The best racing column in Australia

At long last someone has been able to explain why it’s possible racing stewards can be police, investigator,  and jury and judge when charging owners, trainers’ jockeys, vets’ stable hands etc with various breaches of the rules of racing.

Over the past couple of years the sporting pages have been filled with stories of stewards and their claims that vets and trainers and owners were using Cobalt to dope horses despite the animal producing various amounts of the substance naturally.

They came up with a number and any reading above that was illegal. There is little doubt there were cheats making “vitamin additives” that were similar to the stuff that allowed athletes to dominate their sports, but it also saw leading owners .and trainers rubbed out for years with their reputations ruined forever with no definite proof that cobalt was administered.

Some lost their homes trying to pay legal bills, others had family break-ups There were claims of stewards confiscating telephones, jumping over fencing at stables and vets losing their licence, and of course the most recent one where leading jockey James McDonald has been disqualified for 18 months for allegedly being involved in a bet on colt Astern which was placed by punter Anthony Gardiner.

Stewards took Mc Donald’s phone and read all the records. They told punter Mr Gardiner to attend an inquiry which he declined to do so. Stewards then disqualified him from all race courses and having a bet with any bookmaker.

 Now in the legal world police can’t just rock up and take your phone they have to get permission . They can’t make you provide a urine sample without getting permission from a court yet stewards can bypass all these so-called legal public  protections. How come?

Leading lawyer Wayne Pasterfield  has kindly published an article which puts into simple terms the difference in procedure between a Police and a Stewards investigation. The Stewards have much more power than the police. He said the easiest way to explain the absolute power possessed by stewards in the racing Industry is to forget all about police procedures  and simply accept it is nothing more or less than being a member of your golf, bowls or RSL club. A committee sets these rules and when you become a member you accept these rules. Disobey them and  the committee can toss you out on your head just because they can.

A simple example: most clubs will let its members have a drink in the bar in a singlet and shorts at lunch time but will bar the same people at night time if they are not wearing a shirt and tie. The reason?  because they can.

In our opinion there is nothing wrong with a jockey backing a horse he is riding but to back another horse in the race would be a real no-no. In fact legendary trainer Tommy Smith once said, “All jockeys should be forced to back the horse they are riding. It might make the little monkeys try harder”.

A little bit of mail from the Chris Waller camp. Promising colt Comin Through who came from near last on the turn to swamp the field in the Carbine Stakes at the Melbourne Spring Carnival ( At the succulent odds of 7/1 ) will be among the favourites for the Australian Guineas at the Championships at Easter time but there is a whisper the Doncaster with a light weight is definitely being considered. Suggest you have a little nibble at the odds available when Doncaster markets come out.

“ Hey Honey Bun, what do say to a nice walk ?”  asks Rather Rotund Resident of Baker Street.

Long suffering and slightly shocked wife replies, “That would be lovely.”

“Wonderful,” says  Resident. ”Could you bring me a six pack of gold and some cigarettes on your way back?”