Pegus ends Toowoomba stint

Pegus ends Toowoomba stint

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Terry Butts analyses news from the North Queensland racing scene.

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THAT jockey of great renown Mark Pegus is driving down the highway today. He departed Toowoomba at daybreak, as silently as he arrived six weeks ago

Without fanfare or fuss.

He rode a winner at Clifford Park on Saturday night which has become the norm for him since arriving from Melbourne.

But that win just might have extra special significance. It was not only the last ride at Clifford Park for the international jockey, it might have been his last ride ever. For he is on the verge of calling it quits.

Pegus has held his own with the best everywhere he has ridden in a widely travelled career. He was not only admired, accepted and successful in South Australia, Victoria, parts of NSW, but in Malaysia, Macau and Mauritius as well.

And  his enviable reputation as a rider and a man of unchallenged integrity continued during his little stint at Toowoomba where he connected with the Ben Currie stable. The association was short, but the figures clearly indicate that it was very successful.

“I am glad I came, but it’s time to move on,” was Pegus’ diplomatic way of saying he was going home.

Having left Toowoomba, jockey Mark Pegus will ponder his future after he returns from Hong Kong. Picture: Glen Watson

Having left Toowoomba, jockey Mark Pegus will ponder his future after he returns from Hong Kong. Picture: Glen Watson

In fact it might be said he was tiring of the innuendo, the consistent ill-conceived rumours, the insincerity (of some, not all) and the overall general mood of racing on the Darling Downs.

There is no blame game with him.

He cheerfully packed his bags, proffered a few goodbyes and drove out at dawn today. Back to his dairy farm(s) in Victoria and sheep station in outback NSW.

He will ponder his future after he returns from Hong Kong where he will attend Mark Zara’s wedding next week and spend Christmas at Swan Hill (Vic) with his close-knit family.

It is then he will decide his future. And that might well be retirement altogether from the rigours of riding and the bulldust that he doesn’t need, doesn’t have to endure, and obviously won’t tolerate.

THE $11 billion merger of gaming giants Tabcorp and Tatts Group is finally confirmed after a decision last Friday by the Australian Competition Tribunal.

It is great news especially for Queensland which has a racing industry barely functioning. In fact, it is at its lowest ebb. An industry that has been plagued for 20 years by poor and costly decisions by both Labor and Liberal state governments.

Hopefully there will be competent leadership in the upcoming change and more importantly that the promised and desperately needed financial bonanza to flow from the merger will be wisely distributed – without prejudice.

The Tabcorp-Tatts merger was thrown into doubt in July after objections from the ACCC and astonishingly, the corporate bookie CrownBet.

Those objections resulted in a Federal Court order to revisit the decision. But the ACT on Friday said it is satisfied that the proposed merger is likely to result in substantial public benefits and that detriments identified by CrownBet (part owned by James Packer) and the ACCC are “unlikely to arise or are immaterial”. CrownBet had brazenly argued the deal was bad for punters and against the public interest – a contention that was totally dismissed on Friday.

So that paved the way for what could be the first step towards a national tote which many hope might curb the dominance for the free loading overseas corporates that have ravaged the Australian gambling industry. This merger would give Tabcorp around 90pc of Australia's totaliser turnover.

THE farcical situation whereby a bloke named Robert Hickmott is listed as the trainer but never says a word while owner Lloyd Williams calls the tune is over. But it is only a change of guard. A new strapper will step up to the plate to carry all the responsibility of a trainer. 

Rumours abound as to why the sudden split. Maybe someone from Macedon Lodge made the comment on Cup eve that Almadin, the Williams owned and trained favourite couldn’t finish in the first half of the Melbourne Cup field, because he was “flattened” by an excessive work regime under the instruction of the indefatigable owner. And Hickmott, as trainer, copped the blame, whether he uttered the prediction or not.

Bottom line is if Williams wants to make all the decisions and accept the bouquets, he should also accept the responsibility of an official  trainer.

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