QRIC blitz causes rude shock

QRIC blitz causes rude shock

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Terry Butts analyses news from the North Queensland racing scene.

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THE QRIC cops, as they are now known, were out in force at Cairns at the recent Cairns Amateurs carnival where – to substantiate their overwhelming presence – continued their blitz on stables and on stable staff.

Caught up – like a dolphin in a shark net – was the 59-year-old wife of leading local trainer Trevor Rowe. And the somewhat audacious incident  has caused quite a stir in racing circles up north. Not surprisingly.

As wife of long time leading trainer the recognised master of NQ apprentice jockeys, Mrs Rowe has made a huge contribution to racing. To be marched up from the on course stabling area to provide a urine sample in the stewards room on the busiest race day of the year must have been a daunting, embarrassing experience for her. Son Peter said “Mum was gobsmacked.”

Of course she was. How did her name appear on the list of those to be tested by stewards in the first place?

It was a pretty ordinary decision and does little to enhance the reputation of QRIC that is floundering in its role as caretaker of an industry already deep in the doldrums.

Mail is that 15 stablehands were subject to the highly expensive ($400 a pop?) testing procedure. Obviously performed without “prejudice, fear nor favour.”

THEN there is the case at Mackay last Tuesday where a rival trainer reported to stewards he had witnessed the application of Vick’s ointment into a horse’s nostril in the tie up stalls.

Vick’s – a common everyday treatment for humans – is a prohibited substance  on a racecourse where it is sometimes used (illegally) to prompt the memory of a horse that might have been subject to “electrical encouragement” on a training track. The unique and strong smelling Vick’s is rubbed on before a training gallop and again on raceday with the hope that the horse associates it with the training gallop zap. It has been going on for centuries, by trainers big and small.

Mind you the treatment is no different to what stock is subjected to at rodeos, or every day in cattle yards around the world. But in Australia and other leading racing countries “electrical encouragement” or the jigger, as it’s colloquially known, is frowned upon.

The horse at Mackay (China Town) was allowed to start and finished third. Trainer Trinity Brannon was fined $600 and now awaits the result of a swab taken from the horse.

BUT it does not end there. The complainant – the rival trainer – still not happy with the horse being allowed to start after he had reported the incident, phoned QRIC next day and spoke to chief stipe Alan Reardon.

“What would have happened if the horse had won, especially after stewards had already been informed it had been treated with a prohibited substance?” he asked.

“And the vet, at the start, wiped the Vick’s from the horse’s nose after identifying the substance, so why wasn’t it scratched then?” he contended.

We wait with interest Reardon’s and or QRIC’s response. Below is part of the Stewards’ Report from the Mackay meeting:

“China Town – The start was delayed when the mare broke through the barriers before being restrained a short distance later. The horse was examined by the veterinary surgeon and cleared to start. During the examination stewards were advised by the veterinary surgeon the mare had a substance visible in its nostril indicative of an application of an ointment. This substance was wiped clear prior to the mare being reloaded. Trainer T. Bannon pleaded guilty to a charge under A.R.178E in that prior to the race she applied China Town with a substance (chest rub ointment) in the nasal passage of the mare. Trainer Bannon was fined $600. A swab sample was taken.”

It is the same day as the AGM of the club when racing makes its long awaited return to Cluden on Thursday, September 26, after extensive work on the new Evergreen track. The track looks picture perfect, but there hasn’t been on a horse on it since Townsville Cup day (July 29)  – and won’t be (much to the chagrin of trainers) until racing recommences.

Members who attend the AGM might be told reasons why the TTC has culled a lot of staff and called for volunteers to work racedays.

Members were notified in an email or on Facebook last week, which was a big surprise to many.

This is the premier TAB club in North Queensland calling on volunteer labour after what the club described as the best winter cup carnival in years.

And follows this statement that still appears on the TTC website:

“Racing Queensland and the Townsville Turf Club have been working closely together on their turn-around plan in developing positive strategies about the club’s future.

“As a result of these strategies, Racing Queensland has accepted the plan the Townsville Turf Club has put forward and has now lifted their Control Body Direction.

“I am confident that their plan will see a return to prosperity for the club and I will continue to work with them to ensure racing in the region remains not only sustainable but prosperous while providing a thrilling sport and social hub for the region,” said Dr Eliot Forbes.

The plan surely didn’t include a call for volunteers to operate the bars and sell raffle tickets on race days.

THE sensational revelations by Archie Butterfly on the state of Queensland racing featured on his www.itsnotnormal website can’t possibly continue without some reaction from the Queensland racing hierarchy – and from those he has targeted. His hitherto uncontested reports of gross mismanagement (or downright skulduggery) are being scrutinised (lapped up) daily by all sections of the racing community all over Australia, from stewards to strappers, literally...

And amazingly there has not been a whimper. Not one denial from those he has fingered.

It just can’t all be all true, surely.

 Or can it?

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