Rocky’s big racing weekend

Big weekend for Rocky


Terry Butts analyses news from the North Queensland racing scene.


ROCKHAMPTON is gearing up for its massive weekend of racing and yearling sales next month and the interest has extended nationwide.

Central Queensland Thoroughbred Breeders Association (CQTBA) spokesman Jeff Leaver said the quality of yearlings on offer was considered the best ever and he has been fielding calls from “all over” from potential buyers.

Apart from a new online catalogue facility that updates pedigree changes daily, this year there is a new double QTIS bonus for two and three year sales race winners, and the highest number of QTIS eligible yearlings among the 106 entries. Rockhampton and Scone (NSW) remain the only two independent yearling sales in the country. And the only two that are outside the metropolitan areas.

But Rocky has a proud record of producing some big name winners, and at comparatively bargain prices.

River Lad is one of the most notable in recent times. He was passed in at $4000 but went on to win $1.8m and Cash Dash was bought for $50k and sold to Hong Kong after winning at Doomben for $500k.

This year, according to Jeff Leaver, there is great spread of stallions and major studs.

It is not surprising that most of the queries have been for lot 65 a Sprit of Boom-Molly’s Fault filly being offered by former top jockey Scott Seamer. The Lyndhurst offering, Lot 111 a filly by Better Than Ready from Tiger Dimejan is also attracting considerable interest, as is lot 89 a colt by Whittington from Sahifa.

But the Rocky weekend is not entirely about the sales though there are organised inspections of the yearlings on both Friday and Saturday mornings (before the races) and on Saturday night at the sales venue before they all go under the hammer on Sunday.

This year also coincides with the 150th anniversary of racing in Rockhampton. It’s been a rocky ride (pardon the pun), rich in history, and not without its highs and lows. And characters like the jockey-trainer Jack Smith, who in 1900 shot one of the RJC committeemen, who according to the cover story on this year’s catalogue, rubbed him out for six months for “pulling a horse”.

THE BETTING industry in Australia is in danger of being taxed back into the dark ages of illegal SP bookies should the controversial new Punters’ Tax come into effect across Australia.

That’s the latest furphy being spread by opponents of the new government tax (POC tax) that has the big off course corporate bookies on the back foot and fleeing.

Yet amazingly Fair Wagering Australia, which purports to look after the interest of punters, seems to support the off course operators on the POC tax issue.

Its spokesman Richard Irvine – himself a punter but obviously not on the corporates’ banned  list to refuse or drastically cut bets – has raised the suggestion that the tax will see a rise in SP bookies.


You would have to query Irving’s motive, and ask which side he is on. Who he is batting for?

He said, albeit from left field: “In the distant past in Australia with literally thousands arrested every year in the 1930s as organised crime gangs took hold of what was an extremely profitable business.

“And an excessive tax burden on bookies could prove the catalyst to a return to that SP era.” Really?

And outgoing Sportsbet CEO Cormac Barry said governments should be vigilant in maintaining what he described as “the current healthy state that has become the status quo for the wagering industry”.

"That status quo can be jeopardised, and whether that is through mergers or whether that is through changes in tax through a Point of Consumption Tax or changes in regulation, they have to be conscious that we have a very vibrant and profitable industry that is supporting a great racing industry," Barry said.

"That shouldn't be taken for granted, we could lose that."

The arrogance of the man! Just who does he think he is? And as for the reputation of his much maligned industry...

Racing survived and thrived long before Barry and his clan of corporate bookmakers arrived and totally changed if not decimated the way Australians enjoyed their racing.

Barry also raised concerns that because of the introduction of the Point Of Consumption Tax  bookies are leaving the Australian wagering market (James Packer selling his stake in CrownBet and William Hill selling up) which he says, “could have a significant impact to racing”.

Well, many would say that’s good news for the racing industry, Mr Barry. Good news.

And what about this: “The $200 or $300 million (expected revenue from POC taxes) is going to come out of the industry and go to the state governments – well it has to come from somewhere.

"And the people who are going to pay are the racing industry or the punters because ultimately the wagering operators will work out a way to survive because that is what we are paid to do.”

Can you believe? But, wait there is more.

Barry also raised the issue of problem gambling as a major challenge for all wagering operators to deal with, and believes that there is still more to be done in this area by the industry.

It could be argued that the corporates contributed hugely to the problem by incessant advertising and “free bet” gimmicks they plastered through the media targeting the small each way bettors.

A senior executive of a big corporate once told this writer: “We prefer to have 1000 $100 punters instead of 100 $1000 punters.”

What Barry didn’t mention, however, is that a the big corporates are still refusing to take bets from particular punters – which is illegal – and some are totally ignoring the recently introduced  law against offering credit. Some are blatantly still canvassing offering credit, with evidence easily and readily obtainable.

They only bet the mugs or those they consider to be “uninformed”.

Frankly Australia really doesn’t need the wagering giants nor want them in spite of what Cormac Barry might mistakenly believe.

And if Richard Irvine continues to support them, he might consider a name change for his group.


QUEENSLAND Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett says Top Mackay trainer John Manzelmann has faced an inquiry into two positive swabs at Gladstone on 7 November 2017, concerning his horse More Worldly and at Pentland on 25 November 2017 concerning Ranga Rocket. 

Following testing, More Worldly returned an elevated level of the banned substance Caffeine and Ranga Rocket returned elevated levels to both Caffeine and Theophylline sparking the inquiry.

The Stewards inquiry has been adjourned to a date to be fixed to obtain further information from the QRIC Racing Science Centre.


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