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By David Fowler | Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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.

If last night's Four Corners' program was meant to turn the heat up on the Australian racing industry, it hardly reached boiling point.

While many were preparing for a double-down on the Aquanita doping story, the 45 minute program gave a fair and balanced appraisal of several other significant issues on racing's agenda.

And while I'm no fan of the ABC, the program was quite considered in its approach.

The Aquanita issue was central to its content and largely covered events already done and dusted in the media.

However, it did raise two disturbing points not well canvassed, if canvassed at all, during the play out of the scandal.

Why was Robert Smerdon's mobile phone handed back to him rather than forensically investigated and why was that treatment far kinder than that meted out to fellow trainer Danny O'Brien during his cobalt dramas?

And these two questions also highlighted last night's underwhelming response from Racing Victoria CEO Giles Thompson.

Michael Brissenden's questioning of Thompson on these matters was logical and reasoned but all he was afforded were weasel words and lawyer-like responses.
Thompson simply amplified what so many think of the Racing Victoria administration. Tricky and out of touch.

He failed spectacularly.

Others may be kinder in their assessment.


But Aquanita didn't dominate the program as many were expecting or, might I dare say, hoping.

The opening topic discussed the present plight of the country trainer faced with the encroachment of their city or provincial rivals.

It was seen through the prism of Cootamundra trainer Debbie Prest.

With due respect to Ms Prest, many would doubt she was the most appropriate person to prosecute this case, even in there was a real case to prosecute.

In fact, I thought the argument was overblown, something alluded to by Racing NSW CEO Peter V'Landys.

"It's a competition sport. We don't pay prizemoney for slow horses," was the typical non sugar-coated reply.


The other main strand covered thoroughbred welfare. Simply, where do the slow horses end up?

While this could be considered an ABC hobbyhorse, the conversation encompassed several viewpoints.

And while the racing industry has a "love to hate" relationship with the RSPCA, it would be a hard marker who would say their representative didn't speak common sense although their concern with tongue ties requires further investigation.

"Wastage" is an issue that isn't going away and nor it should.

Too often these sort of programs get me cranky because of the lack of racing appreciation but last night's OFF TRACK didn't.

It gave stakeholders pause for thought and did not sensationalise to trigger anger in non-racing folk.

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