Anyone who still believes that Greg Sugars is straight and that the Victorian harness racing stewards are too are either related to one of the parties involved and tribally loyal, have rather large rocks in their head, or are just damn crooks too.
Just take a look at this, the replay of Race 10 at the Ballarat Trots on Boxing Day.
Sugars is driving Cobbler Creek.
It’s the 2nd favorite and is drawn the pole (number 1).
An outsider named I’m Notta Trotter is drawn outside it. Prior it’s most recent race a couple of weeks before the horse’s driver Bob Kuchenmeister advised stewards that in future the horse would be restrained at the start and driven from a rearward position. He has not notified stewards of any change to his previous advice.
The 3rd favorite Tribal Fella starts from barrier 3. It is driven by rising star youngster James Herbertson.
Outside it in the 4 spot is the odds on favorite for the race Speedy Rambo. It is driven by another emerging young talented driver Darcy McGuigan.
Don’t worry about the other three horses in the race, they are outsiders and none are relevant to this sordid tale of wholesale corruption and deceit in harness racing.
The mobile barrier approaches the release point, the arm swings back and they’re off!
Its weird from the very start.
Cobbler Creek begins well from its inside draw and goes to the lead.
Im Notta Trotter – who punters believe will be restrained back because that’s what the horse’s driver has told the stewards – does exactly the opposite. It shoots out of the gate under the urging of Kuchenmeister and sits outside the leader early.
Tribal Fella is restrained and its driver – in yellow – takes a big look to his left to see if there is any horse inside him, and the only thing he sees is nothingness and clear air.
Common sense says that he will pop over into that wide open space and take up the position either behind the leader or in the 1-1 trail behind Im Notta Trotter. These are by far the best 2 positions in a race other than leading, and every driver who is not in front wants one of these spots.
Every driver but James Herbertson it seems, for despite having enough room to park a 16 wheeled semi-trailer behind the leaders, the driver of the third favorite in the race instead elects to keep Tribal Fella out 3 wide. It seems insane, but this is crazy race and its a mad and totally corrupt old trotting world.
The stewards later failure to question Herbertson about his highly dubious decision to stay out wide would seem crazy too if you didn’t already know that the officials are both as crooked as dogs hind legs, and are obvious major players in the corrupt cartel responsible for race fixing that is reaping the, a fortune at the expense of honest horse players and punters, and in the process is irrevocably damaging and perhaps permanently ruining the great harness racing sport.
Meanwhile the driver of the favorite Speedy Rambo, which sports silks of brown with yellow stars and at this stage is posted outside it 4-wide, takes advantage of Herbertson’s love of fresh air and outside rails and pops behind and to the inside of it and takes up the 1-1 trail.
Suckers! You believed it didn’t you?
I guess you didn’t know that Darcy McGuigan’s nickname is The Joker – he probably didn’t either, because I’ve just made it up – and that is only 2 seconds away from pulling one on you.
One … two … and
McGuigan eases back a length, elects not to take the box seat behind the leader – which unless he can see 2 minutes ahead in time is not totally silly, because Ballarat doesn’t have a sprint lane – and lets the 2nd favorite cross him without doing an ounce of work.
Although he looks like a genius about 3 seconds later when Im Notta Trotters deception master of a driver takes that horse over to the fence and the spot behind Cobbler Creek, as the still image above shows there is no way he could have known at this juncture in the race that this would occur, not unless the other driver illegally called out and told him or in the alternative if it was planned and the race was fix.
This isn’t the Breeze Play and Parties Trot punters – It’s the Ripleys Believe It Or Not Come in Spinner Stakes!
Meanwhile the 2nd favorite finds itself without a horse inside it to keep it out 3-wide on a limb and so much I am sure to Herbertson’s chagrin he finds himself in the much less challenging death seat, so he restrains his horse hard and eases back, no doubt in the hope that another runner will come around him so that he can pull out wide and enjoy the cool summer Ballarat breeze once again.
While Tribal Fella’s practicing running backwards Im Notta Trotter as mentioned above drops to the fence behind Cobbler Creek, which leaves the 3rd favorite in the death seat and the odds on pop Speedy Ramobo in the 1-1, and that is exactly the way that they stay for the next 1000 metres or so as the trotters amble around the Ballarat track at about the same speed as Cliffy Young did when he won the Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon back in the year that Jimmy Cassidy came from last on the turn and took Kiwi down the outside to win The Cup.
To put the early pace into perspective, Cobblers Creek took them through the lead section and the first two quarters in 109.7 seconds.
Earlier in a lower class T0 trot run over the same distance they ran 105 seconds neat, and in the ever so slightly higher class T2+ in race 6 the leader took them through the first sections in 110.2, which reads on paper as half a second slower but in fact was a whole lot quicker because that event was run from a standing start (times trotted from the stand are about 4 seconds odd slower on average than those trotted from the mobile, the extra seconds being the time it takes the horses to work through their gears and reach the speeds that horses starting out of a mobile barrier are able to run from the moment the race begins).
The field reaches the 600 metres mark and this is where the rubber hits the road and the race fix really kicks in to overdrive.
Sugars takes a long sustained look to his right.
They travel about 30 or 40 metres and then Sugars does it again.
What the hell is he looking for?
Santa? He’s a day too late, or given the gift the stewards give him by amending their 24 December report to conceal his hook job at Warragul perhaps he’s two days too early.
He does it again only 10 metres later.
This time it Sugars head turn is captured by the head-on camera, and you can clearly see that he is really taking a long and hard look for something.
Wanna know what it is?
It’s the horse they have set the race up for.
That horse is Kit Keller, and Sugars has spotted it this time because its driver Glenn Douglas has kindly shifted it out from his position 3 back on the fence into the running line for exactly that purpose, and that purpose only, as we shall soon see.
(Douglas is a cheat himself, and a bad bad man to boot – see next story for details).
Satisfied that he knows where the horse he wants to make sure gets home first is sitting Sugars goes eyes front again but something really big about whats behind his back is clearly on his mind, for he only travels about 20 metres and then he looks to his right and behind again.
If the Dixon’s marriage ever breaks up maybe Gregory could replace the one-time Ms Baz in Clip Clop Kevin’s main trainers king size bed. The way Sugars and Mrs D can crane their necks is so eerily identical that Grant the one time Bantam’s buftie boy wouldn’t know the difference, and we all know from the Davey days that he likes it.
Just in case you’ve lost count that’s five looks over his shoulder that Sugars has taken in just the past 200 metres, but don’t despair for there are plenty more to come.
Before I show you though I want you to take a good look at Cobblers Creek’s head in the last three still photos that have been taken as the video race replay camera is recording front.
See how the horse’s head is turning to the right in each of the pictures? In the harness racing game that’s called hanging in. Stick that in the memory bank and don’t delete it.
Now it is at this exact point that the plot thickens dramatically, for the fifth look that Sugars has taken is a real long one, and he keeps looking until Glenn Douglas driving Kit Keller is certain that young Gregory has seen him.
Sugars keeps on looking for a while longer too, and what he is looking for is Douglas – who has ticked off the task on his chore list of coming off the fence so his mate and co-conspirator can spot him – turning Kit Kellers head sharply to one side.
Now what every driver in the world except one who is in on a fix would have done is turn their horses head to the right, because that’s the way you need it facing briefly when you hook out of a 1-2 trail and sweep around the field (except if you are Greg Sugars of course, then right means left and left means right and black’s white and horses fighting their driver to get wide and run are actually hanging in because they back pockets even more than the Bantam does: see Warragul Race Seven, 24/12/17).
But Douglas is not every driver in the world, he’s the crook who is in on the fix, and tugging hard and making it dramatic to ensure Sugars sees him he turns Kit Keller’s head hard to the left and ducks back to his former position 3 back on the fence.
No-one in their right mind deliberately elects to take a spot 3 back the fence inside the final 400 metres of a race run on a track without a sprint lane when their horse is travelling strongly and has plenty left in the tank, and they have the option to go wide and around the field. Why would they? It’s suicide. They will never get out of the pocket in time to be a winning, if they get out at all.
That’s what you think straighty one eighty wankers of the world.
Glenn Douglas knows better, and he knows it because Greg Sugars has told him.
The field travels a few footsteps further and Sugars looks again, although this time he knows exactly where Kit Keller is so its more of a quick peek to see where the 2nd favorite in the yellow outside him is.
There is a reason that Sugars has checked where the horse in yellow is.
He wants to let the horse directly behind him – the one whose driver falsely told stewards he would be taking his horse back at the start but didn’t – off the fence so that Kit Keller can come through up the inside to get behind him, and he has an excellent reason for wanting that too.
First though Sugars needs the roughie behind him to get out of the way, so he releases the brakes and puts his foot down hard on the accelerator and Cobbler Creek surges clear of the field.
Editor’s note: Just in case you are new to harness racing, the trick when you are driving leaders on tracks that don’t have sprint lanes is to hold your horse up for as long as you can – all the way if possible – so that you keep the horse behind you in a pocket. Thanks to some complex laws of physics involving mass and velocity and force and resistance the horse behind has had a softer run that you, so if you allow it out and off your back too early there is an excellent chance that it will run your horse down and beat you to the winning post, and you don’t want that. Not unless your name is Greg Sugars anyway.
So Sugars has turned the driving manual upside down, and by revving his horse up so early he has both burned its own motor AND allowed Im Notta Trotter out of the pocket and into clear space.
In the meantime the $1.60 favorite Tribal Fella, who has been sitting in the death but in very slow time, and thus should have plenty of gas left, folds up like a small town palooka who has just been hit by Mike Tyson with a thundering left hook that crashes perfectly into his liver.
In the space of a few metres it suddenly can’t run anymore and falls back through the field, then gallops after making contact with the horse running last on the outside, and gets beaten by about 150 metres.
It is a disgraceful performance from the horse, and it displays no signs of any physical or medical issues after the race that might provide any reason for its unacceptably poor run, leaving us to deduce that the horse is such a poor performer that it should actually be banned from racing forever.
You have to question how a horse who has broken in running at its last 5 starts, and in 9 of its previous 12 runs, has been allowed to continue to start in races without connections being ordered to perform to the stewards satisfaction in a series of official trials, and why it was allowed to ‘compete’ in this event.
Sugars is still going full bore up front on Cobbler Creek and the odds on favourite Speedy Rambo moves around to his wheel, and for a few strides it looks like challenging the leader but stops as soon as it has started and as they go around the home turn and approach the point of the strait Im Notta Trotter eases out from the pocket and Kit Keller moves up on the fence to replace it, and now the horse that Sugars has looked left and right for several times over the past 400 metres is sitting directly on his back.
The plan has worked to perfection, but then suddenly there is a moment of panic.
Sugars takes a sustained look over his left shoulder to the inside where he expects Kit Keller to be, but the horse has taken a few seconds to hit its stride and has dropped about two and a half lengths off the leader which means that even with his head turned around so far that you fear it will screw off Sugars can’t see it.
‘Shit!’ you can almost hear him exclaim, just as you can imagine him saying to himself out loud ‘Where the bloody hell is it?’
The crooked driver looks across to his left. It is the eight time he has looked around in the past 400 metres, but it won’t be the last.
He doesnt see Kit Keller there either.
What’s Sugars going to do?
Have an each way bet is what he is going to do.
Can you see how the leader is running a nice, true line as he runs around the turn and is about to enter the strait? It’s not hanging out at all is it?
Now the next bit is difficult if you have never driven a horse but watch it a couple of times and you will see it.
Take the video to the 2.38 mark and hit play. You will see Sugars look right and then left as shown in the stills above, and it is what he does at the 2.40 mark as his head is turning back from the right that you are looking for, because the sneaky little split-second trick he pulls makes Cobbler Creek drift off the rail about a horse width and a half, and the reason Sugars has pulled the sleight of hand is that he wants to leave room for Kit Keller to come through as planned if it still behind him.
It is, and shortly after straightening up Sugars takes yet another big 90 degree look to his left and this time he spots it.
If you were watching this replay without the benefit of my commentary you’d be asking yourself why the hell he was turning his head so far and looking to the inside when the last time he looked just 80 metres ago there was no horse there.
You’d probably also be asking yourself why he hadn’t taken a look to the outside if he was so nervous that he had to keep jumping around like a cat.
They are good questions but they are not the main one.
Why is he looking around so much at all?
But you already know the answer to that one don’t you sportsfans?
Just to round it off to an even number Sugars takes one last look across to the inside to make sure that its Mission Accomplished, and as Kit Keller swishes through the rail and runs to the lead and victory in the shadow of the winning post it is, and the horse that Sugars has worked so hard to get home first does, although of course it is not his.
Greg Sugars can be clearly seen looking around ten times in the last 600 metres of the race – TEN TIMES! It is an extraordinary number, and I challenge you to watch a thousand race replays and find me just one example of a driver in front who has taken so many looks sideways, backwards or around at other runners.
I’ll bet you can’t, because it doesn’t happen, and why it doesn’t happen is that to do so is a flagrant breach of rule 162(1)(O) of the Australian Harness Racing Rules and the vast majority of honest drivers don’t break them.
Not Greg Sugars though, he doesn’t worry about the rules because he has the stewards on side. So much so that they will falsify reports for him, and invent inquiries that didn’t exist, and put their own reputations and careers on the line just so that they can save his.
It’s the great problem with any type of corruption.
Once you cross the line you’re f*cked. If you try and go straight again your co-conspirator/s will threaten to shop you to your non-bent superior in the chain of command (if they can find one in among the dirty rotten mess) and you will be sacked and maybe even prosecuted.
What good will that do you?
So you just keep on cheating on, and although you know deep down that one day you are going to get caught you come to rely on the money and enjoy what it can buy too, and knowing that you can’t get out of the whole mess your greed has got you into you just throw caution to the wind and do it again and again and again until mercifully one day the whole nightmare ends.
That day is now.
You’re sprung fellas. Its over.
Sugars hook job to set up the race for a horse behind him is worse even than Trista Dixon’s – she only looked around a couple of times – and he should be scrubbed out of racing for at least 2 years, although if I had my way it would be forever.
The stewards report is another whitewash. Read it as if it is an obituary, because for the cheats involved in Greg Sugars scams, including the driver himself, it is.
Cobbler Creek had bad racing manners? It hung on the turn?
Melbourne harness racing is in a mess. The Victorian Racing Integrity Commission is a debacle. Greg Sugars simply protesteth far too much.
They all need to be kicked out of racing, and surely a jail cell awaits for some.
Good riddance to them all I say.
The sport of harness racing is immeasurably better without you.
Don’t ever come back.