Angus Garrard is the greatest young talent to take the reins on a Queensland harness racing track in the 21st century, and unlike some of his predecessors, he’s as clean as a whistle too.
The kid is only sixteen, and still at school for another year and a half, and for ill-stated reasons the racing authorities – QRIC – won’t grant him a license to drive at the main meetings on Saturday nights, yet the double he drove last night at Redcliffe made him the number 1 junior driver in Queensland ahead of much older young reinspeople who have been driving for years.
The double put at number seven on the all-comers ladder for the season too, ahead of a host of top-class drivers who have been steering winners around paceways for years.
This kid is a phenom, and I reckon that pound for pound Angus Garrard is the greatest sportsperson under the age of 18 in the whole of Queensland, and that he would give the number 1 spot across the nation a fair nudge too.
His spot at number 7 in the State clearly shows that young Garrard is up there with the best, and can hold his own against anybody, and do better than most of them too.
His night last night in the 3rd race at Redcliffe behind Billboard Bonnie (at top) proves it beyond any doubt.
You could go to harness racing racing meetings anywhere in the world for twenty years, and you might be lucky enough to see a drive as good as this one, but you will never see one better, and that’s coming from someone who has being going to the trots and following the sport assiduously for half a century.
So why can’t the wonder kid get a metropolitan drivers license?
The QRIC Licensing and Registration Manager Nicole Elliott – who started out her racing integrity career just 4 years ago as the microchip and ear brand checker at the dogs on a Thursday night – didn’t say when why when she knocked backed Angus Garrard’s application for a metro drivers license, and her colleague Kane Ashby, the horse jockey turned desk jockey who is the QRIC Internal Reviewer, didn’t say either.
I was talking the other day about the Angus issue to a mate of mine who has been one of Australia’s best drivers for about four decades, and he reckoned that a driver had to hold a B-Class license – that’s the license the kid holds; it allows you to drive at any meeting other than a metropolitan fixture – for at least 12 months before they could be promoted to the A-Grade, pretty much the equivalent of going off your P’s onto an open car driver’s license.
He was wrong though.
There is no such rule, either in the licensing provisions of the Australian Harness Racing Rules, or in the local rules. There is no policy about how long a driver must hold a B-Grade license before they can be upgraded to an A-category one either.
All that the rules say is that a person can’t hold an A-Grade license until they are least sixteen, which Angus Garrard is.
Here’s the question.
If this kid who has driven 75 winners eight months into the extended season, and barring mishaps is a certainty to top the ton, can’t hold an A-Grade license, then how can anyone who is below him on the State Premiership ladder hold one either?
It doesn’t make any sense.
Then again, not much that the QRIC does in Queensland does.
Imagine if Athletics Australia had told Cathy Freeman that she couldn’t compete in the top grade at the 1990 Commonwealth Games at age 16, or Swimming Australia had put the kibosh on Tracey Wickham going up and down in the 400 and 800 freestyle in Canada in 1978.
We’d be short a whole lot of “Gold, Gold, Gold for Australia!” medals wouldn’t we?
So why the hell are a bunch of people who wouldn’t know a champion reinsman if he drove right over them holding Angus Garrard back from his destiny to become one of the all-time greats of the game?
I guess we’ll find out at QCAT, won’t we.
What a crying shame it is that the poor kid has to resort to that, just to get a fair go.
Oh well, such is life.
Angus Garrard will be here long after those who knocked back his license are gone and forgotten.
Don’t you worry about that.
Update – Angus Garrard has finally been granted a license to drive at metropolitan meetings, and will begin his city career in early June,
According to the records we have been able to access, at sixteen years and nine months of age he will be the youngest reinsman since 1968 to drive at Albion Park on a Saturday night.
We predict with confidence that he will win next year’s open driver’s title.
I personally thought the short distance that Fair Fella galloped after dumping Jason Taylor was well and truly long enough, and well and truly cause to scratch it from Race 7 at Beaudesert.
I also know that nine of ten footy players who get pulled off the field because they are concussed and in Disneyland claim that they are okay to play on, and that if Jason Taylor was stood down from injury in that race he would have lost around a thousand dollar in riding fees and prize purse commissions.
I’m not a vet, so while I can question Dr Gemma Silvetri’s decision to allow Fair Fella to run, I can’t with any authority criticise it.
I can say however that proofs are often found in puddings, and tell you that in an 1100 metre scamper around a tight front-runners track, the 13-4 shot that had won its past 3 starts by an average of three lengths led early but was gone at the 600, and that it dropped out to finish seven and a half lengths behind the winner.
I can’t speak as a vet, and I can’t speak as jockey Jason Taylor either, because I wasn’t the bloke who got hurled off Fair Fella and hit the deck hard, he was.
I can however speak as a footy player who has been concussed, for back in my junior days I was handed a ticket to Dreamworld a few times. It tends to happen to little, skinny fullbacks who tackle front-rowers who’ve broken through on the burst ball and all, chest high, and hang on like grim death if they can’t trip them, just to make sure the fat, tall bastards can’t put the Sonny Bill down touching the turf.
Let me tell you, it f*cking hurts your head when a kid twice your age who has hair on his nuts at 13 body slams the back of your skull into the turf at full speed, and assure you that the ticket holder tends not to think too clearly for quite a while either, like until at least around lunchtime Monday.
I can also tell you through personal research, and by quoting all and any expert scientific research findings, that people with concussion are the least most qualified in the world to diagnose their own conditions, and make an assessment of their current concussed capacity.
So asking a jockey who has just suffered a trauma that may cause concussion whether he’s right to ride is like asking a bloke in a coma whether he’d like one or two sugars with his tea, or whether he’d like to drink it while he signed a resuscitate or do not resuscitate health directive.
In other words, it is both blindingly stupid, and irresponsibly negligent.
So why did the Stewards allow Jason Taylor to self-assess his condition after Fair Fella threw him behind the gates?
I’m not for a minute saying Taylor was concussed, just that he could have been, and that fact triggers certain duties of care and responsibilities upon the racing officials responsible for running the meeting and the organisations they represent, those outfits being Racing Queensland and the QRIC.
It was good enough to have the horse inspected by a vet.
Why wasn’t it good enough to have the jockey inspected by the on-course doctor?
Head injuries are becoming a huge issue in sport these days, and when they full-flow the damages bills are going to start running in the hundreds of millions.
The folk who run racing in Queensland need to wake up to themselves and their responsibility to people as well as horses, before the lawsuits start drowning them too.
It seems that I write a story almost every second week about Ryan Maloney being replaced on a mount because he’s overweight, and I have to admit it becomes frustrating.
When are the Queensland Stewards going to get serious and dish Maloney out a suspension for his repeated infractions of the rules, like they have recently to fellow jockeys like Les Tilley?
Probably when they learn to spell his name I guess.
I hate to keep picking on the Courier-Mail – no really, I do – but until the editor of the paper wakes up and realises that if people wanted to read bullshit they can simply subscribe to Donald Trump’s twitter feed, then duty compels me to continue.
Just look at this crap above.
Streakers don’t wear clothes. If they did they wouldn’t be called streakers, ços streaking entails getting off your gear, jumping the fence and doing the nude dash. Or the half nude one at least, the bare minimum (pardon the pun) being having your tits unfurled and swaying in the breeze.
As much as most male readers would like her to be, because she’s a good sort, that bird flying the ‘Right to Rescue’ flag isn’t a streaker, she’s an animal activist.
And what about all the excitement over Kings College – an elitist, sexist, university dorm that’s named after an English royal that we hasn’t existed for 70 years and charges rich the 21st) by allowing young birds to rent a bunk?
To celebrate, the male dinosaurs who run the posh doss house are holding a circa 18th century Balliol College at Oxford style black tie and ballgowns dinner to welcome the first wave of sheilas who can sleep in the bunk without climbing up the drainpipe and sliding through their boyfriend’s window.
To commemorate this auspicious occasion the Kingsmen are presenting the lads with a prestigious Kings College necktie.
The chicks get a necklace.
They do equal opportunity on steroids at UQ.