Tag: qric

A Tale of Two Principal Racing Authorities – A Little Story About Uneven Scales, and the 10 Grand a Week Good Life – If You Can Get It

As a result of the restructure of the State’s racing administration in the wake of the live baiting scandal, Queensland is now in the quite unique situation of having two Principal Racing Authorities, the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) and Racing Queensland (RQ).

The QRIC employs 159 people.

Racing Queensland employs just 85.

The main focus of RQ’s work is administrative, and prior to the Coronavirus the predominance of its staff worked out of a single office at Deagon.

The QRIC’s focus on the other hand is operational, meaning that its staff work from locations around Queensland, and are widely spread and dispersed.

It would be fair to say that due to its size and spread, the complexity of the work it performs, and the acute interest in its activities by the media, managing the QRIC would be a considerably more difficult exercise that managing Racing Queensland.

So why is it that RQ CEO Brendan Parnell gets paid $120 000 a year more than the QRIC Commissioner Ross Barnett?

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QRIC executive management salaries (above)

Racing Queensland executive management salaries (below)

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Why is it that seven managers at Racing Queensland – including the Sales Manager, the Special Projects Manager (whatever they do), the Construction Manager, the PR Manager, and the HR Manager – are paid more than $200 000 a year, but no-one other than the Commissioner is at the QRIC?

This is not a spruik for a pay rise for Ross Barnett, or for any of his staff.

It’s simply a legitimate question about why Racing Queensland’s leaders see fit to pay themselves so much.

Given the slash and burn approach taken to abolishing rich Winter Carnival races that owners have paid big money to nominate their horses for in the expectation of racing for big returns, and the general across the board cuts to stakes purses, it would be very interesting to know if Racing Queensland’s executives have borne their share of the COVID-19 pain by accepting a temporary pay cut themselves.

Other sports administrators and leaders in codes like Rugby League, Union, Cricket, Soccer and the AFL have, and the players in these sports have too. Their leaders are leading by example.

What odds will you bet me about the same sacrifice having being made by the top brass at Racing Queensland.

Or that they haven’t?

Anyone willing to frame a market?

No?

I guess no-one is that silly.

More than half a million bucks a year for Pins Parnell hey?

Ten grand a week.

It’s a good life if you can get it.

Don’t you worry about that.

Numbers Don’t Lie – And Racing Queensland’s Are Appalling – There is a Cancer in the Deagon Bunker – For the Good of Racing, It Must Be Excised

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Why is that Racing Queensland has a 3 year average employee separation rate of 38%?

Or a three year aggregate rate of 117%?

An employee separation rate means the number of employees that quit or get sacked from a company each year.

What these numbers mean is that more than of RQ’s employees on average exit the building each year, never to return.

In the space of 3 years, more employees have left Racing Queensland than actually work there.

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It’s a true story.

RQ has just 85 employees.

But 97 people have come and gone only three years.

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No organisation other than cold-call sales companies whose employees are paid on commission only turn over that number of staff.

In fact extensive research by the HR Nicholls Society, a leading employer association, shows that the average staff turnover rate across all industries was only 18 percent.

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Racing Queensland’s turnover is more than double that figure, and remember here we are talking about a State Government department that pays public service wages and offers excellent conditions, including a 36.5 hour week, over time, flexitime, RDO’s, and superannuation contributions well in excess of the standard minimum 9.5% that other employers pay.

Given all these goodies, you’d expect people to be crawling over broken glass to get in the door, and chaining themselves to the desk to keep their jobs; but instead they are leaving in droves, and there is no sign of the outward tide receding.

It doesn’t make sense on paper. Why would so many people be walking out the door?

There can be only one reason, and that is this.

Racing Queensland has a serious management problem.

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That’s speculation of course, because I don’t work there, but I ran public sector unions here and abroad for twenty years, and understand the dynamics of government workplaces better than most.

That I am correct in pointing the finger at Racing Queensland’s management is borne out by the numbers of ex-gratia payments and court ordered settlements made by Racing Queensland over the past two financial years since Brendan Parnell took over the reins as CEO of the organisation.

An ex-gratia payment is what we used to call piss-off money in the union trade, meaning that it is a cash payment of salary or wages that an employee is not entitled to, paid to them as part of exit deal to settle an employment dispute.

An ex-gratia payment can sometimes also be a golden handshake bestowed on a departing employee as a reward for their sterling service, but as this type of payment is totally prohibited in the public sector, in this case it can’t be that.

A court-ordered settlement is a payment that the Queensland Industrial Commission or the Federal Court (Employment Division) order an employer to make in relation to an unfair dismissal or adverse action case brought by a former employee.

Racing Queensland have made 12 of these types of payment over the past 2 reported financial years.

The total paid was more than half a million dollars.

That’s about $40 grand a head, and it doesn’t include the former CEO Eliot Forbes payout of around half a million dollars, because that’s recorded separately in the books.

Those numbers are outrageous.

In the previous two years Racing Queensland had only paid out only $89 000 in these types of exit payments.

Under Parnell’s leadership – if that is the right word – that number has multiplied by greater than 500%.

And this is scarce racing money don’t forget, not lollies.

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There is something very, very wrong with our Principal Racing Authority.

In fact I would take it a step further, and say that this organisation is sick.

Just compare the QRIC staff turnover numbers and you can see it clearly.

Now I have been as critical of the QRIC Commissioner Ross Barnett in the past about racing matters, and perhaps even more, but I have never said that Barnett is anything but a brilliant public service CEO and a top class people manager, and it’s borne out here.

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See that?

The QRIC  has almost double the number of staff that Racing Queensland does, yet it’s annual turnover rate is only 5.5% over two years, and only 3.78% in the last 12 months.

Compare those numbers to Racing Queensland’s.

Average – 5.5% v 38%

Last 12 months – 3.78% v 28.9%

I’m sure that Ross Barnett is doing plenty of things right.

Just as I’m certain that Brendan Parnell must be doing a whole lot wrong.

Numbers don’t lie, only people do.

There is a cancer in the Deagon bunker.

For the good of racing, it must be excised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Do You Go To My Lovely Horses? – Where Did You Go?

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What you see above is a list of mares purchased at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale held in May 2017.

Seventeen mares were bought for under $2000 at that sale, each of them purportedly for breeding purposes, but if you believe that you believe in fairies.

Eleven of the seventeen were purchased by a company called Killara Thoroughbreds, which is one of the trading names of an entity called the Grange Country Estate Unit Trust. This unit trust also trades as Running Creek Beef, a cattle station further to the South-West in the famous thoroughbred breeding area near Glenlogan Stud, and the Killara Homestead, a working farm just outside of Beaudesert.

A couple named Rod and Deb Richardson run Killara Thoroughbreds.

Rod Richardson is or was a business partner of his near-neighbour Peter Dean, the prolific bargain basement buyer of tried racehorses that we wrote about last week.

It was Richardson who teamed up with Dean in 2017 to send 79 tried racehorses to Vietnam, ostensibly for the purpose of the horses racing at a privately owned track near Ho Chin Min city (Hanoi).

If you believe that, you believe in fairies.

We thought it might be instructive to try to trace where the dozen hopeless horses that Killara Thoroughbreds purchased for a few dimes at the Magic Millions sale ended up.

Sadly, due to the deficiencies that exist in the racehorse registration system, we didn’t get too far.

Even more sadly, when you find that 25 percent of the slow horses that Killara took home from Gerry Harvey’s highly reputable sale ended up officially dead within a couple of years, your natural suspicion about the fate of most of the others makes you so sick in the guts that you stop looking.

Here are the ones that Killara Thoroughbreds bought.

And remember, the hammer fell in the year 2017.

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Izajazzar – retired in 2008.

Duorosa – retired in 2009

Pride of Rawbelle – DEAD

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Miss Tuesday – Retired, never raced

Saints and Angels – Retired in 2016

Gala Royale – Raced twice at Beaudesert after the sale for two 9th placings, with average losing margin 27.85 lengths

Centauraine – DEAD

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Unnamed – Unknown

Amalfi Scape – Bought for $1500, sold the very next week on bloodstockauction.com.au to for $5000. That sounds dodgy doesn’t it? The mare never raced again.

Cassie’s Dream – retired in 2009

Si Alla Vita – Retired early 2017, before the sale

Eraser – DEAD

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Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

I hope not.

It makes you want to chunder.

Want to See the Best Drive in the World? – Watch This – And This Kid Can’t Get a Metro License? – The QRIC Would Have to be Kidding, Wouldn’t They? (Updated)

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?

Who knows?

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’m Not a Vet, Jockey, Steward, Pull-Up Merchant or Nobbler, But …… Have You Seen the First Race at Toowoomba Yesterday?

Race one at Toowoomba yesterday, a 3-year-old Maiden Plate run over the unusual distance of 870 metres,  was one of the strangest races I have seen for quite a while, a really, really queer one.

There were four horses in the betting.

The topweight Calculated Risk, trained by Craig Smith at Roma, was steady in the market at $5.50, as was Boof Currie’s runner Persian King, which started at $6.50.

Tony and Maddysen Sears first-starter Serratalli blew like a gale, from an opening quote of around $3.50 all the way out to $8.50 by the jump.

All the money came for the debutante Crosby Road. It was backed as if there was no tomorrow, firming from a top price of $2.40 into $1.75, or 6-4 on in the old scale.

The plunge punters obviously didn’t know that just prior to the race, Crosby Road’s trainer Shaun Dwyer Jr had approached the Stewards and told them that he’d noticed his horse had some unexpected swelling on its off-side rump.

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There could be any number of explanations for swelling in such a spot. One of them is that a nobbler had hit the fave with a go-slow to stop it from winning, for the off-side rump is where you’d be likely to give a horse an intra-muscular injection if it was tied up and you wanted to hit and quickly run.

The on-course vet Dr Gemma Silvestri of the QRIC inspected the horse and cleared it to start. As most pre-race vet examinations ultimately prove to be, it wasn’t a particularly brilliant decision.

Crosby Road led until the top of the straight in the short course scamper, and then punctured like a pricked balloon. Another inspection by Dr Silvestri found no obvious abnormalities, other than that the horse was displaying a particularly poor post-rate recovery rate.

I would have thought that if a horse was sweating like a pig and puffing like a chimney after running at 3/4 speed for just 500 metres, then that in itself would be an anomaly, but I’m not a vet, just a horse owner and lover, so what would I know?

Baylee Nothdurft got stuck out wide on Currie’s horse and couldn’t get in. No jockey in Toowoomba is going to let a cheeky little local kid who’s gone to the big smoke and is killing them get in from barrier ten over 870 metres. Anyone who backed it was mad.

In-form city jockey Matthew McGillivray gave the toppie the perfect run, sitting fifth just off the pace on the rail behind the leader, and as top riders do pulled it out at the top of the straight and went bang, and it won.

The run of the odds-on favourite was really odd, but the ride on the horse that nobody wanted to back Serratalli was even more strange.

That filly jumped with them from barrier 6, but her rider Michael Cahill seemed to immediately put on the brakes after they’d gone just 20 metres, and jagged the $3.50 to $8.50 shot out to last.

Cahill was later to tell the Stewards that Serratalli failed to muster speed early, and they duly accepted his explanation, but gee, I’m not so sure. It looked to me as if Cahill just decided not to show any urgency, and took her back to last himself; but I’m not a jockey just a long-time form student and race analyst, so what would I know?

The same applies to my opinion that Michael Cahill was forgetful when he told the Stewards that he had some difficulty securing clear running rounding the home turn, and in the early stages of the home straight.

What Cahill forgot to add was that he couldn’t get any clear running because he kept steering the filly inside and up other horse’s arses, rather than taking her to the middle or outside of the track where there was clear running room; or that by doing so he ensured that Serratalli had a chequered, stop-start run that prevented the young galloper from gaining any uninterrupted momentum.

Brisbane’s top-ten jockey wasn’t wrong when he added that the filly ran home well when she got clear running, it was just a shame that this didn’t happen until about 70 metres from the line when she was still a couple of lengths off them, and a million to one.

The race day Steward – with ten more races to run on the program, and no overtime for late finishes in the budget – were clearly too busy to waste any time examining the betting sheets on a 3YO maiden, and let the matter rest.

I’m not a Steward, just a punter and member of the public who is fast losing confidence in the integrity of Queensland racing, so what would I know?

But gee that race looked red-hot to me.

Take a look for yourself, and see what you reckon.

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If Baytlee Nothdurft Got Three Months For a Hook on Vega One, How Long Should Robbie Fradd Cop For Murder on Joymaker?

On Thursday Brisbane’s leading jockey Baytlee Nothdurft was suspended for rest of the season after the Stewards quite rightly found him guilty of failing to allow the lightly-weighted Stradbroke Handicap favourite Vega One to run on its merits first-up in a crap race at the Sunshine Coast .

The Stipes didn’t say it, but there is only one reason that a young man like Nothdurft would perform such a rule-breaking act, that being that someone told him that he had to do it. I’m not talking gun at a head or break your legs stuff, but rather a simple sentence that goes something like “Hey kid, do you want to ride a Straddie winner? Then ….. “

So it’s $1.10 that Nothdurft gave Vega One an easy run not for any nefarious betting purpose, but rather so that he could keep the ride on the horse in the big one.

The Kelly Schweida trained benchmark 70 galloper Joymaker certainly won’t be running in any Group 1 handicaps anytime soon, so there is only one reason I can think of that Robbie Fradd might have ridden the horse dead in race 5 at the Gold Coast yesterday if he did, and that – in an utterly hypothetical sense of course – is because it had been backed off the map from $8.50 into $3.60 while all the other runners blew, and it was in his or some other person’s interest for it to get beaten.

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It’s a free world, and we all have our own opinions, so you watch the replay at the top yourself, and form an opinion about R. Fradd’s riding tactics on Joymaker for yourself.

If you come back to me after you watch the race, and try to tell me that Joymaker was ridden on its merits, I will however laugh at you.

The Steward or Stewards who keep protecting Fradd, by failing to question the jockey about his highly dubious rides on shorties, already have.

Laughed at you, that is.

They did it again today.

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We’re Tough on Drugs up Here in Queensland, Punters – Don’t You Worry About That

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In March 2015, greyhound trainer Anthony Hoyland was fined $1000 after one of his winning charges threw positive to Benzydamine, a banned in competition anti-inflammatory analgesic that some in the dog business reckon helps a super-fit though over-worked dog keep on trucking through its gears, without feeling any pain.

Ten months later, in January 2016, another A. Hoyland trained greyhound winner threw a positive swab, this time to Cobalt.

In the same year the famous gallops trainer Peter Moody would be suspended for 6 months for exactly the same offence, and the premiership winning harness reinsman Neale Scott – who had no priors in a 40 year career – copped 18 months on the sidelines (later reduced to 9 on appeal) when a horse he trained and drove at a picnic race day at Deagon threw positive to the big C too.

Anthony Hoyland must have been blessed by the bishop when he was a baby.

How else could you explain him only being outed for 12 weeks?

That Bishop must have been bloody Holy, for the gifts of his blessing of the Hoyland child live on all these years later.

In November last year a dog of Anthony Hoyland’s named Codrington Park threw a positive swab to the drug Dexthmesaone after winning a race at Albion Park.

Dexmethasone is nominally an anti-inflammatory drug, but that’s only part of the story, because it’s also one of most widely used pep-pills in cancer treatment. The medical staff use it to give chemo patients and final stage cancer victims a kick to combat the fatigue and the other drugs.

I know – I nursed my Mum and Dad full-time through cancer for almost a decade, and they were given it heaps. It worked wonders too. Mum would drop a pill and go from being almost a total invalid, to getting up and wanting to go to the pokies withing hours.

It’s not coke or meth, but it’s damn good gear that Dexamethasone.

Last year a galloper trained by a smalltimer called Col Thurston swabbed positive to the drug in a lowly race at Gilgandra.

Col was a cleanskin, but the stipes suspended him for three months.

Just six months ago a winner prepared by a Perth trot trainer named Aden De Campo threw up a positive to Dexamethasone.

De Campo had 2 priors; he copped six months.

Anthony Hoyland has two priors too.

Last Friday the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission Stewards handed down Hoyland’s punishment for positive swab strike three, Dexamethasone.

It was a suspended sentence.

Hoyland won’t spend a single day on the sidelines.

We’re tough on Drugs up here in Queensland, punters.

Don’t you worry about that.

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Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden – Race 7 at Beaudesert on Sunday – Part 1 – Ouch!

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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.

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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.

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The Scales of Justice Show Archie Was Spot On – Correct Weight on All Placings – Butterfly First, the Critics Last

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The author at work, deep in thought about squatters, jumbucks, tucker bags, troopers, ghosts, grey hairs, QRIC Commissioners and incompetent Queensland racing officials

This afternoon while I was camped by a billabong in the Barron Gorge, under the shade of a Coolibah tree and bereft of internet coverage to watch the races on while Maggie and the girls proved their sheer idiocy by climbing up a sheer mountain on the other side, I wrote a story about how Racing Queensland and QRIC’s independent failures had damaged public confidence in racing, and how the two bodies that run racing north of the Tweed had let us all down.

The story was about a half-head loser being officially declared the winner of race 4 at Emerald yesterday in error, and how the farce had resulted from a (tragi) comedy of errors by the joint yet severable Queensland Principal Racing Authorities.

In the story, I said this:

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Numerous funding applications had been made to Racing Queensland for the repair or replacement of basic equipment such as barriers, rails, scales, jockey rooms and photo finish equipment (bold emphasis mine).

I wasn’t making it up.

Despite the commonly held opinion of subjects who have been sprung doing something wrong by my stories and want to deflect and cover up their sins for all they can, I never make stuff up.

My articles are researched, fact checked, and  – allowing for the reasonable margin of error that applies to any writer’s work – 99.9 percent of the time spot on the mark.

This one was too, for guess what happened just a couple of hours after I’d written and published the story?

The scales at the very next race meeting held in Queensland failed, and the Beaudesert club had to put its card back an hour while someone raced over from the closest race track and replaced them with theirs.

You couldn’t make it up if you tried.

I don’t.

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Is This Integrity, or is it a Circus? – Are the Stewards Fair Dinkum, or Just Munching on Popcorn While Watching the Clowns?

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This is the official Stewards Report from race 3 at the TAB meeting at Roma yesterday, the first leg of the Quaddie.

Yokia was the clear favorite for the race at odds of $3.30, or 9-4 in the old scale, and was expected to win the race, but something funny happened along the way.

The horse reared in the barrier just before the jump, but it appeared to go straight up and down without any issues, and it jumped away cleanly with the rest of the field.

Journeyman jockey Chris Bryen – who has been in more trouble than Flash Gordon over the years with Stewards – settled the horse in the middle toward the back of the leading pack, and it appeared to be traveling fine and looked a real chance of sweeping home over the top of them off the fast pace that the leaders were setting.

Then they reached the 500m mark and the something funny happened.

Bryen stopped riding Yokia, and eased it first to the outside, and then right down. Under his throttle hold it jogged to the line in last place, 18 lengths behind the leader.

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Jockey Bryen told the Stewards that it didn’t feel right in its action, so he pulled it up.

He pulled it up alright, there’s no question about that, but was it a pull-up, or was it a pull up, if you know what I mean.

The vet on duty Dr Tim McClymont, a very able practitioner who is a managing partner of the busy Roma Vet Clinic, examined Yokia immediately after the race and could find nothing demonstrably wrong with the horse.

Dr McClymont examined Yopia again after it had cooled down, and at the behest of the Stewards this time he gave it an extra-thorough going over, but still the horse showed no signs of any abnormalities or of anything at all being amiss.

The alarm bells should have been ringing.

Chris Bryen should have been hauled back into the room and had the book thrown at him. Improper riding, foul riding, failing to ride horse on its merits, fraud, perjury, and a whole lot more.

The highly able vet said twice that there was nothing wrong with the horse, yet the Stewards for some reason took the word of a rider who has been in strife repeated times  and in their past view extremely economical with the truth – over the findings of the upright and erstwhile community leader Dr McClymont, and didn’t even call for the betting sheets.

Almost two years ago to the day jockey Dale Evans copped a 12 month disqualification for a ride almost identical to Bryen’s, and in exactly the same circumstances where like here: the horse was favourite; the rider claimed he pulled them up because he felt something was amiss; the vet said that was poppycock and the horse was all good.

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So why, given this clear and near-identical precedent, did the Stewards take no action at all against a rider who pulled up a favorite for no seeming course.

It couldn’t have been because of the late scratchings could it?

The horses that were pulled out at the last minute because they didn’t have riders?

Surely no-one gulped, then whispered ‘

Gee, there are only ten active riders on the regional list for the next six months, and after we let him ride after his fall jockey McGovern might have to take a week or two off. That leaves just nine. What if we scrub this bloke then someone gets sick or hurt or scrubbed themselves. We’d struggle to put on races. But the big boss wants races. And we won’t get paid if there ain’t any. Holy Moly! Look at the time. We’ve got to get ’em saddled and out for the next race. Let’s go!

.. did they?

Perish the thought.

Once a week part-time bush jockeys just know better than vets, that’s all.