16 October 2011

Why are bookmakers taking bets on declared non-runners?

So Atlantic Jewel is out of the Cox Plate:
"The Cox Plate is just too soon for her, she is in her first preparation," Coolmore's Tom Magnier said last night."
Yet this morning on TVN's Racing Review, up goes the sportingbet.com.au market for the WS Cox Plate, with Atlantic Jewel third favourite at 5-1. In chimes Bruce Clark: "There's Atlantic Jewel, take it out, $5, won't be running, not nominated." So what is it doing there listed as third favourite? We know it's all-in betting, but Centrebet, Sportsbet and TAB Fixed Odds have all taken Atlantic Jewel out of the market. Yet as of 10.40pm AEST, Sportingbet was apparently still taking wagers on a horse that will not be running. Why?

26 September 2011

Brouhaha builds over ham-fisted stewards merger plan

Ever since NSW Racing Minister, George Souris, let one rip last Wednesday people have been looking around asking "who farted?". Now Craig Young in the SMH has dropped another bombshell, the Chairman of Stewards, "Ray Murrihy wasn't even consulted about the decision" to merge the stipendiary stewards of horse racing with harness racing. Souris appears to have convinced the board heads of each code to sign up but with precious little consultation with anyone else.

25 September 2011

Rick Hore-Lacy breathes life into punters' post-mortem

Legendary appearance by Rick Hore-Lacy on TVN's Racing Review this morning after Toorak Toff's Group 1 win at Caulfield yesterday: admits to penury and debt, to "buying horses and never having enough money to pay for them", to "living on dreams" chasing big paydays with unlikely champions; phone rings on air, flicks it to voicemail then checks his messages(!), all while conducting the interview. "I once ran a successful business - boring as all hell!" Training, however, is "an exciting business, you never know when you're next good horse is coming from."  To finish off "RHL" picked a fight with Richard Callendar before confiding he got "80s" about his 11-1 chance for the G1 Caulfield Guineas, Chase the Rainbow.

Critics of trots 'choreography' go ballistic

You'd think everyone would be on their best behaviour given the scandal and corruption that's rocked the harness racing game in recent months.  However questions continue to be raised about the veracity of recent races. As the SMH's Chris Roots reports, some punters have had more than enough and said so bluntly on the public forum on industry website Harnesslink.com:
Fed-up punters vented their frustration over Kevin Pizzuto's drive on Our Amazing Art after it ran second to odds-on favourite and stablemate Franco Torres. Chief steward Bill Cable has stood down Our Amazing Art and adjourned an inquiry into the race, in which Pizzuto loomed up to win in the straight but failed to run down his stablemate.
The forum post was headed "One of the worst things Ive seen on a harness racing track EVER!!!!". Fearing legal blowback, Harnesslink has since closed comments, but you can still read the forum here, unless they shut down the forum for good. However, keenly aware of the important role such fora play, Harnesslink told the Herald to shut it down "wouldn't make us any better than industry bodies (who I won't name) that don't mention the 'dark side' of racing, and want to pretend all is well.'' 
Amen to that brother! Shine a light on the 'dark side' if you want it gone. More transparency, more scrutiny, means stronger integrity and more reliable form, leading to more confidence in the wagering product on the part of the public. Should be simple really.

09 September 2011

Trots scandal claims second scalp as driver is "warned off"

Latest news in the corruption scandal rocking harness racing in New South Wales is that veteran driver Robbie Byrnes  refused to supply access to his phone records to officials and was ''warned off'' all racecourses yesterday, "a punishment which means he cannot have any involvement in trotting", reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
"In August two stewards, Paul O'Toole and Matthew Bentley, resigned their positions after being confronted with allegations that they had not taken pre- and post-race drug tests from particular horses. This gave corrupt trainers, punters and drivers a huge advantage in orchestrating betting plunges. It is believed as many as 80 per cent of the doped horses won their races."
Owner Mark Vallander was warned off on August 23 after also refusing to comply with similar requests for information. The Daily Telegraph says "police and racing investigators are trying to establish whether sensitive information was leaked by stewards to trainers concerning which horses would be drug tested, and also whether there was collusion between stewards, drivers and punters."

25 internationals among 163 Melbourne Cup noms

Breedingracing.com reports:  Nominations for the $6.2 million Gr1 Melbourne Cup (3200m at Flemington on Tuesday 1 November) closed September 1, a month later than previous tradition, with the 163 entries including 25 currently being prepared in the Northern Hemisphere. Racing Victoria’s international recruiting officer Leigh Jordon said he was pleased with the international nominations which, as expected, have “less speculative entries with the change in entry dates. With nominations closing a month later, the entries are more indicative of which internationals are likely to come or are genuinely interested in doing so if they perform in their homeland this month. By way of comparison, there were 25 internationals in contention for the Melbourne Cup at the same time last year with 1st declarations taken in the 1st week of September. Last year there were 8 internationals that started in the Cup (following the morning scratching of Bauer) and we expect 6-8 internationals to contest this year’s 151st edition.”

08 September 2011

Naughty corner: trots, hoops, drugs, bans

Handing up at the red hots.
  • Trotting's deep throat: Tim Reilly and Chris Roots in the Sydney Morning Herald continue their red hot coverage of the troubles in the red hots with their latest revelation that a "licensed person" was the key whistleblower. http://bit.ly/ozHzcY
  • Hopped-up hoop: Carl Di Iorio at Cyberhorse reports on the 12-month disqualification of jockey Wayne Wheatley by Racing NSW stewards over a positive sample to a "banned substance".   http://bit.ly/of13rL
  • "Conniving" trainers: Racing NSW stewards also disqualified owner and already-suspended Queensland trainer Ronald Drysdale for 12-months & Lismore-based NSW trainer Michael Pearson for 6-months following an inquiry “into the bona fides of the training of the racehorses Sheemon, Tegic, Dekarnage & It’s All Happening”. Stewards found Drysdale (as owner of the horses) “did connive with licensed trainer Michael Pearson, for Pearson to hold himself out as the trainer of the horses for the purpose of entering those horses and racing the horses” when “at all times they were not being trained by a qualified trainer but were being trained by Drysdale, whose qualification to train was cancelled by Racing Queensland on 14 March 2011”. via breedingracing.com

Steroids ban for India's top three trainers

In India, three leading trainers “have been banned as the steroids scandal that has rocked Indian racing involving a Classic winner finally drew to a close in Mumbai” reported racingpost.com.
However the “controversy rages on after Sheraz Sunderji, Cooji Katrak and master trainer Pesi Shroff received what was seen in some quarters as lenient penalties for their transgressions”. The Sunderji-trained Indian 2000 Guineas winner Ocean And Beyond was disqualified “after testing positive for the anabolic steroid Boldenone (also known by trade names Equipoise & Ganabol) at the Mumbai winter meeting run by the Royal West India Turf Club”. Traces of the banned substance were also found in post-race tests on 2000 Guineas runner-up Star Future (Katrak) and Eloise (Shroff) who was 3rd in the Indian 1000 Guineas; both horses were also disqualified. The trainers at the centre of the affair were found guilty merely for their “vicarious liabilities” according to medication rules: Katrak was suspended for 120-days; Shroff was suspended for 30-days; and Sunderji (found guilty once before in his career) was suspended for 45-days. RWITC chairman Vivek Jain issued a statement “seemingly in anticipation over the relatively soft punishments in a scandal that has garnered widespread publicity in India”. He claimed: “We have adhered to the rule book & past precedents. There was no clear evidence to question the trainers' intent of administrating the banned substance, but there is a clause of ‘vicarious liability' under which the sentences have been handed out.” Boldenone (the substance at the centre of the scandal) is a banned steroid “that could be used to build up muscle and stand more rigorous training”. racingpost.com noted: “Not only were the 3 horses concerned among the best in India, they were trained by 3 of the nation's most successful trainers.”
According to Indiarace.com, the trainers “maintained that the feed procured from the RWITC had been contaminated with the drug in question”. However stewards countered “by saying the same feed was given to about 200 horses and the remainder had all tested clean”. Run under the auspices of the Royal Western India Turf Club, the Mumbai Classics are India's senior races - in effect the national Classics. Via breedingracing.com.

12 August 2011

UK Trainer Johnson banned four years for neurectomy, steroids

11 July 2011: Prominent UK trainer Howard Johnson appeared at a British Horseracing Board inquiry overnight “to answer serious charges that carry a potentially lengthy ban from the sport” reported racingpost.com. The trainer “is accused of running Striking Action 8 times after the 9YO had undergone a palmar neurectomy - the surgical removal or severing of all or part of the palmar digital nerves; the process, known as 'de-nerving', causes the horse to lose sensation in the back of its foot”. Johnson (who claims he was unaware horses on whom the operation had been performed were banned from racing on welfare grounds, as well as compromising jockey safety) “is also accused of administering steroids to 3 other horses in his care”. Johnson “could be disqualified for a period of 10 years if found guilty of wilful cruelty”. He commented: “I am not guilty because I asked the vet whether Striking Action could run after the operation and I was told he could. And as for the steroid job, it wasn't enough to give a cat.”

UPDATE 12 August 2011: Howard Johnson has been banned from racing for four years" reports the Guardian...
"...after being found in breach of the sport's welfare rules. Three years of the ban were imposed in respect of his having raced a horse eight times after it had undergone a denerving operation that left it with impaired sensation in a lower limb, while the fourth year will be his punishment for administering steroids to other horses."

09 August 2011

Poor UK prizemoney only barrier for Bowman

Australian jockey Hugh Bowman “has admitted he would consider moving to Britain on a full-time basis if he was offered a retainer at a big stable” reported racingpost.com. Bowman (who ended a 2nd UK stint at Mick Channon's stable last weekend) “is likely to return next year for a 3rd time & could make the move more permanent were the circumstances right”. Bowman confirmed: “If I was offered a retained job at a big stable where I would be guaranteed to be financially secure, I would certainly look very carefully at doing that.” However the former champion jockey of Sydney “feels the financial state of British racing is a major turn-off” noting: “The prize-money is a real concern & financially I'm better off staying at home. It works really well me coming here for a couple of months (during the Australian winter) because I'm not missing much back home.” Via breedingracing.com.

29 July 2011

Pre-export quarantine approved for European Melbourne Cup raiders

Racing Victoria is hell-bent on removing all barriers to industry giant Coolmore running So You Think in this year's WS Cox Plate. RV confirmed the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service has “approved the pre-export quarantine arrangements at Newmarket in the United Kingdom, thus paving the way for European horses to compete during Victoria’s 2011 Spring Racing Carnival”. RV chief executive Rob Hines noted the approval “will ensure European trainers can continue their preparations for this year’s Spring Racing Carnival safe in the knowledge that the required quarantine facilities exist”. Hines also revealed: “We are continuing our positive discussions with AQIS around pre-export quarantine facilities at Ballydyole in Ireland and remain confident of reaching a resolution that would allow Coolmore-owned horses such as So You Think to return to Australia via that facility should his owners so desire.” The first list of international contenders for the Spring Racing Carnival will be known next Tuesday (August 2) when nominations close for the Gr1 Caulfield Cup & Gr1 Cox Plate. Nominations for the Gr1 Melbourne Cup close a month later on Thursday 1 September. (Jul 29 via breedingracing.com)

25 July 2011

Lukewarm praise for HK stewards' integrity crackdown

A graduate of the Ray Murrihy school, HKJC Chief Steward Kim Kelly's laser-like focus on integrity continues to be "touchy", "tricky", and "complicated" area for Hong Kong's racing media: South China Morning Post sums up the season past with only equivocal support for Kelly's crackdown on jockeys:
"It was in other areas where things got touchy and five applications of the rule requiring jockeys to take "all reasonable and permissible measures to win or obtain the best possible place in the field" was one. In the 10 seasons prior, 15 rides fell foul of the rule. It's tough on those five penalised - all were relicensed, so their integrity was not under question - but it continues to be a tricky area open to much personal interpretation. The other event was the HK$300,000 fine issued to Zac Purton in June after an inquiry found he had not taken the appropriate action of reporting two separate approaches from a punter, previously jailed for a similar offence, who wished to place bets on his behalf in return for tips. The matter was complicated as Purton had known the punter's brother in Sydney as a racing manager for Hong Kong owners, and he had loaned him money over their joint involvement in a business venture in Australia."

Five-time HK champion trainer Brian Kan bailed on election bribe charges

Brian Kan on a good day.
In Hong Kong, 5-time champion trainer Brian Kan “faces a possible jail sentence after being charged with corruption for allegedly attempting to buy a vote in a village election” reported racingpost.com. HK's Independent Commission Against Corruption charged Kan, 73, with offering a HK$130,000 (A$15,000) bribe “to a village representative in February when he unsuccessfully ran in a village election in Sheung Shui in the rural northern New Territories, close to the border with mainland China”. Kan, described by The South China Morning Post as “the most influential horse trainer of his generation” recorded 844 winners in a 25-year career. He was “released on bail and will appear in court on Tuesday to face charges that carry a maximum fine of HK$500,000 (A$60,000) and up to 7 years in jail”. (Source: breedingracing.com)

Hendra virus update: more horse deaths in Queensland

Breedingracing.com reports 9th & 10th Qld Horses Die From Hendra Virus: Authorities confirmed the 9th & 10th horses have died in separate outbreaks in Queensland from the Hendra virus, reported abc.net.au. Biosecurity Queensland said the 9th horse, which “was euthanased at a property in Logan (south of Brisbane) initially tested negative to Hendra, but secondary testing showed it previously had a Hendra virus infection & had developed antibodies to the disease”. Six people who were exposed to the sick animal “have tested negative to signs of the virus”. Queensland authorities also announced “test results have confirmed a 10th horse that died in Chinchilla on Friday had the virus”. It is the 1st case west of the Great Diving Range & Queensland's chief health officer Jeannette Young said: “All people who've had contact with the horse will have blood tests taken now & again in 21 days & 42 days to just check that they haven't developed the disease.” Queensland’s chief biosecurity officer Dr Jim Thompson added only 1 property is quarantined at Chinchilla & assured: “We don't believe there is any need to be taking further actions - this is under control.” Overall there have now been 8 outbreaks of Hendra in Queensland this year; overall 10 horses in Queensland & 4 in NSW have died from the disease over the past 4 weeks.

Vet warns "time is running out" to nail Qld Hendra horse deaths

Qld Vet Calls For “Urgent Action” On Hendra: The latest Hendra virus outbreak at Chinchilla “has placed added pressure on the resources of Queensland Health and Biosecurity Queensland” reported abc.net.au. In addition to 10 horse deaths in 8 locatons across the state, “87 horses are being monitored and up to 60 people have been tested since the 1st outbreak last month”. Veterinarian Dr David Lovell, from Redland Bay east of Brisbane, warned “time is running out to determine the cause of so many Hendra virus outbreaks across Queensland”. Lovell said the State Government “needs to allocate more resources to studying the reasons behind the spike in outbreaks” and declared: “Something's different, something has changed. My belief probably is that it is all in the month of July - I think that in a very, very short period of time we have had all these different outbreaks. Why is that suddenly happening? It has never ever been like that before and it's just essential that we know.” Lovell emphasised Biosecurity Queensland “needs all the help it can get to figure it out. They are probably stretched to their limits a little bit now - I would like to see it outsourced. AusVet - their speciality is epidemiology - that is what they do and they have done some brilliant work over the years. I am sure at the CSIRO there are lots and lots of people that aren't directly on the Government payroll at the moment, that I think could be given this as an urgent, immediate project to get out there and find out.” Qld Mayor Also Calls For Hendra Action: Following the Hendra death at Chinchilla, Western Downs Mayor Ray Brown told abc.net.au “work must continue to stop the spread of Hendra virus from bats to horses”. Brown said flying fox colonies “are widespread on the Western Downs” and noted: “Personally I know myself - where I live at Moonie, I have pecan nut trees that they love to attack. It's just part of nature in Queensland - how we deal with it is certainly an issue that's got to be addressed. We don't want more frequencies of this type of event.” Source: breedingracing.com.

14 June 2011

World's best horses race for peanuts at Royal Ascot

ARGUABLY the world's most prestigious five days in the global racing calendar kick off tonight with day 1 of Royal Ascot and the eagerly awaited clash of champions in the traditional opening race of the carnival, the time honoured Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes.

But just think for a minute what the champion French mare Goldikova, and her arch-rival, super four year old Canford Cliffs would do in the Group 3 Launceston Cup? They would be racing for more prizemoney. In fact Australia offers 108 races worth more than the paltry £141,925.00 (AUD$218,782) on offer in the Queen Anne. It's her special week, can't Her Majesty chip in a bit? Please don't tell us British racing is leading the world. ... UPDATE: Meanwhile, leading Australian trainer Peter Moody confirmed our assessment with comments published yesterday in the Melbourne Herald-Sun:
...Moody, speaking on Radio Sport National while in England for Royal Ascot, said a recent prize-money reduction there was another example of why Australia should go with a tote only system. "They are running for peanuts here (in the UK).  They've just had another prize-money cut by about a quarter,'' Moody said referring to the recent announcement that AU$3.3m would be cut from prize money. "The racing here is only for the upper class who are looking at ways to spend their money. In Australia it's about getting quick returns for owners who can then spend it on another horse.'' 
Moody went on to state the obvious: that Racing Victoria's decision to run with a pro-corporate bookie regime of taxing profits was fraught with danger as businesses invariably liked to reduce profits for taxation purposes.

06 June 2011

Victorian Owners slam RV's product fee model

The Victorian Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association has “come out strongly against the recent decision by Racing Victoria to charge a low product fee” which according to TROA “may result in a shortfall of as much as $50 million a year below what RV should be charging”. Following criticism last year, RV commissioned a study by PWC & Peter Yates to review the product fee model. The Yates/PWC report has now been released “to a sceptical racing industry” & TROA chairman Jonathan Munz declared it is “fundamentally flawed” adding: “The report gave RV what it wanted, but not what the racing industry needed. It is based on academic pricing theories that are overly simplistic & some assumptions that are clearly wrong. This is a big concern. . . . . We call on the Racing Minister Denis Napthine to intervene to protect the industry’s revenue base.” 

Get used to it: ATC is here to stay

Breeding & Racing reports: The ATC Board announced “Australian Turf Club” will be retained as the name of the merged Sydney Club (from the old Australian Jockey Club & Sydney Turf Club) “following strategic brand research” which consisted of “analysis of the club’s developing business strategy, an email survey to over 11,000 members, member focus groups & stakeholder interviews”. Over 1,300 former STC & AJC Members “actively participated in the research, as well as industry stakeholders including media, trainers & racehorse owners”. A key research finding was the majority of survey respondents (65%) think the name Australian Turf Club is an “impressive” to “excellent brand”. In considering alternative names the name Australian Turf Club “is preferred to the Sydney Jockey Club & Sydney Racing”. ATC chairman John Cornish announced the Board was “unanimous in their resolution to retain the launch name. As a Board, we are aware of the subjectivity of the matter & of the differing opinions in the market. We are never going to appease everyone; but the research findings support the chosen name, as well as the Club’s vision to be internationally recognised as a leader for racing, events & membership.”

03 June 2011

Melbourne's Valley vision puts Sydney red hots to shame

A tale of two cities? Announcing a visionary $150m masterplan to redevelop the Valley into a "night racing Mecca", Moonee Valley Racing Club chairman, Bob Scarborough, said "at no stage" had his board countenanced merging with the VRC or moving the Cox Plate to another track. "We could have quickly found a buyer for 40ha of prime freehold land within 7km of the city. It would have been a surer bet than Black Caviar winning her 14th successive race," Scarborough reportedly said. "We have a different view. We're proud of our history and contribution to the industry and the broader community since our establishment in Moonee Ponds almost 130 years ago." Puts into stark relief the visionless mob at the NSW Harness Racing Club who grabbed the money for the 120 year old Harold Park to the cheers of owners, trainers and drivers who will divvy up the estimated $187m windfall until it runs out. The developers also did very well, meanwhile, for punters and long-term fans of the trots, what is the lasting legacy of Sydney's once iconic "ribbon of light"?
Goulburn and Bathurst will have two ''new'' stewards' towers as part of the legacy of Harold Park. The stewards' towers were removed from Harold Park yesterday and transported to the country centres. ''Mirvac allowed us to take the towers down, which was good of them, because they owned everything once we signed the contracts,'' NSW harness racing boss John Dumesny said. ''It is good that the towers can help a couple of country clubs and means they have a part of Harold Park.''
Dismembered, broken up, cast to the four winds. The march of 'progress'. That's Sydney

02 June 2011

WA Jockey pleads guilty to fraud over tote scam

B&R reports: WA jockey Clint Harvey “has been fined $3,000 for his role in a racing scam in which he let money be directed into his own personal bank account,” reported The West Australian. Harvey, 28, was sentenced in Perth Magistrate’s Court after pleading guilty to 21 fraud charges relating to a total of $11,358. The court was told Harvey had allowed his best friend Bernard James Ryan, who had access to Racing And Wagering WA computers “to fraudulently shift late scratching fees into his own bank account”; Harvey had not received any of the funds, but Ryan (who is due to be sentenced in June) “had benefited from the payments”. Harvey’s lawyer Michael Tudori told the court his client had “withdrawn from the scam because he no longer wanted to be part of an illegal venture & had made full admission to the turf club stewards & the police fraud squad”. Magistrate Richard Bayly agreed Harvey “had been the lesser participant in the scam, had given significant assistance to authorities & was remorseful”. 

Aussie 3YOs leave for Royal Ascot

B&R reports: As Danny O'Brien-trained dual Gr1-winning 3YO colt Star Witness (Starcraft-Leone Chiara, by Lion Hunter) & Peter Moody-trained Gr3-winning & 4-time Gr1-placed 3YO colt Hinchinbrook (Fastnet Rock-Snippets' Lass, by Snippets) left Australia last night for their upcoming campaigns at Royal Ascot in England, Star Witness has been installed early favourite or equal favourite for the Gr1 King’s Stand Stakes (5 furlongs on the carnival’s June 14 opening day) with all 9 leading bookmakers, varying from 6-1 (SkyBet & Bet365) to 7-1 (William Hill, Blue Square & Victor Chandler) to 8-1 (Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, SportingBet & BoyleSports). Star Witness is also 3rd favourite (after Delegator & Rocket Man) for the Gr1 Golden Jubilee Stakes (6 furlongs on June 18) varying from 7-1 (Ladbrokes, Bet365 & Blue Square) to 8-1 (William Hill, Paddy Power, SkyBet, BoyleSports & Victor Chandler). Meanwhile Hinchinbrook’s quote in early Gr1 Golden Jubilee markets varies from 16-1 (Bet365 & SkyBet) to 20-1 (Ladbrokes & William Hill) to 25-1 (Paddy Power, Blue Square, BoyleSports & William Chandler). Trainer Peter Moody told The Herald-Sun: “On what I know of the opposition, I'm happy to take them on. His form-line behind Black Caviar & Hay List is similar to the likes of Crystal Lily & Star Witness.”

31 May 2011

Trevor Lobb new CEO at Emirates Park

Emirates Park principal Nasser Lootah announced Trevor Lobb has been appointed the stud’s new chief executive. Over 2 decades, Lobb previously headed the development of the most expansive individual thoroughbred operation anywhere in the southern hemisphere: Jack & Bob Ingham’s racing & breeding enterprises, including the purchase of Woodlands studs at Denman & Cootamundra, plus in the creation of Crown Lodge at Warwick Farm. Under the Woodlands banner, Lobb & his team successfully launched the stud careers of Crown Jester, Quest For Fame, Grand Lodge, Dr Grace, Strategic, Canny Lad, Commands, Domesday, Ad Valorem & of course Lonhro.

Local hero Orfevre takes GI Japan Derby

In Japan, favoured colt Orfevre (Stay Gold-Oriental Art, by Mejiro Mc Queen) followed up last month’s 3-lengths victory in the Gr1 Satsuki Sho-2000 Guineas (2000m) at Tokyo with a 1.75-lengths victory in the ¥313 million (A$3.662m) Gr1 Tokyo Yushun-Japanese Derby (2400m) for 3YOs at Tokyo. Orfevre (ridden by Kenichi Ikezoe for trainer Yasutoshi Ikee) defeated fellow colts Win Variation (Heart's Cry-Super Ballerina, by Storm Bird) & Belshazzar (King Kamehameha-Maruka Candy, by Sunday Silence). Orfevre took his record to 4 wins (also including March's Gr2 Sho Spring Stakes over 1800m at Hanshin) & 3 placings (including February's Gr3 Kisaragi Sho over 1800m at Kyoto & January's Gr3 Sho Shinzan Kinen over 1600m at Kyoto) from 8 starts for ¥411,209,000 (AUD$4.811m) earnings. (Breedingracing.com)

Randwick trainer fined $1k for "wielding a knife"

Racing NSW stewards fined Randwick trainer Bob Pearse $1,000 for “wielding a knife” during an altercation that left stable-hand Daniel Brittle with “wounds to the thigh & upper arm”. Pearse was charged with improper conduct over his actions of “wielding a blacksmith’s knife when directing Brittle to leave his stable precinct”. Brittle was also charged with improper conduct after being found guilty of “tackling Pearse & wrestling the trainer on the floor of the feed room in his stables”; stewards fined Brittle $500. Read the Stipes' report here.

27 May 2011

HK racing boss slams VRC over $600k Caviar bonus

An “international race club row could threaten the much-anticipated clash between champions Black Caviar & Rocket Man at Flemington this Spring,” reported The Herald-Sun. The Hong Kong Jockey Club “chided the Victoria Racing Club for offering bonuses to host the 1st showdown between the world's 2 best sprinters. HKJC executive director of racing Bill Nader said the VRC was “frustrated & desperate to make an impression” in its decision to offer a $600,000 bonus if Rocket Man won the Gr1 Patinack Farm Classic down Flemington's “straight 6” (1200m) on November 5. (Black Caviar, unbeaten in 13 career starts & rated the world's best sprinter, does not qualify for the bonus as she has not raced overseas.)

Jockey Ganderton cops two month ban for "non-trier"

Racing NSW stewards suspended jockey Daniel Ganderton for 66 days (from May 26-August 1) after finding him guilty on a series of charges relating to "failure to take all reasonable & permissible measures" to win on the Liam Birchley-trained filly Liesele at Scone on May 14. Read the full Stipes report here.

26 May 2011

Vic Trainer Barry James cops $4k Drug Fine

The Victorian Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board fined trainer Barry James $4,000 following the prohibited substance hydrocortisone (at a mass concentration in excess of 1.00 milligrams per litre) being recorded in a urine sample taken from his galloper Sylvan Cee Tee after its win at Horsham on October 17 last year.

23 May 2011

Cannabis tokes its toll on racing with latest drug-use bans

Racing Victoria stewards suspended registered stable employees Gary Preston and James Ryan from riding track-work for 2-years  and 8 months respectively, after a urine samples provided at Bendigo on April 11 "showed the presence of banned substances d-methamphetamines and; 11-Nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (cannabis)". In assessing penalties, stewards took into account the guilty pleas and "poor record in this area" of both.
The suspensions continue the run of stories linking wacky-tabacky to the racing game:
  • In April 2011, two Casino (NSW) trackwork riders were "banned for three months after testing positive to cannabis. Anthony Townsend, who is also a trainer, and his friend Jason Cumming pleaded guilty at a stewards’ inquiry.
  • Cannabis cultivation looms large in the ongoing investigation over the murder in February 2011 in Melbourne of one-time trainer and prominent racehorse owner, Les Samba.
  • In January 2011, "racing mogul Lord Derby was in shock after a cannabis factory was found on one of his farms. Police swooped on sprawling Hatchfield Farm, in Newmarket, Suffolk, and discovered a drugs factory with 87 cannabis plants."
  • In November 2010, "Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Jim Cassidy has been suspended from riding for three months after testing positive for cannabis. Cassidy... pleaded guilty to providing a sample containing a banned substance after riding at Warwick Farm near Sydney on October 4." Cassidy blamed his "bad knees" for the indiscretion.

11 May 2011

Vale Lindsay Park: Locals mourn end of an era for SA racing

Elizabeth Windsor inspects super sire Without Fear at Lindsay Park
during her 1977 tour of Australia. PIC: unimelb.edu.au
The locals at The Barossa Herald are in mourning:
"The world-famous Lindsay Park Stud at Angaston is now resigned to history. The disappearance of a South Australian racing icon became complete this week with the announcement that the stud operation will now be known as Cornerstone Stud. The renaming signifies the start of a new era for the famous South Australian thoroughbred nursery. Co-owners Sam Hayes and Darren Thomas decided to rename the business Cornerstone Stud almost three years after purchasing the stud business from David Hayes in July 2008..."
Lindsay Park was established at Angaston in the Barossa Valley in the 1840s as a merino wool stud and was bought in 1965 by Colin Hayes, already Adelaide's leading trainers, who officially started training there in 1970. He turned Lindsay Park into a horse racing a breeding institution. Citing "business reasons", son David has taken the name and the family game to Euroa.

07 May 2011

Classic call: Bill Collins 1986 WS Cox Plate

Is this the greatest call in Australian turf history? Relive Bill Collins' spine-tingling commentary of one of the great renewals of Australia's greatest WFA classic, the do or die battle in 1986 between the two Kiwi stars, Bonecrusher and Waverley Star. This extended clip is from the live coverage of the event on national television. "The Accurate One" calls his way into sport broadcasting immortality, pulling out a line that today's scriptwriting racecallers can only think up ahead of time.

06 May 2011

Jumps racing's global PR nightmare

Horse jumps into crowd. Does publicity get any worse than this?

Once upon a time promoters of the time-honored Grand Annual Steeplechase, first run 1872 and one of the great races on the Australian turf calendar, would have thought that the prospect of global media coverage of their race an impossible dream. Yesterday it became their nightmare. Forget the horses, jumps racing is now causing actual bodily harm to toddlers and grannies. You wouldn't read about it. You don't need to, it's all on Youtube. In the PR war, jumps racing is being put on a par with clubbing seals or culling dolphins.

And in a bizarre prophecy, Warrnambool's own The Standard newspaper told their readers the night before the Grand Annual  to "Expect a two-horse race". Only two of the race's eight starters survived the 5500 metre marathon to fight out the finish.

04 May 2011

RSPCA declares Warrnambool a "killing fields"

Scene from the Steeplechase: The Fallen Jockey,
1866, oil on canvas. Edgar Degas, 
Breedingracing.com reports: The RSPCA declared Warrnambool racecourse has become a "killing fields" after another horse died in the 1st jumps race on the opening day of its May carnival. Jockey Michelle Hagley was taken to Warrnambool Base Hospital "for observation" after her mount Shine The Armour crashed through the 2nd-last jump & died on the track. Monday's death was the third in Victoria this year and RSPCA Victoria president Dr Hugh Wirth, calling again for jumps racing to be banned in the state, told The Herald-Sun that horses died "with great frequency" at Warrnambool, emphasising: "Warrnambool, of course, is the killing fields for horses. That's how bad it is. Every time they do something at Warrnambool there are deaths." Similarly Animal Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes called for the remaining 2 days of the carnival (which combines flat & jumps racing) to be cancelled, adding: "This is an appalling outcome from the very first jumps race at Warrnambool. It must surely demonstrate again to the Victorian government that jumps racing is highly dangerous & cannot be made safe for horses or jockeys." However Australian Jumps Association president Rodney Rae retorted it was "impossible to completely eliminate fatalities" and noted: "Our objective is to manage the risk & minimise those incidents, because any industry that has animal participation in it, you are going to have incidents & fatalities from time to time. It's as simple as that. So they happen. It's upsetting, but we just have to get on with the job as it's part of an industry."

So You Think you can gallop? Sure thing.

In the space of 48 hours, first with Frankel and then So You Think, did we see two of the greatest horses in the history of the turf? What a summer awaits fanciers of the thoroughbred...

02 May 2011

Cecil says freakish Frankel no Derby certainty

Frankel set the turf world on fire at the weekend winning the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket with a breathtaking front running performance. Check all the superlatives here but Sporting Life was typical in putting the run on a pedestal:
"Those present at Newmarket on Saturday witnessed a genuine piece of racing history as Frankel produced one of the great performances in winning the Qipco 2000 Guineas. Unbeaten and the subject of incredible hype, the Henry Cecil-trained colt lived up to all the pre-race talk as he made every yard on the way to a stunning six-length success, the best since Tudor Minstrel in 1947."
Meanwhile, the only doubt in trainer Henry Cecil's mind remains Frankel's ability to get the mile and a half of the Epsom Derby: "At this stage, as Frankel is not a certain runner, I wouldn't back him for the Derby," Cecil told the Scottish Daily Record. "I would think Ascot (and the mile of the G1 St James's Palace Stakes) would be more probable. He could take on the older horses over a mile in races like the Sussex Stakes and the QEII and we're going to put him in mile-and-a-quarter races later on, races like the Juddmonte. If I feel the Derby isn't the right race then we shouldn't go for it. You're going into completely unknown territory."

Brisbane stewards disqualify punter 12 months over "non-triers"

Breeding & Racing Magazine reports: Racing Queensland stewards announced they have disqualified professional punter Stephen Fletcher for 12 months "effective immediately" following last month's determination that he was "a party to the failure of the horse" Bold Glance (ridden by Bobby El-Issa) to "run on its merits" when beaten by Essington at Eagle Farm on February 26. The stewards previously noted: El-Issa (who has already been disqualified for 2 years) "did not run Bold Glance on its merits; Fletcher is a close associate of El-Issa; Fletcher is a large scale professional punter; prior to the race in question, Fletcher had a history of successfully laying horses ridden by El-Issa to the extent that is not similar to any other rider; Fletcher's explanation is not supported by his Betfair history; Fletcher was a significant financial beneficiary of El-Issa's failure to run Bold Glance on its merits; Fletcher's backing of Essington; laying of Bold Glance was done on the basis of information from El-Issa that Bold Glance would not try to defeat Essington." In their latest announcement confirming Fletcher's penalty, stewards added he "is a professional punter who derives part of his livelihood from wagering on thoroughbred racing"; "the offence found to have been committed on this occasion is a very serious one"; "Fletcher's conduct has the capacity to deter those already involved in the sport from continuing their association, and may discourage individuals from becoming involved in, or wagering on the sport"; Fletcher "was not the principal offender"; however Fletcher "was a significant financial beneficiary of the conduct of jockey El-Issa". (May 2)

28 April 2011

Super sire of sires Sadler's Wells dead at 30

Breedingracing.com reports: Legendary US-bred & Irish-based stallion Sadler's Wells (Northern Dancer-Fairy Bridge, by Bold Reason) "one of the most influential stallions of all time, has died at the Age of 30 of natural causes in his paddock at Coolmore Stud in County Tipperary" overnight, reported racingpost.com. Sadler's Wells (who has sired 323 stakes-winners to date) "helped to carry Coolmore to a position of global influence during a career at stud that started with a bang & carried on in that vein, leading to 14 sires championships in Britain & Ireland". His initial crop yielded 6 individual Gr1-winners & "from then on he enjoyed unparalleled success: Highflyer's age-old record of 13 stallion titles came & went & every single Classic was won by a son or daughter of the bay son of Northern Dancer bred by Robert Sangster's Swettenham Stud". As Sadler's Wells grew older his sons "came to challenge his dominance of the stallion ranks & ultimately succeed him at the head of the field: sons like Old Vic, Montjeu & his Gr1 English Derby-winning duo Galileo & High Chaparral all hold high rank among the world's best sires".

Gai cops blowback over PM's tsunami chic

Apropos of nothing, Sydney horse trainer Gai Waterhouse has sparked a brouhaha with scathing comments about Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's fashion sense during a visit to a tsunami-devastated village in Japan.

24 April 2011

Hay List gets what Hay List wants...

Trainer John McNair, whose champion Hay List ran away with the G1 All-Aged States at Randwick on Saturday, opened up this morning on TVN's Racing Review: "The Gosford Race Club have been tremendous...  I can work the horse almost any day that I like, on the course proper, and I'll say, 'listen I want a slow track, or I want a heavy track or whatever' and he'll put the sprinklers on and magically the track is perfect!" After a pause, Mark Shean joked: "We'll cut that bit out I think."

23 April 2011

McCoy: UK club's whip ban just a publicity stunt

JUMPS riding legend A.P. McCoy, writing in London's Daily Telegraph, has slammed the unilateral move by Towcester racecourse to ban the use of the whip in races. "Quite frankly, I’m appalled by the news and any decisions of that magnitude concerning the Rules of racing and a fundamental part of the sport should not be allowed to be made by one racecourse," wrote McCoy, champion jumps jockey every season since 1995/96, and the first hoop to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year (in 2010). McCoy denounced the Towcester move "a publicity seeking stunt" announced on the eve of its biggest annual raceday.

Landmark ruling awards Jockey $770k damages

The Hobart Mercury reports on a landmark court ruling whereby jockey Simon Snell was deemed to have engaged in "grossly negligent conduct" by causing a race fall that would end the career of fellow jockey Kevin Dodge. The judgement against Snell awarded $770,000 plus legal costs to the veteran Dodge, and could have wide-ranging legal implications for the sport. Justice Helen Wood in the Supreme Court in Hobart ruled Snell was grossly negligent in cutting his mount, The Mighty West, across the front of the field towards the rail, around the 200m mark in a race at Hobart's Elwick Racecourse on 28 January, 2007. The Mercury's David Killick wrote "Justice Wood said jockeys owed a duty of care to their fellow riders to take reasonable care to avoid causing risk of injury and Snell's move was fraught with risk." Dodge broke 11 bones and punctured a lung in the fall, and hasn't been on a horse since.

22 April 2011

Big Punter Fletcher Guilty In El-Issa "Non-Trier" Inquiry

Breeding & Racing Magazine reports
  • Racing Queensland stewards yesterday (April 20) found prominent punter Stephen Fletcher "was a party to the failure of the horse" Bold Glance (ridden by Bobby El-Issa) to "run on its merits" when beaten by Essington at Eagle Farm on February 26. 011. The stewards noted: El-Issa did not run Bold Glance on its merits; Fletcher is a close associate of El-Issa; Fletcher is a large scale professional punter; prior to the race in question, Fletcher had a history of successfully laying horses ridden by El-Issa to the extent that is not similar to any other rider; Fletcher's explanation is not supported by his Betfair history; Fletcher was a significant financial beneficiary of El-Issa's failure to run Bold Glance on its merits; Fletcher's backing of Essington & laying of Bold Glance was done on the basis of information from El-Issa that Bold Glance would not try to defeat Essington. El-Issa was recently disqualified for 2 years over the matter & stewards have now sought Fletcher's submissions in respect to the penalty that may be applied to him.

Naming of the beast brews storm in a teacup

Brisbane's Courier Mail reports on a brouhaha over the naming of a NSW trotter with the registered name Stonethachristian:
Federal Discrimination and Race Commissioner Graeme Innes was surprised Stonethachristian was allowed to pass ... naming guidelines, believing it could be socially divisive. "I can certainly envisage (as offensive) having a racehorse referring to stoning members of the community," Mr Innes said. Australian Christian Lobby spokesman Lyle Shelton said Christians thought followers would take it as a joke because they've been vilified for years and "don't jump up and down about it". ... Islamic Council of Queensland president Mohammed Yusuf said if some Christians were offended, he was offended. "Yes it's distasteful. To denigrate a religion ... it's not something we want to see."
Harness Racing Australia doesn't know how "we let it through" but if it received any complaints "we'd probably cross it out". Its own guidelines frown on "any name having political, religious, commercial or sacred significance or that is otherwise inappropriate".

Stipes ban everyone but themselves at whip grab inquiry

Both jockeys involved in last week's bizarre 'whip grab' incident have been suspended by Racing Queensland Limited Stewards at an inquiry concluded yesterday, Thursday. Senior rider Shane Scriven copped a five-month suspension for improper riding after grabbing the whip of apprentice Ben Looker in the straight during a Class 2 event at Ipswich on April 15. Looker was suspended 2 weeks for failing to report the "unusual happening" to Stewards immediately after the race. Scriven had handed back the whip to the stunned apprentice after passing the winning post. Looker must count himself unlucky to cop any reprimand, given that stewards laid no charges against themselves for failing to act at the time, including not lodging their own protest or disqualifying Scriven's mount, Requested, which eventually ran second in the race. We understand Looker's obligation to report the incident, but are Stewards now relying on jockeys to do their job?

20 April 2011

Britain braces for new race-fixing scandal

The Guardian's Greg Wood  fans the flames:
"There is such a pall of smoke emerging from the British Horseracing Authority's security department that there has to be a fire in their somewhere, and there seems little doubt that several riders – and, presumably, one or more Betfair clients – will be charged with serious offences under the anti-corruption rules in the (relatively) near future. But beyond those directly involved on either side of the investigation, no one knows for sure who they are, and so the rumours are flying."

19 April 2011

How dangerous is the Grand National?

BBC News Magazine asks: 'How dangerous is the Grand National?':

"The Grand National is billed as the "ultimate test of horse and jockey" by its organisers, as well as the world's most famous steeplechase. This year two horses died in the race. Ornais suffered a fatal fall at the fourth fence and Dooneys Gate at the sixth. The deaths have prompted some to call for an end to the historic race, with animal rights groups saying it is cruel. So how dangerous is it?"

18 April 2011

Improper riding charge likely for Scriven's 'brain snap'

Melbourne's Herald-Sun reports:
Shane Scriven's "brain snap" at Ipswich on Friday is likely to have serious consequences this week when he faces a stewards' inquiry into snatching another jockey's whip in the final 100m of a race. Scriven, one of the most senior and respected jockeys in Queensland, could face an improper-riding or improper-practice charge.

Samba coverage takes dark turns

  • Cannabis found on slain trainer Les Samba's farms: "... Marios Georgas, a Samba associate, was arrested again by South Australian police after more than 3000 cannabis plants were uncovered at the same area of land in Peebinga as Mr Samba's first brush with the law. -- The Herald Sun.
  • Catch my Dad's Killer: Grieving daughter appeals for witnesses to come forward. Video from The Daily Telegraph.

Presnell calls for Easter Doncaster restoration

Following the disappointing crowds at Randwick during the second year of a revamped AJC/ATC Sydney carnival, Max Presnell in The Sydney Morning Herald adds his voice to chorus calling for the restoration of the Doncaster Handicap back to its traditional date on Easter Saturday:
"... Historically, Easter Saturday has been a prime racing day, like the first Tuesday in November at Flemington. Alas, like Sydney racing in general, it has been downgraded. Despite the Sydney Cup, All Aged Stakes and Champagne Stakes, the coming fare at headquarters this week lacks the same impact as the traditional first day of the Easter carnival at headquarters. Under the circumstances, the Australian Turf Club did well to get a reported 18,435 last Saturday following the 25,368 on the previous glorious Black Caviar occasion. One of the strengths of the Melbourne spring, arguably the world's best racing carnival, is that it has only finetuned the major traditional dates."
Meanwhile, the Grand Plan for Randwick could mean closing the track for 2012, leaving Onkaparinga's famous Easter meeting still lonely.

15 April 2011

Style police blast Dubai's Meydan

Brutal assessment of Dubai in Vanity Fair zeroes in on the al Maktoum family's racing obsession, saving special scorn for Meydan racecourse on Dubai World Cup night:
"The track sits in a wasteland surrounded by the exhausted squirm of motorways. I walk around it and look not at the galloping horses and their bright jockeys but back up at the stands. Here in one long panorama is the Dantean vision of modern Dubai—the Arabs huddled in a glass dome, looking like creatures from a Star Trek episode in their sepulchral winding-sheet dishdashas. Next to them are the stands for Westerners, mostly British, loud and drunk, dressed in their tarty party gear. The girls, raucous and provocative, have fat thighs that wobble in tiny frocks. Cantilevered bosoms lurch. The boys, spiky and gelled, glassy-eyed and leering. In the last enclosure, the Asians, packed in with families and picnics, excited to be out of the Portakabin dormitories and the boredom and the homesickness of Internet cafés. In front of them all are the ranks of wired-up security guards, making sure the layers of this mutually dismissive society don’t pollute each other. After the horses have run, Elton John will perform."

12 April 2011

Murder probe: Police raid home of Nikolic's brother

SMH.com.au reports:
"Police today raided the Gold Coast home of John Nikolic, the brother of a prominent jockey, in connection with the shooting death of racing identity Les Samba. Police executed search warrants at the home of Mr Nikolic, 37, the brother of jockey Danny Nikolic at Ron Penhaligan Way, Robina, at 9.30am. During the raid, officers seized several items as part of their investigation into the fatal shooting of the former racing trainer on a Melbourne street on February 27."

31 March 2011

US calls for phase out of drugs in racing

In a major announcement that has grabbed headlines across the US thoroughbred industry, both the out-going & in-coming chairmen of the Association Of Racing Commissioners International "have called for a 5-year phase-out of equine medication in horse racing" reportedbloodhorse.com. Out-going chairman Dan Hartman (from the Colorado Racing Commission) said "a 5-year phase-out is reasonable to bring North American racing policies in line with what is going on in other parts of the world like Europe & Hong Kong." He added a "phased approach" would give horsemen & owners "sufficient time to adjust to the change". New chairman Willie Koester (from the Ohio State Racing Commission) agreed with Hartman & noted: "Today over 99% of thoroughbred racehorses have a needle stuck in them 4 hours before a race. That just does not pass the smell test with the public or anyone else, except horse trainers who think it necessary to win a race. I'm sure the decision-makers at the time meant well when these drugs were permitted; however, this decision has forced our jurisdictions to juggle threshold levels as horsemen become more desperate to win races & it has given horse racing a black eye." Koester declared "change is inevitable" & called for RCI "to take the moral high ground & implement drug rules that mirror the racing in Australia, Dubai, Europe, Hong Kong & even Russia." (Mar 30)

01 March 2011

Slain racing identity's "knockabout" past

The Sydney Morning Herald, reporting on the murder of racing identity Les Samba, offered this potted biography:
"Samba, a former male stripper, ... was described yesterday as a knockabout character. Prominent trainer David Hayes said Samba was ''colourful'' and likeable. Samba started out as a small-time trainer at Morphettville in South Australia, winning races with a very small team. He was one of the main players in a group of nightclubs in Adelaide's Hindley Street, dealings that brought him into contact with notorious Sydney criminal Abe Saffron. He later went to Perth and took over the training of George Way's team after Way was disqualified for 11 years for doping horses with ''elephant juice''. Samba never stopped bragging about how he had made a hit-and-run visit to Victoria with a horse from South Australia in the 1980s and won so much money that not enough bags had been produced to carry the money back over border. His financial dealings have long been of interest to authorities. Between 1999 and 2002, he and his wife, Deirdre, were investigated by the National Crime Authority and the (Australian) Tax Office over their failure to declare $1.2 million in income. Samba, who in late 1999 told authorities that he derived most of his money from gambling, declared bankruptcy to avoid paying tax on the income."

Racing identity Les Samba Shot Dead In Melbourne

B&R Reports: Victorian police are investigating the murder of prominent Sydney racehorse owner & former South Australian trainer Les Samba, who was shot dead "in a hail of bullets" at 9.35pm on Sunday evening in a laneway off Beaconsfield Parade in Middle Park in suburban Melbourne. Police confirmed Samba "had an argument with another man, before suffering multiple bullet wounds to the head & back," reported The Herald-Sun. "He was running when he was shot." Samba, 60, raced Gorky Park, Winter King, Sea Lord & this season's Listed Gimcrack Stakes-winning 2YO filly Defiant Dame with fellow high-profile Sydney owner & property developer Ron Medich (arrested in October & charged with "soliciting to murder" fellow Sydney businessman Michael McGurk, a business associate shot dead outside his Sydney home in September 2009). Samba (who strapped Rain Lover when the champion stayer won his 2nd Melbourne Cup in 1969) was in Melbourne for the current yearling sales & Detective Inspector John Potter noted: "We believe he (Samba) had some sort of connection to this individual (the shooter). Based on the information we currently have, we don't believe it could be a random shooting." The gunman was described as "in his 20s or 30s, wearing dark clothes & a hat, with distinctive light-coloured hair which could have been a wig". Samba apparently parked a silver 2010 Hyundai (displaying NSW number plates) in Beaconsfield Parade & "then had some kind of argument with another man which ended in the shooting". (Mar 1)

25 February 2011

Night Cox Plate "On Backburner For 5 Years"

B&R reports: Moonee Valley Racing Club "has put a night Cox Plate on the backburner for the next 5 years" reported The Herald-Sun. MVRC chief executive Michael Browell confirmed the "board had decided to lock in a 5.35pm start for the Cox Plate until 2016" & the club "would revisit an evening Cox Plate when the Moonee Valley track redevelopment was complete" (which is expected to be in time for the 2016 renewal). While "many expected Moonee Valley would swing to a Cox Plate under lights once its contract with sponsor Tatts expired after this year's race", Browell said the club was "looking to sign a 5 or 6-year Cox Plate sponsorship deal, with the race locked into a 5.35pm timeslot". (Feb 24)

23 February 2011

Qld Bookie suspended over mobile TAB bets

B&R Reports: Racing Queensland stewards yesterday suspended bookmaker Lindsay Gallagher's licence for 1-month & fined him a total of $6,000 following an inquiry into "use of his personal mobile phone to take bets" at the Brisbane Racing Club meeting at Doomben on Saturday January 29, the "recording of those bets into his ledgers" & the fact that "Tabcorp records indicated an account in Mr Gallagher's name had been utilised to make bets between September 2010 & November 2010 whilst Mr Gallagher was operating as a bookmaker which do not appear in his ledgers". (Feb 23)

21 February 2011

Jockey Phillip Wolfgram 1-Month Drug Ban

B&R reports: Queensland Racing stewards suspended jockey Phillip Wolfgram for 1-month after finding traces of Phentermine (an appetite suppressant which can affect the central nervous system) in a urine sample taken at Toowoomba on January 29. (Feb 18)

19 February 2011

Typhoon Tracy to Darley's Street Cry

Stallions reports: "Following the announcement that six-time Group 1-winning Red Ransom mare Typhoon Tracy has been retired from racing, it has been confirmed that the outstanding Horse of the Year will be covered by Darley stallion Street Cry in 2011.Sire of the sensational 2010 US horse of The Year in Zenyatta, plus local G1 winners Shocking and Whobegotyou, Street Cry is a world-class sire with 12 individual G1 winners to his credit amongst 44 Stakes winners globally."

18 February 2011

US Trainer Dutrow 90-Days drugs ban

New York stewards suspended leading trainer Richard Dutrow for 90 days "for a positive drug sample (to the Class 3 medication Butorphanol) in a winning horse from a race at Aqueduct & for possession of hypodermic needles in his barn," reported bloodhorse.com. (Feb 18)

Brisbane Stewards probe jockey tactics

Breedingracing.com: "Stewards Probe 'Tactics By All Riders' In Brisbane Race: Racing Queensland stewards announced an inquiry 'into the riding tactics employed by riders in Race 7 at Eagle Farm on Wednesday & the betting activities associated with that race will be reconvened next Thursday' (February 24). This timing 'will allow stewards to gather further information in respect of betting activities'. The rider & trainer 'of every horse in the race have been required to appear, along with a number of bookmakers & at least one punter'. Stewards also confirmed 'further parties may be required as more information comes to hand'. In the race, 5YO gelding Ibalance scored by a neck from 7 other runners over 1200m (with both the equal-favoutites Falls Creek & Vaarwel unplaced). (Feb 18)

28 January 2011

RSPCA: “Study reveals futility of whipping horses”

B&R Reports: WHIPPING racehorses “is pointless and does not make a difference to the outcome of the race,” according to new research from 2 University Of Sydney veterinarians. The RSPCA-funded study (published by the Public Library Of Science) investigated the impact of whipping on performance in thoroughbred races. Study co-author Professor David Evans said the results “offer no support for the retention of whipping in horse racing” and noted: “We looked at running times in a series of races, how whips were used and whether that whip use influenced the outcome of a race. What we found was that whipping did not affect the probability of whether or not a horse finished a race in the 1st 3 placings. How a horse ran in the 1st part of a race, when it wasn’t being whipped, was the most critical factor in racing success. So horses are being whipped in the final stages of a race, in the face of muscle fatigue, for no benefit.” Co-author and animal behaviour expert Professor Paul McGreevy said he hoped this research “would highlight the fallacy and futility of whipping” and declared: “The reason for whip use has traditionally been the need to be seen to ride the horse out and the suggestion that you can steer a horse with the whip. Many horse riders, and certainly these findings, refute that. Top performance horses have been bred and prepared to give of their best. Add to that excellent horsemanship and you’ve got a winning combination. That’s all you need. We have evidence here that great horsemanship does not involve flogging tired horses.” RSPCA chief scientist Dr Bidda Jones said the results “will help end the debate over whether there is a place for whipping in the future of Australian thoroughbred racing” and added: “This study has found that jockeys use whips just as people would expect – to try to make their slowing horse recover speed in the closing stages of a race in the hope they will get a place. That’s not surprising. What is surprising is the finding that whipping doesn’t make any difference. Jockeys may as well save their energy, keep their hands on the reins and head straight for home. Their horses will be so much better off for it.” Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University Of Sydney Professor Rosanne Taylor said this report “will challenge traditional thinking” and commented: “Science has the ability to challenge our views of what is otherwise considered the norm. This result is a good example of how evidence can inform the way we work with animals to promote their optimal performance and welfare. In this instance, the future wellbeing of Australian racehorses is looking brighter, because we now better understand that horses give their best when they are not whipped, before the 400m mark, positioning themselves for a win or place.” (Jan 28)

27 January 2011

Moffat 3-Weeks Ban After Jockeys Trade Punches

NSW apprentice jockey Ben Moffat "who attacked 2 senior riders" at Muswellbrook on Friday & was suspended by stewards for 3 weeks "vowed last night he would not take a backward step if he was provoked again" reported The Daily Telegraph. Newcastle-based Moffat, 26, "verbally abused & shoved fellow rider Dale Spriggs in the jockeys' room" & was also "accused of spitting on another rider Andrew Gibbons before the pair traded punches". Senior jockeys told how "there had been words exchanged after a race & that Moffat had taken them to heart". But Moffat (who is apprenticed to trainer Steve Hodge) claimed he had only been defending himself & declared: "I don't take s..t & I'm fairly hot-tempered. I don't like it when people bad-mouth me. I'd do the same thing over. When I first arrived from Canberra last October the smart remarks started back then. I'm just the apprentice who snapped." (Jan 25)

11 January 2011

Nikolic Promises To "Keep My Mouth Shut"

Controversial jockey Danny Nikolic "has decided to remain in Melbourne & plans to base himself at Caulfield when his 2-month suspension expires on Australia Day" reported The Herald-Sun. The newspaper noted: "Many believed he would move interstate, possibly Queensland, to relaunch his career after a year in which he repeatedly clashed with Racing Victoria stewards, particularly chief stipe Terry Bailey." However Nikolic, 36, declared: "I'm not running away from anything or anyone, that's not me. ... I'm going to base myself at Caulfield & do as much track-work for whoever wants to use me. I've always had a lot of support from the trainers at Caulfield." However Nikolic "admitted that he must curb his propensity to speak his mind" & summed up: "I've got to try to keep my mouth shut!"

Socks Wins Tasmanian Guineas

Swettenham Stud’s 2nd-crop stallion Keep The Faith (Sunday Silence-Duelling Girl, by Dayjur) recorded his 1st stakes-winner when favoured gelding Socks (Keep The Faith-Count The Kisses, by Mukaddamah) scored a half-length victory in yesterday’s $90,000 Listed Betfair Tasmanian Guineas (1600m) for 3YOs at Launceston. Socks (ridden by Kelvin Sanderson for trainer George Blacker) defeated fellow gelding Second Dozen (Bianconi-Barbaloot, by Rory's Jester) & the filly Magnetosphere (Al Samer-Magnetic Force, by El Moxie). Socks (a $15,000 yearling consigned by Armidale Stud at the 2009 Magic Millions Tasmanian Sale) took his record to 6 wins & 2 placings from 9 starts for $192,575 earnings. (Click on the link for full race details from Group Race Results at AAP Racing.) (Jan 7)

Australia's Global Racing Magazine

10 January 2011

E Dubai Adds US Gr2

In the US, Gr1-winning former Darley shuttler E Dubai (Mr Prospector-Words Of War, by Lord At War) added a graded-stakes success when favoured 6YO gelding Aggie Engineer (E Dubai-Papalma, by Dixieland Band) scored a 3.25-lengths victory in the US$150,000 Gr2 San Pasqual Stakes (8.5 furlongs) for 4YOs & up at Santa Anita Park in California. Aggie Engineer (ridden by Joseph Talamo for trainer Patrick Gallagher) defeated 6YO entire Spurrier (Dixieland Band-Humble, by Valiant Nature) & 5YO entire Quindici Man (Came Home-Humble, by Valiant Nature). Aggie Engineer now has 7 wins (also including 2010's Gr3 Native Diver Handicap over 9 furlongs at Hollywood Park) & 6 placings (including 2010's Listed Wicker Handicap over 8 furlongs at Del Mar) from 17 starts for US$358,279 earnings.  

Val Royal Adds French Black-Type

In France, deceased former Eliza Park shuttler Val Royal (Royal Academy-Vadlava, by Bikala) added a black-type success when Irish-bred 4YO mare Love Queen (Val Royal-Lone Spectre, by Linamix) scored by a neck in the €52,000 (A$68,000) Listed Prix Miss Satamixa (1500m) for mares 4YO & up at Deauville. Love Queen (ridden by Francois-Xavier Bertras for trainer Valerie Dissaux) defeated fellow Irish-bred 4YO mare Rada Angel (Le Vie Dei Colori-Red Letter, by Sri Pekan) & another 4YO mare Boise (Marchand De Sable-Yezidis, by Ski Chief). Love Queen was a €35,000 (A$46,000) weanling at the 2007 Deauville December Sale & now has 4 wins & 4 placings from 13 starts for €87,960 (A$114,000) earnings.

Lloyd Buys UK Farm To "Prepare Horses For US Export"

Bloodstock agent Jamie Lloyd "has bought the former Warwickshire base (Far Westfields Farm) of trainer George Baker to help prepare horses for export to America," reported racingpost.com. Lloyd (whose purchases include Gr1-winners Ticker Tape, Monzante, Magical Fantasy & Singhalese) confirmed: "There is a growing demand for horses to be kept in training so they are ready to compete upon their arrival in the US. But this leaves buyers with a few choices: you can either leave the horse with their previous trainer; use a new trainer who perhaps you have a relationship with; or send them to a livery based yard. To me, both as an agent & trainer, this has never really been an ideal situation. Our idea is to open a family-run operation specialising in the transition of horses for export. What would be better for a US trainer than to receive a horse that's already half-acclimatised on arrival? The property has an excellent all-weather oval track that would lend itself ideally to this purpose."  

4 Australian-Bred Wins in Sth Africa

Aust-Breds Quinella South African Lady's Bracelet
Former Coolmore shuttler Giant's Causeway (Storm Cat-Mariah's Storm, by Rahy) added a South African black-type success when Australian-bred 4YO mare Illumiere (Giant's Causeway-Inspired, by Fasliyev) scored a 1.75-lengths victory in the R120,000 (A$20,000) Listed Lady's Bracelet (1600m) for fillies & mares at Fairview. Illumiere (ridden by Gavin Venter for trainer Alan Greeff) defeated fellow Australian-bred 4YO mare Ocean Of Time (Refuse To Bend-Illustria, by Seeking The Gold) & another 4YO mare Sarah Em (Tamburlaine-Dancing Slipper, by Shoe Danzig). Illumiere took her record to 3 wins & 5 placings from 14 starts.

Emerald Cove Wins South Africa Gr1 Paddock Stakes

In South Africa, 3YO filly Emerald Cove (Captain Al-Resolution Bay, by Caesour) scored a 0.75-length victory over her older rivals in the R1 million (A$150,000) weight-for-age Gr1 Paddock Stakes (1800m) for fillies & mares at Kenilworth. Emerald Cove (ridden by Felix Coetzee for trainer Justin Snaith) defeated 4YO mare Flirtation (Silvano-French Treasure, by Mullineaux) & 5YO mare Love Is In The Mare (Jet Master-Careful Step, by Jungle Cove). Emerald Cove took her record to 5 wins & 6 placings (including 2010's Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas over 1600m at Kenilworth, Gr2 Odessa Stud Fillies Championship over 1400m at Kenilworth & Listed Irridescence Stakes over 1500m at Kenilworth) from 12 starts.