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.



LETSGOHORSERACING promised to continue pursuing the serious allegations made by disgraced trainer Sam Kavanagh to a VCAT hearing in Melbourne that successful stables in Queensland were using Cobalt.

We raised the question being asked by many in the industry as to why the new, all-powerful Queensland Racing Integrity Commission had not demanded that Kavanagh identify those trainers he was referring to.

Whilst there has been no ‘official’ response from Commissioner Ross Barnett we have it on good authority that QRIC did not ‘sit on their hands’ on this issue waiting for Kavanagh to volunteer information.

We are reliably informed that an approach was made by QRIC to Kavanagh who refused to co-operate despite the fact that he told the VCAT hearing of appeals by his father, Mark and trainer Danny O’Brien, that cobalt had been successfully used by stables in Queensland and South Australia.

At the time Kavanagh jnr, who is serving a lengthy disqualification for cobalt-related offences, said he was not prepared to name the trainers in front of the media which gave the impression that he would do so privately.

There are those who believe that such was the seriousness of the allegations that in the interests of racing integrity in Queensland and South Australia, VCAT should have required Kavanagh to name the trainers he was referring to behind closed doors or be held in contempt.

Sadly, that did not occur. One wonders, however, would it have been the case had Kavanagh made the same allegations about Victorian trainers.

What has come as a surprise to many trainers in Queensland is the lack of support on this issue they have received from the local mainstream racing media. Some suggest that is because a high profile turf writer was close to and once had an interest in a horse trained in a Kavanagh stable. Surely that cannot be correct. We all know there would never be a conflict of interest involving our leading turf writers.  

That aside, surely QRIC has the powers to convene a special inquiry, subpoena Sam Kavanagh and if he refuses to elaborate on his claims at least make that public to the racing industry.

Sources have told letsgohorseracing that Kavanagh jnr is reluctant to ‘name names’ because he has received anonymous threats since speaking out at the hearings in Victoria. If that is the case then surely a joint operation between Commissioner Barnett and his highly respected counterpart in Victoria, Sal Perna, could see the intervention of police to look at telephone, text or internet records to determine where these threats came from and who would benefit most from this information not being made public.

As it now stands every successful trainer in Queensland during the period referred to by Kavanagh jnr has a ‘cobalt cloud’ hanging over him or her. This needs to be addressed.

The question being asked by many who have followed this saga is: Why would Sam Kavanagh make up such a serious allegation? He really has nothing to gain with his training career as good as over.

That then opens the door to a more serious situation – the reality that the rumor mill is right and there has been widespread use of performance enhancing substances by some stables who are terrified that they will be well and truly put under the microscope if ‘exposed’ by Kavanagh behind closed doors to the Commission.

Letsgohorseracingbelieves that QRIC – whilst admitting they are new to the racing investigation scene – would have to be living under a rock if investigators were unaware of those stables being mentioned in dispatches. Surely they are being briefed by people who do know about the allegations that have done the rounds for far too long in the north.




‘THE long suffering supporters of Brisbane racing have been more than patient. We were promised the wait for the new track at Eagle Farm to reopen would be worthwhile. What a joke!

Instead of boosting the industry in the north and hauling it from the quicksand, one could argue the new-look Eagle Farm has worsened the situation. How much lower can we go?

Social media had another field day at the weekend and even some of the new track’s biggest apologists of the past are starting to jump ship. Why wouldn’t they? Not much good can be said about this multi-million dollar disaster.

‘Not fit for racing,’ tweeted the highly respected Daniel O’Sullivan from The Rating Bureau, a sentiment echoed by many others. Leading form analyst John McLeod added: “Tip is Saturday morning you could have caught clods of grass sitting in the grandstand.”

The call has gone out for the track to be closed for six months to ensure the problems are rectified. Serious action needs to be taken. The statistics tell the tale with horses drawn one to five performing below market expectations and those outside of nine doing much better than expected. Punters are walking away from betting on Eagle Farm in droves.

And all this is occurring at a time when there are reports that a breakdown in communications continues between the Brisbane Racing Club and the company that built the track. If that is in fact the case then the time has arrived for Racing Queensland to intervene – in the interests of all involved in the industry.

Main reason for that is the alarming downturn in TAB betting on the Queensland product. They can blame that on a multitude of reasons but the bottom line is that Eagle Farm has been closed and since opening has not performed to expectations.

We have a new RQ Chairman and a new RQ CEO and a new Board, all of whom are talking up the future of the industry in Queensland and their goals to turn it around. Well some positive action to correct the problems at Eagle Farm would be a good place to start.’



TERRY BUTTS reports in his ‘SILKS & SADDLES’ column for the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER that in the past few weeks there have been two resignations that Racing Queensland could ill-afford to lose from positions that will be very difficult to fill.

Sam Woolaston, reportedly fed up with the bureaucracy now endured by stipendiary stewards under the current RQ regime, has pulled the pin.

So has the hard working and racing savvy Communications Manager Adam Gardini who decided criticism over lack of coverage for country racing carnivals was the last straw. He jumped at the opportunity to join the team working toward the Commonwealth Games in his hometown of the Gold Coast.

Butts also reported that whilst the industry awaits with mild trepidation the soon to be released RQ annual report, there seems to be a glimmer of hope emerging.

Queensland Trainers’ Association chairman Ross Shannon, a member of the newly formed Country Racing Panel, believes new RQ Board member, Mark Sowerby, is just the man to reverse the fading fortunes and reputation of RQ.

Sowerby is Chair of the new panel and of another committee to be known as the Thorougbred Racing Panel. Both are designed to tackle matters relating to licensees and participants – both city and country.

“We had our first meeting last week by video link and I was impressed with plans and foresight of the Chairman,” Shannon told Butts. “He knows what is going on and he obviously knows how to read and dissect a balance sheet.

“He is confident we will overcome our problems. And I believe him.”

Butts writes that the problems at RQ are many and varied – and the future anything but promising – insisting it is up to the new Board which has a monstrous task to resurrect some respect and regain the confidence of all stakeholders and particularly punters who have walked away in droves, many into the clutches of the despised overseas corporate bookies.

He concludes: ‘As we have stated earlier, a time and motion study and a clean sweep at the Deagon dugout might be a good start. Oh, and a new deal with UBET would be a godsend. If only…”



WE received several emails on this topic but this was the only one we were prepared to publish – hopefully the opinion of GRAHAM SCHOOY gets the message of others upset by the Hall of Fame induction across:

‘AMAZING, just when you thought nothing can astound you any further about Racing Queensland they wait for their annual  knees up before restoring your faith in their innate ability to capture the moment.

Haven’t the taxpayers just spent millions setting up this new ‘Integrity Section’ so that everyone can have faith in the purity of the Queensland product?

What is the first thing RQ does?

It recognizes a gentleman who spent time incarcerated for breaking the Rules of Racing (in an overseas jurisdiction) to install in their “Hall of Fame”.

I want to know why Hayden Haitana isn’t in this Hall of Fame as well?

After all it could be argued that he also made a huge contribution to publicizing the Queensland Industry in a way no one has seriously challenged.’



GLEN WALKER of MELBOURNE sent this email:                       

‘LET me declare at the outset that I am not a fan of Dan Nikolic. Whilst I concede he is a very good jockey the way he behaves toward authority, especially the stewards, in my opinion far overshadows anything else.

I noted with interest that Victoria Police have renewed their attempt to ban him from racetracks. That follows a Supreme Court ruling that previous bans against Nikolic were unlawful.

The basis for the court decision was that he had not been given details of adverse allegations against him. Victoria Police have now appealed that decision.

What gets up my nose – and that of many others in racing – is not that Nikolic is seeking his right to ply his trade but some of the secrecy surrounding the court hearings.

I noted that at the latest hearing this week the media was told to leave so that discussions between the legal parties could be held in secret. I recall matters involving Nikolic being held in closed court previously.

What is going on? Surely the racing public and the industry are entitled to know what allegations are being raised behind closed doors that involve Nikolic. If these are so serious that they cannot be aired publicly then should the ban have been lifted in the first place?

If it involves other matters that the police are investigating then why not just say so without leaving the door ajar to all sorts of rumor mongering and industry scuttlebutt. This does nothing for the image of racing, or more particularly Dan Nikolic whose career is already clouded in controversy.’



BARRY GREGORY of SYDNEY sent this email:

‘DEAR oh dear, so the thoroughbred breeders in Australia are whinging because finally Racing Australia has put in some rules and regulations regarding the way they conduct their business.

For so many years now thoroughbred breeders have been a kingdom unto themselves. The antics they get away with at the annual series of yearling sale auctions is enough to make anyone critical of the whole racing industry. If they only knew what goes on between some professional buying agents and breeders prior to a sale.

It’s only recently that anabolic steroids have been banned for use on foals which probably explains how thoroughbred foals can grow to obscene proportions while the very same animal left to its own resources and fed a complete maintenance diet look like miniatures compared to the bulking individuals processed through yearling sales.

While breeders allow purchased yearlings to be scoped for wind problems there is no allowance for buyers to take a blood sample and get it analyzed prior to settling their accounts. With some of the new regulations breeders will be forced to provide a complete health account of the yearling from birth to sale and indicating every treatment the horse has had.

Then on top of that, yearling buyers have to contend with the loads of bullshit exposed by breeders at sales and the devious ways they inflate the progeny of first season sires to boost their popularity so ensuring enough services in the next year to boost their income.

Perhaps the biggest fear for the breeders is that from hence forth every yearling born in Australia will be traced throughout its life. What great ammunition for the animal libbers who have been able to shut down greyhound racing in New South Wales. One of their key platforms was wastage in greyhounds but now the amount of wastage for the thoroughbred industry is next on their agenda.

Add to that some of their other goals apart from shutting down all forms of animal racing connected with betting – such as restricting race fields to eight runners, banning two-year-old races and that horses start racing as three-year-olds; banning whip and spur use; the immediate scratching of any horse that won’t go into the barriers first time (they claim if they don’t want to race they won’t go in the barrier); restricting the number of foals a mare can have and the banning of shuttle stallions.

So if the breeders are already kicking up a stink about having to fill out a few forms well they can just wait a few months to get a few more sizeable headaches.

Like the old saying “You ain’t seen nothing yet”.’ 




‘IT was interesting to read the column by Matthew Stewart in the Herald Sun about Australian racing authorities being at war on two fronts.

Whilst most of us who follow the industry have no sympathy with breeders who don’t want to abide by the Australian Rules of Racing imposed on other sections, they feel for the treatment that awaits a group of freelance photographers in Victoria whose livelihoods are being put in jeopardy.

With all due respect any thoroughbred breeder who isn’t prepared to operate under the Rules of Racing must have something to hide. This argument that they are exempt as primary producers is utter bullshit. As Racing Australia insists, if breeders behave themselves, the rule book won’t bother them.

The situation involving freelance photographers who ply their trade at Victorian tracks is far different and one hopes their planned restraint of trade court action results in victory.

According to the Herald Sun report ‘a dozen of the state’s most respected photographers are about to be kicked off the track’. Despite the fact that these very same people have provided ‘free’ publicity worldwide for everything racing in Victoria – from the Spring carnival to the more recent history making feats of the unbeaten Black Caviar – they are being shown the door to allegedly protect RV’s intellectual property.

RV has created its own photography hub. Major news outlets will continue to be allowed to send photographers to the track (it would seem the control body knows not to pick a fight with the Murdoch’s of this world) but racing magazines which use many freelances will not.

Matt Stewart quotes high profile racing photographers, Bronwen Healy and Bruno Cannatelli, are fearing they will now go broke because nurturing trusted relationships in racing and breeding circles has been their life for decades.

One cannot argue that where a specific photographer has paid to contract the rights to official race finishes he deserves a monopoly on that. There are stories of a state outside Victoria where a flea was usurping the rights of the photographer who paid for the privilege of taking the photo finish. That was eventually shut down – and so it should have been.

This is a totally different situation. One would have thought if the racing authorities of Australia wanted to fight over intellectual property they might first take on the corporate bookmakers who have been allowed for far too long to plunder the gambling profits of this country and send them offshore with little or nothing being done to stop them.’


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.