What’s in a name? Quite a lot for a commercial organisation. It’s your basic image. It’s what people know you by. It’s what you advertise to attract more business. It’s what goes down in history.
So why give it away? Why dilute your message? That’s what the Lismore club, or perhaps the big brother looking after it, the NSW GBOTA (we don’t know), has done in selling that privilege to an online bookmaker. It’s not the first time as the NCA did it when they ran The Gardens club in Newcastle.
GRNSW has gone along with the change and printed the new name in all its publications, including form guides and results services. In theory, that means hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of records around the country also need to change, just as they would if you changed the racing distances.
I can recall decades ago shouts of disapproval when a club first sold race sponsorship to an outside organisation (was it Bulli?) and all the traditionalists complained bitterly. At the time, I could not see great harm in that and it has become the norm since then. But to give away your basic title is a risky step. It lessens the importance of your operation. And what happens if the advertiser gets sick of it all and quits?
There is no upside to this practice, apart from a few pieces of silver. What we should be advertising is the greyhound, not the wagering operator.
Run of the week
Never mind all the big shots. The most extraordinary exhibition came in a modest fifth grade at Sandown on Thursday from Usain I’m Nutty (Dyna Tron-Dyna Gillian).
After just an average start from box six, the dog was still only level with the leaders halfway down the back straight. Then it poured on the power and won by 13 lengths in 29.45. They weren’t mugs behind it either, as a couple had previously run 29.6 and 29.7.
Tardy starts and an odd name will be its only barrier to fame.
It was almost encouraging to see only 11 races at The Meadows mid-week meeting on the 21st, and again at Horsham on Saturday. I find 10 races are plenty to occupy my time, although you can always dismiss the maidens (two in each case) as betting propositions. Ditto for Novice events, which are just a gamble anyway.
Nominations had been held open for The Meadows meeting so that’s a further indication of a shortage of starters. Only one race had a short field but that was a longer one (600m) which is par for the course.
Ballarat had three 660m heats on the same night, two of which were also short of starters. Ricky Fields lowered the sectional time standard (to 12.42) but faded in the run home, He still won but in slow overall time.
According to big bookie Rob Waterhouse at Randwick last weekend “Race times were very slick. The best horse won most races. The punters bet right up on a track they could trust”. (SMH, January 18).
He was talking about the state of the track there (good). Weather effects on greyhound tracks are perhaps not so vital, although wind and leaders kicking up clumps of loam on wet tracks can be issues. However, are greyhound punters sufficiently trustful of the actual layouts, or does high interference turn them off?
There is a case that cutting the interference in half could encourage punters to bet more and more often on the dogs.
Not so trivial (3)
Should we learn from Nike and top tennis players how to make use of Dayglo green, yellow and pink?
All would make it easier to locate rug colours in the back straight or in bad light. Distinguishing blue from green and red from pink is never easy. It’s fine if they are right in front of you but it’s a different story in the heat of battle.
I once saw a race (for whippets) where the five dog wore a bright yellow vest. It worked brilliantly.
Come to think of it, why don’t we see whippet races any more? They used to be an interesting feature of greyhound meetings, just like the Jack Russells. The public enjoyed them. Space in the kennels might be a problem but surely we could find a way around that.
Race 6, 680m, Warragul, January 23
“Opec Bale, Time Dimension and Coulta Rock were slow to begin”
In fact, Coulta Rock began with them, dashed to the lead and was eight lengths in front in the back straight.
“Opec Bale checked off Paris Sparks on the first turn checking Time Dimension”.
Actually, Opec Bale gave Time Dimension a highly questionable shove as they went round the first turn. This dog is talented but is proving a problem for punters as it moves up in class. It starting price of $1.60-$1.80 was far too skinny given its risky starts.
In the same race Zipping Spike, which was well fancied in early betting and started second favourite around $4.00, got way fairly well, raced where it prefers in the centre of the track in third place for a while, and then meandered to the finish in 39.67, 11.5 lengths behind the winner. The dog was coming back after a month off following top performances in the 650m Sale Cup. It was either unfit, injured or just not interested. Stewards made no comment.
Race 4, 600m, The Meadows, January 24
“Olive’s Gift crossed to the rail approaching the first turn, checking Sonic Pirate”.
Never touched it. Olive’s Gift jumped clear at the start and stayed there for half the race.
Champion trainer Linda Britton is expected to appeal against the severity of the 18-month disqualification handed to her by West Australian stewards this week.
Britton was disqualified for nine months on each of two charges regarding presenting Zelemar Fever for two races at Cannington in August last year when not free of the prohibited substance testosterone.
The Hall of Fame trainer had pleaded guilty to the charges and another two relating to the administration of ethyloestrenol tablets and possessing 1500 ethyloestrenol tablets, a scheduled 4 medicine, in two unlabelled containers. For the latter two charges she was fined $500.
When contacted this week, Britton said she was grateful for the support that her family and friends had given her since the penalty was revealed on Monday and that she planned to take a few days away.
In the meantime, the large team of dogs she formerly trained has been taken over by her long-term partner Chris Halse.
Anakie trainer Alan Marum has been disqualified for four months, with two months of it suspended, for presenting Mary’s Guess to race at Shepparton with morphine in its system on August 14 last year.
GRV stewards investigated after being alerted to an irregularity in a pre-race urine sample by the Racing Analytical Services Laboratory, with Marum charged under Greyhounds Australasia Rules 83(2) and (3) in that he failed to present the greyhound Mary’s Guess free of any prohibited substance for a race. The matter was heard before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on Tuesday, with Marum pleading guilty and the board taking into account his clean history over more than 40 years in the industry. He was disqualified for four months, with two months of that suspended for 12 months pending no further breaches of GAR83. His disqualification starts on Tuesday.
Trainers John Norden and William McMahon (Jnr) were handed suspended $300 fines by GRV stewards this week for a mix-up at the boxes at Sale on December 7.
The reserves for the opening race, Avon Nellie (Norden) and Dr Peekaboo (McMahon), were loaded into the wrong boxes and subsequently disqualified from the race. Borden and McMahon were charged with breaching GAR86 (o) and both pleaded guilty. Their previous good records and guilty please were taken into account as the fines were suspended for two years.
The sport has been rocked by an 18-month disqualification handed to champion trainer Linda Britton on Monday.
The WA Hall of Fame trainer was disqualified for 18 months and fined $500 on four charges in relation to one of her greyhounds testing positive to a prohibited substance, and for failing to keep treatment records.
The first two charges came after Zelemar Fever, trained by Britton, was found to have the substance testosterone – evidenced by the presence of 5β – androstane- 3α, 17β – diol at a concentration greater than 10 nanograms per millilitre in urine samples taken after winning the WA Sprint Championship final and placing third in the National Sprint final in August last year.
Britton, who trains her team near Mandurah, was also charged on two counts for failing to keep treatment records.
The first of those charges related to the administration of ethyloestrenol tablets to the greyhound bitches which she was training at the time.
The second was in regards to possessing 1500 ethyloestrenol tablets, a scheduled 4 medicine, in two unlabelled containers which were “not prescribed in compliance with the relevant provisions”.
The champion conditioner pleaded guilty to all four charges when the stewards’ inquiry resumed last Thursday.
Britton was disqualified for nine months, effective immediately, on each of charges one and two, totalling 18 months on the sidelines.
In regards to charges three and four, Britton was fined $200 and $300 respectively.
The penalty imposed has come as a massive shock to most greyhound participants, not just from the West but nationwide, as well as Britton herself.
Britton, who was inducted into the WA Racing Industry Hall of Fame in 2012, has won the leading state trainer award each year since its inception in 2003.
She is the daughter of legendary trainer Allan Britton and is also the sister to Jeff and Rob Britton, two of Victoria’s leading trainers.
Linda Britton has trained many stars of the track over the years such as Paradise Street, Reggemite, Vulture Street, Western Land, Topline Doovee and Dance Portrait. More recently she has put the polish on outstanding types Zelemar Fever, Star Recall, Uno Reltub and Te Amo, just to name a few.
The biggest worry about the SKY v TVN saga is not that we don’t quite know when TVN will fold. The critical issue is how SKY (owned by Tabcorp) will react to demands from racing’s big shots to create a product similar to the one TVN had been offering. You can bet the pressure will be large.
What that involves is lengthy before and after commentaries and reviews of each race. Horses and jockeys would look impressive when parading. Many in-house tipsters would be involved, no doubt with different tips. Others will tell you how the horses look or have been running recently – something you could read about for yourself in the formguides.
They will probably drop fashions on the field, which would be no loss to punters but champagne sales may suffer. Even so, consider the big picture. SKY 1 and 2 are already jam-packed with races and will become more so as Tabcorp continues its relentless march into the international sphere. How can it fit more in? The only answer would be to relegate more trots and dogs to SKY2, or perhaps not cover some at all. In fact, in the past I have noted NSW Racing Radio omit coverage of a Victorian TAB meeting entirely.
The prospect of using SKY’s third channel, as some have suggested, is hardly practical. Many TAB outlets do not show it anyway. Some do not even have SKY2.
Either way, sound will be absent. People might have two ears but they cannot listen to two broadcasts at the same time.
Ideally, greyhound leaders should be shouting from the rooftops for improved service for the code. After all, greyhound racing is a huge benefit to Tabcorp because it offers far more meetings than the other two codes and therefore maintains continuity. It is racing’s version of Selleys “No More Gaps”. TABs like gamblers to keep turning over the cash.
Our national body, Greyhounds Australasia, would be no use as it does not address “commercial” matters. That leaves chiefs in the two largest states, NSW and Victoria, to lead the way. So far, we have heard only a deafening silence. If we can’t get into the debate, we will lose.
Can there be too much racing?
Last Thursday’s Sandown meeting may have created a modern-day record. All 12 races started with a full field. On the same night Albion Park had one short field, Dapto one and Angle Park four. On Friday night, Wentworth Park had vacancies in six races, while two were short on Saturday. The Meadows on Saturday ran with three short fields, but was a bit fortunate as 10 races had no reserves. It was helped by the inclusion of seven novice-class dogs (i.e., one win only) and many others with just two wins. Cannington had three short fields and finished with two 297m races.
Are we scheduling too many races? All across the nation, at least one in five races is short of starters. Squibs’ races are being squeezed into major city programs at Albion Park, Wentworth Park and Dapto as well as Cannington. Shorter events (400m or less) are dominating programs at provincial meetings but are unfortunately less predictable than longer trips. As there is no increase in the dog population, it indicates slower and weaker dogs are infiltrating what used to be better contests.
On the big night at Wentworth Park, Dyna Villa continued its excellent run in winning the Paws of Thunder. It was virtually unchallenged and ran nearly identical time to its heat.
The First Four on the big race pulled in $158k (presumably including some jackpots) which may also be some sort of record. That means more than 300 lucky punters took home $405.40 each on average.
Similarly, Space Star won well in the end despite a hold-up at the first turn in the Summer Distance Plate. It also recorded similar time to its heat run – 42.18 v 42.20. However, let’s hold back on the superlatives. The dog is capable of several lengths faster than that but had to beat only a modest collection of average or out-of-form stayers to get the cash. There have been many smarter runs over the past 12 months.
Besides, sometimes a hold-up during the race is not necessarily a bad thing. It might mean the dog does not use up all its power too early, thereby leaving a little left for the finish. The evidence suggests that may have been true here.
Typically, top staying races are won in 42 seconds or less, something Zipping Rory (eighth) and Pumped Up Zarr (fourth) have done previously. In fact, can I suggest to Peter Dapiran that Zipping Rory could well benefit from a month or so chasing butterflies in the paddock? If it doesn’t lead it doesn’t win, which was again the case this time.
Stewards’ reports – more of the usual
Race 6. The Meadows, January 17.
“Pyromania (8) crossed to the rail on the first turn checking Humming Birdhill (2).”
Never happened. There was no check, no contact. Humming Birdhill put in a poor effort after being a clear second early. It eased from the back straight onwards. Stewards did note the run but took no action other than to order a vet inspection (negative). That offered little consolation to punters who sent it out an even-money favourite.
In passing, Pyromania adds another element to our recent story about sectional times. Over its past nine runs (its whole career) the dog had a moderate average. However, its past three starts have been good, with the above race making four. Clearly, a change of form took place. It happens.
Race 8, The Meadows, January 17.
“White Spyro (7) and Bunga Bunga (8) collided soon after the start. Quantum Bale (5), Avondale Porche (6), White Spyro and Bunga Bunga collided soon after the start checking Avondale Porche, White Spyro and Bunga Bunga. Avondale Porche, White Spyro and Bunga Bunga collided several times approaching the first turn checking White Spyro and Bunga Bunga. Missile Flash (3) and Duomo Bale (4) collided on the first turn. White Spyro and Bunga Bunga collided on the first turn checking Bunga Bunga. Avondale Porche checked off Liara (1).”
All this verbiage may well be right but stewards should have nominated the prime cause of it all – Bunga Bunga smashed its way towards the rail after the jump, eliminating all chances for half the field, including the short-priced favourite. That was the real story – the only story, in fact – and it is important racing information. The rest is just wallpaper.
CHAMPION trainer Linda Britton must wait until next week to discover the outcome of an inquiry into one of her dogs testing positive to a controlled substance.
Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s general manager of racing integrity, Denis Borovica, said on Friday the result of the inquiry would be announced on Monday at the earliest.
WA stewards resumed the inquiry this week into the Britton-trained Zelemar Fever being found to have androstane and a metabolite of testosterone at a concentration greater than 10ng/ml after races in August.
The WA Racing Hall of Famer pleaded guilty to four charges and, after hearing submissions on penalty, the inquiry was again adjourned.
Britton, who trains near Mandurah, has dominated in her home state and been the leading trainer for more than a decade. She is greyhound racing royalty as the daughter of Victorian Hall of Famer Allan Britton and sister of top Victorian trainers Robert and Jeff.
Britton faced two charges charges under GAR 83(2)(a) in that she, as the trainer, nominated and presented Zelemar Fever to compete on August 16 and 23 not free of the prohibited substance testosterone, evidenced by the presence of 5β – androstane- 3α, 17β – diol at a concentration greater than 10 nanograms per millilitre in a urine sample taken from the greyhound, after it won and ran third in its races.
A third charge came under Rule 84A(1) – R84A for failing to keep treatment records detailing the administration of ethyloestrenol tablets to greyhound bitches, while the fourth related to the trainer having approximately 1500 ethyloestrenol tablets, a scheduled 4 medicine, in two unlabelled containers found by stewards in October in the fridge at her training premises which were not prescribed in compliance with the relevant provisions.
Post-race urine samples taken from Zelemar Fever on August 16 and 23 after races at Cannington were tested by the ChemCentre in Perth and have been verified by the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory in NSW.
Long-time trainer Leon Bozovitch has been fined $700, with $500 of it suspended, over a row at Wentworth Park on December 19. GRNSW stewards charged Bozovitch under GAR 86 (p) in that he failed a direction to re-kennel his greyhound and under GAR 86 (o) for misconduct, in that he threw his licence on the ground, speaking in a raised voice and hand gestures towards steward Norm Becroft. Bozovitch pleaded not guilty to both charges but was found guilty and fined $200 under GAR 86 (o) and $500 under GAR 86 (p). The $500 fine was suspended for 12 months. The stewards took into consideration the fact the trainer had been licensed for more than 40 years with no previous offences.
GRNSW has reported this week the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory has notified it of several sample irregularities. Guaiphenesin was detected in the sample taken from Ron’s Double (Robert McGregor) after it won at Casino on October 31; ranitidine was detected in the sample taken from Klienzan (Peter Lagogiane) after it won at Bulli on October 22; and ketoprofen in the sample taken from Miss Diddle (Robert Groizard Jnr) after it won at The Gardens on October 17. The trainers have been advised, with a reserve portion of each sample to be sent for confirmatory analysis at an accredited laboratory.
Meanwhile, trainer Joseph Sciberras has been disqualified for five weeks after pleading guilty to a charge under GAR 83 (2) (a) of having presented Havago Megsie for an event other than free of any prohibited substance. The urine sample taken from the greyhound after a win over 520m at Wentworth Park on June 6 last year was found on confirmatory analysis to contain O-Desmethylvenlafaxine. Stiles took into account Sciberras’ unblemished record in 31 years of training, his plea, and the Category 5 rating of the substance in the penalty guidelines. Havago Megsie was disqualified from the race as well as the final of the series eight days later in which it was seventh.
Trainer Reg Hazelgrove was this week fined $1500.00 for presenting Fabulous Storm to race at Ipswich on October 23, 2014, with Procaine in its system. A urine sample taken after its win in race one revealed the prohibited substance. Racing Queensland had issued a charge against Hazelgrove pursuant to Greyhounds Australasia Rule 83 (2)(a), which reads: “The owner, trainer or person in charge of a greyhound nominated to compete in an event shall present the greyhound free of a prohibited substance.” Stewards took into account Hazelgrove’s honest and forthright evidence and his involvement in the industry over a long period when considering the penalty. Fabulous Storm was disqualified from its first placing in the 520m Novice Grade, with Tarks Black Rose promoted to first and Hazelgrove, who had pleaded guilty, was directed to return all prizemoney received to RQ.
On Monday, reports GRV, the Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board fined Geoffrey Johnston $1000 and disqualified him after he failed to attend the inquiry. The disqualification will continue until the inquiry can be completed. Johnston had also failed to attend an inquiry on November 21 into certain conduct by Johnston when directed to do so by stewards. Johnston was charged with a breach of GAR86 (e), relating to failing to attend or give evidence at in inquiry when directed by the controlling body, stewards or the committee of a club. GRV chief steward advised that no communication had been received from Johnston.
AT the RADB on Wednesday, Invermay trainer Mim Gilders was suspended for four months, with two months of the disqualification suspended for 12 months, effective from midnight on Saturday. Gilders pleaded guilty to a breach of Greyhounds Australasia Rules 83(2) and (3) in that she did fail to present Bramwell Brown free of any prohibited substance for a race at Bendigo on October 1, 2014. A post-race urine sample indicated the presence of the prohibited substance 4-Hydroxy Xylazine. Acting under GAR83(4), the RADB also disqualified Bramwell Brown from the T3 Maiden and amended the placings.
The five-yearly review of the NSW Greyhound Racing Act is under way. This is a normal statutory requirement but has been pre-empted by the recent “independent” parliamentary inquiry into greyhound racing and will be further confused by the upcoming state elections where both major parties have been playing musical chairs with ministerial duties.
Then there is always the traditional attitude to inquiries of any sort. It was echoed recently by the secretary of Action for Public Transport (SMH, Jan 6): “An old adage of politics is not to hold an inquiry unless you can be certain of the outcome.” That may be in doubt here.
The government has yet to finalise its reactions to the inquiry, which reached much touchier conclusions than usual, but the Premier indicates it is subject to “budget considerations” – meaning, mainly, should it or shouldn’t it harmonise racing taxes with those applying interstate.
Nevertheless, the department (Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing) continues on and has published a useful discussion paper to assist contributors to the review. Apart from anything else, it provides a good history of greyhound administration from WW2 onwards.
Normally these things don’t amount to much as changes are never high on the priority lists of bureaucrats. They prefer the status quo. However, we did have some improvements last time, leading to what the government called a more independent board membership.
Nominally, that was true. No current club members now occupy spots. However, it is notable that every one of the GRNSW board members, including the two just replaced, has previously served in racing organisations of one sort or another. Conversely, there are no members who are completely free of industry experience.
Generally, this is contrary to normal commercial board practice where at least one or two outsiders are considered desirable to have as directors. The aim there is to infuse fresh thinking into the system and to offer a more objective view of the organisation’s performance.
Greyhound people typically don’t like this much. Rather, they keep asking for more representation from participants – “more dog men on the board” is the catch phrase. Indeed, the parliamentary inquiry, following several submissions, also asked the government to consider adding two participants to the five-person board.
Unfortunately, 60 years of experience shows that does not work very well. In reality, it was a specific reason for moving to an “independent” board a few years ago, thereby eliminating the inevitable conflicts of interest. Even electing one or two participants leaves the office holder in debt to his constituents, whether or not their views are also of value to the industry as a whole.
The administration of racing – all codes – is divided into two main streams: economic or commercial development on one hand and regulatory functions on the other. The review is asking if those two tasks should be handled by one or two different organisations.
In that vein, it might be remembered that a previous attempt to split the responsibilities (for harness and greyhounds only) failed to generate any efficiencies. In fact, costs went up.
The other main issue is whether or not the current management and governance structure is good or appropriate. That’s not a hard one to answer – up to a point anyway. Racing – again, all codes – have much the same style of organisations yet it is remarkable that all have continued to lose their way, particularly over the past 20 years.
Market share has been falling steadily, first to casinos, pokies and the like, and now to sports betting. Patronage is also waning as serious customers desert the cause, to be replaced by poker-machine refugees. Breeding is in decline, despite all the waffle about financial incentives. And average field quality is also in decline, pressured by TABs (meaning Tabcorp) insisting on the codes running more races even though there are fewer competitors to fill them. To cap it all, the wagering climate is a mess with all operators trying to grab a bigger slice of the business. Nobody seems to know how to control it all.
The interim conclusion has to be that existing management systems cannot cope with modern demands. Therefore, change them. But, to what? Well, that’s a tough one, but one thing is clear: racing’s normal management-by-committee system is a relic of the ages and should be dumped. To succeed, someone has to be responsible but that will never happen as long as you use a committee.
So get your ideas in to the review. The deadline has now been extended to February 13.
Stewards Still Struggling
Sandown, January 8, Race 2.
“Dyna Norfolk (7) crossed to the rail soon after the start checking Hashtag Selfie (5), Xtreme Gretel (3), Earl Bale (2) and Weblec Rose (1). Hashtag Selfie (5) crossed to the rail approaching the first turn checking Xtreme Gretel (3), Earl Bale (2) and Weblec Rose (1)”.
Steward seems to be having an each-way bet here but they failed to run a place. Aside from a slight brush between the two “offenders”, any problems incurred by the inside dogs were all their own work, mainly because they began slower than the two leaders. They were not checked by the two crossing dogs.
Horsham, January 6, Race 7
“Magic Diva (7) crossed to the rail approaching the first turn, checking All Inn Black (2) and Gitcha Rich (1)”.
Totally wrong. Magic Diva never touched the other two dogs, which never broke stride at all.
THERE is no stopping Allen Deed when he gets the right race. Saturday night’s record 29.38 run at The Meadows was power-personified and well inside Heston Bale’s three year old time of 29.45. The dog now owns a package of brilliant runs in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
This time Allen Deed was blessed with an empty box and a slow beginner inside him so had no trouble working into second place in the back straight. After that he simply powered past Musquin Bale to win by an extraordinary six lengths.
The run contrasted with four shockers in succession at Sandown in November, good and bad runs at Ballarat, followed later by smart performances at Sale over the longer trip – where he was badly blocked on the home turn in the Cup final (but was not going to win anyway). He is not easy to pick but is all quality when he gets it right.
Those Sandown runs remain a mystery as stewards failed to query the runs or take a swab.
The same mid-race power was also evident in Above All’s big win over favourites Dyna Double One and Dyna Villa in the Silver Chief final. Although the other two are capable of faster time than Saturday’s 29.78, both were psyched out of the race by the winner. Above All did no more than equal its time in the semi. All three are just under or over two years old so you can’t expect miracles every time they come out. Times are not everything, are they? In fact, Above All’s times in the heat and final of the Hobart Thousand last month were chalk and cheese – the latter breaking the track record.
Both these wins remind us of the obvious: winning runs depend on four things – natural ability, fitness, the circumstances of the race, and good luck. Dogs which get those right half the time are doing very well.
Why Is It So?
Apparently, a few readers find it unimportant to hear that stewards might not be getting things right. That’s their right, but I beg to differ. Not because some of the cases mentioned here are life and death matters, but because they are illustrations of a serious lack of attention to accuracy and consistency.
Indeed, if I had my way stewards would have even greater responsibilities and more pay than they do now, providing only that they do better. For example, as regular supervisors of races at all locations, they should be able to advise on track features which affect the clean running of a race – box positions, turn design, etc, etc. To do that they may well require better education, more training in form analysis, dog habits, betting practices and statistics, etc. So be it.
People seem to be under the impression that stewards are there just to thump errant dogs and trainers yet their prime responsibility is to the public – to ensure racing is fair and above board, that the rules are followed, and to do so in a way that the public understands. Establishing the facts, the truth, is a vital part of that job. If they cannot do that, their purpose is lost.
But doing their job well also serves to better promote the sport and enhance its profitability. This is an under-rated bonus.
One suggestion I would make is that administrations should introduce supplementary guidelines on what actually constitutes failing to chase or fighting (use of the politically correct but oblique term of “marring” has never impressed me), and which sort of offence would attract what penalty. The basic racing rule is clear but it does not go far enough and needs what government law makers describe as an “explanatory memorandum”. That might avoid the confusion which we have commented on here previously. It could also contribute to national consistency.
Anyway, here are two more examples of basic errors.
Race 5, Geelong, January 2.
“Bally Sleek (8) crossed to the rail soon after the start checking Benzo Bale (5), Aston Dima (4), Francesco (9) and Chappy (3). Spring Collete (10) checked off Bally Sleek approaching the first turn.”
Bally Sleek was well clear of the four dogs mentioned and had no effect whatever on their progress. The second part of the comment is correct but it might also have been true just after the jump as Spring Collete was coming out of the 7 box, adjacent to the leader.
It is noticeable that the steward at Geelong stands to the left of the boxes and on the track proper. He would therefore have an oblique view of what the 8 dog is actually doing. Why are elevated positions not available to greyhound stewards, as occurs at the gallops?
Track Comment: On average, coming over from outside boxes is not particularly easy for Geelong’s 460m trip unless the dog is a really smart beginner. However, the trip’s major peculiarity is that a significant proportion of runners lose the turn into the straight, thereby changing the running order. Clearly, the track camber is at fault. Occasionally, you may see dogs get alarmingly close to the outside fence or even to the 596m boxes.
PS: Geelong’s track map on the GRV website badly needs updating.
Race 3, The Meadows, 3 January.
“Little Pookie (5) crossed to the rail soon after the start, checking Cincinnati Lee (4), Dyna Vikkers (3), Run Sophie Run (2) and Stetson Quamby (1)”.
This never happened. Little Pookie was always well clear of the other four dogs and did not reach the rail until well around the turn. The other dogs did their own mixing.
Out of the blue, a new distance has suddenly appeared at Bulli. I can’t find or recall any previous mention of this but the club (which means the GBOTA) now offers a 590m trip to go with 400m, 472m, 515m, 659m and almost any other distance you like because the club has a drop-in box facility which gets regular use for two of the above starts.
This time, however, the boxes are permanent, presumably costing many tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy and install. That might be OK for a rich state but the shortage of funds in NSW is already the source of much angst at headquarters, so that makes it a strange investment.
Is it necessary? Well, the history is that the original 604m start was dumped after a track rebuild, and replaced by the above 515m and 659m starts, which was fair enough. Those 604m boxes were the source of Paul Ambrosoli’s magnificent description that they used to come out “like a band of wild Indians”. True enough, they were terrible.
But now the 590m boxes have appeared in almost the same spot – to what end? Even now both 515m and 659m trips get very limited use, despite the fact that the 515m trip is one of the better runs in the state. Obviously we can expect that use to decrease even further as the demand will now be split amongst three distances, rather than just two. Is that worth spending a big pile of scarce cash for?
It is a reminder of some of the criticisms of GRNSW that emerged during the parliamentary Inquiry – that is, it is not just a matter of how you spend money, but also whether the investment returns a dividend.
It is even more galling that nothing has been spent on fixing the flat home turn at Bulli, which routinely sees dogs veering almost off the track proper – including during the inaugural 590m race – and thereby losing their places in the running order. Without doubt, it is the worst home turn in the country.
Stewards Reports Puzzling
Race 5, Sandown 1 January.
“Allen Malik (7) crossed to the rail on the first turn checking Eyeful Of Bling (1), Frank Furter (4) and Flame Bale (8), severely checking Hello Good Bye (5) and Zipping Ryan (6) which both raced wide as a result”.
It is hard to believe that anyone could write such rubbish as this. Allen Malik did no such thing. It never went near another dog and moved to the rail only when well around the turn. The worst of the ruckus occurred when Dark Jameson (3) moved to the right at the first turn, as is its habit, hitting Hello Good Bye, which then hit Flame Bale.
Eyeful of Bling had also moved off the rail passing the judge, possibly ankle-tapped by Sign of Snow (2), and then cannoned into the favourite Frank Furter. While all this was happening, Allen Malik was long gone.
Many of these problems are affected by the peculiar nature of Sandown’s turn, where some dogs unpredictably shift off the rail as they pass the post. I call this the “Sandown Two-Step” and it has been going on for 15 years. It is a design problem.
Four stewards were on duty for this meeting. Did none of them actually review the film?
Race 6, Sandown, 1 January.
“Bad Boy Sniper crossed to the rail soon after the start and collided with Senor Socks”. There was no “collision” – both headed for the rail after moderate jumps and there was little interaction.
“Senor Socks checked off Bad Boy Sniper approaching the first turn”. Perhaps, but Senor Socks often moves out in its races and certainly did so here, which is always a sensitive point at Sandown.
“High Class checked off Jubilea Bale approaching the third turn checking Bad Boy Sniper”. Yes, High Class was not neat in finding a way past Jubilea Bale – and never did. That had no effect whatever on Bad Boy Sniper which continued pressing on three off the fence to win the race.
What is hard to fathom is why stewards make up these stories when even a quick glance at the film reveals the lie. (I have been challenged that the steward behind the boxes actually has a better view of this sort of interference. This is completely illogical as (a) his view is partially blocked and (b) he has no perspective of the actual positions of runners).
Still on Sandown
Let’s not leave Sandown without recording the extraordinary performance by Sisco Rage in Race 3. Normally a good beginner, the dog fell out of the boxes, four or five lengths behind the next runner, and then proceed to rail up and up until winning by three lengths in a smart 29.61. Amazing!
But don’t try this at home.
New Year’s Celebrations
It seems that gamblers were still getting over festivities of the night before. Takings on the night of January 1 were, at best, half the usual size. That made it hard for Win punters but the exotics were also all over the place. Nights like this make you wish for a national pool.
REEFTON based greyhound trainer Anthony Kent is in more hot water over his implosion at Bendigo on August 27 and his actions have been slammed by the Greyhound Owners Trainers and Breeders Association of Victoria.
At a Greyhound Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board hearing on Tuesday, December 9, Kent was banned for 10 years and fined $2000 for punching Bendigo Racing Club manager Troy Harley in the face, threatening steward Christine Gent, refusing to have his dog vetted and using repetitive indecent language on three occasions.
And now he can add another five years on top of that after a separate Greyhound Racing Victoria stewards inquiry, on Friday, December 19, found him guilty of removing a greyhound from the kennel area of the Bendigo track by throwing it over a fence – at the same meeting.
GOTBA Victoria president Phil Micallef told Australian Racing Greyhound: “We don’t condone any behaviour that’s going to be detrimental to any greyhound and certainly don’t condone any violence either, no matter what the reason.”
He said 99.9 per cent of people in the greyhound racing industry did the right thing, “we just get one or two that do things like this and wreck it for the people who do the right thing”.
He said he wasn’t concerned Kent’s actions could tarnish the industry’s name and, quite the contrary, those involved in the industry would band together to decry his actions.
“Look, I think it’s so few and far between that it doesn’t have an impact because it doesn’t happen often at all,” Micallef said.
“This is so unique that everybody would agree this is not a good thing and if anything, it might unite everyone in that this type of behaviour isn’t acceptable.
“I wouldn’t have thought it’s holding the industry back, because it’s an isolated incident, I’m not aware of it happening often at all, I wouldn’t know when the last time something like this happened.
“But it’s not unique to our sport, whether it’s football or racing, these things happen because people get emotional.”
Kent did not attend either hearing, but a plea of ‘not guilty’ was entered on his behalf and both went ahead.
During the second investigation, stewards received evidence from Harley, Gent, stewards Kim Meredith and Ian Taylor, trainers Graham Carr and Barry Hiscock and racing club employees Daniel Pell and Michael Cole.
A GRV press release stated: “After considering the evidence, Stewards charged Mr Kent with a breach of Greyhounds Australasia Rule 86(q) in that he did engage in conduct that was detrimental and or prejudicial to the interest, welfare and image of greyhound racing.”
Upon hearing the evidence from the witnesses, GRV chief steward Glenn Fish and fellow steward Ron Matthews found Kent guilty as charged and disqualified his licence for a period of five years, “to begin at the expiration of the disqualification periods as determined by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on December 9, 2014.”
That means the five years is tacked on top of the 10 he is already serving.
At the December 9 inquiry, the appeals board heard Kent punched Harley in the face “with a clenched fist”.
He then threatened Gent by saying “I’m coming back to see you”.
An appeals board press release stated “This statement was delivered in an intimidating manner and transpired shortly after Mr Anthony Kent had assaulted Mr Troy Harley.”
Kent then disobeyed the lawful direction of GRV Steward Ian Taylor, by refusing to have his dog, Pirate Arcade, vetted, before leaving the track.
He was also charged with misconduct over three foul mouthed tirades, behind the starting boxes, around the kennel block and in the stewards room, following race two.
GRV stewards laid the charges against Kent and the inquiry was heard in front of Fish and Matthews.
Evidence was tabled from witnesses Carr, Hiscock, Pell and Cole and found him guilty of all six charges.
He was banned for five years for each of the assault and threat to the steward, to be served cumulatively, and slapped with $500 fines for each of the other four charges.
The appeals board press release stated: “In assessing penalty, the Board took into account all the evidence and submissions, including the following matters:
(a) Mr Kent’s failure to attend the hearing;
(b) Mr Kent’s appalling behaviour involving physical and verbal assaults;
(c) The need to maintain the integrity of greyhound racing;
(d) Prior penalties for similar offences and particularly Mr Kent’s previous offences
which involved improper language and disregard of the rules as to compliance with
direction from the Stewards;
(e) Mr Kent’s complete disregard for the rules of the industry and inappropriate
behaviour including putting his greyhound at risk of significant injury; and
(f) The lack of any evidence of remorse and as to the prospects of rehabilitation.”
“The board noted that the police may take action against Mr Kent but, nonetheless, determined to proceed to hear the charges as the issues raised went to industry participation and not criminal liability.”
Micallef said the GOBTA Victoria “provides a lot of support to any owner, trainer or breeder in any shape or form and sometimes that includes financial support.”
“If people are having problems, we help them, but we need to know about them.
“We’ve had people who have had issues with nothing to do with greyhound racing that impact on them – for example, a partner might be terminally ill, so we help people find temporary homes for their dogs.
“Or we represent people if they’re up on any charge which they feel us unjust. A dog might have fought and been charged with marring and the trainer disputes that. We can help represent them at the appeal at the GRV.
“So we provide quite extensive support in really any facet of ownership or training or breeding.”
Need help? Visit gotbav.org.au phone secretary Patti Ladd on 0411 148 008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The stoush between SKY and TVN is unlikely to do much good for greyhounds, save for a few extra dollars here and there from gamblers momentarily diverted from their preferred horse races.
It’s a power battle, initially between two broadcasters, but in the end between NSW and Victorian galloping interests over how they see their wagering income affected. Underneath it all, the mighty Tabcorp is looking on bemusedly as its product suppliers squabble over the crumbs. Tabcorp will lose a few dollars while it goes on but will come out on top stronger than ever.
The genesis of the saga lay in the hunger of the big gallops clubs for better – ie longer – film coverage of the before and after goings-on of each race. More discussion of form and fitness, more tips, more post mortems and other publicity.
SKY was skimping on that detail so the raceclubs created TVN with their own money (which they are now bound to lose) to offer exclusive thoroughbred viewing. No dogs, no trots. The big city types convinced the provincials to join in but threw in a deal which guaranteed simultaneous SKY coverage to satisfy the many people who were unwilling or unable to pay for TVN subscriptions via Foxtel or whoever.
Now that has broken down, TVN will probably collapse and SKY will get the lot, perhaps hiving off some rights to Pay-TV or even to Free-to-Air, as is now occurring with Channel Seven, Either way, SKY’s owner, Tabcorp, will have a win. More so because Racing NSW already has a long term agreement with Tabcorp to be its preferred betting operator. This extended Tabcorp’s existing monopoly over all NSW TAB activities. That stranglehold effectively extends into Victoria where the racing codes refer to Tabcorp as its business “partner”.
However, the reason for the original dissatisfaction with SKY coverage will continue. While the gallops have always obtained preferred treatment, the continuing rise in meetings covered by Tabcorp, and therefore SKY, leaves no space available to indulge in lengthy chats (as Channel Seven does for major meetings now and TVN once did). The addition of extra international meetings crams even more races into a finite space.
Many greyhound meetings have long since been pushed onto SKY2, costing them turnover, and that is a trend that can only persist or even grow.
The paradox is that while all these measures are reducing the average greyhound turnover per race, the greyhound code is a golden goose for Tabcorp because it serves to fill all the available gaps in the broadcast program. That keeps all the gamblers, the machines and the staff working hard, thereby generating enormous economic efficiencies for Tabcorp.
Even more curious is that while SKY is paying a fortune to the gallops clubs for rights to film their races, greyhound clubs get nothing and are forced to cover their own hook-up costs.
It is also worth remembering that, to keep punters busy, GRNSW scheduled extra dog races during the equine influenza epidemic, but then promptly gave away 87% of its income to the other two codes (per force of the intercode agreement). Operating costs would certainly not have been covered.
How did all that happen? In part, it evolved way back in the early 1990s when SKY boss Warren Wilson (later CEO of TAB Ltd and now head of the Penrith Panthers gambling and sporting complex) scooted around NSW signing up clubs directly, using a use-it or lose-it approach with clubs which had little idea of the tiger’s tail they were grabbing hold of.
SKY was aided considerably by the eagerness of GBOTA clubs to hop on the bandwagon before it was too late. Possession (of a broadcast slot) was nine points of the law, mainly because once SKY coverage started betting turnover more or less doubled. Unfortunately, no-one thought to negotiate a mutually satisfactory deal with SKY – hence the current lopsided financial arrangements.
All through that era, the NSW GRA (as it was then) was no more than a spectator – an attitude that carried through to the signing of the intercode agreement that is now a ball and chain for the local industry.
Call it naïve or just commercial ignorance, it became the benchmark for all future processes involving betting and especially TABs. The outcome is that today, despite greyhounds’ highly valuable contribution to Tabcorp’s bottom line, it has no bargaining power. The two giant thoroughbred authorities in Sydney and Melbourne have it on their own, notwithstanding the fact that they continue to lose market share.
Isn’t it about time we made a noise on our own, starting with the creation of a powerful national authority to do battle with the other giants of the industry? The current structure allows states to be picked off one by one, just as small clubs in NSW were 20 years ago.
In parallel, the need for state governments to join together to better look after consumers has never been greater. A carefully regulated national betting market is essential to bring that about.
Not This Time, But Maybe Next Time?
How is it possible to understand what stewards do?
Stewards Report, Race 10, Sandown 28 December.
“Stewards issued a warning to Ms. A. Langton, the trainer of In Black Gear regarding the greyhounds racing manners on the home turn”.
In fact, the dog turned its head and had a nip at the dog outside it. Both it and the victim lost ground as a result. A casual observer might find the “offence” more serious than, for instance, that of Deadly Boy in a heat of the Sale Cup recently. Deadly Boy got 28 days. In Black Gear lives to fight again.
Let’s give Ballarat stewards a small credit for trying to look into what they regarded as a below-par performance. There should be more of it.
But again they got it wrong. It reminds you of the time some months ago in town when they hauled in the (previous) trainer of Sweet It Is and asked for an explanation of its improved performance to win at 50/1. In fact, it had not improved at all, but just run pretty much as it had been doing at its previous several starts. The others just ran poorly. So much for their ability to assess form.
Anyway, here is what they wrote after Scintillating failed at $1.70 in a Mixed 4/5 Grade race on Wednesday night. The case is not life threatening but interesting nevertheless.
Race 5, Ballarat, 24 December.
“Scintillating which performed below marked (sic) expectations was vetted following the event. It was reported that there was no apparent injury”. (Do they mean “market”?)
The major issue here is that the market was wrong. Certainly the dog had fair form but its best recent run was over the shorter 425m trip at Bendigo in 23.95 coming out of box 4. At Ballarat the dog had box 8 and could have been expected to begin no better than several other runners. In practice it recorded 6.70 when its recent form suggested an average of 6.71 – pretty right, eh? Given the similar form of the others, there would always be a big doubt about it being able to cross before the corner. That aside, it is very doubtful Scintillate could have got down to the 25.41 recorded by the winner, Don’t Be Short, even with a clear run
So it turned out. Scintillate was stuck wide, outside three or four dogs all the way to and around the turn. Effectively, it covered nearer 500m than the actual 450m of the race. But all of that was predictable – not certain, but a major possibility in view of the nature of the track and the form of its competitors. The Watchdog said it was a $2.20 chance, I made it $5.00. In fact you could name five runners that warranted prices between $4.00 and $6.00. But, as often happens, the market just blindly followed the tips and the favourite, and forced the price down to a ridiculous level.
The winner, incidentally, Don’t Be Short from box 2, was big overs at $20 considering it has just run a smart 25.43 at Shepparton and was helped by having only average beginners either side of it. Still, none of these were champions so a range of results was possible.
Anyway, stewards should have been querying the market, not the dog, which performed more or less as expected but was unable to get the breaks it needed.
The big question we are left with is whether stewards are sufficiently competent to analyse form? Supporting evidence is weak. For example, apart from the Sweet It Is incident above, I have recently queried why they ignored poor runs over the last few months from Allen Deed and Xylia Allen, both of which have put in shockers when well supported. Xylia Allen is now off to be a mum while Allen Deed recovered top form to run a very quick heat in the Sale Cup series (final tonight). This is basically a top quality dog so its earlier poor efforts in town remain a mystery.
I do have one helpful hint for the stewards and their bosses. Rather than banning them from punting I would make it compulsory – on racing in other states, that is. They might then learn more about form and betting. The only way to do that is the hard way.
I might include GRV publicity people in that classroom, too. They called for Above All to be nominated for run of the year when it came from last (its own fault) to win a heat of the Hobart Thousand in a modest 26.16 against equally modest opposition. Having done that, how would they classify its record-breaking run in the final – 25.52? Run of the century? The millennium?
Who Is Responsible for Wagering?
Many punters will be pleased that the NSW Racing Minister has now formally endorsed the Fixed Odds betting rules put in place by Racing NSW last July (which begs the question of who actually runs racing and wagering). Conditions apply, but basically online bookies are now compelled to accept any reasonable bet.
However, so far as we know, Tabcorp is still able to play fast and loose. Its state-approved rules still include these limitations (for this purpose “TAB” means Tabcorp):
“3.1.3 Subject to Rule 3.1.4, TAB may refuse to accept any fixed price racing bet at its sole discretion and without stating reasons”.
“3.1.4 Subject to 3.1.1, TAB may set any minimum or maximum stake or payout for fixed price racing bets”.
These give the impression that they were all written by Tabcorp rather than the government. (So we ask again; who actually controls racing and wagering?) And how is “payout” defined? At face value, these rules imply that Tabcorp can pay anything it likes, regardless of the size and nature of the original wager. (A loophole that was used by Bet365 in the Brunker case about an alleged “fixed” race at Ipswich dogs).
The Minister’s announcement on December 23 made no specific mention of this although it addresses “any fixed odds wager on NSW thoroughbred races”. In that event there is a legal clash. And what about bets made in NSW on an interstate race? Online bookies are based outside NSW, but have agreed to Racing NSW conditions, not the state’s laws, while Tabcorp is legally responsible to NSW laws for what it does in that state, including taking bets on any race, anywhere.
Additionally, it seems that dogs and trots got lost in transition. Why didn’t the Minister include them?
Bravely, the NSW Minister assures us that because “some bookmakers have refused to express unqualified support” (ie to Racing NSW) he has now made regulations to enforce the new rules. How exactly would he do that for a company based in the Northern Territory where he has no jurisdiction? What a pity all states do not assign wagering powers to a single national supremo? There is plenty of legal precedent for doing that and the Productivity Commission thought it was a good idea, too.
Maybe the NSW racing department is overworked because its current website still shows the GRNSW chairman as Professor Percy Allen. Eve McGregor would not be pleased.
Sometimes it is hard to fathom racing rules, or at least the way they are interpreted. Steward’s reports tell all.
CASE A: Race 9, The Meadows, 20 December
“Optimus Bart was vetted following the event. It was reported that the greyhound sustained injuries to the right quadriceps and right biceps, a 14 day stand down period was imposed. Acting under GAR 69(B)(1), the stewards charged Optimus Bart with failing to pursue the lure with due commitment (by reason of injury). Mr. A Debattista pleaded guilty to the charge, Optimus Bart was found guilty and stewards directed that the greyhound perform a Satisfactory Trial (all tracks) pursuant to GAR 69(B)(1)(a), befiore (sic) any future nomination will be accepted”.
CASE B: Race 4 Sale, 20 December.
“Acting under GAR 69(A)(1) stewards charged Deadly Boy with failing to pursue the lure with due commitment. Mr. L. Walsh pleaded guilty to the charge, Deadly Boy was found guilty and suspended for 28 days at Sale and directed that the greyhound perform a Satisfactory Trial (all tracks), pursuant to GAR 69(2)(A)(a) before any future nomination will be accepted”.
In Case A, a 600m event, Optimus Bart was racing well after a moderate start and led into the back straight when, without warning, it turned its head and fought the dog outside it. By any measure, that was not “fail to chase” but fighting. It then continued on with the race quite normally, albeit now well behind. The dog was was not suspended, only sidelined for two weeks due to the injury.
In Case B in a 650m race, Deadly Boy first did everything right, leading until near the post. It then turned its head (contact was not obvious) and allowed the winner to get past it. You might also argue that the dog was fading at his point anyway. It got suspended for 28 days for failing to chase, which sounds pretty right.
Without doubting the vet’s post-race word about Optimus Bart, there was no obvious indication of injury before or during the contact with the other dog. The incident happened in isolation and it involved a deliberate move to its right to meet the other dog. That is, it changed course significantly. Would an injured dog do that? Not sure. A further point is that, while the vet’s observation may well be spot on, we cannot be sure where the injury occurred. Was it before, during or after the offence?
Anyway, given that it galloped on normally for the remainder of the race Optimus Bart could not have been too badly inconvenienced. More importantly, while Deadly Boy’s error was minor and changed little in the race (the winner was finishing strongly) the Optimus Bart incident was blatant, extreme and destroyed the chances of itself and the dog it fought.
By all means treat sympathetically a dog with an injury but in this case the penalty did not appear to fit the crime. Nor did the stewards have the right crime.
That aside, from an administrative viewpoint, stewards may consider they followed the rules correctly. On the other hand, the sport might be better off were Optimus Bart to get the full 28 days in order to sort out both its injury and its head.
Bringing Governments to Account
This column is under attack from readers who want the author to declare his political preferences – in particular to admit his Liberal tendencies (the word Tory is neither accurate nor modern). Although they appear to be using rose-coloured glasses – should that be red-coloured? – I will attempt to make some comments.
First, my personal politics is none of their business. In any event, my writing concentrates on facts wherever possible. If I offer an opinion, that will be made clear and comments will be welcome, especially on an important subject like this one.
Second, this is not a political site but a racing one. However, since politicians make the rules and appoint all the authority board members it is necessary to comment on what they do.
Third, I had another look at the article that attracted the criticism (Politics and Racing are not Mixing) to see how it was slanted. The scoreboard was … Coalition, one good and three bad comments; Labor, one good and two bad. A victory on points for the red corner.
Fourth, what has Howard ever done, they asked? Apart from new gun laws and replacing lots of inefficient taxes with the GST (something Keating previously wanted to do), Howard/Costello took over a large debt and turned it into a huge surplus, one which was soon squandered by the Gympie Twosome, Rudd and Swan, on pink batts and school halls, etc, measures which had almost no effect on the Global Financial Crisis problems as they came too late.
Fifth, readers did not agree with the incompetence tag for Whitlam’s government. Yet it was turfed out in 1975 by a large majority of Australians, not least because it was sending the country broke. Labor lost 30 seats and the Coalition won by a 91 to 36 majority. Names like Rex Connors and (the Iranian) Khemlani come to mind. Numerous skilled commentators, including those from the Labor side, agreed with my statement – and still do (power broker Graham Richardson for one).
Sixth, Kirner and Cain sent Victoria broke, only to have Kennett return things to normal. Bligh failed in Queensland, so was swamped in the next election. Labor was decimated. The current Liberal mob is still to recover the position and prove themselves, and yet to overcome the much-criticised job being done by the current LNP Racing Minister. In NSW, Carr and company were thrown out by the largest landslide seen in recent history. Baird is doing OK, but racing is still open to question.
More currently, both Victoria and Queensland have benefitted financially from government-sponsored but unearned changes to the way TAB commissions have been parcelled out, not from initiatives from industry managers. NSW admits to severe cash problems for the medium term, while the four TattsBet (Utab) states are looking at declining tote figures offset in part by a rise in online bookie turnover.
They key point is that while Labor manages poorly it is well experienced in making reforms, should it wish to do so, particularly when the little bloke is getting screwed. Sadly, no-one from either side has done anything about the failing structure of racing in the last three decades. Nor have racing authorities themselves done anything, but then they were put there by the same politicians, weren’t they?
The default position is that big business – read Tabcorp and English billionaires – is doing whatever it wants to do, mostly at the expense of Australian consumers and the racing industry in general. Meanwhile, state governments sit back, rake in taxes and do little else. It amounts to a cargo cult mentality.
That’s why political influence is important and why it has to be viewed objectively.
Heading to Sandown with today’s tips and it should be a good day of racing with the final of the Group Two Laurels Classic.
1st: $990 2nd: $285 3rd: $140.
Angel Of Music is probably one of the most talented maiden chasers going around and today she should be able to break through, she has been placed in eight of 12 starts to date and three starts ago she led until the shadows of the post when placed at The Meadows in fast time. From the pink she should be able to carve across to the early lead and she will prove hard to reel in.
Fiorelli micha has a heap of talent but she wont go past the leader, two starts back she pulled up three times in the run and amazingly wasnt sighted by the stewards, today she should settle mid pack and once she gets up to the leaders she should idle up alongside them and fill the quinella spot.
Tigers Hero is a member of the powerful Robert Britton kennel and he is drawn to run a big race, he was solidly placed here on debut and he should have derived a lot of benefit from that run.
Top Four: 8 – 5 – 1 – 2
Trifecta: 8/5/Field ($6 for 100%)
Trifecta: 8/Field/5 ($6 for 100%)
Quinella: 8 to rove with 1,2,5 ($3 for 100%)
Exacta: 8/1,2,5 ($3 for 100%)
1st: $50,000 2nd: $15,000 3rd: $7,500 GOBIS: $10,000.
The main race of the day and i think the speedy Lady Ronray can cross early and she should steal the prize. Her last 50m isnt great but she will be burning along early and im expecting them to shuffle up behind her as they head through the first bend. In her two runs here she has run similar sectionals and overall time and those numbers should be enough to get the cash.
Lamia Bale has the clear class edge and she must never be discounted, im a bit concerned about the draw tonight but she has great track sense and she can work her way through the field.
Weblec Rose continues to improve and she made Lamia Bale look like a 5th grader here last week, if she pings and runs again she should give a great sight.
Weblec Belle is going to be well fancied but i think she is a massive risk from the red, she will look to shift out at the first bend and she may take out half the field.
Top Four: 7 – 6 – 2 – 1
Boxed Quinella: 1,2,6,7 ($6 for 100%)
Trifecta: 2,6,7/1,2,6,7/1,2,4,6,7,8 ($36 for 100%)
Exacta: 6,7/1,2,6,7 ($6 for 100%)
Race 6: Tekki Minx
I finally learnt that my old man knew a bit more than I gave him credit for. He reckoned that government worked best when you had two Liberal lots followed by one Labor, repeating indefinitely. He wasn’t far wrong. In recent times, both Howard and Hawke/Keating did well but they were probably there one session too long. Whitlam and his incompetent group fitted the formula, while the equally poor management of Rudd/Gillard/Rudd lasted much longer than was helpful.
But the problem for racing is that the Liberals are useful in keeping things on an even keel but not much value in bringing about needed reform. Labor, on the other hand, will often bring in reforms but is not so good at administration. However, so long as the states are half and half, it will be difficult to make changes nationally.
The Feds are not much concerned with racing, although they are now looking into the operations of overseas betting organisations which horn in on local racing. However, that will concern the legalities, not their regulation.
The states are a mixed bag, but a hungry one because racing contributes more than one dollar in every ten to their treasuries. Even so they dabble where angels fear to tread. All initially failed to grasp the nature of the betting environment when, stirred along by their respective departments, the TABs and the major gallops clubs, they tried unsuccessfully to ban online bookies and Betfair.
The WA Minister even passed a law banning betting exchanges. That did not last long after the High Court chucked it out and the Minister later lost his job.
Queensland ended up with a Minister whose competence must be seriously queried after he returned to the dark ages when he established an inbred batch of interacting boards to cover each of the three codes, with another in charge of the lot. So far, results are poor but are momentarily disguised by a big financial boost from the new agreement with Tattsbet (soon to change its name to Ubet). As in Victoria, that bonus was not earned – it just happened.
NSW may have some hope now that the new boy is also the Deputy Premier, but that has yet to be demonstrated. The Premier has indicated any change (following the parliamentary Inquiry) will be a “budget consideration”, whatever that means. Of course, past Country/National Party Ministers (for they “own” the racing office) have proven to be ineffectual, which is par for the course with that crowd.
Generally, Racing Ministers are low on the political totem pole, which means they lack the leverage to combat Treasurers and Premiers, or to introduce reforms. Victoria has been an exception since the Premier took on the job himself and made sure funds flowed freely to all codes. What will happen under Labor now is up for grabs but there is little left to hand out anyway. Racing is doing OK.
Regardless of all that, and despite some occasional urging, no state has shown signs of addressing the crazy and rapidly changing nature of the betting market. It is almost at a Rafferty’s Rules stage as tote business declines, genuine bookmakers fade away or emigrate to the Northern Territory and the uncontrollable and generally unregulated nature of the Fixed Odds sector becomes more dominant.
Equally important is that the major TAB – Tabcorp – is far more interested in expanding its overseas coverage at the cost of reducing the quality of services provided to local meetings. The racing codes, should they wish, are powerless to do much about that because they long ago gave away their influence over such “service providers”, which is what totes are supposed to be. Indeed, once upon a time they were hired by the individual clubs, usually under competitive bidding.
Missing from the equation is that none of the three racing codes possess a national body with the authority and responsibility to mount a defence or, better still, to initiate a strong campaign to control their own destinies and more effectively deal with everyone from TABs to customers. The effort is split eight ways by three codes and agreement is hard to achieve.
But how can you talk effectively to your Racing Minister when both of you know real power can come only from the weight of a national organisation? You don’t have much leverage. Somehow, racing has to re-establish its power base before things get completely out of hand.
Politics has become more about appearances than about outcomes. Let’s hope racing does not fall into the same trap.
Don’t Believe What You Read
I have been mentioning peculiarities with steward’s report for some months now, not because they are life and death issues but because they illustrate a significant lack of attention to detail and to more important matters. One example of the latter is the up and down form displayed by Allen Deed at Sandown and Ballarat recently – all of which attract no comments or questions at all. Here are two more amongst many that I have not bothered to list.
Race 10, Sandown, 18 December.
“Dyna Fatbob (2) and Bunga Bunga (1) collided soon after the start. Dr. Des (1), Dyna Fatbob (2) and Bunga Bunga (3) collided soon after the start. Polly Bale (6) crossed to the rail soon after the start checking Rumero Reason (5). Strange Wish (4) crossed to the rail soon after the start checking Bunga Bunga (3) and Dyna Fatbob (2)”.
In fact, Rumero Reason jumped awkwardly – Polly Bale had nothing to do with that. Strange Wish also had nothing to do with Dyna Fatbob and Bunga Bunga. As the first sentence above states, the latter two did their own colliding, largely because Bunga Bunga wanted to get to the rail..
Race 7, The Meadows, 17 December.
It was interesting that stewards belatedly reviewed the film for this race and then issued an updated report which found that experienced racer Morningside eased in the final run to the post, which is fair enough. At the same time they might have reviewed another comment.
“Our Shiraz (4) crossed to the rail soon after the start checking An That (2) and Dyna Inca (3)”.
In fact, while Our Shiraz may have brushed Dyna Inca on the way to the turn, the impact was minor and it had no effect whatever on An That.
On a related matter, the danger of stayers backing up too quickly is a no-brainer although authorities have taken no action since I have brought up the subject over the last few months. However, the point was emphasised just the other day when the connections of Tears Sam volunteered the information that perhaps its poor run at Sandown on December 18 was a reaction to its slashing performance on December 14, when it bolted in at good odds, recording 41.91. No doubt, but tell that to the punters who backed it in to $1.40!
Meantime, just as an example, I took a close look at the four 460m races at Geelong last Friday. Do you know that 13 of the 32 runners had raced during the previous six days, some only four days earlier. How is it possible for fans to judge how they will back up? Some do but some don’t.
83 (2) (3) and (6): Mr. Robert Conway failed to present the greyhound ‘Norrie’s Antics’ free of any prohibited substance for an event at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club on Wednesday, 27 August 2014.
Following advice from Racing Analytical Services Laboratory, the Stewards of Greyhound Racing Victoria conducted an investigation into the results of a post-race urine sample taken from the greyhound ‘Norrie’s Antics’ at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Wednesday, 27 August 2014.
During the investigation, Stewards received evidence from registered trainer Mr. Robert Conway, the Racing Analytical Services Laboratory and Dr. Steven Karamatic (Greyhound Racing Industry Veterinary Officer).
After considering the evidence, Stewards charged Mr. Conway with a breach of Greyhounds Australasia Rules 83(2)(3) and (6) in that he did fail to present the greyhound ‘Norrie’s Antics’ free of any prohibited substance for an event at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 given that the post-race urine sample taken from the greyhound indicated the presence of the prohibited substance 5β- Androstane-3α, 17β-diol at a mass concentration greater than 10ng/ml.
Under Rule 47.1 of the Greyhound Racing Victoria Local Rules a breach of GAR83 (2) (3) and (6) constitutes a Serious Offence. As a result, on Thursday, 18 December 2014 this matter was heard before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in the first instance under Greyhound Local Racing Rule 47.3 and Sections 83C(b) and 83M(1) of the Racing Act.
Mr. Robert Conway represented himself.
Mr. Glenn Fish (GRV Chief Steward) and Ms. Demi Barber (GRV Steward) represented the Stewards Panel.
Mr. Robert Conway pleaded guilty to the charge.
After hearing all the evidence tendered and having regard to GAR83 (2)(3) and (6), the RADB determined that Mr. Conway was guilty as charged and disqualified him for 9 months (with 5 months of this penalty suspended for 12 months pending no further breaches of GAR83 during the next 12 month period), effective from Tuesday, 23 December 2014.
Acting under GAR83(4), the RADB also disqualified ‘Norrie’s Antics’ from Event 4 – The KINGSTON TROPHIES – Grade 5 – at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 and amended the placing’s as follows:
1st Midnight Reign
2nd Buckle Up Axel
3rd Henry Garth
4th Bekim Goddess
5th Ulla Allen
6th Sonic Fantasy
7th Smash It
Disqualified Norrie’s Antics
In assessing penalty, the Board took into account all the evidence and submissions, including the following matters:
(a) Mr. Conway’s guilty plea;
(b) The nature of the prohibited substance 5Beta-Androstane-3alpha, 17beta-diol when present at a mass concentration greater than 10ng/mL;
(c) The need to maintain the integrity of greyhound racing and ensure a level playing
field for all participants;
(d) Prior penalties for similar offences;
(e) Mr. Conway’s character and his clean history for more than 45 years in the
(f) The need for general deterrence as a factor in sentencing and having regard to the
number of similar offences coming before the Board; and
(g) Mr. Conway’s positive presentation before the Board.
The Board took the opportunity to repeat its concern as to the number of matters involving this substance coming before it. The penalty given in this matter must stand at the low end of any scale and influenced by all the matters in Mr. Conway’s favour.
There seems to be a lot of positive swabs for Androstane in recent months, probably due to the threshold being reduced to a lower concentration. GRV have shown that they are committed to eliminating the issue with most trainers caught facing disqualification and fines with this case’s penalty being consistent with those handed out recently.
GAR 83 (2)(3): Mr. Terry Moore failed to present the greyhound ‘Irene Florence’ free of any prohibited substance for an event at Bendigo Greyhound Racing Association on Wednesday, 10 September 2014.
Following advice from Racing Analytical Services Laboratory, the Stewards of Greyhound Racing Victoria conducted an investigation into the results of post-race urine sample taken from the greyhound ‘Irene Florence’ at the Bendigo meeting held on Wednesday, 10 September 2014.
During the investigation, Stewards received evidence from registered trainer Mr. Terry Moore, Mr. Paul Zahra (Racing Analytical Services Laboratory) and Dr. Steven Karamatic (Greyhound Racing Industry Veterinary Officer).
After considering the evidence, Stewards charged Mr. Moore with a breach of Greyhounds Australasia Rules 83(2) and (3) in that he did fail to present the greyhound ‘Irene Florence’ free of any prohibited substance for an event at the Bendigo meeting held on Wednesday, 10 September 2014 given that the post-race urine sample taken from the greyhound indicated the presence of the prohibited substance Salbutamol.
Under Rule 47.1 of the Greyhound Racing Victoria Local Rules a breach of GAR83 (2) and (3) constitutes a Serious Offence. As a result, on Thursday, 18 December 2014 this matter was heard before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in the first instance under Greyhound Local Racing Rule 47.3 and Sections 83C(b) and 83M(1) of the Racing Act.
Mr. Terry Moore represented himself.
Mr. Glenn Fish (GRV Chief Steward) and Ms. Demi Barber (GRV Steward) represented the Stewards Panel.
Mr. Terry Moore pleaded guilty to the charge.
After hearing all the evidence tendered and having regard to GAR83 (2) and (3), the RADB determined that Mr. Terry Moore was guilty as charged and disqualified him for 3 years and fined him $3,000, effective from Thursday, 18 December 2014.
In assessing penalty, the Board took into account all the evidence and submissions, including the following matters:
(a) Mr. Terry Moore’s guilty plea;
(b) The nature of the prohibited substance Salbutamol and how and when the offences
(c) The need to maintain the integrity of greyhound racing and ensure a level playing
field for all participants; and
(d) Prior penalties for similar prohibited substance offences.
Acting under GAR83(4), the RADB also disqualified ‘Irene Florence’ from Event 3 – The BARBEQUES GALORE BENDIGO – Grade 5 T3 – at the Bendigo meeting held on Wednesday, 10 September 2014 and amended the placing’s as follows:
1st Flynn O’Malley
2nd Lioness Lulu
3rd Victoria Jay
4th Astana Spur
5th Moonlight Cruise
6th Thyme For Bed
7th Talkin’ Lass
Disqualified Irene Florence
Another forceful penalty imposed in Victoria, highlighting GRV’s intolerance of banned substances within the sport. Salbutamol, being a drug commonly used for treatment of bronchospasm, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis, has been shown to increase performance in athletes.
GAR 83 (2) (3): Mr. Chris Darmanin failed to present the greyhound ‘Penny Maid’ free of any prohibited substance for an event at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club on Saturday, 2 August 2014.
Following advice from Racing Analytical Services Laboratory, the Stewards of Greyhound Racing Victoria conducted an investigation into the results of a pre-race urine sample taken from the greyhound ‘Penny Maid’ at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Saturday, 2 August 2014.
During the investigation, Stewards received evidence from registered trainer Mr. Chris Darmanin, Mr. Paul Zahra (Racing Analytical Services Laboratory) and Dr. Steven Karamatic (Greyhound Racing Industry Veterinary Officer).
After considering the evidence, Stewards charged Mr. Darmanin with a breach of Greyhounds Australasia Rules 83(2) and (3) in that he did fail to present the greyhound ‘Penny Maid’ free of any prohibited substance for an event at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Saturday, 2 August 2014 given that the pre-race urine sample taken from the greyhound indicated the presence of the prohibited substance Procaine.
Under Rule 47.1 of the Greyhound Racing Victoria Local Rules a breach of GAR83 (2) and (3) constitutes a Serious Offence.
As a result, on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 this matter was heard before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in the first instance under Greyhound Local Racing Rule 47.3 and Sections 83C(b) and 83M(1) of the Racing Act.
Mr. Chris Darmanin represented himself.
Mr. Ron Matthews (GRV Steward) represented the Stewards Panel.
Mr. Chris Darmanin pleaded guilty to the charge.
After hearing all the evidence tendered, the RADB determined that Mr. Darmanin was guilty as charged and suspended his registration for 2 months and fined him $250.
In assessing penalty, the Board took into account all the evidence and submissions, including the following matters:
(a) Mr. Darmanins’ guilty plea;
(b) The nature of the prohibited substance Procaine and the probability that it had been present in meat ingested by the greyhound;
(c) The need to maintain the integrity of greyhound racing and ensure a level playing field for all participants;
(d) Prior penalties for similar category 2 prohibited substance offences;
(e) Mr. Darmanins’ character and his clean history in the greyhound industry, save for a prior conviction for a similar offence in 2009, which the RADB took into account.
Acting under GAR83(4), the RADB also disqualified ‘Penny Maid’ from Event 9 – The VIRBAC ANIMAL HEALTH – Grade 5 – at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Saturday, 2 August 2014 and amended the placing’s as follows:
1st Sasha Diva
2nd Claretown Tex
3rd Abit Late
4th Lexi Star
5th Loyal Miss
6th Sister Trix
7th Greysynd Rava
Disqualified Penny Maid
The RADB also expressed concern that another charge involving Procaine was before it. If this is to continue the range of penalties may need to be addressed.
It has become pretty standard for positive Procaine swabs to result in a fine with $250 a fair amount given the other cases that have been heard recently. Mr Darmanin was also suspended for two months, a penalty less common, which is perhaps attributed to the fact that he had a conviction for a similar offence in 2009.
GAR 83 (1) and 83 (2) (3)
(1) Mr. Barry Wells the trainer of the greyhound HECAN BOLT, which was nominated to compete in an Event, namely, Race 10, the AWESOME LODGE – Mixed 4/5, conducted by the Healesville Greyhound Racing Club at Healesville on Sunday, 3 August 2014, did administer or cause to be administered the prohibited substance Heptaminol for the purpose of affecting the greyhound’s condition, behaviour or performance in the Event.
(2) Mr. Barry Wells the trainer of the greyhound HECAN BOLT, which was nominated to compete in an Event, namely, Race 10, the AWESOME LODGE – Mixed 4/5, conducted by the Healesville Greyhound Racing Club at Healesville on Sunday, 3 August 2014, did fail on that date to present the greyhound free of any prohibited substance, given that a pre race urine sample taken from the greyhound indicated the presence of the prohibited substance Heptaminol.
Following advice from the Racing Analytical Services Laboratory, the Stewards of Greyhound Racing Victoria conducted an investigation into the results of a pre-race urine sample taken from the greyhound ‘Hecan Bolt’ at the Healesville Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Sunday, 3 August 2014.
During the investigation, Stewards received evidence from registered trainer Mr. Barry Wells, Mr. Paul Zahra (Racing Analytical Services Laboratory) and Dr. Steven Karamatic (Greyhound Racing Industry Veterinary Officer).
After considering the evidence, Stewards charged Mr. Wells with a breach of Greyhounds Australasia Rules as indicated in charges (1) to (2) above.
Under Rule 47.1 of the Greyhound Racing Victoria Local Rules a breach of GAR83 (1) and GAR83 (2)(3) constitute Serious Offences.
As a result, on Monday, 15 December 2014 this matter was heard before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in the first instance under Greyhound Local Racing Rule 47.3 and Sections 83C(b) and 83M(1) of the Racing Act.
Mr. Barry Wells did not attend the Hearing.
Mr. Ron Matthews (GRV Steward) represented the Stewards Panel.
After hearing all the evidence tendered and having regard to GAR83 (1) and GAR83 (2) (3), the RADB determined that: (the Stewards having withdrawn charge 1)
In relation to charge (2), Mr. Wells was guilty as charged and disqualified him for 2 years effective from completion of this present period of disqualification, he was also fined $2,000.
Acting under GAR83(4), the RADB also disqualified ‘Hecan Bolt’ from Event 10 – The AWESOME LODGE – Mixed 4/5 – at the Healesville Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Sunday, 3 August 2014 and amended the placing’s as follows:
1st Transcend Time
2nd Lost Profits
4th Dirty Mary
5th Under Threat
6th Gino Keeping
Disqualified Hecan Bolt
(a) Mr. Wells’ failure to attend the hearing;
(b) The nature of the prohibited substance Heptaminol;
(c) The need to maintain the integrity of greyhound racing and ensure a level playing field for all participants; and
(d) Prior penalties for similar offences and Mr. Wells record of prior offences.
GRV has been very consistent in their handling of positive swabs and this hearing has resulted in yet another firm decision. It reinforces their adamant stance that that prohibited substances will not be tolerated within the Victorian greyhound racing industry.
84(A)(1): Failure to keep and retain treatment records
Stewards on the 15 December 2014 conducted an Inquiry into the failure by Mr Barry Wells to keep and retain medical treatments administered to the greyhound ‘Hecan Bolt’.
After hearing the evidence, Stewards charged Mr Barry Wells pursuant to GAR84 (A)(1) in that as the person in charge of ‘Hecan Bolt’ he did fail to keep and retain records detailing medical treatments administered to the greyhound under his care and was unable to produce such records when requested by stewards during an inspection conducted on 28 August 2014.
Mr Barry Wells failed to attend the Inquiry.
Stewards found Mr Barry Wells guilty and fined him the sum of $500.00.
While $500 is a considerable amount of money, it is growing increasingly important for trainers to ensure that treatment records are kept as a way of monitoring the health, wellbeing and welfare of racing greyhounds. It is also relevant to note that in addition to the above charge, Barry Wells was also found guilty of a Heptaminol Positive on the same day and was disqualified for two years and fined $2,000.
GAR 83 (2) (3) and (6): Mr. Robert Neocleous failed to present the greyhound ‘Mumma Hook’ free of any prohibited substance for an event at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club on Wednesday, 20 August 2014.
Following advice from Racing Analytical Services Laboratory, the Stewards of Greyhound Racing Victoria conducted an investigation into the results of a pre-race urine sample taken from greyhound ‘Mumma Hook’ at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Wednesday, 20 August 2014.
During the investigation, Stewards received evidence from registered trainer Mr. Robert Neocleous, Mr. Paul Zahra (Racing Analytical Services Laboratory) and Dr. Steven Karamatic (Greyhound Racing Industry Veterinary Officer).
After considering the evidence, Stewards charged Mr. Neocleous with a breach of Greyhounds Australasia Rules 83(2)(3) and (6) in that he did fail to present the greyhound ‘Mumma Hook’ free of any prohibited substance for an event at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 given that the pre-race urine sample taken from the greyhound indicated the presence of the prohibited substance 5β- Androstane-3α, 17β-diol at a mass concentration greater than 10ng/ml.
Under Rule 47.1 of the Greyhound Racing Victoria Local Rules a breach of GAR83 (2) (3) and (6) constitutes a Serious Offence. As a result, on Monday, 15 December 2014 this matter was heard before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in the first instance under Greyhound Local Racing Rule 47.3 and Sections 83C(b) and 83M(1) of the Racing Act.
Mr. Robert Neocleous represented himself.
Mr. Glenn Fish (GRV Chief Steward) and Mr. Ron Matthews (GRV Steward) represented the Stewards Panel.
Mr. Robert Neocleous pleaded guilty to the charge.
After hearing all the evidence tendered and having regard to GAR83 (2)(3) and (6), the RADB determined that Mr. Neocleous was guilty as charged and disqualified him for 9 months (with 5 months of this penalty suspended for 12 months pending no further breaches of GAR83 during the next 12 month period), effective from Friday 19 December 2014.
Acting under GAR83(4), the RADB also disqualified Mumma Hook’ from Event 5 – The TAB GREAT CHASE (1-5 Wins) Heat 2 – at the Cranbourne Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 and amended the placing’s as follows:
1st Custom Classic
2nd First Dan
3rd Tekki Minx
4th Take Them On
5th Elly Nora
6th Smith And Wesson
7th Elegant Elle
Disqualified Mumma Hook
(a) Mr. Neocleous’ guilty plea;
(b) The nature of the prohibited substance 5Beta-Androstane-3alpha,17beta-diol when present at a mass concentration greater than 10ng/ml;
(c) The need to maintain the integrity of greyhound racing and ensure a level playing field for all participants;
(d) Prior penalties for similar offences;
(e) Mr. Neocleous’ character and his clean history for more than 40 years’ in the greyhound industry;
(f) The need for general deterrence as a factor in sentencing and having regard to the number of similar offences coming before the Board; and
(g) Mr. Neocleous’ presentation before the Board.
The penalty in this case is standard to what has been dealt out in Victoria in recent times and is another clear indication that the state is determined to rid the sport of banned substances.
Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) stewards will conduct an inquiry into analysts’ reports that the urine sample taken from Flying Fabulous was found to contain the prohibited substance 6alpha-hydroxystanozolol after that greyhound won at the Goulburn meeting on 15 April 2014,.
The inquiry will be conducted at the offices of GRNSW on Wednesday 17 December 2014, commencing at 1pm.
Greyhound Racing NSW stewards will conduct inquiries into two separate matters emanating from the Tamworth meeting held on 15 November 2014.
The first inquiry will investigate an alleged incident said to have occurred in the catching pen following the running of Race 8, involving licensed persons Mark Craig and Nathan McDonald. The second inquiry will investigate an alleged procedural irregularity in relation to the kennels of the Tamworth GRC.
Both inquiries will be conducted at the Tamworth GRC on Thursday 18 December 2014.
GAR 86(o): Negligently failed to present the greyhound ‘Ever To Be’ for its engagement.
Stewards on the 12 December 2014, conducted an Inquiry into the circumstances pertaining to trainer Ms. Debrorah Coleman failing to present the greyhound ‘Ever To Be’ for its event at Ballarat Racing Club meeting conducted on 12 November 2014.
After hearing the evidence, Stewards charged Ms Coleman with a breach of GAR86 (o) in that she failed to present the greyhound for an engagement at the Ballarat Greyhound Racing Club meeting on 12 November 2014, which in the opinion of stewards was negligent.
Ms Coleman pleaded guilty to the charge.
Stewards found Ms Coleman guilty as charged and fined her $250.00.
Without knowing the specifics behind why the greyhound was not presented, it is hard to make a judgement on the severity of the fine. GRV are very strict on enforcing the rules of racing and a $250 fine for a minor offence should be sufficient warning to prevent a similar incident happening again.
GAR 83(2)(a): The owner, trainer or person in charge of a greyhound nominated to compete in an event shall present the greyhound free of a prohibited substance.
Racing Queensland (RQ) Stewards today conducted an Inquiry into the analyst’s findings in respect of a urine sample taken from the registered greyhound LICKETY SPLIT which competed at the Bundaberg Greyhound Racing Club on 27 September 2014 in race 3.
After taking evidence from Mr David Raines the trainer of LICKETY SPLIT, Stewards issued a charge against Mr Raines pursuant to Greyhounds Australasia Rule 83(2)(a), which reads:
The owner, trainer or person in charge of a greyhound nominated to compete in an event shall present the greyhound free of a prohibited substance.
The specifics of the charge were that on 27 September 2014, David Raines, as the licensed trainer of the greyhound LICKETY SPLIT, did present that greyhound to compete in race 3 at the Bundaberg Greyhound Racing Club, when a urine sample taken from LICKETY SPLIT subsequent to the greyhound competing in that race was found, upon analysis, to contain the prohibited substance ‘Methylprednisolone’.
Mr Raines pleaded guilty to the charge.
When considering an appropriate penalty Steward took into account Mr. Raines’s forthright evidence he provided to the inquiry and his involvement in the industry over a long period. Precedents for similar breaches were also taken into account. Stewards were also mindful of the negative effect charges of this kind have on the good image of the industry and recognize a need for a penalty to serve as a general deterrent. Stewards considered an appropriate penalty to be a fine of $1500.
Under the provisions of Greyhounds Australasia Rule 83(4) LICKETY SPLIT was disqualified from its 1st placing in race 3 at the Bundaberg Greyhound Racing Club on 27 September 2014.
The placings from the 460m Novice held on 27 September 2014 were amended as follows:
1st MARLOW LEE
2nd PORTIA HAYZE
3rd MISS WORLDWIDE
4th BEATS WORKING
Mr Raines was directed to return all prize money received from the aforementioned event to Racing Queensland.
Mr Raines was given 3 months to pay the fine.
Mr Raines was advised of his appeal rights.
GAR 86 (g), 86 (p) and 86 (o)
(1) Mr. Anthony Kent on the 27 August 2014, at the Bendigo Greyhound Racing Club Track did wilfully assault Mr. Troy Harley the Manager of the Bendigo Greyhound Racing Association, by punching him in the face with a clenched fist.
(2) Mr. Anthony Kent on the 27 August 2014, at the Bendigo Greyhound Racing Club Track did threaten Ms. Christine Gent, a Steward with Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) by stating “I’m coming back to see you”. This statement was delivered in an intimidating manner and transpired shortly after Mr. Anthony Kent had assaulted Mr. Troy Harley the Manager of the Bendigo Greyhound Racing Association.
(3) Mr. Anthony Kent on the 27 August 2014, at the Bendigo Greyhound Racing Club Track disobeyed the lawful direction of Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) Steward Mr. Ian Taylor in that Mr. Anthony Kent was ordered by Mr. Ian Taylor to have the greyhound “Pirate Arcade” vetted and did leave the track without doing so.
(4) Mr. Anthony Kent on the 27 August 2014, at the Bendigo Greyhound Racing Club Track used indecent language in an aggravated and repetitive fashion behind the starting boxes during the running of race 1, which in the opinion of the Stewards is improper and constitutes misconduct.
(5) Mr. Anthony Kent on the 27 August 2014, at the Bendigo Greyhound Racing Club Track used indecent language in an aggravated and repetitive fashion in and around the kennel block prior to the running of race 2, which in the opinion of the Stewards is improper and constitutes misconduct.
(6) Mr. Anthony Kent on the 27 August 2014, at the Bendigo Greyhound Racing Club Track used indecent language in an aggravated and repetitive fashion in the Stewards room following race 2, which in the opinion of the Stewards is improper and constitutes misconduct.
The Stewards of Greyhound Racing Victoria conducted an investigation into the behaviour of Mr. Anthony Kent at the Bendigo Greyhound Racing Club meeting held on Wednesday, 27 August 2014.
During the investigation, Stewards received evidence from registered trainer Mr. Anthony Kent, Mr. Troy Harley (Club Manager), Ms. Christine Gent (Steward) and Mr. Ian Taylor (Steward).
After considering the evidence, Stewards charged Mr. Kent with breaches of Greyhounds Australasia Rules as indicated in charges (1) to (6) above.
Under Rule 47.1 of the Greyhound Racing Victoria Local Rules a breach of 86 (g), 86 (p) and 86 (o) constitute Serious Offences.
As a result, on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 this matter was heard before the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in the first instance under Greyhound Local Racing Rule 47.3 and Sections 83C(b) and 83M(1) of the Racing Act.
Mr. Anthony Kent failed to appear at the Hearing. The Board entered a plea of ‘not guilty’ to each of the charges.
Mr. Glenn Fish (GRV Chief Steward) and Mr. Ron Matthews (GRV Steward) represented the Stewards Panel. During the Hearing Stewards received evidence from witnesses Mr. Graham Carr, Trainer, Mr. Barry Hiscock, Trainer, Mr. Daniel Pell and Mr. Michael Cole, Bendigo GRA employees.
After hearing all the evidence tendered and having regard to GAR 86 (g), 86 (p) and 86 (o), the RADB determined that:
(a) in relation to charge (1), Mr. Kent was found guilty as charged and he was disqualified for 5 years;
(b) in relation to charge (2), Mr. Kent was found guilty as charged and he was disqualified for 5 years;
(c) in relation to charge (3), Mr. Kent was found guilty as charged and he was fined $500;
(d) in relation to charge (4), Mr. Kent was found guilty as charged and he was fined $500;
(e) in relation to charge (5), Mr. Kent was found guilty as charged and he was fined $500;
(f) in relation to charge (6), Mr. Kent was found guilty as charged and he was fined $500;
The periods of disqualification to be served cumulatively.
(a) Mr. Kent’s failure to attend the hearing;
(b) Mr. Kent’s appalling behaviour involving physical and verbal assaults;
(c) The need to maintain the integrity of greyhound racing;
(d) Prior penalties for similar offences and particularly Mr. Kent’s previous offences
which involved improper language and disregard of the rules as to compliance with
direction from the Stewards;
(e) Mr. Kent’s complete disregard for the rules of the industry and inappropriate
behaviour including putting his greyhound at risk of significant injury; and
(f) The lack of any evidence of remorse and as to the prospects of rehabilitation.
The Board noted that the Police may take action against Mr. Kent but nonetheless determined to proceed to hear the charges as the issues raised went to industry participation and not criminal liability.
A strong and decisive move here that makes it quite clear that harmful and/or offensive behaviour will not be tolerated in the greyhound racing industry. While there are many passionate people within the sport and there are undoubtably many stressful times, there is no need to resort to physical violence or threats. Regardless of knowing or not knowing the story behind the incident, that behaviour is unnecessary and it was a good move by the board to act with such force.
Are the AGRA national ratings useful, or even true reflections of ability? Figures to the end of November are just out and that order will be pretty close to the final 2014 count.
They allocate points from first to eighth for all Group races – supervising Group racing is AGRA’s main purpose in life – but are otherwise unrestricted or unqualified.
Consequently, a Melbourne Cup winner and a maiden final winner get the same credit, just so long as they are Group races, meaning they pay a certain minimum amount of prize money. Running last in the Ipswich Maiden series still gains the dog a point. Other fields vary wildly in standards because the Group classifications are not earned but bought by the club responsible for allocating the cash.
They are also limited to what happens in a single calendar year, so performances for dogs which straddle two different years may not be represented accurately. Luck will also play a part, as when a prominent dog is off the scene with injury for a short while and misses a big race or two. Even more luck is needed in drawing a suitable box in each Group race. A string of 1s and 2s may well distort outcomes just as much as a succession of middle boxes.
Another measure – that of prize money – is equally problematical over time as inflation, changed priorities by clubs and the rise and fall of champion dogs all influence the figures. Being on top does not necessarily mean best.
Back to the actual AGRA rankings; please consider these oddities.
While Sweet It Is is fair enough in the #1 spot, what about Dyna Willow as the 9th best dog in the country? It did have a short winning patch earlier in the year, but against moderate opposition and in times which were just fair. It has done little since.
Queenslander Are Ate, a fair but not always consistent performer and not really top grade, gets the 20th place while the brilliant multi-winner Zipping Willow wallows in 53rd spot. Even sillier is that Zipping Willow shares that ranking with Gradence, an honest and consistent dog which runs a lot of placings and not much else.
Going down further, Queens Esther and Space Star share the 74th spot. The former has a few handy sprint wins at Wentworth Park, but has no great depth to its career. On the other hand, Space Star has busted two track records and done well against top level stayers at different times – including running hot times at Wentworth Park.
In other words, AGRA rankings are a misleading measure of the quality of the dogs. Something better is needed.
Neil Brown, Howard Ashton and the rest of the AGRA group have the right idea but need go no further than the gallops to see how better to do this job. Thoroughbred’s formal rankings are based on the quality, not the quantity, of performances. Here is their official guide.
“The ratings are compiled under the auspices of The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) by racing officials & handicappers representing the five continents who compile the ranking order by agreeing on the rating for each horse. The ratings are based on the performance of horses in elite races held during the designated period which takes in account the quality of opposition and achievements of each horse. Throughout the year the Longines Rankings are published at regular intervals and the consolidated annual rankings are released in January. The annual rankings denote the champions in the various distance categories for example sprint or mile, surface either turf or dirt/artificial and also the fillies & mares category”.
That may or may not be more detail than greyhounds need but the principle is indisputable. You want to know which one was the best, not just the one that was in the right place at the right time.
The other benefit of the thoroughbred-style rankings is that whatever position the horse earns will stay with it forever, making is easier to compare one generation with another. It also influences major clubs in organising fields for their peak events.
These sorts of guidelines would also help normalise AGRA’s breeding rankings – probably even more so than the racing stats. Restricting a sire or dam’s position to a single year makes little sense when performances of their progeny stretch over several years. In today’s annualised system a flash in the pan can come out on top in any one year.
As an aside, while Sweet It Is may well deserve top spot on any measure (primarily because it has run near record times at two tracks – Wentworth Park and Cannington), the uncertainty of racing is well illustrated by the fact that its supporters will never end up making a profit. As regularly advised here, its hit rate and the way it races mean that it is never better than an even money chance. Taking odds-on is a sure way to the poorhouse, as backers found out last Saturday in the Summer Cup at Wentworth Park. It started at $1.50 in NSW and $1.30 in Victoria and ran 6th. That was not bad luck, just bad odds.
No Stopping Victorian Stewards
At the Laurels heats at Sandown, 7 December.
“Ousai Bale crossed to the rail approaching the first turn, checking Reiko Bale, Photon Jewel, Footluce Diva, Oakvale Flyer and Fratelli Fresh”.
What a huge effort – one dog checking five others! The problem is it never happened. Ousai Bale did go across to the rail but never touched these other dogs, which were well clear of it from the start.
“Call Me Hank crossed to the rail soon after the start, checking Cool Mikado”.
That never happened either. Never touched.
Why do they bother?
Questions could also be asked of Racing Radio (NSW version). It failed to broadcast some or all of that Sandown Laurels meeting on Sunday afternoon. There appeared to be time available as they waffled on about other stuff and ran plenty of ads. The trots – a declining code and ranking well behind greyhounds – got plenty of coverage, though. On top of that, the station persists with AM frequencies in some areas, which is deadly in times of lightning and thunderstorm conditions, or at night.
RWWA Stewards yesterday inquired into the report from the ChemCentre in Perth, that the presence of 5β– androstane-3α, 17β–diol (metabolite of Testosterone), at a concentration of greater than 10ng/ml, had been detected in the following samples obtained from ZELEMAR FEVER:
A post race urine sample after winning Race 5, the Tabtouch W.A. Sprint Championship Final at Cannington on 16 August 2014.
A post race urine sample after placing third in Race 8 the Tabtouch National Sprint Championship Final at Cannington on 23 August 2014.
These findings of both ChemCentre reports have been verified by the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory (ARFL) in NSW.
Evidence was taken from Trainer of ZELEMAR FEVER, Ms Linda Britton, RWWA Investigator Mr Geoff Johnson, RWWA Racing Industry Veterinarian Dr Judith Medd and ChemCentre Analyst Mr James White.
In view of the voluminous evidence presented to the inquiry through the course of the day’s hearing, the matter was adjourned at 5.20pm to afford Ms Britton and her counsel the opportunity to consider and make any submissions with regard to evidence presented, prior to the Stewards determining whether charges under the RWWA Rules of Racing apply.
With the threshold for testosterone being lowered in recent years, the greyhound industry has seen an abundance of positive swabs as trainers continue to try and keep their bitches from coming on season. It is a very delicate balance between managing to keep them off and returning a positive swab, but the racing bodies around Australia have proven to be brutal in enforcing the new rules.
In November, GRV disqualified John Barbara for an Androstane positive for 9 months (with 6 months of this penalty suspended for 12 months pending no further breaches of GAR83 occurred during the 12 month period) with other trainers disqualified recently also including Graham James, Kevin Wright, Gregory Couldridge and Tony Vass.
While mostly they were all only disqualified for a few months, it would have a serious effect on racing in WA if the state’s leading lady was sent out.
It is interesting to note that in September, Racing Queensland issued a $2,500 fine to trainer Jan Warner for an Androstane positive rather than a disqualification.
Only time will tell if Britton will escape with just a fine like Warner or whether she will face time on the sidelines.
Leading former trainer Graeme Bate has been left nonplussed by the decision to remove him from the Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) Hall of Fame.
But Bate had a parting shot for GRV, saying it had wasted its money with its decision to appeal against the leniency of the two-year disqualification he was given by the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board in June for five serious rule breaches.
It was the first time GRV had appealed a decision of the independent RADB for being too lenient and at the appeal in October, VCAT increased the penalty by one year, to a total of three years.
Bate said on Thursday he had no intention of returning to training even after a two-year disqualification and even if he did, he would have had to re-apply to GRV for his trainer’s licence.
“The cost of that court case to get me an extra 12 months was $100,000,” he said.
“And I had already told them I wasn’t going to go back training dogs anyway.
“How they can justify using $100,000 of greyhound racing money to do something that was already done … they didn’t have to give me back my licence. I told them, I said i’m not interested in [coming back], I’m nearly 70 year old. I’m not going back.”
After the VCAT decision to extend the ban, GRV chairman Peter Caillard said on its website:
“The original decision to disqualify Mr Bate for just two years was too lenient and we believe the decision of VCAT to increase Mr Bate’s penalty vindicates the stewards’ decision to appeal.
“We have increased our swab numbers by 25 per cent in the past year, taking close to 4300 individual swabs. We now test out-of-competition, pre-race and post-race in addition to freezing and storing samples for retrospective testing.”
As for his removal from the Hall of Fame, Bate said:
“They sent me an email yesterday. I haven’t really got any thoughts about it. I’m just sort of all over it.”
Bate pleaded guilty to five serious offences under the Greyhounds Australasia Rules (GAR) before the RADB on June 10 this year.
The charges included: administering a prohibited substance to a greyhound under his care; administering a prohibited substance to greyhounds trained by another person; procuring tablets for the purpose of administering to greyhounds; and making a false and misleading statement.
Caillard said in a statement on Thursday:
“This board has repeatedly stressed that it will not tolerate anyone using prohibited substances to gain an unfair advantage. More than ever before, the board of GRV has committed resources to detect and prevent their use. This includes the introduction of out-of-competition testing and the freezing of samples, with testing of those samples to commence shortly.”
Bate has found some positives in his enforced absence from the industry.
“It’s the first time I’ve actually ever got to go and buy my own clothes and things … I have worked my butt off for this industry and in this industry all my life,” he said.
“It’s changed my life actually and it’s for the better.
“Because greyhound racing does completely entail you … you can’t go on holidays, you can’t do anything.”
Some time back, a reader told us that he found Victorian T3 races good to bet on – presumably meaning better than normal graded races. So we thought we should run a few quick checks on the results of those races by comparison with normal Grade 5 races.
To do that we used examples over the last three months for the main distances at Ballarat and Bendigo (450m and 425m).
Both clubs run quite a lot of both types of events. (Statistically, the sample is still fairly small so treat the figures as broad indications only).
Here are the average winning times and average winning dividends (in Vic) for each.
|Track||Tier 3||Grade 5||T3 Standard|
We show two dividend figures for Ballarat – the first includes two extraordinarily high dividends (unlikely to be repeated) while the second figure excludes them.
This tells us a number of things. First, Grade 5 races are faster by three to four lengths, which is only to be expected as the T3 starters are restricted to dogs which have not previously beaten the standard. Second, however, more than half of all T3 winners do beat the standard in the actual race, suggesting that in their earlier career they may not have had the opportunity to show their best.
Third, there is a large drop in dividends when moving to the better class of race, in turn indicating that punters found it easier to make the right choices there. That’s pretty logical as the dogs will be more experienced and more consistent than the up and comers.
Fourth, there is a large difference in Ballarat’s favour in the dividend area – ie lower. Put another way, results at Bendigo are much less predictable. If there is a difference in class of dogs which contributes to this, it is not really obvious.
However, the longer Ballarat trip is a more demanding one, leading to the probability that more Bendigo races are won by flashy beginners which lack a little strength. Again, this is to be expected as the difference between the two trips is a critical one amongst the general dog population. The average greyhound’s speed peaks at about the end of the Bendigo 425m distance, after which endurance plays a bigger part.
Apart from that, the conclusion has to be that the bloke concentrating on T3 betting will be worse off at the end of the year than someone favouring graded races. Class does count.
Looking at the bigger picture, is T3 racing (or “C” Class in NSW) a good thing? Well, possibly, as the industry is then catering for a bigger proportion of the dog population. However, the scene is blurry because their introduction came at time (mid-2010) when the supply of racing opportunities began exceeding the demand from the total number of starters available, hence the increase in the number of empty boxes. In turn, this meant that a lot of moderate dogs popped up in normal Grade 5 races, not just T3 races, and so lowered standards overall.
Those mathematics worked out nicely for owners and trainers, who could split up a bigger prize money pool over the course of a year. However, punters were not so fortunate because lowering race standards makes picking winners much harder. Racing being what it is, more bolters appeared in the placings. This has to be a significant factor in the loss of serious punters and the rise of mug gamblers as a proportion of the total. The more crowded calendar has also meant a decline in the size of the average TAB pool, which simultaneously has had to withstand the diversion of cash to online bookies, who now attract perhaps a quarter of all bets .
So it has not been 2 and 2 equals 4 – it’s much more complicated than that. The trend needs to be closely watched.
We have seen no announcements from GRV about two issues we raised in connection with the form reversal by Allen Deed in its Ballarat Cup heat and, quite separately, the oddball flood of cash in the NSW TAB which distorted all the prices for its heat.
We can only hope that they are still studying the evidence. Both are significant matters which the public are entitled to hear about.
The Ballarat Cup final turned out to be a one-act affair as favourite Luca Neveelk made full use of its rails box. After jumping on level terms it streaked away from the field to record a smart 25.06. It now has the amazing record of 24 wins from 30 starts over 10 different distances at 9 tracks. By comparison, that 80% hit rate easily outpoints the 58% earned by Paw Licking in its 53 start career.
The only surprise was that Blue Giant (a brother to Nockabout Aussie) began better than usual and took a lot of ground off the winner in the run to the post. This dog is in fine form but is probably better suited to a longer trip, much like Allen Deed which was always in the ruck.
Not Just In The City
Peculiar stewards reports appear all over the country, not just in Melbourne as we have been highlighting recently. Are they getting paid by the word? Here are some examples from Ballarat last night – 3 December.
“Soho Rhythm (7) crossed to the rail soon after the start checking Xtreme Knocka (5), Connor’s Rocket (4), Pason Sander (2) Nubian (Princess) (1)”.
Any interference caused by Soho Rhythm was negligible, if that. It jumped well clear.
“Elite Diva (5) crossed to the rail soon after the start checking One Dee (4) and Matt’s Entity (3)”.
As far as I could see Elite Diva jumped well in front of these two, who were simply slow out of the boxes.
“Tammy Baxter crossed to the rail soon after the start checking Mr. Fox (5), Aston Dima (4)\ and Le Luca (3)”.
Rubbish. Tammy Baxter jumped smartly and was well clear of these three or any other dogs. The others were slow out or checked themselves.
The Board of Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) has resolved to remove Graeme Bate from the Hall of Fame following his disqualification for deliberately administering a prohibited substance.
This decision was made after taking into account a range of factors including:
* The gravity of the charges;
* The significant number of Hysone tablets procured by Mr Bate, being up to:
– 6,000 Hysone 20mg tablets between about 11 August 2010 and 6 July 2013; and
– 7,200 Hysone 20mg tablets between about 7 May 2012 and 3 April 2013.
* Mr Bate’s history of breaching significant rules of greyhound racing;
* False or misleading statements made to stewards;
* The criteria for membership of the Hall of Fame;
* The principles of specific and general deterrence;
* The findings of the Racing Appeals & Disciplinary Board heard on 10 June 2014 and VCAT on 21 October 2014; and
* The need to maintain trust and public confidence in greyhound racing.
The Board was also mindful of the contribution made by Mr Bate to support the industry over many years.
GRV’s Chairman, Peter Caillard said:
“This Board has repeatedly stressed that it will not tolerate anyone using prohibited substances to gain an unfair advantage. More than ever before, the Board of GRV has committed resources to detect and prevent their use. This includes the introduction of out-of-competition testing and the freezing of samples, with testing of those samples to commence shortly.
Allowing Mr Bate to remain in the Hall of Fame would be inconsistent with this commitment and the message should be loud and clear.”
Mr Bate’s Hall of Fame status will be revoked immediately.