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By David Fowler | Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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.

Liam Birchley’s decision to restart his training career can easily be dispensed as one line of news.

Yet I believe it provokes a lot broader discussion about racing and Birchley himself.

It is matter of record that Birchley fought hard for three years against an imposed 12-month disqualification and won via an upheld VCAT appeal.

Yet victory came at a cost financially and reputationally.

One could argue those costs combined were so significant it prompted Birchley to relinquish his trainer’s licence 14 months ago while retaining his directorship at Archer Park.

Birchley was a key player in the development of Archer Park not only as a training, spelling and agistment complex but as an emerging brand promoting and implementing ownership syndication.

That connection is never lost on race watchers as every Archer Park runner races in Birchley’s registered colours.

Is Birchley resuming his training career a positive for the racing industry?

This is where the discussion potentially becomes broad and can say more about the industry itself rather than Birchley.

The circumstances surrounding Birchley’s disqualification will polarise opinion on the aforementioned question.

Birchley “gets it”. He understands that’s racing’s way and is also mindful that he can’t change it.

It might be hard for his detractors to accept but justice has been served and it found in Birchley’s favour.

We fall into tricky territory if we start making judgements on judgements which many in racing are prone to do.

Any racing jurisdiction needs more than less talent.

To flourish it needs enthusiastic and prosperous owners racing ability-driven racehorses bred from good stock.

It needs those horses ridden professionally and trained professionally.

Facts and figures demonstrate Birchley is a professional trainer. So, a “plus one” to the training ranks surely earns the tick in the box.

Yet what does a Birchley “mark two” represent? What about the man himself?

We’ve already been given a handy lead as he outlined last week his training operation will be country-based and on a smaller scale.

This is a clear sign from a man who has carefully considered the most significant reset of his unfinished career.

A man who has taken every factor into consideration and settled on a revamped model that he believes will achieve results.

It will suit him financially and mentally. It will suit his horses. The key planks in the platform are built.

I don’t know Birchley well, but I know him well enough.

He is an intelligent horseman yet that intelligence easily expands to matters outside of racing.

The rebooting of his career is an intriguing topic with plenty to consider on several fronts.

The formguide has him short odds to reignite where he left off.

Only those short-sighted would deny it.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
Liam Birchley
Liam Birchley
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