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. READ ABOUT SOME MAJOR CHANGES  PLANNED FOR THE WHINGE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS WEEK’S COLUMN.



THE Racing Queensland ‘bashers’ – and there is a legion of them – are having a field day posing questions like: WHO says you don’t have to be a ‘rocket scientist’ to work in the Deagon Bunker?

It follows the publication of an advertisement RQ is running seeking to employ an industry ‘Data Scientist’ with most wanting to know what exactly this job entails and how much it will pay.

Perhaps this is a just a fancy title for a ‘business analyst’ (as we understand RQ no longer has one). It’s more the outrageous claims contained in the ad about RQ’s vision for the future that has cynics suggesting ‘they are dreaming’.  

Claims in the ad that RQ is ‘looking to boost its organizational capability in order to deliver on its ambitious mission to be Queensland’s favorite sport and Australia’s best racing jurisdiction’ has prompted some interesting responses.

All we can assume is that the ‘Data Scientist’ they are seeking is the ‘Ferrari of all Business Analysts’ and with that one might suggest the pay packet instead (which isn’t mentioned in the ad) would be at least twice the norm for a basic Business Analyst.  

HERE is how one contributor summed up the situation:

‘IF you google Racing Queensland jobs you will see they want a Data Scientist, whatever that is.

Anyway, before giving the criteria for the job they say this – ‘We want to make Queensland the best racing jurisdiction in Australia and racing Queensland’s favorite sport’.

I go to the races each week and anyone who believes this will happen – let alone those running the show at RQ – is truly delusional.

The wages bill seems to be going through the roof at Deagon. I read recently where four First Lieutenants to the new CEO had been appointed and their wages bill alone was suggested at close to $1 million.

With RQ still tens of millions in the red – or it was at last call – surely if the clubs have to cut prizemoney, then the salaries and number of new positions being created need to be capped as well.’

A couple of other emails received we weren’t prepared to publish but the most common thread has been comparisons with outrageous claims by former Racing Minister Steve Dickson, the LNP turncoat now heading One Nation in Queensland, that racing in this State would be ‘a furlong in front of NSW and Victoria’ under the leadership of he and his Government.    

The advertisement reads:

RACING Queensland (RQ) is embarking on an exciting new era. The new Board and CEO are committed to achieving outstanding outcomes for the Queensland racing industry. As part of this strategy, the organization is looking to boost its organizational capability in order to deliver on its ambitious mission to be Queensland’s favorite sport and Australia’s best racing jurisdiction.

We’re looking for people just like you who are committed to promoting our vision of connecting people through the thrill of racing.       

As a Data Scientist you will use your expertise to provide insight into Racing Queensland’s operations through financial and non-financial analysis. You will proactively seek and identify business opportunities, interacting with both management and wagering partners by preparing, managing and presenting high quality reports.

To be successful in this role you will have:

  • Experience in data analysis and reporting using business information tools
  • Experience in providing specialist advice and recommendations
  • Demonstrated high degree of strong analytical and problem solving skills 
  • A Bachelor’s Degree or higher in Engineering, Mathematics, Computation, Statistics or similar quantitative discipline.

Applications close: 5pm 9 February 2017

Please note the following conditions apply:

  • May be required to work on weekends and extended hours when reasonably required
  • Must hold a current driver’s licence
  • Intrastate travel may be a requirement

 If one of the requirements of the ‘Data Scientist’ is to highlight things that are wrong with racing in Queensland or the organization in control, they will need more than one appointment – one might suggest a bus load in fact.



BRAD ATKINSON of NORTH QUEENSLAND sent this email on the problems confronting racing in that part of the State:

‘ALL my life I have followed racing in North Queensland – so proudly in the past – but so sadly now as it degenerates into joke status.

The once great Townsville Turf Club is on its knees and it will be more luck than good management if racing in Mackay survives.

Who do we blame the current plight on?

There has been little help from Governments of the day in the past decade. Boards of Racing Queensland have been politically motivated and that has seen the replacement or resignation of some hard working committees on some occasions through sheer frustration.

The situation in Mackay seems to be going from bad to worse. The financial picture was bad enough when Racing Queensland stepped in. It was even worse when they handed control back to the club.

Townsville got caught up in the politics that is every day racing in Queensland and the casualties of that battle were Kevin O’Keefe and his hard working committee. The gun was put at their head by the new Board of Racing Queensland and rather than accept their terms KOK and his team walked.

Little was reported about it but they were asked to return but refused because unanimity could not be reached on that decision. When a new committee was elected to replace them all of a sudden RQ seemed to change the rules. Racing in Townsville under the new powers-that-be at Deagon Headquarters has been far from a level playing field.

Fingers are being pointed at one particular auditor with all sorts of outrageous allegations about what his ‘real plans’ are for NQ racing. It’s something that should be addressed by the Racing Minister but her advisors are so out of touch with the reality of country racing that she probably is oblivious to the situation.

Michael Charge and Ryan Van de Velde are two highly respected and hard-working CEOs who look certain to be lost to racing in Townsville and Mackay. The new broom that is being put through both centres has stakeholders on edge. Many others, like myself, who followed racing with such pride in the north for so long now fear that it has no future here.’

EDITOR’S NOTE: TERRY BUTTS has forward edto LGHR an email he received yesterday regarding the situation in Mackay. It was sent by PAUL TURNER and reads:

‘I refer to your article on Mackay Turf Club reprinted in Letsgohorseracing today.

My eldest daughter is now in Mackay and looked at standing for a Committee position last year.

She canvassed around some of the long established business families we have known through three generations to check on the general feeling about the Club.

She was advised to stay well away, as since it was handed back by Racing Queensland it had become "flyblown".

From the information she  gave me, some of the debt figures you are using before the takeover and before and after Racing Queensland handed it back would do Trump's "alternative facts" proud. (Her figures are from an Accountant member of one of the above mentioned families).

My advise would to be to check the figures away from your current source.’



AS a TRAINER in TOWNSVILLE I would ask that my identity be with-held for obvious reasons:

‘HOW can racing in Townsville appoint a new CEO who refuses to make her mobile phone number available to the stakeholders?

She needs a reality check. There isn’t a CEO of a racing or sporting club in this country who enjoys that sort of anonymity.

The whole process in Townsville has the industry demanding answers.

Why was a role as important as the CEO not advertised when Michael Charge pulled the pin after a decade in the job?

Why didn’t Racing Queensland ask Charge why he was leaving the job he had done so well so soon after a new committee was appointed when he has not accepted a position elsewhere?

Why did the new committee see fit to appoint one of their own as CEO when she had no background or experience in racing and should that posting not have been in an ‘acting’ capacity at least to start with?

Why would the new Chairman allowed his new CEO to keep her mobile phone number private and fail to make herself available at all times not only to members of the racing media but also to stakeholders who might want to talk to her urgently?

Isn’t availability part of the job for a CEO in any organization, especially racing or sport? Even the new CEO of Racing Queensland doesn’t impose these restrictions and he has a Personal Assistant and a Communications Officer.

I see where Ryan Van de Velde, the Mackay Turf Club CEO who appears to be on the way out, has described the committee in that centre as ‘simply dysfunctional’. If the new TTC committee allows their new CEO to impose rules of her own from the outset the club here risks heading down the same track.

Come on Mr Chairman Petrofski – instead of covering for the new girl Cassandra how about giving her a timely wake-up call before this all gets out of hand.

Racing in Queensland is a big enough joke as it is – without Townsville contributing to the cause!’ 



NEW Townsville Turf Club chairman MALCOLM PETROFSKI was quick to respond to the ‘Silks and Saddles’ column by TERRY BUTTS in the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER. He also answered some questions arising from emails received by LGHR for the WEDNESDAY WHINGE. Here is his response:

‘THE decision to appoint a person without extensive industry knowledge was made by the full committee based on balance.

The TTC is under financial strain and at the moment is in debt and paying off some of last year’s financial accounts.

In short we need to improve our financial position so that we do have funds to make improvements and to be able to continue on as a viable business.

The committee has vast industry experience but is short on promotion and community engagement skills.

Our new appointment gives great balance across the committee and CEO position, it is almost impossible to have one person with industry skills, promotional skills, community engagement, process-driven with financial competency.

Everyone I have spoken to at an industry level has been happy with the decision and very supportive of the new approach, as has the staff at the TTC.

It is also important to note that the sponsors we have spoken to already are supportive of the new approach.

The results of our decision to make this appointment internally and allow for a hand over from one CEO to the next should be judged on the results at the end of 12 months and not via the rumor mill.

Numbers attending race meetings are on the increase in Townsville based on last years like for like dates and our function bookings in the last two weeks have doubled. These are important factors that will improve our profitability.

Things are moving forward in Townsville with a positive approach and a looking forward view. The new committee continues to move forward using a positive approach and will be judged on the results we achieve.

I hope this gives some insight to the approach we have taken in Townsville.

Terry Butts could have had this story had he called me back as he said he would when I phoned over a week ago to talk about the appointment before it was officially released to the media.

He also could have phoned me as he has on many other occasions to discuss this matter. The recent story which is not completely factual even seems to have a mischievous slant but I will leave that to Terry.’



BARRY SMITH of the SUNSHINE COAST poses an interesting question:

‘HOW can a top jockey ride so well in one race and so badly in another?

It’s a question that punters all over the country were tweeting amid claims Damien Browne slaughtered hot favorite Manaya in the Three-Year-Old then came out and rode like a genius to win the Sunshine Coast Cup on Sir Moments last Saturday.

The Browne ride on Manaya, which drifted in the betting from a bad draw at her first run since August last year, was so bad it even rated a mention in The Verdict in The Sunday Mail.

Nathan Exelby wrote:

‘Damian Browne’s ride on Manaya earned the ire of many punters when the filly weakened out of the placings after circling the field mid-race at the Sunshine Coast (on Saturday).

“The didn’t go as hard as I thought they would and she was over-raciong, so I just let her roll forward and I thought if she’s good enough she would still win,” Browne said.

“We got there without doing a lot of work and at the top of the straight I still had plenty of horse, but she really blew out badly in the last 50m. She might be a horse that doesn’t handle the heat. She seated up very badly, plus she had the 59kg.”

With all due respects to the Browne explanation, Manaya wasn’t the only one sweating up badly after her brave fourth – so were the punters who backed her. And as for his suggestion that she didn’t do a lot of work in the run, well he might have been in the saddle but most saw things a lot differently.

The bottom line is that in the opinion of many punters Browne gave Manaya a sore back. She worked her guts out first-up and had to stop in the straight. It was a disgraceful ride and one the punters would have expected from a raw apprentice not a jockey of his experience and ability.

It was a far cry from his effort on Sir Moments when he scrapped paint on the rail and out-rode his rivals to land the feature race of the day.

Ironically, Browne told the media after the win: “They have been getting too far off the fence. Yes, about two off is probably a little better, but I don’t think there’s been the need to get five and six wide, so I was happy to take the run.”

Pity he didn’t practice what he preached then a couple of races early or perhaps he learnt by his mistake on Manaya!’




‘FOR a multitude of reasons I’ve been thinking for a while of placing a ban on betting on racing in Brisbane or wherever the meeting is on a Saturday in south-east Queensland.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed doing the form for racing in the north but with track bias, bad rides and form reversals it has become impossible to follow.

It’s hard to single out a specific incident – there have been so many – but the straw that broke the camels’ back for me was the Damien Browne ride on Manaya at the Sunshine Coast last Sunday.

Now I am not suggesting anything untoward on the part of Browne or the connections of Manaya but it was a terribly bad ride from an extremely good jockey who came out later in the day and showed his class winning the feature race.

In assessing the prospects of Manaya for the race I took into account that there had been no official trials. I knew she was drawn wide but also remembered her debut performance when she won a Listed race in brilliant fashion at Scone. On that occasion she eased back to last and I assumed those would be the tactics fresh at the Sunshine Coast where the big run home looked perfect. In my opinion she was a class above her rivals.

But to my dismay Browne charged forward – four and five wide on the track – and although she seemingly joined in like a winner on straightening I knew that effort had to take its toll – unless she was an absolute freak. In my opinion he failed to give her every chance of winning that race, regardless of the excuses that were put forward to stewards by him for the tactics adopted.

This was just another case of how easy it is to do your money on what looks like a 'good thing' in Queensland. It seems to happen all the time and that’s why anyone who has followed the form here for any period of time is ‘gun shy' when it comes to backing a short priced favourite.

A friend of mine who has raced dozens of horses in Queensland over the years and doesn’t mind a decent bet if he thinks one of them can win has given up. As soon as his current team end their racing careers he will not continue to own horses in Queensland. He now has his horses trained in Victoria and the Northern Territory.

“I don’t even bother doing the form on Brisbane any more. The only time I watch a race in south-east Queensland now is when there is a short priced favourite racing. I back it to lose on Betfair and rarely does a month go by when I don’t win. It’s less time consuming and a lot easier backing a winner than spending hours on form only to watch your fancy go like a crippled crab or get slaughtered,” my friend told me.

I will remember the day that Manaya should have won at the Sunshine Coast for all the wrong reasons. It will be the anniversary of the last time I had a bet on Queensland racing.’



STEFAN MEIER of PASCOE VALUE SOUTH, VICTORIA, makes another interesting contribution to the WHINGE:

‘I wrote some time ago regarding the poor state of play in racing of getting horses loaded into the barrier stalls. In no way whatsoever am I having a go at barrier staff who do a fantastic job with what they are dished up with around the country every day and night.

My issue is with the trainers. We now see racing from across the globe daily. From the utterly hopeless French, who the other night in one race took no less than 11 minutes to load six horses into the stalls, I kid you not, one of the horses stood there in front of the open stall front feet splayed apart and the attendants stood around looking at it for about two minutes without doing anything at all, waiting for perhaps divine intervention to move the beast one inch forward, to the creme de la creme Japanese who have the whole thing sorted, can load sixteen runners in under a minute or two and dispatch the field a second or so after the last horse has loaded. One of the things I particularly like about Japan racing is that the starter is perched in front of the stalls waiting to hit the button, unlike us where the starter is often running around like a headless chook from the front to the back trying to do ten things at once. How many times has a horse gone up while the starter is running to his ladder from the back of the stalls then back again to check something and back again round the front, it's a bad look, unprofessional and amatuerish at best.

I guess we sit somewhere in the middle. Small field of seasoned gallopers, usually O.K. Big fields, two year olds, a bunch of first starters and you already know it's going to be trouble.

Why is it so much more important now than ever before to get this sorted. Punters are betting on more racing product than ever before, when avoidable delays occur punters get jacked and frustrated, a myriad of high speed gambling is available these days, pokies, blackjack, online gaming, keno the list is endless. Races bumped from one channel to another often overlapping gives punters the willies, the product has to be be slick, attractive and run like clockwork, not like an episode of Keystone Cops where attendants are running about in all directions getting out the way of cartwheeling horses or trying ten times to out muscle a 500KG beast to move a few inches all the while at risk of getting kicked or trampled on.

Such a case in point was race five last Sunday at Toowoomba. What a shamozzle, finishing up in total frustration with three late scratchings, unable to load, seriously ? How galling for punters, how unfair to the other runners and their connections, already loaded, practically nodding off waiting. How dangerous to barrier staff and jockeys sitting in the stalls awaiting one of these nut cases to come in next to them, then having to sit there endlessly next to this lunatic while they give another nut job another chance.

Not having a go, but I would ask the question of trainers Gerrard Betros, John Dann and John Sutton who presented the three late scratchings, what was your point of even going ? Presumably your horses were trained to the minute, endless hours of trackwork, feeding regimen, grooming and care, all for naught because you can't be bothered to devote enough time and preparation to ensure your horse doesn't waste three quarters of its energy you've built up for weeks on end behind the barrier stalls, dancing around in circles, being pushed, pulled, prodded fighting the poor old attendants for an excruciating seven or eight minutes. I feel for the connections, but as sure as night follows day, these three horses were spent before the race had even started, even if they had have loaded they were no chance of performing on the day. That's unfair on more levels than you can count on both hands.

We need to fix this Australia wide and fast. It's not impossible, it can be done. If you can train a Lipanzer to prance around a ring on a thread of cotton as a rein you can surely train a racehorse to walk into barrier and stand still for two minutes. Send a delegation from the peak training authorities to Japan, find out how it's done, do some workshops, anything, but I'm afraid there will be only one way to knock this thing on the head and into the minds of trainers. If a horse does not walk freely into the barrier with one attendant leading it in, that's it scratched, back to barrier school for you, and again and again and again until you get so sick of turning up and not running you have to do it, and if you don't know how, find out how, and stop leaving your lazy sloppy training methods for other people to deal with. It's not fair, for owners, punters, jockeys, stable staff or the dedicated hard working barrier attendants around the country who have to risk their personal safety because you can't or won't dedicate the time to doing your job properly, you call yourselves "trainers", well train.’



*EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to circumstances beyond our control there will be no WEDNESDAY WHINGE next week.

OUR email server has advised that there may be no service provided for up to three days which makes it virtually impossible to compile contributions for the Whinge.

It is rather timely as we were planning an annual maintenance of the letsgohorseracing website and some major changes to the Wednesday Whinge.

After years of growing into the most read section of our website, the Whinge will cease to be restricted to a Wednesday read. From the week after next you can have you ‘Whinge Whenever’ – with contributions to be run from Monday to Friday. We are leaving the weekends clear (along with major race days like the Melbourne Cup) believing they should be restricted to what the sport is all about on the track.

We were finding that sometimes contributions were waiting up to a week to be run in the Wednesday Whinge. This way topics will be more current and you – our readers- can have your say or Whinge whenever you like – or more importantly on a daily basis.

Our decision is based on the philosophy of why make our readers wait for just one day to enjoy what they want most from the website when they can have their say or read what others have to say on a daily basis.

We will also be introducing several other new features to ensure that letsgohorseracing remains one of the best read racing websites in Australasia.


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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