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By John Schreck | Wednesday, December 27, 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.

My outstanding memory for 2017 would be the achievements of Hugh Bowman.

Let me just preface any further comments on that subject by saying that, over the years, I have been reluctant to discuss licensed people ... but I think Hugh Bowman’s success in Australia and internationally has been really outstanding and worthy of comment.

He has conducted himself ... as has his family ... extraordinarily well and, of course, has ridden well.

He is one of the few leading riders in the world these days who rides with his foot right in the irons and he seems to be able to get away with. I am a great fan of jockeys riding on their toes but his style works for High Bowman to the extent that he rides successfully anywhere he goes against all sorts of competition all around the world.

He is a bush boy from Dunedoo who obviously always wanted to be a jockey but I think the important point about Hugh Bowman is that he is not just a jockey he is a horseman which, in many ways in his field, makes him rather unique or at least a member of a rather elite and small club of riders.

Then there is the fact that Bowman is not really designed to be a jockey. He is big for a jockey so he must put a lot of time and effort into maintaining his riding weight.

Talent can only take you so far. Commitment and dedication can take you further and when they all come together, as they clearly have in Bowman’s case, you can boast an outstanding record of achievement.

There can be no doubt that, all things considered, that is exactly what Bowman has put behind his name in 2017 and, personal glory aside, his ranking as the Longines World’s Best Jockey has also kept the Australian flag flying high on the world stage ... which can only be good for the country’s racing profile.


Looking forward to 2018 I have two particular hopes for the racing industry.

The first is that racing’s judiciary process can settle down and get back to the ‘quick justice is good justice’ arrangement, instead of the long, drawn out cases we have all had to suffer through.

The delays with decisions is not good for the sport, not good for the participants, not good for the fans and racing jurisdictions throughout the country really have to address this matter and find a better way of doing things.

I think that if somebody is going to be penalised it is important they be penalised quickly ... that their appeal (if forthcoming) be held quickly and either won or lost ... and then everybody can move on.

Of course natural justice has to be applied to everybody in the sport, particularly when people can be potentially deprived of their livelihood. You have to give everybody a fair go.

I think that is understood, but the manner in which things are being done these days in terms of the delays in finalising outcomes does seem to leave a lot to be desired.

So, my hope is that racing finds a way to implement a marked improvement in terms of the speed in which cases are resolved in its judiciary system.


My second hope for 2018 is that the Tatts / Tabcorp merger works out successfully and doesn’t just create a big monopoly ... which a lot of people are worried it might do.

The deal is done and dusted now and it is so important for the sport that this particular merger works out.

No doubt we will find out soon enough.


I wish you all a happy new year.

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