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2015 - WEEK 4: MUDLARKS MISS OUT, BIRCHLEY STRIKES IN NZ, THE COBALT ISSUE PLUS STEWARDS REPORTS

By Graham Potter | Thursday, January 29, 2015

2015 - WEEK 4 (JAN 22- JAN 28):

MUDLARKS ALMOST HAD THEIR DAY:

On Thursday last week the weather forecast suggested that mudlarks were going to be given their chance over the weekend, but the weather gods were just teasing those hopefuls.

The rain just kept coming. The persistent downpour washed away the Friday meeting at Ipswich and also soon drowned any hopes of the Saturday meetings going ahead at Doomben and the Gold Coast, with the other Saturday ‘regular’ Toowoomba not even being carded due to track maintenance ... leaving Thangool as Queensland’s only Saturday offering.

From there, things did go according to schedule with Beaudesert (on Sunday) and the four Monday “Australia Day’ meetings providing some consolation to the battered schedule, bearing in mind that Queensland racing normally has a ‘Monday race-free’ policy.

In the end, seven of the ten scheduled meetings went ahead, which was a positive outcome that few would have bet on during the Friday’s prolonged downpour.

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THE DOUBLE B BRAND – BIRCHLEY AND BROWN – STRIKE GOLD IN NZ

On Sunday, while Queenslanders were finding their way back into the sunshine, the state was claiming a big victory in New Zealand, courtesy of the Hardline, Liam Birchley, Damian Browne combination.

Birchley has a long established reputation in terms of selecting and preparing youngsters for the rich ‘sales specific’ million dollar races such as Karaka and Magic Millions.

In most people’s minds Birchley arguably build that reputation more on the back of the Magic Millions brand, where he always seems to have a real, live contender, than at Karaka ... but in terms of winning returns Karaka has been the happy hunting ground for Birchley, who leads most of his Queensland counterparts in terms of being able to set up two bites at the big money cherry on opposite sides of the Tasman.

On Sunday Birchley won New Zealand's richest race, the $1 million Karaka Million, for the second time. This time it was Hardline taking the honours. (In 2010 Birchley won the race with Sister Havana).

It was nail-biting stuff with Hardline having to overcome the disadvantage of a slow pace and traffic problems before unleashing his winning effort which carried him past Selfie in the closing stages after the latter looked to have the race in his grasp once he hit the lead.

In was an inch perfect ride from Browne, as most pundits have come to expect from the quality horseman, and while Birchley must take every credit for turning the horse out in the sort of condition which allowed him to put his explosive acceleration to its best use, it was ultimately perhaps Browne’s calmness in the saddle that most helped carry the day.

"I brought 40 owners over with me,” said Birchley after the race. "We've got a bit more firepower now to go shopping for another one for next year.”

You can bet he will be back.

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COBALT IDENTITIES:

If a charge is laid and sustained against a trainer whose horse has exceeded the colbalt threshold of 200 micrograms per litre of urine, the consequences can be very serious indeed.

Sounds ominous enough for the guilty, but life is never that simple.

A few protracted cases and suddenly the whole training fraternity is under scrutiny. The line between those who do what is right and those who allegedly don’t has been blurred significantly in the past couple of weeks.

Racing is a Premier League player when it comes to ‘rumours’ and the pending cobalt cases are the stuff on which gossipmongers thrive. It seems no trainer is safe from suspicion. No stable safe from innuendo.

At the start of this week Racing Queensland's chief integrity officer Wade Birch stated, “I have to make a decision whether the results should be made public after they return from Perth or after the final tests in Sydney or Hong Kong.”

"It is a case of weighing public interest against the interests of trainers and owners. We have to get the balance correct.”

Four days later the Courier-mail reported that ‘numbers but not names will be announced when Racing Queensland receives the results of the first batch of samples kept for retrospective cobalt testing.’

Full article

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Graham Potter writes a weekly column for the Sunshine Coast daily which appears every Sunday. Due to demand from those having trouble accessing the paper these columns are now also published on HRO courtesy of the Sunshine Coast daily. They can be found on the relevant publish dates, going back every Sunday, under the blog section of the site.
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