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Every racehorse trainer in the land, it seems, has been tarred by the same defamatory brush in the wake of impending and recent prosecutions

Steve Moran | 17.01.2018

It’s a dangerous, misleading and downright inaccurate perception of the people who are effectively the key conduit to absolutely every branch of an industry which, last season, returned $671,000,000 in all prize money and bonuses, spent about the same amount on all horse sales and generated $18,063.53 million in wagering turnover.

There were 3,342 registered trainers responsible for 182,868 starters and who dealt with 79,631 individual owners and 28,903 syndicate members. Only a handful were charged with any serious offence. Only a small percentage of those starters queried.

I’m (getting) old and grumpier and just about everything pisses me off these days bar travel (as you guessed) and the grandchildren… and horse racing. I’m still a believer. There is always just enough evidence to keep the faith.

You could begin by listening to Flemington trainer Saab Hassan’s interview with Matt Stewart on RSN yesterday. Here’s the link:

Hassan who, by his own admission, battles to pay the monthly box rent at Flemington, says he doesn’t believe the game is corrupt.

Or you could visit any stable, on any given morning, and watch the trainer deal with the management issues presented by every second or third horse in the yard.

You could take heart from the fact that no fewer than 20 individual trainers have won Group One races this season in Australia.

Or that, from the start of January in Melbourne, the following trainers who sit outside the top ten on the metropolitan premiership table have won metropolitan races: Enver Jusufovic, Tim Hughes, Tom Hughes, Aaron Purcell, Leon and Troy Corstens, Patrick Payne, Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, Cindy Alderson, John Price, Shea Eden, Robbie Laing, Levi Kavanagh, Andrew Campbell, Jody Thompson, Grahame Begg, Ken Keys, Richard Laming, Vin Malady, Leon McDonald and Andrew Gluyas, Robbie Griffiths, Heath Conners and Matthew Lindsay.

The spread is so wide it simply refutes any notion that someone is dominating the game with an unfair edge, unless, of course, that edge is sheer weight of numbers but it has been forever thus in the racing world. Him (or her) with the most horses will win the most races.

You could certainly disregard the nonsense, which appeared in The Age yesterday, tenuously drawing some link between charges against trainers and the ease of laying a horse on Betfair.
You could look at some individual inspirations like Enver Jusufovic whose team is flying since his relocation to the on-course stables at Cranbourne.

He won, on Friday night, with a four-year-old newcomer Abyssinian and on Saturday at Flemington, with the six-year-old Henny Hughes mare Sharing, whom he bred, races and trains… $55,000 jumped in but it’s a fair bet that most of that will go to debt reduction.

Irish-born Mornington trainer Robert Kingston took three to the races on Saturday and each won. Yes, sure two were at the picnics but they included Captain Material, who was saved from a knackery appointment.

Dan O’Sullivan, who literally trains in the shadow of Darren Weir with his stables adjacent, chalked up a timely four winners in the Christmas – New Year week.

Matthew Lindsay, for four years the assistant to Colin Little, landed his first city win at Caulfield with the only horse he has in work – Magnesium Rose.

At the more glamorous end of the scale last weekend, on the Gold Coast, the two major prizes went to Greg Hickman with Pierata and Tony McEvoy with Sunlight.

Hickman, graduating from Crown Lodge, and McEvoy – from the similarly major Lindsay Park operation – are emerging as trainers who might fill that ‘pick off occasional major targets’ role which was perhaps exemplified by the late Guy Walter, Clarrie Conners and more recently by Peter and Paul Snowden.

Who’s out there cheating? I don’t know. There will be some as there will be in any pursuit. Let’s not forget that some administrations are legal on Thursday but not on Friday when it comes to a Saturday race meeting.

What edge, if any, is being sought? Again I don’t know for sure but, in many cases, I suspect some administration is more Linus security blanket than a liberal dose of snake venom.

I do know that not everybody should be branded for the deeds of a few.

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