We had a nice return last week, with a couple of good things leading in the slop at Randwick and hanging on. The Witherspoon precedent may just have some legs!
We are in danger of losing one of our greatest horse trainers, Peter Moody, because he can’t defend himself against a public perception of dishonesty created by ongoing inquiries, stewards, and uncertainty.
Most racing trade people will be surprised that a race-day swelling poultice has brought about the latest misdemeanor.
Let my case be clear. My support for the Racing Integrity investigators is unwavering. They are a force for good. I have no problems with individuals that are paid to spy on licensed individuals.
I do have a problem with entrapment, like any right minded person.
The Racing Integrity investigators have been right on nearly all occasions, at least technically.
Peter Moody feels he is being targeted by the Racing Integrity investigators. It is implied that they may be trying to build circumstantial evidence to support the stewards case of a single cobalt finding for one runner from the 1200+ starters the stable has sent to the races since cobalt became an issue.
Recently, Sydney trainer Kevin Moses was recently suspended for twelve months for a horse returning a positive swab.
I’m not going to defend Moody’s cobalt accusation, just point out the fact that since the single ‘positive’, other trainers have had multiple positive returns.
Strong support for Moody came from Chris Waller during his successful post-race interview after the last at Canterbury on the same afternoon.
Waller found himself in a similar situation to Moody a season or so ago.
A Waller winner returned a positive swab. The stable was at a loss as to how it happened. Thankfully for the Waller stable, they had 24 hour video surveillance that saved his/their bacon. It clearly showed an employee accidentally entering the doped horse’s stable and administering a treatment meant for the horse next door. A mistake that cost Waller $30,000 fine but not a suspension.
Unfortunately, when you get really good at the racing game jealously reigns supreme.
My methodology for assessing trainers worldwide is good. Both Moody and Waller have continually returned the same competence rating for many years and already this season are hitting their expected mark.
These two trainers are not cheats. Nor are Hawkes, Waterhouse, Snowden, O’Shea, Hayes, Pride, Van Dyke, Freedman etc or the young turk Maher. They a just high-class professionals.
There have been a few that don’t pass my muster and others that seem to be perennial offenders but still hold their license after serving suspension after suspension but don’t cop the same integrity slur of our top stables.
Will Aidan O’Brien and other European trainers take fright at this latest nonsense?
Will they read about the forced scratching of Moody’s horse because a raceday swelling poltice and change their minds about visiting for the spring?
Racing Integrity investigators and stewards have pushed our industry onto shifting ground.
What needs to happen?
Following are some starting points for discussion.
– Licensing vets is a must.
– After considerable consultation with the industry, license racehorse treatments and supplements and put them on a website;
Currently they have a list of banned substances that probably only a chemist could understand. This move may even provide another stream of revenue for Racing Australia.
Trainers need to able to treat there horses on race-day for minor aliments. What needs to be decided is what is performance enhancing treatments or where it can be described as a ‘masker’ of prohibitive substances.
– Racing Australia to create database that is available 24/7 allowing both trainers and treating vets to independently log all horse treatments.
They already have all this setup at RISA including Trainers, horses, stable returns, trade log-ins and more.
Technology is so advanced these days that an SMS message (encrypted) could log details or request a stewards clearance almost as it happens.
– If a trainer reports a stable intrusion, he is not penalised for his honesty.
Many stables in the old days had various techniques to identify if a stable had an unauthorised entry. For example, the old technique of placing a bent piece of straw in the crack between the frame and door-edge, usually above the hinge of the stable door. If the door was opened the straw would fall into the bedding. Simple but effective.
The irony of knowing this was if you reported this to the stewards you ran the risk of suspension for lack of security.
– Very cheap video surveillance equipment and external internet video logging is now available. Even the ability to log-in to the feed ‘live’ from a mobile phone is very simple now.
Many smaller operations would love to install the equipment but are afraid of the technology. Maybe Racing Australia could become come to there aid in practical ways.
– Race-day blood testing is excellent but a little more needs to be done.
Assertive action needs to be taken now before out industry and sport is again mired in innuendo. We know how well some segments of the media don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story when it comes to horse-racing.