QRIC chief Ross Barnett was somewhat buoyed by events last week that saw a self-confessed race fixer outed for life.
But there is no cause for QRIC to be complacent about its pre- eminence as a racing integrity unit.
Events at the Innisfail racecourse last week might cast a totally different view on how Barnett’s crew of ex-coppers and corrective service personnel operate.
Besides, the magistrate who dealt with the ex harness personality Brad Cockburn ordered a $5000 fine with NO conviction. That itself might reflect on just how harness racing is rated in the general community.
The incident at Innisfail might reflect just how the new look multimillion dollar QRIC is rated by most industry participants.
The Brady Bunch of north Queensland has been involved with racing through three generations and they are held in the highest esteem. The latest to show an interest is 13-year-old Lana, granddaughter of Wade Brady whose brother, father, uncle and grandfather all held trainers’ licences and raced many top horses in the past century. Lana shares the intense interest in racehorses. It’s in her DNA.
So after a 30-year respite from racing Wade last year decided to renew his trainer’s licence and put into work a horse that Lana –already a proficient show rider – had been riding around her mother’s property just outside Innisfail.
Last Thursday she wanted to go with her Grandad Wade to the Innisfail track to see and pat her mum’s horse. At the same time two QRIC stewards turned up and saw Lana holding the horse while Grandad cleaned its yard.
For two years she rode and groomed the same horse at her mum’s property. She was certainly competent and confident enough to fulfil the task. But the stewards couldn’t care less. She was under age and didn’t have a licence.
When asked by Wade how old she must be to get a stable hand licence the steward “wasn’t sure”. Wade relieved her of the horse and then asked her to put some feed in a bin for the animal.
Stewards then stepped in and said she must not touch the feed either. True.
Wade was fined $200.
Just how pathetic is that?
Lana, frightened and shaken, told her mum she never wants to go back to the racetrack. Because “I got grandad into trouble”.
“They came in with a big stick and knocked the incentive and motivation out of a 13-year-old,” said Wade who is naturally disgusted, as is everyone who has heard this story.
The good news is QRIC hopefully won’t be around much longer – at least in its current form.
And that is straight from the horse’s mouth.
ANOTHER change looming on the racing radar is the Mickey Mouse NQ Derby that was run on Saturday at Ooralea. Racing purists shudder that the race, with the time honoured tag of Derby – usually reserved for three-year-old colts – is run in Mackay as a race for three and four-year-olds, fillies and mares included with allowance for apprentices.
On Saturday the status of the NQ Derby slipped beyond the depths of inferiority. There were just eight runners and four of them from the local Manzelman stable. The winner, Friskier, was beaten at the Ewan bush meeting at its previous start two weeks ago.
When the NQ Derby was first introduced as a feature on the Mackay winter carnival 30-odd years ago (in the John Millard era) it attracted a good quality fields. The winner in 1986 was In Top Swing who went on to win the Queensland Cup and defeated Hotham Handicap winner Scarvila in the Mt Isa Cup the same year.
Saturday’s event was a poor reflection on those glory days in spite of the $25,000 prize money on offer. The club surely knows the so-called Derby must be run in the June-July period of the northern winter carnival if it is to recoup some of the lost prestige.