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Headlines Today is 01/12/2015
The Roma Cup start of 2015 is seen here. Jockey Ron Goltz on the race favourite Skip Town (in the red colours) can be seen looking around wondering whether it's been a false start or not, as jockey Nathan Evans, convinced there's been a false start, immediately retires his mount Tints from the race and can be seen walking his mount in front of the barrier stalls. Justracing can now exclusively reveal that there was no mechanism in place on the TAB day to advise jockeys of a false start - had the starter wanted to pull the field up. (Photo courtesy of Sky Channel)

Last Wednesday (25/11/15) I penned a story entitled “Will anything change in Australian thoroughbred racing because of the 2015 Roma Cup”. That article went into a photographic debate over the controversial start of the Roma Cup four days earlier, where after the “hold all tickets” sign initially went up pretty much straight after the horses crossed the finish line, stewards ruled it was a race after a lengthy hearing that lasted a considerable amount of time.

In that article last Wednesday I noted, “Let me also say that I have emailed Racing Queensland Magazine Roma Turf Club “Secretary” Jackie Erikson with several questions derived from emails that have come into this website since the 2015 Roma Cup day. When I have been favoured with a phone call or an email reply from Jackie Erickson giving the Roma Turf Club’s answers to the questions that I put forward, which included what measures the club has in place to advise jockeys of a no-race, I will put her reply up publicly here”.

Well despite her being sent an email outlining the questions with an associated follow-up text, no response was forthcoming to me from Jackie Erickson, so I went straight over her head to the Chairman of the Roma Turf Club – Ranald Ferrier – and we spoke on Friday night.

Complaints came into the website which I couldn’t either confirm or deny, so I didn’t want to air them publicly before the Roma Turf Club had had a chance to respond.

Multiple complaints came into the website over the cost of admission to the 2015 Roma Cup meeting being $35, particularly given the admission to the main metropolitan Doomben meeting on the same day was just $15.

In response as to why the admission price on 2015 Roma Cup day was $35, Ranald Ferrier stated, “We had seven bands. We have the cost of all our marquees and all that sort of thing is approximately around about $60,000. Because of the crowd (size) we have a lot of security there and that’s probably the guts of it”.

Advised that on the same day Doomben admission was only $15 and people have a problem computing how Roma admission could be $35, Ranald Ferrier advised, “That’s up to the people to make the choice really isn’t it? We don’t make people go. We’re just trying to cover our costs and put on a good event I suppose”.

Asked if $35 admission is standard admission price for Roma Cup day, Ranald Ferrier stated, “It was $30” the year before.

Multiple complaints also came into the website over the situation whereby only one part-owner of a horse racing on the day was admitted free, whilst every other part-owner had to pay the normal admission price of $35 at the gate. On this aspect, Ranald Ferrier advised, “That’s normal club policy. I think most race clubs adhere to that policy that I know of. Any other multiple (part) owners that went (to the office window) and said they were an owner, we refunded them on that day. Anyone who requested it” (we’d refund them the $35).

Asked if the 2015 Roma Cup was worth more money, less money, or the same prizemoney as last year, Ranald Ferrier advised there was “a $5,000 decrease this year”. Asked why prizemoney went down on the feature race when the admission price went up, he advised that the Roma Cup prizemoney decrease came about, “Because the mining and coal seam gas (withdrawal) has had quite an effect on our sponsorship primarily. We’ve lost a lot of sponsors really. There has been a big withdrawal of coal seam gas from Roma. Their developmental stage is over and there’s been huge cut-backs in businesses associated with coal seam gas and we had quite a lot of them (as sponsors)”.

Questioned as to what strategies the Roma Turf Club had in place to advise the 2015 Roma Cup jockey of a false start, if it had been a false start, Ranald Ferrier advised, “That’s not a club matter, that’s a stewards matter, (you’d have to) direct that (question) to the stewards”.

Next I rang the man who was Chairman of Stewards on Roma Cup day - Toowoomba based Rion Hitchener - to ask him the question in respect of what strategies were in place at Roma on 2015 Roma Cup day to pull the Cup field up if it had been a false start. Rion Hitchener advised, “There wasn’t one (the standard alert of a siren and flashing red light) at that (Roma Cup) meeting. Ordinarily at every TAB meeting that’s conducted in Queensland there’s a false start system in place”.

Asked what the “false start system” was, Rion Hitchener stated, “The false start system that’s at every TAB meeting run in Queensland generally, is a light and siren positioned a distance in front of the barriers. Then upon belief of the starter that there’s a false start, he’s got a remote control radio that he presses the button on and he activates the siren to pull the horses up. For these country TAB meetings, Matt Henderson (employee of Racing Queensland) is the starter. He arranges to circulate them out to the meeting, so they are generally at all the TAB meetings. Every race meeting of the regular TAB meetings, like Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Brisbane, there’s always the false start siren in place”.

Asked if it was true that had the 2015 Roma Cup been a false start, no notification would have been able to be given to the jockeys, Rion Hitchener replied, “In the (Roma) club’s defence the false start system that goes to the TAB meetings is 100% nothing to do with the club. It’s solely the responsibility of Racing Queensland to provide that service and for circumstances which I won’t go into, it (the siren system) wasn’t present at that (Roma Cup TAB) meeting”.

And in other exclusive news the educated drum around the traps is that there’s a meeting at Racing Queensland today involving invited selected industry groups only, to discuss Hendra Virus vaccine being made compulsory for Queensland racehorses, so it will indeed be interesting to watch that debate unfold in due course and see where the industry decides to head on that controversial topic.

Today on Bernard Kenny has penned another interesting article, this time on Belmont Park’s annual Empire Showcase day.

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