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By David Fowler | Tuesday, February 24, 2015

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB. David, who is a keen form student and punter, has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in the racing media. His personal blog, ‘My Call’, appears exclusively on HRO.

Cutting through the shock and horror of last week's greyhound crisis, one burning question stands out like a beacon.

And it's a question that doesn't have a clear cut answer.

How prevalent is/was "live baiting" in the greyhound industry?

Many have hazarded a guess but many wouldn't know.

The Four Corners expose was a snapshot. It certainly can't be proven that what was aired is commonplace.

But nor can it prove that it isn't.

I'll put my hand up and say I didn't know about live baiting despite owning greyhounds and punting on them for 30 years.

I've met a lot of good people in the industry and some are not so good.

Were the good ones "live baiters"?

In other words, do you know what your next door neighbour does behind the bedroom door?

The story is now a week old and is beginning to settle yet only a few decisive moves can be made in the short and long term.

Prosecute the wrong doers and put in place measures for it not to happen again. Simple.

For those running around frantically with agendas big and small, don't use this episode as a trigger for your own purposes.


Wade Birch's weekend stand down illustrated an inherent weakness in our present control model.

Whether Birch should have been stood down is a matter of conjecture. Only an internal or external review will allowed a valued judgement.

I believe Birch to be a competent administrator, with potential for improvement, and a very effective communicator.

It should be pointed out that Birch is relatively young for the responsibilities he shoulders.

But as he has been stood down for a possible misstep in greyhound integrity, the thoroughbred and harness codes must suffer.

Having three codes under the one banner in key areas such as integrity is fraught with danger.

My main angst on the merger nearly five years ago was combing the different racing cultures and spreading staff too thin.

I believe my second point is clearly relevant in last week’s chain of events.

Personally, I hope Birch's stand down is temporary.

But if he returns the working model should be reshaped.

Similarly, Darren Condon not seeing the "smoking gun" email would generally not be a hanging offence.

How many would he get from three codes? A truckload, I imagine.

Again, it illustrates the point that trying to run three codes of racing singl- handedly is a Herculean task.

Frankly, a return to the old model of codes running themselves is a far more attractive proposition, in my opinion.


It amazed me that not one abandoned galloping meeting was not considered to be postponed until today or yesterday.

Hundreds of thousands of prize-money dollars were lost with the five abandoned meetings on Friday and Saturday.

Yes, there is every chance the tracks would be still too wet. But at least reschedule to give them a fighting chance to survive.

We are thoroughbred vacant on Monday and Tuesday so there was plenty of room to move.

The absence of such a decision is even more glaring when only two races from the washed out cards were transferred to tomorrow and Saturday.

By the way, where does all that prize-money go from abandoned meetings?

That's one for next week.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best