racing website RACING B*TCH.

We reproduce that story courtesy of that site which reads:

VICTORIA’S now infamous and tedious cobalt saga continues on its destructive path embroiling more prominent names in the Victorian governing body along the way.

The past two weeks have seen more of these senior figures in the management and administration of Victorian racing snared in the spider’s web that has been carefully woven by counsel representing embattled trainers Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh at their appeals against disqualification relating to the cobalt charges found to have been sustained by the Victorian Racing Disciplinary Board.

Their counsel, Damian Sheales, from what we have learned and observed from the coverage of the Appeals tribunal, is clearly someone who goes for the jugular, and takes no prisoners. And as legal counsel, so he should.

His hard hitting cross examination of witnesses appears to be the entrée to the main course when the two main targets – Chief Steward Terry Bailey and Chief Veterinarian Brian Stewart – have the blow torch applied to their individual bellies when they take their place on the stand.

But this week, the headline carefully concealed by the mainstream media was the startling allegation put by Sheales to former Victorian Steward Kane Ashby and later to disqualified trainer Sam Kavanagh that Racing Victoria Chairman David Moodie may have been the “canary” in Peter Moody forewarning Danny O’Brien that he was about to be notified of a positive to cobalt in January 2015. Yes, almost an eon ago.

Interestingly, this startling allegation, and it must be stressed it is an unsubstantiated allegation, was not reported in the mainstream media. Not in print by News Limited or Fairfax and not by Racing Victoria’s own No surprise here. And more on the vapid another day. Soon.

Whilst Ashby denied knowledge of any “leak” of information, his response to Sheales’ question if he would expect the Chairman (of Racing Victoria) to be informed about cobalt positives before the trainers were told, was instructive: “My personal view is no”.

If Ashby’s response was instructive, Sam Kavanagh went further. Racenet reported that: “Kavanagh’s (Mark), son, banned Sydney trainer Sam Kavanagh, has also been asked (by Sheales) about the evidence Moody (Peter), knew about O’Brien may have a cobalt positive. Sam Kavanagh referred to Moodie’s (David) call beforehand and said ‘It’s pretty obvious where he got the suggestion from”. Confused? Join the club.

Ominously for David Moodie, Sheales is quoted by Racenet stating that “he would ask Terry Bailey, at a later date, if he investigated the breach of confidentiality or did not because of who the person was believed to be”. Again, we ask, Confused?

It would also be interesting if Sheales asked his client O’Brien when he is called on to give sworn evidence, to enlighten the Tribunal on the contents of the conversation he had with Peter Moody.

All that aside, and acknowledging the allegations raised by Sheales, are unsubstantiated, the collateral damage to the Racing Victoria Chairman David Moodie, to senior Racing Victoria management, to the organization itself and to the image of the Victorian racing industry that has reached irreparable proportions. For the sake of the Victorian racing industry, it is to be hoped that the allegations against Moodie are not substantiated.

Breaches of confidentiality and leaking of confidential information are serious issues. They don’t get more serious than that, and, generally, result in guilty parties falling on their own sword.

David Moodie faces the prospect of his name and reputation being dragged through the courts over the next month. It is not a good look for the Chairman of Victorian racing’s governing body.

Moodie is regarded as somewhat of a chameleon by many in the Victorian racing industry. His detractors number many among the Victorian racing clubs across the metropolitan and country sector and many of the stakeholders.

Racing Victoria has not had a “good run” with its Chairmen. It would not surprise the least if the Racing Minister intervenes and revamps the Governing Body. Racing Victoria appears to be doing a good job of inviting intervention and hastening its own demise.


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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