WE should know the result of the fascinating Tasmanian Cup inquiry early this week.
And it could have far-reaching ramifications for not just the harness but the thoroughbred industry as well.
How you might ask? Well, should decorated and hugely respected former Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy change the result of the race, much interest will centre on how much the improper and excessive whip use contributed to his decision.
Bullys Delight won the Group 2 Tasmanian Cup and survived protests from the second and third placegetters against driver Rhys Nicholson’s whip use and him using his right foot to allegedly contact the hock of the pacer down the home straight.
Murrihy held the inquiry last Tuesday, taking evidence from Nicholson, his father John Nicholson as well as Bullys Delight's part-owners Jim Kefalas and Phillip Winder.
“I adjourned the inquiry to consider all the evidence, but I’ll be giving my decision quickly, probably by early next week,” Murrihy said after the inquiry.
The devil will be in detail of Murrihy’s finding, but there’s huge interest in his stance around the whip use, especially in this crucial climate of animal welfare.
So far, despite the crackdown on whip use, it’s been almost unthinkable a jockey or driver could be stripped of a race for improper or excessive whip use.
If Australian racing is serious about policy and minimising whip use, that has to change.
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AUSSIES have known for decades Anthony Butt, pictured steering Wolf Stride, is one of the all-time great drivers.
Now it’s great to see the extra layer of his horsemanship, what a superb trainer he is as well.
The success of Butt and partner Sonya Smith since making Victoria home last October has been nothing short of extraordinary.
And it continued when they snared the quinella in South Australia’s biggest race, the $60,000 Group 2 SA Pacing Cup with classy four-year-olds Boots Electric and Perfect Stride.
As good a training effort as it was, Butt’s dashing front-running drive on Boots Electric was glorious.
“When I got the front I was happy to let him roll and make them chase. He’s a lovely horse. He really just jogged that in,” Butt said.
Zac Phillips loomed strongly around the final bend on Perfect Stride, but he peaked on his run and Butt was still nursing Boots Electric, who clocked a 1:57.2 mile rate for the long 2645m trip, just 0.4s outside the race and track record (1:56.8) set by the great Smolda in the 2017 SA Cup.
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IT was great to be trackside for a very rare Geelong 'metro' meeting Saturday night.
The Tornado Valley 'million-dollar' party was thwarted by classy speedster Big Jack Hammer and a ripper front-running drive by Josh Aiken. Tornado Valley had to be content with a brave second after doing all the work.
It was the wins of the injury-plagued General Dodge and debutante juvenile Irish Black Label who turned most heads.
How awesome were these quotes from driver Jason Lee after winning first-up for over a year aboard the seriously gifted General Dodge for trainer Mick Chircop:
“All credit goes to Mick and all his crew, they’ve done a great job with him. He’s definitely not an easy horse to train. They’ve been patient, it’s just great to be able to reward them tonight with a win like that. Just hopefully they can keep him in one piece. He’s scary what he can do.
“(For Mick), he’s like his child, he’s in love with him and you can see why – I’m in love with him now too. It probably goes to show the little guy in harness racing can still get a good horse and still beat the best. It’s a credit to him and his hard working team. He knows what he’s doing and is a great trainer, he only has a little team but his little team always run great races.”
While Irish Black Label looked like a total pro and yet another star youngster in the making for Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin when she dashed home in 55.6 and 27.7s to thrash the previously unbeaten and hugely exciting Beach Memories.
It was also great to see Tim Butt and son, Riley, combine to win with exciting three-year-old Swayzee.
Well done to John Dunne and his team at Geelong with the ripper grandstand renovations and naming the new drivers' rooms after the Lang family, following last year’s passing of Graeme and Gavin Lang.
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YOU’VE got to love top WA trainer Gary Hall Sr.
Just moments after his exciting three-year-old Jumpingjackmac thrashed a handy field at Gloucester Park, Hall Sr beamed: “He’s the best three-year-old I’ve had … He will win the Derby.”
Remember, Hall Sr has won four of the past six WA Derbys with stars like King Of Swing (2018), Chicago Bull (2016) and Alta Christiano (2013).
While you’ve got to respect Hall given the long list of superstars he’s trained, standing in his way for this Derby is Ray Jones’ stunningly exciting Lavra Joe, who holds a 2-1 advantage over Jumpingjackmac so far.
Lavra Joe has looked awesome with six wins and a monstrous second from his only seven starts this season.
Fingers crossed the barriers help shape what could be an epic contest.
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