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.


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who are the trainers that Kavanagh was referring to?

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

What a woeful effort!’




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

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

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

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

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




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

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




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

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

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

THESE are interesting times in sport and racing.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



ALAN DUNLEVY of ROCKHAMPTON sent this email:

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

As Butts wrote:

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

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

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

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

Yes, why?

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




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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the above e-mails should not be interpreted as those of JOHN LINGARD, the owner-editor of the letsgohorseracing web-site. That is why he has added an ‘EDITOR’S NOTE’. Every endeavor is made to verify the authenticity of contributors. We welcome any reasonable and constructive responses from parties or individuals.


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.

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