A very good judge of harness racing has suggested to us that this may be the race that Matthew Neilson fixed at Redcliffe on 9 December 2016.
It is race 7, the Michael McInally Photography Pace for R0 and R1 horses, run over 2080 metres and carrying prizemoney of $2500. A non-descript race in a nothing meeting run at a track in Nowheresville and featuring horses going nowhere.
If this life long trot watcher is correct – and I believe that they are – then it simply firms up the allegations I have made on this site about race-fixing in the events carrying the over-sized club-guaranteed pools at Albion Park, because the same names appear directly in the horse-hooking frame.
If this race is fixed – and it certainly appears to be – then Pete McMullen and Daryl Graham are in on the fix, because their drives make no sense to an experienced harness racing observer, especially in the context of how the race was run, which I will explain in a moment.
McMullen, Graham and a number of members of their respective extended family clans involved in the harness racing industry as drivers and trainers have featured prominently and repeatedly in the allegations of corruption in harness racing at Albion Park we have made on this site.
Now it appears almost certain that their nefarious and highly fraudulent activities extend to races run at the Redcliffe track as well, which is a massive issue because it suggests that at present the entire trot game is infected with wholesale corruption, cheating and highly criminal behavior that on the most charitable of assessments must at the very least be being condoned by those in charge of the sport.
I will leave you to draw your own conclusions as to what the least charitable view of what is going on in the sport may be, but let me assure you that it ain’t pretty and may just involve some of the biggest names in this code and others, and I’m not just talking trainers and drivers here.
Let’s have a look at the race in question and allow me take you through it and give you my considered opinion of what has gone on.
The main drivers and horses to watch are
- Pete McMullen (Veejay’s Badboy) – Barrier 2
- Mathew Neilson (Kylie Bromac) – Barrier 5
- Darrel Graham (Mister Hart) – Barrier 10
The other drives in the race worth looking at are those of:
- Gary Litzow (Calvert Hot Shot) – Barrier 1
- Gary Whitaker (Blazing Tact) – Barrier 3
- Mark McNee (Moonlight Butcher) – Barrier 4
- Amy Rees (Bring Me Diamonds) – Barrier 7
There are 2 principal points in the race that are crucial to spotting the fix.
They are the start, and the last 600 metres.
The mobile barrier gets to the starting point and the runners are released, and immediately something super-strange occurs.
McMullen’s horse – the one in purple with white striped sleeves – begins fastest from the machine, but rather than go to what seems to be an easy lead he immediately restrains his horse, which seems crazy but it’s what happens next that is the give away and you can see it clearly on the still frame below.
McMullen turns his head and looks directly at driver Litzow on his inside, and although it is impossible to be certain gee it looks like he says something to the other driver.
Something like “I don’t want it, you take it”, referring to the lead spot.
Then – and it’s hard to spot due to the poor quality of my still frame, but if you stop and start the video a couple of times you will see it clearly – McMullen turns his head and looks to the right, and it’s London to a Brick he’s looking for Neilson and his horse Kylie Bromac.
Despite it being obvious that McMullen is easing back, Whitaker (in the yellow with black and white hoops Buzzy Bee colours driving the grey horse) makes no attempt to shoot around him to the lead but instead also eases sharply.
So does McNee who is on the 2nd favorite in the race (red and gold colours with grey cap)and although it may simply be an optical illusion, on the still frame it very much appears that he too is looking over at Litzow’s horse to see if it has booted up inside McMullen and gained the lead.
This is most peculiar because what he should be focusing 100% of his attention on at this exact point of the race is getting his horse into the running line one off the fence behind the Buzzy Bee, and there is plenty of room for him to do it if he is quick.
But he doesn’t, and inexplicably keeps his horse three wide and allows others to kick up inside it – including letting the horse in the brown with the gold V and cap push up in the middle, rather than him shunting it back onto the fence – until eventually he has no options left but to:
- Go forward three wide, which is the right option given the farcical early pace
- Sit three-wide, which is not an option given the class of horse he is driving
- Restrain to the rear, which is suicidal is a race being as slowly run as this and will almost certainly ruin his horses chances of winning
Mcnee restrains to the rear.
Amy Rees on the horse in the white colors behind the leader should kick her horse up and keep its back so she gets the prized run behind the pacesetter, but for reasons only she can explain Rees restrains and allows McMullen space to pop his horse onto the fence and take the run instead. It doesn’t make any sense, or at least it wouldn’t in a race that was being run straight.
The runners reach the post for the first time with two laps to go and Neilson takes his horse to the lead.
Looking at the still frame you would swear that the front runners are going at a furious pace because the field are strung out like brown cows and there is about 20 lengths from first to last with a number of horses seemingly struggling to keep up.
But the front runners are not going fast at all; quite to the contrary they are travelling at a remarkably slow speed, and at 32.1 seconds the Lead Time for the race – the time the horses run in the distance from the start to the beginning of the last 1600 metres – is one of the slowest recorded in the entire year.
Entering the back straight Graham on the favorite Mister Hart (in the yellow) pulls out around the field and seemingly zooms into the death seat spot outside the leader.
I say seemingly because Graham’s horse’s apparent speed is simply a trick of the eye. The field has actually run the first quarter (400m) of the last mile in just 32.4 seconds, far and away the slowest of the night, and the favorite has simply jogged around a field full of horses driven by reinspersons who seem to have no interest in showing any initiative that may help them to win the race and are content to sit back seemingly asleep.
You have to remember this is not a Gymkhana event; it is a professional sporting race carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of punters bets and the majority of the drivers are full-time professionals in the industry. They are not novices who don’t know what they are doing. These are the guns.
Once Graham gets to the death seat he puts his horse to sleep, and the leaders run the second quarter in a farcical and these days near unheard of 33.3 seconds.
At this juncture it’s worth having a look at a table I’ve constructed showing the times run in similar class races on the same program that day.
Broadly speaking, in gallops parlance at Redcliffe an R0 is a Maiden, an R1 is a Class 1 or BM 50, and an R0-R1 is a Maiden-Class 1 race.
The horses running that day have paced the first 3/5th’s of their races in the following aggregate times:
Race 5 – 92.6 seconds
Race 8 – 94.2 seconds
Race 6 – 94.1 seconds
Race 7 – 97.8 seconds
Numbers don’t lie.
The horses in the fixed race have run the first part of the race up to the 800 metre mark 3.5 seconds slower than the next slowest race of the same class, and 5.2 seconds slower than the fastest.
As a general rule in a race of this class a second equates to 13.5 metres, the distance a horse will pace in that time. This means that the horses in the rigged race have run the first part of the race about 50-90 metres slower than the horses competing in the same class races on the same day, and as there is no rain the track condition and speed is the same for each of the races.
These drivers, like jockeys, know all about speed and how to judge it. This skill is an essential element of their kit bag, and a pivotal part of their profession and craft. They know that if the pace is too slow in front they have no chance of winning, and that they have to improve their horse’s position to get themselves into the race.
So why is that Mark McNee on the second favorite makes no attempt whatsoever to improve his horse’s position, despite the fact that from about the 700m mark the horse in front of him is clearly struggling?
It is only when that horse absolutely punctures and falls back in his lap at the 500m point that McNee hooks around it to make his run, by which time the leading horses are so far in front that he has absolutely no chance of catching them.
Something is seriously wrong here.
We know that already.
But it’s about to get worse.
Now it’s time to focus on Darrel Graham on the favorite in the yellow colors.
As they pass the 400 metre out from the winning post mark Graham’s favorite draws a neck in front of Neilson’s horse and seems certain to surge past it and on to an easy victory, but just as this happens Graham yanks the reins back a notch and eases the horse. You can see it clearly in the still shot above.
Why would such a vastly experienced reinsman do such a thing?
They’re in the money stretch of the race, it has been run at a farcical pace, the leader is having its first run for 5 months and its fitness must be suspect, his horse has had 3 runs coming into this race and is nearly rock hard.
What any other driver in the world would do is put their foot flat to the metal and try to smoke the leader, and thus leave the horse behind him stranded until the sprint lane by which time the favorite would have been off and gone.
But still Graham restrains.
I will leave it for you to be the judge, but what I see is that Graham keeps restraining his horse all the way to the line.
The vastly experienced former champion driver’s lack of vigor on the favorite down the straight is extraordinary. He never pulls the whip, he never urges his horse on, he just sits and sits and sits, and do you know what?
I reckon he’s driving it one rein – the left – to hold it back from winning. He’s making a bit of motion with his right hand but it’s only for show; all he actually does is pat his horse on the rump softly, which is a signal horseman use to tell their horse they are easing down, not speeding up. Think about it, you’ve seen it in gallops racing a million times before, a jockey patting their horse down the rump as they pass the post.
Graham’s hooked the favorite, there’s not a doubt in my mind.
He’s the bloke in the circus that’s walking the high tightrope.
McNee’s the boy holding the rope.
Neilson’s the crying clown, who’s just pissed his stellar career down the drain.
McMullen’s the conductor of the band.
Harness racing under the current administration is a circus all right.
But who’s the ringmaster?
That’s the $64 000 guaranteed trifecta pool question, the one QRIC need to find the answer to if they are ever going to be a hope of cleaning harness harness racing up.
Who is it that’s running this whole crooked circus?
Here’s my tip sportsfans, and the well known race-lover and writer Mark Twain’s too.
Read the form guide.
Just read the bloody form.