Jenny - Clean

THE WEDNESDAY WHINGE is back for 2017 and won’t be dispensing with its theme which allows contributors to have their say on the THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY side of what is happening in racing. Thanks again for your support for the most read column on this website. Popularity of the Whinge continues to grow despite the bagging it cops from some high profile racing identities, who cannot cope with criticism of any kind and are too used to the spin doctor treatment they have received for too long from many in the mainstream media. We encourage the critics to continue to contribute and will provide a platform for them to air their grievances provided they remain balanced and constructive and do not border on defamation.



OUR SPY in the BREAKFAST CREEK BUNKER – you might remember that Integrity was moved away from DEAGON – has sent us another report on what is happening behind the scenes.

DOWN here on the river at the Racing Queensland Integrity Bunker they are calling it a victory of Steven Bradbury-like proportions.

Ian Brown, the bolter the field, has come from behind to blouse the more highly qualified and fancied candidates for the job of Director of Integrity.

We haven’t been officially told what has happened to Jamie Dart, who survived the greyhound live baiting scandal when he was chief steward at the dogs, only to be elevated to the new and more important role of Director of Integrity for the newly established Commission.

Well, as most would be aware, Jamie hit an unexpected hurdle – details of which remain undisclosed – and was stood down pending the outcome of an independent investigation. Well informed sources are whispering behind the scenes that he won’t be returning.

Extra weight was added to that theory when an email did the rounds from the Head Honcho last Friday advising that Mrs Brown’s Boy Ian had been appointed Acting Director of Integrity at RQ.

Brown is the fourth ‘acting director’ we have had in the last six months and they have included Wade Birch (services dispensed with), David Farquharson (currently stood down as Chief Steward of Harness Racing pending the outcome of an internal investigation) and Ali Wade (the licensing and registrations manager who was moved to the role after Jamie Dart hit his hurdle).

What some within the Integrity Bunker are finding difficult to understand is the appointment process. It came as a surprise to most when Jamie Dart was appointed Director of Integrity. The field he beat for the job included Ian Brown, Reid Sanders and Martin Knibbs. When it comes to experience (in Australia and overseas) Sanders and Knibbs were head and shoulders ahead in qualifications. But Dart got the job.

Now, it is no secret in the Bunker that a veteran steward threatened to resign if Sanders was given the job – apparently there was some bad blood between the pair from way back when they worked together in Queensland. Many would have been happy had they called his bluff and sent him home with his ‘little lunch’ which is personally delivered on race days.

Dart was no longer in the role than he was stood down and Ms Wade took over in an acting capacity. One would have thought that either Knibbs or Sanders were best qualified as the replacement if it was decided Dart would not return to the job. Instead the lesser experienced Brown somehow has been elevated to the role.

One day after the email arrived informing us that Brown was the acting Director of Stewarding he still works on the stewards’ panel on Magic Millions Day. For those who are unfamiliar with Brown’s background, he has been Chief Steward at the Gold Coast since returning from a similar role in North Queensland. He quit a law career (he is a qualified solicitor) to pursue a career as a steward with Racing Queensland.

Interestingly, for those who read the Stewards’ Reports, Brown did not officiate in Race 4 on the Magic Millions card at the Gold Coast. It states that he did not take part in deliberations in the protest hearing following this race but doesn’t explain why. It was because he is related by marriage to one of the part-owners of runner-up Feltre which protested unsuccessfully.

For those of us in the Bunker who continue to be bewildered by how things are done by the powers-that-be I guess all we can do is wish Browny the best of British inheriting the poisoned chalice. It’s not as though he doesn’t have the ability to do the job well.

As for ‘The Colonel’ well it seems his papers have been marked never to return to the Sunshine State. That leaves Marty Knibbs, whose ability warrants a better fate. Hopefully they are saving the best appointment for last and when old Al is finally put out to pasture – it will be long overdue in June – then they don’t have to look elsewhere and realize the best man for the job has been sitting right under their noses for ages.



DES SPARGO of SYDNEY sent this email on the Magic Millions:

‘I just wanted to have my say about Magic Millions Day and whilst I am totally opposed to the industry pouring millions into this sales-restricted meeting I thought the racing was first class.

That was despite the track not playing truly. Sure, runners came from last to win and there was no bias to the on-pacers as has occurred in the past at the Gold Coast. But the section near the running rail appeared to be a ‘no go’ zone as it was the previous week when that was blamed on a rain-affected surface.

If they are going to race for this sort of outrageous prizemoney – a meeting billed as the richest race day in the country- then surely it has to be a level playing field ensuring every runner has its chance. It’s hard enough winning from wide draws on the Gold Coast track.

I read with interest where Peter Cameron posed the question in his TRAPS column in The Sunday Mail bout how long the Magic Millions could continue at the Gold Coast.

With all due respect there are many who believe it wouldn’t work anywhere else. What would be the point of taking it to Sydney – Racing NSW fails at everything else it tries and would the Government and the industry there be as generous to a sales-related meeting when there are other bloodstock companies just as well respected in racing, unlike the situation in Queensland where Magic Millions now has a virtual monopoly.

The Gold Coast at the height of the tourist season also has a unique appeal which I would doubt could be replicated elsewhere. Cameron in his column speaks of Irish racing identities having long ridiculed the stifling Bundall centre as a ‘a dog track’ while he says Sydney experts dismiss the Gold Coast as a ‘provincial circuit’.

Well you could hardly move Millions Day to the new Eagle Farm the way the track there is playing. At the end of the day the Sales Complex adjacent to the track and the beach with all its tourist appeal is hard to top. It’s just a matter of improving the track and the facilities at the Gold Coast for the public and therein lies the problem of whether it is worth it for the one big day a year.’




‘WHILST I am the first to recognize the entrepreneurial and business skills of Gerry Harvey and his wife Katy Page Harvey, how can the Government and the racing industry of Queensland continue to pour more millions into what is virtually a private enterprise venture?

It turns out the commercial-in-confidence deal done by Racing Queensland to keep the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast for seven years means that the industry foots half the bill.

Now we are told – according to reports from the weekend – that the Labor Government has tipped another $10 million into Magic Millions. If my understanding of this handout is correct the money will come from Events Queensland and will largely be spent promoting the sales.

Now this seems to be justified on the basis of the boost to the economy from Magic Millions – they qualify it by claiming it attracts so many more heads on beds of a night at this time of the year on the Gold Coast.

Give us a break – it is already the peak tourist season where families in their droves converge on the surf coast for many more attractions than racing. Might I suggest those that are coming for the MM are here for the races or to buy or sell horses and can well afford to pay their own way.

How the Government can justify more taxpayers’ money being channeled into a private company where the profits go into the pockets of one of the richest husband-and-wife teams in the country beggars belief.

And to make these multi-million dollar handouts of racing industry and Government funds even harder to swallow, we have the MM boasting about record sales and prices which means even more in commissions and profits for the MM Company and its owners.

If the Sales are doing so well why then should MM need subsidization to be staged on the Gold Coast and more to the point why shouldn’t MM be ploughing back into the racing industry in Queensland some of its profits, especially as RQ has posted multi-million dollar losses in recent years.

We have a world class young boxer in Brisbane who is ready to take on a world champion and there is talk that Melbourne could steal this event. Why wouldn’t the Government spend some of the money it is wasting on the Magic Millions to ensure that fight is held at Suncorp? There would be no doubting that it would attract tens of thousands from around the country and overseas – far more than attending the MM Race Day or Sales.’



EDITOR’S NOTE: Rather than have my say on this I would just endorse the article written by TERRY BUTTS in his ‘SILKS & SADDLES’ column which we have reproduced below, courtesy of the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER:

IT is time to start counting.

Last week’s Magic Millions extravaganza might have showcased the Gold Coast and to some extent Queensland racing, but at what cost?

The rank and file do not know and are not being told. And the stakeholders in this state are entitled to know the exact figure.

We know Racing Queensland – in spite of its continued whinge of no funds – handballs Gerry Harvey millions to enable him to invite a who’s who of A-listers from around the world for his week-long party where the fizz flows like the Fitzroy in flood. 

And that doesn’t include Queensland government support.

But for what overall benefit to Queensland racing? 

Harvey is on the record of threatening to take his show to Sydney if the RQ support did not continue.

Many say “let him”. Others say it works at the Gold Coast in January – but it mightn't elsewhere.

In spite of record sales of the near 900 yearlings – some of which realised unbelievable, if not unrealistic, prices – only 10 per cent will actually win a race, according to history. And only 7pc of those will win again.

But those figures didn't deter the buyers who came from all over to put up their hands during frenzied bidding in search of another Winx. 

Good luck.

WHILE it might be a opportune time for RQ to sort out its priorities when it comes to handouts (to some clubs) UBET might also revise its spending.

It threw a million dollars in bonuses to connections of two horses that won over the Christmas carnival with doubtful benefits to anyone except the winning owners.

And its sponsorship of the lacklustre Jockeys' Origin Series drew considerable criticism from trainers, other jockeys, punters and, of course, commentators who had to deal with completely different sets of racing colours.

Again, at what cost? What did it cost to bring all those jockeys from interstate and Michael Rodd from Singapore?

You will be astounded if the figure is ever released – and it won't be. It is another case of money well wasted in an industry that is haemorrhaging.

One person most critical of the UBET splurge is Townsville punter Andrew Symington, who three weeks ago won $37,000 on a $600 all-up at his local pub TAB.

The pub couldn't pay but the local office came good with $7000 on the following Tuesday. He was offered credit of course, but he placed a cash bet and wanted the cash, as you would.

Andrew finally got his money the following Saurday – a week later.

And you wonder why the corporates are flourishing.



BRIAN FLYNN of BRISBANE sent this email and he is no fan of RQ CEO DR ELIOT FORBES:

‘MY mates and I are regular punters who feel we are not getting a fair go especially in our dealings with corporate bookmakers who seem to make the rules to suit themselves as they go along.

We would prefer not to do business with them but the value offered from the TABs on most occasions gives us no choice and it seems that those running racing in Australia don’t care.

Richard Irvine is a professional punter who has become a voice for all Australians who like a bet through Fair Wagering Australia. It’s a tough battle but he doesn’t take a backward step when it comes to voicing an opinion even if it offends the corporates or officials of the various racing bodies.

When Richard says the punters – one of the important cogs in the wheel that helps racing survive – are the only ones not provided with an industry voice he is right. It seems everyone else from the bookmakers, to the owners, breeders, trainers and jockeys seem to have representation on decision making bodies or have groups that are listened to, but the punters don’t.

We were hoping you might reproduce a letter below, written by Richard Irvine, which goes to show how some officials – like the new CEO of Racing Queensland, appear not interested or to have their heads buried in the sand when the interests of punters are raised.

Rather than try to convey his views, this is what Richard wrote under the headline: ‘The Growing Disconnect Between Racing Queensland and Punters’:

I wrote to Racing Queensland (RQ) CEO Dr. Eliot Forbes when he was CEO of Tasmanian Racing and asked him what he thought of introducing a minimum bet limit in Tasmania. I was surprised but appreciative of his honesty when he said that Tasmanian Racing would not be introducing a minimum bet limit as they were too reliant on corporate bookmaker sponsorship and advertising – and they could not risk that revenue by upsetting corporate bookies. He is now CEO of Racing Queensland and he has carried that attitude with him to the the much larger Queensland Racing market.

Worse than this unethical and anti competitive attitude is his, and Racing Queensland’s, complete lack of listening to, and engaging with their best customers; the punter. I  recently wrote to Dr. Forbes again asking him what RQ would be doing now that both Racing NSW and Racing Victoria had both introduced minimum bet limits. I posted it on twitter with his and Queensland Racing Minister Grace Grace’s twitter handles attached. It got a lot of traction. You would think that they might take notice of this and engage with me or other punters about the issue – however I was simply told RQ and Dr. Forbes would not debate commercial policy on social media and therefore they would not give me (or any other punter) and further information on the matter. I also wrote Grace Grace and asked her opinion on RQ introducing a minimum bet limit. I have never received a response and I have followed up with her office 3 times requesting a response, but still haven’t got one.

Frustrated by their stonewalling I independently contacted an RQ board member (all participant groups except for the punter is represented on the RQ board) and asked to have their ear for 10 minutes to tell them what it’s like to be a punter in today’s environment. They said they were only too happy to talk to me but a few days later cancelled on me because they were told that management had already dealt with punters on the issue. I tried to contact Radio Tab to be able to go on one of their programs and stoke some debate about introducing a minimum bet limit. After many tries and no one interested I gave up on Radio Tab as well.

In my experiences advocating for a minimum bet limit in NSW and Victoria I have always been able to have my voice heard, and so have many other punters. Anyone can approach Bernard Saundry or Peter V’Landys and if you’re patient enough they will give you some time to tell them how you feel. It seems that Dr. Forbes couldn’t care less though, and this is even more ironic considering the difficult state RQ finds itself in. The Fair Wagering movement I started has 2,000 followers on twitter and has attracted 40,000 visitors to its website – significant numbers. As an individual I am very insignificant and but the movement I represent is not and it cannot be ignored. It mostly represents the next generation of punters who RQ are so dependent on if they are going to have any hope of growing and becoming as strong as Racing NSW and Racing Victoria.

Nothing repulses me more than the unethical, talentless, predatory bookmaking that took hold here over the last decade. It has yielded somewhat but Dr. Forbes and RQ have endorsed it and told us to invest elsewhere. RQ said in their media release about a minimum bet introduction that it is legislative hurdles that are stopping its introduction. If this is the case I want to see evidence that have consulted with Minister Grace about introducing a minimum bet limit and she has told them that they can’t. But there won’t be any evidence of that because if Dr. Forbes did approach the Queensland Govt. about introducing a min bet limit they would have said we’ll legislate anything you think is the right move, just like what happened in NSW and Victoria.

I think we should all keep campaigning for a minimum bet limit in Queensland for another year because Queensland racing is too exciting and means too much to all of us to be shut out of just yet. But if in a year RQ still won’t act ethically instead of financially and give the punter a fair go in the market place, we should all give up on Queensland racing and bet on racing in NSW and Victoria – at least there we are wanted and respected.’

With all due respect to Dr Forbes, it is time the Racing Minister in Queensland, the RQ Board and especially UBET started asking some questions about where the allegiances of the CEO lies.

It seems a simple matter of RQ requesting a legislative change to ensure punters get a better deal and the whole industry would be the big winner. But because Dr Forbes isn’t apparently interested nothing is going to happen.

This is not good enough and just makes a lot of us wonder if racing in Queensland has inherited yet another ‘Dr Dolittle’ when the dust had just died on the damage done by the previous one from the Bob Bentley era.’




‘ON behalf of a HANDFUL of TRAINERS in one specific region of south-east Queensland, who prefer to remain anonymous, full marks to the compliance team from the Queensland Racing Integrity Unit for their behind-the-scenes action on Magic Millions Day.

You won’t be reading too much about this but members of the team targeted a specific stable in a region in the south-east outside Brisbane and monitored the situation from early morning until the trainer left with his starters at the big Gold Coast meeting.

Now we’re not suggesting anything untoward but it was interesting to see that the stable runners couldn’t pick their feet up on the day – probably the hot weather got the best of them.

Racing in Queensland needs more of these unexpected raids from the compliance team. This particular trainer has, in the opinion of many, needed closer attention for far too long.’




‘THERE was plenty of publicity – wall to wall in fact – leading up to the Magic Millions about Chris Munce becoming the first to win the Two-Year-Old Classic as a jockey and a trainer.

Little was written after the event when the mainstream media focus, as expected, shifted away from the Munce stablemates to another QueenslandER, Houtzen, now one of the favorites to win the Golden Slipper.

Munce went into the Millions with a double-barreled chance – the confidently backed Ours To Keep and the badly drawn filly Champ Elect. Both were unbeaten and neither ever looked like winning.

It would have been nice to read a story from Chrissy explaining what he thought went wrong. Perhaps it was the hot day and the big occasion – as neither had travelled outside Brisbane before to race.

Also on the subject of the Magic Millions, did David Hayes have a night out on the Fourex when he suggested Madeenaty would turn the tables on HoutzeN in the Golden Slipper? His filly had the run of the race and, in the eyes of many, failed to run out a strong 1200m while Houtzen worked both ends and still proved too strong. You have to be kidding DH!’    




‘JUST when many in racing were so disillusioned with the major political parties that they thought Pauline Hanson might be the answer, Steve Dickson defects to One Nation.

Still regarded by many as the ‘worst Racing Minister’ Queensland has ever seen, Dickson will be remembered for his infamous ‘furlong in front statement’.

Instead of racing in Queensland finishing ‘a furlong in front’ of the major southern states as he predicted when Minister, we are falling further behind.

The ABC reported that Dickson's decision to join One Nation from the LNP means he has been transformed from a low-profile Opposition backbencher to a potential powerbroker in the Queensland Parliament and that whilst Pauline Hanson remains Party leader, it will be Dickson's job to lead the charge in the Sunshine State ahead of an election that could occur in 2017.

God help racing in Queensland if this dill returns to a position where he has any say on the fate of the industry. All of a sudden Grace Grace is starting to look like the genius she isn’t.’



TERRY BUTTS reports in his ‘SILKS & SADDLES’ column in the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER that long-time Townsville Turf Club CEO Michael Charge has resigned and will wind up 11 years at Cluden next month.

It’s no surprise really as he was right in the middle of the turmoil that resulted in a new committee being voted in last month.

He was also recently fined a ridiculous $1000 by QRIC stewards because he was a silent partner in a racehorse that he told everyone about on SKY and whoever asked him.

That episode is not over yet and as soon as we get hold of the transcript we will name the complainants.

He said neither influenced his decision to quit Cluden.

"It is time to move on," is his only comment.

And no, he definitely wasn't sacked (or pushed) as is the popular (and predictable) rumour around the track.

LGHR would just like to add that racing in Queensland can ill-afford to lose people like Michael Charge who not only has a passion for the game but has been one of the hardest working CEOs in the State. Here’s hoping someone quickly recognizes his talents and another racing door opens for him.


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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