Race 1 on Tuesday the 2nd of August 2017 was highly unusual for a number of reasons.
It featured only two starters and so became what in sporting parlance is known as a ‘match race’. In usual circumstances if only 2 horses nominate for a race it would be abandoned, but this race was a heat of the lucrative Australian Breeders Crown series and there is a no cancellation rule in those events.
It also featured one of more unusual calls in recent years by Albion Park race caller Chris Barsby, who to keep listeners amused during a race with very little action between the start and the 400m mark took us back on a trip down memory lane, much I imagine to the chagrin of the audience because usually the only people who listen to Tuesday trot races on 1008AM are those who have had a bet in the race and they didn’t have a clue where there horse was or how it was travelling for 3/4 of the race. I enjoyed it though.
The horse beginning from barrier 1 on the mobile None Bettor started at 100 to 1 on – returning $1.01 for every dollar you bet if it wins – and led from the get go, ran slow sectional times, and then in the straight got run down by its only rival, the aptly named 14 to 1 shot Rock With The Devil, who proved that on that particular day at least that there was one better.
Maybe, but I’m not so sure. Coming into the race Rock With the Devil had only 2 wins and no placings from its previous 8 starts, with both victories being in inferior class races at the B-grade Redcliffe track over the shorter 1780m distance that the horse had been restricted to racing in at its previous 5 starts after tiring so badly in two consecutive starts at or around the distance of the two horse race that Stewards placed its connections on a final warning that if the horse did it again it would be banned completely from racing.
None Bettor on the other hand came into the race with form of 2 wins, 3 seconds, a third and 2 fourths from its previous 8 starts, seven of them run at Albion Park, and the pacer had won one and placed second in the other of its two starts over the 2138m distance, and had run slick time in the win.
It looked a certainty, but then so did Unser Fritz’s Cara Mia (see previous story). It however stepped in a hole 50m from the finishing post. What was None Bettor’s excuse?
We’ll never know, because or some inexplicable reason the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission race day Stewards did not see fit to take a post-race blood, saliva or urine sample from the beaten ‘unbeatable’ $1.01 favorite. They had taken a pre-race swab of both horses, but that what was an hour before the race. What if the horse had been given a ‘go slow’ during the intervening 60 minutes and, like Big Philou in the 1969 Melbourne Cup nobbled? Wouldn’t common sense dictate that given the beaten horse’s price and the very easy run that it had in transit it might be worth conducting a test just to be on the safe side?
The Stewards Report shows that all winners were swabbed, which you would presume means they were tested for performance enhancing or inhibiting drugs AFTER the race, but as my punt-mad Granny always used to say “One should never presume” and of course the old compulsive gambler was right, because a number of other horses are also listed as being swabbed, but each and every one of them were tested BEFORE they raced, not after.
So a hundred to one on ‘certainty’ gets beaten in a two horse race after getting a soft run in front in slow time, and the QRIC Stewards don’t call the pacer’s connections in to the room to explain the poor performance, don’t have the horse tested by the on-course veterinarian, and don’t twig to the fact that it would probably be prudent to take a post race sample to see if the horse was administered a ‘stopper’ before the race.
And they call that integrity? You would have to be f*cking kidding.
Now by no means am I saying that None Bettor WAS nobbled because in the absence of any after race testing there is no way of knowing, and that in itself is a real problem that leads to a more serious one, because a quick look at the Steward’s reports for Albion Park harness racing meetings held over the past couple of months reveals that while winners who have not been already pre-race tested are swabbed post-race, the winners who have already provided a sample before the race aren’t tested afterward and NONE of the losing horses are swabbed after the race either, even when they are unfathomably beaten at odds of $1.01.
Why on earth are post-race swabs not being conducted on horses who are expected to win and don’t?
Why on earth aren’t these beaten favorites being vet tested for post-race abnormalities?
Why aren’t stewards conducting inquiries into the suspicious losses?
Why aren’t betting sheets being examined, particularly those of Betfair and other exchanges that allow account holders to ‘lay’ favorites to lose?
I wish I had the answers to these questions, as do a whole bunch of other punters, but neither they nor I do so it’s over to you Mr Integrity Commissioner Barnett and your sidekick Mick Dowie, the bloke who manufactured a triple murder case and fitted 2 fellas in the process. If Inspector Dowie can pull one like the McCulkin convictions off then surely he should be able to get harness. racing running straight. After all, he knows all the rorts.
I won’t hold my breath waiting for action however.
Barnett and Dowie are far too busy at the moment giving press conferences trying to justify their failure to detect the race fixing detailed earlier this week by the crook Bart Cockburn to have the time to actually investigate any potential race fixing, and of course that’s totally understandable isn’t it?
Spin is the name of the game, and so’s apportioning blame. Elsewhere.
Some things always stay the same.
What a bloody shame.
Editor’s Footnote: Rock With The Devil ran today in race 6 at Albion Park. It started at the long odds of $26 and finished out of a place and well down the track.