QT trot columnist and harness racer Denis Smith.
QT trot columnist and harness racer Denis Smith. David Nielsen

New harness board needed after tragedy



AS surely as the sun rises and sets, each day is a link in a chain of events which shape the fortunes of any enterprise.

The fortune may be good or bad.

This week, in a chain stretching back many years, harness in Queensland went into critical mass.

Sunday night's tragic accident, which involved the entire family of Joedy and Gary Whitaker - and left Lara, Josh and Gary with varying degrees of serious injury - has triggered a searching investigation into maintenance practices and compliance with accepted standards for machinery and vehicles.

No doubt, there will be calls for serious repercussions if shortfalls in the above are discovered.

Lopping off a few heads will not solve the problem, nor will it do anything to enhance the standing of harness on the stage of animal racing in Queensland.

The findings of any report must be published.

The report must be factual in its entirety so that all participants are fully aware of what has led the sport to this dreadful position.

The first step in the rebuilding process should be to dissolve Racing Queensland and return the three codes to separate entities.

Only in this way can the Minister and the government be at all sure with what, and with whom, they are dealing.

Any future Queensland Harness Racing Board should be elected by the participants from candidates with suitable qualifications to take the sport forward.

They should be seven in number and should neither receive, nor expect to receive, any remuneration for their efforts beyond out of pocket expenses.

There should be only one representative body from participants, and this body should communicate with the "board" in writing and such communication should be published.

Competitive solution

ANOTHER segment from the Ratings Based Handicapping System (RBHS).

Competitive racing and wagering propositions, with horses progressing through the ratings and simultaneously horses dropping back quicker racing within well-ordered benchmarks, will result in more competitive racing and improved outcomes for the sport.

If dominant horses find more competitive fields quicker and horses, struggling in their current grade, find that they can be more competitive more often, more attractive wagering will result.

Racehorse populations will benefit by real time handicapping, as a horse can progressively drop down the ratings until it finds a competitive level.

In this regard, the combined nature of uncompetitive horses finding a winnable race quicker, while other horses progress through the grades will result in more horses racing competitively for longer.

Are you confused?

More on this issue next week.

Marburg's new look

FANS and participants who race at Marburg on Monday April 15 will be met by a colour change.

This week the Showground circuit was top dressed with 700 tonnes of blue crusher dust from Peak Crossing to ensure a consistent racing surface in the months to come.

It was a bit of a trip back in time for Glamorganvale-based Ron Knack , who managed the construction of the original 700 metre track.

"Knacky" was back on the grader last Monday.

With the help of current curator Greg Minz, he turned out what will soon be a slick training and racing venue.

We look forward to Easter Sunday Fun Day (April 21) when we hope that a whole heap more people get to appreciate the new look.

Strange cycle

THE Townsville harness saga drags on with Racing Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe, again very keen on re-opening harness at the Showgrounds, seemingly gone off the boil.

It's a strange cycle with former Minister "Bollinger Bob" Gibbs chasing harness off the "Hinze built" Willows complex in order to provide the Cowboys NRL team with a home.

Currently a massive megabuck project is slated for Townsville and the Cowboys will be re-homed yet again.

At the time of the Willows coup, the 100 years story surfaced.

A delegation of harness folk were chasing support among local parliament members and were surprised when told by one incumbent that he "would not help them".

When pressed as to why, the member concerned stated that "in 25 years, harness and greyhounds in Queensland would cease to exist.

"Further, in 50 years, harness and greyhounds would cease to exist in Australia, and in 100 years no animal racing would exist in Australia."

That, he said, "is Labour Party platform".

As we are now at about the 30 year mark, we should be very worried.

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight.

R1: Box trifecta 1-8-12: Ruthless Armbro (G Dixon)-Broadwater (T Dixon)-Hez all Courage (M Rue).

R2: E/w 2: Im Free Falling (N McMullen).

R3: E/w 5: Skyfella Cam (K Rasmussen).

R4: E/w 5: Good Time Stride (N Dawson).

R5: Box trifecta 1-8-10: Its Just Kenny (G Dixon)-Argyle Beach (P McMullen)-Clintal Do (N Dawson).

R6: Quinella 1-8: Illawong Dreamtime (N Dawson) and Bells Beach house (R Maguire).

R7: E/w 3: Macheasy (G Dixon).

R8: Quinella 1-10: Rory Mach (A Sanderson) and Call Me Queenbee (M Rue).

R9: Quinella 4-7: Beaver (T Dawson) and Glenferrie Hood ( P McMullen).

R10: Box trifecta 2-6-11-12: Spud (N Dawson)-Empire Bay (P McMullen)-Quietly Spoken (N McMullen)-Needle.

R11: Quinella 2-7: Big In America (P McMullen) and Renee Dale (M Rue).

Honour board

Success was more evenly spread on the leader board this week. On top as equals in the sulky, Pete McMullen and Nathan Dawson with four wins apiece and ratings of 200. Chantal Turpin and Ron Sallis each trained a pair of winners.

Most pleasing was Jacob Wallace, driving three for the week. This lad is going places.

On March 22, Ipswich based drivers drove the entire card at Albion Park.

Ipswich factor for the week: 26/36.

Albion Park, March 22: Miss Invasion (Narissa McMullen for Don Hancock); Comply Or Die (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis); Trojan Banner (Hayden Barnes for Alistair Barnes); Zaras Delight (Hayden Barnes for Jack Butler); Vintage Dream (Nathan Dawson for Daren Garrard); Our Chittybangbang (Trent Dawson); Clarry (Nathan Dawson for Steven Cini); Royal Lincoln (Jacob Wallace).

Albion Park, March 23: Monivae (Pete McMullen for Ron Sallis); Tom Me Gun (Narissa McMullen); My Ultimate Fella (Nathan Dawson): Subtle Delight (Gary Whitaker for Don Hancock); Glenferrie Hood (Pete McMullen for Wayne Graham); Clintal Do (Nathan Dawson for Richard Marsh); Needle (Gary Whitaker for Brad Connelly); Shilah (Jacob Wallace ).

Redcliffe, March 24: Drive The Dream (Darrell Graham); Grinydontcha (Taleah McMullen for Murray Thomas); Private Jujon (Hayden Barnes for Ross Jackson).

Albion Park, March 27: Spring Campaign (Jacob Wallace).

Albion Park, March 28: Amaya Becomes (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Scorched (Adam Sanderson for Doug Lee); Maywyn No Regrets (Kelli Dawson); Timeless Appeal (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Dynamic Deejay (Nathan Dawson for Mitchell Dawson).