MACKAY trainers are up in arms over a proposal to charge $10 per day per horse to use race day tie up stalls at Ooralea.
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On-course trainers were informed by email of a raft of extra charges that, according to leading trainer Olivia Cairns, will cost an extra $7000 a year.

The proposal, considered outrageous by most also includes charges for the on-course walker, swimming pool and other facilities, plus charges for the right to train on the track.

Visiting trainers will also be slugged the $10 a day for a tie up stall, which prompted one senior racing man to declare that racing in the sugar city is in turmoil.

Mackay was once the most financial club in provincial Queensland – but the MTC is now literally on the ropes and on the verge of throwing in the towel.

And worse, the club’s plight, according to chairman Lou Kinsey is not getting any sympathy whatsoever from Racing Queensland.

He accuses RQ of refusing to help with race dates and prizemoney and claims it has actually contributed to the club’s current debt of $510,000.

“When RQ took over administration of our club in 2014 we owed $300K.

“They handed it back to us in 2016 and the debt had blown out by $200K – and yet they demand we pay the lot.

“Well we can’t. It’s that simple”

This new highly controversial proposal by a committeeman (and chairman elect) Andrew McDonald to increase track and training fees is roundly condemned by most licences and stake holders. Rent for tie up stalls is unheard of.

Chairman Kinsey who has been fighting for a fair deal from RQ for several years said yesterday he doesn’t believe the proposal will go ahead.

“It is just a proposal to let everyone know how serious the situation is,” as he attempted to deflect the criticism of the new proposal.

“I know the trainers can’t afford any extra expenses but something has to be done – or there will be no Mackay racing or Turf Club beyond next carnival.”

And he says the blame lays squarely on RQ with the allocation of race dates which he described as grossly unfair.

“We lose money every time we race mid week – but RQ refuses to give us Friday or Saturday dates.

“Put simply, they are forcing us towards closure.

“Rockhampton and Townsville are marginally better off with Saturday date allocations but they too are having financial difficulties.

“The future of racing in the area is not good and RQ is definitely not helping.

He said no one cares about country racing anymore.

“There is supposed to be a Queensland Racing Board member based in Cairns – I have never spoken a word to her. I don’t even know her name,” said Lou who admits he is extremely fearful of the future, and says he just about ready to call it quits.

YOUR scribe has been dodging the hot and rainy climes of the north in recent weeks attending race meetings at Glen Innes, Wagga, Kilmore, Cranbourne and Yarra Glen. And experiencing the splendour of Lindsay Park for a busy track work session under the direction of master David Hayes.

It was certainly an experience. I can vouch, after spending a couple of hours with the trainer and staff in his trackside platform, that he is a very much hands on, knows every idiosyncrasy of his 260-odd horses and seemingly has the total respect of his 60-odd employees, some of whom have been at Lindsay Park (the old and new) for 20 years or more.

Every gallop is videoed, replayed instantly and a copy sent off to owners.

”They receive the video of their horse and my comments before they get their corn flakes,” the trainer quipped.

All gallops are electronically timed – sectionals Included – and every rider is requested to report to him in the stand for instructions and provide a verbal report straight after the workout.

And all gallops on each of his three manicured tracks end with the last 200m up a rather steep incline.

Lindsay Park has a strong team of horses preparing for the upcoming Melbourne carnival as well. I can report there is much excitement (if not confidence) surrounding a little filly named Tulip – the stable’s leading contender for the upcoming Blue Diamond.

IT WAS also interesting to visit the Tabaret, the on course betting lounges installed at Cranbourne and Kilmore.

Punters have the choice of tote and bookie betting as well as wall to wall pokies and keno. Both venues were well attended (more than 1000 at Kilmore on Thursday) and clubs admit the concept provide a healthy financial benefit.

I am certainly not a pokies man but I also believe if you can’t beat them,join them.

It is obviously one way of getting the punters back on track.

THE other stand-out was the number of kids at each meeting. Kids are welcome and clubs cater for them.

Unlike Townsville and Home Hill where they are barred on cup days under ridiculous and outdated Queensland licensing legislation.

THE South African apprentice Callan Murrayreturned to Johannesburg at the weekend after a short riding stint in Melbourne where he made a significant impression.

From 18 rides he landed four winners and said he hoped to be back again one day. But he has some fish to fry in his home country first where he is regarded the top apprentice having ridden 190 winners in just three seasons.

He says that riding against Australian jockeys was certainly “different” and he holds them in high respect.

“They ride much tighter here. Besides there is no false or cutaway rail that we are used to in South Africa.

“That took some getting used to,” said the young man who has Hong Kong and other overseas venues on his radar.

“The whip rules are also quite different,” he said.

“At home jockeys are allowed to use the whip 20 times in a race from barrier to box – no matter the distance.The rule is strictly enforced and seldom broken.

“We are not really renowned for relying on the whip.”

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