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Headlines Today is 22/10/2014
EXCLUSIVE: "THE IDEAL NUMBER FOR A RACE CLUB COMMITTEE IS TWO - PREFERABLY WITH ONE AWAY SICK" [ More Items ]  
Dr Geoff Chapman (pictured) should have been inducted into the racing Hall of Fame years ago, for once publicly stating that "the ideal number for a race club committee is two, preferably with one away sick". His words came home to roost again just the other day when the Ipswich Turf Club committee wrote to the Marburg Pacing Association and rejected the idea of a harness meeting being conducted on the hallowed Ipswich Turf Club course proper. (Photo Dan Costello)
22/10/14

I must say that from what I’ve seen happen in the racing industry over the decades that I’ve been involved in it, nothing really shocks me anymore – but plenty of things that I see happen still disturb me to the point where I am forced to pen an article on them to put some balance into the debate and/or to bring important issues to public account.

In thoroughbred racing there have been all sorts of atrocities committed over the years. We’ve had a Sydney trainer George Brown, tortured and murdered on his way home from Brisbane over a failed ring-in. There have been large numbers of ring-ins over the years and as recently as 1982 we’ve had high profile bookmakers outed over the Fine Cotton ring-in. Even the Catholic Church managed to have their already sordid name dragged deeper into the mud when a priest was found to be involved in that one. Until that day many would have unwittingly thought that religion and racing would be an unlikely quinella yet they’ve been as thick as thieves over the ages. We’ve had a jockey disqualified for initially 10 years for grabbing another jockey’s leg in a race that’s now a Group 1 feature. Then there was a horse burned near Ipswich Road on the way home from the Brisbane races. Plus any numbers of horses have suddenly dropped dead in the enclosure after a race.

In harness racing we’ve had all sorts of corruption happen over the years. How long have you got? The most recent long disqualification in that industry was in September 2008 when a 13-year sentence was dished out to one individual, over race fixing allegations at the Gold Coast. Naturally everyone in the racing industry breathed a huge sigh of relief when Racing Queensland appointed senior steward John Hackett to investigate claims of “team driving” at Albion Park. Mr Hackett investigated and found it doesn’t happen. Great - thank God for that. Fancy if anyone was working with anyone else to assist the outcome of a race around Australia. How tragic that would be. Unfortunately, according to betting turnover, the public has failed to embrace those harness racing findings. And if Harness Racing New South Wales keep suspending trainers at the present rate for positive swabs and so forth, soon they may have to close the industry down in that State, as there won’t be any participants left.

In greyhound racing we’ve even had the unbelievable situation whereby a corrupt Chief Steward was working with a high profile breeder over the identification of greyhounds. Then there’s the lure allegedly mysteriously losing power trick when the wrong dog was leading, along with certain people getting onto racetracks after hours so as to gain an unfair advantage by making their dog keener to race at that venue, alleged rigged box draws, greyhounds being thrown out of light planes over the Pacific Ocean on the way back from Sydney to Brisbane to cover up ring-ins at Harold Park and a whole array of unsavoury happenings. So in summary, you can bet "London to a brick on," that since the beginning of time, there have not been many industries more badly tainted than the racing industry.

Over the decades it’s also a fact of life that the three codes of racing have never looked likely to work together harmoniously for the betterment of the industry as a whole. In fact when I launched Justracing 17 years ago I was the first racing website in the world to bring together the three codes of racing and to attempt to treat them all as equals. To this day all my billboards depict a thoroughbred, pacer and a greyhound, in an attempt to convey the image to the public that the three entities are all one - racing. But I must say to that end, that I’ve been pretty much “flogging a dead horse”, as thoroughbreds have also considered themselves as the elite of the racing industry and most in thoroughbred racing see the two lesser codes as pretty much just being there for the desperate and dateless. Their theory is that the “wealthy people have the thoroughbreds, which is why it’s called the sport of kings,” whilst the battlers of society and/or those egotistical ones wishing to be “a big fish in a little pond” enter the two lesser codes.

And it’s hardly rocket science to conclude that over the years there has been plenty of friction between the harness and greyhound codes. But it seems that they’re not Robinson Crusoe in that regard as problems habitually happen when two codes try to conduct race meetings at the one venue. Albion Park in Brisbane is a classic example. They’ve had plenty of dramas there over the years as they try to host both harness and greyhounds meetings. Ditto Parklands on the Gold Coast, when that venue hosted both harness racing and greyhound meetings - and so on and so forth. Toowoomba Turf Club tried to host thoroughbred and harness meetings in conjunction with the Darling Downs Harness Club and the harness club got hit with what I’d call exorbitant costs just to lease the premises for the day to stage their meeting, then the Toowoomba Turf Club got to keep the harness meeting bar takings or whatever. It’s simply a fact of life that racing officials from two different codes historically do very little to co-operate with each other for the betterment of both codes.

And so it came to pass that under the present Kevin Dixon led regime of Racing Queensland – to his credit – there have been some positive steps taken to encourage the three codes to work together. It’s understandably been a heck of a lot of hard work, as there’s a lot of bad blood and many bridges to mend. The Kilcoy Race Club has led the way conducting a couple of dual-code meetings of thoroughbreds and harness over the last 12 months. Deagon recently hosted a dual code thoroughbred and harness meeting. So those couple of dual-code meetings in quick succession at Kilcoy and Deagon probably led many in the public to believe that there was a wonderful new spirit of co-operation that was happening right before their very eyes between the thoroughbred and harness codes. Real warm and fuzzy stuff. I even heard racecaller Paul Dolan recently advise his listening audience that Kilcoy Race Club were even investigating the possibility of having straight track drag lure greyhound racing on the same day - so that the three codes could be catered for. You’re kidding – next thing Jesus Christ will arrive back in our midst out of nowhere – in 2014. Whether three codes of racing on the one day at Kilcoy ever comes to fruition only the passage of time will tell, but as it stands currently, it’s simply a fact of life that unless people go and visit the Capalaba greyhounds in suburban Brisbane on a Saturday afternoon, or tune into Sky Channel to watch TAB straight track racing at a track like Healesville in Victoria, the average person will never get to see greyhounds race up a straight track in their lifetime.

But it seems that the positive recent spirit of co-operation that was witnessed at both thoroughbred race clubs of Kilcoy and Deagon can’t be extended to include the hallowed course proper at the Ipswich Turf Club, as it’s considered so sacred by their committee that they can’t fit even one Marburg Pacing Association meeting into their busy schedule.

To set the scene, the Ipswich Turf Club this calendar year was the recipient of $6million dollars of racing industry money – to upgrade their track. That “racing industry money” obviously came into the coffers of the governing body from each of the three codes. Ipswich Turf Club you may recall basically make all their money from one meeting per year – when they ban the under 18’s – and hold the annual drunken “party” that is the Ipswich Cup meeting. Amazingly the high profile Ipswich City Council Lord Mayor, Paul Pisasale, who seemingly jumps in front of a camera at every opportunity and who is a self appointed spokesman for all the battlers from Ipswich and surrounds, is on the committee at the Ipswich Turf Club. By the law of logic, it therefore follows that he obviously endorses the Ipswich Turf Club committee idea of banning tens of thousands of his own constituents that live in the “Ipswich and surrounds” from the Ipswich Cup day, as people under 18 are banned and numerous parents therefore can’t attend the race meeting, as they would have to find babysitters for their children - and so on. Similarly now - even though Paul Pisasale is the Mayor of the region which also houses the Marburg Pacing Association - he obviously can’t sway his fellow Ipswich Turf Club committee to help his harness racing constituents out, by hosting one or more grass track harness meetings at the Ipswich Turf Club.

It is accepted that with the Eagle Farm thoroughbred track closed down until the Winter Carnival of 2015, or longer, that other racetracks have got to take up the slack and to that end Ipswich Turf Club has been allocated additional mid-week race meetings by Racing Queensland that it wouldn’t normally have been granted. But if tracks like Caulfield, in a much cooler climate, can cop three black type meetings in just seven days, like it just has, from 11 October to 18 October inclusive, often consisting of 10-races per day of big fields, and ditto Flemington, which will soon be asked to cope with four massive race days over only a seven-day period, from 1 November to 8 November inclusive, why can’t Ipswich, which geographically has a much warmer climate than Melbourne, host as many thoroughbred race meetings as you can throw at the track – plus one lousy harness meeting – given the conditions for growing grass in Spring like now - are perfect? Thinking aloud and having absolutely no experience as a Track Manager, it would seem to me as an outsider looking in, that the way to look after a thoroughbred course proper is simply to move the false rail in and out, such that the course gets even wear and tear. So if the Ipswich Turf Club was faced with the prospect of hosting one harness racing meeting, why couldn’t the false rail be put out say eight or 10 metres on their track? In the table below when the rail was out the furthest at 10 metres on 15 August this year, a 13-horse race was run. My suggested false rail placement of “eight or 10 metres” would get the harness meeting and/or the dual-code thoroughbred and harness meeting right away from the inside rail when it is in the true position.

I then went back and researched all the thoroughbred race meetings that have been held at Ipswich since 1/6/14 and where the rail position was for each respective meeting - and here’s the list:

DATE

DAY OF WEEK

RAIL POSITION (metres)

4/6

Wednesday

8.5 (1200-800) 9.5 (800-300) 8 (rest)

14/6

Saturday

True

20/6

Friday

3

27/6

Friday

6

4/7

Friday

8

11/7

Friday

0.50

18/7

Friday

2.5

25/7

Friday

4.5

1/8

Friday

6.5

8/8

Friday

8.5

15/8

Friday

9 (1600-1200) 10 (rest)

19/8

Tuesday

True

27/8

Wednesday

2

5/9

Friday

5

17/9

Wednesday

6.5

24/9

Wednesday

8.5

1/10

Wednesday

True

6/10

Monday

2

10/10

Friday

6

15/10

Wednesday

1

Justracing has obtained a copy of the letter from the Ipswich Turf Club to the Marburg Pacing Association, dated 14 October 2014 - and signed by “Brett Kitching, General Manager and Secretary” and it reads:

Dear Steven,

 

We thank you for your letter proposing to conduct pacing meetings at the ITC and this letter was tabled at the ITC Committee meeting last Friday, 10 October 2014.

 

The Committee decided that due to the current critical position of the ITC in the Racing Queensland calendar combined with racing every week during the current season, that there should be no pacing meetings held at the Ipswich Racecourse in order to protect the track as far as possible.

 

Thank you again for your interest.

 

When Ipswich Turf Club held their first race meeting back - after all the work had been completed - as per the photo on the Brisbaneracing website today, the Chairman, Wayne Patch, when extolling the virtues of the new and improved Ipswich course proper, told the local Ipswich newspaper, The Queensland Times, that "It is now arguably the best racing surface in the country". How sad is it then just six months later, after a relatively light racing schedule, that the Ipswich Turf Club committee can’t see their way clear for a few harness races to be run on their racetrack, which they got gifted for $1 by government some years ago, probably because it happens to be built on a former underground mine.

 

I would think that it’s crystal clear from Brett Kitching’s response that the Ipswich Turf Club want nothing whatsoever to do with the Marburg Pacing Association, either now or in the future, as his reply hasn’t even left the door ajar for the possibility of future discussions to take place at a later date, regarding harness meetings occurring at the Ipswich Turf Club when Eagle Farm resumes racing some time in 2015.

 

Let the aforesaid decision by the Ipswich Turf Club committee also serve as an ominous warning to the Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club never to try to work with the Ipswich Turf Club to become home to greyhound racing in Ipswich, as quite frankly if the Ipswich Turf Club can’t work out how to conduct a harness meeting on their hallowed thoroughbred track, they would surely be cumulatively mortified of any doggy doo that might appear on their track.

 

Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au there’s the first of two montages of photos from Doomben last Saturday. On www.sydneyracing.com.au there’s a breeding story on fallen mining tycoon Nathan Tinkler kicking a goal, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au Matt Nicholls looks forward to Friday night’s Moonee Valley meeting.

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