Firstly let me wish all website visitors and valued clients to the various website services a safe and happy Christmas. No story will go up here tomorrow but apart from that if will be business as usual with a story going up next Monday. And as was advised last Monday, Lindsay Gallagher’s normal Monday column won’t appear next Monday, but I’ll come up with a replacement story.

The action this Saturday is at the Gold Coast track and let’s hope the weather stays fine so that the horses don’t plough the track up and have it looking like a rice paddy come Magic Millions day 14 days later. But with rain around South-East Queensland last night it will be hold your breath stuff, so readers would be well advised not to bet early on Saturday’s Gold Coast meeting for as at right now, no one except The Big Fella up above – if he actually exists – would know. Seems everyone believes in Santa but many are “a bit each way” re The Big Fella.

Saturday’s Gold Coast meeting has attracted big fields with eight decent races and a crappy $30,000 total prizemoney Origin jockeys challenge race makes up the nine-race card. Believe me good horses make good jockeys that same as happens to trainers, the point being a “champion jockey” can’t make a slow horse run fast. But all that is happening out on the racetrack of dreams will pale into insignificance, given it will be the last day of racecalling for Alan Thomas whose 40-odd year career as both a racecaller and sports broadcaster has been flogged to death on Sky Channel Monday night in a 90-minute special and at RadioTAB the next morning for 45 to 60 minutes or whatever it was as well as the papers. With hindsight I doubt that he’d have been asked to answer so many questions if he was involved as a pivotal player in a Royal Commission. Yet so far everything I’ve seen, heard or read on Alan Thomas has come up short. For instance I can’t believe that no interviewer asked him some questions of public interest such as, “Do you have any children and if so are they interested in racing”, or “have you raced horses, pacers or greyhounds in your lifetime when you were calling the races”? Alan Thomas did say in his RadioTAB interview that he owned “a share in a couple of thoroughbreds currently”, but that was information he volunteered. No interviewer actually asked him if he’d raced horses in the past and if so with whom and so on and so forth.

For my part I thought that Greg Radley’s 90-minute Sky Channel special on Alan Thomas last Monday night came up way short with many questions not asked that should have been. Then interestingly Alan Thomas told RadioTAB’s Steve Hewlett the next morning that he won’t actually miss racing when he hangs up his binoculars. He also stated that when he calls his last race on Saturday at the Gold Coast that that will be it – “I will never call another race”. During that RadioTAB Tuesday interview, Alan Thomas spoke of the “bond” between racecallers and to that end other racecallers like Greg Miles and David Fowler appeared live during the interview to congratulate Alan Thomas on his wonderful career – and so on. That “bond” statement was interesting as I wasn’t aware that there was a “bond” between Alan Thomas and the late Wayne Wilson when they both called Brisbane thoroughbred races some years ago. In fact rumour was rife within the thoroughbred industry that they didn’t even speak to each other, so that “bond” statement surely gave the opportunity for the rumours to be either dispelled or confirmed once and for all. But it didn’t happen. And something else that hasn’t happened through all those questions was who does Alan Thomas consider the best jockeys he’s ever seen from decades in the broadcasting box. Again it didn’t happen. Alan Thomas stated in the RadioTAB interview that unlike his current fellow Brisbane racecaller David Fowler, he doesn’t bet. No one in print media, on Sky Channel, or RadioTAB asked him a question like, “From what you’ve seen in 40-odd years and from information you’ve possibly been privy to from trainers, jockeys, owners and bookmakers, do you think it’s possible to win on the punt long term”. And what about a follow-on question like, “Do you know of any punters who would be ahead in your lifetime of involvement in racing?”

For the record, as I’ve written here numerous times over the years, I rate Alan Thomas very highly in the list of racecallers who I’ve listened to in the last 48 years. In fact only Bert Bryant and Johnny Tapp would rate higher in my opinion. Given the fact Bert Bryant called his last race in 1977 and John Tapp called his last race in 1998, Alan Thomas has been the number one caller in this country for a long time in my opinion. And that’s certainly not being patronizing to him, as we weren’t close, primarily because I’d only see him a couple of times a year briefly at media functions.

And let’s hope that The Courier Mail can improve with the run on the track during 2016. By just looking quickly at today’s form guide in the paper we find that they are racing on Christmas Day at Warwick in Queensland and at Morphettville in Adelaide. These are obviously non-TAB meetings as the TABs won’t be open and the on-course bookies will be home with their family. In another The Courier Mail article today, which was written by a Ron Reed, involving the cobalt cases of Danny O’Brien and Mark Kavanagh, he advises that (Racing Victoria Chief Steward) Terry Bailey has “a colleague” named “Dion Viella”, so the latter has obviously changed his name by deed poll since his riding days.

And I also note that The Courier Mail today is on the case of trying to get rid of Racing Queensland Interim CEO, Ian Hall, for a potential “conflict of interest”. Good luck with that one, it would have about as much hope at success as last Saturday’s 2200-metre winner Volkhere would have in the 2016 Melbourne Cup on the limit weight. But the story at least raises an interesting point about “conflict of interest” issues involving racing. If you stand back and smell the roses and think it through logically, the racing industry is potentially what I’d call “absolutely riddled with conflict of interest” scenarios. Just over two years ago Brendan Cormack in The Australian newspaper on 20/7/13 reported, “At a Racing NSW stewards hearing yesterday, TVN hosts Caroline Searcy and Bruce Clark and presenter Dean Pettit gave evidence. The trio are currently stood down from their on-air roles until mid-September, the racing network inflicting a three-month suspension because of gross misconduct and serious errors of judgment”. In the same article Brendan Cormick advised, “Two directors of Australian Bloodstock (Luke Murrell and Jamie Lovett) have been fined (by Racing NSW stewards) after giving false statements during an inquiry that has embroiled racing television personalities”. I fancy the action taken against those five individuals by the controlling body of Racing NSW (in the case of Murrell and Lovett) and of employer TVN (in the case of Searcy, Clark and Pettit), established new boundaries for “conflict of interest” happenings in racing, which every racing journalist, racing television and radio commentator and racecaller need to be blatantly aware of, so The Courier Mail article today in respect of Ian Hall is at least a timely reminder of that.

For instance it would also be an absolute no-brainer that some journalists or commentators over the course of the last yonks years would get “privileged information” from certain stables, which they may be able to profit from financially – and the contra to receiving that “privileged information” would be the unwritten and unspoken rule that the journalist would get the information from that stable on the proviso that they keep giving that stable positive write-ups or mentions at every opportunity, which would keep potential clients knocking on their door.

As an extrapolation of that “journalist” or “commentator” scenario from the previous paragraph, take a scenario whereby a racecaller part owns a horse trained by Joe Blow. Well surely to avoid any “conflict of interest” claims, the racecaller should never ever comment on the training ability or otherwise when Joe Blow trains a winner of a race that he’s calling, without first advising a disclaimer something along the lines of, “I wish to advise my listening audience that I have a horse currently in work with Joe and I get a reduced training fees for giving him a positive mentions when Joe wins a race with other stable runners” – or similar.

Racing Queensland Cadet Handicapper Mitch Treleaven has advised the website that the scaled weights for the Gold Coast are: Race 3 + 4kgs, Race 5 + 1kg, Race 6 – 0.50kg and Race 9 – 4kgs. So in my words, not Mitch’s Race 3 is full of meows, whilst Race 9 is a ripper from a class perspective.

The apprentice jockey weights for the Gold Coast on Saturday should be:



Lani Fancourt

53 claims 2kgs

Emma Ljung

51 claims 3kgs

Matthew McGillivray

53 claims 2kgs

James Orman

53 claims 1.5kgs

Luke Dittman

55 claims 2kgs

Regan Bayliss

53 claims 1.5kgs

Brodie Loy

52 claims 2kgs


Today on there’s a breeding story – this time on the future of historic Gainsborough Stud outside Toowoomba following the sad passing of owner Col Richards earlier this year.

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