Category: Uncategorized

So What’s the Problem With the Trots? – Here’s Another One

Charles Martino
“I was born and raised in Dover NJ, I started taking care of Horses in 1975 at Freehold Raceway. My career in the horse business might have been very short if I stayed there but  Bobby Bresnahan asked me to go Yonkers to rub horses there. That is where the business became a passion. From the people there to the horses, the racing was the best there ever was. I cherish the many conversations  I had with some of the best in the business, from Patterson Sr to Benny Webster it was this awakening that has kept me going till today. I still tell people about that first paddock I did in Yonkers, The dead silence of the crowd at the start of the race, and then listening to a low rumble starting at the 5/8’s pole which turn’s into a deafening roar from the top of the stretch to the finish, it was jusy Amazing.”
For every complex problem there is an answer that is simple, clear and wrong!​
​By, Charles Martino
   Those words were uttered by H L Mencken in the first half of the 20th century, and describe man’s futile search for easy solutions.  Those easy answers more often than not  are accompanied by some catchy phrases which also over simplifies a complex problem and helps sell bad ideas.  That dilemma has plagued harness racing for years as we’ve chased every  simple answer given with no success.
 As we try to emerge from the covid-19 emergency we must ask ourselves do we follow this trend or is it time to face the hard questions and a reality we may not like. With covid we see just how fast a real emergency can stress a State’s finances, that alone should cause pause. Because it is by the grace of State laws that we have the purse structure we do, and that money could be seen by a  State as revenue in desperate times
   There is only one problem that needs to be solved and that is Growth. Simple on the surface but like an onion with layers of problems that need to be addressed before we will ever see some success. Any success will be hindered by Special Interest, those who have manipulated the business to work for them the way it is now. More likely if we started to access accountability for our current situation we would see it catering to those Special Interest that lead to this point.
       I heard all the excuses why Harness racing is struggling, but again that’s what they are excuses. No we will never have 14,000 people a week night at the Meadowlands or Yonkers again, but the pathetic number that go now can be much improved. In an ever more divided world working together is a dying art, and we are a microcosm that reflects that world.
       We can not measure growth by aggregate numbers, which more often hide the underlying problems. If one market does well while others are struggling, we need to focus on the struggling market. If we don’t we  just  repeat the mistake we already made in 1976 when the Meadowlands came on line. For those old enough to remember we once had several  very popular venues. But it was the Meadowlands at that time that took all the oxygen out of the room.
  It wouldn’t take long for industry leaders to latch on to the Meadowlands as their focal point, everybody loves a winner. But by not focusing on what was going on around the industry they failed to recognize the problems the industry was facing.  Names like Brandywine Liberty Bell, Sportsman Park, Foxborough, Freestate  and Roosevelt were all in decline, great venues who’s loss is still felt today
  As the  handle and attendance numbers at the Meadowlands wooed  the industry into a false sense of security, we limited our future growth. By hiding our heads in the sand and not facing problems we lost sight of the big picture, Growth. How are you going to  grow when The Meadowlands covers one metropolitan area and those other venues lost covered 6 separate states? By ignoring the real problems the industry faced at that time we shrunk all the future potential.
 No one thing is going to change the industry into Growth, and by doing just one thing leaders are just making it look like they are trying. That is why change has to be comprehensive. If you believe that 15-20 minutes between races is a problem, then imagine how much more of a problem it becomes when the racing stinks! In a marriage if one partner loses faith in the other it usually ends in divorce. It is obvious our fans have lost faith in us.​​
For the record we fail every time  the favorite wins more than 25% of a race card. When  exactas pay $10.00 and sit 1-2 around the track, we failed. We fail when Super Trainers win races at a ridiculous percentage and when drugs have become so prominent that owners don’t think trainers without them can compete. We fail every time one of our old war horses are in a Kill pen begging for help, and we fail when we think it’s other people’s responsibility to save us!
In 2012 I wrote on a harness racing blog about a trainer who went to bed stupid and woke up a genious. That post got answered by plenty of  naysayers, yet that trainer was one of those just recently indicted. For 8 years honest people had to race against him hoping to get less of the purse because  he was in the race. I didn’t write that post because I was guessing, I wrote it because it was what the business has become. Likewise in another post about cheats I got a tongue lashing from an owner who said I am just an envious jealous person. Yet with these indictments it was one of his trainers that were listed. There are now  many owners and trainers jumping in claiming they only want clean drug free racing. But what do you expect them to say?
Once upon a time this business grew, it had leaders that understood the businesses health is far greater than any one individual’s group needs. Till we get back to that point we will never grow, and thus we fail one more time.

No No No No No – With TCO2 Control Methods Like These, No Wonder the Bad Dudes are Smiling.

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The QRIC went live today on its promise to publish the TCO2 readings of swabbed horses racing on Queensland tracks.

This above it what it looks it.

A horse’s name, a trainer’s name, and a date.

No details at all of the reading level, no readings from any horse that has thrown up under 35, and just no point at all really.

The QRIC might as well not have bothered.

This is just ridiculous.

Aren’t the integrity officials aware that the name of the drenching game is to get a horse up to just under 35?

No-one wants to go any higher, because you lose your margin for error, and a level of 34.9 combined with the traffic lights tubes delivered by injection will do any cheat very nicely thank you very much, and give them a huge advantage over their opponents, particularly of the horse has been worked on the gas for weeks, and shockwaved up 1 or 2 nights before so it legs are number than your gums after a pre-filling Lidocaine shot at Dr Molars surgery.

That’s why Smerdon’s crew called them top ups Mr Steward, because the hard work’s already been done, and the raceday drench is just charging up the champers glass to make sure its 8/10th’s full so it doesn’t overflow.

Surely by now the QRIC people should have worked that no-brainer out. If they haven’t, then you’d really have to start asking yourself why we even bother having Stewards at all. We might as well make it a free-for-all.

The word is that the QRIC are going to introduce a pissweak, bastardised copy of the NSW and Victorian TCO2 compulsory early arrival on course next start for horses that blow over 35 at the RBT.

I say bastardised because in NSW they require suspects to turn up at Menangle at 10 in the morning on race days for their next six starts, and 4 hours before the scheduled time of their race at all other tracks.

Victoria’s policy is weaker, which is no surprise to anyone, because everything south of the Murray usually is. Down there the Stewards require the 35-plus swabbers to arrive on-course three hours prior to kick off time, but only for three starts instead of the six they have to in cockroach country.

The logic behind both measures is that the real deal drenches are stuck down horses throats about 2 hours before the race so that they can take maximum effect, so if you have them in the barn at the track under a watchful eye 3 or more hours earlier than they are due to race, they cannot be drenched.

Pigs arse they can’t. They just wait until the security guard or Steward goes to the dunny, whip out the bucket and hose they have hidden, pull the magic powder from out of their jocks, do a quick mix of the drench ingredients I detailed the other day when I published the Holbeck secret herbs and spices recipe on this site, and then bomb away. The whole process takes no more than two minutes, so it’s as easy as ABC.

The idea has some validity, but it’s really just fiddling around the fringes. What we really need to do if we are going to press forward with the idea of publishing the levels is exactly what the Kiwis do.

Publish them all.

It’s too late to collar a high carber who has blown over 35 the next time it goes around. They’ve already had their hit and run attempt at a prizemoney snatch and bookie bash. Next time is too late.

The Kiwis know that, and it is for this reason that they publish the results of ALL horses who have been tested either in or out of competition, and they don’t take them down after 28 days like the Wizards of Soz over here are going to. It would the entire purpose, which is to place public and peer pressure on trainers whose horses consistently blow high, with the end game being to shame and/or scare them into ceasing their despicable practices that deny honest people the chance to win races.

I never thought I would admit that New Zealanders do anything better than Aussie’s do, and generally they don’t. When it comes to doping horses and race cheating though, the Kiwis are in a class of their own.

Their prevention and detection methods are too.

Wake up to yourselves QRIC.

No-one excepts the drench pourers themselves wants horses running around charged up and artificially elevated to levels that give them huge unfair physical advantages over the rest of the class.

But we don’t want amateur hour either.

Here is how publishing levels is done.

It’s really not that hard at all.

We’re long odds of getting it here, and  for one would love to know who has been kicking up about publishing the lot, and why.

I suspect that might might answer a whole lot of everyone’s questions, and maybe even assuage some of their genuine concerns.

Don’t hold your breath though.

You might turn blue.

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Can Anyone Spare the Stewards a Form Guide?

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Well all I can say is that if you believe what Dale Smith told the Stewards, I’d like you to come down to Kangaroo Point because I have a Story Bridge to sell you.

The only things that I can see in Smith explanation that is true is that (a) his 100-1 pop mount Dee Cee Delight did lay off in the straight, and (b) by doing so he presented the favourite Dashing Special with the best saloon passage up the fence that you’ve ever seen in your life.

Was it the horse’s doing or Smith’s?

I dunno.

There are a lot of things I don’t know really.

Why Pat Duff and co-owner Mr R. Chang bother to keep on racing Dee Cee Delight, who had 53 starts for a single, lonely win.

Why Dale Smith told the Stewards that Dee Cee Light is better suited to wet tracks, when he has only ridden the cat three times, once on a dry surface when it ran third in a race in town, and twice in the soft when it got beaten out of sight.

Why the Stewards believed him, given that Dee Cee Delight had raced 21 times in the mud for just the one win.

Why these same Stewards just didn’t pick up a race book and check whether Smith’s tall tale was untrue.

Why a jockey of the calibre of Dale Smith is riding 100-1 shots in midweeks.

Why Pat Duff was racing the old nonnie in a race fifteen ratings point above his class, at a time when the weight scales have been temporarily compressed due to Covid-19, and any weight advantage he might have received pre-virus has disappeared.

Most of all though, I just wonder.

Wonder why anyone bets on Brisbane racing at all.

Central Queensland Chief Steward Josh Adams Gets Tough – On a Poor Animal Rescue Volunteer Who Has Had a $5 Bet – Sadly For Adams, He’s Ballsed it up Again

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This is an extract from yesterday’s Stewards report at Mackay.

It’s wrong from the get go.

The Clerk of the Scales at Mackay yesterday was not a person named Ms A. WARE.

It was a woman named Amanda WARRY.

Central Queensland Chief Steward Josh Adams should know this, for he has been working with Amanda at Mackay race meetings for some time now. Every second Steward’s report though he gets her name wrong, which says a lot about his attention to detail and respect for his staff, doesn’t it?

His decision to stand Amanda Warry down from duties yesterday does too.

Amanda had a couple of bucks on her mates horse who was running at the meeting, and I mean literally a couple of dollars, no more than ten.

The bet wasn’t placed on-course.

It couldn’t have been, because there was no on-course tote and no bookies.

It was a TAB ticket, and she had it in her pocket.

Amanda Warry is not a crook.

She is, genuine, salt of the earth animal lover who works part-time a couple of days a month as the Clerk of the Scales at Ooralea Racecourse, and spend the rest of her time volunteering as the adoption co-ordinator at the local Mackay Animal Rescue Shelter.

In other words, the exact type of person we want in racing. Someone deeply committed to animal welfare, and her local community, and a person prepared to put in her own time for nothing just to make the world a better place.

And for a bet worth a couple of lousy bucks Josh Adams does this to her.

There are jockeys pulling up horses every meeting in Central Queensland.

It’s well known in punting circles that a cartel of southern riders are running their own race-fixing ring, flying in and out of CQ racecourses on hit and run missions to line their own pockets, at the expense of honest racing participants and innocent punters.

There are huge questions over the swabbing procedures at certain CQ race meetings, with rumours flying around that in the absence of a stand-alone swab official at these meetings, some of the swabs are being switched.

Jockeys are belting the living hell out of horses with whips, and some are even smashing them over the head and neck, causing them clearly visible pain.

What does Chief Steward Josh Adams do about all of this?

Nothing.

Nil, zip, nada.

But he grabs an honest casual employee of the club who works on the scales, stands her down and publicly stains her name by publishing it and the details of what he has done in the official Stewards Report.

It’s a disgrace.

Well I’ve got some bad news for Adams.

He’s ballsed the whole thing up.

Is anyone surprised?

Although he hasn’t actually detailed the rule under which he purported to stand Amanda Warry down, this is it.

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Now there are three things you need to understand.

NUMBER ONE is that if a person acting in an official capacity as a Clerk of the Scales has a pecuniary interest on the result of a race, then the person is not permitted to act in that position IN RELATION TO THAT RACE.

The rule does not say an official should be removed from their duties for the entire meeting, like Amanda Warry was. It simply says that they cannot act in relation to the race in which they have a pecuniary interest.

That is point one.

NUMBER TWO is the issue of having a pecuniary interest in a race.

What does it mean?

The term pecuniary interest is not defined in the Rules of Racing.

It is however defined in many pieces of various Australian legislation, and this is the definition:

The term pecuniary interest is defined as an interest that a person has in a matter because of a reasonable likelihood or expectation of appreciable financial gain or loss to the person.

So, for a person to have a pecuniary interest, there must be a likelihood or expectation that they will make appreciable financial gain (or loss).

A five or ten dollar bet on a race certainly won’t result in an appreciable – significant or important – loss to the person who placed it, or to anyone else.

And how does a small flutter equate to the likelihood or expectation of appreciable gain?

It doesn’t, and it can’t.

I have said it before, and I will restate my position – the Chief Steward in Central Queensland does not understand the rules.

NUMBER THREE is that there is no rule of racing, law, policy or anything else that prohibits a Clerk of the Scales from having a bet.

Nothing.

The only prohibition on a Scales Clerk having a flutter is when their punt is of such magnitude that it creates a likelihood of appreciable gain or loss, as discussed above.

Let’s then go back to the legislative definitions of pecuniary interest, and have a look at what is not one.

A person does not have a pecuniary interest in the matter of the interest is so remote or insignificant that it could not reasonably have been regarded as likely to influence any decision the person might have in relation to the matter. 

Does the regional Chief Steward truly believe – or expect anyone else to believe – that a nickel and dime bet that a long-serving race club official placed on their friend’s horse in a race creates an interest so direct and significant that it would be likely to influence that person’s decision in relation to the race?

Let’s personalise it.

Does Josh Adams really think that the sweet volunteer animal welfare coordinator Amanda Warry – who for years has worked a couple of half days a month at the Mackay Races, so that she can earn some money to fund her saving abandoned animals lives – would hook the weights and/or scales just so that she could collect twenty or thirty dollars max on a bet?

Is this bloke serious?

That’s a stupid question, isn’t it.

Actions speak louder than words.

Inactions do too.

Josh Adams ones scream.

This is my advice to the Chief.

Give this poor. good woman a break mate, and go and find the people who are actually doing the wrong thing.

Just don’t look in a mirror.

 

I Have a Question – It is About Snouts and Troughs – I Have Three More Too – Why Are the Directors of Club Menangle Flouting the Constitution, and the Law – Are the Free Tassie Oysters and the Bottles of Sav Blanc Really Worth It? – And What About Everyone Else?

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This at the top is the Constitution of the New South Wales Harness Racing Club, the legally binding document that lays out why the club has been formed, what it’s purposes are, what the people who run it will do, and what they will not.

Just below it is part 4 of the Articles of Association that sets it all out.

The rest of the Constitution simply fleshes out the who, when and wheres.

This bit sets out the why and hows.

It’s like the Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible. I

If you don’t believe in them, you’re not a Christian.

If you don’t believe in the Articles of Associaton, then you can’t be a Club Menangler, not a real one anyway.

Club Menangle?

Yeah, that’s the trading name of the NSW Harness Racing Club, or one of the 57 past and present of them anyway.

What the articles say is that no member of Club Menangle can cop a sling of any sort that is paid out of the club’s funds.

The club’s funds include its dough – actual or potential – and its property.

The food in the fridges at Club Menangle are its property, and the grog in its bar is too.

So is the money in its bank accounts.

No member can touch, receive or benefit from a single iota any of them, unless they are receiving it for one or more of three specific things:

  • Payment for services rendered
  • Receipt of a gift or prize won in fair race or draw
  • Interest on a loan the member has made to the Club

Neither the Constitution, not the Articles of Association, permit any member of Club Menangle to get gratis food and grog, or free business class travel, or club paid hotel rooms and limos, or any other thing that the other members of the club don’t get.

So how do the Directors of Club Menangle explain this?

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This is a resolution put up by the Directors, and passed by a majority of those who turned up to Club Menangle’s most recent Annual General Meeting, which was attended by less than 5 percent of the financial members of the club.

Neither the Constitutional provisions about unequally sharing the love to just a few, nor the bit in the Articles of Association that prohibits it, were explained to those who voted.

So now, as a result, the Club Directors get:

  • Free travel to any race meeting that their mates say would might be good for the club for them to attend (and note that it doesn’t say just trots, or restrict the travel to Australia – wanna come with me to the Little Brown Jug or the Elitloppet anyone?)
  • Free food and grog for them and their missus at all Menangle trot meetings
  • Free food, grog, business class air fares, five star hotels, limos, and everything else they want to spend on when they go on Club Menangle’s account to the Inter Dominion, the Hunter Cup, the Freo Cup, the Blacks a Fake, the NZ Trotting Cup, the Harness Jewels, the Dan Patch Awards, the Ministero Delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali end of year function (that’s the trotting association in Rome), or the opening of an envelope featuring a postage stamp with Lazarus picture on on it in Majorca.
  • Free food and grog at committee meetings
  • Free reserved car parks outside the front door

Bugger the rest of you.

You can all go and eat cake.

The Directors can’t do this, even if they con the few members who turn up at the AGM to put their hands in the air and say they can.

It’s not Mabo, its not justice, and its not the vibe.

It’s the club’s constitution, and its the law, and all these trough swilling committee men and their brides who are travelling here there and everywhere, and sucking down oysters and swilling champagne on the club’s tab are breaking it.

The former Directors and their partners and friends who are on the free fang and booze at the club’s expense at trot meetings are too.

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I reckon the Chairman Robert Marshall is too, and as a person who might have studied a law degree in my time, and worked in the profession for a bit, I can assure you that I ain’t whistling Dixie.

Remember what the Articles of Association and the Constitution say?

A member can be paid remuneration (dough, cash, money, moolah) in return for any services actually performed to the club.

Actually performed are the key words.

I do ten hours grading the track, I submit an invoice for ten hours work @ $30 an hour, I get paid $300 and I get taxed on it too.

An honorarium is not a payment for services actually performed.

It’s a sling.

$24 000 a year for attending a dozen meetings per annum that run for a few hours each is a real good sling, at least by the terms of the average reasonable Australian like the ladies who work downstairs in the canteen under the stand at Menangle, and get paid $27 an hour and get sent home early if the night is slow.

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These Directors are taking the piss.

They are also taking Club Menangle money.  Maybe not directly, but they are definitely taking it in kind, and they’re not missing either.

Its not lawful.

In fact it’s a rort.

Gee, I wonder what the Chairman of the APG gets?

I guess they’d have to publish their accounts for us to know.

That would be a step too far wouldn’t it?

Just like taking down all the Club’s annual reports from your website and deleting all the caches so no bugger can find them and take a look at what you have been up to would be I guess.

Never fear though lovers of truth.

Did you read that Sun Tzu quote from the Art of War that I put up yesterday?

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

It’s advice well worth taking, for it pays dividends.

I’ve already got them.

The annual report archives dating back to the sale of Harold Park, and the APG financial accounts going back even further.

They make for bloody interesting reading for an investigative journalist, let me tell you.

I will soon.

Watch this space.

 

Seeds Don’t Fall Far From Trees

Little Archie – daughter of the author – at the refugee solidarity protest yesterday.

Unlike her father usually, the sprog managed to avoid arrest.

She did however almost get run over when she jumped in front of a transit van to blockade it from transporting the refugees to the shanty town behind the razor wire run by the Federal Government in Pinkenba.

These refugees have been locked up for 7 years now, for the grand crime of running away from rapes and shootings, and coming to the land of milk and honey and wanting to be an Australian.

You get less for murder.

Bits and Pieces From a Wet Sunday Standing Outside the Racecourse Gates Peering In

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Is covering huge holes in the course proper with grass clippings really best-practice 21t century race track management?

Isn’t dirt usually always brown?

How does it get discoloured?

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Which leading Queensland trainer who has lost a few horses lately is screaming blue murder about their new trainers winning races with them, claiming to anyone who will listen that they must be cheating, because no-one can improve a horse that he had.

Is there any coincidence that a certain suspected drench man from the north who worked for the trainer for many years was sacked just two days before alleged drench supplier Dirty Denis Holbeck was arrested by QLD police?

Will the QRIC be making a big announcement this week about changes to mandatory arrival times at metropolitan race tracks?

Would an extra half hour to make it 1.5 before start time be wide of the mark?

Is the purpose of the rumoured changes to allow time for more horses to be pre-race swabbed and tested?

Will the QRIC ever consider bringing back the pre-screen van, the mobile lab that used to come to the track on race day and perform indicative tests of results before the horses lined up to start?

How did the NSW Northern Rivers Stewards possibly believe that their official report into the boat race at Casino last week would slip through?

Why did the Stewards Patrol film change for just that one race?

Why did it miss the vital 70 metres in the race where Kirk Matheson hit the skids on the fave and almost strangled it?

In the wake of the discussions at the recent trainers meeting with QRIC, can anyone explain exactly why pre-race tests are still not being conducted at certain TAB meetings?

Or why there has been no swab attendant at a number of recent Central Queensland race meetings?

What would the results be if certain swabs that were supervised by the Stewards in that region were retested to match them against the DNA of the horses they purportedly were taken from?

Was that a senior QRIC veterinary official seen urinating in a swab stall (again) on the weekend?

How many hundreds of BRC members, infuriated by having to pay a full year’s fees when they haven’t been allowed on the track for months, intend not to renew their membership for the coming season?

After slashing and stashing millions of dollars of prize money since COVID-19 hit, Racing QLD chief Pins Parnell surely won’t grandstand by boasting about how he got RQ’s books back in the black. Will he?

Has the Australian Pacing Gold overplayed its hand in the battle with Nutrien Equine for the monopoly on standardbred yearling sales?

Will Club Menangle be named as a joint respondent in a wide reaching series of legal actions alleging that the two organisations – which are both chaired by the same person – conspired to injure its competitor?

Wasn’t it great to see former top apprentice Matt Gray ride a treble at Cloncurry today? Good on him.

Does trainer John Zielke really expect anyone to believe that his winning strike rate dropped from the mid-twenties prior to Wayne Holbeck’s arrest down to just 7 percent, all because he could no longer buy saline (salt water) drenches from the king?

Does Zielke truly believe that we are all that stupid?

Are the whispers that AQUIS removed one of its top-line juveniles from a certain Gold Coast stable because the stud was worried that the star colt might lose his future breeding barn lustre if its trainer was associated with horse doping practices?

Why would AQUIS be worried about such a thing?

Will Baylee Nothdurft be stripped of all his wins in the three months after the Vega One ride – and indeed the premiership – if his three month ban for the hook job is confirmed down the track by QCAT?

Which North Queensland trainer is said to be less than impressed with the lack of vigour shown by his usually robust with the whip rider aboard a very heavily backed commodity at a provincial TAB meeting during the week?

How does a stayer resuming over six furlongs pull its head off in the run anyway?

Is one leading race club planning a mass wave of redundancies in the coming months?

Are the rumours correct that the only thing holding the club back is a lack of liquid assets with which to pay the employees redundancy entitlements?

Will the growing rumblings in club committee rooms about the delay in RQ striking a broadcast deal outside of Brisbane turn into a roar once the details of the agreement that is close to finalisation become known?

Is there a reshuffle of the desks in the Stewarding department of the QRIC on the cards?