Cairns brekky with the stars

Breakfast with the stars in Cairns

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The popular race event prelude, Breakfast with the Stars, takes on a new dimension at the Cairns Amateurs in a fortnight.

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Breakfast with the Stars, the popular prelude to major racing carnivals in Australia takes on a new dimension at the Cairns Amateurs in a fortnight.

While the immensely popular concept was designed to allow the rank and file to get up close and personal with the stars (horses included) on racecourses from Flemington to far flung tracks around the country, the Cairns version  this year will be devoid of horses.

That is no surprise really as horses and their handlers have always been backstage at the Cairns Ams which in recent times is more about raving than racing. All fizz, fashion and frivolity. But a great social mardi gras nonetheless – if you are not so serious about the actual racing itself.

The Cairns Amateurs are on in a fortnight. The immensely popular concept was designed to allow the rank and file to get up close and personal with the stars.

The Cairns Amateurs are on in a fortnight. The immensely popular concept was designed to allow the rank and file to get up close and personal with the stars.

This year the barrier draw for the Cup will be staged on the Cairns Esplanade and has been described by the club as: “Our brand new exciting event - the Great Barrier Draw Breakfast!”

But also - in another break from the traditionally free Breakfast with the Stars - this one comes at a cost – $40 no less.

Forty bucks for a banquet breakfast while listening to “racing experts” provide their tips in place of flesh, sweat and thundering hooves!.

Case of thanks...but No thanks, at least for this little bunny!

Closed or not?

WHEN is a closed betting ring not closed?

That is the question that race clubs, Racing Queensland, QRIC and even the bookies still can’t fathom in spite of two clear rules that state that Closed Rings are not permissible in this state. In fact outlawed. Two QR rulings - one penned by former chief stipe Wade Birch and another by former RQ chairman Kevin Dixon – clearly prohibit race clubs from refusing bookmakers to operate at their meetings. But it seems that at least one senior racing official is not only refusing to enforce the law but is giving advice to clubs on how to circumvent the rulings. So the story goes.

There is even dissension within the Queensland Bookmakers Association.

Meanwhile, only one Townsville bookie worked at the recent Cairns Cup meeting and we wait with interest to see how many visitors might get the nod for the upcoming Amateurs.

At present every club must have its RQ approved policy but Townsville Club’s document is considered at best “ambiguous” and it would seem Cairns don’t have a policy at all, according to my source. Same source (a bookie of long standing and not based in North Queensland) is highly critical of Queensland Racing which he says is refusing to enforce local rule (BR9) which clearly states that clubs must not limit the number of bookmakers it will allow to field.

What about QRIC

It stumbles from one crisis to another and one really wonders how it can survive after this latest cobalt swab fiasco. Probably until the next election.

To say QRIC, this government’s contribution to the industry, is an abject failure would be the understatement of the year. In spite of Grace Grace’s recent assertion in parliament that QRIC was the envy of every other racing body in the country.

She really can’t be that far from the pulse. Or is she?

In September last year stewards inquired into the Golan trained Amexed that returned a positive at Ipswich on June 18 (2016), to Prednisone and Prednisolone.

On June18 (this year)  stewards inquired into the presence of Cobalt in urine samples taken from the Ricky Vale trained Prince Dan at Mackay in March last year,  Reset Our World at Rockhampton in March (2016), Shepiktus at Rockhampton in March (2016) and Dexamethasone was detected in a urine sample taken from Prince Dan at Rockhampton in February (2016).

The findings and penalties for both trainers were confirmed at internal review and both appealed their decisions at QCAT. Now QRIC has sensationally discontinued “all cases by consent”. Ricky Vale was back at the track with his horses on Saturday morning.

“The decision to discontinue these historical matters is not a reflection of the honesty, dedication and professionalism of the QRIC staff involved including the stewards, veterinarians and Racing Science Centre analysts. All staff have acted in good faith and with integrity,” said QRIC chief Ross Barnett.

Integrity needs the complete confidence of every licensee. It needs a leader with a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of all facets of racing. One would think a high ranking stipendiary steward would fit the bill. Surely one of our own much sought after home grown stipes could be induced to return from senior positions overseas.

After all, Racing is not just a game of cops and robbers.

But there is more. Six months ago Mackay trainer Buddha Cochrane was outed for 12 months on a cruelty charge. From a distance of 321 meters he was allegedly seen by a QRIC steward hitting a horse around the head at the Ooralea swimming pool. He appealed and the penalty was reduced by QCAT to six months - of which he has now served five.

Last Friday he was to appear in Mackay Magistrate’s Court on a cruelty charged laid by QRIC police - but the case was thrown out because there was no evidence. No one from QRIC police or the stewards turned up.

It is the second time in 12 months a magistrate has thrown out a QRIC complaint of cruelty.  The other was in Rockhampton, involving a former trainer and track rider who won his case but has elected to just walk away from racing.

But the Mackay matter might not yet be over. The trainer is said to be considering compensation for his loss of income.

QRIC charged him with cruelty (with no veterinary inspection of the horse, mind you) and gave him 12 months. Then it failed to provide evidence when the matter went to court.

What do you think?

IT all happened at Innisfail on Saturday. Starting stall malfunctions marred the first two races and then jockey Peter Cullen came off the in-aptly named Some Sunny Day at the barriers and spent the rest of the day in Innisfail hospital. The horse jumped the running rail after it unceremoniously deposited Cullen,  and bolted off the track. The jockey groaned that he should have gone to Prairie where he could have ridden cup winner Ultra Red for Ben Williams.

But the dramas at Innisfail didn’t end there. Fred Weiland’s capable galloper  Element of Chance suffered an apparent heart attack after the Banana Cup and veteran jockey Jamie Dickinson bit the dust in another race when the saddle slipped on Perfect Tycoon. He joined Cullen in hospital but both riders were later discharged. The cup won by local Gundalunga - a Class 1 galloper - who will no doubt be a contender for the Cairns Amateur Cup which this year appears likely to lack class and numbers because of a dearth of stayers currently in the region.

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