Tag: nsw

The Greatest Scandal in NSW Racing This Century is About to Explode – And What You Learn Over the Coming Weeks and Months Will Shock You to the Core – Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow – An Archie Butterfly Exclusive

And so it begins.

Does anyone remember the series of stories I published last year on the subscription site archiebutterfly.com about the Sally Snow affair?

For those who don’t, or who didn’t read it, I wrote that the reasons for the sacking of Sally Snow from her role as the senior odds-setter for the TAB were far, far more deeper and more serious than most people realised, and that when the lid was lifted off the scandal the repercussions would resonate wide and far across racing in NSW, and – to a slightly lesser extent – Victoria, and perhaps even Queensland.

In the series of articles I suggested that some very well-known names in racing – some of the biggest – would be embroiled in the scandal, and that they would include Group 1 winning jockeys, nationally known trainers, and at least one infamous bookmaker whose name was known across the land.

None of this was supposition. I don’t make up fairy tales, I don’t have the imagination, and in racing you don’t need to, for the truths in the game we love are always much, much stranger than fiction.

Coronavirus delayed the long running, and even more long ranging, cross border investigation into matters related to Sally Snow’s dismissal by Tabcorp after the NSW Stewards warned her off racecourses for refusing to produce and hand over her private mobile phones (yes, phones).

There were very good personal reasons for Sally Snow’s decision not to hand over the devices, even though she knew full well that it would mean the end of her career as a corporate bookmaking behemoth’s front woman. These reason’s weren’t related to her individual privacy, but rather to an intense desire not to holiday in Long Bay.

Racing NSW probe link between Sally Snow and Unibet bookmaker

Sadly for Sally (above) though, the investigators already had them. Not the physical phones, but the mirrors, and all the contacts contained on them, and all the texts, calls and mistakenly believed to be encrypted messages made to and from them. The joint police task force had been all over her and her friends for more than 12 months, even though neither she nor they knew it. The cops only asked the Stewards to use their powers to request the phones to make a good thing of it, and to test her hand.

They got the result they expected, and all it was cost Snow her job and her reputation, and confirm to the investigators that their conclusions were 100 percent correct and firming.

A month or two later Sally Snow’s husband Nathan was stopped at customs and detained by border control officers when returning an overseas trip. Nathan Snow’s phones and devices were seized, including those that it is believed were registered in another person’s name.

Around the same time the NSW Stewards demanded that prominent and oft controversial racing identity Steve Fletcher hand his private telephones over to them.

Fletcher complied with the direction, but almost immediately – for reasons that will become abundantly clear over the coming months – lodged an application to the Supreme Court of NSW seeking to restrain the Stewards from accessing or using any information on the phones other than that related directly to the Sally Snow inquiry.

His court application also sought a direction that Stewards provide him with the specific details of the inquiry, and the details of which aspects of it they wished to access limited information from his phone for.


The NSW Stewards didn’t fall for that trick.

They fought the case.

In April last year Fletcher won.


The Supreme Court ordered that only specific information contained on Fletcher’s phone could be accessed by the racing officials, and then only in circumstances whereby Fletcher was advised why.


The Stewards immediately lodged an appeal of the decision with the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal.

In February of this year the Court of Appeal handed down its decision.

This time the Stewards won.

By unanimous decision of the three appeal judges, the Racing NSW Stewards were now permitted to access all of the information on Fletcher’s phones, without telling him why.


The die was cast, and the wave of summonses to appear before the Stewards on rule breach charges, and the consequent and/or concurrent flood of police arrests were about to commence.

Then the coronavirus hit, and everything went into abeyance.

But none of it went away.

Last week the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

Today jockey Adam Hyeronimus has been charged with multiple betting offences.

Look closely at the rule breach charges that the rider has been hit with.

Hyeronimus has not charged with placing bets himself, but rather with having beneficial interests in bets placed on his behalf.

You can take one guess as to who placed the bets on the jockeys beneficial behalf, and why.

This is Steve Fletcher (below).

His picture is only published in this story because he’s handsome.

Supreme Court grants Racing NSW right to inspect phone of pro ...

The person who (allegedly) placed the bets is not the principal of the large scale race-fixing and price manipulation operation that is soon to become a front page headline across the country, and unleash a storm that will reverberate across the racing land.

Here is a tip, and it’s a very strong one indeed.

To find a clue as to who the soon to be named alleged principal of what the Stewards will allege to be a highly crook, race hook cartel may be, one would be well advised to take a close look at the trainer or training partnership that Adam Hyeronimus has been most closely associated with throughout his career.

And then ask yourself who that trainer, or member of the training partnership, may share a bed with.

It’s not the trainer that I am suggesting will be alleged to be involved.

He, is not a she.

Here is another tip.

See the extract from the February 2020 Supreme Court of Appeal judgement that is published above?

To save you looking, I will print it again.


There is a highly skilled sand very experienced young racing Steward whose rapid rise to the top of his profession hit a huge speed bump when the ABC aired the infamous Four Corners report into live baiting in the greyhound industry.

That Steward’s employment was terminated by Racing Queensland in the wake of the scandal, even though it had nothing to do with him at all, and he knew nothing about the cruelty.

Sometime later, after returning from an ostensibly unsuccessful stint in a overseas racing jurisdiction, that Steward returned to Australia, and the widespread impression was that he was finished in the world of racing integrity, and unemployable in the industry.

Ever heard the adage about judging books by their covers? Or watched a boxing match and seen a fighter fall for a sucker punch?

The believed to be unemployable Steward got a job.

As a runner placing TAB bets for Steve Fletcher.

He wasn’t much good at it, but he never intended to be.

Enron alert to Steve Fletcher – there is always a smarter man in every room.

He’s usually the one pretending to be dumb.

After leaving Fletcher’s employment, the unemployable racing Steward returned to the racing industry as a Steward.

Not just any Steward either.

Wade Birch became the Deputy Chief Steward of NSW Racing.

For those who have been asking how and why, your mystery is now solved.

Birch sprints to top job | Sunshine Coast Daily

And if you believed me when I was publicly asking how and why, then you are as silly as Steve Fletcher.

Sorry for misleading you, but once I worked out what was going on, long before anyone else who wasn’t part of the covert operations did, I made a professional and ethical decision to run dead and play dumb, even though it meant writing things that I knew not to be true.

It worked too.

The man who will be named as the alleged principal contacted me out of the blue. I’d never spoken to or met him before.

He invited me to lunch, but I politely declined, telling him that I was in Northern NSW at the time on an assignment seeking to locate and interview people who had gone to the school with the demon who committed the Christchurch massacres, which was true.

The man then arranged for me to brunch with his representative in Byron Bay, a former young tyro bookie at the Gold Coast, who I knew – without the man knowing I knew – now worked as a TAB runner for Steve Fletcher.

I met the former bookie, and played dumb to him, and crazy too. In fact I dropped a pill and smoked two joints on the way to meet the bookie, just to make a good thing of it. It didn’t effect me – I was a street kid after I got raped; I learned early how to handle my drugs – but it fooled him, so much so that, deciding that I knew nothing and was merely a hit and miss merchant, he even tried to leave me with the bill.

Good luck on that one.

He had none, but now I knew for sure that what I’d worked out was 100% right.

I’m a straight, clean racing man.

I always have been, and I always will be.

I don’t talk to police, ever, so they’re safe in that respect, but I know the story and I’m not afraid to write it, and within the confines of the law I will.

Hyeronimus has been in career-best form this year.

Here is one last tip for now.

There is a leading NSW jockey who bears a striking resemblance to Adam Hyeronimus (above).

Or did until last week, when that rider died his hair peroxide blonde.

Many in the media are viewing the hair colour change as a fashion mistake, and making the jockey’s altered appearance a matter of merriment and mirth.

To those innocents I say this.

It is now what you don’t know that defines you skill as an investigative journalist, it is what you do. And sometimes witnesses find it difficult to identify a person when their appearance has drastically changed.

Fukuoka, Japan. 4th Aug, 2018. Brenton Avdulla Horse Racing ...

The war is about to begin, and there will be many casualties along the way.

The snow will be stained red with racing blood.

Put on your helmets, buckle in, and watch this space.

And remember, you heard it all here first.

You always do.

Editor’s note – The licenced racing industry participant charged alongside Adam Hyeronimus is a young man named Blake Paine. He works for the same stable as the one I have identified in this story. So does his father Neil Paine, the man in the funny suit who breached the COVID-19 restrictions by racing across the Randwick mounting yard to hug Adrian Bott after Farnan won this year’s Slipper. Neil Paine – who is not alleged to have any knowledge of matters related to this story or the charges laid against his son – got off with a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket for his serious contravention of the NSW Government health directives and the Racing NSW coronavirus protocols. The Stewards had far bigger fish to fry.




Lot Number 1 – Australian Pacing Gold – A Colt From Old Regret, Out of Bettorbobwillhaveplenty Soonsunshine (by Betting Line)


Wasn’t it nice of my mate Clip Clop Kev to post a couple of caps celebrating my second favourite pacer up to Frank Lodge, my humble farm and standardbred rehoming facility up here in the tropical North Quueensland rainforest?

I’ll have to catch up with him for brekky again next time I’m down in Brisbane, and shout him bacon and eggs to thank him.

With his joint Dreamworld shut down because of the virus and the borders closed to bring his horses back from Menangle, I hear the poor bugger is doing it a bit tough at the moment, although they tell me he’s spending his time in COVID-19 isolation reflecting on the old days, back when the Harness Sales and Series he set up was flying higher than a Blackhawk, and the whole trot world was happy.

It’s a shame that a bunch of haters and wreckers came along and ruined the joint, but the beauty of the market economy is that where one company fails, another with a customer-centric focus always comes along to fill the void, and take its place.

I hear Bet 365 has framed a market about the chances of the APG sale happening in 2021, and another one about it offering more than 150 lots.

$40 is the current price I’m told, but you’d be a mug to take it.

The good oil is that pretty soon the price will be blowing out like a gale, and I always prefer to recommend you bet with local Australian managed and run bookies anyway, so the money flows fairly through the home economy, rather than into the pockets of a select few.

Can Boofhead Bob Marshall prove me and the bookies wrong by pulling a Lazarus and reviving the APG’s sudden, sharply declining fortunes?


It’s about the same odds as Destreos winning the 2022 Inter-Dominion.

Don’t you worry about that.


Archie at the Miracle Mile, Menangle 2020. Sadly ours didn’t win it, but we’re looking to claim Destreos for the big one in 2022.


How to Win Friends, Influence People and Lose a Million Dollars in Sales, in One Easy Email – Big Bob the Boofhead From the Soon to be Defunct Australian Pacing Gold Gives the Punters in a Master Class in How Not to Manage a Company

Angry Young Men and Hypocrisy on Steroids – How to Win Friends and Influence People, Australian Pacing Gold Style – Methinks the APG Has a Death Wish, and Wants Their Fast-Sinking Ship to Sink a Whole Lot Faster




I read with interest your tweets extolling the virtues of Nutrien Equine.  With this level of energy and rhetoric, you should be on the Nutrien payroll as some sort of a Marketing Executive or perhaps at least receiving a spotter’s commission for drumming up business, if you aren’t already.

What does concern me however are the inaccuracies in some of your comments which could be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to mislead and manipulate the marketplace.

Can I quote from one recent tweet of yours [attached] and address some of the assertions:

No up front entry fees.  All costs come out of proceeds.

  • Since your father is the proprietor of Benstead Stud, you may not realise that, for the past three years at least, no ‘entry fees’ for any Bensteadowned yearling have been paid ‘up front’ – they were all paid out of proceeds.
  • Are you also suggesting that Nutrien will not require any payment for Cataloguing if there are NO proceeds – I.e. the yearling is not sold?

No commission on passed in lots.

  • This is great for those who don’t really want to sell in the first place.
  • Perhaps you should mention however that if you want to be in the Nutrien race series, you still have to pay the full 10% Commission on your reserve + $3000 Sustaining fee on Sales day.
  • You might also mention that if your yearling is passed-in at an APG sale in 2021 and you want to be part of the Race series, it is 10% Commission up to a MAXIMUM of $3300 which includes the free $700 sales day first instalment for the Race Series.

The prize money is underwritten & every extra cent will go into race series.

This is interesting given the projections for the sale by Nutrien themselves:

  • If there are 300 yearlings with an 80% clearance rate at average $30K each, that works out at a total COMMISSION = $720K.
  • Of that $720K, Nutrien indicates that 30% will be dedicated to the race series = $216K
  • Add to that the SUSTAINING fees – let us presume that 200 of the graduates sustain = $600K
  • So . . . for the Race Series, on Nutrien’s projected numbers, the money available for the Race Series will be = $816K
  • The remainder, $504K, will be to cover Sales expenses and PROFIT.
  • But . . . the Prizemoney for the Series totals just over $400K??

Please tell me how that equates to ‘every extra cent’ going into the race series?  You told me in June last year that the new Company would be prepared to sustain a LOSS in the first few years to get the sales off the ground.  Well, that ain’t happening!

NOT PUT IN THE BANK where it can’t assist the industry.

The CAPITAL letters are yours from the Tweet – obviously you are SHOUTING this out as loud as possible.  This is all part of your belief that APG is hoarding money which it should be spending.

Craig, I wrote to you in early March this year to point out APG’s financial commitments to its three ‘live’ race series.  I quote from that email:

At present we have horses signed up for Series 29, 30 and 31.

Series 29 for 3yo – APG has guaranteed prizemoney of around $850K  [Racing in May 21 at Melton]
Series 30 for 2yo and 3yo – APG has guaranteed prizemoney of around $1950K  [2yo racing in May 21 at Melton]
Series 31 for 2yo, 3yo and 4yo – APG has guaranteed prizemoney of around $2400K [2yo racing in 2022 at Menangle]

So, at the moment – APG has promised its paid-up subscribers around $5.2 Million going forward. I imagine that anyone who has paid up for one of those Series will expect that APG can guarantee that prizemoney.

I know that you might find it uncomfortable to think that this money is not available NOW to the industry at large – it belongs to those who have sustained their yearlings in anticipation of these race series.  And . . . I would suggest that the safest place for that money is NOT being given away NOW, NOT invested in the volatile share market – the best place for it is IN THE BANK.  That’s just good governance.

No smoke and mirrors.

I left this until last.  It’s my favourite.

I understand that angry young men might want to pester their parents or parents-in-law and clients to pursue a particular vision.  Such young men might think a single sale of yearlings for the entire country is in the best interests of the industry;  they might think that it is great for harness racing for a multi-national company to profit from an industry ravaged by years of drought and the current pestilence;  they might think that they are doing the industry a favour.

And you know what . . . they are entitled to think all these things.  But thinking them doesn’t necessarily make them true.

Please don’t accuse APG of ‘smoke and mirrors’.  Such a statement, given the contents of your tweet, is hypocrisy on steroids – and I don’t need a blood or hair test to see that – it is bloated and obvious.

Robert Marshall


Australian Pacing Gold

Editor’s note: Benstead Standardbreds is one of Australia’s largest breeders and sellers of harness racing horses. At the most recent APG sale in Sydney, Benstead had a draft of 28 yearlings. Something tells me that the draft number that Benstead sends to next year’s APG sale  – if it were still to exist by then, which, judging by the way Robert Marshall speaks to and treats his major customers, is unlikely – will be zero.

Author’s disclosure: I am a member of the Winning Circle fractional ownership harness racing syndicate based in New York and New Jersey. We own at least one former Aussie pacer bred by Benstead Standardbreds. We also own ex-Australian pacers bred by other studs, that were originally purchased at various APG sales.

I have not met either Craig Judd or Robert Marshall.

If you want to become involved in US harness racing the Winning Circle is brilliant, and caters to investors of all sizes large and small. Matt and Charles who run the syndicate are wonderful guys and do a great job. I recommend the Winning Circle to anyone.


The NSW Harness Racing 20% Cuts to Prize Money Laid Bare – HRNSW Have a Whole Lot of Questions to Answer – Why Get Old Waiting – Let’s Go and Find the Answers For Ourselves


This graph above shows what Peter V’Landys had done for owners of horses in New South Wales Racing.

Everyone in the game believes he should be knighted, except the Victorians, and that’s because they are elitist snobs from the landed gentry. who who are in total denial of thge humiliating truth that not only can they not only win a match against him, but can’t even crack his line to score a point.

A grubby little Greek wog from the Gong, and he’s done the establishment like a dinner and eaten them for dessert too. It’s all because he’s a genius. The Michael Jordan of sports administration, Phar Lap and Winx  in an all fitting suit, untucked shirt and indescribable tie, come to earth in human form.

It’s not fair to compare any other racing administrator to V’Landys – it would be like trying to line up Phil Duke at 5/8th against King Wally Lewis.

So you can’t expect Harness Racing NSW to have doubled prize money since 2012 like V’Landys has, but you can expect that they would have given stakes inflation a fair nudge.

You’d be bloody disappointed if you did though.

This is prize money picture for NSW Harness Racing below.

The 2020 figure reflects the so-called Coronavirus essential 20% cuts to purses, announced without consultation by HRNSW just a few days ago.

Queensland, Victoria, West Australia – they’ve all been hit with the Coronavirus too, but outside a downgrade of their carnivals, they haven’t cut any prizemoney.

So why have NSW?

This stinks.

Over the days to come we’ll sniff it out.


It’s Time – The Season’s About to Restart – Everyone in Australia Wants Peter V’Landys to be the CEO of the NRL – Let’s Just Do It


I’ve been lauding Peter V’Landys for years now, and I’ve been telling you for months that despite the modest denials, he’s a lay down misere to be the CEO of Rugby League.

What a wonderful thing it will be for footy too.

The game’s future will be secure for the next 20 years.

Pete’s only got one flaw in my view, and that is that despite having a reputation amongst losers as a lore-breaking maverick who doesn’t give a toss for social conventions and tradition, V’Landys is actually quite the conservative.

Like Churchill, Weary Dunlop and Alexander the Great before him, Peter V’Landys will stand out in front of his front line in a war and scream “come and get me you bastards” to the enemy of the day, and in doing so inspire his troops to follow him and die for him, because he’d die for them too.

And just like Albert Jacka, if V’Landys followers were ambushed by a bunch of Huns, he’d jump into the trench and kill every bastard who rabbit punched them and put them in chains, and then he’d jump back out and chase the cowards who ran away.

But like all of the blokes above, V’Landys is a strategic incrementalist.

Only fools rush in where angels fear to tread unless they have to, and PVL doesn’t, because he’s the greatest certainty since Winx to become the boss of Rugby League, and so he’s doing it in fast tracked tippy toes and knocking out rival generals by attrition in wide-sweeping and well considered steps.

The media is a big part of it.

Journos love V’Landys, because they know he’s fair dinkum, and most writers have been around the block so many times, and seen enough to know that in sporting administration terms, he’s the messiah.

Footy writers love footy, and they know that there hasn’t been anyone in the game ever who is going to run the sport as well as Pete will, o they laud his praises and they shoot all his imaginary opponents down, just as Buzz Rothfield has in his demolition job on the NRL’s acting CEO Andrew Abdo in the Daily Telegraph today.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with every word Rothfield says. Latrell Mitchell was treated like shit and Nathan Cleary got away with murder. That of course is about to change, and the Albo is going himself look like an absolute bloody fool, which judging by his handling of the Cleary matter he obviously is.

Why the hell wouldn’t the bloke in charge of footy identify the supermodels in the posted pics, go and see them to have a chat and find out what went on, identify that videos were made, and act on it before someone else found out and made him look like an idiot?

It defies belief that he didn’t.

Peter V’Landys would have, and that’s why it’s time to stop all this flash jabbing and parrying and slow circling nonsense, and just bring the whole matter to a head.

It’s up to PVL to do it. All he is to say is I wanna run the joint, and his wish will be the whole rugby league world’s command.

The only reasons that he hasn’t yet is because (a) he’s a man of honor who wants to fulfil his contract to Racing NSW and not let them down, and (b) he’s a conservative at heart.

Bugger that Pete.

The bloke can steer the greatest game of all through a once in a lifetime crisis that could have killed it, and do it from his desk at the racing office in town.

Does anyone really think that he’d have a problem running racing from an office at the NRL?

It’s time.

The season’s about to restart.

Let’s do it.


Q&A With the Greatest Trot Trainer Ever to Walk the Earth – And One of the Nicest Blokes You’d Ever Hope to Meet Too


Your author (2nd from right), with Mrs Barry Purdon (aka Katrina the Beautiful, far left), Trot writer and analyst extraordinaire Mick Guerin (2nd from left, hugging Katrina, the lucky bugger) and a couple of other VIP’s in NZ harness racing, collecting Belle of Montana’s trophy after she won her first Group 1

1: Best horse who have ever been associated or worked with:


He was a Champion, he had truck loads of attitude.

2: Best horse you have ever seen live:


3: Best horse you have seen in any form:

Kingston Town

(Baz obviously never saw Winx)

4: If you could have any driver in history driving for you in most important race of your life, it would be?

Tony Herlihy

5: The best trainer you have ever seen:

Mark Purdon

(Big Ba is being modest – he sees the best trainer ever in the mirror every morning)

6: Your favourite racetrack:


7: The unluckiest or hardest to swallow defeat of your career:


Someone’s bad luck is always someone’s good luck, that’s the way it goes.You have to remember that the Trainer of the winner has worked just as hard on his horse, as you have, move on you cant re run it.

(This sort of super positive attitude is the foundation of Barry’s brilliance)

8: The race you have never won but would love to:

The Dominion

(Archie has a plan to fix that. She’s a US youngster named Summer Storm)

9: The horse we never got to see the best of:

Vic’s Vance

10: The racing win, yours or somebody elses, that gave you the most joy:

Luxury Liner – NZ Cup – He was courageous, a real Champion stayer, he never gave in.

11: Who is the person in harness racing you haven’t seen since lockdown started you are looking forward to seeing the most when we get back to the races?

Swabbing Stewards

(They’re not looking forward to seeing BP – he always throws clean. That’s because he is)

Reproduced with the presumed permission of HRNZ, who run a great show https://www.hrnz.co.nz/news/q-and-a-with-barry-purdon/

Mark Purdon Pulls Off the Steer of the 21st Century – But David Moran Counters With a Drive For the Ages

Racing can be a cruel game, and sometimes on the track it doesn’t matter how brilliantly you do your job, lady luck just turns against you and everything ends up wrong.

Poor old Mark Purdon found that out the hard way last night when his horse Self-Assured got nutted by Lochinvar Art in the Group 1 Chariots of Fire at Menangle.

Self-Assured was drawn the outside slot of ten from the mobile, which for those not familiar with harness racing usually means that you will be left running the hundred against Usain Bolt while he’s on flat ground and you’re plugging up a hill. It’s a near certainty that the average driver is going to be stuck out wide or working like the devil to get across into spot, and in a Group 1 race against the best 4YO horses in the Southern Hemisphere either journey is fatal.

Mark Purdon’s not your average driver though. He’s the third or fourth best in the business south of the Equator, with only the born to rule brilliant Kiwi superstar Zac ‘Take That’ Butcher, his training partner Natalie Rasmussen, and our very own Chris Alford ahead of him. So what presents to normal reinspeople as insurmountable Everests are for the All Star stable’s number 2 driver simply sand hill style-problems that need to be solved; and solve it Mr Purdon did.

By virtue of lightning fast reflexes ad better vision than a fly Mark had Self-Assured one off the fence and in the one-one before you could say “Luke McCarthy you’re late”, and after the Chariots of Fire field had even gone a hundred metres he was getting the dream run on her main rival Lochinvar Art’s back and sitting there smoking his pipe smiling and practicing his trophy acceptance speech.

There was just one problem.

The bloke driving the horse in front of him was the fifth best driver in the Southern Hemisphere, and had improved so much out of nowhere that any day soon he’dl be challenging Purdon, Rasmussen, Butcher and Chris Alford for the title of the best in the biz, and he was driving a little pony with the heart of a lion and the speed of the wind.

David Moran is the driver’s name, and he is a gun.

His horse Lochinvar Art is too.

Lochie was the unluckiest 3YO in the world, firstly for running into Emma Stewart’s hyperactive and highly stamina’d brood, and then for copping crap draws and ordinary drives in big classic races. He should have just about won them all, but he didn’t, and there’s no point in looking back and pointing fingers.

There is however a point in looking back and comparing those David Moran drives to the drives we’ve seen in the 4YO Bonanza and again last night in the Chariots, because they show you what a fast learner this young reinsman truly is, how far he has come and the heights that he is ten to one on to be about to scale.

Moran is as sharp as a tack on a harness racing track, and he immediately realised that the genius Purdon had somehow against all odds managed to slice Self-Assured across from the outside gate and pop in onto his back last night.

He knew that he couldn’t under any circumstances let Purdon come around him, for if he did it wouldn’t be the death seat he’d be after, it would be the lead, and the frontrunner Demon Delight’s driver Kate Gath would almost certainly hand up to the brilliant Kiwi because the only reward for going head to head in a pitched battle with the fastest kid in the All Stars Stable is an early shower, six Bex. lie down and a long, long rest.

That’s why Moran knew he couldn’t rev up and go to the lead either. If he did Purdon was sure to attack him from the death and try to grind Lochie into the ground, and that would leave the pair of them sitting shots for a horse like the NSW Derby winner Max Delight to ping off their back in the straight and go swoosh.

Moran had no choices, but he had two huge challenges.

How was he going to prevent the Kiwi pair from coming around? And how the hell was he going to beat Self-Assured with the bloody thing sitting there sucking up his speed in the slipstream on his back?

Now its easy to talk about this after having watched the replay of the race a few times, but David Moran didn’t have that luxury. He was out on the front line in front of the trenches fighting a war, and had to both work all this out and make some split-second decisions about what he was going to do in the space of about 20 seconds,

He did it too, and the decisions that he made marks Moran as the new kid on the driving block, and one of the best in the whole harness business.

First he took hold for a hundred metres, steadying Lochinvar Art back off the leaders wheel to put Purdon in two minds about whether to stay or come.

Then, just as he was about to make the decision, Moran clicked Lochie up a gear and went forward at the leader himself, dropping Self-Assured off by a half-length for a few strides before Purdon could click him up too.

And there, on the turn out of the straight into the back at Menangle, the Chariots of Fire war was won.

Moran had put his stake in the ground and said to Mark Purdon if you wanna have a s going to be the cool wind blowing in your face.

Do it if you dare.

Let’s get it on.

Now Mark Purdon might be a lot of things – old, bald, a short half-head shy of being as good as Barry, and still bloody successful nevertheless – but he ain’t no mug when it comes to knowing the form, and he sure ain’t stupid.

Self-Assured is a superstar, but Lochinvar Art is too and being a man steeped in harness racing since birth and with hundreds of Group 1 trophy’s on his pool room wall Mark Purdon knew it.  But in that instant he knew that the boy had grown into a man, and that David Moran was a superstar too.

Ninety-nine drivers out of a hundred would go to water if Purdon and his super horse attacked them, or even threatened to, but the bold bloke in front of him had just flicked him the bird and put up a big flashing sign saying I ain’t afraid of nothing Mr Purdon mate, not even you.

Mark Purdon was stuck, and there was nothing he could do. Whether he liked it or not fate, and a hitherto unheralded driver who – just like a Luke McCarthy trained acquisition from another stable – had improved ten lengths in in just a year,  and believed in and trusted his horse had Purdon glued to his back.

Self-Assured’s  options were exhausted. All Mark could do from here was try to run Lochie down in the straight.

I will bet you Belle of Montana against your 47 start maiden mare that at that exact moment Mark Purdon started to feel very, very sick in the guts. This bullying business was he and Natalie’s trick, and here was David Moran pulling it straight back on them. Purdon had done everything that any God of the sulky could possibly do, but Moran had done more, and I’m sure Mark knew that the pain had only just begun.

For the next 1200 metres driver Moran pumped Lochie up through his gears.

He went 28.4 for the third quarter – too fast for his rival to come around him, but not fast enough to gas his own horse.

Then he went 27.9 between the 8 pole and the 4.

Same thing,

All Purdon could do was wait for the straight, hook out and try to run Moran down.

Good luck.

It was mission impossible, and Purdon knew it. Lochinvar Art had smoked Self-Assured when Purdon had tried to take the Aussie on from the death in the Bonanza, so Moran’s insistence on holding the breeze could only mean one thing, and that was that Lochie had improved even more, and that he was going even better now than then.

They hit the straight and out Purdon came.

The after-burners went on, and the high-class Classic winners from the Stewart, Tonkin and Aiken stables suddenly couldn’t keep up and got dropped.

For four long, lonely lightning quick metres it was Bonecrusher v Our Waverley Star, or Gay Adam v Rufus. The survival of the fittest in a pitched battle where there would only one pacer left standing, and only one horse would win.

Mark Purdon gave it his all,  but Moran had gazumped him.

They scorched the track in 25.5 seconds over the last quarter.

No horse outside of Belle of Montana could run down a leader going that fast.

Lochinvar Art’s Chariot was on Fire.

David Moran was simply ablaze.

Take a bow young man.

Mark Purdon may have pulled off the drive of the 21st century, but yours was one for the ages.








The Dank Tale of a Cheating Trot Trainer Named Shonky Shaun – Part 1 – The Peptides, the Slow Pacer and the Positive Swab

Three years ago a trot trainer named Shaun Anthony Simiana was disqualified from the sport for 16 years after being found guilty of hitting his horses with the highly illegal substances EPO and peptide, the same gear that discredited sports ‘scientist’ Stephen Dank once used to inject into Essendon players arses.

Simiana had been suspended six months before the matter was finalised and he copped the 16 year spell, and through either good luck or smart scheming his trainer’s license expired in that time. It doesn’t seem a big deal does it, but it was.

I will tell you why in a minute, but first let me tell you about a couple of horses that the cheating trainer hit.


Franco Tiago was a former Kiwi who’d shown a bit of promise winning six races on grass tracks a few years before, but recurrent injuries and niggles since moving to Oz had caused him to lose all form, which is why he was running around  in a weak claiming race at Geelong when Simiana’s team picked him up for a few grand.

A lot of people would have looked at the NSW crew as if they were idiots for paying even two cents for Franco Tiago, for the pacer hadn’t even looked like winning at its past ten starts in low-class races, and had strugged into a place just twice.

But Simiana knew something that they didn’t.

He knew the man who sold the drugs.

Just two weeks after being claimed, Franco Tiago stepped out in the Simiana colours at Penrith and won a race in 1.57.2. Two weeks later it went to Newcastle and won in 1.54.5, and a fortnight after that it turned up to Menangle and blitzed them in 1.52.2.

Franco Tiago lead and got beat a nose next time out at Bathurst, but it was one of the weirdest races you’ve ever seen, or perhaps not, if you know what I mean. Amanda ‘Turbo’ Turnbull was driving the second fave, and for no good reason at all decided to launch a suicide attack from the death, forcing Simiana’s new star to run quarters of 28.8, 28.4 and 28.8 while the third fave sat on their backs smoking its pipe. It came over the top and beat them of course, but only by split pea.

The horse returned to Menangle and won 4 of its next 5 races, running 1.52.0, 1.52.4 and 1.52.5 over the mile, and 1.55.6 from the death over 2300m, but disaster was waiting just behind the stable door.

Simiana got sprung in a swab.

In the blink of an eye the dream run was dead.

Franco Tiago had another ten starts for four different trainers after Simiana’s suspension, most of them at country tracks. The best he could finish was third.

I wonder why?

Up next: Part 2 – to Walkabout Creek and back

Big Richie’s Been Bitten on the Brain by a Shark


As regular readers of my columns will know, I’m a huge fan of Richie Callander, and as is my wont with all my mates I will defend him and his opinions until well over the final hurdle and past the winning line.

When they are at least half-correct that is.

The big man’s appraisal of the grand Kiwi galloper Te Akau Shark as merely the best of a bad bunch going around in the Chipping Norton in a couple of weeks is so wide of the mark that it’s hit the Wake Up Australia sign on the advertising sideboards.

This Shark is no average deadly beast my friends; he is an out and out superstar.

What horse wins on debut and runs a final split of 34.72 on a bottomless Heavy 9 track about to be downgraded to a swimming pool 10? The only other horse that even broke 36 seconds on that day was Xbox, and a few starts later it came out and killed them in the Group 2 Waikato Guineas. The Shark was only blitzing them in a maiden.

Three starts later – after nearly a year off the scene through injury – the mighty gelding came out and ran his final three furlongs in 34.64 seconds first up on a bog Slow 7 track that was considerably wetter carrying 60kg. Only two other horses broke 36 seconds for their last 600 metres on that day, and neither of them got within a second of the Shark’s time. One of them was ten-time Group 1 winner Melody Belle. She ran 35.91.

Te Akau Shark finally struck a dry track in the Coupland Bakeries Mile two starts later. He won of course, wearing concussion plates and all, and sizzled home the last six in Black Caviar-like time of 32.39 seconds, and then it was off to Australia where in 3 successive starts he ran second in the Tramway lumping 57kg, second to Kolding in the Epsom giving that crack galloper the 4 kilos that Richie describes, and third in the Cox Plate to one of world’s best middle distance stayers Lys Gracieux.

At his first run since the Shark resumed at Te Rapa last week, and on a dead 4 track with 59kg on his back he ran 1.21.70 over the 1400m trip in taking out the Group 1 BCD Group Sprint, a race won over the years by an array of NZ racing greats including Veandercross, Mr Tiz, Courier Bay (twice), Sunline (twice), Xtravagant, Our Poetic Prince and Melody Belle herself.

To put the Shark’s time on the damp track into perspective, in nine cracks at the 1400 metres Winx ran faster than that just once, at her fourth last start in last year’s Apollo Stakes when she won in 1.20.88. And before you or Richie start saying that the Kiwi times are dodgy, to save you both the embarrassment I draw to your attention that the track record times for the distance at Randwick and Te Rapa are only 0.07 seconds apart, 1.20.33 v 1.20.40.

Richie reckons the evens on offer in the Chipping Norton are unders. I think he’s lost his mind. The yours for theirs is the greatest overs since the Romans laid Jesus at 5-2 to win the Resurrection Stakes.

The Shark’s about to bite sportsfans. Don’t get caught in the backing against him net.

When it comes to Te Akau Shark how good is good Richie?

Absolutely brilliant, as you’re about to find out.