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By David Fowler | Tuesday, February 11, 2020

In the almost nine years I have been writing MY CALL, I have never reproduced a column. Occasionally, I will have referred to a fact or a point of view from previous columns when penning fresh copy. However, as many of you would have read in yesterday’s Courier-Mail, John-Paul Langbroek, the opposition Racing Minister, was on the front foot in State Parliament last week in regard to the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission. His main lines of attack were QRIC’s performance regarding animal welfare and their strike rate in terms of convictions in the harness racing arrests. He pointed out several of those arrests were thrown out of court. Here’s what I wrote in August 2017, only a few months after the first draft of arrests when the topic was quite newsworthy. The content does not require further comment.

This article was first published on HRO on August 1, 2017

The trots is getting an unfair rap over the “match fixing” arrests.

Make no mistake, a similar situation could easily hit thoroughbred racing if a whistleblower happens to tap in the Crimestoppers number.

Granted, trotting has had a tenuous grip on any high moral ground for some time.

I make no apologies for that statement.

Its weakened state heralds from sins of the past when a powerful few manipulated the betting machinery of the business. Pick your state.

Thoroughbred racing can absorb its alleged crooks because of its size and diversity.

In contrast, the little pond of trotting was left looking like a deer in the headlights when the corrupters were either caught or moved on.

This was a seventies and eighties thing and the business has never seriously recovered to wear any badge of honour.

Punters have long memories and unforgiving ones.

But present participants are more likely to pull up a weed in their backyard than pull up one of their horses.

Even if you’re a “fair dinkum” form student and trying to lay a key fancy on Betfair, see how much you get matched for.

But the environment of trot bashing was created a long time before the “match fixing” bombshell was launched by QRIC in April.

On cue, all the emotive words got their run … arrests, charges, race fixing cartels etc etc.

And, just as on cue, the run-of-the-mill punter shakes his or her head sagely … ah “the old red hots” … no surprise there.

Hark back to April when the first two arrests were made, the mood created was intentionally marked volatile.

“More arrests to come in days and weeks,” they thundered. There has been one in the subsequent four months, a licencee who neither trains or drives.

I know the trio. Know them well. I described on radio the thought of one of them being arrested as akin to a “200-1 chance winning the Melbourne Cup.”

Let me blunt. These charges by the letter of the law are likely to be correct.

But, as a racing enthusiast, you will be amazed when the full details of the “crimes” are released. Underwhelmed is the first word that comes to mind.

And, maybe, the trot bashers might be heard to remark “how can you be pinched for that ?”

Not just pinched, jailed.

See it’s a different ball game now. A new picture show has arrived in town.

There’s a number to ring, a sympathetic ear and a whole different and uglier set of rules to use.

And I’m not saying that is a bad thing either. There is an avenue to bell the cat on serious corruption.

The ultimate determinations of these cases will be keenly watched. They will be watershed moments in racing history.

What I am saying to the thoroughbred world, it will arrive on your doorstep sooner than later.

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As reported in the Courier-Mail yesterday, Opposition racing spokesman John-Paul Langbroek did not hold back when addressing, what he clearly perceives, as the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission’s poor performance since its inception, particularly when recognising the fact that the Commission reportedly comes with funding in the region of $30 million a year.

Langbroek labelled QRIC’s results at QCAT (when their judgements have been appealed) as being ‘pathetic’ and he reportedly also called out Commissioner Ross Barnett’s 2017 comments which suggested a link between organised crime and harness racing while noting that many of those cases had been thrown out of court.

Langbroek went on to add …

“I can assure Labor that QRIC is not the envy of the nation other than in terms of funding which is up to double or triple that of the southern states.

The Minister for Racing has said that QRIC is delivering strong and effective oversight of Queensland’s racing industry across three codes …

Everyone in racing knows that statement is a joke.”
David Fowler
David Fowler
Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best