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Headlines Today is 12/02/2016
Some fixed odds markets are just toxic from a punting perspective. This is a photo I took last Friday night of the Sportsbet market on Race 4 at the Gold Coast the next day. The market was at 199% and the horse that was seventh emergency and virtually no hope of getting a run just happened to be the favourite. So punters had to cop 1) a market at 199%, plus 2) hefty deductions, when the favourite was understandably a race day scratching. How exciting is all that - it's no wonder punters put money in poker machines.

Last week I elected myself as the spokesman for racing in Queensland for as I outlined then, the ranks are a bit thin of people in Queensland in decision making roles within racing as soon after the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk came to power she gave all the racing Boards the flick, which was all understandable. And other senior personnel soon got shown the door also.

Actually here’s an interesting and exclusive question to kick of today’s website article - and the question is, “Which former high ranking person at Racing Queensland had $3,000 with Ubet last Saturday afternoon, whilst visiting a watering hole, on the Lindsay Hatch trained, Skye Bogenhuber ridden, first starter Johnny Be Quick in the opening race at Toowoomba, before the little treasure stayed in the barriers and failed to jump with the field. I understand the same person had won good money earlier in the afternoon betting on Counterattack in Sydney when that horse upset the odds-on unbeaten favourite - Hellbent.

Anyway I digress. I’ve had several emails asking how Traveston Girl could win the Queensland “3YO Horse of the Year” title at the awards ceremony last week when she didn’t even win a race anywhere in Australia in her 3YO year. It’s a good question and I’d have to “Pass” on the question and/or “Phone A Friend” because I can’t ever recall anywhere in Australian thoroughbred racing where a horse has been considered the best of his or her age group, yet never won a race in the entire season. In fact Traveston Girl only managed to run three placings during the entire 2014/2015 racing season from which the winner emanated.

So I suggest that we should immediately launch a “retrospective running and handling inquiry” into this particular award. As I’ve noted here numerous times before, we need to have the judges names publicly advised that are associated with these awards, such that Traveston Girl is named the leading “3YO Horse of the Year” as voted by A, B, C and D - or whoever. Maybe the judges have a legitimate reason to think that the then filly was the best 3YO in Queensland in the 2014/2015 racing season, but in my humble opinion it paints the Queensland industry in a poor light when we credit horses that cannot win a solitary race all season with major awards. In fact I fancy we set ourselves up to be a laughing stock interstate by awarding non-winning horses a title.

So the public are entitled to know who judged this important award, as the candidates were advised as being Traveston Girl, Jumbo Prince, Hijack Hussy and Worthy Cause. For instance my immediate thoughts are: “Why wasn’t Jumbo Prince the 3YO Horse of the Year and not Traveston Girl”? After all Jumbo Prince actually managed to win four races (versus nil for Traveston Girl) during his 3YO year and he was also Group 1 placed as he ran third in the 2015 Group 1 Queensland Derby to Magicool and Werther and he also ran third in the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate to Sadler’s Lake.

For her part Traveston Girl won none of her seven starts in her 3YO year and managed to run only three placings. She ran second in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas to Amicus at Caulfield, third in the Group 3 Gold Coast Guineas to Nostradamus and Time For War and she also ran third in the Listed Juanmo Stakes at Doomben to I’ve Got The Looks and Dublin Lass.

So in summary, I acknowledge that Traveston Girl and Jumbo Prince were both Group 1 placed and Group 3 placed in their 3YO year and that Traveston Girl was also a Listed placegetter.

I then decided to pull apart their “average prizemoney per start” from solely their 3YO year, as I find that is always a handy barometer to the class of a horse. From his 13 starts as a 3YO, Jumbo Prince earned average prizemoney per start of $18,777. For her part, Traveston Girl had seven starts in her 3YO year and had average prizemoney earnings per start of $18,129 – meaning Jumbo Prince earned $648 more "average prizemoney per start" across just on double the starts of Traveston Girl.

Whilst I can see that both individual performances pretty much mirror each other from a black type perspective, I would have thought that the determining factor should have been that one 3YO won four races in the racing season, whilst the other one actually won none. So on behalf of many Queenslanders who would feel the same as I do, I yet again unreservedly apologize to thoroughbred devotees in other States of Australia for what many see as the latest little glitch on our radar. All I can say is, “Houston we have a problem in Queensland but it has been unseasonably hot in recent times - so that may have something to do with it”.

And still on the subject of Brisbane racing, I sincerely hope that thoroughbred owners and trainers understand that they are getting paid too much prizemoney in some Saturday city races, compared to what is happening in both Sydney and Melbourne. Take last Saturday at Randwick in Sydney for instance where some Einstein, or cumulative group of Einsteins, have decided to add a ninth race to the program. But the catch was that this new ninth race was a half normal prizemoney race worth just $40,000 in total prizemoney. It was allegedly put on to help battling bush trainers out with Class 2 horses. What a hoot. But I fancy the true underlying aim of the extra race is to simply to entice punters to bet on another Saturday city race, with the obvious and ultimate goal being to boost flagging TAB turnover. The famous “they” must think we punters are all stupid - and “they” would be right to some degree, given in the modern day humanoid brains have the opportunity to get fried by all these little nasties that one can snort, smoke, inject, ingest and so on.

So at Randwick the little treasure that won their Class 2 race last Saturday was the aptly named Grand Proposal and that little treasure was just a tad hard for punters to find, as she came into the race with the hardly awe inspiring form of 8-4-8. Yet in Brisbane we had two 0MW (no metropolitan win) races and the first one was won by Dee Nine Elle, which came straight off a slow overall time Ipswich Maiden win to win a “Saturday city race”. So in Brisbane, Dee Nine Elle’s race was worth $65,000 in total prizemoney, which raises the question: “Are Brisbane’s low class 0MW races paid too much prizemoney in Saturday city racing”? As part of cost cutting measures in Racing Queensland, I believe that cutting 0MW prizemoney back to say $40K total prizemoney per race, instead of the current $65K level, would constitute both 1) common sense and 2) a considerable saving of prizemoney in an entire racing season. And I believe that we would still get the exact same field in our $40K total prizemoney 0MW races as we do now, as the vast majority of horses that compete in such races are best described as “low class provincial and/or country horses”.

Had Dee Nine Elle taken the normal progression and gone from the Maiden win at Ipswich to say a Class 1 race at the Gold Coast or equivalent track, she would have been racing for total prizemoney of between $16K and $20K. My argument to cut 0MW prizemoney to $40K gains more momentum when it’s advised that the other 0MW winner last Saturday at Doomben – the Muswellbrook trained gelding Don’t Tease Me – couldn’t run a place at his two previous starts prior to last Saturday in 1) a $22K race at Newcastle and 2) a $50K race at Warwick Farm. To be balanced he had won his three previous starts in 1) an $8K race at Wellington in NSW, 2) a $20K race at Tamworth and 3) a $17K race at Gunnedah - the point being that he’s proven conclusively in life-to-date that he’s “not a genuine Saturday city horse”, yet he comes to Brisbane and romps in with a 0MW race. For their part, Melbourne isn’t currently having a half prizemoney race on a Saturday, as they are in Carnival mode, but as soon as the Carnival is over, they will no doubt revert back to a half prizemoney race each Saturday. And in time will one half prizemoney race in both Sydney and Melbourne become two – or three – all in the name of stimulating diminishing TAB turnover?

And still on thoroughbred racing and Sportsbet opened up betting on last Saturday’s Gold Coast Race 4 at a whopping 199% and the horse that was seventh emergency in the race, Eight Below, was opened up as the favourite at $5, even though it was highly unlikely to get a run due to scratchings. So punters betting into the fixed odds markets on this race were hit with what I’d call a “double whammy” with this entity, as those betting into this market had to cop 1) 199%, plus 2) deductions when the favourite didn’t get a run. Oh and incidentally the $5 favourite came into this race as favourite after beating one home in a seven-horse barrier trial on 22 September.

And finally in some very positive news for the Queensland racing industry – and in particular for the greyhound code - the Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club (IGRC), where I must publicly advise that Justracing sponsors the semaphore board, so that there are no integrity issues in respect of what I write here on the club, late yesterday finished tallying up all the results of the 2015 Ipswich Puppy Auction that was held last Sunday. And to that end, IGRC Manager, Merv Page, advised me last night that the Puppy Auction was such a resounding success that the sale average actually "jumped from around $1,500 in 2014 to around $2,000 last Sunday". Merv Page advised, “We bit the bullet and put some big prizemoney on and the $70,000 to the winner prizemoney of the final of the auction series that pups sold last Sunday are eligible for, has had the desired result amongst buyers. The committee decided to continue with this auction despite all the doom and gloom in the industry, to prove that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and to attempt to put a bit of joy into the hearts of the greyhound people in Queensland. And we feel that we have succeeded in that aim - via the success of this sale. It was a good sale and everyone I’ve spoken to has been happy with the results and with the reinventing of the Ipswich auction through having buy-backs, back in the sale, and we’re just very happy".

Today on there’s the second of four montages of photos this week from the Ipswich Puppy Auction on Sunday and the Doomben thoroughbred meeting the day before. On Bernard Kenny looks at Dubai in 2016, whilst on there’s a story on Moe Cup winner Desert Jeuney.

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