In the previous article I described the operation of the forfeit list, and showed you the Australian Rules of Racing that prescribe that licensees on the list are disqualified from participating in the industry until they have cleared their bills, regardless of how much their debt may be.
The monetary value owed is irrelevant except to the person who owes the dough and the racing club accountant eager to receipt it. It’s consistency that matters and at the baseline everyone on the list is treated exactly the same. They’re outed Australia wide until they stump up and clear their slate.
Well that’s how it is supposed to work anyway, but in the weird and whacky world of Queensland Racing nothing ever quite operates as it should, and thanks to some good oil received over the tip line we have discovered that at least 3 licensees that should (must) be disqualified from the industry under the rules.
One is a country trainer named Grant Allard, and the other two are jockeys, bush hoop Lee Attard and Group 1 winner Rhys McLeod, and each is actively and brazenly plying their trade down south right now, despite the law that decrees they must sit schtum in front of the idiot box with an X-box controller in their hands shooting Elephants in Microsoft’s new online multi player game Big Boys Do It Badder playing doubles until they pay the Queensland principal club back what they owe them and are permitted to reenter the racecourse and surrounds (good filly that one, won a Cox Plate and a Queensland Oaks, among 6 group wins she achieved in her career.
As you can see from the extract of this month’s forfeit list published on page 144 of Race Magazine (which doubles as the racing calendar) the sums owed aren’t huge, but they have been owing for between 4 and 40 months and a check of the back issues of the calendar shows that not one of the quartet has paid a red cent off their bill since it became due and owing.
Rules are rules, and this one is pretty simple: all four should be – under the rules are – disqualified until they cough up the cash to Queensland Racing.
But for some inexplicable reason they are not.
Rhys McLeod has had 11 mounts in the past fortnight, including a ride in the $200 000 Country Cup at Flemington on Oaks Day (his mount Zagaya led from a wide gate and gave its owners a brief thrill, but folded up like a piano accordion in the straight to finish a respectable 8th of 16), and in that time has kicked home three seconds and three thirds, and picked up another bunch of cheques on top because they pay something all the way down to tenth place in Victoria.
Since venturing south to Victoria a couple of weeks ago after a battling stint trying his luck in Central Queensland, jockey Lee Attard has steered home three horses that ran last, two who ran second last, one that fluked a third of six at Albury and earned $1870 in prize money for efforts, and another that ran fourth of ten at the same track and collected a cheque for 885 bucks.
Gosford trainer Grant Allard – whose stable runners have earned stakes money of more than $2.6 million over the past 9 years – has only saddled up 6 runners during the past 14 days or so but has had a bit more luck than the hoops, winning a race at at his home track and running second in another, sandwiched in between two last placings and a sixth of eight.
Under the rules of racing and the policy and procedures of Racing Queensland not a single one of the three should have competed in any race at all while they remained on the forfeit list, for by virtue of the amounts owing to RQ each of them are disqualified absolutely from participating in the industry.
So why are they training and riding?
It’s a damn good question isn’t it, and not a trite one either because under the National rules the connections of a runner beaten by any of the horses trained or ridden by the trio can lodge an objection (a protest) about the disqualified forfeit-lister’s participation in any given race and seek to have them disqualified, provided that they make the application within 30 days of the running of relevant race.
In the circumstances as I understand them there appear to be no grounds on which the objections could be dismissed, and in each of the races objected to the horse associated with Allard, Attard or McLeod would be disqualified and the prize money reallocated to the connections of the genuinely qualified runners in the race.
This of course brings us back to a situation similar to that described hypothetically on the story above where the trainers and connections of the horse would have to send back their prize money. The jockey gets to keep theirs – probably as due reward for the risks they take riding a 600kg steed at high speed around treacherously tight provincial track turn – but the knock on effect is enormous, and the amount of quite avoidable administrative and legal work and expense involved in attempting to recoup the debts is overwhelming.
The whole thing should never have happened, and we have no idea how or why it did, although I’m looking to take plenty of even money about the favorite Incompetence.
It’s best we get the word straight from the horses mouth at Sandown before jumping to completely justified, albeit slightly under-informed, positions about how this absolute cock-up occurred.
Given it involves the suddenly pro-LNP ‘independent’ government board stacked with Labor appointments that we know as Racing Queensland it’s best not to even try to speculate about which of three thousand six hundred and eighty-eight ways they’ve stuffed up and managed to flaunt the law by not properly performing their functions competently as required by law.
Tomorrow we’ll give it a crack and see if we find out exactly what went wrong, and nail down an answer about how and why.
Until then though sportsfans the English steeple chasers await.
Up, up, over and away!