Hyper-talented harness racing trainer and driver Luke McCarthy might well be able to get away with pretending that his wife Belinda or his relative in-law Craig Cross train his horses when everyone with half a brain knows that it’s him, but he’s stretching it a bit far with the fairytales that he’s telling in a vain attempt to explain why his three runners turned up late to the track for the Miracle Mile qualifier the Newcastle Mile on Friday night, leading to them being late scratched by the Stewards.
We’ve heard a number of iterations of the Luke McCarthy late arrival fairy tale now, and each time its told the goal posts keep shifting.
The latest story spun by McCarthy, as related to journalist Adam Hamilton, is that his – his? – float arrived through the gates of the track just a minute after cut-off time, but that due to the heavy traffic on such a busy night in Newcastle it took him another 7 minutes to unload the horses and go see the Stewards.
Now that is absolute bollocks.
I have it from first hand sources who are paid good money to know such things that there were less than 500 patrons on course at the Newcastle track last Friday night, and that almost all of them had their bums planted firmly in their seats well before Luke McCarthy bowled up to the gates about ten minutes after the field had jumped in the first on the card.
The same people tell me that every other runner in the Newcastle Mile had been stabled well before then, and that there was 2/3rd’s of 6/10’s of sweet bugger all traffic blocking the path from the entry to the course and the stabling area at the time, and they advise me that there is plenty of CCTV footage to prove it.
That doesn’t surprise me, for I’m beginning to suspect that Cool Hand Luke can be a length or so more than somewhat economical with the truth when it suits his purposes, or that of the stable he purports to represent anyway.
Why else would McCarthy, the State’s leading driver and a professional horseman whose family are steeped in harness racing, publicly claim that the Stewards usual practice at a regular meeting is to give 15 minutes leeway to late arriving stable representatives slated to drive against the pacers he speaks on behalf of – and by inference allege that the Stewards are double-dealing bastards who have unfairly done him over – when he knows damn well that what he’s alleging is an absolute crock of shit?
Here are the real facts.
Harness Racing NSW has a universally known policy that horses competing in Group 1 races in that State must – MUST – be on course and stabled no later than two hours prior to the starting time of their elite class event.
If a horse is not in the stabling area two hours prior to the time it is due to race the Stewards must – MUST – scratch the horse from the race.
There is no fifteen minute leeway for horses engaged in Group 1 races, and there hasn’t been since at least September last year. There are no ifs or buts about the issue, and Luke McCarthy can whinge and moan as much as he likes, but he knows and I know and now you know that the Stewards have no discretion under the arrival policy, and that’s reflected by the so-called trainer’s representative plea of guilty to the charge Stewards laid against him of failing to present Bright Energy, Little Rascal and Wrangler to the Newcastle course on time.
Charges laid against Luke McCarthy?
A $500 fine issued to Luke McCarthy?
That’s unfair. He’s not the licensed trainer of the three horses.
Craig Cross is.
Under the applicable Harness NSW policy the licensed trainer – and only the licensed trainer – is e responsible under the rules for presenting his horses to the church on time, and is the only one liable to a punishment or sanction for failing to do so.
So why then did McCarthy get fined?
And why didn’t Cross.
Me thinks Luke McCarthy doth protest a wee bit too much, just like Oscar Wilde did when he sued his rich regal boyfriend Bertie’s old man the Marquess of Queensberry – the bloke who invented the rules of modern boxing – for defamation after the Marc of Q left a calling card for Wilde at the Albermale Club in London reading “Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite (sic)”, which in the language of the mean streets of Geebong circa the swinging 70’s translated to Oscar the Arse Bandit, Prancing Poofter*.
I don’t think that the fistic art-loving Lord Douglas was too keen on his lad being boiled and lanced by a long-haired, velvet and lace wearing, drugged up drunken Irish poet, do you?
Oscar’s decision to sue an outraged parent of a poof* with bottomless pockets wasn’t particularly wise. In fact, given that it landed him in first Pentonville Prison and later Reading Gaol for a two-year-stretch with hard labour, you wouldn’t be out of place calling it the worst decision a man had made in history until the iced-up junkie Hitler decided while six miles high that he was going to take on Stalin in the middle of winter and fight WW2 on two fronts.
Just say no to drugs Nancy Reagan sagely advised the world in between popping prescription painkillers by the bucketload, and if you you didn’t know that she was an opiate addict you’d just about have to say that she was right.
I don’t know if Luke McCarthy ingests drugs, or whether his horses are partial to peptides and the odd micro-dosed blood doping agent – probably not, for surely he’d be winning Inter Dominions if the rumours were true – but I do know that he’s pushed the envelope over the late scratchings a little too far, and that his bleating may be about to come back and bite him fair on the arse.
You see a number of people in high places in harness racing are mow to starting to ask some hard questions about the training set up at Cobbity Equine Farm, and that the same people are beginning to make inquires about the whereabouts of licensed Cobbity trainer Craig Cross on Friday night, and why he wasn’t at Newcastle when he had three runners in a $100 000 Group 1 race that would qualify them for a $1 000 000 Group 1 race that was one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere if they’d won.
I’m told inquiries are also being made about the bona fides of a nominated driver of one horse in a race acting as stable representative for two of his rival runners in the same race, which makes no sense really does it?
How do reckon punters in the gallops world would take it if Damien Lane who rode last year’s Golden Slipper winner Kiamachi had purported to speak, act and appear before the Racing NSW Stewards on behalf of Godolphin trainer James Cummings and the four other runners that he had in the race?
Not very bloody well is the answer.
So why is Luke McCarthy allowed to do it?
Oh dear, in these heady days of Darren Weir in which rumours float around in the wind like fairies some people should learn just to shut their mouths and cop their whack, then keep them shut and free from whinging.
Just ask Oscar.
*For the avoidance of any spurious allegation that I may be a homophobe, I wish to state for the record that my youngest daughter The Captain is a raving lezzo. And that her girlfriend is very hot.