Queensland's Own Welcome to the best coverage of racing in Queensland Queensland's Best
Horse Racing Only
www.horseracingonly.com.au Horse Racing Only logo
Home Racing Queensland National International Blogs Photo Gallery Links Contact Us


By John Schreck | Thursday, December 14, 2017

John Schreck, a former Chief Steward in both Sydney and Hong Kong, has seen both the colourful and the dark sides of racing. His wealth of experience and his deep knowledge of racing matters across the board is unquestioned and the reputation he built as a racing ‘lawman’ remains firmly entrenched in racing’s history. Schreck’s personal blog, ‘From the Sheriff’s Desk', appears exclusively on HRO.

Over recent weeks in New South Wales there has been a lot of publicity, primarily in the print media, regarding the growth of gambling and loss of personal funds on poker machines.

Obviously governments can’t do without poker machines these days because of the amount of tax it generates for them but, given the current publicity, it wouldn’t surprise me if, in the quite near future, some curb is put on poker machines.

There is a push for that from a number of federal politicians and state politicians are starting to become interested these arguments despite the tax revenue situation.

My view is that there will be some movement in this regard in the not too distant future ... and rightly so.

While they are a valuable source of revenue for governments and they can generate a lot of employment, including in country communities, there is the opposite side of that coin where those who have problems with this type of gambling can be severely, adversely affected by the pastime.

Quite simply, it can destroy lives.

In my opinion, one of the great failings of Bob Carr, when he was Premier in New South Wales, was to pretty much make every hotel in New South Wales a mini casino.

That helped with revenue but it also made it easier for those who arguably could probably least afford to lose on the machines to get to a gambling venue.

Because of the government’s reliance on this gambling revenue stream, there will, of course, always be poker machines. However when a subject such as this does start to get the type of media attention that has been in play recently it can grow legs and it often ultimately leads to some changes down the line.

When might those changes occur?

I don’t know the answer to that ... but I do think that this matter will attract more attention as we move forward and that some change to the regulations, as we know it, might be the outcome.


The passing of Hayden Haitana this week after a long illness will have stirred memories of the infamous Fine Cotton case in the eighties.

That ‘ring-in’ had very serious consequences for Hayden Haitana and many, many others.The events of that day, and those that followed, have been well documented ... so I will not go through it again here.

What I will say though is that, back in those days, in the racing industry around the country ... and, dare I say, particularly in Queensland ... the way horses were inspected before they raced was just abysmal really.

Goodness knows how many successful ring-in’s there were.

I’m guessing there would have been plenty up until that particular time.


Looking from afar, the reports about what is going on in the harness racing industry in Brisbane leaves me sad.

I have been a great fan of the harness industry over a long period of years. I think it is a wonderful spectacle, particularly at night, and it provides a lot of work for a lot of people.

Unfortunately, the situation of alleged corruption within the Brisbane ranks seems to be escalating.

We should always remember two things though.

One, that a presumption of innocence should be maintained in any case until any individual accused is found guilty ... and two, very, importantly, that the great majority of the people in the sport are good, hard-working people who love their horses and would race for a blue ribbon.

Those people ... the genuine trots person ... would applaud any corruption that is weeded out by authorities.

I can guarantee that having worked in and been associated with harness racing for a long time ... but, it is also fair to say, that these actions remain as unfortunate they are necessary.

The bottom line is that whatever the outcomes of particular cases ... past, present and future ...the current profile of the harness racing industry in Brisbane represents a sad state of affairs.

More articles

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