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Headlines Today is 06/03/2015
EXCLUSIVE: RACING QUEENSLAND DISGRACE CONTINUES UNABATED - AND THAT ANIMAL WELFARE EMAIL TO RACING QUEENSLAND CEO DARREN CONDON THAT "SLIPPED THROUGH THE CRACKS" IS REPEATED IN FULL [ More Items ]  
Racing Queensland CEO Darren Condon is pictured on Channel 9 news on 17/2/15. Justracing has exclusively obtained the email that allegedly "slipped through the cracks" at Racing Queensland that was addressed to Condon's attention in October 2014. Hayley Cotton, the author of that email, has also told me what I'd call "startling information" about other emails that she has sent to Condon. And all is revealed in this article. (Photo courtesy Channel 9)
05/03/15

It would seem to me as an outsider looking in, that Racing Queensland’s knee-jerk reaction to the negative publicity that the 4 Corners story generated about greyhound racing a few weeks ago is in some instances what I’d call “ridiculous in the extreme”.

There have been 100-odd greyhounds subsequently confiscated, that are being housed somewhere near Ipswich, or wherever - and there have been all these what I’d call “ludicrous statements” made since, that these dogs may have been blooded and may have an advantage if they are allowed to race again and all this allied rot - and in my opinion many of the statements that have been made by racing officials regarding same simply defies common sense.

But sadly Racing Queensland, in their express blinkered desire to hastily claim scalps and get the names of “life sentence” licensees out into mainstream media to make it look as though they actually know what they are doing - are making a total embarrassment of themselves in some cases. It’s a simple fact of life that had senior staff in Racing Queensland done the very job that they were employed to do in the last few years, the industry wouldn’t be in this mess that it is today.

But now the whole Racing Queensland inquiry into the matter has turned what I’d call “totally ridiculous.” Trainers who weren’t even named in the original Media Release from Racing Queensland list of 13 as being suspended, are unable to go about plying their business as a greyhound trainer, even if it’s a business that they have been undertaking successfully on a daily basis for over a decade or more.

Enter 49-year-old Rachel Scott, a five-time Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club premiership winning trainer. She’s been licensed in her own right as a trainer for “about 14 years” and has had an open trainer’s license, meaning that she’s been licensed to train greyhounds for all-comer owners for the last “about 10 years”. Simply being a bearer of an open trainers license means that she has proven to the governing body of greyhound racing in the State of Queensland, about a decade ago, that she is considered as a professional person, capable of conducting a business entailing training greyhounds. Think about it logically and the mere fact that Rachel Scott has won five Ipswich trainers premierships tells you that she must have some remote clue about what she’s doing. Additionally she’d hardly win annual trainers premierships if she was rubbed out for six months each year over positive swabs, abusing stewards, or any allied activity. In fact when I spoke to Rachel yesterday requesting that she let me bring her plight to public attention via this story, she told me that she has never been charged by stewards with any personal offence whatsoever in the “about 14 years” that she’s held a license. I’d hazard a guess that there aren’t many licensees across the three codes of racing with a wonderfully clean CV like that.

So given those aforesaid facts, how would any fair-minded person conclude that she’s incapable of going about her business of running the 12-acre property that she rents for $550 a week? Let’s look at some relevant facts as that’s all I like to deal in. The lease on the 12-acre property is solely in her name and it has been for many years. The business bank account allied to the greyhound training operation is solely in her name – and again that has been the case for many years. Client invoices for greyhounds that are owned and/or reared at the property are issued by her under her own ABN number and the proceeds of those invoices are either paid directly to her bank account by her clients or alternatively those invoices have a cheque issued in her name by those clients and are posted to her to bank into her account. Now if all that doesn’t prove conclusively that she runs a business, well both the Australian Tax Office and myself have no idea. From my nigh on 60 years of experience in this journey called life, if something looks like a watermelon, smells like a watermelon and tastes like a watermelon it’s hardly rocket science to conclude that on the balance of probability it’s probably a watermelon.

But at Racing Queensland they wouldn’t see that as a watermelon. They’d prefer to be different and call it a cabbage or something, as Racing Queensland seems intent on charging full steam ahead into trying to send Rachel Scott bankrupt and/or run her out of town. Who would know what their agenda is? You see in Racing Queensland’s frantic attempt to appease the general public, mainstream media, the State government and the animal rights activists - it seems to me that both logic and common decency have both got tossed straight out with the baby and the bath water.

You see, Rachel Scott has a chap called Mike Chapman living at the same property and there’s a married couple that live there also – so cumulatively four people live on 12 acres. Mike Chapman has been asked to show cause why his own greyhound trainer’s license shouldn’t be revoked by Racing Queensland after the recent 4 Corners story. For his part Mike Chapman has held an open greyhound trainers license for “about 30 years”. I asked Mike Chapman had he ever incurred the wrath of stewards in those three decades and he advised, “I once got three months for a positive swab to a sulphur based anti-bacterial and a few months later greyhound authorities lifted the ban on the product”. As at last Monday night, Mike Chapman hadn’t been outed by Racing Queensland. The Media Release issued by Racing Queensland at 7.20pm last Monday night, of which Justracing was forwarded a copy, stated of Mike Chapman: “Mr Michael Chapman made a written submission that was considered by the Board. However the board became aware of further evidence that may be relevant to the consideration of Mr Chapman’s submission and decided to adjourn the matter to a later date”.

Mike Chapman rang Racing Queensland within two days of being asked to show cause and advised them that he would happily, and at his own instigation, move off the property whilst Racing Queensland continued their investigation, so that Rachel Scott’s ability to keep training and racing her dogs and rearing pups at the property could continue.

Racing Queensland’s response to that was to scratch nine greyhounds owned and trained by Rachel Scott that had been drawn to race at cumulatively three Ipswich future meetings. In implementing that strategy Racing Queensland single-handedly and immediately took away the woman’s livelihood. Racing Queensland has not accepted any nomination from Rachel Scott since for any greyhound that she owns and trains.

Rachel Scott was requested by Racing Queensland to attend an inquiry at Racing Queensland headquarters at Deagon on Sunday 22 February 2015 at 1pm. She has told me that she attended that interview and was questioned by Wade Birch (since “stood down” by Racing Queensland), Jamie Dart (Chief Steward greyhounds) and a person whose name she doesn’t recall. About 48 hours later she subsequently requested a record of the interview and a summation of the interview for her legal counsel from Racing Queensland steward Eddie Little on Tuesday 24 February, but nothing has been forthcoming. Another email request to Racing Queensland’s “Integrity complaints department” as recently as last Tuesday (2/3/15) has not been replied to either. Maybe it’s another one of those emails to Racing Queensland that just “fell through the cracks”. With tears welling in her eyes she asked me yesterday afternoon, “What else can I do”.

I asked Rachel Scott to advise me what greyhounds were housed at the property and she pondered for a while adding the numbers up in her head and said “there are 54 greyhounds all up here. I either own them myself, or they are owned in partnership with other people. Not one greyhound on the property is owned by Mike (Chapman). I have 15 pups that are all under three months old, eight pups that are eight months old and seven pups that are 13 months old. Then there are 14 racing dogs, eight broodbitches and two dogs that are supposed to leave the property but can’t.”

Obviously the weekly expenses associated with running a big racing kennel are something that the average person in the street would have no concept of. So I asked Rachel Scott to outline for my website readers what her basic expenses were each week and she advised “just meat, without any vitamins and additives, costs me about $700 a week. It has been as high as $1,000 a week but my numbers are down a bit in recent times. I pay rent of $550 a week for this property. Fuel to take the racing dogs to race meetings and to trial would cost another $100 a week. Then I generally always trial at Ipswich as opposed to say Albion Park or Capalaba and I generally write out a cheque for the Ipswich club for $100 to $150 a week. The electricity bill is always big. It’s generally around $1,000 a quarter.”

So by tallying up Rachel’s quoted what could fairly be deemed “minimum fixed expenses each week” she’s up for an incredible $1,530 weekly ($700 meat, $550 rent, $100 fuel, $100 trials at Ipswich track and $80 power) – which equates to an amazing $79,560 annually. And don’t forget that’s only if greyhound numbers are “down a bit” like they are presently.

I ask the following question: “How can highly paid Racing Queensland senior staff expect to 1) take Rachel Scott’s livelihood away from her at the stroke of a pen even though they have charged her with absolutely nothing, 2) totally ignored her repeated requests for her record of interview to allow her to get legal advice, which is surely anyone’s right in a democracy and 3) generally afford her no basic common human decency and respect since her interview by Racing Queensland on Sunday 22 February?”

In any fair person’s opinion, the way that Rachel Scott has been treated by Racing Queensland to this point in this matter is what I would call “an absolute and utter disgrace” and apart from anything else she has surely been denied natural justice? It beggars belief how the people in charge of running racing in the State of Queensland can treat a long standing five-time premiership winning trainer with such disdain to the point where the woman cannot even sell a few months old greyhound pup to try to help her pay her basic weekly outgoings.

After all, if it wasn’t for the Rachel Scott’s of this world, a long standing owner and breeder who supply the racing product, the Racing Queensland fat cats wouldn’t even have a job – as the three codes of racing would shut down.

Justracing during yesterday was also exclusively able to be given a copy of that famous email, addressed to the attention of Racing Queensland CEO Darren Condon, which he subsequently told the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper journalist Brad Davidson had “slipped through the cracks” and that email is reproduced in full below along with what I’d call a “startling statement” by its author Hayley Cotton - that she is happy for me to reproduce publicly.

From: Hayley Cotton (email address withheld)

Date: Wednesday, 29 October 2014 12:53 PM

To: (Name withheld)

Subject: Attention: Darren Condon

Dear Mr Condon

I have written to you in the past about the issue of welfare in the greyhound racing industry in Queensland. I am writing to you again requesting a meeting with you to discuss a number of animal welfare concerns I have, including wastage from over breeding, injuries sustained during training or racing activities, high levels of euthanasia, cruel training methods such as live baiting and the use of drugs to enhance performance etc. I would also like to discuss concerns I have with the lack of transparency and accountability within the industry along with failures in the oversight by the controlling body of industry participants.

I am available at anytime to meet with you to discuss these conners (stet - concerns).

I look forward to your reply.

Kind Regards

Hayley Cotton

Animal Liberation QLD (Editor's note: Please note Hayley Cotton then offered multiple personal contact details, which have been sighted by Justracing, but they are withheld from public viewing)

Over five months earlier Hayley Cotton sent this email to Darren Condon after he’d appeared on Brisbane radio station 4BC. See below for Hayley Cotton’s comments that she has given her approval for me to print about this email and others that she has sent Darren Condon.

From: Hayley Cotton (email address withheld)

Date: Monday, 12 May 2014 9:23 PM

To: (name withheld)

Subject: Re: Interview on 4BC

Thank you for your reply Darren.

I was actually after the adoption figures for GAP. We cannot find these figures and GAP will not provide them to us which we find very strange as I would think the industry would want to be promoting the fact that they successfully rehoming ex-racing greyhounds. We are requesting this information from Racing QLD as the statutory body that is responsible for Greyhound Racing and GAP in QLD. We would like to know the number of greyhounds adopted out through the GAP program in the last 5 years if possible.

I also wanted to ask why the retiring form has suddenly been changed in the last week, specifically the option titled "lack of ability" has been completely removed.  Why has Racing QLD done this?  We know that thousands of greyhounds are killed because of this very reason and now the only option on the form is "not suitable for GAP or rehoming" - this will means the figures become even less transparent than they were previously and there is no way of tracking these dogs and they will all be classified as not suitable for rehoming and that is not a true representation of why these dogs are being killed. Can Racing QLD please explain why this form has been changed suddenly following this interview? Can we obtain the figures on how many greyhounds Racing QLD has records for that have been 'euthanised' in the last 5 years due to 'lack of ability'?

In relation to your comments regarding animal welfare, specifically what actions is the organisation undertaking in terms of 'expanding the animal welfare program'? What is being done by the organisation to reduce the number of greyhounds begin killed which is currently sitting at approximately 85% of the total bred every year?

Also you mentioned in the interview on 4BC that there are random inspection of breeding and trainers facilities.  We are not aware of any such inspections taking place in Queensland.  Can Racing QLD please provide figures on how many facilities have been subject to a random inspection.  I understand that you cannot provide names or personal details of trainers but if you can provide us with some total figures or a breakdown by postcode on inspections carried out over the last 12 months that would be much appreciated.

Kind Regards

Hayley Cotton

Animal Liberation QLD (Editor's note: Please note Hayley Cotton then offered multiple personal contact details, which have been sighted by Justracing, but they are withheld from public viewing)

Justracing notes of interest from the above:

The “name withheld” who the email was sent to at Racing Queensland is in fact the PA (Personal Assistant) to Racing Queensland CEO Darren Condon. Justracing understands that the person is a respected member of the Racing Queensland staff and furthermore Justracing doesn’t suggest that she failed to pass on the email/s from Hayley Cotton to Darren Condon. Justracing also acknowledges that this is the exact same email that the Racing Queensland CEO told journalist Brad Davidson from the Gold Coast Bulletin “slipped through the cracks” and that statement by Condon, as far as Justracing is concerned, meant that an immediate and independent internal review should have been ordered forthwith, by Condon’s superior, and the man who is both his current and former boss (at the Brisbane Racing Club), Racing Queensland Chairman Kevin Dixon, as to what happened to that email - to what is in effect probably about the most important email sent to Racing Queensland in 2014.

I spoke to Hayley Cotton during yesterday. She is so professional that she even subsequently returned a phone message of mine to her mobile around 8.45pm last night. She has given me permission to reproduce the email to Darren Condon from “29 October 2014” in full, which even specified she wanted a meeting with him to discuss in part “cruel training methods such as live baiting.”

Hayley Cotton also told me that she was happy for me to publicly advise via my website that “Three or four times before he’s (Darren Condon) just fobbed me off”. Racing Queensland CEO Darren Condon told the Gold Coast Bulletin journalist Brad Davidson on 18/2/15, “We (Racing Queensland) always replied......(to Hayley Cotton and her emails) but unfortunately one slipped through the cracks”.

Justracing believes that the greyhound racing industry in Queensland, which has come in for so much negative media publicity in recent weeks is entitled to place a significant amount of blame for where it is today on the inaction of Racing Queensland to meet with Hayley Cotton and her organization. Had Racing Queensland acted professionally like she has via her written requests, Racing Queensland could - and should have - been on top of this problem long before it ever made any 4 Corners story. In fact I’ll go so far as to say that Racing Queensland’s pathetic inaction on the topics raised by Hayley Cotton and her organization left her and her organization no other option but to take their concerns to the non-racing mainstream media, which they subsequently were understandably – sadly from the racing industry viewpoint - able to turn into the most talked about television show in Australia in recent years.

Today on my www.brisbaneracing.com.au website there are photos from Doomben races last Saturday and there are also a couple of exclusive photos taken yesterday afternoon by the Justracing camera of two-month old greyhound puppies that Rachel Scott is not even allowed to sell to help pay her minimum $79,560 annual expenses to run her business.

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