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Headlines Today is 27/04/2015
Blind Freddy, holding a Ladrador in one hand and a white cane in the other, could see that this Magic Millions 2YO race is not worth the $2million that is advertised in the Racing Queensland Magazine December edition. It's worth nothing like that, as the "Acceptance Fee of $27,500" which they technically give back to fifth to sixteenth inclusive after the race, along with an additional $2,500 just to make it look good, merely works to dud the race prizemoney to be called $2million. You would think that someone at Racing Queensland or Magic Millions would be able to see that? There's a movie called Dumb and Dumber that is released today in Ipswich and I'm going along to watch it today, as I reckon I'll see some familiar faces in it from Racing Queensland and Magic Millions.

The Magic Millions race day, which is scheduled for Saturday, is proof of what I often refer to as “the incestuous world of thoroughbred racing” - yet strangely not one so called “racing journalist” in mainstream newspapers throughout the length and breadth of this country, or any racing radio or Sky Channel interviewer will see anything untoward. In fact “they” will all, to a man, operate quite the opposite, by going out of their way to write and talk the day up, just to help give it positive a push along, meaning that each year at this time it is left to this website to educate the racing public to the disgraceful prizemoney rorts that happen annually on this big Magic Millions race day. I have been writing this story up each January since this website was launched 17 years ago, and I will continue to write it up here each year until they plant me, or the joke is fixed, whichever comes first, as I regard the undermentioned practice as both “highly deceptive” and totally unacceptable to the “integrity” of thoroughbred racing – if there is any of that “integrity” stuff left, given that through the ages, thoroughbred racing has had no problem whatsoever constantly bringing itself into disrepute.

I was kind of hopeful that the current Chairman of Racing Queensland, Kevin Dixon, might put a stop to this Magic Millions prizemoney dud, but his first term in office is nearly finished as there’s a State election looming large on 31 January and he’s done absolutely nought to address the problem. In fact he exacerbated the problem by jumping in the cot with Magic Millions for a guaranteed seven-year fling and now no one from Racing Queensland will tell the media, or those involved in the racing industry, how any millions will change hands. If Racing Queensland wanted to give millions upon millions of dollars to Magic Millions why didn’t Dixon do something constructive for the thoroughbred industry in Queensland and make his donations to the Magic Millions contingent on say getting another 50 or 60 Queensland-bred yearlings into the main five-day Magic Millions sale each January? That sort of strategy would have been of some benefit to the Queensland breeding industry. When Dixon was giving industry money away, he surely held all the aces, so the Queensland racing industry should have been reasonably entitled to reap some major rewards for our breeders in the first instance. As per my two researched stories over the last two days, Magic Millions sells copious numbers of slow racehorses, so does it really matter if the said “slow racehorses” are racing for a million dollars - or three million dollars - as just because you run races for bigger prizemoney doesn’t mean for one moment that you’ll get better horses. As an adjunct to that statement, the Brisbane Racing Club ran their first million-dollar Stradbroke in 2014 but we didn’t get any better field than if we had run that race for $500,000 in total prizemoney.

So at the end of the day, despite a lot of talk, nothing much changed with Kevin Dixon and his band of merry men taking control and the Magic Millions prizemoney debate obviously went in the “too hard” basket. They are just going to leave it there and look the other way as that is obviously their preferred philosophy. Fair dinkum - what a way to run a business.

So final acceptances have been taken for all eight races on Magic Millions day Saturday and the fields are out and about, but if you thought that Harry Houdini, the acknowledged master of deception, had departed the mortal coil, you’d best think again. His legacy lives on each year when the governing body of thoroughbred racing in this State – Racing Queensland – get together with the Magic Millions bloodstock company to formulate the annual Magic Millions race day at the Gold Coast. If Harry Houdini was still in our midst, even he would be totally aghast at just how expert Racing Queensland and Magic Millions are at performing magic tricks - like pulling rabbits out of hats. I’m sure Harry would acknowledge it’s all totally amazing stuff. The two thoroughbred entities named above, can even dupe 99% of racing people into turning a blind eye to the rabbit that has amazingly sprung up from nowhere. But be warned, no one in the massive audience that is watching the amazing display of deception should ask any questions of such high profile entities. They wouldn’t be what I’d call engaged in any “highly deceptive” conduct surely?

The Magic Millions race day is always run in January each year, except for when Equine Influenza visited our shores, which necessitated that the race day had to be run in March of the 2008 year. The what I call “prizemoney rorts” involve the entire day of racing. Nine races used to be the norm on the day, but as of January 2013, nine races were reduced to only eight and all eight races that are programmed for Saturday all have “rorted prizemoney” levels to make this day out to be something that it clearly isn’t.

You would really think that there would be cumulatively enough educated people from within the hierarchy of both Racing Queensland and Magic Millions to ensure that the prizemoney totals for each race would add up to the advertised value of the race but that’s not so – and if it’s “not so” – then doesn’t that mean it must be “highly deceptive”?

I acknowledge I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but even after I got my trusty calculator out and added up the eight figures, I’m buggered if I can make the advertised prizemoney of any of the eight races add up to what the advertised prizemoney is. (The prizemoney of all eight races are broken up below so there’s no confusion here). Where are you Harry – I need your help?

Let me explain how the dud works. The “Harry Houdini” deception is achieved by technically charging all starters for all races a rather large “final acceptance” fee. That “final acceptance” money then goes into the prizemoney pool, which merely inflates the true value of the race, then you pay that “final acceptance” money straight back to the owners after the race is run, if their horse didn’t finish in the first four – plus an extra couple of thousand dollars, meaning it’s a kind of “appearance money” if you like.

The prizemoney for the Magic Millions 2YO race in 2009 rose from $1.5 million to $2 million and it’s advertised as staying at that level for the January 2015 version. The “dud” comes in when we ask each final acceptor to pay a $27,500 “Acceptance Fee” to take their place in the field – a field that is limited to “16 runners plus five emergencies”. Racing Queensland advises in their monthly December 2014 edition of Racing Queensland Magazine. The prizemoney distribution for the $2 million 2YO race is as follows: “1st $1,140,000, 2nd $300,000, 3rd $150,000 and 4th $50,000” - but hang on Mr Dixon, you are in charge of the show, so the buck stops with you – and that only totals $1,640,000. Now excuse me Harry, but can you show me the magic and trickery that allows $1,640,000 to suddenly become $2,000,000? You don’t have $360,000 mysteriously shoved down the front of your superman costume do you? “Well sort of my son”, from the grave of Harry echoes, “remember the $27,500 final acceptance figure? Well we only collect that so that we can say the race was worth $2,000,000 – but we give it straight back to the owners that run from 5th to 16th inclusive, except we’ll give them $30,000 back – not $27,500 – so it doesn’t look too big a dud. Just calling the $2,500 difference ($30,000 minus $27,500) “appearance money” will suffice. In the December 2014 edition of the Racing Queensland Magazine they advise, “The Acceptance Fee of $27,500 (incl. GST) will be netted off against prizemoney and starter payments to the Manager”. That same December 2014 Racing Queensland Magazine notes “All Other Starters” (apart from the first four across the line) will earn “$30,000 (not subject to Trainer and Jockey deductions – payable to the Manager)”. So even Blind Freddie, holding a white cane in one hand and his faithful Labrador in the other, would see what’s going on here. Now if calling the race worth $2,000,000 in total prizemoney isn’t “grossly deceptive conduct” by all parties connected with the race - then I don’t know what is. The race should be advertised as being worth $1,670,000 not $2,000,000 ($1,140,000 + $300,000 + $150,000 + $50,000 the prizemoney for the first four home + 12x$2500 for the horses that finish fifth to sixteenth inclusive).

The “Acceptance Fee” figure of $27,500 to get fully paid up for the Magic Millions is bizarre anyway, as for some strange and unexplained reason it’s jumped from $22,000 in 2011 to $27,500 in 2012, then it's remained at that $27,500 figure to the present day, so that’s an increase of $5,500 from one year to the next, for no apparent reason, but even after I publicly asked both Racing Queensland and Magic Millions at the relevant time as to why had it gone up, I predictably didn’t get a reply?

Other “final acceptance fees” which are nowadays called simply "Acceptance Fees" also went up from 2011 to 2012 at Magic Millions for no apparent reason, as the fillies and mares race final acceptance payment rose from $2,200 to $2,750 – the Magic Millions Maiden rose from $1,000 to $1,500 – whilst the Class 6 went up to $1,375 from $1,100. Again when I asked why – the silence was deafening? All of those final acceptance figures remained at their 2012 and 2013 levels for 2014, except for one, and that was that the final acceptance fee on the Maiden dropped from $1,500 in 2013 to $1375 in 2014, a figure it remains at in 2015, whilst the Stayers Cup jumps $550 for absolutely no reason to $2,750 from 2014 to 2015.

As a further demonstration of how out of touch with reality the Magic Millions “final acceptances” or "Acceptance Fees" are, the 2014 $3,050,000 Cox Plate, run annually in Melbourne in October, required four payment declarations along the way and those four acceptance fee payments totalled $38,500 and that figure includes a final acceptance fee of $33,000 per starter – and the Cox Plate pays what would fairly be called “major prizemoney” back to eighth via fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth horses each receiving $100,000. Additionally any international horse that is brought to Australia for the race that doesn’t run in the first eight placings in the Cox Plate gets A$100,000 paid to connections in the form of prizemoney. The Magic Millions 2YO race pays prizemoney only back to fourth – whilst fifth to sixteenth inclusive earn a measly $2,500 via what I’d called earlier an “appearance fee”.

As a matter of interest, the 2014 version of the $3million Caulfield Cup had four declaration payments that totalled $27,500 – which included a final acceptance fee of $24,750 and it also pays normal prizemoney back to fifth inclusive, with “major prizemoney” being paid to sixth, seventh and eighth placegetters, as each earn $75,000.

Australia’s biggest prizemoney race, the internationally acknowledged Melbourne Cup, which was worth $6million for its November 2014 version, had three stages of acceptance fees totalling $56,760, which included a final acceptance fee of $49,500 and the race pays “major prizemoney” right back to tenth, via sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth placegetters all receiving $125,000. So Magic Millions wanting a $27,500 final acceptance fee (which equates to 48.45% of the Melbourne Cup final acceptance fee), for a race worth $1,670,000 in actual prizemoney (27.83% of the Melbourne Cup prizemoney) - is absolutely ridiculous, given the Melbourne Racing Club only wants $56,760 in total acceptances for a $6,000,000 race.

So it is high time in Queensland that we showed a bit more respect for the word “integrity”, because on the Magic Millions prizemoney issue, we have shown none for many years. It is all well and good that Magic Millions is an internationally recognised thoroughbred business. That’s just more the reason for everyone to make sure their noses are clean - I would have thought - but then what would I know, as I can’t even make “$2 million” equal more than $1,670,000 sometimes.

A summary of the eight Magic Millions races being run Saturday at the Gold Coast Turf Club on Magic Millions race day is as below. This year, in 2015, everything is exactly the same in respect of all the below columns, apart from the two aforesaid races noted above that had a change to their “final acceptance fee” as I produced for website visitors in January 2014, except first prizemoney for the Magic Millions 2YO this year is $1,140,000 not $1,400,000 like it was in January 2014:
















MM Cup





MM Sprint





MM Stayers










Mm Maiden





MM Class 6









* Actual = advertised prizemoney paid 1st to 4th inclusive.

** FAF = Final Acceptance Fee now called "Acceptance Fee" per runner to help artificially inflate prizemoney.

Last year when I wrote this article which had the same theme, I wrote “I can assure you that the Magic Millions would be the only joint in Australia where the owner of a horse would be asked to pay $1,375 final acceptance fee to run in a Maiden”. The Maiden (Race 1) should simply be advertised as a race worth $82,000 in total prizemoney – for that is the truth. How utterly ridiculous is that when “feature race” final acceptance for say the Bernborough Handicap at Toowoomba on New Year’s Eve 2014 was only $1,110 yet that race was worth $175,000 in total prizemoney. This crappy Magic Millions Maiden that will be dished up next Saturday at the Gold Coast is worth less than half of the Bernborough prizemoney ($82,000 versus $175,000) so why is the Maiden “Acceptance Fee" $265 more? Hello.


Then in January 2013 - and totally without explanation - Magic Millions deleted the “Country Cup” from their Magic Millions race day, such that from 2013 inclusive onwards, the race day has only had eight races, not nine as in previous years. That decision is to me best described as “deplorable,” as whilst Magic Millions happily fly some highly paid sheila in from overseas to be ambassador for the Carnival, now owners who had a chance to have their “Country Cup” Magic Millions purchases appear and race on the big day for $100,000 prizemoney (really $82,000 - but why let the truth get in the way of a good story) are now suddenly no longer welcome on the day. Yet whilst all these “mainstream media” journalists run around like chooks with their head cut off promoting the day and telling all and sundry how successful Gerry Harvey is in life and how wealthy he is and how many Group 1 winners have been sold out of the joint, there is not one solitary mention anywhere about some of the real issues that beset the Magic Millions race day, like 1) the prizemoney duds and 2) magically dropping a race from the annual race day, a race that catered for owners and trainers of battling bush horses that had been happily sold through the Magic Millions sale ring – the same as Golden Slipper winners like Dance Hero and Phelan Ready were. For the record - and to educate those in the media who didn’t even realise that Gerry and crew have staged another Harry Houdini performance, by ditching the "Country Cup", the last "Country Cup" ever run - was won in January 2012 by Onetimeatbandcamp, from My Man of War, with Pleasure or Pain running third.


Maybe Magic Millions is embarrassed by some of the slow horses that they sell, so that when they only end up being “Country Cup” horses, it’s best to leave them out of the big race day activities, but Gerry Harvey and crew ought to have been around long enough in business to know that owners who have been denied an opportunity to have their somewhat ordinary “Country Cup” horses perform at the annual Magic Millions race day since January 2013 may now not support the Magic Millions Yearling Sale in 2014, 2015 and beyond, given Magic Millions doesn’t want to know them and their somewhat “ordinary” horses.


It is my considered opinion that both Racing Queensland and Magic Millions need to re-visit the meaning of the word “integrity” with their annual Magic Millions race day. Personally I also find it totally amazing that this practise of 1) continually duding prizemoney levels annually and 2) dropping a “Country Cup” race for no reason in 2013 is not challenged vehemently by owners and breeders groups, whose charter I would have reasonably thought would have been overseeing their member’s interests, thus disallowing this sort of garbage to continue. Again this year as in previous years their silence to date on both issues has been deafening.


Any of Racing Queensland, Magic Millions, the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Queensland Association, or the Queensland Racehorse Owners Association, has an unedited right of reply should they wish to attempt to explain to my many readers why there is any legitimate reason for the high “acceptance fees”, other than to artificially inflate the prizemoney levels, as is intimated in this article. One or all of the above is also invited to explain to my readers why the “Country Cup” was dropped without explanation from the 2013, 2014 and now 2015 Magic Millions race days, thus depriving owners and trainers of what I’d call “battling horses” of the opportunity to partake in a rich prizemoney race. And when you are weighing up your measured response, always remember, “For evil to succeed, good men must do nothing.” I wonder how many “good men” there are amongst the four aforesaid organizations? The exact same opportunity as today’s has been offered here for the last five years, yet it failed to draw one solitary response from any one of those aforesaid entities that have been continually afforded an “unedited right of reply”. That’s absolutely and utterly disgraceful in any fair person’s assessment and simply reinforces what an “incestuous world” the thoroughbred industry truly is.


I guess it must therefore be a “no contest” – and that they are all “guilty as charged”.


Today on there’s the second and final montage of photos from the Gold Coast last Saturday. On there’s a breeding story by Brian Russell, whilst on Victorian racing is perused.
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